The Duds of Online Dating

Ah, the joys of online dating. I’ve sort of given the whole thing a break. Although, there is still a site that I’ve paid for, where my membership is still good until the end of March, and my profile is still live. I figure, I paid for it, may as well see what pops up. (No pun intended.) I’m nothing if not frugally curious.

As I’ve said before, there are several things in online dating I find quite hilarious. I just can’t help myself. I recently found an article that had a list of online dating etiquette. I thought many of these tips were very common sense. I have yet to see the etiquette for when you run across a profile of someone you actually know. Do you throw the phone? Do you act as if you didn’t see it there? Do you do the absolute, wrong thing and say “Hey, how’s it hangin’?” So as not to cause any misinterpretation, I aim for a polite, “just wanted to say hey and happy hunting.” I mean really it’s just a conversation that no one ever answers, so you may as well be polite.

Anyway, I thought I would share a few of my more humorous online dating encounters. Let me preface this by saying, the names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Encounter #1 (and my favorite) was a superhero. BATMAN! I have to tell you, I laughed until I cried. I was so amazed that Batman liked me, I mean wow, it is not every day you get a message from the caped crusader! His profile was the Michael Keaton version of Batman, so I was intrigued. I mean who wouldn’t be? I am a special blend of playful and snarky, so I had to ask questions. His profile said he was from North Carolina. I knew there was a Batcave, NC, so surely this was the real deal. His profile also said he was 5’11” (somehow I thought he would be taller). So, I asked if he wore heels? It said he had kids. I asked if he still counted Robin his ward as a dependent? Was Batgirl also his? I’m not sure I remember the storyline. I also think he lied about his age, he said he was 45. So I asked if he was sure? Little did he know, my first words were “na na na, BATMAN!” when I was 1 in 1966, and Batman at that time was a grown man, so something is not adding up here. Even if he were the Michael Keaton version he would be older than 45, right? Hmmm. He didn’t respond to my questions and he never messaged me again. Oh, well. I guess a superhero was too much to wish for.

Encounter #2 was with Rigger. He worked on an oil rig and loved to cook and CLEAN. Really? I would think that would keep you really busy on a rig. He texted a wonderful game, was sweet and funny and enjoyed witty banter, was somewhat intelligent. Until I started asking personal questions. The oil rig he worked on had security and could only text, no phone calls, no video chats, no photos. Right. Did he miss the part about me being an Army widow? I got skyped from war zones. Let me call bulls**t. The story (after 2 days), he was coming off the rig in a month. He really wanted to come to see me and stay in Knoxville because it sounded so beautiful. Hmmmm. He got really defensive when I said I had Googled him. He didn’t exist anywhere he said he did. When I told him I didn’t want to meet with anyone who couldn’t video chat and at least prove they were who they said they were, things got dicey. And again, my snarky side jumped out and asked for a photo of him holding his driver’s license. How dare I ask for a picture or a background check. Oh dear, there goes another one.

Encounter #3 was the Flying V. His profile photo was of a wild-haired 80s guitarist holding a beautiful classic Gibson blond Flying V guitar. So I complimented him on his guitar (I love music and it was a fine instrument). He liked fluffy girls and thought he should come live with me because Knoxville has such a bitchin’ music scene. Knoxville does. He shouldn’t. He thought I was cool because I knew what he played and he obviously thought that meant he needed to move in with me. He was devastated when I told him I had a roommate. Things when downhill at warp speed, and another one bites the dust.

Encounter #4 was Who’s Your Daddy? A very nice-looking truck driver who thought I was an amazing lady of exceptional caliber. We talked on the phone a few times and the conversation was going fine. Until I asked, “How many kids do you have?” I thought it was a perfectly normal question, right? Until he answered, I’m not sure. Wait, what? You don’t know how many children you have? I’m thinking player or sperm doner, either way, I think I’m out.

Encounter #5 Momma’s Boy – I should have known better than to even respond to this one, but I was flattered. He was 45, so 12 years younger. I thought, maybe he can keep up with me. It seems that the nice fellas I met who were my age all went to be at 8 pm and that’s just not me. So, I was hopeful. I have a co-worker whose hubby is 9 years her junior and they have a wonderful relationship. You never know, right? So I meet the fella for dinner. He was late. He arrives after I already had a table, a drink, and an appetizer. I’m polite, say something about the traffic or road construction. He says, no, he’s helping his mom. Ok, that’s sweet. Then he proceeds to tell me he lives in her basement and is unemployed. She actually gave him money to go out that night because he helped her. Can, I pick them or what?

Now, I know I can be a bit much. I laugh too loud. Sometimes my filter is broken and things just come out of my mouth that should have stayed in my head. I tell the truth to a fault, but I try not to hurt anyone’s feelings. You always know where you stand with me. I am diplomatic. I can’t sit still when music is playing. I’m colorful. I’m creative. I’m overweight. I”m active. I love to dance, especially in my kitchen barefoot. (Lord, knows my kitchen isn’t for cookin’.) My hair color/style changes on a whim. I have never been accused of being boring or sedate. I am fiercely loyal. I have a huge heart for people, animals, and the world. And a whole host of other things. I would definitely say, I am an experience. I’d like to think a positve one. About a week before Andy died, he came into the kitchen, where I was dancing and singing (badly) putting away dishes (remember my kitchen is for dancing) and he whispered in my ear, “life with you is never boring.” That is one of my most treasured memories.

I must say I really try not to be judgy, I think most people who know me would say I’m not. Online dating makes you judgy. I can’t help it. It does. I hope you won’t judge me too harshly and I hope some of my adventures have been a cautionary, fun glimpse into my world. If you have someone to love, love them with all that you have. Appreciation is often overlooked. Live life to the fullest, it can change on a dime.

Thanks for reading.

Knowing What You Don’t Want

Please raise your hand if you are a fan of online dating…anyone…anyone? Oh, I see you scammer in the back. Please exit now, we don’t need your kind here.

So, I can’t help but laugh when I think about what it is like to be dating at my age. When I first began this journey, I took it to heart when someone didn’t return my like or made a rude comment about my size, my hair, or just my profile in general. I soon learned that every part of this is an adventure. The adventure is not a pretty fairy tale and there is no prince charming to kiss the sleeping princess awake and live happily ever after. What is it? A comedy of errors. Honestly, I think it is hilarious.

Image credit from B. Devine (Facebook)

You write these profiles so people will like you. Hopefully, drawing the moth to the flame. We all want to think we are the flame in this analogy. Hot, right? In some cases that may be true, in others, it is more like flies to sh**.

During the whole experience, everyone is trying to look social media perfect and no one is who they say they are. It isn’t until later you find out who is the flame and who is the sh**. And so far, I’ve seen a lot more sh**.

So everyone is telling people what they are looking for, I want this or I want that, blah, blah, blah…Their wishlist for the perfect relationship. There is no such thing. All relationships take work and communication. All my life I heard the expression, “wish in one and crap in the other and see which one fills up faster.” Wishing for the perfect relationship is like to me.

Honestly, 29 years ago I would have never chosen the man I married. He was none of the things I had on my perfect relationship wishlist. NONE. OF. THEM. Yet, he turned out to be Mr. Efing Wonderful, not perfect, but wonderful. Why? Because we got each other on a level, that prior was unknown to either of us.

It was more important for me to learn from my past mistakes and know what I DID NOT want in my life ever again than it was for me to have the wishlist for the perfect relationship. If we don’t learn from our mistakes we are doomed to repeat them. Sometimes when the same thing happens over and over, you have to look inward and deal with yourself. Sometimes it is unhealthy and you have to know the warning signs, so you don’t repeat the mistakes. Sometimes it is you just don’t know what you don’t know until it is too late.

So to avoid all the past chaos of my life I asked this man a series of questions about all the things I knew I could not bear to live with, and I will be damned if he didn’t answer EVERY question right. But by the same token, we had deep conversations about why I asked the questions and why he answered them and then he asked me his series of questions and we had conversations about why I answered them the way I did. It all came down to being willing to communicate openly and honestly with each other.

I am the type of person that takes every experience as a learning opportunity. If I have a question about something, I ask. If there is something I’m curious about, I ask. If there is something I don’t understand I will ask for an explanation. I learned a long time ago not to waste my time and energy guessing.

Obviously, that is not how things are done in this day and age, because I do not see a lot of open and honest communication happening anywhere online. I don’t know if that’s what’s wrong with me, or what’s wrong with the system. Enter the strange lady who speaks her mind and asks strange questions, it freaks people out a little. And boom, I’m ghosted.

Great relationships take work, and if you have one, keep working at it. It’s rough out here, people are just flat-out difficult to figure out. So married people, people in a committed relationship, let this be a cautionary tale, if you have someone who loves you, accepts you for who you are and you get to snuggle with them, DO NOT take it for granted. Things can change in an instant. Let the people you care about know you care.

As for me, I’m done with online dating for a while. I’m just going to keep on being the wild, weird, wonderful me, when and if something happens, it happens. God has better plans for me than I can even imagine, so I’ll leave it to Him.

I’ll leave you with a few words from the Beatles…

I get by with a little help from my friends.

Thanks for reading, friends.

Beautifully Broken

Thinking about the different twists and turns my life has taken, I sometimes wonder, “How I am still standing?” My life has had so many unbelievable chapters, I am hesitant to talk about them in great detail, or all at once. It seems too hard to believe that so much has happened to just one person.

Yet, it’s just me. All the twists and turns have made me who I am. And I like who I’ve become. I try to be a person of integrity, humor, and a bit of sass. Sure, when I look in the mirror I don’t always like what I see, but I’m a work in progress, as we all are. The cover doesn’t always match the book. There is a song I like by Gov’t Mule called Beautifully Broken, there is a verse that goes something like, “She’s so beautifully broken, shaped by the wind, dangerously twisted…” That’s how I feel sometimes.

Mosaic heart by charmin foth

I have often described Andy’s passing as the event that shattered me. I felt like someone had taken a baseball bat to the full-length mirror that was my life. The force of the blow exploded my world into a million sparkling pieces and left them at my feet to figure out what was next.

Amazingly though, this isn’t the first time I’ve been shattered, I’ve been broken so many times that some of the fragments have turned to dust and there is no picking up those pieces. The dust gets swept under the rug. I don’t think a person ever loses the trauma they survived, it comes back from time to time as the dust blows around and you have to sweep it up again.

Each time my life shattered, I bent over and started picking up the pieces and gluing me back together, one piece at a time. I didn’t know what else to do. I have never been a negative person, I truly believe every experience teaches us something. There is a Nelson Mandela quote that says something along the lines of “I never lose, I either win, or I learn.” So, I am learning as I go. Living is about learning.

For the last two years, I have picked up one piece after another and put it back where I felt it fit best. Remembering parts of me that I lost, finding new colorful pieces to add. The thing about shattered mirrors is you see yourself from every possible angle. If I’m honest, I know the parts that need work, the parts that don’t show me in the best light, the parts that are rough and jagged, the parts that are smooth and shiny, there are so many different pieces, but they are all me. All the pieces still fit together, just not in the same way.

I shocked myself. One day I looked up and almost all the broken pieces were put back together. The mosaic of shattered pieces had created a beautiful heart that was ready to beat again and a spirit of resilience I want to share with others. The mirror of my life will never be a mirror again, but by being broken, by God helping me piece it back together I have become something new. My life doesn’t look the same as it did before, truly, I’m not the same person I was before. Each time I have been shattered, and I get it together again, I am different. Life shapes us, the mosaic changes. It is still the same pieces creating a new piece of art. It is hard to understand, but I am the same, yet different.

I like who I am now, I’m not perfect and never will be, but who wants perfect? Perfect is boring. I would much rather be real than perfect, and I think I’m finally comfortable with that concept. I recently told someone, we are all broken, and it doesn’t matter how broken we are, it matters what we do with the pieces. If the pieces of my brokenness can somehow help mend the pieces of your brokenness, I think that’s God at work in His truest form.

The Lost Art of Communication

In this world of dry texting, monosyllabic chat, and single emojis that drop into our social media comments, text messages, DMs, and even video chats, does true communication even exist anymore? When the most you can hope for is short terse answers to questions that run through your mind, answers with no tone, and plenty of room for supposition, how do you get to truly know someone? Have we lost the art of communication?

It’s even more of a disaster in the dating world at my age, as people think answering a like, DM, text or even a phone call should be immediate. If a message isn’t responded to in a timely manner of a day or two, I understand, maybe that person doesn’t want to talk to you.

However, the number of people my age, who think a message should be replied to instantaneously stunned me. People, let’s play nice and work on our patience.

The number of fellas who have liked my dating profile in the last two months, only to ignore me because I didn’t respond immediately, 24. Twenty-four, hopefully, nice guys didn’t have the patience for me to reply to a text until after I got off work. They couldn’t wait 8 hours, not even a whole day. And it wasn’t even a real conversation. I do not get it. I don’t mean to sound crass, but it’s their loss. And really would I want to be with someone who has the attention span of a gnat? Probably not.

Being a creative type adds another layer of complication to communication altogether. When inspiration strikes you must strike with it, otherwise it just disappears, like dust in the wind. I’m not saying I’m losing it or anything, just some days the creative process can be like a squirrel on crack, I can be all over the place at once. I know it is that way for a lot of creative people.

Usually, when I feel something resonate with me and the gears start to spin, I will have a vision in my head of what something could be and I can’t let it go until I do something with it. It can be pen to paper, graphic design, paint to canvas, fire to wood, or thread to material, it’s a motivating force. An artist friend told me, he couldn’t get the noise in his head to stop until he created what he was thinking. I wish I had approached my art that way more often when I was younger.

Creativity can also be an isolating force. Most people don’t understand the sudden lack of attention (I am generally a detail-oriented person) or see the shift in focus when an idea is spinning in the creative process. That alone can make a relationship hard to maintain and this is where communication is key, I had to learn to tell people that I was going to be unavailable.

Most people say they understand the creative process until I don’t answer the text, the phone, or the email because the music is up and I am dancing around barefoot with a paintbrush in my hand, or humming along while I sew, or building something with power tools. They don’t understand that I have to get the vision out into the world, or like grapes, it dies on the vine and becomes a thorn in my side.

All they see is me ignoring them when that’s not the case at all. Eventually, I have to come up for air and focus back on the real world. I once again long for real connection and communication. My love languages are Quality Time, Touch, and Words of Affirmation, but those are hard to give or to get when no one can communicate. It’s like the 80s song by the Buggies, Video Killed the Radio Star, except I think, Text Messaging has Killed the Conversation.

I would like to think that in my years as a graphic designer listening to a customer’s vision and creating it, or my time in the newspaper business listening to an interview to get the story I’ve become a better communicator. Or maybe it is just me getting older and I call it as I see it. I try to say what I mean, let people know what I need, and clarify if needed. Someone told me I was intimidating and I couldn’t help but laugh, the last thing I wanted to do is intimidate anyone. Still, I am amazed at the people who don’t know how to ask for what they need, or even say what they really mean. In the long run, aren’t they just hurting themselves?

The art of conversation is a rare gift. When you have it treasure it. Good conversation is a balm to the soul. It creates a connection and is the building block for any type of good relationship. Connection isn’t just about the words, it’s when you can sit across the table and look into someone’s eyes and see if they are sincere in what they are saying, or see their eyes smile even when their face doesn’t, and read their body language, there is subtext and nuance no text message will ever have. A good conversation invites you in, gets you comfortable, and puts you at ease, there is give and take, it’s a two-way street. And when it’s done, both people walk away feeling understood, like someone actually heard what they had to say. That’s a beautiful thing.

You would think that post-pandemic, we would all be longing for real conversations, not ones related to the screens in our hands, but I just don’t see that happening and it breaks my heart a little.

As far as the online dating world is concerned, it’s a hot mess out there. The men who want to sext you up and haven’t even met you, aren’t worth your time, ladies. If I’m going to engage with someone, I at least want to look them in the eye, is that too much to ask? Personally, I find that I am a sapiosexual, and find intelligence sexy, so give me great conversations that make me think and get my gears turning any day.

Thanks for reading and stay safe out there, it’s a crazy, wild world.

Is That A Big Fish…

Or are you just happy to see me?

Dating at any age isn’t easy, it’s always just a little bit awkward. But dating at a certain age is a whole new fresh hell.

I guess this is where I put out the disclaimer that if you are one of my more straight-laced readers, you might want to skim past this one. I am going to throw some shade and lay down some hard-won wisdom. I am by no means an expert and I still have questions of my own, but things are weird out there.

As many of you know, I lost my husband over 2 years ago, and last year I got back out on the dating scene. At this moment, I’m not sure why it seemed like the thing to do? Since I am a student of life I thought I’d share, maybe you will learn from my mistakes. I’ve also made some fascinating observations, I will keep it PG, but there will be some mild subtext.

Back in the day, you met people out and about, while you were living life, doing what you liked, and you had a conversation. You hit it off and then dating happened along with all the awkwardness, exploration, and testing that ensued. That doesn’t happen anymore. It’s all text conversations, apps, scams, and catfishing.

Now my observations are strictly from the female perspective, but I am sure that some of these go both ways. Let’s face it, there are plenty of ladies out there who aren’t what they say they are, either. All I can say is, ask a lot of questions. Questions are your friend.

But I digress, let’s get to a few things to be aware of:

If they seem too good to be true, they probably are. If they look like a supermodel with washboard abs and you look like the StayPuff Marshmallow Man with bedhead in pajamas, they are scamming you. (No disrespect, ladies, I’m fluffy and fine with it, but I know when something just doesn’t feel right.)

If they immediately are in love with you, they are a scammer. (I’m awesome, but I don’t want anyone telling me they love me during my first text conversation.)

If they immediately try to get you off whatever your choice dating app is and ask you to download Snapchat, WhatsApp, Google Text, or whatever, you need to rethink and ask a BUNCH of questions about them. (I once asked a guy if he would take a selfie of himself holding his driver’s license so he could prove he was who he said he was. He couldn’t. I was ok with it.)

If they refuse to call you, facetime, video chat, or meet up, chances are they are not who they say they are.

Just be careful out there and when in doubt, talk to your friends about whoever you may be chatting up. They will want to give you love life advice anyway, and this way they can live vicariously through you. LOL!

Now onto the fun part, the observations.

My first observation has to be that 99% of the men have photos with really BIG fish. In my mind, this has to be compensation of some kind. I mean, it’s not the size of the fish, it’s the motion of the ocean, right? Are they showing me I won’t starve if the zombie apocalypse comes? Personally, I don’t find fish sexy, but maybe that’s just me.

The next observation was how many men wanted to go on hikes in the wilderness for a first date. Ladies, I don’t know about you, but I do not want to go off into the wilderness with some guy I met over a text message. Something about that just screams AX MURDERER. Dude, take her out for coffee, I know you hate to pay $5 for a Starbucks if it isn’t going to go somewhere, but you will live, I promise, and more importantly, she will. And, you might get a second date that includes a hike.

Observation number three, images may not be as they appear. There are SO many aspects to this observation. I do not know why, as a culture, we are so obsessed with filters. Just be real. Take a bath, wear clothes (more about this later), comb your hair (if you have any), and for God’s sake, SMILE. Get yourself out in some nice natural light and take a photo, or better yet, have a friend take your photo. I know you will be tempted to put a filter on it, just don’t. When you show up at the coffee shop she will actually be able to pick you out of the line at the counter to say hello. Otherwise, what happens…you walk in looking like a dried apple that is nothing like the photos, and she is going to be disappointed, and probably go to the bathroom and never come back. It’s false advertising. It’s wrong.

Observation number four, clothes, wear them. Ladies, I don’t know about you, but I like to unwrap a package. A nice form-fitting shirt and jeans, or a suit. Yes, please. I like it when there is something left to the imagination. Unless you look like Jason Momoa, The Rock, Chris Evans, or whatever heartthrob is on the cover without his shirt on, keep your clothes on. And for all that is holy, please don’t take a selfie of yourself lying in bed. Creepy. Most women I’ve talked to said that is a hard pass, we don’t want to see it. Also, don’t take a selfie of yourself looking down at the camera, you look like a Shar Pei who needs time at the groomer. It is never going to be your best look.

Observation number five, be who you say you are. Just be honest. Do you really want to start a relationship based on some false interpretation of who you are? That is a recipe for failure. Both parties in a relationship deserve honesty. I’m sorry, I am unapologetically who I am. If you don’t like me for who I am, how could I ever like you for who you are?

Trust me everything is better when you can be comfortable in your own skin. I have had a few great dates, that ended in new friends and nothing more and that’s ok. I know what I want, and more importantly, what I don’t want, and I’m not afraid to share that information. I am not unkind, but I am honest.

Oh, and yes, there have been bad dates as well. All I can say is don’t take things too personally or let them rob you of your peace. I appreciate honesty. I much prefer a straight-up conversation, but that doesn’t mean you get to belittle me. I won’t stand for anything less than respect. Passive-aggressive doesn’t play well, just say what you mean, and don’t manipulate me. I believe you get what you give. If you don’t respect me, don’t expect me to respect you.

I have learned that life is too short for drama and chaos. Many people mistake drama for passion and that is sad to me. Once you learn that passion can exist without drama, your whole world opens up. There is so much passion in art, in music, in everyday life but it is often overlooked, it’s the little things. Pay attention to the little things.

That old saying that you have to love yourself before others can love you, rings true. Right now, that’s where I am. I like my own company. If I can’t stand myself, who else will? I love who I am. I’m a sassy, outgoing, straightforward, funny, clumsy, independent woman, and definitely a work in progress. The progress is where the fun comes in. Be happy being you.

I hope my ramblings have been helpful or at least entertaining. I will close with the chorus from one of my favorite Keb Mo songs:

But if nobody loves you
and you feel like dust on an empty shelf
just remember
you can love yourself

Thanks for reading.