I wonder…

October 6, 2014 § Leave a comment

What would happen if I were to write a new post on this blog a year and a half later?

I’m not expecting much. Probably nothing. Or perhaps words will start to appear again.

Shouldn’t I just give myself permission to do what I like? To pick up where I left off? Or, rather, to write again with no explanations?

Of course the answer is yes. This has always just been me, for me. Things change, but not that. Not yet, anyway.

While I welcome other eyes I wasn’t really doing it for them.

Dating: Week One (II)

March 17, 2013 § 1 Comment

I had decided that these meetings would not be referred to as “dates,” but “meetings.” And then things went so well with the second guy that I met that couldn’t help but think of it as a date. But I’m stubborn, so I refocused and continued on with my scheduled meetings (and thinking of them that way).

The next guy I met was adorable, and sweet, and I felt like I could be friends with him, but the attraction wasn’t there. The conversation was good, but not interesting enough to spark my interest. We exchanged numbers, but I don’t think I communicated clearly enough that when I said “yes, we should hang out again some time” that I meant “as friends.” He proceeded to send me “good morning” texts the next two days. Is it just me, or is that way too intimate, way too fast, for someone you just met?!

My response was to not respond until later that day the first time, and I didn’t respond at all to the second. The texts have evolved to a more casual state now, which I’m comfortable with. I hope he got the hint, but then I also feel like I should have tried to be more clear with him about my feelings. But it was only a first meeting! And maybe (probably) I was reading too deeply into his response. Maybe this is just the way he is. I don’t even know because I hardly know him. I start to realize that I’m making assumptions about him based on previous experiences.

Does everyone get compared to the ones who came before? Can I help but organize and categorize and compare everyone I meet to other people I have known? This doesn’t seem fair, and yet it feels completely natural. Which means I should probably be suspicious of this habit. Just because similarities exist, doesn’t mean there aren’t a world of differences as well.

I really have no desire to play games or toy with anyone’s feelings. It dawned on me that this whole meeting/dating thing was going to be a lot more complicated that I originally thought. If only because I actually care about people, and I want to be open and honest, but I’m still learning how to do that in a way that is not harmful. And then I realized that I was getting all worked up and worried over nothing. I had to stop and go back to my original intentions (which I’ve made clear to everyone I’ve met). To meet new people. To see what happens. So what if there was no spark? I still had a good time and enjoyed his company. What’s wrong with making new friends? And I know as well as anyone else that feelings beyond friendship can certainly develop the more time you spend with someone. And if his response to me was not the same as mine to him, well, that’s okay too. I don’t need to be so hard on myself. I just need to be as honest as I can.

Deep breath. Continue.

My fourth and fifth meetings were on the same day. First a drink with one guy, then dinner with another afterwards. The drink was nice. Casual, good conversation, a comfortable and enjoyable hour and a half. I was able to relax and get back to the motivation behind this whole dating thing. The dinner was a bit strange, but fun. I knew in advance that this guy was going to be a character, and I had some hesitations before meeting him, but figured it would at least be amusing. And it was. He certainly kept me on my toes, right down to the moment when he walked me to my car and asked if he could kiss me. He was the first of five to ask (or try), and I hesitated for a minute before saying okay. It was a quick, awkward kiss, and we both laughed afterwards and said goodbye.

It was an interesting week. And I was relieved to be going out of town for the following one, which would give me some time to figure out what comes next.

I’m still not really sure.

Everyone has kept in touch. In fact, it’s worth noting how pleasantly surprised I was that each of the 5 guys I met all contacted me again right after our meeting. Two of them later that same night, two the following day, and one two days later. I’m glad that the kind of guys I’m meeting aren’t trying to follow any stupid dating rules. I’m glad that it’s okay to tell someone that you really enjoyed meeting them, that you had a good time and that you’d like to do it again.

I’ve only made one official follow-up date. It’s with the second guy I met, the one I felt the strongest connection to, and it’ll be two weeks from the night we met. I’m pretty excited about it, but I’m still trying to contain myself. I’m trying to remember what I said when I first started doing this,

it seems that every time I think I’m going to try dating I end up meeting someone I really like right away and I suddenly find myself in a relationship. It’s not always a serious long-term relationship, but most of them have been. And they’ve ended up being pretty intense in one way or another. And really, there’s nothing wrong with that, and I’m not actually complaining about my history, but I’d like to give dating a try. I want something different. – On Dating 03/01/13

I’m not sure how to progress with the others. I guess I’ll keep you posted.

Dating: Week One (I)

March 17, 2013 § 1 Comment

With online dating, messages can only get you so far. And this is coming from someone who truly believes that her strength lies in written communications. I’m a bit of a blundering, babbling, buffoon in person. I hate talking on the phone. And yet, I really don’t want to waste a lot of time writing back and forth with someone before meeting them in person. Because I have no intentions of carrying on online only – no matter how awesome our messages might be.

I want real life dating. I want accidental touches that make my heart beat faster. I want to smell his smell and look into his eyes and feel how it feels to stand next to him. I want him to see how my eyes crinkle when I smile and hear my laugh and feel the energy increase when I get excited about something.

I met five guys in my first week out. It was supposed to be six, but one of them cancelled because he met someone else who he felt an emotional connection to, and wanted to give it a chance without adding anyone else into the mix. I appreciated his honesty and commitment to what he was looking for, and told him that cancelling was absolutely fine – he should go for it.

My expectations were low starting out. No pressure on either side. I refused to even call these meetings “dates,” because words matter to me, and the first time you meet someone isn’t really a date. From that point, I decided, if we hit it off, we could then go on our first date. I have a tendency to make up guidelines like this, even though I know full well that life has this way of going along however it’s going to go along, and I can’t control everything just by using the proper words.

Anyway, my first meeting was over coffee on Saturday afternoon. I got there a few minutes early, and scoped out the place, making sure he wasn’t already there. Satisfied that I had arrived first, I ordered my beverage and found a place to sit. Then I moved, twice, seeking a more advantageous location. One that offered a view of the door and a bit of distance between where we would be and other afternoon coffee drinkers. I may or may not have been a little bit nervous. The excited kind of nervousness.

When he came in, I was only about 70% certain it was him, so I just looked at him, smiling expectantly, until that glimmer of recognition appeared on his face. Then I got up and took a few steps towards him and… wasn’t sure what to do. I stuck out my hand and we shook. It was a bit awkward. I told him I already had my coffee, so he went to order and came over to sit with me.

Conversation rambled along in starts and stops for a while. He did most of the talking, and I had a hard time getting a word in without interrupting. He told me that he had just blazed before coming to meet me, which actually explained a lot, but I admit I was taken aback by his confession. I wasn’t really offended, but I thought it was strange behaviour when planning to meet someone for the first time.

Things wound down in the coffee shop and he asked what my plans were for the rest of the day. I told him I had arranged to meet a friend afterwards, but that I still had a bit of time. Although it was raining and chilly outside, we decided to walk around for a bit and keep talking. Eventually I decided it was time to say goodbye and we did. He held out his arms for a hug, which felt a lot less awkward than the handshake greeting and we agreed that we would probably enjoy hanging out again sometime, and left it at that.

I thought it had gone fairly well for my first time out. He had interesting things to say, he was better looking than his profile pictures let on, and I had laughed a lot. However, I didn’t really feel a spark, and the fact that he decided to get high before meeting me was kind of a turn off. Overall, it felt like it was worth my time, and any concerns I had about setting up a bunch of different meetings disappeared.

I had more excitement and anticipation about my second meeting. This was a guy I found and messaged first, and his response was enthusiastic. After a series of messages back and forth that bordered on a comedy routine, in which we tried to coordinate dates, times and a meeting location that was mutually amenable and open on Monday night, we finally settled on a wine bar downtown.

Again, I arrived a few minutes early (this isn’t a dating strategy – I just hate being late), sat in a cozy booth, and ordered a couple of glasses of water while I waited. He texted me that he was on his way in, so even though the lighting was very dim, I was certain it was him when he entered the room. It didn’t hurt that I also knew from his profile that he was 6’4″.

I squeezed out of the booth to greet him, and as he came closer he held open his arms and we hugged hello. It wasn’t awkward at all. We sat, ordered a bottle of wine and proceeded to talk easily and comfortably for a couple of hours. Well, as easily as two complete strangers can. I couldn’t stop smiling. I felt an instant attraction to him that grew as we talked. I wondered if he felt it. Our hands casually touched a few times and I experienced a physical reaction that I hid as well as I could. My inner voice was screaming for caution. “Marsha, keep it casual. Do not get too excited over this guy you just met.”

So I kept it light and fun, while being completely open about the fact that I really had a great time and I hoped we’d see each other again. We had exchanged numbers previous to our meeting, so we just left it open, hugged goodbye and went our separate ways. I didn’t know or have any expectations about what would happen next, but hoped for the best.

I have pretty powerful instincts, and yet, I still don’t always trust them. I don’t fully trust myself. I tell myself a lot of things about who I am and what I want, but those things seem to change so frequently that they sometimes feel like lies. Is it a lie if you change your mind? Or is the mind changing just a lack of understanding of my needs and motivations that make me think I want one thing when I really want something else?

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Sending and Receiving

March 8, 2013 § 1 Comment

I signed up for OkCupid on a Saturday night. Probably pretty typical. I had been thinking about it for a few days, and finally just decided, what the hell? What harm will it do?

It took me an hour or so to upload some photos, fill in my profile and answer some questions. I got a number of visitors right away (OkCupid will show you your visitors, provided you allow others to see when you visit their profile. It’s a great feature!) and received a message or two that night, but nothing really promising.

I spent some time browsing men, and yes, I felt a bit creepy about it. I saw a few maybes, but didn’t message anyone that night.

I had the day to myself on Sunday, so in between getting things done around the house I’d log in and answer questions, check out some people that the site recommended, added a few more photos and filled out some more of my profile. I got a cheeky message from the last guy I dated (who I met in person, not online), who is also on the site. The more activity I did, the more messages I received, and after a day or so I realized I’d need some kind of a system to keep them under some kind of control.

Overtly sexual or rude: (e.g. “do you give good head?”) Delete and block. Not interested, moron.

Bland, boring and impersonal: (e.g. “Hey how’s it going?” or “I like your profile.”) First I’ll check their profile. If it looks at all promising, I’ll send a brief reply asking them something about themselves, giving them the opportunity to respond with something more interesting. If their profile is also bland, boring and impersonal, delete.

Something interesting, mentioning things I had written in my profile and how we might make a good match, something funny, something honest: I feel like these messages deserve consideration and a response. I’ll check their profile. If I’m not interested, I will thank them for their interest and politely decline (e.g. “Hi, thanks for the message. I had a look at your profile, but I’m not seeing anything that makes me think we’d hit it off in person.”) That’s the hardest one to send, but it seems nicer than just ignoring them. Sometimes they write back. If I haven’t changed my mind, I just don’t continue the conversation.

If an interesting message is backed up by an interesting profile, I’ll reply and suggest meeting in person. Boom. Just like that. Why wait?

I’ve received pretty positive responses to this. A few replied with comments or questions and we had some messages back and forth before making a plan to get together. Some were on the same page and we progressed to finding an agreeable time and place and that was that. It’s been easy, low pressure and fun.

But the most fun, and the best messages so far, have been the ones that I’ve instigated. In my profile browsing I’ve come across a few particularly promising ones. For me, this whole making the first move thing is scary stuff. But I have to admit that so far, the payoff has been great. I’ll keep you posted.

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Math Quiz

March 7, 2013 § 1 Comment

One of my favourite things about OkCupid is the questions. They have an enormous database of questions (mostly yes or no, a few multiple choice) for you to answer about your preferences, and you also include which answers you’ll accept from a potential match and how important the question is to you.

Then the site uses SCIENCE (well, math) to figure out good matches for you. Every other user’s percentage as your potential Match, Friend and Enemy (based on the answers they’ve completed) is shown. The site also evaluates your potentials based on star ratings you give other users, what you say you’re looking for, and other computational site activity.

This is one of my favourite parts of OkCupid. I like answering questions. And some of them are challenging. And you can skip the ones you don’t want to answer. Since this is a fresh, new profile that I set up last week, I am starting from scratch on the questions. But last time I used the site I remember being surprised that my answers to questions in 2004 really had not changed much in 2010. I felt that I had grown and learned a lot in those 6 years, and yet, I still had almost all the same answers to the questions. And I suspect my answers are still the same now, but it’s fun to go through and answer them again.

I think there might be some people who don’t like this part of the site (and you really do need to participate to get good potential matches, I think). Some people just want to cruise through the photos of who is ONLINE NOW and send them quick messages to see if they might be willing to chat. Some people don’t care about the percentages at all, they are just looking for a pretty face. Now, this isn’t to say that I only rely on the numbers and won’t even consider replying to someone who has a low match, or that I’ll always be into someone with a high match. But I have found it interesting that the people with low match percentages for me, no matter how attractive I find them, usually always have responses to questions that are unacceptable to me. Questions like “Do you think homosexuality is a sin” or “Do you think women have an obligation to keep their legs shaved.” They are usually conservative, capitalistic, cocky, agressive or narrow-minded. Which just isn’t for me. And I’m probably not for them either.

And there are plenty of really high percentage matches that just aren’t going to do it for me either. But I tend to be a little more willing to take a chance with them. After all, it’s pretty hard to figure someone out from an online profile, isn’t it? But put me in a room for 20 minutes with someone new and I’ll know pretty quick what kind of potential we have. I’ve got pretty good intuition. And I’m absolutely willing to give someone the benefit of the doubt, but when you know you know.

And this is why, this time around, I am all about meeting people in person as soon as possible. I’m forgetting about the shy and nervous bullshit and I’m getting out there. I don’t want to drag out a month long message chain with someone and really get to like them, only to find out that there’s something missing when we meet. That “click” when you just know that this is someone you really want to spend more time with. And I suspect that most of the time these connections are going to lead to friendships, not romantic relationships, but that’s okay too. I could use a few more friends. And when one really clicks? Well, that’s when things get interesting, right?

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Profiling – Words

March 6, 2013 § 1 Comment

Words matter. I always say that. The first word(s) you need to consider for your online dating profile (and actually this comes before the photos, which I already wrote about) is your username. Almost as much as your profile picture makes a huge first impression, so does your username.

What are you looking for? What are your interests? How would you sum yourself up? How clever are you? These are all questions you might ask yourself when you’re trying to come up with the perfect username. I’ve seen some really great names, funny names, boring names, names I don’t understand, and some really, truly awful ones. And I have to wonder, is it possible that having a username like “makemehorni” gets you what you’re looking for?! If so, great. But seriously, what on earth makes you think that I might even have the slightest inclination to reply to your message request of “wana get banged?” Seriously.

To summarize: what’s in a name? A lot. Choose wisely.

Next is the actual profile. OkCupid has a profile template for people to fill in. There’s the multiple choice section that consists of typical “just the facts” kind of stuff (height, race, body type, income, kids etc.) with a playful OkC twist. Example? Under “Drinks” the options are: Very Often, Often, Socially, Rarely, Desperately, Not at all. I considered selecting “Desperately,” but remembered that these people don’t know me yet and might not get my attempts at humour. I do think it’s really important to be honest in this section. I’ve noticed that quite a few people leave some of these blank, which is fine, that’s your prerogative, and it’s better than lying, but I tend to assume the worst.

Then there’s the long answer, open ended questions: Self-Summary, What I’m doing with my life, I’m really good at, The first things people usually notice about me, Favorite books, movies, shows, music and food, The six things I could never do without, I spend a lot of time thinking about, On a typical Friday night I am, The most private thing I’m willing to admit, another multiple choice question concerning What I’m looking for, followed by a paragraph section for You should message me if…

This is where your personality is revealed (although I’d agree that the right photos can do this too)! Personality? Scary stuff for some folks. How much can/should/will you reveal? What kind of tone will you use in your prose? Maybe you’ll use rhyming couplets! Style absolutely counts in this section. It’s not just what you say, but how you say it.

If you write well, you might have a bit of an edge in this section, but so be it, you gotta play to your strengths. And if I employ an evocative phrase, or try to incorporate some of my strange blend of humour, if I come across as something close to what my friends who know me see, then I’m feeling pretty successful. As far as I’m concerned this is the ultimate goal when you are trying to attract a certain type(s) of person (and to find others to be attracted to).

Don’t skimp out on your profile. Use it to showcase the best parts of yourself. If you’re funny, make us laugh. Sarcastic? Bring it on. Contemplative? Make me think. A non-conformist? Ignore the suggested topics and let me hear what you have to say. Be the best you possible in a page of words. Leave your visitors with something to comment on, a question to ask or answer, a reason to reach out and send you a message. Stand out from all the other profiles by being your unique self. That’s how you make more valuable connections.

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Profiling – Photos

March 3, 2013 § 3 Comments

Once you’ve decided to take the plunge, the next step is to create your online dating profile. This is really important. It’s the first impression you project to all of the potential people in your new online dating community. And if it’s true that you never get a second chance to make one (I’m not sure I believe this, but whatever) – you want it to be good. No, not good, stellar.

Some people will say that the most important aspect of your profile is your photo. Everyone looks at the photo. Some people don’t even read the information you’ve provided if they don’t like your photo. This is known as judging a book by its cover, and it might not be fair, but it happens all the time. I’m pretty sure that I don’t want to get close to people who judge looks above everything else about a person, but I”m not going to pretend it’s not important to me too. And when you’re online it’s one of the easiest things to go on.

Now, I’m no expert on any of this. That should be clear. But I do have some opinions on the topic (otherwise why would I be writing about it), and when I’m sharing my thoughts if I start to sound didactic just remember that I don’t really know what I’m doing, but this is how I believe it’s going to work for me. You’re probably not me, so it might not be the same for you. Then again, maybe it is. Truth. It’s a tricky thing.

I digress (again. I do that a lot. Stay with me).

So, photos. Each one has the potential to tell a story. You have to consider what that story might be. You might be surprised. Try to consider what someone else sees when they look at pictures of you. On OkC you get one main profile picture, but you can add more for interested viewers. I think I’m a reasonably attractive woman, but I’m a hell of a lot more than that, and I want to be specific about the image I am portraying. Consider this: what does it say if you profile picture is focused on your body, rather than your face? You’re looking for sex? You’ve got a great rack but an ugly visage? You know what brings all the boys to the yard? Maybe. What does it say if it’s a blurry photo of you, grinning like a fool, in a fancy dress, wearing a party hat? You know how to have a good time? You are a terrible photographer?

I want others to see me as I imagine myself: smart, sexy, silly, stimulating, creative, clever, curious… I want to show my best features without coming across as conceited. I’m not trying to hide, so my goal is to show the real me as much as possible, but I’m still trying to attract a certain type(s) of person. This is not what everyone else on the internet is doing. Duh. I might choose not to play those games, but that doesn’t mean I’m not aware of the potential.

My current Profile Pic

My current Profile Pic

I’m not sure how I’m doing with this photo. I think it’s playful and flirty, but not overtly sexual. No one has commented on it on the site so I’m not sure how it’s coming across. What do you think?

I’ve included some other photos as well. Me on a beach with the wind blowing my hair around – not one of my prettiest pictures, but it shows my love for the ocean. One of me posing demurely with the focus on a piece of jewellery I am particularly fond of, a close up of my eyes (windows to the soul and all that), a fairly straightforward (literally and figuratively) head shot so people can see what I typically look like, and one full-length photo for those who want to see my figure. Actually, it’s not revealing much. I’m wearing a winter coat in the picture, but I hope it shows that when I describe my body type as “average,” (as opposed to “thin, “overweight,” “athletic,” or any number of other choices) that I’m not lying. This is the first picture I plan to update/replace, but it seems I lack any recent full-length photos of myself. Speaking of recent, all of my pictures have been taken within the last 3 months. I think this is important too. Go ahead and post that great shot of you at _______, but you should probably include the date it was taken in the description.

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