Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dodging Bullets

These days, I am putting some effort into online dating.   I'm opening myself up to phone conversations with more prospects right now.
One guy called me while I was at work the other day... I was a bit put off by it.  But rather than be hasty, I told him I'd call him back when I wasn't working.  I was at home tonight trying to edit a photo session I did this weekend... and thinking I should call him... but that I needed to make progress in Photoshop. 
Suddenly the phone rang - it was a different online suitor.

He started talking.  and talking.  He would make a statement and I would try to respond to him... but he would continue with what he was saying.  Essentially talking over me.   I was annoyed, but thought, "Maybe he's nervous.  I'll give him some time to see if he corrects this behavior."
At one point, I even said something about seeing if I had hit the MUTE button on my phone - because he obviously wasn't hearing me.   Still, nothing changed.

This guy has no idea how to have a conversation!

I would try to interject occasionally, to turn it into a conversation...otherwise it's just a monologue!  But every effort I made was futile.
Finally, I would try to interject - he would keep talking - then I would sigh.  Occasionally, he made room for me, and then started talking before I could finish my thought or point!!  I tried a new tactic - interjecting with "What I was going to say... "  More steamrolling!

This wasn't a 12 year old!  This was a 40+ year old man!

I gave it a full 30 minutes and then when he mentioned that I sounded frustrated... I started to explain that I was feeling like he wasn't interested in anything I had to say.  That he kept talking over me.
Then he interrupted to say something about me interrupting him!

At that point, all bets were off.  I was going to have my say whether he was talking or not - and I told him that it's customary in a CONVERSATION to have some give and take.  A little exchange of ideas.
He didn't hear a word because he was more interested in making his point - which was to say that I was too feisty  - and that he didn't see any point in continuing communication with me.  Communication?!  Ha!

It got a bit ugly... and I expressed alarm that I couldn't be the first woman to make this observation.  According to him I was!  Oh well. Clearly no sense of self awareness. (could that play in to why he is divorced?)

The phone call ended and I was all spun up.  I mean spun UP!
My phone rang again - and it was the guy from the other day.  I was still so agitated that I blurted out what the first guy had done.  Then I felt bad because there I was - dominating the first thirty seconds of conversation. 
But this man listened intently, and expressed appropriate alarm in the situation.

Once I dumped it all out, I was able to settle down - and we had a very nice conversation.  An exchange of thoughts and ideas... just as someone would expect.

It was so nice... and he was very engaging!  I even joked that he was lucky the first guy was such a jerk - it made him look even better!

So I'm planning coffee with guy #2.   Faith in humanity restored for now!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Good Questions

Let's talk about dating tactics.

In the comments of an earlier post, Anonymous Pablo posed a couple of questions about my dating strategies.  I started to answer him in the comments but realized I had enough commentary on the subject that it might as well be a post of its' own.
This is not only an answer to Pablo - but also possibly to any long-married types who make the same suggestions, and wonder why these 'apparent tactics' aren't considered by the unintentional singles they know.

So... let's get to it.

Pablo asks...
"...if you want a man that can go to mass with you , why don´t you start looking inside your church or other churches, I mean men that are already there."
You make a valid point, one that has been made to me for many years now... to look inside my church for an eligible man.  The fact that I am at Mass every Sunday at one church or another... suggests that I have obviously looked there.
The sad fact is... single men don't go to church.  The only time we see single men (at least at the Catholic churches I go to) are once they are engaged. Then, all of a sudden they are interested in following the faith in order to qualify for a Catholic Wedding Mass.   But you see, once they're engaged... I sort of consider them off the market!

I am a Eucharistic Minister at my church... which means that I am one of the lay people who distributes Holy Communion at Mass.  In doing so... I see everyone in the congregation, up close and person as I share with them the Body and Blood of Christ.  Most often the only single men I see are under age 25! (or over 50!)

I am also a Lector, (one who reads scripture at Mass) so I am up in front of the congregation on a regular basis.  As a result of that... I am up there for all to see as an available single woman. (not to say that I serve in that capacity for that reason... but ... you know... there it is.) The point being, I am very active and very visible in my parish, so you can trust me when I say there are no single men there.

I do have a friend in that church, who is a single dad.  I have socialized with him and others in the church... and I do like him enough to be interested - but it's pretty clear he is not interested in me, if in 6 years he hasn't approached me in that way.  For the record... he doesn't seem to be interested in dating at all - his focus is on his child. I believe we have a mutual respect and admiration for each other - but that is where it will end.

I also occasionally visit other churches - and I do not encounter single men there either.  The Catholic Church doesn't really have any type of singles ministry... so there is no way for us to get together if there WERE single Catholic men. We only have the option of church-wide socials, which really aren't a draw for single men or singles in general.

In fact, if you were to give single Catholic men the same advice - to look for a good woman at church -  they typically balk at the idea.  I have been single for many years... and whenever that suggestion is made, they respond almost as if it's a blasphemous thought! (McTwitchy and Mr. Burns included) They think it's disrespectful to the Mass to intend to meet chicks there.

It is also well considered, (much has been written on the subject - unfortunately, nothing I am able to document here) that many men stray from the church once they graduate from High School and leave home, not to return until they are ready to get married.  The common thought on this is that men seem to feel that reliance on a higher power shows weakness.  Somewhere along the way, men are influenced to value their own accomplishments over seeking assistance from an Almighty and all-knowing and all-powerful God. It usually takes the influence of a woman they love to get them back in church.  The prospect of raising a family seems to be an incentive. (as evidenced by my single dad friend, mentioned above. Raising his child is incentive for a God-filled life)

Pablo also asks...
...why don´t you tell the guy all these things you write here,try to be clear from the beginning, before you meet him. The worse thing or one of the worse things is that the signals are not clear for the other person, so say want you look for and what you want in a clear way, so you can be sure he got the message from the begining.(sic) Thats (sic) my opinion."
Also a good point.  If you saw my online dating profile, you would know that I make it as crystal clear as possible. 
In fact... how about an excerpt? This is one paragraph of my 'About Me' section:

"My faith is important to me and I need someone who appreciates that, as it's not going to change. I am a lifelong Catholic and would really like to find a good Catholic man - I could be open to a man of another denomination, if he's already active in his church and serious about his faith.
If you have checked "Spiritual not Religious" or "Other Religion" I am NOT for you. Trust me on this. I need a man who, like me, is going to put God first. It's not easy and I don't always succeed... but that's my goal."
Is that clear enough?

What I have noticed about online dating is 1) most men don't bother to read the profiles. They just look for pretty faces and then message women based on attraction.  I think they see the writing as 'noise'.  As a result, I get a lot of inquiries from men who identify as "Not Religious" or "No Religion".  (despite my profile plea not to! ) On occasion, I have responded to such inquiries with a simple, "Did you read my profile?" Then I get a message back about how I am closed-minded, conservative or prudish. Yay.

2) When the only nibbles you get are from the wrong types, it's tempting to consider that maybe you are being too closed-minded. Maybe their idea of "Not Religious" means they haven't gone to church in 15 years but they're waiting for the woman who inspires them to return.  Should I take that chance?  Would it be better than no date at all?
Sometimes you have to take some risk.

Then there was the guy who identified himself as Catholic - and within 10 minutes of his first text to me... asked what I was wearing!  When I responded that I had made it pretty clear that I was looking for a church-going Catholic man... and that I felt it was too soon in the getting-to-know-you stage to inquire about my undergarments, he responded by texting me a line or two from the "Our Father" which was clearly meant as sarcastic. (which I didn't appreciate at all.) A few more texts and it was clear he was just  looking for bed buddy.

Dating is tedious at best. Online dating is just a minefield.
I'd really like to know how men experience online dating... because if their experience is as bad as mine... I just don't even see the point.

(I have heard from some men that their nemesis online are women who are looking for what might as well be called 'financial sponsors'.  They make up stories about needed car repairs, house payments... and just milk men for cash.  You would think if that's what men encounter... they'd be thrilled to find women like me!)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Line Forms Here...

At my church's Lenten fish fry, I carried my tray through the serving line then scanned the rows of tables for some familiar faces.   I found them at fully packed tables, so I looked around some more.
Finally, I spotted an opening and some friendly new faces so I screwed up my courage and as I claimed a seat I announced, "Sheesh, there are never any singles tables at these things!"  That remark drew laughter and served as a mark for conversation.   That evening I met a couple, younger than me with an adorable brand new baby... and a trio of sweet older ladies who are now fixed on introducing me to at least one suitable nephew!

There is something to be said for making your needs known! It took a solid 45 minutes for Ms. Martha, across the table from me to think of her nephew.  I gave her my phone number and email address... but I doubt I'll hear from her until the next fish fry!

Later that week, at work one of the women at the office asked me what sort of man I'm looking for - her queries were about height and I declared indifference.  I have no height or hair requirements as long as the man is whole!!   We joked about the pain of dating... and a few days later she announced that she thought of someone to introduce me to.  She started naming qualities to determine if anything was a deal breaker.

Finally I said,  "I'll meet anybody, as long as you think we'll have something in common.  This isn't a commitment to marry me. Just to meet me."

The ladies seemed to appreciate that ... and then my sarcastic nature took the best of me... "Just line 'em up!"

In related news... I have another set up in the works.  I'm told he's a good, interesting guy.  His main fault seems to be bad hair.  Hopefully that's correctable.
And my dance card on my online dating site is starting to fill up.  There is at least one very appealing prospect... so I'll have updates to share if you care to hear about my dating adventures. 
Hoping to kiss my last frog.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Cut to the Chase

Last weekend I had a third date with a guy I met online.
He's the sort of guy that you know is a good man - he volunteers, works with kids, wants to start an orphanage. Still, I didn't feel sparks of attraction. We got to date number three so that I could be sure I wasn't missing something.

For our second date, we met at a restaurant for dinner. I liked him a little better than after our first date. He's funny. Nice eyes, nice smile. But still no sparks.
So I was very surprised when he texted me shortly after we parted saying, "I wanted to kiss you."
Really? I hadn't gotten that sense at all.

When I didn't hear from him for more than a week after that... figured he'd given up.
Eventually, we planned date #3.
We went for a long walk with his well-behaved but hyper little dog. Then stopped at a restaurant beyond the park to have a little lunch. On the way back across the park, he told me about his ideas about faith. While it was interesting... it was, for me, a turn off.

You know when you look at online dating profiles and they say something like their 'own religion'? He's one of those. He even wrote a book about his theory!!
(I'm not going to describe or mention it here because I certainly don't want to drive his web traffic to my blog!!!)
Like I said... it was interesting but not compelling to me. I knew instantly that this is not someone I can partner through life with.
Que Sera sera.

But. He's a nice man and I didn't not like him.
So we sat and talked for a bit. He really wanted to kiss me.

I started to explain that I'm in a place in my life that I need to date more than one man at a time, and therefore, it would be awkward to kiss any one of them - because it would be unfair, mis-leading, and eventually kissing leads to other things - which then would make me dishonest with any other man I would be dating.
I feel I need to date more than one man at a time, because I tend to get all caught up and excited right away, to the exclusion of other options... then when it turns out that guy isn't right for me... there I am starting from scratch again.
From here on out, I'm going to date a few men at once... until there is a stand-out who declares he wants me all to himself!
Anyway... he didn't let me get too far beyond just that I don't plan to kiss anyone for a while...
He sort of blurts out, "What, do you think I want to sleep with you?"
he didn't let me answer, he continued... "Of course I do. I'm a guy."
Then he explained that he believes everyone knows within three minutes whether they want to sleep with someone.
Him, me, everyone.

I wanted to argue, but I wasn't given a chance.
I wanted to say that sure, we might sum someone up as 'desirable' or not but that for me, I don't want to sleep with someone until I know that could potentially marry that person.
I rarely even decide if they are attractive to me or not, until I can surmise what sort of life partner they might make.

Sure, in the secular world people can boil it all down to sex and attraction.
But when you're looking for someone who has your salvation in mind... there is much more to consider. To me, attraction starts with... will this guy go to Mass with me? Will he care for me and my family? Would he agree to me staying home if we have kids? In short, does he value what I value?

So today, I got to thinking... counselors, writers, parents, society... all mock women for the 'gene' that gets us planning our wedding with some guy before the second date - but what they don't realize is for some of us, dating IS about planning a marriage.

This guy wouldn't even have gotten to our second date if my only criteria were whether I wanted to have sex with him! But I wanted to know his real worth... what sort of man is he?

To me, that's not so silly.
I only wish it were more acceptable in society to look for a life mate and not just to mate!

I guess I'm supposed to be flattered that he wanted to nail me!

Which reminds me of this...

Also, what if I told a guy, "If my main criteria for dating you was based on whether I wanted to sleep with you, we wouldn't have made it this far."
Howdoya think that would go over?!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Start of 40 Days

Today was Ash Wednesday - which is always a challenge for me.

In the Catholic church it is a day of fasting, which means one meal-sized meal and something small and nutritious on either side of that meal. Also, no meat (and I'm allergic to fish) so it's pretty tricky for me besides the fact that I am a real grazer! I was proud to say that I didn't snack all day at work.

I sort of view Lent as a second chance New Year's resolution. I didn't really make any firm resolutions for the new year so my plans for Lent are:

No spending money outside of my essential expenses - I'm pretty impulsive, when I see something cute at a reasonable price I buy it with little thought. This will be a good exercise. I'm very tight-fisted about big purchases... but it's the small ones that add up.

Pray the Rosary Daily - I'm very lazy about this and I've actually already blown it for the first day of lent.

Socialize at least once a week - I know that doesn't sound like a sacrifice but I've decided it's something essential for my well-being. My social life pretty much collapsed while I was unemployed and poor. I'm making it a goal to rotate some new girlfriends into my weekly socials...we will be trying to meet men. God wants this for me. He does not want me to be alone.
I ended up going to Ash Wednesday service late this evening. The last opportunity of the day.
This Mass is usually more relaxed than our regular mass... and altar servers, lectors and other helpers are not necessarily lined up in advance.

So when it was time for the distribution of the ashes, Father asked for some of the Eucharistic Ministers to come up and help. So I did. That was the first time I got to distribute ashes which was a neat experience.

Then at communion, he had to ask for EMs again - so I was a busy servant at Mass.

The point of sharing that little fact is... when you serve during the Mass, people notice. There was a small family sitting in front of me that I had never seen before. I just assumed that they frequented a different Mass time.
Turns out they were new to Denver and to my church and so, when I leaned ahead at the conclusion of Mass to tell their daughter I thought her dress was very cute... the mom took the opportunity to introduce her family, share that they were new, and ask if I didn't just love serving as a Eucharistic Minister. Then she complimented me on my singing voice.

Isn't that just nice?!
I'm so glad she introduced herself, because I get really frustrated in the church that all the married people with families tend to keep to themselves - to the exclusion of singles in my opinion.

I'm going to like this family!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Dating Glowing Boxes

Enter online dating.

At first it was a little creepy. Like the 1970s personal ads for a lover... but not as romantic as the unromantic Pina Colada song. Couples that did meet online made up cover stories.
Once you composed your online profile, you didn't tell a soul. Maybe you confided in your very best friends, informing them in hushed tones and with a sideways glance, looking up through your eyelashes for understanding and approval.

I knew the taboo had passed when my mom suggested it. My divorced cousin met her fiance (now husband) through a Catholic dating site and now that was the 'obvious' solution for me.

There's no turning back, this is where technology and unfortunately, society is headed.

When I started online dating, the text message was still in the conception stage - perhaps infancy - either way, I wasn't doing it yet. I had a system in place, in which potential dates (including real life guys) would get my land line number until they 'qualified' for my cell number - which seemed like a great deal of personal access to give to a virtual stranger.

Nowadays, almost everyone has unlimited text. Most of society relies on it a bit too much.

When I can finally get a guy to graduate from sending me smiley faces and virtual roses on a dating site to actual online conversation, he 'earns' my cell number. The first communication is typically... guess what... a text!

Wait... a text would be nice. The problem is, I now have a text thread of 70 messages between myself and a guy I have met twice (dinner) and spoken to ONCE on the phone.

It's no way to start a relationship!
There is no tone of voice, no hint of laughter. No revealing small bits of one's personality.
It's more like responding to the check engine light on the dashboard of your car.
I can't have a relationship with a glowing box!

It's not just him. It's most men these days. I think they appreciate the mask of the glowing box - the anonymity of not dealing with a tone of voice.
I think it has to do with the infamous Fear of Rejection... which as I've written before, I don't understand.

Another online guy texted me, just to say, "Hey you." I had to ask who it was, followed by a little chit chat, then nothing. A few days later I went back to the dating site and asked, "Is that the extent of your woo?" Now he threatens/promises to call me. We'll see.

Should I tell you about one more guy who texted me a greeting of "What's up?" I responded that it was my day off and I was happy to be cleaning my house. His response, "What are you wearing?"
Even then, I gave him the benefit of the doubt and answered along the lines that my ensemble involved a very domestic apron, (to show my traditional side) only to have him ask about my panties. Whoa!! I informed him that was not appropriate in the get-to-know-you-stage and successfully scared him off! Never heard from him again.

I really don't know how anyone is supposed to get to know anyone else this way.
Even the men I meet IRL text more than they call.
I get that it's easier to just say hi, or pin down plans, arrival times and such. But I think that's all it should be used for - at least in the very beginning of a relationship.

Maybe that's the problem. Men aren't in the mindset that they're possibly starting a relationship. Maybe they just want to 'hang out'. Well, that's fine if you're 15 years old - but I'm a woman. Please notice that I'm more sophisticated than a 15 year old. Treat me like a lady. Talk to me more than you text me.
Speak to me to ask me out and make plans for a date.

Texting makes it too easy for a guy to tap out "Can you meet me for dinner tonight?"
Um... I'd like to be asked out a few days in advance. Asking me a mere few hours before makes me feel not only like an afterthought.... but sort of like a.... call girl!

Put down the glowing box and talk to me... using your bluetooth!