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

Posts tagged “OKCupid

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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image: lust, soffie hicks, creative commons usage


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

over 40 - the rules of online datingRefining 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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Surprising Myself and Contradicting Everything All At Once

Sex on the first date - would you really?I write most of these posts in the moment, as things are happening. And when I go back and read them, sometimes, I feel like I’m learning something. As if someone else wrote the posts, and I’m learning AGAIN how I feel about certain things.

THEN I have a complete reversal of my opinion. (I think that’s a common occurrence for any of us.) But when it involves something as essential as dating or sex, I’m surprised by my animal nature.

Example: Just yesterday I was writing about some of the more disappointing aspects of the movie Don Jon and this line, that I wrote, in today’s light, has a very different feel to me.

“Keeping your own sexual urges and satisfaction in hand (porn) can help you keep your dick in your pants at times when it might be easier just to go with the flow towards sex.” — Porn Addiction

So, here’s where it gets funny. On some days I feel very strongly about that statement. And my aversion to casual sex. And then a woman, last night, reaches out from OKCupid, and seems approachable. Let’s make that more clear.

OK CUPID question, would you sleep with someone on the first date?

Um, that’s me with the No. But that Yes sure is intriguing. Really? Do you think this is a tease? Or do you think I’ve found a cougar (she’s 8 years older than me, so perhaps I’m a catch)? I haven’t taken condoms with me to a date, ever. But I’m considering it, tonight. Why? What’s changed?

It’s been a long time. I don’t have any recent sexual contact, and maybe my body is craving touch. Probably more than sex. And this little hunger in my physical body is able to short-circuit my planning and stated intentions. What?

Now, imagining sex with this woman on the first date is a lot different than actually doing it. And from her pictures it’s hard to get a real idea of what she looks like. And of course chemistry is another thing all together. But a little bit of casual sex… Wow. Maybe it’s the change of the seasons, and I’m ready to be doing it again, soon.

Anyway, it’s amazing to see how animal we actually are. The day after professing my intention to hold out of the next ONE, I’m prepping and heading out to a date at a sophisticated club with an older woman who’s said YES to “first date sex.”

Exhilarating. And a bit confusing, until we realise, just how human/animal we actually are. And who says giving into the urge is a terrible thing. Last time, it yielded a three-month relationship that taught me more about relationships than I’d learned in my entire marriage. We are two adults. We can be honest. We can play the online dating games.

Let’s go see.

Update: It does seem absurd the notion, of sleeping with someone on a first date. I mean, how does that happen? I imagine you’d have to get pretty wasted. Not the case for me. Oh well, it was a fun flight of fancy.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

Note: Image is from a video that went viral today:  Yeva Shiyanova | Imagine Dragons – Radioactive

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Porn Addiction and the Single Dad (And a Don Jon Movie Review)

The cast of Don Jon and Porn Addiction Issues

Um… this might be difficult to write.

Let me start with a movie review about porn addiction.

Don Jon is a fairly lighthearted look at a young man’s struggle to move past his T&A porn addiction to try and find happiness in the real world with a real girl. And while it’s an impressive debut as writer and direct for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the movie goes for a few to many stereotypes to be helpful. I’m guessing he was going for funny.

How can you make Scarlett Johansson in to a gum chewing bubble head with poor Bronx dialect, and make her distasteful… Wow. That was an interesting approach, but it takes the story into overall childish and unlikable characterizations. Along with Don Jon these are the couples you seen in Wal-Mart who can’t keep their hands and lips off each other. (In fact, I saw this in an upper-class and expensive sports bar last night, there was no need to typecast these people until the looked like Grease parodies.)

All flaws aside, the issue is real and present, and I would guess, for the younger generation (raised with access to horrid porn of all sorts) much more of an issue.

Tony Danza, on the other hand, is perfect for the part. And maybe Mr. Gordon-Levitt is paying tribute to his heritage, I don’t know. But the low-class, blue-collar, chick-hunting mentalities of the boys, didn’t really require the “scene.” Again, it’s an artifice for telling the story, and may be more related to Mr. GL’s target demographic than I know, but it came across as superficial, and it didn’t need to. Ms. Johansson is gaudy and awful. She’s still beautiful, but they make her out to me more “Married With Children Scarlett Johansson”  than “Lost In Translation Scarlett Johansson”.

And then we have the still beautiful Julianne Moore who plays the bereaved MILF who turns Jon around. While her points are well made, the movie goes off in this Harold and Maude thing, I was wondering if it was a tribute of sorts. Maybe she needed to be smoking all that pot to really dig into this superficial bartender. But their LOVE is a bit hard to fathom.

I’m all for the older woman showing the millennial male stallion a thing or two about love, but their chemistry is … Well, I just don’t believe it. I could see Danza being all over her, but of course he’s got his son’s disease, gawking and drooling over woman, and playing the dumb football-obsessed dad. Again, maybe Mr. G-L, the director and writer, has other reasons for this stereotype, or maybe it was for laughs.

Anyway… I went to see this move, once I knew what it was about… Well, there’s no simple way around it. Because I like porn too.

The courageous move on Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s part was making this movie in the first place. All flaws aside, the issue is real and present, and I would guess, for the younger generation (raised with access to horrid porn of all sorts) much more of an issue.

Here’s how it’s played out for me. My Don Jon story.

In the past, I have had periods where I watched and masturbated to porn daily. And what begins to happen, when you’re in one of these grooves, is the potential relationship with actual women becomes less important. So we can let ourselves go, get fat, not care much, because we have shockingly young and stunning whores on-screen 24-7, and now, mostly for free.

These days as a single dad, I occasionally glance at some porn. It’s not something that I’m ashamed of or proud of, it just is. I too was raised on porn, after finding a stack of Penthouse magazine’s in a cousin’s closet.

And as you get into it, you need more, you need variety, and you need excitement. Problem is, the rabbit hole of porn is endless. The filth you can quickly find yourself, experimenting with, is amazing and easy to find. STOP.

My first real repulsion from porn was when my daughter was born. This was about the time that women’s grooming habits went all bare. Suddenly I was blindingly aware of the connection between my daughter and her eventual future, and the younger and younger-looking porn stars who were having to do worse and worse things to get noticed in the porn industry. I rejected the entire process, threw away my DVD stash and swore off porn.

For awhile.

In the end, I don’t think porn is a bad thing. It’s more like alcohol. You can take a drink every now and then, and if everything’s fine, and you don’t go off on a bender each time, you’re probably okay. Porn is kind of like that. But porn IS MOST DEFINITELY A DRUG.

In the movie, Don Jon, the Esther character, asks the young man about his love of porn. And he admits to enjoying porn more than sex with real women. And that’s the beginning of the rub. (Sorry.)

The issue I have with porn today is, 90% of those women are in their early twenties and should be modeling with their clothes on. They are essentially a past I never had, and a future I don’t want at all. I won’t address the abusive porn and family issues that might have gotten these young women hooked on porn, but there they are. And they are NOTHING LIKE THE WOMEN I DESIRE. BUT… And here’s the big but, they are what I’ve been sold all my life as desirable.

Sex is everywhere. The insanity over Mylie Cyrus’s stunts and nudie video are all really just part of our culture. We’re pushing sex to the limits and trying to use it to make a buck selling hamburgers and cars. And of course, more porn.

These days as a single dad, I occasionally glance at some porn. It’s not something that I’m ashamed of or proud of, it just is. I too was raised on porn, after finding a stack of Penthouse magazine’s in a cousin’s closet. And since then I’ve worshiped the idea of being with a woman. And I love making love.

Well, we’ve all got a lot to learn about our personal relationship to sex and porn. And then we’ve got to graduate, as adults to real relationships with real women based on more than boobs and kisses.

AND as a single dad, I have fewer opportunities to be with women. See, I’ve never been the predator type, like the young boys in the movie. I’ve tried casual sex and it does nothing for me. That’s good to know about myself, but it makes the prospect of my next sexual encounter less certain. Today, that’s a good thing. I have made a choice to not move towards sex with a woman unless there’s some REAL connection with her. Kind of like Julianne Moore in the movie. She showed him what sex with someone you really cared about would be like.

I’ve always been that guy. I could worship Scarlett Johansson, and never look at another woman again. Maybe not the SJ in this movie, however, because it’s a whole lot more than just looks and bodies that make love.

Finally, in May of this year, I was sitting across from two different (much younger and without kids) women that I met on OKCupid. And both times, I bowed out of the third-date opportunity. (Often the time people would consider getting sexual.) After two dates with these fine young women, who were wonderful to look at and charming in their own way, I never pursued the next date.

One woman even texted me the next day, “I thought you were going to kiss me but you didn’t.

She was cute. I’d had a margarita. We were sitting in my car before I let her out. And I could’ve. But I didn’t really want to.

When sex drives us, just like alcohol, we can find ourselves in some situations that may not be that healthy for us. Neither of these younger women were real candidates for being a girlfriend. So I didn’t lean over and kiss her. I didn’t want that obligation. And I really wasn’t interested. With the texting girl, it was our first date. I even had a follow-up date to see if I wanted, or she wanted, to kiss this time. Neither of us did.

Keeping your own sexual urges and satisfaction in hand (porn) can help you keep your dick in your pants at times when it might be easier just to go with the flow towards sex. If you find your only wanting to watch porn you might look into getting some help.

It’s not a bad thing, porn. There are some bad things about it. There are some good things about it. Everyone has their own relationship to porn. And the bombshell character in the movie, Barbara, has a real aversion to her boyfriend watching porn, EVER. And I’ve met these folks too. Perhaps their issues are more with their own emotional healing more than their boyfriend or girlfriend. Maybe not.

I sure would’ve liked this movie not to have hidden behind the false humor of the Italian bravado and Catholic church parodies, but it wasn’t my movie. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has brought porn into the light of day. Everyone has a relationship to it, it’s part of our lives. And if you think the covers of Cosmo and even Good Housekeeping aren’t selling with sex…

Well, we’ve all got a lot to learn about our personal relationship to sex and porn. And then we’ve got to graduate, as adults to real relationships with real women based on more than boobs and kisses. The time you spend in the bedroom, in a real relationship, is a very small portion of the time you spend in the relationship. You’d better make sure you’re really into the other parts of the person too.

Note: Oh, I almost forgot, I’m not addicted to porn, I was just enflaming the title of my post. I might, on the other hand, be addicted to women. One woman. I’m still looking, at the moment. (grin)

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

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Becoming the Frog Prince Rather Than Kissing Frogs

modern dating: kissing frogsAnother pretty face to confuse and delight me.

I am learning that it’s a lot more than a beautiful body and pretty face that gets my motor running. In fact, all of that, absent some higher connection, still causes me to look elsewhere. Certainly it’s the initial attraction, like shopping, that perks my interest, but it takes a lot more for me to want to continue the conversation.

I know how easily the open and unstructured time becomes a requirement of satisfaction. That can prove difficult if you are looking to find the time to be *in relationship.* So I breathe and I know patience.

I am learning that my time alone is my most valuable resource. When I’m depressed this resource is a horror and not a benefit. But when my creative juices are firing on all cylinders, there is nothing better than finding my work completed by lunch and the yaw of the afternoon staring at me.

So I’ve taken my “dating” process to that same high-level of assessment. If it’s just a “huh,” and not a “wow” there’s no real reason to continue the conversation.

I’ve been lonely before. And that’s a bitch. Then the absence of touch becomes like a painful skin condition. The ache for connection is so high, I believe, our standards of judgement go way down. This is the mode where people revert to porn, craigslist, or going out to get laid. I’ve never been in the market for the second two.

In courting the “woman with potential” I am reminded how long it has been since she has been in a relationship. I know how easily the open and unstructured time becomes a requirement of satisfaction. That can prove difficult if you are looking to find the time to be *in relationship.* So I breathe and I know patience.

Reflecting back, it’s been a year and a half since my first outing on OKCupid. And I’d have to say, that my ONE relationship shice divorce was due to OKC. Two of my additional liaisons happened via Facebook. But nothing has satisfied my search. And that’s okay.

I was sitting in this same organic grocery store awaiting the arrival of my first OKC date, and I was observing my own likes and dislikes as I watched the throng of women coming in. I didn’t know much about this woman I was meeting, it was one of the early accelerated meetings where the moment outweighs the thinking. I was noticing about 25% of the women entering the store were within my range of acceptable beauty. I was actually kind of happy about that number, noticing that I had a wide range of preferences.

Today, I wondered out loud, “Maybe my most creative and happy state is in this revved up energy of pursuit.” The longing and heartbreak and open-ended afternoons, lend themselves quite well to my artistic production. At this moment I am writing songs, poems, stories and feeling more rested and energized than any time in my life. I am actualized, right now. And still I am alone.

I’m hoping that the untethered state is not a condition of my happiness and poetic prowess. Certainly I am in the wooing mode. I am trying to become more attractive. I am trying hard to become a frog prince.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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Relationship Chemistry or Heat? Are We Losing Charge or Building Up Energy?

OFF-greengirl

It’s a fine distinction, but I’m trying to understand the current pressure I’m feeling. There is an uncomfortableness that I’m starting to be aware of. When I am imagining is that my energy and desire is spinning up in some sort of charging capacity, that I am energized and looking for a connection to light up. The opposite might be true. Perhaps I am losing the glow and confidence of the connection with GF 1 and I’m starting to wind down and believe less in myself and the trajectory of patience and calm.

I confess, today I started a new OKCupid profile, with new pictures and a very simplified description and “seeking” outline. It was triggered partially by a conversation I was having with one of the two women on my current radar scope.

I was telling her, maybe trying to convince myself at the same time, how patient I was and how happy I was at building the friendship part before testing the kissing and beyond aspects. And then I listened to her response.

For a moment I imagined she was telling me why she was still looking on OKCupid. I don’t think that’s what she said, but what I heard was, I’m just not that sure I’m that into you, and I’m more comfortable getting to know you “over the next 400 dates before we move things forward. I don’t want to make another mistake.” She laughed as she said the “400” was just a joke.

She does not have the awareness of wanting to be loved. She’s just fine, take it or leave it, with being touched and affectionate with someone. Me, for example.

Then something remarkable happened. I took her to a party she was making an appearance at, I offered to accompany her there… And a woman there, again that ONE WOMAN IN THE CROWD, was so stunningly sensuous and alluring that I could’ve imagined trying one of those stupid stunts, “Hi, you are so beautiful, I’d like to …” But I didn’t. But I wanted to.

And something in my reptilian brain connected with that sensuous power and looked back at this beautiful and intelligent woman I was standing with, and I registered a miss. I don’t mind patience and pacing. In fact, my recent events have me quoting the idea rather frequently. But when I saw this woman, and I watched her speak to another woman, I was fascinated by her attraction.

What I seemed to connect with was the pull towards her, towards something, the idea of her. And what I realized with this woman I was with, I was really having to do a lot of talking about why the sexual pull or uncontrollable passion was a thing that could be dipped into at will, between two caring and trusting adults.

Huh?

But there’s something missing with this woman.

She does not have the awareness of wanting to be loved. She’s just fine, take it or leave it, with being touched and affectionate with someone. Me, for example. It’s okay with her that we’re not really touching. I’m putting out my hand and guiding her in crowds occasionally, I’m touching her arm when I want to make a point about physical contact. But the “resonance” that I’m looking for is not happening. It’s not a cerebral thing. And the more I find I’m talking up a blue streak about how “taking it slow” is fine with me, the more I feel like I’m beginning to build up excuses for why she isn’t CRAVING anything.

I guess, I am beginning to understand that I am craving. I am hungry for touch. The kissing girl was an example of how open I am to letting the passion take hold. And while she was the wrong woman, there was a part of her that ignited my passion and she responded back with passion.

This woman is not not responding. But her responses are about calculations and “what she might be looking for.” I don’t know what it takes to light someone up, but if it’s not happening, it might not ever happen.

If we are two honest and centered adults, perhaps it’s possible to enter into a relationship and exit the relationship without anyone getting hurt.

I’ll pause here and take a breath. I’m not abandoning either of these aloof superstar women. (Uh oh, that’s a phrase that echos GF 1’s statement that I’m drawn to emotionally unavailable women.) But at the same time, I’m feeling the need to put the sail back in the air. And if the woman in the party today, were present at a function where I was not accompanied by a “date” I am sure I would’ve been compelled to make an introduction. Without the pressure of the pickup line, of course, but with a clear, across-the-room-attraction confidence that she just might have been looking for.

I have been very direct with this woman. I have told her several times where I stand. And today I found myself making the case, for an idea that came to me last night, again after an extended discussion about why-how-and-if we were heading towards a relationship.

I want it to be easy. If we are two honest and centered adults, perhaps it’s possible to enter into a relationship and exit the relationship without anyone getting hurt.

What I explained to this woman over breakfast was, “I’m certain that we will be friends for a long time to come, regardless of where this relationship stuff goes. And if you were to call me in six months to accompany you to a party or some other function, I would gladly go. Because I enjoy spending time with you, and we seem to have a mutual compatibility. My recent experience leads me to believe, that we could add “kissing” in at any time, to see how that fit.”

At some point you need to jump in and test the waters. Another point I made, “What if you spent all this time to “know” someone and when you finally got around to making love it was awful? That would really suck.”

We laughed.

I want heat. I want chemistry that becomes unavoidable. If this woman is so in control of her emotions and physical needs that she can be with me for hours and hours without finally wanting to cross the threshold of touch or kissing, well… Perhaps her love language is something else. Probably. (bummer)

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

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image: green girls, vogue magazine, creative commons usage


Tilting the Planet In My Favor

i want to breath beside her for 1,000 nightsTalking to the women during several online dates, it is easy to imagine how woman are hit on much more than men. A pretty woman, well, if you’re trying to get on her calendar, forget about it. I had a woman chat with me online for months, and NEVER accept a coffee date. She was booked. And another woman, more recently, keeps chatting with me online, on OKCupid, and telling me how full her calendar is.

On this side of the fence, things are a lot slower. I get contacted by a woman about once a week. And most of them make me wonder why and how I’m still trying online dating. But we soldier on. All of us in the Online Dating world hoping to make it to the Offline Dating world.

And early on, post divorce, a friend told me it’s like farming, you plant a lot of seeds and see if any of them come up. This week and a wonderful springtime crop poked up their heads and, at least for this moment, I have three “potentials” on a growth path. At least we’re talking.

Here’s the thing that feels kinda cool about it. There’s potential. Most of the time, my online dating adventures have been less than connective. And what I realize, now, at this moment, is I am truly beginning to crave closeness. Not sex closeness, I’ve had a bit of that lately, no, intimacy closeness.

In an odd moment, I was reviewing some old video tapes of my kids from years ago, and there was the ex-y in several shots. It was hard to look at her. To look at what we had. And the funny thing was, she kept leaving the camera on with the lens cap on, and I could hear the dialogue between her and a 5 yo boy and 3 yo girl. The way she talked to them was so different from me.

So she was prone to leaving the camera running after she thought it was off. And in one shot it was clear she was doing yoga, like we used to do together, but of course in the time of the video, I would’ve been at work. So she’s in the warm down phase of the yoga exercise and I hear her guiding the kids, “Mommy will get that for you in just a few minutes when she’s done.”

And the lens cap was off this time, the camera was lying on the floor next to her, and it was pointed right at her hips. For an excruciating amount of time, there was her familiar and almost palpable mons breathing in and out, a place of near worship for me. Now gone and put away.

It wasn’t the sex I was interested in, it was the closeness that came from sharing that much pleasure. Giving that much pleasure. A familiar motion and taste and rhythm that I fell in love with and continued to love and crave.

By the time the video was being taken she had already ventured down other paths. She was perhaps at that very time having the intimate lunches with her colleague. I could only watch the breathing and sounds of the kids meandering around for a few minutes. I fast forwarded to a part when my son is showing my daughter how to get on the swing in the back yard.

I know I won’t settle for anything less than that deep appreciation and trust that comes from being inside and alongside someone for years and years. It was a shared life I was looking for, even as she was veering off course, afraid of depression, afraid of emotional expression, afraid to breakdown or feel deeply into the craziness that had overwhelmed our lives after 911.

So in finding my crop of “potentials” overflowing for the first time, it’s not about the women at the top of this post. It’s no longer about the woman in the video with the beautiful belly that held and released our children so many years ago. It’s about what deep fullness lies ahead.

I can be casual about these dates, because I am not wrapped up in the immediate outcome. One of the things I’m really good at, is delayed gratification. I know SHE is coming. I know I will find that Love with a capital “L” again. I can’t imagine it, right now, sitting here, even contemplating the three women I’m talking to, but I can feel the ache for it.

The ache for sex is something very different and can be soothed both alone and with another person. But this longing, was actually present while I was married. I didn’t know why. I didn’t have words for it, though I put it in a few songs. I just called it “the longing.”

Now I understand it’s a longing for something deep and pure. We can make it through anything if we have honesty and love, I used to think. And I believed I was still in that movie up until my ex-y convinced me that she was DONE.

At that point, I had no other option but to collapse my dream and take it on the road. The road back to love and peace and breathing alongside a lover for the thousandth time. I will get there again.

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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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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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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