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.

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.

Bring Your Own Sunshine

Every Monday morning at work we have devotions. It is an hour that starts the week off right by helping all the staff to grow in our love and knowledge of God, to better serve our community.

During these times we are broken up into small groups. I enjoy these small groups and getting to know my coworkers that work in the many other initiatives that serve alongside ours.

Most Mondays I come away with a nugget of wisdom to use throughout my week and my life, but sometimes, a coworker will say something that strikes a chord deep in my soul.

Our study was on the book of James. We were discussing the darkness that can creep into our daily lives during the daily news. What are the messages we listen to? How do we discern what is right or wrong? How do we combat the darkness?

During these questions, my coworker Omar said something that really spoke to my heart. It was about bringing our sunshine with us into the darkness. While I can’t remember it verbatim, the premise of the conversation created a spinning spiral of thoughts.

I thought about that light that God puts within us, and that Omar reminds the students he works with that they have that light. We all need to be reminded that we have that light. The Spirit Christ put within us. When we rely on the heavenly Father, the light He creates in us grows and others can see it. That special Sonshine can be brighter than the noonday sun when we listen to Him and treat others with love.

Another thing that spoke to my soul was when Omar said to beware of the feelings and emotions of others. Without good boundaries and respect, others can rob you of that light within. You don’t want it to get so dark that it overcomes your Sonshine.

How often do we let others break through our boundaries, rob us of our dignity, and break our souls to steal the Sonshine within us? Why do we give people the power to overcome our Sonshine? How do we prevent it? The enemy tries to extinguish that light every chance he gets.

That’s easier said than done. I know too often in my life I didn’t know how to set boundaries, I didn’t want to upset anyone so I allowed myself to be a doormat. I gave other people the power that should have been mine. Our human nature often gets in the way. We forget that light lives within us. That we were all created in His image.

For me it took a huge shift in knowledge, it took someone being kind, someone willing to pour into me and show me my worth. It took years of two steps forward and three steps back and people who didn’t give up on me. It was people showing me the love of Christ rather than telling me about the love of Christ. That is how I learned “Greater is He who is in you than he that is in the world,” (1 John 4:4). He was with every person who poured goodness into me as they walked with me, and He was with me no matter how low I sank. I am thankful every day that God does what I may think is impossible.

Sometimes the simple act of a kind smile, especially to someone who feels unloved and unseen can start a chain reaction. Kindness can be contagious.

I never knew my birth father, but when I was very young my mom told me that when he smiled, he lit up a room. She told me I had his smile and that ability as well. After hearing that, I began to smile more. It made me feel connected to a father I never knew. After I began my walk with a Father who knew me, the smile and the joy grew. I made a conscious decision to find the positive in whatever situation I found myself in.

Believe me, if you know me or have read this blog for a while it’s apparent that there have been many times in my life when smiling seemed impossible. It is my hope that my life shows Joy really does come from the Lord. He has always given me that little ray of Sonshine, just when I needed it most.

So taking Omar’s advice, I am asking you to bring the Sonshine with you wherever you go because there will be times of deep darkness when you need to shine brightly and let others feel the warmth of the Sonshine on their faces.

It is Sonshine that lights up a room with your smile. Spread a little kindness and share it with others. Trust me it makes all the difference in the world.

Finding the Goodness of Grief

It seems impossible to say. It seems impossible to be at this point. It seems impossible that 16 months have passed since Andrew died. The statement, “all things are possible with God,” comes to my mind. Had it not been for my faith these past 16 months I can’t imagine where or how I would be right now.

Grief is a tumultuous turn of emotions, you feel everything and nothing all at once. Pain so deep you don’t think you can stand, fear so sharp it cuts to the bone, your heart and body hurts, your mind spins in the web of memories and sometimes clarity is a fleeting thing you can’t quite grasp. Grief is different for everyone, a wound that never truly heals and always leaves a scar. The healing time is different for everyone as well. You cannot gauge your healing against someone else’s. There is no, “this is how it’s done, and now you are good.” It is not something you can do and check off your list.

I had to wade through all of my feelings, like sloshing through Mississippi mud, which during a pandemic hasn’t been easy. The isolation and the pain were not friends, but they were inseparable. There were days when I didn’t have the energy to get out of bed. There were nights when I cried myself to sleep. There were times I just needed someone to stay with me and hug me and tell me everything would be all right, but no one was there. There were times when friends would stop by or call and encourage me, but not as often as I needed. More often than not, I was alone with my feelings and had to learn how to keep my head up when waves of grief crashed over me.

The valley seemed the deepest six months after his passing. Life had gone back to normal for everyone else, the world was still spinning and time was moving forward. But it was moving forward without him, without us. I had to come to grips that I was no longer part of a we and I couldn’t remember how to be just me.

My church was the hardest place for me. Not because I blamed God, but because that was something we did together. It was our place, our relationship was better there, he was better there. After he was gone, I couldn’t bear, still can’t bear, to be there without him. I still deeply love my church family, but I have never felt so crushed by the weight of being alone as the times I went back through those doors. I still watch online and don’t have that feeling.

I know things have a season and during my prayers, I feel God pulling me to find a space that is mine, where I can explore who I am becoming. Where I can be a Me, and not be under the shadow of the We. My church family still loves me and has supported me through all of this and for that I am thankful. There may be a time to go back, but that time is not yet.

I have to say, the thing that saved me was that my tribe let me tell stories and relive memories that made me laugh and smile at the good life and love I felt when Andy was alive. They let me know it was ok to cry and take a moment when I needed it.

The goodness in my grief was the joy God gave me through the telling of those stories, those treasured memories that not only made me laugh but also made others laugh as well. The laughter healed my soul in a way I couldn’t have imagined. I could feel God’s hand leading me through the hardest moments and my deepest valleys. I leaned deeply on God’s wisdom on how to put one foot in front of the other. He made a way when I saw no way.

My other saving grace during this time is the beautiful relationship with my stepdaughter. She pulled me into a family I never thought I would get to experience. We shared a love for a man we both dearly miss. And her sarcasm and mannerisms remind me of him so very much it touches my heart. She has given me the biggest blessing during this season of grief, I had the honor of being called grandma for the first time and about to be a grandma for the second time. Getting to be a part of their lives is a gift I am so very fortunate to have, it takes my breath away.

Lately, I feel that it is time to say goodbye for now to my beloved, to give him the proper honors he deserves for his service. I know I will see him when my time is done, but for now, God still has work for me here. On May 27th I will have a military service to honor his memory and inter his ashes.

We were married on the Friday before Memorial Day during our lunch hour, so I felt it was appropriate to say goodbye for now in the same fashion. He would find it more than a fitting tribute.

I know he would never want me to stay in a state of sadness, he loved it when we laughed together and he loved making me laugh. I can hear him in my head laughing now, telling me it is time to move forward and have some fun. Those of you who knew him, know the truth in this.

Thank you to my tribe, for loving me and taking care of me. You all matter more than words can say.