Divorce, Single Parenting, Dating, Sex, & Self-Recovery

Posts tagged “match.com

You Should Go For What Makes You Happy (Divorce Me)

OFF-greenergrass

Have we made it too easy and convenient to get divorced?

I know that sounds rather absurd, after all the pissing and moaning I’ve done around my divorce. But some how, my ex-y decided it would be easier, more to her advantage, more joyful to go seeking a relationship with someone else. So she decided, well before I was aware we were in negotiations, that she would check with a lawyer to discuss options. Or more bluntly, what she could get.

And so we divorced. I was not happy about it. And though I swear I’m moving on, I don’t guess I will ever fully be OVER it. I mean, what am I doing tonight? Seeing if a date is going to materialize through the txts and emails I’m exchanging with someone from Match.com. And I’d rather be hanging with my kids: chatting about their day, their projects, their hopes and dreams. Much like the past five days of this dad-weekend.

In relationship therapy she didn’t answer the question, “When did you exit the relationship?”

The ex-y on the other hand, seemed to move on rather quickly into a couple relationships that seemed a bit more like reactions, or rebounds, or “wouldn’t this be thrilling,” rather than Relationships. (capital R added for emphasis) Okay, but I’m not here to judge.

But something a “friend” of hers said today, brought a bit of a different perspective on things. What if my ex-y’s DIVORCE gave permission for this “friend’s” divorce. Heck, I didn’t even know she was divorced as my daughter is best friends with her daughter, and seems to think they are still married. (Odd. I wonder what they’ve told their kids?)

Either way, there is something about the permissiveness of divorce these days. Perhaps greener pastures are enough of a reason today. Perhaps the THRILL of something new is reason enough to wander, to flirt, to “have lunch” with someone of the opposite sex. Or if you want to get really thrilling, how about the same sex?

So this friend mentioned how horrible I had been to my ex-y with my blog. She was telling me why or how I lost her and her (now ex) husband in the mix.

Hmm. Her point is well taken. And something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about while writing and publishing The Off Parent.

  1. I started this “process” in the heat of the divorce. It was my way of recording and vocalizing my anger.
  2. Anonymous is only so effective.
  3. When asked in the summer of 2010 to take The Off Parent offline, by my soon to be officially ex-wife, I didn’t fight back. I was depressed. I was deep in the anger and sadness of the whole mess. I took the blog down without question. And I apologized.
  4. A year later when I turned The Off Parent on again, it was from a different place. This process [of divorce and recovery from divorce] was bigger than my ex-y and bigger than my anger and advice. I learned that I was still living the experience. And that the experience of divorce never ends.
  5. The process has now devolved into all kinds of interesting topics of self-revelation: 1. depression; 2. online dating; 3. self-improvement.

And as I evolve this narrative and journal I hope it is clearer that this is not about the ex-y.

But, let’s come back to that in a minute.

When given a choice to try something  new and “exciting” my ex-y chose to exit the relationship for what might make her happy. (Or maybe at this point, for her, it was *less angry.*) It reminds me of the two times I actually feared for my relationship.

She had a working buddy who became a pen pal. I stumbled onto an email thread between her and a coworker that was all about me, my depression and how unhappy she was. Turns out she’d gone to several lunches with him. And the thread was one of several that went WAY DEEP into our relationship. Add to that, he was attractive to her, she had mentioned him in several passing conversations.

So maybe he was the first infidelity. It was only emails, phone calls and lunch. But it was all done on the down low. Just checking out things. But if it was innocent and honest, why hide it? The several times during our marriage, for example, when my first ex-wife called with some reason we needed to have coffee, I would talk to my then-wife about it.

[Um, this is how the ex-y and I got started. She was WITH someone when we ran into each other again. We went to a few lunches. It was just lunch, right?]

Fuck. That didn’t feel good. I flipped. She apologized. She agreed that she had crossed the boundaries. But in couple’s therapy she never answered the question, “When did you exit the relationship?” Perhaps it was too soon to admit it to herself.

The second time I felt a tectonic shift, very different, was at a titty bar. We were there joking about bringing home the young girl with us. We’d always joked that it was fine to have another woman, as long as she (the ex-y) was there. It was a running joke, as if she had lesbian fantasies and of course I did. I mean, you know…

So was it too easy for her to set her sights on that new goal, male or female, and then make her calculated and spreadsheeted plans to get there?

Funny thing… However, when the young thing, a bit rough around the edges and smelling of cigarette smoke, was assigned to give the ex-y a lap dance… Well, all kinds of things broke loose. I guess I recalled how easily she revealed private issues with her pen pal, I felt a flash of fear, watching her really enjoying the affections of this pretty little siren, that she could just as easily leave me for a girl as leave me for another man. The point was, things were unstable, and I didn’t want to consider her leaving me for any reason. We never tried that little experiment again.

Chances are she was already in the process of leaving, separating.

And all it would take was that last offer, opportunity, greener pasture, to launch her into a new trajectory. A path away from me and the family we’d created.

So was it too easy for her to set her sights on that new goal, male or female, and then make her calculated and spreadsheeted plans to get there? That’s kind of how her mind works. Still. Spreadsheet first, emotions later, if at all. It’s okay, it’s just very different from what I needed. And, as I understand from writing here, very different from what I truly think I need. I need warmth and emotion. I need a partner who takes an equal part in generating the joy and warm emotions in the relationship. I need someone who adores me, and who I adore back.

I know it’s coming. And more clearly now, than when I started this rant. I think through this process I am growing, redefining, and exploring what went wrong and what I want to get right next time.

And for now, I’m alone tonight because of a choice she made. I’d rather be with my kids. But ultimately I’d rather be with someone who loves me back with honesty and love language I understand. For her too, I hope her multi-year boyfriend materializes for her into something that makes her happier. The kids will benefit from joy all around.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

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image: i am blank and out of focus, sofia minetto, creative commons usage


Tinder Matches: Is Swiping the New Evolution?

OFF-tindercostume

A swipe right for YES and a swipe left for NOPE. This tiny superficial action is the basis for the new dating app Tinder. (I know it’s not *that* new, but it’s new for us over-40s.) And there’s even the, “Oops, she was hot and I swiped the wrong way.” No remedy for that. You’ve got one shot at them. If you fail-swipe they are either gone for ever, or temporarily in your YES column. (Those you can easily un-match.) There is no un-do.

The dating odds are only improved by upping your numbers. Tinder is one simple way to do that.

If you can get the little beast running on your phone, you’re in for some fun. A sort of fun, until the novelty wears off, and it does wear off. There are only three kinds of filtering in Tinder: 1. age-range; 2. geographic proximity; 3. male or female. And from there you are on your own. Jump into a new part of town, check Tinder. Fly to a new city for business, checkTinder. Want a mid-day jolt of dopamine, check Tinder.

But the success at then taking a “match” to an in-person date is a bit more of a trick. There’s simply not much to go on from their Tinder profile. If that’s okay with you, jump in and see what you find. See if Tinder is your gateway beyond the Match.coms and OK Cupids. My milage has varied tremendously.

You have very few clues before you reach out and contact a “match” on Tinder.

  • They’ve swiped you YES (unless it was an accident) and therefore your photos appear to be within their “desirable” range
  • A few photos can give you “some” indication of what they look like (but pictures are easy to manipulate and might be YEARS old)
  • They might have a short bio
  • You can see a few of their mutual Facebook interests
  • You can see how many Facebook connections you have

And it’s this last one that could provide a keyhole into a deeper examination of this “potential.” See, I don’t want to waste a lot of time on near-misses, and I want to spend zero time on “nah” matches. So a little sleuthing can help me determine if there’s any extraordinary in the Tinder match before I reach out to begin the flirtation and logistics portion of the process.

If you want to get a closer look at your Tinder match you can cruise the “mutual friends” section of Tinder and look for someone you know. The better you know them the more likely it will be that you can get insider info on this person. Of course the first step is to find them in the “friends” tab of your friend on Facebook. And since Tinder uses real first names, you’ll probably be able to find your Tinder target pretty easily. And if they have a public Facebook profile, Boom, you’ve got more information than anyone would share on a dating site. What are they into? What does today’s selfie look like? What kind of updates do they post about their interests or themselves?

That’s the beauty of Tinder: it is 100% photo-driven. Either you are a YES or a NOPE to someone.

And digging a little deeper (you can actually do this on ANY dating site) you can take their photos (even a screen grab from Tinder works) and run them through Google’s image search. If there’s a photo that they also shared on LinkedIn or Instagram, DING, you’ve got another source of info about this potential. It might seem like stalking, but if you think people aren’t doing this, umm… maybe you should get off the net. Google spiders everything and if you’ve posted a photo somewhere, and then used that same photo on your dating profile, um… well, you need to be informed that this is happening.

PERSONAL DATING DATA: Go try it on your dating profile pics. Pick one and go to Google.com. Then click on the Images tab and you will see an area you can drag your photo onto and Google will do the rest. You might be surprised, or you might WANT people to find out more about you.  If you’re photos are too revealing, you might select other ones to use on your Tinder profile.

Anyway, we’ve come full circle now back to purely physical attraction as an indicator of potential chemistry. It’s an easy place to start. And that’s the beauty of Tinder: it is 100% photo-driven. Either you are a YES or a NOPE to someone. And perhaps that’s as good an indication (even if wildy superficial) as any of your potential match with someone. A friend was giving me a hard time about online dating, a number of months ago. She was saying how she had never tried it and thought it was demeaning and awful that I would judge someone purely on their photos.

“You might be missing a really great women. The perfect woman for you, in fact. Because you’re so stuck on the superficial appearances.”

“You are right. However, it’s a numbers game,” I told her. “If you have a better suggestion of how to filter down 1,823 potential matches into a few that I can manage, I’d be open to your suggestions. “Curb appeal” is the quickest filter I know, just like in real estate. If you don’t like the way the house looks from the street, you’re not going to be all that happy about living there.

Get it or not, Tinder is booming. And my experience with two actual in-person meetings was surprisingly good. One hit and one miss. Unfortunately the hit turned into a false positive, but that’s also part of the game. You need a lot of potentials to find the next YES. I mean the real yes. The next relationship. I’ve been at it for over two years and the odds are only improved by upping your numbers. Tinder is one simple way to do that.

From there, I take my time before meeting someone. I want to learn more before wasting an evening on small talk with a big NO. And in my new learnings I think a phone call is mandatory. I want to hear her voice and imagine her before I meet her in-person, and that requires a bit more than a photo and bio, for me.

Get your Tinder, Match, or OK Cupid on, and get on with getting it on.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

back to On Dating Again

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image: tinder costume, nathan rupert, creative commons usage (this may be the costume for me, if I had a halloween party)


Mis-Match in Online Dating: A 10-point Overview of Match.com

OFF-matchdotcom

I say it all the time, I’m not much into dating. I’d rather have a relationship. The idea of a new woman *is* exciting, however the steps to uncover and develop a relationship are much longer and (I won’t say laborious) tedious. Last week I was on a Match.com date and I was wondering how I ended up at the table with this woman. She was no match. And if I had looked a bit deeper into her photographs instead of wishing into them I would’ve avoided an hour of … uncomfortable conversation.

So I’m going to examine what Match.com has got going for it, and what parts of the process and site are unproductive, for me. Again, please note my current bias away from dating. And even with that bias, dating is the only way back to a relationship, if that’s what I ultimately want. So here we go.

I don’t check-in to Match.com on a regular basis. I’m in a self-seeking phase at the moment. I do still have the app on my phone and when someone signals that they are interested in me I get a little red dot on my phone and a message on the lock screen. “Someone sent you a wink.” My immediate reaction is always a sarcastic, “Oh boy!”

Let’s open up Match and look around for a minute.

match-mainscreen

I have periods of high activity on my end. I jump on, search for attractive and left leaning women and send them a “hello.” My ratio at this moment is 51 sent vs. 9 received. But that’s okay. We aspire, we connect based on very shallow preferences, and we see what happens. My profile seems to be getting plenty of views. 4 new views since the last time I checked in. And I’ve had some emails and conversations going between myself and several women. All good “activity.”

But the activity doesn’t necessarily mean matches. And my actual success ratio with actual dates via Match.com is about 51 dates to 1 relationship. Now, to be fair, that relationship is the first one post-divorce that changed my entire approach and perspective on what I was looking for, but… the numbers are not in our favor. That’s what you should understand early on. Dating is a numbers game. View a lot of profiles, put some interesting enticements in the water, and if you get a bite or two try and take it to the next step, the “hello” date. But there’s a lot of unproductive dates and wasted time spent trying to sift through the BS and uncover the winners. And if she is too much of a winner, she won’t have the time of day for you as a man. A recent date said she gets between 10 and 15 propositions a day. I get 1 or 2 a week. The ritual still falls along traditional lines: men pursue, women accept or reject our offers.

So let’s get some information about the women who “viewed me.”

match-viewedme

And while one out of seven isn’t bad, as I looked into this woman, before arranging the date, I realized I was forcing the “yes” a bit. She was attractive, but there were a number of things that didn’t jive for me. So I called it off. But this is the general window-shopping mode of match. You have one main image, their “seeking men” age range, and a brief headline. The green highlights are a paid feature you can add, but I’m not sure it does anything to dress up a marginal profile.

And maybe that’s issue number one with online dating in general. There are a lot of people just playing around. I have had an ongoing pursuit of a very attractive woman on Match who has accepted two dates and backed out both times within an hour of meeting. She let me know she’s not really ready for a relationship or even dating, but that trolling around on the site gives her some pleasure. She’s just playing. She doesn’t really want a date. Odd.

And there are certainly the profiles that begin, “My girlfriend made me put this up,” or “I’d never imagined I’d be on an online dating site, but…” that are clear indications that they are just playing around. Checking to see if Ryan Gosling shows up and professes a crush on them. Or something… I guess fielding 1o messages a night might be entertaining, if you’re bored and in need of a superficial ego boost. (That’s not a man’s experience, or this man’s experience. I don’t know, maybe Ryan is here and is having a hard time keeping his inbox from exploding.)

So let’s go deeper and open up one of the more appealing women who have viewed me. Now I guess, already I’m swimming against the current, because she didn’t leave any indication that she was interested. No like, wink, or message. But still, she thought my initial photo and profile blurb was attractive enough to check me out. Let’s see if we see any mutual connections.

match-seemore

 

And it seems the hardest part is finding a mutual interest, but that’s the same challenge with dating in general. The hope being, that somewhere in the 860 women who “match” my criteria there is a woman who is actually interested in a relationship and then interested in meeting me, in particular.

match-search

It’s a hard and long hunt, but what are the alternatives? Bars? Nah.

Match has one other special feature, but I’ve found it to be rather useless. Their expert algorithm calculates 7 matches a day. I’ve stopped even opening them. They are so far off that I find them more annoying than helpful.

So to sum up Match.com in my experience.

  1. Men are expected to reach out to the women and make the introductions
  2. Women tend to get a high volume of “hellos” from real suitors and creeps, while men tend to get very few
  3. A lot of people on Match.com are just messing around, socializing, playing with the idea of dating
  4. You have to weed through a lot of mis-matches before finding people who are in my zone
  5. The Weekly Matches feature is more of a distraction
  6. Finding my way through the 860 matches is a challenge and often feels hopeless
  7. A deep examination of the person’s photographs often says more than their words (looking for the one real photo, that captures the essence)
  8. Once a “hello” date is established there are still plenty of opportunities for the other person to back out (I just backed out of ms. checkmark)
  9. Finally, if you meet and BOTH feel some chemistry, there is a chance to “begin”
  10. If it’s a numbers game, we have to keep playing

Match is currently my favorite site. It seems the “pay” aspect weeds out a few more of the “playing around” people than OKCupid or Plenty of Fish. And while I prefer the questions on OKCupid, the profiles do a bit of the work, provided the woman answered honestly and with some depth.

It’s all a crap shoot. Photos lie. Profiles tell half-truths. And some of us, interested in actually establishing a relationship, spend time in the backwaters of the game sorting through “more like her” to find alternative sorting methods for the overwhelming number of non-matches it takes dig through to find a possible match.

Keep going, there are more people joining every day.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

back to On Dating Again

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Love at the Speed of Text or Tinder or … f a s t

OFF-dontworry

Okay, texting is not a great method for finding love, but it’s what we’ve got. And at least, if you’re got their phone number you’re a step closer to contacting them for real, maybe “in-person” even. So when you send the

Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 8.21.06 AM

and you don’t get an immediate response, just chill. However, when you don’t get the message until a second message is sent, you’ve probably already been deleted from “potential” contacts.

plansforsat

And that’s it… It’s that simple to “know” you’re done. Whatever the chemistry was on your end, it was not reciprocated or appreciated. When there is a YES on both ends the delays are short and sweet. So that Match date while exciting is a NO. Oh well…

And then we move on to the speed of Tinder or it’s imitators. (Hinge or LinkedUp) And while I just got my account activated yesterday, I’m aware that this ultra-superficial process is a hot topic. My friend who has had some success with Tinder is a big fan. In fact, one of the interesting trends with these apps is travel. Imagine hitting a new city and opening up your Tinder app to see who in the NEW area might be up for a drink… or who knows…

I’m guessing she’s had better offers from younger and cuter guys. Probably a lot of them.

If we are moving into an era where women’s sexuality is going to be as liberated as men’s then why wouldn’t a woman hit us up on Tinder for a drink and then invite us to their room. It’s happening all around us. I don’t think it’s my bag, and it’s a bit exhausting to be flicking photos to the left for NOPE and right for YES. And as a newbie I have yet to see the JOIN signal on any of the apps. But it’s 100% image driven. And while that’s interesting, the context provided on dating sites is valuable.

I don’t want to waste an evening on a Tinder date any more than I do on a mismatched Match date. Time is currency and loser dates are like throwing $45 and an evening into the trashcan. I don’t mean to be harsh, but something about these “hookup-driven” apps are a turn off for me. Even when the woman says, “No looking for a hookup date, if that’s what your after just PASS,” I’m not so sure that there’s much else possible.

Sure you get a few pictures. And a tiny snippet of content from their Facebook profile. But that’s it. And again, there is a lot you can glean from a texting conversation, but this might be a younger person’s game. But who knows, I’ve not gotten a sweet hit yet.

Slow dating is where my head is at, at the moment. No hurry to meet unless there’s some real magic.

And finally there’s the new girl on Match. Soooo cute and seemingly available.

Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 8.54.56 AM

Who says “Let’s go” to every one of my emails. BUT… she’s new and she’s about to get flooded with dudes with offers as good or better than mine. Maybe closer to her age, 43, and type. She passed her phone number on to me very quickly and suggested a walk around the lake with her dog, Frank. I didn’t even know her name when we started texting, but I knew her dog’s name.

She sure came back strong and funny. But nothing after the initial flood of conversation and “let’s go” emails.

Needless to say she’s gone quiet. We even exchanged a few texts and she did give me her name. And she kept up the “let’s go” attitude, but I can’t get a “hello” date set no matter how casual and easy I am making it.

In my experience striking for the NEW TO MATCH folks is a good idea. They say all of the good ones are taken, and perhaps the really good ones are snapped up quickly. But for sure, the good and cute and new ones on Match are overwhelmed rather quickly if they are female. We have been trained, as men, to be the aggressor, the initiator. And that doesn’t seem to have changed on the dating sites at this point. Or perhaps I’m not in the target range of any women that are attractive to me. There are certainly a few older women who introduce themselves. And maybe that’s how I appear to this lovely and new 43 year-old.

She sure came back strong and funny. But nothing after the initial flood of conversation and “let’s go” emails. I’m guessing she’s had better offers from younger and cuter guys. Probably a lot of them. I’ll be surprised if I can get a response out of her at all now that she’s gotten the lay of the land.

And this made me smile today.

tinder-yes

Except it was a false positive. No matches yet. Onward through the fog and fury of online dating and the new quick apps.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

back to On Dating Again

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image: giant-tinder-polypore, emilian robert vicole, creative commons image

just for fun, don’t forget to practice safe sex (joke):

Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 8.33.13 AM


First Date Lessons: If You’re Not Falling, You’re Not Learning

OFF-cigars

First dates. Oh boy. They always teach you something. And even if the wine flows, if you stay sharp, you can pick up on signals… or think you can. And as a learning individual I am getting closer to the present moment of dating, or dating ‘in the moment,’ then ever before. Last night, for example, a Match date finally agreed to meet up after weeks of back and forth emails. And the date was set, and we began some playful banter a few hours before our rendezvous.

“Do you like cigars?” she texted. “You’re date tonight…”

“What? Cigars?”

“I guess that’s a no then.”

“Do YOU like cigars?” I asked.

“Very much. A bit of a hobby. Not an addiction.”

And we were off to the races for our first “hello” date later that evening.

When we finally met over a glass or two of red wine I was curious to watch my own reaction and responses to her. I was sort of in observer-mode, but also very much open to whatever the present moment would bring.

The same phrase kept coming through loud and clear, “while I was dating a couple people…” I’m not sure if I was turned on by that idea, repulsed by it, or intrigued about the opportunities of the evening.

I noticed right away that she was charming and beautiful. Her eyes sparkled much more than they could’ve possibly shown in her profile photos. And there was a joy to our conversation, an openness, and freeness to how our different stories and lives spun together over the next few hours together.

I was curious about how I was sizing her up for a relationship. At first I was just fascinated by her wit, intelligence, and routine flip of her long dark hair from one side of her neck to another. I think that was a sign. Maybe it was just a tick. We leapt through conversations about exes and kids, about dating and current status.

“I’m dating this guy right now,” she said, “And I think I need to break it off.”

“Oh?”

“He’s super nice, and is really into me, but I’m not sure he’s long-term material for me.”

“Is that what you are looking for?”

“Yes, I’m a long-term girl. But it’s hard. Making someone unhappy.”

“And,” I added, “Maybe it’s hard to be alone.”

“Yes, that’s what I thought when I first got out of my marriage. And I went through a period of not wanting any sort of commitment, and I sort of played the field.”

“Wow, really. What was that like.”

“It was fun at first, but it got kind of old. There were some people I really liked and others who were just available.”

“And were there any that you really liked, who maybe wanted to move on?”

“Yes. That was hard.”

“So maybe you would rather keep this current relationship rather than risk being alone again?”

“Yes, it’s easier to have someone to do stuff with. And boys are a lot more fun to hang out with than girls.”

We smiled at one another and decided to order dinner to go with our second glass of wine.

As the evening progressed we moved through a lot of topics. Her eyes continued to sparkle. Her smiling conversational wit continued to entice me. I wasn’t sure if I was really attracted to her or fascinated by her. I was aware that her perfume was similar to a scent I had used when I was young, something from Aramis. I liked how the smell of her made me lean in a bit. I was clear that I was indulging in my own little fantasy. At the same time I was enjoying our conversation and the topics we covered. She seemed fearless in exposing and expressing herself.

As the evening progressed we moved through a lot of topics. Her eyes continued to sparkle. Her smiling conversational wit continued to entice me.

The same phrase kept coming through loud and clear, “while I was dating a couple people…” I’m not sure if I was turned on by that idea, repulsed by it, or intrigued about the opportunities of the evening. Well, except for the fact that she had a kid at home and we both had work in the morning. As we were considering paying and breaking off the conversation we ordered one more glass that we would split. I took this as a good sign. We were both prolonging the “date” a bit longer.

I walked her to the car wondering if she was a kisser or not. We hugged twice and she got in her Fiat 500 convertible and left.

When I got home I texted her a thank you and requested her email address so I could send her a book. It was about 11:15 and no reply came. So this morning I continued my communication and asked if she was interested in getting together again on Saturday night. Her message was clear.

plansforsat

Now, that was pretty clear. No rejoinder. Either she’s being coy and wants me to pursue or she’s not that interested in continuing our conversation. And in my clear way I asked if there were some point in the future when she’d like to get together again. I probably should’ve just kept quiet after that text, but I’m always one to ask for the rest of the information rather than guess.

Nothing.

Oh well, it was a nice conversation, she was a nice woman who liked to date several people at once, perhaps. And we will see if the weeks of waiting for a first date and the several hours of nice courtship has any “next steps.” But at the moment I am feeling fine with the date as it was. A nice woman, a nice Pinot, and eyes that sparkled in the romantic light of the wine bar.

I’m okay with her not being a first date kisser. (I’ve only had one of those.) I’m okay with her not being interested in “what’s next.” I’m even okay with the attraction I felt about her disclosures. It’s all new territory for me and most of us out there dating again after divorce. And I’m okay with that. We’re all just trying to figure it out. It’s a process. Onward we go with good illumination and perhaps a glass of wine.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

back to On Dating Again

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image: sarah at the hole in the wall, colin and sarah in norway, creative commons usage


Get Healthy Before Dating: Avoiding Vengeance Dating Syndrome

OFF-legs

I came out of the gate of my divorce with a fury that was hell-bent on having some fun. It didn’t work out like that, but I joined OK Cupid, eHarmony, and Match.com all at once. I mean, if she doesn’t want me, I might as well get out there again, asap, and see what I’ve been missing. You see, sex had been off the table or intermittent for quite some time in my marriage. Let’s get to my personal definition of the Vengeance Dating Syndrome.

  • You’ve got a score to settle
  • Your lust and desire are raging like a fire
  • All available women seem like opportunities
  • You have no type, just breathing and DDF
  • The best revenge is living well, and having a new girlfriend/boyfriend
  • Dating sites are like window shopping
  • Any opportunity for a first date is a good opportunity
  • You’ll overlook major red flags in pursuit of sex

Okay, so many of those described me as I came into my first summer alone. Or at least “out of my house” and “ring off the finger” divorced. We were still negotiating the terms of surrender, but we were done. So I spent a good bit of time and energy trying to meet and greet any potential women on the three top dating sites.

I was having a hard time maintaining a healthy relationship with myself, why would I want to bring someone else into my fractured life?

And the first thing I learned… Oh my goodness, a boring first date is really a waste of time. For the first few dates I tried to keep my upbeat attitude, even when they showed up looking significantly different from their profile pictures. “Um, when was that glamour shot taken, by the way?”

The second thing I learned… Don’t just accept the date offer to have a date. If you’re just looking to do something, go for a jog, exercise, call a friend. But the supply of potential first dates is endless, the actually first dates “with potential” are much more limited. Have some discretion. You’ll get over the fast and furious attitude pretty quickly, as you learn the romancing requirements today are a bit more stringent.

And the third thing I learned, while in this dating frenzy… Most matches are not matches at all. In a room of a hundred people, I am probably drawn to about 3 potential partners. And of those only one is not married. Online dating has the same sort of mix. Of the 2,000 “available” women in my demographic and within 50-miles of my home, I am interested in about 20. And of those 20, just reading the profile I can tell we’re not even close. And after a few emails, if they don’t respond, it’s obvious either a. I’m not their cup of tea; or b. they are way too cute and thus too busy to even pay attention to my message.

Women have a very different experience in online dating. A woman I went for a glass of wine with last week told me her inbox is overflowing every night. She can’t even keep up with all the offers. Of course most of them are creepy, classless, oafs who are looking to hook up, but even the nice ones have to take a number and get in line.

I’ve had two dates that were the result of a woman reaching out to me first. In four years (not continuous, mind you) I’ve had TWO. And it’s not that I don’t get an occasional LIKE, or FLIRT, or WINK. I get about 2 -3 unsolicited interactions per week. But most of them are WAY OFF THE MARK of what I am looking for. Then I wonder, oh my, am I that far off when I message a woman who is 10 years younger than me? Probably.

So the vengeance thing is a bad idea. And the being in a hurry thing, doesn’t really work with most women. And, in my case, I am not willing to spend all of my free week nights going for coffee with women that are marginally compatible. But back in the summer of escape velocity, I tried and tried and tried. It was exhausting.

The summer of lust became the summer of fizzle. No sex. No kissing. Nada. And it was a year-or-so later before I fired up the profiles and tried again.

The fourth thing I learned, in letting go of my attitude, was that I was not ready to date. I was still grieving my divorce. I was reeling and lonely on the nights without my kids, and I was looking for a distraction, and maybe some sex. I got none of the above. My tolerance for wasting time on an impossible first date as about as positive as my attitude towards reality tv. I just don’t get it. And the online dating trap was a poor distraction.

I did have a couple near misses in those early months. And one, was so close, she even gave me her number in the parking lot and mentioned maybe just coming over and hanging out, watching a movie or something. But I was too eager and my first email, the next day, sort of freaked her out. I’ll never forget the first line of her email.

“Slow your roll.”

I had never heard the phrase, but I knew exactly what she was saying. And she never allowed a second date, or a movie night to happen. I’m not sure I was too far over the top, but I did write her a poem. And even though I disclaimed the romantic part of it, as just a poem, she was completely wigged-out. My first near miss.

And there were a few more near misses, but what I really realised was that I was in no condition to date anyone. I was having a hard time maintaining a healthy relationship with myself, why would I want to bring someone else into my fractured life? I answered my own frustration by shutting down all of my profiles. The summer of lust became the summer of fizzle. No sex. No kissing. Nada. And it was a year-or-so later before I fired up the profiles and tried again.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

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In Defense of Dalliance

dalliance - the off parent

Why so serious?

My thoughts are changing on this subject. I’d have to say, initially, as a single man, re-entering the dating pool after 12 years as a married man, I was seeking my next “relationship.”

“I don’t understand casual sex,” I said to a life coach friend. “Try it,” she said. “There are plenty of women who would be into it with you. And unless you try it, you’ll never know if you like it.”

What I heard at that time was casual sex is okay, but not for me. Today, I’m not so sure I understand my motivations for marriage (SEE What’s This About: Marriage?) much less a serious relationship. Okay, scratch that last sentence. I’d like to think I could hear an attractive woman talking about her lovers and not cringe a little bit. She was sexually attractive to me, for sure, but in more of an animal (sexual needs) kind of way. I wasn’t interested in dating her, only screwing her. And I wasn’t actually making any moves or giving any indications that this was where I wanted to go with the conversation. And we didn’t.

Still, what’s all this attachment to single-mate-for-life shit? It hasn’t worked out for me very well. And of course, I take that back, I have two great kids… and an ex-wife or two. But entering into those marriages I was saying YES PLEASE to the life-long commitment. But… Why?

Marriage was the path for me and my ex-wife, that we saw necessary to the progress and process of having children together. We both wanted kids. We both wanted marriage as a way to get kids. We got divorced when the relationship pain outweighed the relationship advantage.

How will I know if I like casual sex if I don’t try it? I’m still wondering this.

Take the last three online “hello” dates. Two of them were very attractive and obviously sexually active. And if I interpreted the signals right, eventually we would get to sex, if things progressed along the normal trajectories. And even the answers in OK Cupid are pretty clear. How soon after dating would you initiate sex? a. right away, b. 1 – 3 dates; c. 3 – 5 dates; d. 6 or more dates; e. I’m not interested in sex at all.

My sexual projections of what sex might be like with that smile, those eyes, those breasts, are just like you might imagine most men are. And then something stops me.

I THINK I’m a 3 – 5 dates kind of a guy. But I’ve also answered “Would you have sex on a first date?” with an unqualified yes.

Umm… Right. In theory. Back in college I think I did this twice. Once when I was drinking heavily and once when I tried the drug ecstasy while in New Mexico. Both times were about as sexually fulfilling as masturbation. And with porn these days, masturbation is often the easier answer. No after sex conversations. No messy breakups. No STD threats.

So what in the world would have to happen for my casual sex, let’s go ahead and jump in the sack, response to be triggered? And if triggered, would the impulse be worth the repercussions?

  • What would have to happen:
  • Beautiful
  • Intoxicating chemistry
  • Mental acuity and banter
  • Eyes that shine like diamonds
  • A roaring heat in my chest (a fantasy of love, perhaps)
  • Some intangible magic

Something extraordinary would have to happen for me to want to sleep with a woman within 24 hours of meeting her. I’m not saying my body wouldn’t rise to the occasion, and my libido doesn’t rage at the thought of a beautiful woman in or out of mensa. It does. And my sexual projections of what sex might be like with that smile, those eyes, those breasts, are just like you might imagine most men are.

And then something stops me.

I’ve had a few sexual relationships since I’ve been divorced. Most of them have been pleasant. Many of them I did not want to repeat after once or twice, for various reasons. And I keep coming back to the driving force in my relationship past, find a good woman and develop a lasting relationship with her. This simplifies a lot of our energy. And for me, gives me an emotional and sexual base from which to launch off into my other emotional and creative passions.

I’m wired this way, I’m afraid.

My sexual brain is different. Unbridled and wild sex with multiple women always sounds like a good idea, to my smaller head. I used to imagine that I would’ve loved living in the sixties time of free love. And yet, now in this post-divorce life, I’m sort of in that position again. The online dating profile seems to be attracting women. And some of the women I find attractive as well. And …

The thought of my beloved being ravaged by someone else would give me a real heart attack. And I do want a beloved again.

So what happens when my sexual energies light up? And if the woman is of the same mind, what happens when things do progress, and we do start “relating?” So far, I have not been able to detach the part of my heart that begins mapping ideas of how we should/will/might be together for the long-term.

I’m dialing this back at the moment. I’m learning to live in the touch/taste present. And I’m reeling back thoughts of marriage and “what’s next.” But I’m not on a dating frenzy. Given a stable of available and sexually attractive women, I think I would find the ONE and drop the others.

I know some people can be wired differently. And I know that my inclinations once I was released from my sad marriage finish, was to be a philandering mad man. Didn’t happen. And chances are, it’s not ever going to happen. Again, who knows, perhaps I’ll be surprised. But the one time in my college years that I “dated” two women at the same time, things didn’t end so well. And even while things were working out, I wasn’t all that honest with either one of them.

I don’t know how I could ever be in an OPEN relationship. The thought of my beloved being ravaged by someone else would give me a real heart attack. And I do want a beloved again.

Maybe if I keep things on the surface, or don’t find a willing partner of that quality, I could entertain the idea of taking on another lover at the same time. But they’d have to know about each other, and that’s a bit more complicated. My wiring not’s that flexible after all.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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Sex is Fun: Should You Settle for Apathetic Sex?

sex is fun[Disclaimer: This post is not about my experiences with any women, past, present or future. All examples/stories are fictitious and made up in my twisted little mind.]

Sex should be fun. And after divorce, for whatever reason you got divorced, you’ve got a new lease on your sex life. What might have become routine or mundane sex can now be awakened again. Sex can be exhilarating again. Touching someone for the first time, should be a thrill. And perhaps in your marriage, touching your partner became a bit of a chore, or (for me) a navigation through a conditional minefield that often resulted in a fight rather than sex.

FIRST LAW OF DATING AFTER DIVORCE: Don’t take your show on the road until you’ve gotten through the bitterness, anger, and sadness of your divorce.

If you know your love language is TOUCH, you’ve got to get this straight: sex is one of the ways we feel connected, loved, included. Sex isn’t the only way. We’re the one’s always reaching out to brush our partner’s back as we pass through a room. It IS more about touch than sex, but if sex goes off the table, so goes the healthy feelings of love for the Touch-person. I am a touch person. My wife is a “do things for me” person. And while we made it long enough to have two wonderful kids, we couldn’t navigate the end game of love and sex beyond the parenting duties. Some things became more important than sex. The term TTFS became a joke for a while, but then it became a curse. (TTFS: too tired for sex.)

Well, if that’s where you find yourself, entering the new kingdom of adult sex, welcome. We’ve got a lot of things to learn and a lot of new potential partners to meet. Again, it’s not all about sex, but a lot of it is about sex. At least initially, sex is what drives us men so hard to seek a partner. It’s kinda hard-wired. Like our animal DNA trying to find a way to spread in any means possible.

Of course, adult, post-divorce sex, for me has nothing to do with procreation and everything to do with … Well, we’re still exploring what the goals are in my self-talk, but we do agree that sex should be fun. Sex as a chore, or sex without joy isn’t sex at all. It’s something else. It’s what we don’t want. Yuck.

So where are we? We’re recently out of a long-term relationship. (4-years for me today) We’re starving for touch. (Me, a touch-focused person.) And we’ve done a lot of work at healing ourselves post-divorce. (If you haven’t done your “work” to get through your divorce sadness and anger, you’re likely to act out, or repeat the same situation again. Do the work. Get yourself healthy before you get back in the game of love and sex.) So what are our options?

  1. Meeting people at social gatherings (churches, athletic events, school events, bars, live music clubs)
  2. Meeting people through friends (I don’t know why, but people don’t think of introducing their single friends very much.
  3. Meeting people through networking (old friends, high-school sweethearts, Facebook connections, reunions)
  4. Meeting people through the net (Online dating, online dating, online hookups, online sex, hookup apps)
  5. Not meeting people and staying home watching movies or porn. (ACK! This can work for a bit, but you need to get back out there if you’re going to get your needs met.

FIRST LAW OF DATING AFTER DIVORCE: Don’t take your show on the road until you’ve gotten through the bitterness, anger, and sadness of your divorce.

Most of those options are fine, but only #4 gives you any real power to take the matter into your own hands. So let’s look at the couple of types of online dating sites available and discuss the pros and cons of each.

Plain old Dating Sites (This group has your best potential of resulting in a relationship, if that’s what you want.)

  • OK Cupid – one of the big daddy’s of online dating. It’s free, there are a lot of potential mates, and their questions are deep and extensive. Sometimes you can learn way too much before you ever meet the person, using OKC.
  • eHarmony – the “we know best” dating site. I hated it because there was no browsing. eH sets you up with matches. And those are the only people you can contact or even look at. No thanks.
  • Match.com – sort of like OK Cupid but you pay to get on. What I’ve noticed recently is there are a lot more women in my age group and women in my tribe on Match. You will know what I’m talking about when you spend anytime on these sites.
  • Plenty-of-Fish – Another big free site. I set up a profile years ago, but didn’t find any initial hits when I started.

Of all of these, I have been happy with OKC (my only relationship was initiated on OKC) and Match.com. You’ll find what you like and what you don’t. And there are tons more. See what floats your boat.

Sex with experienced partners is a blast. Get this, they are probably hungry for sex too. But don’t jump in to fast, sex with a less-than-stable person can really mess up your simple life.

Hookup Sites (Um, these are mostly spam sites with people trying to generate money through porn or pay-per-view video sex chat. Not my cup of tea. But you might be curious, so check them out.

  • Adult Friend Finder (The motherload of “Maybe get laid tonight” sites) Free to join, pay to make contact. But make sure you spend a bit of time looking before you pay. You’ll notice most of the profiles are way to good to be true, and they’re not. 20-yo hotties do not look for men 40 – 60 yo. Nope. They are going to ask you to view their private show, or private set of pictures, or something… “You don’t need a credit card or anything to join, come see me there…” Nope, don’t do it. Ever. It’s bullshit.
  • Fling (there are a billion of these spin-offs and half the ads on AFF are to other dating/hookup-tonight sites.) These are all spam-tastic sites. They will start mailing you 10 – 15 matches an hour. Women willing to hookup with you today. BUT you’ll have to pay for the privilege of reading their email, where they will invite you to view their pictures on…
  • Tender (the App that seems to have caught on in the younger groups) Use your Facebook friends and friends of friends to find attractive potentials and if they find you attractive too you can communicate. It’s never worked for me, keeps timing out when it tries to establish my Facebook connection. Oh well.

There are tons of new sites and apps daily for whatever kink you’re into. But most of them are revenue generators and could care less if YOU get lucky. And most of the profiles are either fake or made by professional performers who would like to perform for you in some way or another.

Cheating Sites

  • AshleyMadison (Yep, there’s a dating site for people in committed relationships who want some on the side) If you’re cool with the idea, go for it. You’re going to pay to read any emails from anyone. And you’ll be emailed to death with “Likes” and “Collect $ Emails” from lots of women. But you pay to get access to chat, or email, or often to even see a single picture. Um, yeah, forget about it.

I’m sure there are other cheating sites, and probably cheating apps, but that’s way off the path in my book. If you want to hookup for a night do it. If you’re married or in a committed relationship and have that urge, take matters into your own hands and forget about it. It’s not worth it.

Apathetic sex is what got me here. When sex became more of a chore than a joy our marriage was winding down. The two were inextricably entwined in my book.

Okay, so let’s say you’ve found some matches on the legit dating sites, you’ve had a few dates, and …

Sex with experienced partners is a blast. Get this, they are probably hungry for sex too. But don’t jump in to fast, sex with a less-than-stable person can really mess up your simple life. The stories I’ve heard… Not good. So don’t jump in the sack too fast, even if you want to, it’s best to get a picture of the potential partner over a few dates and even a few disappointments. You’ll learn a lot. And maybe even start to have a real attraction to the person rather than just the sex appeal. But on to the sex.

Yes please. With partners your own age (and new women, who you’ve never slept with, who are not your partner over the last 11 years, who are excited and as revved up about sex as you are) you may be in for a treat. These folks SHOULD know what they want. They should have ideas about sex and pleasure and connecting. And if you’re lucky you’ll both be amazed and fascinated with the passion and power of having sex with someone new. I’m sure it’s a drug. I’m also sure people get addicted to the rush of new sex, new love, new partners. I don’t think that’s me, but it is a thrill either way, to see a new body disrobed and ready before you.

Hopefully, you have some idea of what makes you tick as well. And if the dance party goes well, perhaps you make it on to the post-coital date where you really begin to evaluate the person as a potential mate. Or not. That mate-thing is up to you. I know a friend who’s into sex with as many partners as possible. When the commitment things comes up, he’s gone. Not my idea of intimacy, but he seems satisfied with his high.

Apathetic sex is what got me here. When sex became more of a chore than a joy our marriage was winding down. The two were inextricably entwined in my book. My ex, with a different love language, was happy with infrequent sex. I was dying.

I’m not dying now. I’m not drowning in sex juices either. That’s not my way. I think I’m a serial monogamist. If that involves dating, or coupling, or marriage, I have no idea. And the good thing is, I don’t have to decide until I have to decide. I haven’t gotten close to marriage, but I have had one girlfriend. And whatever that means, I’m open to having another. [BTW: this is not an advertisement for me or my dating profile. (grin)]

Good sex to you all out there. Do what feels good. Walk away from what hurts or seems inappropriate. With divorce on the rise, we’re growing in numbers, and that’s good for all of us.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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Dating Tips for Modern Adults: Texts, Facebook, Profiles, Phonecalls

dating tips for the modern adultIt’s a lot more complex trying to figure out relationships these days, then it was before I met my ex-y. Today things like Facebook and text messages go for communications. And the signals can come from all directions. You’ve got to be a communications savvy person, or get lost. Or refuse to go “online” for your romantic prospecting. But if you’re not willing to up your online game, you’re going to be at a disadvantage.

These days phone calls are almost archaic. The dates I’ve set up over the last three years have involved only a handful of phone calls. Some never progress off the initial dating site. Others will give you a phone number as a back up, but won’t ever respond to texts. And then others…

It’s easy to get swept up in the joy of messaging as well. I’ve had a number of startup relationships that were amazing in text and not-so-much in person. And that too, is one of the problems with online dating. There is a lot of intensity and fantasy you can give into before you ever look into the other person’s eyes. There’s even a question on OK Cupid’s massive question database, “Do you think you can fall in love without ever meeting someone in person?” Really?

Let’s pull that idea apart for a second.

  1. Photos are not very good indicators of what a person really looks like. If they are using really old photos they could be 50 lbs heavier in real life. (It’s happened to me three times, so far. You want to ask, “Um, that photo… When was that taken?”)
  2. Romantic articulation is not a good indicator of a chemistry match. It’s a good indicator of a romantic writer.
  3. The imagination can run wild with #1 and #2. The let down can be shocking.

I have a new strategy (as of my last online dating date, two nights ago) get the texts going. And then trade selfies. This has only snipped one escalating online flirtation, but it was immediate. There is very little manipulation you can do to a selfie in most circumstances. And you want to get the raw story before committing to a date.

And dates take time. They can be fun or uncomfortable. But they are distractions, at some point, if you keep finding yourself sitting across from “what was I thinking?” more than a few times. You need to refine your criteria a bit.

Here are a couple informal tips I’ve learned so far.

  1. If there’s only one photo – they are probably hiding something.
  2. Look at all the photos. There’s usually that one photo that’s a bit more real, less romantic, than the others. You can sometimes see through the mirage of great photography in that one photo. (I only learned this after the fact. I’d go out on a date and come back home and ask “what did I miss?”)
  3. If they don’t have kids, they’re never going to understand me and mine.
  4. Look for something magical. One thing that you can really get into about the person. (Not a pretty smile.) What they do or profess to love that you also love. See if you can tease a few more details about that “concept” in your conversations via txt, email, or whatever.
  5. Pretty smiles are amazing. But they are not a complete package.
  6. Go ahead and say what you’re looking for in a relationship on your profile. I have it out there. “I’m looking for extraordinary.” I don’t want a half-charged woman. I’m not low-power or low-maintenance. I want brilliance.
  7. Keep plenty of time to yourself. If you are going out on dates in order to not be alone, you might look at that. You’ve got to keep refining what you want love to do, building the relationship without yourself, BEFORE you get in another relationship. Your goal should be to build on those things, not just a sexy connection.

There are a lot of ways to communicate online. If you really like this person in initial conversations, but it’s hard finding the time to date, you can ask to be “friends” on Facebook. (Another source of great REAL photos.) And don’t discount Facebook as a potential dating pool as well. Much more touchy on Facebook, to seek dates, but when there is a connection it’s easy to get a feel for what this person is into by looking at their Facebook wall. I’m happy to share mine early. I’m not trying to hide who I am. My Facebook profile is 100% public.

And it’s quite okay for them to unfriend you when they decide you’re not a fit. Don’t be offended. It’s not about picking up more Facebook friends. It’s about trying to establish a communications system between the two of you.

And finally: DON’T DATE ON FACEBOOK. Sharing your “new boyfriend” is very embarrassing when you have to go back and delete all their pictures. And those “first Ikea purchase together” photos just seem sad when you’ve known the person for two weeks. Leave your Relationship Status on Facebook as “make selection.” Nobody needs to be trolling you for dating. And you don’t need to be broadcasting to them or anyone else when you go from “In Relationship with Sandy” to “It’s Complicated” to “Single.” It embarrasses your friends for you. Just don’t do it. (Unless you’re in your twenties, then perhaps, everyone is doing it. I don’t know much about that demographic.)

It’s wild enough out there. You need to get your communications strategy in place. And then if the other person has a different pace or different style you can figure out how to adjust.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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The Six Rules of Online Dating: Seeking Chemistry and Everything Else

Refining your roll in online dating (or dating in general) is a big part of getting your groove back after marriage. And really, the truth is, you shouldn’t be rolling anything at all until you’ve gotten some space between you and your divorce. As we said in our divorce recovery class, “Before you take your show on the road, you need to get your act together.”

I’ve spent some time on Match.com, OKCupid, and eHarmony and I can tell you something about the online dating scene for us “near or over 50” folks. It’s not easy being back in the dating scene. It’s not our natural or comfortable state. (Not mine, anyway.) We like to say things like “serial monogamist” to describe ourselves as looking for the next ONE person, rather than casual dating. (Sorry, again, I’m talking about myself.)

Here are a few things I’ve learned about online dating.

  1. Pictures lie. (Yes, it might be a picture of her, but … When you meet in-person you get that WTF feeling.)
  2. Hyper-focus on physical beauty is usually a bad thing. Sure we want someone who is attractive, and most importantly sexually attractive to us, but if their profile talks too much about working out and being in great shape, that’s probably what you’re going to get. I had some fruitless first dates with very attractive and very fit women who had little else on their mind.
  3. The 38-Special song, “Hold On Loosely” really comes into play with online courtship. If you get too enthusiastic you’re going to scare off the quarry. If you’re too romantic, too persistent, too charming, forget it. Be authentic, put your offer out there, and shut the fuck up. (Besides, if like me, you were the generator of 90% of the affection in your relationship, you need to make sure this potential partner has some “generation” in them as well.)
  4. If their profile is too amazing, you will never hear from them. I know an attractive woman on OKCupid who can have a date every night of the week, if she wants one. The offers fill her inbox. Many of them creepy, but enough that she is never really looking for opportunities.
  5. Most women don’t trust really attractive men. And it goes both ways. (Mathematics of Beauty – An OKCupid Study)

I’m not sure where I fall on the spectrum. Some days I feel like the too-cute guy. Other times I feel like the over-weight 50-ish dad trying to be younger and hipper than I really am. It’s all about your roll. How you define your self, and define what you are looking for.

And that’s the beauty of online dating, at least the experience of filling out your profile and browsing around at the potential mates. Here are my first Six Rules of Online Dating

FIRST: You have to describe yourself and what you are looking for. This process helps you define for yourself what you think your best qualities are. Show your best face. Give your best enticement.

SECOND: You will have to describe what you are looking for. Even things like age-range can be tricky. And what you say can reflect more about you than you know. (Example: the 43 yo woman with two kids who is looking for men 30 – 42)

THIRD: Ultimately this seeking love thing is really a numbers game. The more potentials you meet the more potential you have of finding a match. And if you’ve been through a divorce or two, the hope is you are beginning to learn what works for you and what does not. (You do know your Love Language, don’t you?)

FOURTH: Go out. Get back out there. You don’t remember what dating is like, and you certainly don’t know anything about dating today. Texting, email, online dating sites, phone calls… It’s a new frontier.

FIFTH: As you begin to waste a few Saturday or Sunday afternoons on pointless dates, you will begin refining your criteria. If you ware looking for casual sex, I suppose there are certain profiles that hint at that. (Would you consider sleeping with someone on the first date?) If you are in the hunt for the next relationship, it is not helpful or hopeful to go out on a zero-potential date, and you learn to refine and recheck their online profile before you make the next “in-person” offer.

SIXTH: There is usually one picture that shows how the person really looks. Everyone is putting on their best face. And my profile is no different. But after you’ve gone on a few loser dates, you can go back to the profile of the person and SEE the ah-ha photo. The “I saw that, but I didn’t really register what it meant.” The hints in photos are often more important than the beautiful smile.

I’ve been out on some first dates with really beautiful smiles. I mean, drop-dead beautiful photos… And then, you meet, and you realise your mistake.

Today I am much more selective about going out on that first face-to-face meeting. And so far, in three years, I’ve had three WOWs. Three first dates that I was REALLY into. The kind of first date that has you ready to take down your dating profile when you get home. And one of them seemed to say, “Yes, let’s give it a shot,” as we were leaving the walk. She backed out. And thus, at this moment, I’m 0-for-3 on the HIT department.

But I’m stepping into the batters box again. I’ve reopened my Match profile to see if the OKC pond has just gotten stale.

After taking June – August to consider the second “woman with potential” and not really go on any other dates, and taking September off to get ready for my live music concert, I’m aching to get back out there.

I miss the feeling of a woman. I know that I need to dial back my NEED even now. My romantic  rush is on. I think it might be the change in the weather, towards Fall. But more likely, it’s just my cycles. I’ve been self-focused for about 4 months. And I got through some really hard stuff. And now I’m feeling the rush and push towards my birthday, usually a time of power and confidence for me.

And I’d really like to spend my every other Saturday nights wrapped around a lovely and articulate woman. I’m hopeful that I can get my roll right and that eventually the numbers will come up in my favor. And hers!

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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image: happy kids, creative commons usage


Flight 7, Bound for Destinations Unknown, Grounded

a flight of wine I guess it’s easy to be hopeful. It’s easy to look at an online dating profile and accept an introduction from a woman and not look very closely at her. I mean, look at her, to see her.

Tonight, for some lonely reason, the only excuse I can figure out, I met a “drive by” at a nearby wine bar. I was sadly disappointed when I noticed her from 30 feet away. I guess you could say the chemistry was off from a mile away.

Well, then I get back home and I open Match.com and try to compare notes, and there it is, right there. Easy to see. If I’d been paying attention. Picture #1 was a clue. Picture #3, a wtf was I thinking?

So my favorite flight of wine, the #7, and $50 bucks later, I’m no worse for wear. Get this, we didn’t even finish the wine. I guess even she felt it, what was the point. The energy miss-match was epic.

My call to action was not strong enough, I guess. This woman was no badass. She was a… Okay, I was about to get snarky, and that’s not the point. This date was about me. Something I was looking for. And then some pattern in me that allowed me to gloss over the obvious signs in her profile in hopes of … What? Seriously? No.

Okay, so if I knew from the start it was a non-starter, why did I ask her out?

Clear the palette from yesterday? Make myself feel like the process was still ongoing and hopeful?

I’m not sure. I had plans to go see a musician I know and love. Alone. No problem. But this woman contacted me. She whispered the magic phrase, “English major,” and boom my fantastical mind was off and running. AND cluelessly blinded. Not one thing she said after that was witty, or creative. Not one thing said BADASS other than the fact that she picked me, and she was not hideous. [With one beautiful exception, all of the women who have reached out to me from online dating sites have been more mature. As in, they looked a lot older than me.]

Well, I wonder what the experience is on the other side of the fence for women my age. Are the men in my category mostly rich and dark and thin? Or pale, pudgy and uncreative?

Two learnings. 1. Watch “why” you are going out. If it is not an exceptional opportunity, it’s something else. A WASTE OF TIME. 2. Even on a crappy date, I get 50% of the benefit in food and drink. So my $50 wasn’t wasted, it was just not as beneficial as it could’ve been.

What would I have spent that money on had I not gone on flight 7? What energy would be present had I gone to see the live music, ALONE, rather than venturing on this “date?”

Easy enough. I am also gentle with myself and my silly choices.

I am learning. I do not know what this season of my life looks like, I am discovering it.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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Online Dating: Setting Your Sights for WOW and Browsing the Herd

How to use online dating sites

Forgive the animal metaphor, but online dating is a bit like a cattle call. A stream of faces and mythical ratings to entice and enchant you. As the fantasy goes, “I’m single again, let’s take advantage of this new world, sew some seeds, have some fun.”

The reality is much more time consuming, mundane, and potentially expensive.

Filling out your online dating profile even if you have no intention of “working” the system, is one of the real benefits of giving it a go. Here’s why.

ABOUT YOU

  • Describing what you are like
  • Sharing things you like to do with others
  • Remembering what’s romantic, even if it’s been a long time
  • Outlining a bit about who you want to meet
  • Defining what you are looking for (a relationship, a fling, a bootie call)

ABOUT THEM

  • Seeking out and finding the traits you want in your next relationship
  • Noticing what “types” turn you on, and what things immediately turn you off
  • Seeing the wide variety of smiles and styles out there, theoretically dating
  • Do you have any deal breakers (smoking, drugs, too religious, not religious enough)
  • Exploring deeper aspects of a woman’s personality by reading her profile and looking at her answers

Overall, the process should bring several things to light.

  • Are you ready to be in a relationship?
  • Are you ready to shine up and show up?
  • How much are you willing to learn about the new dance of dating?

Here’s what I think I learned about myself, thus far.

  • I like dark hair more than lighter shades
  • I prefer small breasted women
  • If there is not something simply amazing about the person (that I can see in their profile) there probably will not be something amazing about them in person
  • I don’t really like dating, I want to be in-relationship and not paying for wine bars
  • Intelligence is more important than waistline, but… There is a limit
  • I’m craving something more than just a relationship, I want the BUZZ
  • The buzz has led me astray before, I have to keep refining my two core needs, in spite of the buzz
  • Physical touch and closeness is very important, and it can be over done
  • Emotional depth and ease of expression is something I’m good at, and I require that in my partner as well

All this to say, I have built a roadmap for finding the next love of my life. (Sounds corny.) But I’m not looking to shop the herd, or play the field. I’m looking to find the next person “to come home to.” (An OKCupid catch phrase.)

So in this year or so, that I’ve been playing on OKCupid I have had three relationships. One long one. (Current “girlfriend” is going on three months.) But I’ve only met ONE woman who embodied for me the IT GIRL. As I was walking away from this two-hour chat I was thinking, “If she’ll date, I’ll take down my profile tomorrow.”

She didn’t. And thus I’m about to hang my flag back up on OKCupid.

But I think I need to talk to the “girlfriend” and be honest about what’s going on. It’s part of the new year. Not to live with “almost” and to open up the pain of “alone” to make room for “wow.”

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

PS. What does “spiritual but not religious” mean? I think I know, do you?

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The Yoga Girl Next Door; What Is An Erotic Ideal, And What Is Real?

What would you talk about with a yoga girl?

There I was leaning into her new red Prius, talking about PR and yoga and her plans. It was as if I had put my head into a spaceship and was looking at some Penthouse forum photo of “the yoga girl next door.” But there was nothing going on. She was a next door neighbor, and I was asking her about her work and her Prius.

I’m guessing she’s in the 20-years-younger range. Blonde. Stunning body in black tights. Raybans. Biggest smile you’ve ever seen. And what would I have done with her if she had been asking about coming over later? (She was not.)

I’ve been dating.

As I walked the long distance back to my car after the kiss, I was erect as a bar of iron, and wondering how — in my fkd up state — someone else could be attracted to me.

This is the first “relationship” I’ve been in since my divorce. The other two were both in the neighborhood of one week, and that’s not a relationship, that’s a fly by. The first one was the woman who slept with pit bulls. The second one had the prettiest smile you have ever seen, but she lived 80 miles away.

So I wouldn’t say I’m experienced. In fact, I would say I’m a newbie in the department of dating. And dating as an adult who’s about to cross into my 50’s, I have to say, things are very different than when I was last on the market. I’m different. The women are different. I have two kids and a schedule that imposes some initial absence regardless of how fast I want to go in terms of hanging out together.

Sure, I’ve got an OK Cupid profile. (Tried Match and eHarmony.) But I haven’t been workin it. And from the depths of my aloneness I wasn’t in any mood to be imagining or looking for companionship. In fact, I was flat out deluded about how far fked up I was.

Enter attractive 54 year-old woman on OKC that says, “Hey, why didn’t you respond to my last email?”

If warning bells are going off it’s only because she is IN TO ME too much. Or more than I have ever experienced. She was telling me I was “much more attractive” than my profile over our first drink together. And in the parking lot, as I walked her to her new convertible Mini, she held up before opening the car and half-kissed me. We still joke about who kissed who, but she HAD been dating a lot. And she was prone to “trying out the kiss” in the parking lot, even on the first date. I had not kissed any of my “dates.” You tell me…

And as I walked the long distance back to my car after the kiss, I was erect as a bar of iron, and wondering how — in my fkd up state — someone else could be attracted to me. Was that in itself a huge red flag?

OR… Did she see something in me that was solid and cute and funny, regardless of how I was feeling?

Three days later, we were kissing on my couch as a prelude to the trip upstairs, where she said as she was unbuttoning my pants, “You don’t know how long it’s been!”

Two months later… Well, I’ve driven the Mini quite a bit.

Am I looking for some erotic ideal that is more about masturbatory fantasy and trophy wives that parade around the nearby HEB in their yoga pants.

But there is something that I am not feeling, that I think I should. As we continue and she confirms repeatedly how much I fit her picture of a prime fit, I am not sure. I did not have the euphoria associated with passion. I don’t crave her. Her beautiful blue eyes and easy laugh are wonderful, but for some animal reason, I would not pick her out at a party as someone I wanted to get to know. She is attractive. She is a bit older than any of my previous relationships. She is completely crazy about me.

Am I out of my element? Am I looking for some erotic ideal that is more about masturbatory fantasy and trophy wives that parade around the nearby HEB in their yoga pants. (Don’t they have to work? Um… No, they don’t.)

So I have a woman who craves sex and time with me. She does not play games. She has told me from the beginning how delicious she thinks I am. She even told me, after a lengthy discussion about my previous relationship history, that she wanted to learn how to give me the best blow job ever. (WHAT?)

The yoga girl next door represents a college-age fantasy. I am not of college age. She is thin, beautiful, and I would assume, somewhat spiritual, being a yoga instructor and all. But she and I have nothing in common. Would I find things about her that fascinate me? Would she cook me a meal, come over to my house, and leave me with leftovers?

My experience, thus far in my life, says no. My experience, thus far in my life has never had someone so crazy about me. I feel almost guilty about not being able to return the level of excitement about her. I am trying. I am stretching. I am exploring everything with her, to see if the animal hotness grows. I mean, the truth is, I was depressed beyond measure. And NOTHING sounded good. I didn’t crave anything, not even ice cream. So how could I expect my senses to crave this available woman?

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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Putting Online Dating in Perspective

What's your best part - online dating - the off parent

Um, honey, let me ask you a question. Are you saying the best part of you is the swell of your left breast? And your user name, SRSLY? I guess you’re not looking at this online thing too hard. Or perhaps you are looking for the dudes that will jump at a side picture of a breast in black sparkly dress. I guess…

And the bathroom meme for your photo is sad. It’s not all that exciting to see your shower and towel rack. I mean, you’ve got to have a few friends who could help you out. Even one of those fancy phones that have the camera that faces back at you?

One of the cool things, the organizing things, about setting up your online profile is you have two major tasks.

  1. How do you present yourself to the world? Photo. User Name. Bio and Answers to provocative or benign questions.
  2. What are you really looking for? Big breasts. Fit stomach. Brains bigger than yours. A smile. Humor.

Step 3 is continually refining what you want and how you present yourself.

In completing the first round of questions and bio fields in your dating profile you’re going to at least be getting a picture of what you think you are and what you think you are looking for.

So “trouble” in you profile name might not be the best choice, unless that’s what you are trying to attract.

And then you start the process of going on a few meet and greets. “Let’s grab a cup of coffee…” And now your sense of what’s important gets refined.  One of my discoveries, “Wow, she was beautiful and liked to work out a lot. BUT… we had NOTHING to talk about.”

Okay so my priority, actually, is brains and banter over nice boobs or taut abs. And my recent experience says that as long as they are not obese I can get quite excited by different body types and styles.

And my other recent commitment: if there is not something absolutely extraordinary about the person, there is no real reason to meet. I’m not looking to fill time, or keep from being lonely. I’m looking for someone who can keep up with my rapid fire synapses and THEN perhaps my strong hands. Perhaps. But again, BED IS NOT THE GOAL.

Again, a friend asked me, chastised me really, about following up with a beautiful woman I’d had 1 date with. “She’s not that into you, why are you still wasting time on her?”

“I’m not really trying to have sex with her, we just had fun. Oh and she’s one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever been around.”

I had to think about it a day later when I was ABOUT TO SEND HER A FUNNY NOTE on LinkedIN (my favorite dating network). What did I want from her? Why was I willing to sit next to her in amazement, if there was no chance, and very little willingness on her part to schedule something. Why was I flagellating myself against a person who could not, or would not, give anything in return?

And then we come to my ex-y. At some point that was the question I had to ask. She’s not going to change into a warm, huggy, sexualized person.

Like trying to fix the alcoholic, it was not going to happen by anything I could do. I could ask and ask and ask, but if there was zero affection coming back, my asking would become less frequent and more painful.

So I was no longer willing to flagellate myself to the mother of my children. Why would I put up with the touch-less date, the pointless courting?

We’ve been through this before. It feels familiar some how. That DOES NOT MAKE IT RIGHT.

I’m done with being addicted to “longing.” I want joining as my goal. If the person is not available… Why am I wasting my time? A counselor once told me, “You do longing very well. But it’s okay to get some of those needs met.”

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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Your New Matches: Online Dating and the Big Miss

How to get online dating rightHow can you just tell by the name or the age of the person what your eHarmony “matches” are going to be like?

The under 37s are almost all going to seem too young. Or so hot that I’m going to be too old. And the odd names usually mean ethnic (not necessarily a bad thing).

And then the spammy craigslist stuff just gets to the details, blonde, great tits, petite. WHATEVER!

I am learning more and more, as I merely look around, that I am an everything man. I’m not looking for a type. I’m looking for a spark. And that spark can come from any hair color, any body type, and any name. But where it doesn’t come from, for the most part is ONLINE>>>.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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Strike Two! The Could’a Should’a Would’a Online Date Clips My Wings

2nd online date goes off the rails(This post continues the story started here: Stepping Back Into the Breach; Dating Again After Divorce)

Well, my online dating experience is getting longer… and I’ve had another near miss.

I can tell you exactly what happened. Same thing that happened with hottie number one. I came on too strong. My heart on my sleeve, my CD-R of my break-up CD, my quick note of excitement. “You need to slow your roll,” she said in her next email. I hadn’t heard the expression, but I knew what she meant.

She said, “We’ve been out on one date.”

I agreed. I recanted my note. I explained my inner dialogue away. But she didn’t buy it. “I’m sorry, I’m just a bit creeped out by it. Good luck in finding what you are looking for.” And like that I was jettisoned out with the last batch of near-miss online dates, I guess. It was new for me.

It’s complicated, this dating with kids thing. I was so sure this woman was a fit of some kind, but I moved in and set up camp without a permit. And probably I should not have shared it with her. Probably she googled it and found this site. Damn. But of course it’s my own fault. And perhaps I’m the dumb ass. Thinking this is okay.

Next time, no love letters, just a date. No facebook connection. No *smile* TXTs. Just a date. Thanks. Wanna do it again?

So, near miss, I’m sorry. You gave me what I needed. A serious case of the hopefulness. And what I gave you was some overbearing crap. Again, my loss. I was watching that cute video of you and reading over your email dismissal. I wanted to remember your smile. And as the impressions wore off, I reached again for something that was too raw, too fresh, too fragile, and mostly too presumptuous. And I can see how that paints me as too needy. Yep. Guilty. Back to the dating pool.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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My Online Dating Records

Online Dating Selects Matches

Even Match.com is having a hard time delivering my “daily 5.

I don’t know that it’s because I’m so difficult. Or that my geographic area is so small. (Perhaps I should open up my range to 30 or 50 miles.)

But eHarmony delivered exactly ONE match today. And she was so far off, that I’m not sure what’s wrong with my algorithm.

Here’s the bottom line:

I am not asking for much of a commitment inorder to meet. I’d like her to be uniquely attractive (as opposed to gorgeous). Sort of height-weight proportional. And around my age.

What I’m noticing is women my age (47) tend to look and sound A LOT OLDER. And women within 10 years younger tend to look and sound A LOT YOUNGER. So perhaps I’m not sure what I want. Somewhere in between. I’m okay if she’s younger as long as she has a good bit of her issues worked out and dealt with. And I’m okay if she’s older as long as she doesn’t fall into the “looks like my mom” category.

And then you have to consider the kids.

Of course dating a woman with kids is going to be a long ramp-up relationship. I mean I think mother’s have to protect their families in a more agressive way then men. Cause, frankly, men can be freaks and assholes. And I can see how my strong emotional outpouring freaked both of my two close matches off. I’m learning. And actually, my own reaction and excitements were self-revealing about my own current state of mind. I wasn’t am not ready for a LTR. (long-term relationship) But I am ready for STF. (short-term friends)

I guess re-upping my eHarmony account was a good idea. Cause if I can’t find her, she probably can’t find me either.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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