It’s one of those thing I struggle with every time. Getting the first date situation, well . . . situated.

You chat along with someone, maybe transition to phone (or not) and then (yay!) decide to meet.

And then comes the choices: when, where, what to wear, etc.

I’m an equal opportunity dater – and I also hope that I’m an equal opportunity date planner. When I ask someone on a date, I usually have an activity pre-planned (get your minds out of the gutter ). So for me, I might call up and say – “Hey, I’ve got 2 tickets to this show on Friday – would you like to go with me?” or “I was thinking of going to this festival on Friday – would you like to meet there for coffee?”

But a lot of times with online dating, this doesn’t always happen.

More often it will be something like [this is not an actual, word for word conversation]:

HE: I think you are cool enough to actually meet in person. What do you think?

Me: That sounds great.

HE: Okay, so umm, uh, we should do that.

Me: We should.

HE: So what do you want to do?

Me: I’m flexible, what did you have in mind?

HE: I don’t know – what do you think?

Now, I appreciate that dating is just as nerve-wracking for guys as girls. And even in our age of equal opportunity dating, whenever you are the one doing the asking, it’s a little scary. But I just wish that we didn’t always have to dance to this song.

Because now I have to do some mind-reading tricks, and I let my membership to the psychic network expire. If I pick a place close to me, am I being selfish? If I pick a place close to you, am I starting a pattern of making things too easy? If I pick a place out of your price range, will you think me a gold digger? If I pick a place with a dollar menu, will you always think of me as your cheap date option? If I take too much control of where we go and what we do, am I emasculating you? If I offer to pay, am I emasculating you? If I don’t offer to pay and you are forced to admit you can’t afford this place, am I emasculating you? If you let me pay, are we starting a sugar momma thing? Because I am sugar-free for being the dough-re-mi donator, my friend.

If I don’t pick a place and just say, “whatever you want” am I going to send you in the same swirl of internal monologue? Am I going to frustrate you by being indecisive?

When I’m actually with someone I know well, I’ll respond back to the “where do you want to eat?” question by asking for 2-3 options. This lets them pick places they like that are in their price range and travel distance (those ankle bracelets have radiuses, y’know). But when it’s a first date, this can feel like a psychological test.

For example: We could meet at Starbucks, Golden Corral, or Texas Roadhouse.

If I pick Starbucks, that will be the cheapest option if he’s paying. But it could also signal that I don’t want to have to commit to too much time.

If I pick Golden Corral, it’s a meal. On the other hand, I’m not a big fan of mega-buffets because of my food allergies – when I try to explain that, it could make me sound like someone who is high-maintenance, potentially hypochondriac, and maybe snobby of Middle America’s ability to keep the spoon for the cornbread stuffing out of the mashed potatoes.

If I pick Texas Roadhouse, I would be very happy (love Texas Roadhouse) but then I might be at the top of his budget – because I’m a girl who likes a ribeye with mushrooms and onions and if I’m at a steakhouse, I want steak. Good steak. And I’m happy to pay for my own. But if I offer to pay, maybe I’m implying something, emasculating my date, or y’know, setting precedents. But I really like steak.

So, we do the dance, we hem and haw, and eventually we stumble to a solution that I hope passes the muster without providing a Rorshach.

Of course, I can make it work whatever happens. And reality is that this is really a first-world problem. But I have a date tonight and this is one of those things I think about as we plan the when, what, and the where.

Carpet Creeper

On Friday, I received the following message from a guy who had no profile, just a picture of a square of gridded carpet. He was listed as my age and nearby. I present the following conversation to you without running dialogue or any editing (although the lack of punctuation makes me twitch) so you can experience this in the same way I did.

He: Hey how are you doing Sweetie? You are very pretty

You are very pretty

Me: Thank you. You are very waffle-like.

He: Thank you I will send you a pic

Me: That would be nice

He: Can I email it to you

Me: [special email for online dating inserted here]

He: Give me a few minutes and I will send u one Sweetie

U into stocky guys

Me: Yes

He: Ok cool

I am 5’10 290 short brown hair hazel eyes goatee

Me: Cool. No pic?

He: I am sending it.

Me: Ok. So I notice your profile says “available” not single. Are you married?

He: I am going through a separation

Me: Gotcha.

He: U still interested

Me: Do you still live together?

He: Currently we do not sleep together she is moving out after thabksgiving

U still interested

Me: I prefer to wait until you live apart.

He: Ok

What about friends with benefits for now

Me: Wouldn’t we have to be friends first?

He: That is what I am saying us be friends now and add benefits part til she gone

Me: Add benefits until she’s gone? Or after?

He: Til she is gone then we start a dating relationship.

Me: Wouldn’t that be a little backwards?

He: Not really

Me: So why did your current relationship end?

He: She does care about sex period and do not get along

Me: That’s too bad. How long were you together?

He: 10 years do u like sex

Me: I do like sex.

He: Good so do I

I love giving oral.

Me: Nice. So you are really just looking for sex, not a relationship then.

He: Yes I want both how about u

Me: I’m looking for a relationship

He: Would u concider on a first date

Me: Consider what?

He: Sex on a first date

Me: With the right person, maybe. But I would need to feel a connection first.

He: That is cool you like to receive oral

Me: If it is done right.

He: I know how to do it

Me: Still no pic

He: I will resend it

Me: Thanks

[I never received a pic. Big surprise.]

Oh Boy

This is what happens when you forget to log out of your OKCupid app on your phone and it’s midnight on a Friday night.

He: oh boy

Me: oh girl?

He: u r trouble

Me: why do you say that?

He: because you look like trouble

Me: looks can be deceiving

He: damn! I was hoping for a bad girl

Me: you wouldn’t be ready for this jelly.

He: oh I’d eat that p****y :_. ( Editor’s note: I have no idea what that smiley is, do you readers? also, yup, I *** the cat word.)

Me: I checked with the NSA, they say you are all talk.

He: test me NASA .

Me: Unfortunately, I’m looking for a relationship, not a one night stand.

He: no!!

Me: Yup it’s true.

Thus ends another edition of Mastertease Theater.

What Had Happened Was . . .

I met Chase on OKCupid. He had actually messaged me just as I was starting to date Knight, so I ended up messaging him back several weeks later when things went sour.

Chase was a very busy man: two jobs and going to school. So we mostly chatted online, although he asked me if I would go on a date with him. After I said yes, he seemed to drop out of contact for several weeks.

He popped back in and we chatted back and forth. We discovered that we would both be attending the same Sci Fi con. I mentioned that I had recently dyed my hair red, and he wanted to see so he gave me his cell – I texted him a pic and then we began texting back and forth.

Nothing serious, nothing constant, just now and then. He mentioned that he had a room to himself at the hotel, I mentioned that I was sharing with a couple of my friends. He offered that I could come hang out in his room for some peace and quiet and “just to talk” if I needed that.

A week before the con, he messaged me on OKCupid to say that he had lost his phone and would contact me once he got his new number. I replied back with “Ah, yes. The old lose the phone so I can’t text you any more routine – I get it.

I didn’t hear back from him. A few days later when I went to message and make sure he knew I was kidding, his OKCupid account had been deleted.

Oh well, I thought. He certainly wasn’t the only guy I was talking to, and our communication had been spotty at best. I had a great time at the Con both Friday and Saturday, and as I was sifting through messages on Sunday morning I saw a text from an email account saying, “I wonder if this will work.

I recognized the email as his and replied back, “Hey There.”

Hey there Joey, how have you been? My life has been a wreck, lol. I couldn’t even get the courage up to come by and say hello to you yesterday! My self esteem has taken a huge hit lately, so I just really haven’t been “me.”

Dude.” I replied elegantly. “Come say hi today. I’ll be here for a few hours.

Good and bad news . . . I can’t see you today because I’m back home now. But my new phone arrived! Yay!

Well that’s good,” I answered. “You still suck though.

BTW, the red hair looked great, lol. I’ll explain all my drama in an email in a little bit.”

“So you saw me??”

“Yes, for a second.”

“Goober. I can’t believe you. LOL.”

“Need to shut off and charge the phone, I’ll explain later.” (How convenient!)

About 3 hours later, I got the following email:

So, here’s what been going on. Lost my phone, found out my ex got into my account (I’m sure she had something to do with the missing phone) and started contacting almost everyone about who they are and what they’re doing with me.

Apparently she’s not over me after 2 years . . .

My dad’s been extremely sick, so I’m dealing with that long distance.

I just got a new iPhone, but I am trying not to text much since I don’t want people who happen to access my account to see who I’m talking to. So I’m sticking to email mostly, possibly Viber or Kik for texts.

I guess that’s about it for now. Sorry I was too chicken shit to stop by, like I said, my self-esteem has been shit since this all happened, one of the women I was talking to flipped out about my ex and started berating me. I take that stuff personally. And I’m just really down on myself. I think I just need to find someone to have some bedroom fun with, and tell me it was good and maybe that’ll help, lol.”

Okay – so wow.

Just to sum up: 2 jobs and school, so very busy. Lost phone so couldn’t text him, but when he got his phone back, it was the number he already had. Crazy ex that he’s not been with that somehow has access to his stuff, emailed other women he’s talking to, and may be able to access them again. So he’s going to go to an alternate texting system. And basically, he wants sex and someone to tell him it’s good even if it isn’t.

All the bells in my head say, “Umm. Yeah. Right.” Also – does anyone else think that maybe the “ex” is not an “ex” but a current significant other? Cause that’s the red flag I’m seeing.

But maybe it’s just my red hair.

Like A Moth To A Brain

The hardest part about constantly putting yourself out there is knowing that every time you do, you may stumble and fall. I do that a lot. In my eagerness to chase that which is good, sometimes I stub my toe or bruise a knee on the sticks waving the red flags.

This is the case with the knight. I’ve had to take a huge step back and turn and head off in another direction. It hurts – there are things about him that I enjoy tremendously. He is a talented writer – and wrote wonderful emails and short stories. He would cross his arms on the table and make this face and his hair would fall this certain way . . . and it would just do things to me. We have so much in common, and he reminded me of things about myself that I might have forgotten. He even took me on a picnic in the park – and I got to sit for hours enjoying the breeze on my face, watching the ducks and geese fly and swim, and just “be” for a bit.

But there are certain paths I have been down before, and even though I might be better at navigating the rocky trail this time around, I just can’t bring myself to go there again.

“Personality draws you like a moth to an open flame . . .” Rocker observed.

He’s right. The most attractive thing to me about anybody is their emotions and how they connect to them: twinkling eyes, animated enthusiasm about things or ideas, passionate intensity; raw sadness, shy appreciation, deep concentration. The recognition that the person I am talking to is more than an automaton, an operating humanoid. That they are not just keeping me in the lobby of their soul, but actually letting me see and maybe walk in to the cerebral rooms of who they are and really understand what motivates them.

So it’s back to the drawing boards for Joey. I’m talking to 2 new fellows – one from PlentyofFish, one from OKCupid. An email also arrived with a special deal on eHarmony – it was so good, I decided to give it a try for 3 months. Maybe guys who pay to meet me will be different? Course, I’m paying to meet them too, so that raises the bar. Last time I was on eHarmony, I met Tide Boy – it cost me $238, but I found a friend for life and those are priceless, aren’t they?

I keep telling myself that.

Good Knight

I admit it, I gave up.  I found myself blasé about the whole dating thing.  Other than “please trample my face” dude, nothing exciting was happening.  I even agreed on a second date with the “I Win” guy – my first First After from back in November.  I was chatting with a few guys, but nothing exciting and I found myself letting days pass between emails.

And then I got a message. 

Someone on OKCupid had contacted me.  Someone who actually read my profile and noted my MacGyver/duct tape reference and commented on it.  The more we chatted, the more we realized we had in common.  People, places, dreams, laughter.

So we met.

Our first date lasted 6 hours.  We met for lunch and by the time we left the dinner crowd was in full swing.  We talked and laughed through several nearby half-hearted renditions of “Happy Birthday” and countless refills of soda.  I even forgot to go the bathroom – a fact that became relevant the moment I unlocked my door and my bladder went on red alert.

But maybe he was just being kind. 

He assured me this wasn’t the case, and reinforced it by asking me out again, not just for one, but three dates.   A picnic in the park – filled with gentle breezes, teenage shyness, and more laughter.   The next included being there for me as I transported my foster dog to his new home, followed by a quiet and comfortable dinner at my place. 

Each time we met, the time flew by.  Each time we were apart again, it felt like ages since we had seen each other.  We kept marveling at how wibbly wobbly timey wimey the whole thing was.

And then the big event – he invited me to join him for a weekend of heraldry and historical anachronisms – my first SCA event.  We’d be going with a friend, sleeping in dorm-style cabins, and dressing in historical garb.  I was nervous – people I didn’t know, worrying about looking cute in primitive conditions, fearful my snoring would bring the wild beasts to bear down on us in protest.

And then came the snag – his babysitter had gone MIA.  (Did I mention he has kids? He has kids. ) Would I mind if they came along?

I’ll admit it, I panicked.  I love children, but I had long ago accepted that they would most likely not be in the cards for me.  I had chosen people that couldn’t or wouldn’t have them. And now to meet them and so soon. What if they hated me?  What if they didn’t?  I cry at commercials, I take in stray dogs and lodging-challenged friends.  This could break me.

But then I took a deep breath and gave myself a shake.  Better to know than not, right?  It’s not like it was planned, these things happen.  Bye bye, Joey – have fun storming the castle!  So I went, I anachronized, and things went very well.  Better than I could imagine.

We are moving forward – trying not to move too fast.  But it’s hard when things seem so natural.  We’ve both got things to work on, and we know that the past, the present, and the future all have to be dealt with.

But for now?  I’m having a good knight.

On Dating: Going Organic

I know I had mentioned having someone new and special in my life, but that was fairly short-lived.  In reality, I think of him now as my shock absorber.  He was newly in my life when I found out about my ex’s engagement, and his presence certainly cushioned the blow. 

In hindsight (which is always 20/20) – there were definitely some red flags (maybe pink flags? Orange flags?  Flags of a different color?) which I saw but thought I could decide on later.  Maybe I was just tired of searching.

Whatever the case, he left my life as suddenly as he came in, just like the tide I talked about.  And that’s just fine. 

When are you going to stop looking online and realize that everyone on there (except you of course) is single for a reason – because they are broken?”

Rocker said this to me as we were driving to lunch one day.  I didn’t point out to him that we had, in fact, met online.   It didn’t seem appropriate somehow.

Radio had a different idea.  He’s now in a relationship with a girl he met on OKCupid.

I decided to just chuck out all my pre-conceived notions of what makes a good match for me and just go for it.  There was a girl who had sent me a 1-sentence message, and I had previously ignored her because I’m big on communication.  But I decided to answer back one day and found out that she actually talks a lot.

I read through my online profiles again, and thought about revamping them – but I feel like they still hold true and so I just left them as they were. I still proactively message someone if I’m interested, but nothing major has occurred. 

So, I’ve decided to go a bit organic for a while.  This is hard for me.  I was never much for waiting around for a guy to ask me out.  I’m still not.  But the con season is fast approaching, and it is really the first con season I’ve been through where I’m single vs. attending solo but being in a relationship.  So we’ll see what happens.  Go all zen and stuff.

Don’t be so laid back that people don’t think you are interested,” Radio warned me. 

Aargh.  That’s my quandary.  I can either shut off my brain and say, “I’m not looking at all” which institutes the Whoosh Factor that I’ve already discussed.  If someone hits on me when I’m in that mode – I just don’t see it.  Or, I can become the huntress on the prowl and seek out my prey like an Amazon on a mission.  Cause that’s not intimidating.  Nope not at all.  Plus, it tends to attract guys who like to be pursued and dominated, which isn’t really what I’m looking for either.

So how does one go organic and still show that you are available and interested?  I have no clue.  But I’ll try to figure it out and get back to you.

Walks on the Beach

True online OKCupid encounter* commences now (I even left in the typos):

He:  How are you?  If you were walking on the beach and saw someone laying there buried in the sand, completely, with only the face barely peeking through, just enough to breathe, would you step on their face or walk around?  Lol.

(long pause)

Me: Umm, is the tide coming in?  And am I barefoot or wearing shoes?  Cause they might bite.

He:  Well tides low probably and ya might have flip flops on, why? youed step on it? lol.

(pause)

Me:  Would you?

He:  well Honest, I would try the being buried part face peeking through but I do have alittle trample fetish, so id dare you if it was my face.

Me:  Lol.  I’m not in to trampling that much.  But that’s an interesting conundrum.

(pause)

He: would you do it?

Me:  Step on your face?  Probably not.

He: yes, and OK, know anyone that would?

*results may not be typical.  Consult with a physician before starting any new dating plan.

What Might Have Been

I try not to think about
What might have been
‘Cause that was then
And we have taken different roads
We can’t go back again
There’s no use giving in
And there’s no way to know
What might have been

(What Might Have Been, as sung by Little Texas)

This song has been going through my head a lot lately, and I finally broke down and bought it from iTunes.  It’s already been played several times. Okay, a lot of times.

With my birthday a few days away, and a lot of meaningful dates floating on either side of them (anniversaries, birthdays, milestones, etc.) it’s easy to reflect about people in your past and how the roles have changed from then to now.

In the past few weeks, I’ve had several encounters with ex-boyfriends and even my ex-husband. I’ve learned about changes in their lives and experienced some of my own. 

When I became single again last fall, I was able to find comfort in the arms of my friend Rocker.  Five years ago, he and I had dated briefly but it soon became clear that we were in different places in our lives.  When I moved on to other dating opportunities, he understood and wished me well. Our friendship continued, but he always flattered me by telling me that under different circumstances, he would have never let me go. 

This time, he was there at a time when I really needed a friend, and helped repair my bruised heart. But once again, time and distance played against us and I found myself moving on.  He understood and wished me well.

I met a new friend – Radio – and upon first meeting I knew he was not yet ready for a relationship with someone like me. We walked in to our friendship with wide-open eyes.  Radio was newly out of a marriage and it was easy for us to talk openly and candidly about things.  I felt like, in many ways, I could help repair his bruised soul much the way that Rocker had healed mine.

After several enjoyable weeks, I could feel myself on the cusp – either moving forward, or moving on.  Dating stinks, and not having to date and yet still having the comforts of a Platonic Plus relationship (aka FWB) was an attractive distraction.  But I also knew that there were a lot of things that still didn’t work, and the fact that I was willing to ignore them and move forward was not healthy.

I forced myself back to POF and OKCupid, and stumbled across a photo of a man that immediately caught my eye.  I waited to contact him, suddenly shy, but Hiram responded back and after several days of great conversation, we met and it has now blossomed in to something with great potential.

As soon as Hiram and I had started chatting, I let Radio know that I was going to have to downgrade our relationship to just friends – and he took it somewhat in stride.  I knew he was struggling through his own personal issues, and I knew the timing was not ideal.  But because we had been open from the beginning, he respected my wishes.

Radio and I still chat – and I hate all that he is going through.  Knowing that he has to deal with so much alone, while I am moving in a more positive direction, makes me feel guilty.  I know I don’t need to feel guilty, it’s just a side effect of who I am. 

And that’s what has happened.  I’ve looked back at past loves, past relationships, and thought about what might have been.  Most are in better places, some are in worse, but all have moved in different directions.  And I wish them all well.

In these days of no regrets
I keep mine to myself
And all the things we never said
I can say for someone else
And nothing last forever but we always try
And I just can’t help but wonder why
We let it pass us by
When I see you now I wonder how
I could’ve watched you walk away
If I let you down please forgive me now
For that beautiful goodbye

(Beautiful Goodbye, as sung by Amanda Marshall)

Its Up Two U

I rewrote my dating profile this weekend after a male friend who was on the same site took a look at it for me. 

“You need to sell yourself more,”  he said. “You need to forget about being humble and just put out the best things about you and stick by them.”

It’s hard.  I was not raised to say, “HEY I’M AWESOME – YOU SHOULD TOTALLY DATE ME!” 

These profiles can make you feel like a used car salesman.  So for fun, I wrote up this profile and posted it on Facebook for my friends:

1970s model with a few miles, fairly dependable, good for local travel as well as long distance, fairly low maintenance, comfortable upholstery with no major structural damage. Known to turn a few heads, fairly roomy. Too valuable to sell just for parts.

It took the better part of a day to rewrite everything.  My male friend (and fellow online dater) said it was quite an improvement, and that made me glad.  I even added a special comment to the “You Should Contact Me If” section:

Please don’t message me if:

  • You think “how r u” is an acceptable form of communication
  • You think Hannibal Lecter was a cool role model
  • You haven’t taken a bath since last spring
  • You haven’t had a job in 6 years and need a sugar momma
  • Or you are looking for a green card sponsor

I still ended up with this email from someone:

“well hi i see u stop by would u love two chat i must say that u are a gd looking lady i like what i see so lets chat love its all up two u.”

I replied with:

Thanks for contacting me – but I don’t think we would be a good match.  I wish you much success in your search!

He responded:

Why say that love

To which I typed:

Did you read my profile at all? I just don’t think we are on the same communication level.  But I wish you happiness!

He countered intelligently with:

I am not from over over and nother country okay i am from the states okay

A part of me just wanted to reply with:

Who let you near a computer and told this was how you find women? Truly, you need to rely on buying someone lots and lots of liquor and go that route, my friend.  Or tell them that you are an illiterate deaf mute.  Cause that would totally work better for you than trying your typing skills to woo someone.

But I didn’t.  I just didn’t reply at all.