Dating Tip #2: Know Before You Go

Dating Tip #2: Know Before You Go

Tiger’s Eye was right about dating when he said, “…before you join an online dating site, decide what you want to get out of the experience.”

Even if you aren’t using an online dating service, the same advice applies.  You need to know where you are and what you want before you invite someone into your life.  For some, this is obvious and goes without saying.  Maybe you’re lucky enough to not be confused about what’s best for you or disillusioned by the demise of a love affair you were sure was the best thing that ever happened to you or just plain bitter about being alone after a string of sorry relationship experiences.  If this is you, if you are this lucky, well, kudos to you.  You rock!  Date on!  For others, here’s my advice:  get thee to a peaceful place where ye may see thyself clearly. 

Before you go on another date, have an honest conversation with yourself about what you want.  I like to stand in front of my favorite mirror for these intimate moments with myself.  Try it.  Be courageous.  Stand up tall, peer into your eyes, take a big cleansing breath, and ask yourself one question.   

Why am I dating right now?

That’s it. 

So simple. 

Notice that the question is anchored in the present.  This is key.  It’s not about the past.  Leave him back there.  It’s also not about the future.  She stretches so far out in front of us that we are pulled away from the magic of right now.

Pay close attention to the first thoughts that fill your mind.  Don’t force it.  I like to talk out loud to myself during my one-on-ones, but you don’t have to do it this way.  If talking out loud makes you feel too weird or uncomfortable, try writing down whatever comes to you. But first, find that mirror, move in real close, and ask the question.  

Why am I dating right now?

No censoring.

Just let the answer flow.

Once you have it, you’ll have a better sense of how to proceed.  But if by chance you face the mirror, ask the question, and nothing comes, then just go back to Dating Tip #1 until something does. 

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Online Dating: How Two Became One

Online Dating: How Two Became One

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A few months ago, I shared my personal story about why I initially tried online dating and what the process was like for me.  I shared how not making my photo available upfront resulted in frequent rejections early in the process and how I used eHarmony’s guided communication process to my advantage.  As a result, 150 matches were reduced to about 10, and then there were two.

Two men:  one in my city and one far, far away.

Mr. City was funny, handsome, ambitious, divorced, and still raising two young boys.  Mr. Away was engaging, handsome, mysterious, never married, and without children.  I should add that he traveled often to the states and was willing to relocate for the “right” person or at least that’s what his profile stated.  You know how it is when you initially read someone’s profile?  You want to believe the person is being honest, but only time reveals this for sure.

Mr. City communicated with me every day from the time I gave him my personal phone number and email address.  In fact, before I knew it, we’d established a standing phone date every night at 9:30pm.  This happened without us ever discussing it.  He never stood me up and our conversations went longer and longer into the night as we discussed whatever occurred to us.

Mr. Away called every few days or so.  It was challenging to figure out the best times to talk with the time difference and our different work schedules, but I didn’t hold this against him.  I tried to have reasonable expectations.  He began to talk about setting a date to come visit me. I thought it was a bit early for overseas travel to meet each other, but I went along with it.  We discovered we both had family in the same state.  So I figured it was feasible if we actually decided we wanted to see each other.

I let things proceed naturally, and two became one.

Communication continued with both men by phone and email.  I spent less and less time responding and reaching out to other matches on eHarmony. I left my account open because you never know how things will end up, but I didn’t care as much about it.  It was only a three month subscription anyway.  I eventually found myself enjoying conversations with Mr. City more than Mr. Away.  At this point, where they were located wasn’t a factor.  We were still in the initial stage of getting to know each other and the plain simple fact was that my conversations with Mr. City became a high point, something I looked forward to everyday.  I felt he had a genuine interest in me.  If he was faking it, then his ability to keep it up day-after-day as our conversations grew longer, more varied, and more revealing would’ve been most impressive.  I chose to believe his interest was real.  On the other hand, my conversations with Mr. Away, while initially engaging, lacked the steady progression that I expected from a man who was supposed to be interested in having a relationship with me. Remember, he was all set to travel to the states to meet me.  Things just didn’t match up to me.  A couple of missed calls and non-replies to emails was all it took for Mr. Away to never contact me again.  Luckily, my instincts about Mr. City proved to be correct.  We made plans to see each other for the first time.

I’ll never forget the first time we met.

As the day of our first official, face-to-face date approached, I became very anxious.  I was ready for it.  I mean I felt excited, but I couldn’t calm myself at all.  I mentioned my anxiousness during one of our phone dates about a week before the date.  He suggested that we break the ice with a short meet and greet.  He said it wouldn’t be our first real date.  We’d just meet for coffee and chat for a few minutes—just long enough to get over the initial anxiety.

We met in the middle of the day in the middle of a nearby mall at Starbucks.  I like to recall that I smiled with ease and that my skin was glowing as I walked towards him, but in reality my mouth was dry, my lips were covered with extra gloss, and my skin was shinny due to sweat.  He was already seated and I recognized him right away from his profile picture.  He looked exactly the same, which was a relief.  He greeted me with a smile and a hug.  I was still sweating and a little shaky, but this subsided once we began talking.  It was just as easy as it had been over the phone.  At some point, he excused himself for a few minutes.  I sat waiting for a few minutes.  Then, I felt a light touch on my right shoulder.  When I turned to see who it was, he leaned in and kissed me.  It was short, gentle, and on the lips.  I honestly didn’t expect it.  Nothing like this had ever happened to me before. It was shocking, but in a good way.  Coffee turned into lunch.  A couple of hours later, we parted with confirmed plans to have our first official date the following weekend…and as time moved on, our dating grew into a relationship.

It’s been six years since then, and we’re still together.

After a year of dating, we relocated together.  A year later, we were married.  It’s been a little over three years since our wedding day, and it still feels like we’re experiencing so much for the first time.  For me, it’s an adventure with unexpected surprises, great challenges, and ordinary days with an extraordinary man.

Using an online dating service turned out to be just right for me.

What’s your story?

The Real Online Dating Experience Series: Male Case Study #1 (Final Interview)

The Real Online Dating Experience Series: Male Case Study #1 (Final Interview)

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Promises, promises, I sure didn’t keep this one.  I was supposed to finish this series as we entered the new year, but I didn’t. I have no excuses to offer, just the facts.  I just haven’t been as focused on my writing as I needed to be, and sadly, I allowed way too much time to go by.  I can’t make up for it.  I will forge ahead.  So finally…here is the last post in this series.  If this is your first time reading any of the interviews in this series or if you need a quick refresher on what it’s all about, please click here.

Then, read the previous interviews to catch-up.

Previous Interviews:  Male Case Study 1: Interview #1 (Introduction), Female Case Study 1: Interview #1 (Introduction), Male Case Study 2: Interview #1 (Introduction)Female Case Study 2:  Interview #1 (Introduction), Male Case Study 1: Interview #2 (Profile and First Matches), Female Case Study 1:  Interview #2 (Profile and First Matches), Male Case Study 2:  Interview #2–Profile and First Matches), Female Case Study 2:  Interview #2–Profile and First Matches, Male Case Study 1:  Interview #3 (Dating, etc.), Female Case Study 1:  Interview #3 (Dating, etc.), Female Case Study 2:  Interview #3 (Dating, etc.), Female Case Study 1:  Interview #4 (Final Say About Online Dating), Female Case Study 2:  Interview #4 (Final Say About Online Dating)

Male Case Study 1:  Interview #4 (Final Say About Online Dating)

Tiger’s Eye gives it to us straight, ladies!  Read on to learn more.

Q1:  Are you still currently active on any online dating site?  If so, how long have you been doing this?  If not, what happened?  Why not?

Tiger’s Eye:  I’m removed from the dating scene.  Thank God.  Today is February 16, 2013.  I’m more than five years removed from the online dating scene…happily married for over three years to my online match from eHarmony.

Follow-up (Q2):  Wow!  So you’re a success story!  Tell me about it.

Tiger’s Eye:  Let me very quickly take you back to the beginning, a little catch-up here.  Remember I told you about how when I first saw a picture of one of the ladies, a flash of light appeared on my screen?  Well, this young lady eventually became my wife.  I let my two boys see her picture and they asked me if she was old enough for me to date.  [He laughs.  I roll my eyes.]  Well, she’s a sister that’s very charming, very beautiful.  As with other black women, her age is hidden very well.  As I stated earlier, we met online.  She was one of the few women I picked, who did not have her picture available upfront, but her profile mentioned her grandmother and overall it was very interesting and I wanted to get a chance to meet her.  Our communication started off as daily, 9:30 pm conversations by phone.  On the weekends, sometimes we’d talk for hours.  The most interesting thing about her was that she was totally different than any other women I’d met.  Different in that I could tell she was very smart, very intelligent, and she knew exactly what she wanted.  But she sounded really soft and sweet, independent, and I couldn’t wait to see her red hair.  She told me she had red and blonde and brown hair.  After about a month of just talking on the phone, we didn’t do this skyping and face time stuff, texting, we just talked and we talked about any and everything.  We had our first date at my favorite place—Starbucks.  We met at a location in a mall.  I was able to steal my first kiss.  A man deserves at least a kiss after talking to a woman on the phone for over a month. [Oh, whatever!  Men think they deserve too much from women sometimes. It was only a month.]  Our first meet and greet went well.  We extended coffee at Starbucks to lunch at PF Changs (all at the mall).  Afterwards, I walked her to her car.  She left, and I left.  So let’s walk through the process of how me and the women of my dreams came together…After several dates, we had dates I’d never had before.  She opened me up to museum dates, Barnes and Nobles dates, dates on her balcony, dates under the stars, mostly we just hung out.  I was able to be myself.  I even went to a huge fashion show with her.  Hours turned into days and days turned into months.  After a couple of months, she met the boys.  Once she turned them onto this television series called Roswell, she was a hit and the family began.  As our relationship grew, my feelings became stronger.  The boys fell in love with her and they thought they had a mother to be or at least a big sister.   All I can say is it was magical.  After a year, we decided to relocate to Georgia.  We packed up the trucks, packed up the houses, rented them out, and sent the boys to their grandparents.  We said good bye to Texas and hello to Georgia.  As our relationship continued, I asked the boys how they’d feel about me asking her to marry me.  They were fine with it.  So we headed to a jeweler the next weekend and purchased her engagement ring.  By Thanksgiving of 2008, we were engaged.  September 2009, we were married.  Today, the boys are with us and we still go out on dates and enjoy our Starbucks coffee.

Q3:  What are your lessons learned from the online dating experience?

Tiger’s Eye:  Try to take time to learn something about the other person outside of the bedroom. [Okay then.  Is that clear enough for everyone?]  A date is a date. A friend is a friend. A lover is a lover.  Decide very quickly when you meet a person what you want.  Your meet and greet should be a meet and greet, not a long, over night into the morning affair.  Try to remember that the person you’re meeting had a life before they met you. Be very, very, very cautious.  Date with a purpose—date to learn more about yourself.

Q4:   Have you been following the interviews of other participants in this series? If so, what stands out to you.

Tiger’s Eye:  Yes, I have read the interviews, and this is what I’ve gotten from them:  It’s hard to find a match.  Men today are not really looking to be in a long-term relationship. Women are looking to find a mate, a match, and it’s taking years instead of months to find a companion—if they every find one.     

Q5:  What advice do you have for men using online dating sites?

Tiger’s Eye:  First of all, my advice is that before you join an online dating site, decide what you want to get out of the experience.  Are you truly looking for a girlfriend or mate?  What do you want?  Men need to be honest with themselves.  If you’re using online dating as another way to fill up your smart phone, then tell them.  If you’re not looking to be in a committed relationship, tell them.  If you just want to have fun, just put it out there.  Be honest.  Understand that every woman you meet is totally different.  Make sure you’re ready for online dating.  Decide if you want mind over body or body over mind.  What is your preference?  Is it just physical or intellectual?…When friends ask me how it worked for me and my wife, I tell them that I wanted to meet a woman that could communicate well and was open and was happy with herself.  I wanted someone that wanted to continue to grow and get better.  I wanted someone making the same amount of money as me.  She had to have independence, not a lot of debt, and enjoy children.  It worked for me because I was tired of the club and bar dating scene.  I wasn’t looking for a wife.  I just really wanted to meet someone that I could have a good time with and as I stated before, I wasn’t the guy looking to date two and three or four women.  I had two boys, and I had a job.  The key thing is that online dating was the only vehicle that allowed me to meet women that were totally different than women at work, women in my neighborhood.  You really get a chance to broaden your scope and meet people that are out of your circle.  Online dating was a melting pot.

Q6:  What advice do you have for women using online dating sites?

Tiger’s Eye:  Just because it looks good doesn’t mean it is good.  Let’s start there.  Give the relationship time to develop into what you are looking for before you commit.  Don’t drop all of your—how can I say this—whatever you are doing.  Just remember that you had a life before you meet a man.  Life doesn’t begin when you meet a man.  I guess what I’m trying to state here is don’t give up all your values and don’t just drop everything you were doing before just because you meet someone new.  Be honest with yourself when you realize the truth about a man.  Value yourself.  You have to develop a communication flow with the person you are involved with.  You must have open communication, and that takes time to develop.  Women have to understand that men do not like to share information.  [I hate to admit it, but it sure seems to be the truth in most cases.  Why?] They just don’t.  [There has to be a reason.  Why?  He doesn’t really answer my question, but I let it go.  It’s a difficult one.]  You need time to develop communication to get past the unwillingness to share information.  Also, women need to get to a point where they are happy with themselves and enjoy spending time with themselves.  You have to show your own independence to a man.  [Why?]  Because you are the one that wants to be chased.  You don’t want to be chasing him.  Make him be a man.  [I like that answer.  I like it a whole lot.]

 

The Real Online Dating Experience Series: Female Case Study #2 (Final Interview)

The Real Online Dating Experience Series: Female Case Study #2 (Final Interview)

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Revised Special Note:  All final interviews for this series will–if all goes well over the hour–be posted tonight with the exception of Male Case Study #2, Obsidian…(2 of 3 posts)

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted about this topic, but I did promise to finish the series.  If this is your first time reading any of the interviews in this series or if you need a quick refresher on what it’s all about, please click here.

Then, read the previous interviews to catch-up.

Previous Interviews:  Male Case Study 1: Interview #1 (Introduction), Female Case Study 1: Interview #1 (Introduction), Male Case Study 2: Interview #1 (Introduction)Female Case Study 2:  Interview #1 (Introduction), Male Case Study 1: Interview #2 (Profile and First Matches), Female Case Study 1:  Interview #2 (Profile and First Matches), Male Case Study 2:  Interview #2–Profile and First Matches), Female Case Study 2:  Interview #2–Profile and First Matches, Male Case Study 1:  Interview #3 (Dating, etc.), Female Case Study 1:  Interview #3 (Dating, etc.), Female Case Study 2:  Interview #3 (Dating, etc.), Female Case Study 1:  Interview #4 (Final Say About Online Dating)

Female Case Study 2:  Interview #4 (Final Say About Online Dating)

Poppy advises women to be cautious with online dating.   Read on to learn more.

Q1:  Are you still currently active on any online dating site?  If not, what happened?  Why not?

Poppy:  Yes, I am.  I’ve been on the current site [Christian Mingle] for almost two months, but I haven’t been checking stuff for about a couple of weeks.  [Why?  What’s different now?]  I met someone on the site.  So I decided not to continue talking to anyone else.

Q2:  What’s different for you now than when you first started using online dating sites?

Poppy:  For me, I think I have a better understanding of what I’m looking for and what’s out there—the different approaches the male suitors take.  I’m more selective.  I’m more careful when I’m selecting than I was before.

Q3:  What are your lessons learned from the online dating experience?

Poppy:  Even though you chat and communicate, you still have to be very aware and observant and get to know the person through personal contact and conversation.  You can’t be in a rush to find a mate. [Amen!  These things have their own timing.]

 Q4:  Have you been following the interview s of other participants in this series? If so, what stands out to you.

Poppy:  I’ve read some of their responses.  But after the last interview, I didn’t go back to check to see what other people had to say or what else had been written.  It was interesting to see the different perspectives of each person but also to notice the similarities.  For some of the questions you’d ask me, I’d give you an answer and then look at some of the other responses to the same question. Sometimes, it was like an aha moment because I’d read something and then realize I felt the same way…but I didn’t respond the same way at the time.

Q5:  What advice do you have for men using online dating sites?

Poppy:  Be honest.  Be honest with yourself and the people you decide to talk to.  State what you are looking for.  Be cautious.  Be open to communicating.  [Did you find that most men weren’t open to communicating?]  They seemed to be open to communicating whatever they thought the women wanted to hear.  They were limited in sharing information.  As a woman, you might think they are sharing a lot, but to them it’s not that important.  I understand that men and women are different.  As a woman, you have to be very vigilant and cautious.

Q6:  What advice do you have for women using online dating sites?

Poppy:  I think you need to be honest with yourself, what you are looking for, what you are willing to deal with—tolerate.  Be honest in your profile about yourself.  Be cautious.  Just because he looks like he’s honest and handsome and everything, that doesn’t mean that that’s what he is.  Be realistic about what you want and what is presented to you from the people you meet.  I did say be cautious, right?  Don’t meet him in a dark alley.  Finally, make sure that the choices you make are really what you want. Don’t feel any pressure from outside sources.  This could be the guy, a friend, or just society.  That’s want I think.  That’s what I’ve learned, and what I try to follow.

 

 

The Real Online Dating Experience Series: Female Case Study #1 (Final Interview)

The Real Online Dating Experience Series: Female Case Study #1 (Final Interview)

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Special Note:  All final interviews for this series will be posted tonight with the exception of Male Case Study #2, Obsidian…(1 of 3 posts)

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted about this topic, but I did promise to finish the series.  If this is your first time reading any of the interviews in this series or if you need a quick refresher on what it’s all about, please click here.

Then, read the previous interviews to catch-up.

Previous Interviews:  Male Case Study 1: Interview #1 (Introduction), Female Case Study 1: Interview #1 (Introduction), Male Case Study 2: Interview #1 (Introduction)Female Case Study 2:  Interview #1 (Introduction), Male Case Study 1: Interview #2 (Profile and First Matches), Female Case Study 1:  Interview #2 (Profile and First Matches), Male Case Study 2:  Interview #2–Profile and First Matches), Female Case Study 2:  Interview #2–Profile and First Matches, Male Case Study 1:  Interview #3 (Dating, etc.), Female Case Study 1:  Interview #3 (Dating, etc.), Female Case Study 2:  Interview #3 (Dating, etc.)

Female Case Study 1:  Interview #4 (Final Say About Online Dating)

Honeysuckle wraps up her thoughts about online dating in a clear and concise way.

Q1:  Are you still currently active on any online dating site?  If so, how’s it going?  If not, what happened?  Why not?

Honeysuckle:  No.  I killed all accounts because they are…how can I put it…the majority of men I’m finding are playing games, and I guess that’s not what I want anymore.  Not at all.  I met one person that seemed to be sincere, and I’m still seeing that person now.  We agreed to delete our online accounts, but the problem is that this is not the first time I’ve met someone online and agreed to delete my account.  They tell you they want to be exclusive, but they don’t want to let go of their online selections, and it becomes an ultimatum: me or your online account.[I’ve been through it myself.  You never know if the other person will really delete their account or not.  That’s just the way it is.]

Follow-up (Q2):  Since this hasn’t worked well in the past, why did you agree to delete your account this time?

 Honeysuckle:  Because the person I met treated me differently than anyone else in the past.  I felt like he earned my trust.  But…When it came down to deleting his account, he seemed hesitant and wanted to do it on his own.  I had a problem with that.  I felt that he was hiding something from me because it shouldn’t have been a big deal. He took it as me making a demand, but I took it as him showing me that he was sincere.

Follow-up (Q3):  Did he delete it?

Honeysuckle:       He deleted it two days later.  I thought he was messing around.  So with that, I broke it off.  But after some conversations, I had to take a step back to think about everything that had happened up to that point…Him sharing information…Him being there for me.  He even gave me money to help me move.  Not many men would do that.  He should’ve deleted it immediately, but I left my fears and insecurities from past relationships get in the way.  We’re back together now. We’re more aware of each others’ feelings. Now it is one day at a time.

Q4:  What’s different for you now than when you first started using online dating sites?

Honeysuckle:  Oh my goodness, I’ve learned so much.  I’ve learned first that I don’t need a man.  I wanted a man, but I don’t need a man.  Secondly, I guess I’m more self aware.  I thought I was self aware.  I was aware of the things that I was saying and doing but not realizing how it was being taken by a man.  Men and women are so different.  I think I communicate better.  Certain things I realize are best not to share too early.  Finally, I’ve realized if I just hang back, then…I don’t know how to say it…Basically, what’s going to be for me will be, and I don’t have to push it. [Well stated.  I totally agree with this perspective.]

Follow-up (Q5):  What kinds of things shouldn’t be shared too soon?

Honeysuckle:  Too much of your feelings.  Future things.  It’s best to wait until they [men] show you themselves because often times their actions don’t match their words.  When you wait, you’ll know.  If you have to question them, convince them, or explain…that’s too much work.  There is no amount of talking that will convince them that you are the person they want to be with.  I think men know what they want.  A man knows if he wants to go long-term with you in the first—some say three months—I’d say the first couple of months.

Q6:  What are your lessons learned from the online dating experience?

Honeysuckle:  Oh my goodness…I’ve learned that…hopefully this answers the question in a nutshell.  I’ve learned that I don’t want to meet anyone else online.  I just want to meet someone the old-fashioned way.  [She laughs.]  I learned that if they can’t spell in their profile and use basic noun/verb agreement, then we can’t have a conversation.  [Now I laugh.] I can appreciate the fact that you learn more facts in a shorter amount of time online than you do when you meet a person in passing on the street.  However, oftentimes in online dating, I have found that the majority of men are not honest.  I believe it is more stressful than “regular” dating.  You have more of a pool to choose from, but you have a lot of sharks.  Dating is just complicated.  No matter how much or how little effort you put into it, it’s just complicated.  I think men make it more complicated than it has to be.  If men were honest about what they wanted…but I guess the problem may be they just don’t know what they want.  That means they don’t need to be out there.

Follow-up (Q7):  You said that online the majority of men are not honest.  Well, the same can be said when you meet them face-to-face.  What’s the difference?

Honeysuckle:  I think the whole point to online dating is to exchange more information at one time with a person, but because there are so many questions you have to answer in a profile, there are more things to lie about! So at that point, you have to weed through which responses are true and which are false.  It’s like taking a test…that you are unprepared for—a statistics test.  What are the odds that they are telling the truth? [I have no idea.  I was never good at statistics, but I could make an educated guess about the answer to this question based on my personal experiences alone.]

Q8:  Have you been following the interviews of other participants in this series? If so, what stands out to you.

Honeysuckle:  Obsidian stands out to me. When I read his interviews, I could relate to his observations more than the other guy [Tiger’s Eye].  I could see myself having a good conversation about the subject [online dating] with him…not connecting with him or anything, just a good conversation.   [ Hey, Obsidian–Let’s be clear here.  Honeysuckle is NOT trying to make a play for you :)]            

Q9:  What advice do you have for men using online dating sites?

Honeysuckle:  I’m going to be straight-up.  Be a man about it!  Tell the damn truth about what you are looking for.  That’s it.

Q10:  What advice do you have for women using online dating sites?

Honeysuckle:  I have so much I want to say about this, but I’m going to try to keep it short.  If your spidey senses are going off about a guy, listen to them.  Also, if you meet someone online and they really want to get to know you, they will let you know and you won’t have to guess.  The rest is up to you.  That’s it.

 

The Real Online Dating Experience Series: Female Case Study #2 (Interview #3)

The Real Online Dating Experience Series: Female Case Study #2 (Interview #3)

First, click here to find out everything you need to know about this series.

Then, read the previous interviews to catch-up.

Previous Interviews:  Male Case Study 1: Interview #1 (Introduction), Female Case Study 1: Interview #1 (Introduction), Male Case Study 2: Interview #1 (Introduction)Female Case Study 2:  Interview #1 (Introduction), Male Case Study 1: Interview #2 (Profile and First Matches), Female Case Study 1:  Interview #2 (Profile and First Matches), Male Case Study 2:  Interview #2–Profile and First Matches), Female Case Study 2:  Interview #2–Profile and First Matches, Male Case Study 1:  Interview #3 (Dating, etc.), Female Case Study 1:  Interview #3 (Dating, etc.)

 

Female Case Study 2:  Interview #3 (Dating, etc.)

Poppy describes the “disappearing act” that some men pull on women.

What are some of your most memorable dating experiences?

Q1:  How long did it typically take for you to meet a person face-to-face after being matched?

Poppy:  About two weeks.  Most men did not want to spend much time talking on the phone.

Q2 (Follow-up):  Are you saying you felt pressured to meet face-to-face sooner than you wanted?

Poppy:  Sometimes, yes.  I did feel pressured at times.  At first the conversation would seem so exciting or you’d email back and forth, and then there would be men who would feel like—hey, I want to see you.  They’d say, “I don’t want to waste your time.  I don’t want to waste my time.”  At the beginning, you don’t think about it.  You don’t think about it as pressure.  You just think it’s the next logical step, but then I think that after about a year or so, I realized they really are interested in seeing the product.  They’d say, “She has a nice voice.  She has a pretty picture.  Okay let me she if her persona matches what I think.  Let me see if there’s a spark.”

Q3 (Follow-up):   How did you deal with the pressure for face-to-face contact when you weren’t ready for it?

Poppy:  I really didn’t pay attention to the pressure.  I wasn’t doing anything.  So I would just go and check them out.  But I would handle it very differently today.  You end up realizing your mindset and their mindset are very different.  What I mean is that you might be looking for someone to see if there is a spark.  You want to get to know them.  You want to see if something more might develop. But the person you’re talking to may have a different agenda.  They may just want to meet someone, and then it they find you attractive, then it’s a let’s go hang out kind of thing.

Q4:   How did your friends and family react when they learned that you were going on a date with someone you’d met online?

Poppy:  I’m very private.  So I really didn’t tell a lot of people.  I didn’t really have to deal with that aspect of it.  I did have people ask me how I was getting all of these dates. I would tell them that just because I was good at getting dates, it wasn’t what I was looking for.  Okay so I go out on a date.  Nice to meet you.  It’s fine.  So what?

Q5 (Follow-up):  What’s your secret to getting a lot of dates and please define what “a lot” is?

Poppy:  Really, my secret, if there is a secret was that I was actually open to meeting a lot of different people because I didn’t really realize that I didn’t know what I was looking for.  I do believe that some people persisted in asking me out because they couldn’t believe my age.  They think, “Oh she’s fun.” They always think I’m younger than my actual age, and I think some men are looking for a young woman to have a good time with no serious commitment…I may have a conversation with you, but there are some things you won’t know.  So perhaps they may interpret that to mean that I am just trying to have a good time, which I am, but that was not my main purpose.  But now, because I am more focused, I don’t get as many dates.  You don’t want to become a magnet for everybody because you know what you are looking for—what you want—and so you weed out people without knowing that you’re weeding them out.  “A lot” is, oh gosh I don’t know that I can put a number on it.  I guess compared to others [people she knew that were in similar situations] who tried, I would go out more.

Q6:  Typically how did you prepare for a first face-to-face meeting?

Poppy:  I was very particular about how I would dress.  I would try to be attractive, but not too playful or flirty.  I would remind myself not to monopolize the conversation because I do like to talk, especially if it’s an interesting topic.  I knew that if I did most of the talking, I wouldn’t learn anything about the individual.  I would try to pick a place that was centrally located, but not in my neighborhood.  I always let a friend know where I was going and some specifics about the individual. I would try to get there before the agreed upon time.

Q7 (Follow-up):  Why was it important to you to arrive before your date?

Poppy:  I didn’t want them to see the car I drove, and it would also help with the nervousness of meeting someone you really don’t know (other than a voice).

Q8 (Follow-up):  What’s the concern about your car?

Poppy:  I didn’t want them to know too much. Divulge information only as needed.  I’m very particular about this. Some people might want to say that it’s paranoia.  I don’t trust every Tom, Dick, and Harry…or Tyrone [She makes a reference to Erykah Badu’s song, “Tyrone.”  I take a few moments to recall the melody, the lyrics, and the video.]

Q9:  What were you usually most concerned about before a first meeting?

Poppy:  That it would go well.  That we would at least have a decent conversation for the time that we were together.  That it wasn’t just…hey, nice to meet you and then I have to go.  I had that happen to me, and it’s very uncomfortable and awkward.  I figure an initial meeting should be fun, not awkward.

Q10:  Sometimes things aren’t always the way they seem to be.  [She interrupts saying, “For sure. Where do you want me to start?  I could write a book on this.”] Describe a situation where the person wasn’t what you expected?

Poppy:  Let me pick one that’s good and interesting…Wow!  Okay, I’ve had this happen several times.  We’re having a conversation.  I always ask, “How do you feel about children?  Do you have any children?” You know, the children question.  Usually this comes up because I’m a parent, and they will say, “Oh, it’s great.”  So then the next question is, “How often do you see them?”  So I’m thinking they see them every other weekend or whatever.  But they’ll say something like in the summer or every other holiday.  I’m sitting thinking okay, “What about conversations?”  Then I’ll ask, “How often do you have conversations or do you talk to them on the phone?”  They will say, “Oh, every couple of weeks.”  So I have a problem with that because I wonder how you can have a good relationship with your child if you only talk to them once every two weeks.  My perception of a good relationship or quality time with children is different than theirs.  I have another one that will make you laugh.  I met this man.  He had his own company and was a Mr. Big Wig.  He had all of these big plans and dreams.  I was invited to his home, and he didn’t even have water in the refrigerator for me to drink.  Talk about misconceptions!  The same individual took me to…and I’m okay with coupons, but we went to a very nice restaurant and he’s just a bigger than life individual.  Then he whips out the coupon. [She starts laughing before she can finish the sentence.  I think I know what comes next in this story.]  He tells me that I can only choose from a certain part of the menu because that’s what the coupon covered. [My, my, it’s worse than I thought.]   I can laugh about it today, but that day I wasn’t.  I think what bothered me was that this person gave the perception that he was well-to-do.  He could’ve taken me to a more affordable place, and we would’ve had a good time.  So yeah, that was one.  Oh and I think my favorite one—this man was older.  I asked him if he wanted to meet for lunch, and I said we can meet at such and such a place.  We decided on a time.  After I hung up, he called back to ask me if I was going to pay for us or not because in the past if a woman asked him to meet for lunch, she would pay the bill. [I close my eyes while I type this because I just…can’t…bear…it.]  I didn’t know what to say to that. He had two Lexus vehicles, a 5000 square foot home, and his own business with contracts with the city.  He was the CEO of his company—well—at least that’s what his business card said.  [On that note, we are going to move on from the madness. I don’t even know how she finished a single conversation with this man.]

Q11:  Describe a situation where the person was exactly as you expected?

Poppy:  Wow. [She appears to be stumped. She shakes her head back and forth.]  No, I don’t think there was anyone who was exactly as I expected.  I was either pleasantly surprised or thoroughly disappointed.  I had quite a few cases where I was pleasantly surprised.

Q12 (Follow-up):  [She is still thinking about Q11, but we move one anyway.] Tell me about a situation where you were pleasantly surprised.

Poppy:  I agreed to accept the advances of someone who I typically would not have even been interested in.  It was enjoyable at the beginning—the dating and interactions—the honeymoon stage of dating where everything is hunky-dory and you live in the clouds.  I was surprised that everything was going well, but it just didn’t work out.  How we hit it off.  I would say that was the biggest surprise.

Q13:  How many dates does it usually take for you to feel comfortable with physical intimacy? 

Poppy:  [She looks away.]  I guess I have to tell the truth. I guess a month of dating, but it would have to be seeing each other a couple of times a week.  So maybe 9 or 10 dates.  If I was only seeing them once a week, then it would be longer.  But in retrospect, if I were to answer that question, I feel that it would take about three months or so of active dating, not sporadic because I do feel it was rushed.

Q14 (Follow-up): What would you say is the downside of getting physical too early in the dating process?

Poppy:  It makes the getting to know each other way too difficult because if you have a good physical relationship, you don’t focus so much on the things that last:  good conversation, values, goals, things that are with you for a long time.  I also think that you don’t…I don’t’ think it’s appreciated as something special, like it should be.

Q15:  Has a person ever told you that you weren’t what they expected?  How did you handle the situation?

Poppy:  They would say that I wasn’t what they expected if it was a positive, but if it was a negative, they wouldn’t.  I was never told anything negative.  Usually, they would just start to disappear instead of expressing how they truly felt.

Q16 (Follow-up):  How could you tell that men were doing the “disappearing act”?  How long did this process go on for you?

Poppy:  I would know when the intensity of our communication or interaction or willingness to go deeper in a conversation would not be there, but it was there at the beginning.  It’s very strange.  I didn’t notice at first.  I just thought it didn’t work out, which it didn’t.  When I say at first, the first couple of people I dated, I didn’t pay attention to the signs.  I just thought that they wanted the same thing that I did, but after I saw a pattern, I stopped to reflect and what I noticed…and it may have been who I chose…once it got to a certain point where it became more serious to me, that was not what they wanted, but they wouldn’t tell me.  They would just do things to make me not want to be bothered with them anymore.  It usually happened over weeks.  But usually when it started I wouldn’t notice until—thank goodness it wasn’t months.  It was a learning process.

Q17:  Let’s hear about your most memorable dates.  Tell me about at least two that you’ll never forget.

Poppy:  I guess for me, memorable is pleasurable, but the coupon one—I won’t ever forget that one. I won’t ever forget it (in a funny way).  But there were two dates that I remember and enjoyed.  One was to a winery. It was just fascinating, the whole experience.  It was just different.  I would say that one was the most memorable one.

Q18 (Follow-up):  What happened to that person?

Poppy:  He’s gone.  It really just wasn’t the right match.  I can say there are no hard feelings…Different aspirations and goals.

Q19:  What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you on a date?

Poppy:  [She laughs.]  We met for dinner at Houston’s restaurant.  We sat down and we were having conversation and then we ordered our meal and I guess the conversation didn’t go in the direction that the man anticipated (I’m guessing).  He was done.  I was still eating, and he asked me if I was ready to go, and I was still chewing.  [Really?  What?  Wow!  What?  I don’t even know what to say.]  He did walk me to my car, but he didn’t call to make sure I got home.  It was late.  I thought that was what gentlemen do.   

Q20:  What’s the absolute best thing that’s ever happened to you on a date?

Poppy:  I don’t think there was an absolute best, but I have had good experiences.  I have made a friend or two.  They may not be good people to date, but friends, they weren’t bad.

Q21:  Tell me about any regrets you have related to the online dating experience. 

Poppy:  The only regret I really have is how naïve I was when I started.

3 Tips For Online Dating

3 Tips For Online Dating

In my last post about my personal experience with online dating, I talked about not posting my photo—not making it available upfront—for all 150 of my eHarmony matches.  This was not a particularly popular decision, but think about it.  I was supposed to feel comfortable with posting my picture for 150 strangers from all over the world?  My account settings were open, extending far and wide beyond the confines of my travels from home to gym to work to store or an occasional restaurant, to movie or star gazing, to dance or art walking, to book or music or writing, to fellowship at church with friends or occasional lovers, but ultimately, back home to self.  Still, I activated my eHarmony account with the goal of meeting a man.  No, scratch that.  I was planning to meet several men, but I would have been happy with gaining just one male friend.

Tip #1:  Know your goal before you begin the journey.

There I was with 150 matches in a virtual world with virtually endless possibilities, but not posting a photo meant instant rejection for the first few days.  After I got over the sting of receiving “close” notifications from men who wanted to see my face (and no doubt my body too) before having any kind of conversation, the experience was wonderfully freeing for me.  Don’t you just love feeling free to express yourself?  I sure did.

I’ve often heard that eHarmony’s guided communication process takes too long and is just too involved. I didn’t see it that way.  I liked the step-by-step process, which helped me shed my layers in a controlled environment. Stated this way, I could easily be talking about a laboratory experiment.  Having the option to initiate conversations within the secured environment that eHarmony created was comforting to me.  Their environment was my laboratory.  I was conducting an experiment in the virtual world to try to get the result I wanted in my very real one. I added ingredients such as information about my goals, interests, and dreams.  I left out ingredients I could do without such as my photo and references to previous relationships.  It was easy to turn up the heat with probing questions and just as easy to cool things down with sharp, no nonsense answers to inappropriate or offensive responses, questions or suggestions from men.  I was open, but I knew exactly where the line was when it came to my personal boundaries.  I chatted with any man who wanted to talk about something of interest in the beginning.  But I closed just as fast on men who displayed disrespect, immaturity, shallowness, carelessness, or rudeness. Sometimes men wrote things that were just plain dumb. I felt no obligation to entertain foolishness from men.

Tip #2:  Know your standards and make your actions consistent with them.

I had a three-month subscription with eHarmony.  That was all, and I had no intentions of extending it.  I had to make my three months count.  Very quickly, 150 matches were reduced to only about 20 or so active conversations.  This was still all within the secured environment that eHarmony had created.  Now here’s the funny part:  less than 10 matches actually made it all the way though the guided communication phase into open communication, where they saw my photo. This all happened within the first month.  I typically spent anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour communicating with the 10 in the evenings after work.  I still carried on my normal daily activities.  My online activities never took the place of my daily life.  Instead, my online activities had an enhancing effect.  I loved the experience of learning about men in different countries with backgrounds vastly different from my own.  I appreciated their different perspectives.

Tip #3:  Be lighthearted and enjoy the process.       

Then, the 10 became two…two out of 150.  What’s that?  1.33%.  What’s that saying about how it only takes one?  I think it’s important to keep in mind that it only takes one person to impact your life in a significant and lasting way. Are you looking for many or just one?

I’ll tell you how two became one in an upcoming post.