Back in my 20s when I was dating the first time, men weren’t exactly beating down my door. I’d had two boyfriends in college and a sprinkling of making out and phone calls beyond that. As a teen and twenty-something I was not confident. I didn’t feel interesting. I never led conversations at parties. I wasn’t the most beautiful girl there. I was the side-kick gathering information from the edges of the room. I was usually invited to parties. I was attractive enough for that, but I wasn’t the one boys/men hoped would show up. As I type, it dawns on me that the primary way to meet boys back then was at parties or large gatherings (classrooms, bars, clubs). I didn’t stand a chance. I don’t shine in those settings. If I were to wrangle a boy away from the herd, his main interest was to get naked, not share ideas or get to know the real me. Perhaps I was hanging out in the wrong places back then… Nevertheless, I am very grateful for online dating with its use of writing (profiles) and photos to express yourself. I love meeting someone for the first time in a quiet coffee shop or on one of the stone arch bridges in the city. There is time and space for meaningful conversation and true connecting. They may still want to get naked but at least we’ve had a peek into each other’s head and heart. My girlfriends and family are saints. They’ve listened to so many stories that start with, So there’s this guy… They tell me I should write a book — perhaps so they don’t have to hear any more details or remember any more of my dates’ names?? This week, I thought I’d give my friends and family a break and tell YOU all about what I experience while putting myself out into the bizarre and beautiful love zone. There are a plethora of lessons and stories I could share. This is only a snapshot.
Let me guess, your name is Dave…
My friends actually don’t have that many names to remember because a statistically improbable number of men I have dated are named David or Dave. When my iPhone updated to iOS7 and stopped showing last names of text senders, I had more than a few moments of head scratching and careful content analysis whenever the name ‘Dave’ displayed on my screen. Last month, as my plane touched down back in Minneapolis after a week’s vacation in DC, I thought and giggled to myself, Back in Minnesota where all the men are named Dave. Just last week, more than half of my ‘matches’ on an online dating service were named Dave/David. I should have taken a screen shot because really, WTH? A message from a Rob or a Mike feels rare and exotic.;)
Emails and phone calls and texts, oh my!
As an introvert, I appreciate the quiet and convenience of emails and texts. I am drawn to a certain turn of phrase, creativity and uniqueness in the way a man expresses himself. A tiny twist in wording, a clever bit of depth revealed and the courage to use emoticons attracts me. I have my turnoffs as well. I’m slightly anal and notice misspellings and grammatical errors. Griping leaves me cold.
Below are some funny, not so funny, delightful and troublesome communications I’ve encountered on the dating path.
1. Your hot
2. Call/text 612-555-5555.
I received the 2nd email after a few messages back and forth with one seemingly intelligent man. It felt like he threw his number at me and left the room. I never responded.
1. Ones with several pictures of the guys themselves. Men are such visual puppies. They think we are too. I enjoy a nice picture but one is plenty unless I request more. I’d rather surreptitiously copy a photo from their profile than have them force several on me.
2. Texts with unsolicited pictures of their kids. One man sent me multiple pictures of just his children even though I’d never met them and or him in person. I think he thought my uterus would ache and I’d want to be a big happy family. My uterus never aches like that and I make decisions with my heart and head, not my uterus. I will ask to see photos of children eventually because I am genuinely interested but until then I prefer to get to know the men themselves.
1. One man asked if I wanted to see a picture of his junk. I replied, Noooooo! fearing the worst. He sent me a photo of all the detritus on top of his desk — travel mug, car keys, Twins tickets, highlighter pen, spare change, wallet, etc. I thought it was clever and quite revealing actually. Bonus points for the highlighter pen.
I get nervous before first phone calls. There is always the potential that we could fail at this. My brain could refuse to fire and I could start sentences and then flounder searching for the right word or I could tell stories with weak finishes. There could be no rhythmic banter, only stilted fragments of language mixed with weather talk. Despite my apprehension, I like to use phone conversations as weeding out tools. I would rather flop over the phone than in person. Over the phone I can be at home in my safe place with slippers on and something compelling teed up on Netflix as a consolation prize. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by phone conversations that effortlessly flowed for hours —my phone companion playing dance partner as he leads me from one rich topic to the next or graciously responds to my thoughts and ideas. On the flip side, I’ve been unexpectedly subjected to hyena cackles and pedantic diatribes. The latter all the more reason to test the waters over the phone rather than waste each other’s time meeting in person.
Reading the signs
After two years of dating experience, I have accumulated a list of good and bad signs. It’s not a steadfast, written-in-stone list, but it guides me. I’m always open to being surprised.
They are readers
They highlight as they read
They know what Myers Briggs type they are
They read my blog and learn something about themselves
They praise my thinking as much as they praise my appearance (Best compliment: I love your mind!)
We can talk on the phone
They have a credit card
They watch intelligent TV ala Dexter, True Detective, House of Cards, Downton Abbey
They are music lovers and pay attention to lyrics
They have sisters and/or daughters
They talk over me and don’t notice
They don’t enjoy food — say things like, I’m not much of an eater
They have online dating names like Bigdawg3 or Dewayniac
They use the words fun and good a lot because they don’t know any exquisite adjectives
They ask me to plan the date
When with them, I think about being home alone watching The Voice
They don’t get that I need to be pulled out of my shell a little by asking me questions or my opinion
They only compliment me on my looks
They ask me to problem solve on the spot
Talking on the phone with them is a lot of work
We talk about our kids more than anything else
They pay for everything in cash
They loved Seinfeld
Loving and learning
I’ve learned some incredible lessons on this dating journey. From simple things like all men are smaller physically in person than they appear in photos to the more complex like, even the most guarded men will show their sensitivity if given enough time.
I’ve learned if you find someone really good, stop looking. Turn off the Match.com machine and focus thoughtfully on your man.
I’ve learned I can feel uninteresting and shy again when out on a date. I can be transported back to the days when I didn’t lead or contribute dazzlingly to conversations. The difference is now instead of allowing that feeling to linger or affect my self-esteem, I realize I’m in the wrong conversations. There’s a Dave or Rob or Julio out there who wants to draw me out, read books, develop ideas, reveal his fears, share his dreams, watch smart TV and yeah, get naked with me (some things never change;).
Tell me about your dating experiences. What have you learned about relationships? What have you learned about yourself?
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