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

Posts tagged “online dating

The Coffee Date Fail

Ah, the coffee date. It was a beautiful morning, I was hopeful and ready for coffee and conversation with a new woman. A woman I’d courted online for several weeks. A woman who inspired some sense of sexual interest in her online profile and then actually responded to one of my emails. The day and the meeting was set. It felt like a winning morning.

Nothing happened.

It’s my fault, perhaps. I don’t know that I’m really INTO IT. I mean, I know I don’t like being alone, and I’d like to start “building” a new relationship, but I’m simply not gung-ho about it. I think you’ve really got to bring a lot of energy and optimism to this dating process. If you’re just “meh” about the process, then you will get “meh” in return.

This date was okay. She was attractive. She was interesting. She was not interested in me. The disconnection was obvious. The chemistry was off from the first introduction inside the coffee shop when we first spotted each other. There were no outward signs of dissatisfaction. She was dressed nicely, looked fit and happy. She was chatting with a friend when I came in. I introduced myself and shook his hand too. Then I got my coffee and went outside and waited for her to fetch her fancy coffee.

I think I was already leaning out rather than leaning in on the introduction. I’m not sure what triggered it. I was happy to sit and talk for 30 minutes or so, but we were just killing the appropriate amount of time. We both agreed that being alone was working for us and we had trepidation about bringing someone into our lives. And we both had our doubts about how online dating might provide some realistic opportunities.

She mentioned how many men she met did not match up with their profiles. “Well, how am I doing compared to mine?” I asked. She paused. I was looking for some feedback. Was there something in my profile that I projected that didn’t show up at this coffee? “Your profile was pretty sparse,” she said, after considering it. She was talking about the words. I was interested in the pictures. I think that’s what we key on. I know that’s what I key on. Are they cute? (At 55 do women still want to be referred to as “cute?”)

The mass of women on OK Cupid and Match.com are not cute. And the ones that are usually ten years younger than me. And the few, this woman was one, who are my age and seem cute-enough for a closer look, are far and few in between. I don’t even visit the sites anymore. It’s the same faces. The same few women who ignore my emails. And more swiping through hundreds of sad profiles.

What are we doing? Is the reach of our online connection worth the disconnect of our emotional system? There was nothing in our profiles that prepared us for our coffee today. Neither of us felt it. That was obvious. But we’d decided to take the time and the risk to actually meet in person. And I wasn’t sad leaving the coffee shop. In some ways, I’m sure, I was relieved. Those next steps towards “dating” and building a relationship are so complex and time-consuming. I’m happy as I am right now.

The sky started misting as I was driving home. The fall air pushed in the cracked windows and lifted my spirits a bit. It was likely to be a rainy weekend. No tennis. Plenty of work. And no relationshiping. Okay, I’m resigned to that. Maybe next week I’ll open up the dating sites again and see if I can lure another woman into a conversation.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

@theoffparent

image: blue bottle coffee, creative commons usage


Uh Oh, She’s Not Perfect, Not Even Close… Pitfalls of Dating Again After Divorce

I’ve got a friend who is probably the coolest guy I know. But he’s not finding the woman of his dreams. And it’s not that he’s not out there, he is. But I think the issue might be his unreal expectations he sets for how their relationship will start.

He’s a bit of a prima donna. A hard nut to crack. And you’re either going to love him or grow tired of him very quickly. (Example: he might jump your shit for being 5 minutes late, then later the same day, be 30 minutes late himself, without a peep.)

He’s hypercritical of his dates from the very start and yet can’t understand why he hasn’t met his match.

Okay, here’s what I’d like to say to my friend.

  1. The woman of my dreams did not come fully wrapped with a bow on her. There are still things we’re working on. But we’re madly in love, and compassionately seeking a better connection on a daily basis.
  2. A deal killer, what I thought might be a deal killer, is actually an opportunity for discovery and exploration.
  3. She drinks. I vowed off drinking years ago. I should write her off. But I didn’t and the issue was really mine not hers.
  4. She’s never had kids. Sure there are some tight moments when my kids act out a bit and she can’t understand why I don’t lash out at them. (They might trash the kitchen a bit too often, but we’re working on it.)
  5. She’s pretty self-centered. Again, this could easily be a deal killer in many ways, but I understand. She’s amazingly pretty. She’s delightfully orgasmic. She’s probably never had to work to hard at investing and exploring life with another person, not to mention three people. (I’ve got two kids that are part of the package.)
  6. She doesn’t have one of my primary desires: she doesn’t play tennis. But she’s a sport and will get out there and hit balls and promise to get better. And she’s so fit, she’s getting good pretty quickly.

I’d like to tell my friend to ease up on the “ideal woman” for a minute. Take some of the flawed candidates and take the time to get to know them. If you’re only looking for thin 10s you’re going to have to stand in line with the other suitors. I know it’s what you think you want. I know it’s a must have. But can’t you see it’s killing your opportunity for kinda nice and…

Dating takes time, I get it. I’d rather be working on one of my creative projects than going out on a “first date” with anyone. And it takes time to weed through the fake profiles on Match.com to actually get a real girl who’s interested in meeting for coffee. And there will be set backs. So far, one woman and I have missed our window three times. But she keeps coming back and I keep coming back and eventually we’ll meet in the middle somewhere. I don’t think she’s the one, but I’m willing to see what she’s like. I know she’s tall, thin, and beautiful.

So, dating again really takes a new mindset. Define what is perfect for you, then dial it back by 80% and let the 20% of unknown be a surprise left for you to discover. I remember my first girlfriend after getting a divorce. I made a joke about “my next girlfriend will definitely have a tattoo” and boy was I surprised. It was a huge lion on her stomach. It kinda stared at me, so I wasn’t a huge fan, but my little whimsical thought came true. So, rather than praying and thinking of the Victoria’s Secret model, put your attention to something beyond physical attraction. You’ll be better served in the long run, and you will probably meet women who are a little bit more realistic about what they are looking for in a relationship as well.

Take care, and if you need someone to talk to about dating, divorce, or depression check out my coaching page.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

@theoffparent

image: salsa, creative commons usage


Beautiful Women and Two Cups of Coffee: How This All Got Started

OFF-titcups
This is how it all started, my marriage to the exy: Easter Sunday, a number of years ago, we ran into each other in the parking lot of a local coffee shop. It’d been 15 years since I’d seen her. She looked good, but then after what I’d been through, almost any woman looked good. But she looked exceptionally good.

I reached out my hand to say, “Hi.”

She reached out her arms for a hug.

Turns out we were both recently through our first marriages. Mine of 7 years, hers of 7 months. Maybe that should’ve been a warning flag, but it wasn’t.

She left a scent of perfume on my neck.

From then on, if the person didn’t have something extraordinary going on, some really amazing trait, or some smashingly witty banter in her messaging, I wasn’t interested.

I wasn’t aware of it’s affect on me until an hour or so later when I could still smell her. (To be honest, I’m not a huge perfume fan, but something else was at work here.) It was as if the hug, the smiles, the quick conversation, her easy laugh, “Yes, divorced here too.” The moment and the perfume had drugged me. I was in a daze.

What I realize, now, having had the perfuming experience more recently with old ladies, my mom, even my daughter, was that the sense of smell is a powerful trigger for me. And what it triggered so deeply that Easter morning so many years ago was the loss of that womanly smell in my life.

When my first divorce was final and I finally got back into my condo, there were still remnants of my first wife on the walls, in the drawers. But the part that I really missed, the place that I really noticed the lack, was in the bathroom. I no longer walked into steamy, sweet-smelling rooms with a uber sexy little basque woman in them. And just the smell, the loss of that smell, was huge. I did not know this when my old high school friend hugged me that Easter morning.

I had no idea that my synapses and hormones had taken over from the olfactory triggers. I wanted her throughout the entire day, like I had never wanted anyone before. Of course the hole in my heart and soul was huge, I also didn’t know this. And the newly triggered trance-like desire would blind me to so many of the signs that could’ve avoided the ultimate train wreck of style differences.

That, of course, would’ve been a different life. I would not have the amazing kids I now have. And UG, I would not be who I am at this very moment.

BEAUTIFUL is GREAT. BUT BEAUTIFUL lasts for a limited amount of time.

A little tip I now understand. Small scented candles (the organic kind for me, thanks) and other scented things like groovy Method foaming hand soaps, and great Aveda shampoos, can go a long way towards elevating my sense of erotic smell. And when I accidentally get the scent of a woman on me, and I notice it’s starting to have the drowsing effect on me, I can retreat to my OWN shower, and get my OWN clove shampoo, and take off the infected shirt.

On Easter 14+ years ago, that wonderful woman had a spell on me. She cast it without knowing, and I was pierced in my own loss and pain without being aware of anything but the electric connection between me and this old flame. Sure, when she told me later, over lunch, that she’d had a crush on me in high school I was touched. But the virus of her touch, her scent, that one morning, did more to alter the course of my life then I could’ve ever imagined.

I guard against some of that now with my own scented regimen. I’m not going to be drugged and dragged down into the cougar’s lair just yet. And when I do want to be devoured, I can inhale and relax into the fall with intention. I am ready to be drugged again, but this time, after we’ve gone through a few cycles of the relationship first. Intoxication is great. But then you have to get on with the mundane of living shortly there after.

It’s kind of like the beautiful woman I was sitting across from a few months ago. We’d exchanged some message via OK Cupid. And there was no question this was a woman in charge and in radiant glow. She was breath-taking from the moment she walked in Panera Bread.

And she smelled great.

Please come at me with a real imagination and things you are excited about besides cardio and American Idol.

Almost as quickly as she opened her mouth and spoke, the spell was broken. There were exactly 3 things this woman was ready to converse about. Working out. TV. And her job as an executive assistant.

As I jumped from topic to topic to try and find something more relevant to my life, I found nothing. She had made it kind of difficult to set up the first face-2-face with the declaration, “I work out every evening after work.”

I thought, “Um, okay, good for you. Do you want to find a time that DOES work?”

I walked away from that coffee with a new understanding of myself, online dating, and what I was interested in. From then on, if the person didn’t have something extraordinary going on, some really amazing trait, or some smashingly witty banter in her messaging, I wasn’t interested. BEAUTIFUL is GREAT. BUT BEAUTIFUL lasts for a limited amount of time. Work out all you want, you’re going to grow older and older. I think you are beautiful in all your forms, woman. And in some of your scents as well.

But please come at me with a real imagination and things you are excited about besides cardio and American Idol. And for me personally, if you’re wearing a lot of perfume, lean towards the essential oil types and away from the ones at Nordstrom. Thanks.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

back to On Dating Again

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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


For Hire: Used Husband, Classic Model, Works Well With Kids

OFF-headless

I’m feeling a bit like a for sale or for hire ad on Craigslist.

Upbeat and optimistic dad of two middle-school kids, seeks pleasant and easy-going woman for casual and romantic evenings. Looking for an extraordinary woman in need of service and support. I’m touch-oriented. I thrive on honest and open communication. I’m over playing any mind games, and am looking for a steady relationship.

I didn’t really mean for this to be a personal ad. Let’s cut to the chase.

I’m a former husband and a current father. I am more focused on my kids than on my own relationship status, and for the moment, that’s how I believe it should be. I do have time in my schedule to accommodate a relationship, and now that I’ve gotten my act a little more together, I’m putting our a few feelers again. I’d like a relationship. I thrive in proximity to a nurturing and active woman. In fact, I expand creatively when I have some sexual chemistry in my life. Oh, what wonderful things that chemistry does to our souls.

When I’m not so aggressive about looking for an available woman, my entire body relaxes just a bit. Rather than hunting and pursuing, today I’m going to continue to refine my package.

In relationship I tend to think less about myself. Or, to put it another way, I spend a good bit of time thinking about, imagining, writing poetry, singing, in response to the growing warmth in my heart. I’m a hopeful romantic. I know the right romance is yet to come. I got close in marriage number two. And perhaps now, with a good bit of recovery time in between, I’m re-centered and ready.

Perhaps, I say, because I also enjoy my seemingly limitless alone time. When I’m in a creative mode the “off” evenings seem like a gift. I would’ve had a hard time negotiating a single evening off to go into my music studio before the kids went to bed. So I worked creatively between 10:30 and 2:30 at night. Any wonder I was a bit tired as the corporate work routine wore on, and my double-lit candle began to burn perilously close to meeting at the center. I was inspired and yet constrained. As a family man, as a fully engaged father, it was okay. But my creative drive was suffering under the time constraints.

Of course as a single man on a regular schedule with my kids I go into some weekends knowing I have 5 nights in a row with minimal obligations. I could set up some activities to keep me busy, but I’m over that period of my recovery. Now I see the juicy potential of that time and I am jumping into those nights with a euphoria that will be hard to give up, when a relationship re-grounds my flight. I’m looking forward to that, but it will be a change.

Already I had a moment of awareness when the last date nearly turned into a girlfriend over a three-day period of romantic, lusty, courtship. She bailed out. (See She Came On Like a Freight Train – The Woman Who Says “Yes”) And though she gave me some reason, I’m not sure it wasn’t just her “holy shit what if this happens” moment. She too was highly creative and a full-time single parent, with little or no support from her ex. That’s a scary place to be, I’m sure. But when she was pouring on the fuel in the first two days of our “dating” I began to not only get ramped up romantically, I began to turn my evening attentions towards her and away from my creative projects.

That is a transition I want, mind you, but it came on so quickly with her, that I didn’t really have a chance to warm to the idea. In a day we met from a Tinder connection, and in the second day she was texting me alluring (non-sexual) photos. But she was in my head. She was changing the course of my week and we’d just met.

In the end, I think the derailment was more an indicator of her actual stability rather than the projection she was showing me. She did have some amazing effect on me. I was ready and willing to lay down all available nights in search of her sweet spot. And that too was an indication of how unrealistic I had become while basking in the light of such a white-hot romance. When the euphoric state hits too fast, I’ve learned that something is off. Kind of like the woman who got this amazingly glazed look in her eyes as we were making love. I thought she was blissed out. Turns out she was vaping pot in the bathroom just before sex. Um… No. (see My Casual Sex Experience – First Lesson)

I don’t need drama or high theater. And at the moment I “want” more than “need” a woman.

Okay, so I got a big YES/NO and I’m a bit lonely at the moment. And by lonely I really mean hungry. I’m hungry for a woman, for that connection, for the scent, touch, tasted, and imaginative rush that comes from being with someone who turns you one. And at the same time (this is not a cop out) I am willing to wait and work on myself, my physical fitness, my musical project that hits the stage on Dec. 5th, my own internal creative inspiration. I’m happy. I’m alone. And I’m dialing back the hunter-mode a bit.

When I’m not so aggressive about looking for an available woman, my entire body relaxes just a bit. Rather than hunting and pursuing, today I’m going to continue to refine my package. Sure, I’m flirty and aware of every breathing female in a 50-foot radius, but I’m content to appreciate and smile. When there’s a smile back, I’m also satisfied with that. I’d rather see if there are additional signals, additional indications that might illuminate some “mutual” attraction, without the forcefulness of approach and courtship.

One recent example. I was picking up my daughter from a new friend’s house. The mom was there and very attractive, and yes I noticed, not wearing a ring. She was playful and touched my arm a few times as she expressed herself. (Ah, my type, a touchy -feely person.) And yet, also not my type: she was just heading into her divorce. She was preparing the house for sale. And according to my daughter, she and the dad didn’t get a long at all.

Quit a contrast from the rest of my daughter’s friends the weekend before when she said, “Everyone at the sleep over had divorced parents.” It’s becoming the norm. And at a 50% failure rate, you’re likely to have just as many divorces as you have marriages.

So she was amazingly pretty and open. She was not exactly in my “type” mode, but she was wearing little or no makeup, she was practical and happy to chat with me about our kids. She was reaching out to connect with me. And that was enough. I let the moment just be a nice moment. (Yes, I’ll admit I tried to get my daughter to give me some contact info so I could give her the martial arts instructor’s name.) And while I was revved up by her presence, I was also clear in one thing: divorces are hard and getting INTO a relationship as you’re getting OUT of your marriage is a terrible idea. I wasn’t going to stand-in for the maelstrom.

And so, I’ve been girlfriend free since the end of the summer and it’s fine. I’d rather not be. But I’d rather be alone that coping with another person’s major emotional distress. I don’t need drama or high theater. And at the moment I “want” more than “need” a woman. Sure, I’m hungry for a mate, but I’m also aware that I’m hungry for an adventure at the same time.

Re-center, refocus on myself and my growth. < My current mantra.

But I’m putting up the services available ads as a way to feel like I’m at least fishing for an amazing catch. I’m also enjoying the boat ride around this new pond of older single women.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

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image: headless hunter, jd hancock, 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

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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

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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

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


The Promise in a Thumbnail; Online Dating Hits and Misses

onlinedatinglies

The online dating profile, a mystery, a fantasy novel, a pulp fiction romance. Whatever the profile is, it’s not reality. In looking for love online, you’ve got a lot of obstacles. And getting a handle on the bullshit detection is a good start.

  1. Even the unattractive and obese can score a cute photo every now and then.
  2. Photos from 15 years ago may not be an accurate representation of the current state of affairs. You would hope that people would clearly label the “when I was younger” photos, but they don’t.
  3. The one photo profile. Um, why don’t you have some other photos of your gorgeous self?
  4. The “just checking this out” profile. Usually with only a few sentences about themselves and a couple photos. Variation: a friend put this up for me.
  5. The scammer account. Too cute. Way too young to be hitting on me. Has an age range that’s a bit odd. (example: female 32, seeks males 45 – 70)
  6. No profile photo. “Ask her for her photos.” Um, no.
  7. Sunglasses make for alluring photos, but they’re not very accurate.

As long as you know you are creating the fantasy when you look an online dating profile you’ll be okay. You are filling in the blanks and missing information in your head. And most likely you are filling it in on the positive side. Often that’s not the correct data at all. If a person is 1. ready for a relationship and 2. honest, you won’t have to go fishing for too much information.

Look for how this person articulates their desires. What are they looking for?

Screen Shot 2013-04-22 at 8.43.51 AMBad signs:

  • “I love to travel.”
  • “Just want to have fun.”
  • Every photo has a drink in hand.
  • Glamour photos.
  • The one photo that sticks out as “WOW-SHE’S-AMAZING.”
  • The one photo that sticks out, “What? How is this the same woman?”
  • Hyper-athletic. Too many mentions of “working out.”

Screen Shot 2013-04-22 at 8.18.57 AMGood signs:

  • “Intimacy.”
  • “Honesty.”
  • “One core relationship.”
  • “Low drama.”
  • Mentions a healthy relationship with the ex-partner.
  • Semi-athletic.
The goal in online dating is to minimise the false positives and set dates with the authentic potentials.

The goal in online dating is to minimise the false positives and set dates with the authentic potentials. That’s easier said than done. And culling down from 1,000+ matches can be a bit of a challenge. So you have to start somewhere. Find a couple of things that are really important to you. (My current desire is tennis. If I could find a tennis-playing girlfriend, I think I’d be a long way towards compatibility.)

Then if you find a potential you are interested in, go ahead and say hello. I have found that casual and funny is better than direct. You don’t need to ask for the date right off the bat. Mention a few things that you have in common, flatter them a bit (You’re very cute.) and see what their response is.

  • No response is a response.
  • A casual and playful response is a good sign.
  • A form-letter response is not so good. (Thank you.)
  • An engaging response with lots of information can be a good and bad thing. On the good side, they are probably very attracted to your “profile.” On the bad side, they may be trying too hard, because they are not getting enough dates, or their dates are not going well.

If someone is genuinely interested you should both be able to establish some rapport within 4 or 5 messages. And when the idea of meeting for coffee or wine is floated by either party, the other person accepts and you both agree on a time and place. This is great. Now, the temptation is to continue the conversation, learn more, keep being charming. But that’s a mistake.

Here is the goal of online dating: set the date without too much effort or build up.

We all know the deal. If it was a HIT we are probably both thinking “What’s next.” If you get a “What’s next” before leaving the first date, you’re well on your way to trying a real date.

Once you have the date set to meet face-to-face the rest is distraction. Get this straight: you can tell very little about the physical chemistry from online profiles or even electronic flirting. While it might be fun to rev each other up before you meet, it is really a waste of time. And the real danger is setting up these great expectations and then not feeling the chemistry at all. So then what do you do? You may have had a bit of fun, but you’ve used up a lot of energy, even flirting takes time and energy, and come up empty-handed.

Online dating is not a full-time job. If you are too hungry, too available, and always online the available partners might notice this. If you are too persistent and focused on getting a date, that might be an indication of a problem.

The best approach is simple hello flirting. Gut checking the profile for reality. See if their emails or texts are also witty and fun. And then set the date and move on in your search and in your mind. You’ve got the date. There is really nothing else to do before you meet in person. You can confirm the date the day before. It’s easy to provide a phone number (texting is okay) before the date “In case something comes up.”

And then chill out and see what develops when you meet. Getting to excited or too involved with a virtual date has never worked out for me. Never. But then I haven’t had very many hits with the in-person meetings. And the handful of women who were just my style weren’t quite interested. They may not have said as much, but they didn’t ask for the next date either.

If there’s no chemistry, don’t make a big deal about it. Enjoy the conversation and make your exit. You can send them a note about “Not quite a match for me” but it’s not necessary. We all know the deal. If it was a HIT we are probably both thinking “What’s next.” If you get a “What’s next” before leaving the first date, you’re well on your way to trying a real date. Good luck.

Respectfully,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

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image: a montage of online dating, the writer


Taking a Break from Online Dating: Offline for the Summer

OFF-offline

It’s an exciting moment, being able to take your profiles down because there IS someone you want to be with. Without giving away any information, I am excited to tell you that the last series of love poems has been inspired by an actual woman. (go figure) And while I am putting the finishing touches on my Dating After Divorce book, I am happy, I tell you, happy happy happy to be working on the rest of the issues about relationship, and not just seeking someone who’s interested back. (In a funny synchronicity: her perfume is “happy” and our song is “happy” and we seem to be happy.)

And while I did not find this woman via online dating, it was the online dating that brought things to a head, so to speak. END.

I’m going to live this one, and take a break from blogging about this real-time relationship. Maybe a poem or two, but in respect for both of us, and to show that my intentions are deeper than some sort of sexual hunt, I’ll take the “issues” offline as well.

Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 12.36.51 PM

It’s so easy to get things mixed up when the communications are online. In much the same way that texts and emails can be misconstrued, online is no way to grow trust and closeness. And of course, she knows about this blog, though she says she will refrain from reading it. How do you write about dating/sex/hunger/infinite desire for someone, when that someone is in the picture? You can’t. I can’t.

There are plenty of things to write about. I am hopeful that my “dating” quest is over for a bit. What’s next, who knows. The point is “something” is next and it’s happening now.

I appreciate the love and support of the readers here, and I will continue writing, but with a slightly different angle. The next chapter is in the opening months. Stay present. Go slow. Be honest. And trust that the time will take care of itself. There is no hurry.

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

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image: little lovers so polite, morgan, creative commons usage

Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 3.02.59 PM


The Malleable Trajectory of Desire in Online Dating

OFF-spicegirlsOnline dating is a weird phenomenon that has changed many of the rules we once knew to hold true for relationships. And one of the amazing aspects is the real estate like show of women and their profiles, likes, desires, must haves, and in the case of OK Cupid, maybe even their kinky fantasies. Outside of online pornography, never before have so many women been displayed online in photos and bullet points.

And in several discussions with friends about “dating” the superficial elements came up in two very different ways.

First Conversation: I was discussing this process with a woman who has never tried online dating, “and never will.”  Okay. “I just think it’s so wrong to judge someone on their looks alone. You might be missing the perfect woman for you, because she doesn’t meet some criteria that’s just about her looks.”

“Yes,” I agreed, “That’s true.”

“I think it’s wrong, and superficial, and I can’t believe you buy into it.”

“Okay, so let’s say you did, buy into it. And you had to weed down say 2,000 potential matches. What criteria would you use? How would you go about picking from that list?”

She was quiet.

“Because, you have to admit there’s got to be some physical attraction.”

“Of course,” she said. “But that’s so little of what goes into an actual relationship.”

I agreed. “You are right, but, without that spark of desire, there’s not much chance of moving on to the relationship part.”

“I know,” she agreed. “But it seems wrong to be judging these women from pictures. Like cattle, or things. It’s demeaning.”

“How would you go about solving the issue? How would you make choices and actually pick someone to approach?”

She was almost angry, at this point, “I wouldn’t. I would never do it.”

Okay, we were obviously not going to reach agreement on this one. Let’s move on.

Some are quick to accept the meeting idea and the plans are easily set. Some are allusive and won’t respond directly to an offer for a meeting. They’d rather chit chat for awhile.

Second Conversation: “I’ve got this great person for you. She’s amazing. But she didn’t want someone with young kids.”

“Sure, what’s her user name?”

“Well, don’t you want to hear about her? Call me on the phone.”

“Just give me her user name.”

“I mean, she was amazing, and she does the same thing you do. She was really hot, and sexy. And I gave her your website address and she said to send you her information.”

“She’s a bit older than my tastes.”

“Oh.”

Initially I laughed, but then I was kind of sad for this friend. Women of our own age are VERY attractive. And in my spectrum of desire, even more desirable than younger or fitter models. But the next revelation was more insightful for me. She didn’t want to date me, even though the chemistry between us was good, she even admitted that. But she didn’t want someone with younger kids. Her’s were out of the house. Mine were 11 and 13. Okay, same bias.

He didn’t want someone who was that old. She didn’t want someone who was younger, but had younger kids. Two misses in one transaction. Both a bit misguided and superficial, but ultimately we have to build some criteria for picking and choosing what it is we want next in a relationship, or date.

+++

In the online dating world I maintain profiles on two different sites. And now, after a few weeks back online, I have culled the list on one site to about 3 profiles, and this was from about 150 women. And on the second, more popular and paid site, I have gone from 1,234 matches to about 10.

And as the process goes, you wander through various permutations of physical courting, either “Hey let’s grab coffee” or “Hey, I’m into Game of Thrones too.” And the dance proceeds from there.

Some are quick to accept the meeting idea and the plans are easily set. Some are allusive and won’t respond directly to an offer for a meeting. They’d rather chit chat for awhile. It is possible that their dance cards are full and they are spacing you out a bit on their calendar, or they might not be that interested, but interested enough not to blow you off. It’s a hard thing to determine.

Either way, what you do in the dance, is try to get a meeting so you can both lay eyes on one another. Photos lie. And they sometimes lie big.

And as a romantic, I can get drawn into a photograph and begin to imagine connections that simply are not there when we meet. So for me, it’s best to set the date and chill the fk out. And from what I’ve found, most women like this approach as well. If you get too chatty, or too friendly, the throw up a red flag and either time you out, or drop you from their potentials list.

And while she was attractive and funny when we met, there were plenty of things that didn’t work out for me. I’m not sure how she felt, but it was a quick read for me.

So you set the date and you meet. Then things go from fantasy based on photographs to fantasy based on a physical meeting. Still fantasy. And here’s the amazing thing, your ideas of desire change dramatically based on the photos or profile highlights. And this too is pure fantasy, and yet these fantasies give us insight into turn-ons and turn-offs in our own hopeful quest.

For example, there is a woman in my small pond of desirable women who is an avid soccer player. She’s uber-fit, has a magnetic smile in her photos, and is sporting an interesting tattoo on her tan and strong arm. She is the meander type. We’ve been chatting and emailing for weeks. For awhile she was sick. For another week she was just starting a new job and wasn’t available. Now it’s the World Cup, and she’s just busy. When I ask her about availability, she says she’s gone on some dates, but hasn’t kissed the right frog yet.

But there’s nothing I have been able to do (chatting about soccer, world cup, which coffee shops she likes) to tip her over the edge of meeting me face-to-face. Even so, my fantastic mind has wrapped several times around this type of woman. Self-described tomboy, athletic, young, vigorous, likes to hang and drink with the boys. And in my malleable mind, I begin forming a life with her: short-form fantasy only, I’m not trying to write our history, just imagining dating, kissing, making love, not really planning our lives together. And for me, this woman still scores a very high number in my desirable book.

Another example is a women who seems a bit bookish in her photos. But a smile to knock you out. She was quick to accept an offer to meet and we agreed on a music club/coffee bar nearby. And for the few days before we met, we exchanged emails and eventually texts about things. She was funny, witty, and had a great sense of humor. And in her photos I was able to stretch out my imagination into something resembling desire, but… And here’s the but… I could see in her photos that there was the possibility of my fantasy being less grounded in reality. Nothing major, but some subtle hints that the top profile photo was an extraordinary moment, and not a view into the day-to-day woman I was going to meet.

If a girl is interested she will take the date offer. If she’s mildly interested she might string you on a bit. If she’s not interested she won’t respond to anything you say or do.

And while she was attractive and funny when we met, there were plenty of things that didn’t work out for me. I’m not sure how she felt, but it was a quick read for me. Something about that gut instinct. It really wasn’t anything in particular. She was cute, funny, talkative. She had two kids and seemed to have her relationship to her ex-husband sorted out. But, sadly, it was a no for me.

Even when we think we know what we want, until we see her and hear her and begin to understand her, we’re projecting a fantasy of what we want her to be. And neither of these women were what I expected. And I’m still waiting to get an acceptance from the soccer-babe. I’m guessing I’m just outside of her desirable scale and she’s postponing out of courtesy, and not wanting to piss me off.

What I’ve learned: If a girl is interested she will take the date offer. If she’s mildly interested she might string you on a bit. If she’s not interested she won’t respond to anything you say or do.

Either way, my imagination is strong and while my list is fairly short on both sites, there are a few new women per week that show up. And the expectation is that they too are looking for some level of a relationship. And thus we go on projecting, hoping, and molding our concepts of what we want to match up the profiles that appear attractive to us on little more than a pretty photo and a few touch points of interest.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

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image: the spice girls, wikipedia, creative commons usage


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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Online Dating Undercover Revelations: OK Cupid (Pt. 2)

OFF-lovers

Let’s dig a little deeper into OK Cupid’s DNA, and what we’re looking for when we go online to find a “partner” a “hookup” or “a relationship to last the rest of my life.” (Start here: Online Dating Undercover Revelations: OK Cupid (Pt. 1) )

They offer a little “What’s my best picture” service that delivers some interesting feedback about the demographics and the types of women who find your pictures attractive. Well, it’s not a very scientific process, as most of my raters were in their early 20’s, and pretty far from my desired demographic. But the data is fun anyway, and heck, they picked my main profile picture for me, so that’s good. Here are my top three photos and the fuzzy data that goes with them.

attractiveness demographics from OK Cupid

click to view larger version

So in my demographic of 31+ girls (eh hm: women, thanks) here are my big winners. These are my rater’s self-identified types. I’m glad conservative and stoner fell right off my map all together.

Artists
Nerd < maybe
Liberal
Free Spirit
Deviant

If you find it’s working. That might be even more frightening, for both of you. What if… So don’t go there. Slow down. 

And sure enough the picture of me as a parent (with daughter) doesn’t even register with the 18 – 22 yo girls. Okay, fine, so the man as an artist appeals to my demographic. Fine.

But it all really boils down to who I’m interested in. And I’d say my top types are in alignment with my tastes, so we’ll go with that photo for now. And let’s see how it’s worked so far, in my two weeks back on the site.

OKC reports I get about 5 views a week. Hmm… That sucks. I’ve been sending out emails and “Hellos.” Again, I’m guessing a lot of women are using the A-List paid option to NOT show up in my visitors list. Oh well.

So let’s see if I’ve gotten any responses via email. messages on OK Cupid

Yep, a few have responded. And a couple I’ve gotten to texting with. That’s a higher form of intimacy, because it requires the exchange of phone numbers. I don’t think you’d give a creep your phone number. And it usually takes a bit of emailing first to establish a mutual appreciation. And then you move to the quick and telling text exchanges. You can tell a lot about someone’s self-expression. How do they respond to jokes? Are they playful? Are they friendly? Are they tech-savvy?

One of the best reality checks I’ve come up with for online dating is to send a real-time selfie. If the person on the other end is overly self-conscious they won’t be able to send one back. They’ll send something else or ignore your request all together. The selfie is the lowest common denominator of glamour shots. If they radiate in a selfie, you have pretty good odds that their profile photography isn’t photoshopped or glammed into unreality.

And really that’s all we’re trying to establish at this point. Is this person real? Are they authentic in their behavior (texting and responding) and their appearance (if you can get a selfie)?

And next can you move it to an in-person meeting? How smooth is that transaction? Time and place? Do they reset the date several times? Do the postpone? Often it has been my experience that a postponement (even if they say they are sick) really means they are having second thoughts. Or they have started up with someone else and are hedging their bets. The longer the postponement, the more likely it will not happen at all. And that’s okay, you don’t want someone who’s sort of in and sort of out.

The most frustrating near-miss is the one with someone who’s not sure what they are looking for. If they are on a dating site, shouldn’t they be interested in a relationship? Or is the R-word scary? Maybe they really just want to “date.”

And one of the things we can be sure of, none of us has the answers. What does dating after divorce, or dating as a single parent look like?

There are a few controls built-in that help buffer the startup process, in my opinion. If we both have kids and ex’s in town, we will be navigating a fairly complex scheduling process. And you can get a feel very quickly if it’s going to be easy to negotiate or a pain in the ass. If it’s really hard to find the time to get together, it’s probably not a fit. Or perhaps the other person is scared to get in a Relationship. No problem, move on.

Here’s what you want, regardless of what you call it.

  • Time together.
  • Both people making efforts to come up with solutions to the scheduling issues.
  • Laughter and easy-going conversation.
  • Fascination beyond the physical attraction.
  • Sexual chemistry.
  • Emotionally and mentally stable, as far as you can tell.
  • Deals with changes and uncertainty easily.
  • Joy.

And in my estimation those qualities in ONE PERSON are hard to find. Don’t rush through it, if you’ve started to make a match. Slow. Keep building on the friendship. (Does that sound cliché? It might, but really, you get over the “let’s just have sex” part of relating to someone pretty quickly. And I’m pretty sure most women would not be okay with every date night having us say, “Let’s just stay in and do it. I’ll bring Chinese.” It doesn’t work that way in the long-term, and it shouldn’t be your focus in the short-term.)

If you get too far ahead of yourself, thinking about pairing up, or how they would do as a step-parent, you might need to take a time out. This is no longer a race against time, it’s a race with time. You’ve got limited time. You need to make the most of the opportunities you do have to meet and greet. If there are a lot of signals that “this is not working very easily” you might consider resetting expectations and going back to the dating pool.

Do you know what’s enough for you? I know my ideas change all the time. But I keep coming back to the smile, the joy, and the friendship.

BUT…

If you find it’s working. That might be even more frightening, for both of you. What if… So don’t go there. Slow down. Take it easy. Enjoy each other’s company, in and most importantly out of bed. And then just bask in the time you do find to be together. And see how flexible you can be with the idiosyncrasies of life as a single parent. There is a long way to go before you need to begin planning.

So don’t set your expectations too far in the future. Stay in the moment and see how compatible you are, how close your friendship can become. See, for me, part of the problem is I was drawn in and captured by the beauty and sex thing before I really got a deep understanding of the person I was committing too. Don’t make the same mistake again. There’s no hurry to move into the next stages, and in fact, just mentioning them might freak both of you out. When you hear yourself talking about (enter your freak out here: moving in, marriage, step-parenting) just take a deep breath and drop back into the moment, into the presence of this cool person, who happens, if things go well, to think you’re cool too.

For now, that’s as far as I’ve gotten. I like you. I like hanging out with you. And that’s enough.

Do you know what’s enough for you? I know my ideas change all the time. But I keep coming back to the smile, the joy, and the friendship.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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image: she is my drug, bryan brenneman, creative commons usage


Burn the Maps! Do You Think You Know About Dating After Divorce?

Burn the Maps - the off parent

Do I repeat myself? Then I repeat myself. I am large. I contain multitudes. — Walt Whitman

So much of this blog has been about trying to figure things out. Figure myself out (wants, desires, depressions, ecstasies), to figure out my divorce (what happened, how to get over it, and how to move on in a healthy way), to figure out single parenting as a dad, and ultimately, where we find ourselves (me) today, dating and the mechanics of desire, relationship, coupling, or not coupling. And this much is clear. I have no idea what I’m talking about.

It’s like trying to write about being a parent if you have never had kids. Or imagining what it will be like when you’re married, before you’ve ever experienced it. And I believe I’m on a similar precipice. I THINK I want the next relationship. But it’s only because that’s what I know, that’s what I think I’m comfortable with. “I’m good in relationship,” I like to say to myself, and occasional dates. I’m looking for that again.

Pause. Relax. Enjoy the process. There is no hurry. Really. Get this. There. Is. No. Hurry.

But am I? Or is it just what’s familiar? I was married the first time for seven years. Then single and sad for a couple of years and married again for eleven years. So since I was 27 years old, I’ve spent most of my time married. So I kinda know what that was like. And both experiences were eye-opening and transformational. And it’s my natural tendency to want to get back in that couple-mode again. At least I think so.

As I am embarking on this more recent path of discovering myself in “dating” mode I’m not sure I have all the information or tools. I certainly don’t know what my optimal date would look like, though I’m trying to construct maps. I’m doing my reading, planning, and sketching thing, and trying to figure it out. But the real answer is this: There is no figuring it out.

I simply don’t know. And all the posts leading up to this moment, this awareness, are theoretical meanderings of a man who thinks he wants to be back in “relationship.” And they are all lies. Because I can’t know. I can’t imagine. I am trying to write the symphony to the next love of my life without having met her. How do I know where to begin? How can I dream her up, if she’s not revealed herself to me? Quite simply, I can’t.

Here’s what I can do.

Pause. Relax. Enjoy the process. There is no hurry. Really. Get this. There. Is. No. Hurry.

And I can keep imagining my treasure maps, but I have to be willing to be swept away by the unknown and unexplainable. I think that’s what love is. OH BOY, I used the L word. When and how does *that* come into it?

I’ve learned that the spark comes from the eyes, the smile, and the intelligence inside. If there is joy, it usually shows through the eyes.

What I do know is this. Present moment exploration is the only way to go. Present moment conversations and discussions. Present moment dating. Present moment sex, if it presents itself. ANNNNDDDD STOP. That’s it. Stop. Stay with the “touch” part. Stay with the conversation about current events. Stay with the fascination about the person in front of you, and not the idea you have.

I do a lot of projecting. (Hello! Have you been reading this blog long?) And often that projection process is misleading both to myself and the potential date. I write love poems. And occasionally those love poems are inspired by actual events in my life, a kiss, a missed opportunity, a chance meeting with an old flame. But they are no more real than my maps of the “next relationship” or finding “The ONE.” Bunk. All bunk.

And yet… All very useful in self-revelation. I AM learning more about my desires. I am learning how to deconstruct my wants and desires and see which ones serve me and which ones I can leave behind. I’ve learned some really valuable lessons along the way, but they are not maps, they are notes.

I’ve learned that much of the programming I received about beauty came from pornographic magazines. But even when I was ten I was reading Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sex, But Were Afraid to Ask, so I’ve been studying women and sex and pleasure for a while.

I can only imagine… And for now that’s all I’ve got. And these maps, which I will gladly set alight in her flame.

I’ve broken the idea, for myself, that youth is beauty. And what I’ve discovered is youth is more about the animal need to procreate and breed with the most attractive and available woman. And get this, women in their 20’s who are uber-fit and good-looking, will appear to be perfect mates, to my reptilian brain. And yet, I’m not interested in procreation, or having sex with 20-year-olds or really even 30-year-olds.

I’ve learned that the spark comes from the eyes, the smile, and the intelligence inside. If there is joy, it usually shows through the eyes. And if there’s deep intelligence, I find I’m more turned on than any physical attribute. Except of course the smile. And the joy.

I’ve learned that I don’t have much experience in dating after divorce. We are much different than we were “back in the day.” And our parameters and needs are very different. And our boundaries and priorities are very different as well. AND we won’t put up with much bullshit before we call a foul and move on.

I’ve learned that the real sparks are very hard to find. And valuing that connection is often more important than any idea or roadmap I’ve ever made up.

And finally I’ve learned that working on myself if the best strategy for finding who’s “next” for me. And that includes this writing (self-examination), exercise (health and self-care), and putting myself out there as “available.”

While I don’t like first dates, they are a necessary evil if you are going to date. [What does that word even mean? Date?] And I don’t like online dating. But I find it another necessary evil, like looking for a needle in a haystack. Looking for the spark to set the haystack on fire.

And really that’s what I’m looking for, the fire. To feel the burn and intoxication again. This time with some tethers to the ground (and sobriety of my past experiences). But for the fire to come and burn my maps, I have to start with the spark. And since I’ve only seen a few sparks in the last four years, I know the journey ahead may be longer than I want. (I guess it already has been. *Grin* )

And, here I will repeat myself again, I am excited and terrified about the transformation that will occur when SHE shows up. And yet I am pushing towards her, calling her in, writing love poems to “HER.”

I can only imagine… And for now that’s all I’ve got. And these maps, which I will gladly set alight in her flame.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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For inspiration read this: Dating Don’ts for the Single Mom – from SingleParentingIsHard

image: screen grab from Republica video below.

+++ And though I say, “Baby, I’m ready to go,” I have no idea what that looks like.


Online Dating Undercover Revelations: OK Cupid (Pt. 1)

Online Dating: OK Cupid

I did something odd the other day. I paid to be an A-Lister on the free dating site OKCupid. And boy did I learn a few things that I’m now going to share with you. The first thing the A-list does for you on OKC is allow you to narrow your searches by a few more criteria.

a-list search criteria on ok cupid

and if we use the Attractiveness criteria we get this:

ok cupid attractiveness

Now I’m guessing this has to do with the star ratings that people have given the women over time. And my list dwindled dramatically when I uplifted my search to include 5-star women only. I wonder am I a four or five? Or three? Ack.  And the difference between 4+ and 5 was very little. And actually after you’ve done the work of eliminating the “no-ways” from your searches by hiding them, I came up with about 20 potential matches. And of those I had to eliminate half of them for being out-of-my-league or too-pretty to be “realistic.” (See All Types post)

And what about body-type criteria. Here’s my selection, if I used it.

ok cupid body-types

You’d have to wonder about a woman who ranked herself as “used up.” And “jacked” is even a bit cocky for me, and I’m cocky. And what’s the difference in self-awareness in a woman who claims to be Skinny vs. Thin vs. Fit. (Oh, I’d add Fit to my criteria.)

And one of the other criteria offers an interesting twist on the selection process. Let’s say you’re looking for someone who is okay with casual sex, well, you can search for women who’ve answered the casual sex question of your choice. How’s that for dialing it in?

searching for casual sex

And then there’s the stealth browsing mode that offers this screen when you visit someone’s profile.

Screen Shot 2014-05-29 at 11.49.16 AM

that changes when you okay the visit

Screen Shot 2014-05-29 at 11.49.26 AM

I was wondering how I sent out so many hellos that got not only no response but not even a visit to my profile. It seems that women are much more selective about letting us know they visited. I know that’s where I start when I open OKC. And there has been very little action, even though I sent “hellos” to all 20 – 10 = 10 women who came up in my advanced search. And one woman actually responded at all. We’re meeting for a glass of wine tomorrow.

And that’s really it, that’s the point. Once you’ve secured the “date” let it go. Don’t spend too much energy or time scoping her out, or flirting via messages or texts. It’s often so much fantasy, that it’s waisted until you’ve met. Soooo many times I’ve generated a lot of enthusiasm and interest via message only to find there was ZERO chemistry. So leave your romantic aspirations until you’ve actually met. And when you get a “maybe” you should know it’s really a polite no. When it’s a yes, there shouldn’t be any hesitation at asking “What’s next?” If there’s resistance or apprehension, it’s a no. Move on.

The one thing I’ve come to understand about online dating is this. At least the women on the sites are claiming to be ready for a relationship. And if they’ve expressed some things that feel mutually exciting, cool. But meeting is an entirely different adventure. I exchanged a message with a woman who claimed it only took 4 minutes to know if there was chemistry. She was responding to something I wrote on my profile. And sure enough we’re going to grab our 4 minutes at the end of this weekend. “2 minutes for you and 2 minutes for me,” she said. I like her spunk.

So when you get the okay, let’s meet on X day at X time, give it a rest. Any thing else is too desperate. I’m not sure how it feels from the woman’s side, but anytime I’ve laid any more groundwork after the date was accepted, was wasted energy. Since I’ve had exactly THREE matches total in FOUR years since my divorce.

A friend asked me, “If you like relationships so much, why only three in four years?”

“I was getting my shit together first. I knew I wasn’t healthy and ready for a relationship. I wanted a rescue. And that’s not what I really need. I need a partner.”

Carry on, jump in and get your feet wet. And when she/he says yes, then go meet them. That’s when the sparks can fly. Everything before that is logistics and poetry.

Next, for Part 2, I’m going to dig into OK Cupid’s evaluation of my pictures and share their deep metrics on which pictures appeal to which age groups and types of women. All fun stuff. All fantasy.

New: Online Dating Undercover Revelations: OK Cupid (Pt. 2)

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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All Kinds of Women and the Sparks of Desire

OFF-lady

I spend more time thinking about dating and kissing than I actually get to date or kiss. It’s okay, it’s highly motivational. Today walking around the lake and watching the running, walking, and jogging girls, I was observing the things I found attractive.

It was the same sort of experience a few weeks ago when I turned my OK Cupid profile back on, just to check in. Just to remember how many women there are in the world looking for a partner. AND how few of them are within my range of desire. I know it’s my issue.

Looking over hundreds and hundreds of women you begin to make some assumptions on a dating site. Here are a few of my observations:

  1. Too pretty – never going to give me the time of day
  2. Too homely – not interested in those with lack of flair or confidence, please no more bathroom mirror shots, ever
  3. Too much makeup or glamour shots – never been my style
  4. Too young – I’m attracted to the younger women, but I’m not sure we’d have a lot in common
  5. Too many drink-in-hand shots – drinking is fine, but you don’t have to prove it, or flaunt it, might indicate a problem
  6. Too sporty – I also love fitness, but obsessive running, or talking all the time about your trainer… well, do it, but you don’t need to over do it
  7. Too religious – again, my bias, but I don’t have anything against religion, but you might not lead with it

And watching the athletic people exercising around the lake I made a few more observations:

  1. The uber-fit are often running with the uber-fit. Those amazing abs must be attracted to other amazing abs. I’d rather not spend so much time running.
  2. Women with baby strollers are beautiful, and of course YOUNG.
  3. We’re all walking and running to make our bodies more attractive or more healthy. Nice to see, and nice to have the energy and motivation to participate.
  4. My range of desire seems to be greater when the woman is exercising, or is it because I can see the whole body?
  5. Something about exercise shows energy and determination. That’s attractive.
  6. Some women look at you and look away. Some smile. Some never look up, as if afraid.
  7. As women pass by running, I notice the twist of their body, how they’re moving, their ratio (are they h/w proportionate), and did I get a whiff of their perfume? Too much perfume is a turn off, but just the right (essential oil-ish) scent is really good.

What would happen if a woman came along who was within my attractive range and was interested in a relationship? I guess I would get the opportunity to feel the pressure that I occasionally put on “dates.” I’m not sure what’s ahead, but I’m interested in finding out how I learn and grow in my next relationship, with a partner who wants a relationship.

Then sparks will fly.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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image: emitter, exey panteleeve, creative commons usage


5 First-Date Tips for Women

first date tips for womenDating is the wave of the future for us newly single folks. And as we enter the dating stream later in life there are plenty of new things to learn. Most of us, haven’t been dating for quite some time. And we have to polish up our routine as well as our hair, clothes, and fitness. Here are 5 YES TIPS for women who are interested in perking and keeping the interest of a man. (These are my thoughts – your mileage may vary.)

1. If there’s an attraction, let us know it.
When my first partner after divorce said, “You’re a lot cuter than your profile,” during the first 15 minutes of our date, I knew I was fitting some criteria she had in her mind. Yay! It’s so rare to find that chemistry. When it’s there, don’t be shy, just say it. “You’re pretty cute,” is all it takes.

2. If we’re going into the friend folder, let us know it.
The most disappointing thing is being led to think there is a connection by a date who says, “Well, let’s get together again,” but really doesn’t mean it. If you don’t want to, say it. Or don’t pretend like you do. Let us down easy. And if you’re not into the conversation of the thing, maybe you can send an email via OKCupid or whatever site you use, to say, thanks but no thanks. It’s so nice to have closure. But don’t fake it, if you don’t feel it.

3. If there’s something you’d like to do together, say it.
Finding common ground can be one the hardest things to establish early on. Saying “Into live music” on your dating profile, but not knowing any where to go, or any band to go see, is a real miss. If you’re into something, and it’s something you enjoy doing, see if we might not do it together. Just ask, “Do you play tennis?” (Or whatever it is.) That’s an opening for us to join with you, “No, but I’d love to.”

4. If you’re having a good time, laugh, touch our arm, show it.
See how much you can make us laugh. Laughing and smiling gives us all the benefit of good vibes. Are you funny, playful, spontaneous? Show it. If you’re real side is quirky, but you’re playing it straight, you’re cheating us both of an opportunity to connect. Touching is a powerful signal. Even a light pat demonstrating some point, is a moment of contact that can start the imagination rolling.

5. If you want to see us again, I mean really, just say it.
“What’s next?”  Is the most magical phrase in the first date wrap up. If you’re interested in seeing the person again, don’t wait for the man to come up with the courage to ask, just say it. Ask. “Are you doing anything Friday” is a great one, too.

Looking for clues: Where you meet, what time, what kind of place, for drinks or coffee… all plays a part in setting the stage and tone for a first date. Consider going for a walk around a park rather than drinking, you’ll tend to get a clearer read if you’re exercising. Look at their body language. Notice their eyes, are they looking at you, or distracted.

6. Bonus Tip: If you want a kiss, tilt your head, close in, give us clear signals.
The first kiss is a critical moment. If you’re into kissing, and think the guy is cute, go for it. What have you got to lose. If he’s a lousy kisser you can avoid the future heartache of finding that out on the 5th date. If he’s hot and your water begins boiling with a kiss, you might be on to something rare: a connection.

What have I missed? Let me know in the comments and I’ll include them here or in a future post. From my perspective, it goes without saying that a man should abide by these same rules. Think how much simpler it would be if we just said and shared what we were really feeling.

Keep it real out there, and keep on going.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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This post was inspired by Tamara’s Post: 5 Dating Mistakes Women Make. | Tamara Star | Daily Transformations

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The Taste of Tail Feathers Again

cowgirlOh online dating, I (heart) you. Oh wait, this was Facebook.

I’m not sure if I have an accurate picture of myself or my desired match. I mean, most times I think I have a pretty good handle on it. And then someone comes along and resets the markers and my own understanding has to be reevaluated. But I am learning, I think. Let’s recount a recent “Oh yeah” for me that seemingly has become a near miss.

First me. Let’s see. I think I’ve set out my parameters pretty well. And the fact that she connected with me through my other 100% positive parenting blog, and through my post on what a single dad wants in his next relationship, well, let’s just say my best foot was forward on the mechanics of dating. (But I still have really had only one post-divorce experience, so far, so I realise I don’t have all that much actual information.)

And after she requested a “friend” on Facebook, citing mutual friends (25) and at least something that she must’ve seen in my public profile, we jumped into a fun banter. So she wrote a nice, “Hey we should be friends, since we’re…” And it was a wonderful jolt to wake up on Dia de los Muertos with a very attractive princess (Halloween costume) saying she’d read my single-dad post and wanted to be friends.

Of course I accepted the friend request. And then the romantic madness ensued. (Mostly driven by me, but that’s okay, writing is what I do.)

So, in this current situation… I simply wait it out, right? Any signal from me would be over-reaching? Seems to weird not to say “hello” today, but I think she needs to feel like she’s in control.

Letting the banter run wild we chatted on FB over the course of the entire day. And things, on my end, could not have gone better. The more we chatted the more we seemed to have things in common. A quick wit and quick qwerty-fingers. It was a thrill. Like a first date. Almost. From her side she said very encouraging things. And at one point asked, “Even if we hate each other once we meet, can we still be friends on Facebook, I would hate to lose this banter.”

She got it. But… She was also getting it. Somewhere along this path I was letting my heart get involved. Even knowing the romance was pure fantasy, what a thrill to find a mutual attraction of the minds that seemed to expand and continue over the course of an entire day. And even after negotiating a Saturday afternoon meetup, I was hungry for her. Uh oh.

But I have learned a bit about this before. So I did my thing. I read. Wrote. And social media-ed. And since I had my kids that night, I didn’t have too much time to dig into her profile before taking my kids to breakfast in the morning and delivering them to their mom’s house and it was off to the “coffee date,” meet up, first face-to-face encounter. I kept my calm about me. Sat by the front of the cool coffee shop and waited.

Now, here’s where I’m going to reveal some of my vulnerabilities. She came in and said “Hi.” We did the simple hug. And she was going to order something to drink. In that first few moments, watching her at the counter ordering coffee, I observed myself taking her all in. Jeans and comfy shoes, very nice lines, well within my happy  zone. I was struck by how easily I qualified her by her appearance. I liked the look of her right away.

And when she came to the table, and we chatted for two hours, I was no less intrigued and fascinated. Again I was trying to observe my reactions in a more objective way. She had amazing eyes of blue, something I noticed immediately in her photographs. And a wicked smile, that I kept sort of staring at, imagining, going there. (Oops.) And her shirt and the shape of her neck as it entered the simple thermal shirt. Yep, my brain said, she’s in.

And while I was trying to show my most charming side, I’m not sure I was getting the pickup or resonance I was hoping for. I am still not sure, but I could almost feel her first scan when I stood up to greet her. Again, I’m making this up, but I felt like she took me in from running shoes, to shorts, to black t-shirt and then to my smile, all in the course of 30 seconds. And maybe that was all it took, maybe she was/is playing demure. But here’s what happened next…

We headed out to the cars, saying goodbye and such. And rather than the “what’s next” vibe, I got, “Well, I’d like to hear your song, sometime.”

I think the message was clear. At some very early moment in our meeting, I did not meet some parameter of hers.

It wasn’t the BINGO I was hoping for. And I am certain I was aglow. In reviewing my own behavior and expectations, I was at the top of my form. Maybe my form didn’t meet her expectations or projections from our Facebook romance. Maybe it’s as simple as that.

All systems go, all hearts and minds engaged, and you meet and nothing. (groan)

But, playing it cool, I wanted to make sure I was not over-thinking. I didn’t really have a roadmap for what it would look like if she were 100% aflame as well. But that’s what I was hoping for. I don’t think that’s what happened.

A couple of hours later I pinged her on Facebook just checking in.

“Just let me know, and do you want to get together tomorrow sometime?”

Her response took 3 hours and it was kind of obtuse. As if she didn’t understand what I was saying. A very different voice from the engaging romantic she had cooked up in my mind during our first 24-hours as FB friends. Okay, no worries, perhaps she’s being conservative. Perhaps she doesn’t know what to expect either.

I switched gears in my response the next day. “So do you get your son today or tomorrow?”

And this response was even more off. “Tomorrow, but I’m going to rest today.”

And this time, for the sake of clarity and brevity I went direct. “So… That’s kinda “meh”. Am I getting that right?”

She seemed to misunderstand. “Meh?”

“I was trying to get a read on if you were interested in getting together again. Perhaps I’m being dense. I enjoyed your company yesterday and would like to see you again, if desire and time allows. No hurry.”

And here’s where the mystery begins and ends. “I would definitely really love to be friends and then see what goes from there.”

And I dropped the thread with an affirmation of this sentiment. But that’s not what I was looking for. The responses had become hours in return. When we were flirting the responses were fast and flighty. So…

I think the message was clear. At some very early moment in our meeting, I did not meet some parameter of hers. All that built up energy and romantic charge didn’t offset or live up to whatever she had hoped I would look like.

I went to the well on this one and asked GF #1 about it.

“So, in this current situation… I simply wait it out, right? Any signal from me would be over-reaching? Seems to weird not to say “hello” today, but I think she needs to feel like she’s in control. She initially reached out to me. If she was “meh” then she won’t. If she was “maybe” then she will. But I think I have responded to her favorable statement, and now I drop the line and let her run until she realizes she’s missing me in the same way she was missing someone before I ever showed up. Is that right? Would you feel pressured if your spark followed up too quickly?”

GF #1 said that her gut-read was cautious rather than “friend zone” but she liked the idea of letting her line run.

So that’s where I am. I’ll invite her to coffee today.

What I learned.

  1. I am a powerful romantic and do enjoy the flight of romance that can happen via online connections.
  2. I have pretty distinct evaluation criteria that can only be decided in-person.
  3. Too much pre-roll romance wastes a lot of energy if there’s not a match.
  4. My disappointment at feeling the match and not having it reciprocated, is still hard.
  5. Less fantasy, less striving, more walking and playing music.
  6. Move along.

Update: After finishing a nice long walk I had a few additional observations on my most recent fishing expedition. I got some jazz from the connection, generated two poems from it, and got to feel my heart get all big again. Nice. I also got a bit of a hangover when the resonance did not match what I was hoping for. And now… I’m waiting for her FB response? Um, no. That’s the miss. While I did offer coffee today, my guess is her response will be lukewarm. And unless I press the date, it probably won’t happen. Sad, but true. A waste of energy? Not really. A new learning? In theory, but we’ll see the next time a princess shows up at my door. Moving forward, onward, and upward. You’ve got to turn over a lot of rocks to find the diamond, I guess. And of the three YES-vibes I got upon meeting a first date, this was the furthest I’d gone down the projection path, with all the mutual banter between us. Perhaps I should’ve focused more on my work that day, or the song that was trying to be born. Either way, I’m not unhappy with the results, just disappointed at yet one more grab and miss. But at least the promise of a YES is still out there.

Poem upon getting her hello on FB: arriving at any time (I shared this one with her,” a poem is a poem, you know.”)
Poem upon sensing the miss or possible caution: let’s pretend nothing sparked (I did not share this one, directly)

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

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A Little Sex Talk About Dating Divorced Moms

[This post was written as a response to a post on the Divorced Moms blog called Divorced Sex – Getting Back In the Game and for some reason my comment was never posted and my account seems to have been deleted… Hmmm. Is it something I said?]

dating divorced momsSingle Dad Seeking Divorced Moms.

We’re adults now. Sex is serious. If it’s not, and you run closer to Samantha from Sex in the City, the safety rules definitely apply.

Sex with an Ex. Um, I hope you’re talking about ex-BFs and not the ex-husband. If you really want to get some confusing reverberations going in your mind and body, sleeping with your recently divorced partner would be just about the best/worst way to do it. But I’m gonna skip this one, for me, the ex-wife is off limits even for fantasy. There is no amount of … I don’t really need to qualify this.

Online Dating: Is not really dating. It’s only dating when you finally meet in-person. Everything else, all the lead-up is romantic BS, more like poetry than real-life. And I’m as guilty as anyone of fueling engagement before ever setting eyes on the actual person. Nobody can really live up to those expectations you created in your mind. Online dating is really for meeting in-person. The “online” part is filled with false projections, both intentional and accidental.

Sexting? Is that even a thing? Really? Flirting via text goes right up there with online dating. Same filters apply. Everything else is porn. And porn has it’s place. It’s safe, quick, and easy. And one odd point stands out in your post, “how you’d feel if you were the spouse finding out about online indiscretions.” I’m thinking this is mixed up. Because if you’re divorced, you don’t have a spouse. And if you’re talking about sexting with a married man, you’ve got a whole additional layer of baggage that goes beyond the scope of your post. So let’s say Sexting = BS, behave accordingly. Porn = Have Fun, but it doesn’t really get us closer to sex, does it?

Casual Relationship Sex – Or “Third Date Sex.” Well, I don’t know about those milestones, but I do know the first time a woman wanted to spend the night at my house it was a bit a mind-warp. And it ended up being a three-month relationship. But I wasn’t ready for the sleepover for a while. And as far as third-date and IN, I’m not a big fan. I like the idea, occasionally, but I think way too much spiritual and emotional stuff gets stirred up for me to have “casual” sex with someone I’ve met within the week. And sure, first date sex sounds about as appealing as getting drunk and explaining why you did it, as in NOT.

We’re adults now. Sex is serious. If it’s not, and you run closer to Samantha from Sex in the City, the safety rules definitely apply. But I’d suggest you deal with the hunger and drive towards sex first, and wait until you meet a man who has some potential as a partner before rushing into bed.

That’s just me, of course, but I think we all need to be talking about sex more openly. It’s still hard to talk about, so thank you for providing the dialogue.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

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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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Re-finding My Dick After Divorce

Big Lebowski dick drawingIt’s not easy to find your dick after divorce. Here’s what I mean.

For me, when I was finally out of the house and on the trajectory out of the family, I was struggling with my weight, my happiness quotient, and my masculinity in general. You see, this women, that I had pledged everything to, given everything to, had decided that she would rather seek love elsewhere, and it took me a while to catch up to the fact that I was single again. I was not prepared. And I had not been thinking about it, or imagining myself with other women. Ever.

So you fall out of your marriage, on to the floor of your apartment, or in my case, the floor of my sister’s spare bedroom, and you look around at your life… and what you don’t see anywhere is your dick. You see, you gave that over at the beginning of the marriage, and you’ve got a little work to do to get it back.

For my part, I was aggressive about my desire to be back on the market and I took drastic measures (often misguided) to go in search of my dick. Here are a few of the moments of my early months of re-dicking. Part of the process is reasserting that you are desirable and even have a sexual drive. And the gentlemen’s entertainment businesses are happy to facilitate this lust for youthful beauty and hand’s on retraining, for a price.

The Beautiful Deaf Girl, 29, Working In a Titty Bar

Another area that requires reconfiguring is our interconnected social networks, like Facebook. In order to build identities separate from our new exes we have to put up the boundaries and purge the old lovey-dovey photos.

I Unfriended You

And it’s funny how quickly the lost sex drive comes back online. And then we have a childish fantasy about how the world of women is once again fair game for our hunting. Take our pick, from one woman to an endless supply of MILFs. All these, other middle-aged women, now single, must be looking for love too, right?

As it turns out, the first months after divorce are mostly about the symbolic refinding of your dick, rather than the hunt and destroy lust that comes out of hiding. And porn becomes a more affordable and reliable partner than surfing strip clubs or getting overly ambitious about your online prospecting. And the reality is, you’re not prepared to be in a relationship with someone else yet, anyway. There are plenty of issues for you to work out with yourself and your ex before you start seriously dipping into the dating pool. It’s just nice to have your dick back, and that’s a good start.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

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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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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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