I’m learning so much these days, having revoked my own dating pass. I’m done with dating for a bit. I’m resetting and recovering my center. It’s not like anything major happened. But after one recent near miss I’m taking back all of the energy I used to put into “dates” and bringing the focus back on building myself. I think I’m rebuilt, but I’m still refining my roll, as they say.
As I’m sitting in a nearby coffee shop I’m observing the flow of people and noting my own wandering eye. WHAT IS IT? Really. Which women resonate with a “yes” in the flowing line of candidates (in fantasy only) versus a “meh.”
- Body type
- Attitude (You can see it in their eyes and smile, or opposite of smile)
- Hair (over done, colored, natural, dark, blonde or graying)
- Clothes (what mode are they in: work, yoga, casual Friday, dressed to the nines)
- A pretty face (some magical equation combined with historical context)
Sure it’s impossible to get an accurate picture of the whole woman from 15 – 20 feet way. But the elusive “chemistry” is not as random as you might think. Rare, but not random. So what is it? What’s my combination?
The “spark” as I tend to call it is obvious in the first 10 seconds. Beyond that I’m taking my own projections and using my desires as a magnifying glass from which to evaluate each woman.
[NOTE: Let me be clear, this is a design and branding exercise, not a predatory process. I am not actually looking to “relate” to these women. I’m merely observing my thoughts as they pass by. The availability or reality of the actual woman is not part of my evaluation. Sky’s the limit.]
In life, women stream by all the time. Married, young, athletic, damaged, bright, angry, euphoric, women, all are part of the flow of life. It’s our observations and actions in this flood that are going to determine if we remain alone and hungry, or if we are willing and able to take the plunge into a relationship.
As I’ve released the “dating” concept for the moment, I’m learning some new things about myself in this detached state.
- I am much more easy-going around all women when I’m not actively sizing them up
- As I am not “interested” I’m more able to see them clearly as multifaceted humans and not just “women of potential”
- I’ve got a lot of energy to use in other aspects of my life
- I can see my craving for a woman more clearly for what it is, a craving, an addiction
- I can savor the anticipation and desire and all the wanderings of my mind without any of the logistics or planning that’s required in actually taking action
- By not taking any action, I’m allowing these women I come in contact with to be more natural and relaxed.
I’m not saying, “Hey, I’m not interested in you,” but the idea is circulating in my mind. For the moment, even in the presence of a willing and available woman I have taken a step back from my own inner “spark” so I can see more clearly.
This week I had a clear hit. A date potential that sort of came out of the blue. And all of the components were in place. She was cute, articulate, enthusiastic, and she had a very direct approach to life. She was also training in an exotic sport, that was clearly a passion. I’m attracted to women of passion. Always passion.
After a week or so we found the night we could meet in-person. Again, this time, while I was enthusiastic, I was somewhat reflective of the opportunity rather than “looking for a relationship.” At one point, an hour before we met, I was a little concerned that I was going to underwhelm her, that I was too subdued. I was just tired from a busy day that had started at 5 am.
When we met and sat eating a late dinner, I was able to keep my “observer” at the table with us. I was watching her and even watching myself, as we chatted and flirted. And while I noticed her fine figure, her sparkling eyes, and her contagious enthusiasm, I was also aware that something else was feeling odd.
That was enough. I didn’t need to judge her. I didn’t get turned off, because I had never been turned on. So I listened. I noticed how she often didn’t hear what I’d just said. She was on some kind of monologue performance. There wasn’t much room in her active and imaginative genius for me or my ideas.
As we parted she mentioned wanting to write an article for my blog. She was all over the map. “Um, okay,” I said, surprised by the new concept. “No, really. I’m a great writer,” she said. She didn’t notice that this is a first-person narrative, about me and my experience. I’m not sure where she thought her “post” might go. I’m not all that interested to find out.
It would be great to think we have evolved beyond Hot or Not, but really it’s hard-wired. The immediate reaction that we label “chemistry” is really a swipe to the left “nope” or a swipe to the right “yes.” It’s what happens next that is more important. In my paused state, I think I am able to evaluate more objectively what turns me on and what registers as a “pass.” Because I’ve taken myself off the playing field it is easier for me to recognize the players, even my own playbook becomes more obvious.
The swipe happens in our mind regardless of our evolution. Our own game plans kick into gear almost automatically. By interrupting the pursuit I’ve been able to sit back and watch in a new way. My idea is that when I’m ready to re-engage with the process of pursuit I’ll be clearer in my actions and intentions.
The Off Parent
back to On Dating Again
- The Lover I Had This Time Last Year
- Dating Time Out: Swiping Left or Right is Wearing Me Out
- Gentle Catch and Release
- Unadulterated Love: What Is Joyful Sex?
image: random coffee shop, the author, cc 2014
I’m not a huge fan of artificial beauty. And to be honest, I’m a little afraid of the uber-fit or uber-beautiful, but that’s my problem. When looking for my next relationship all of these things have to be taken into account, and some of them are contradictory.
That is my number one indicator of success in a relationship. I KNOW how happy I am, and I project this joy and enthusiasm everywhere I go. I have been married twice, to people who liked to bask in my joyous glow, but perhaps did not have as much radiance to contribute themselves. I have begun learning, as I have now dated several women, that happiness is the biggest turn-on there is, for me.
The obsession with glorious abs is a bit overblown in my opinion. When my wife was in her fittest mode, she felt a bit hard and unhealthy. There was a edge to her attention to fitness and getting her run in, regardless of what needed to be done. Now I understand the runner’s need to run. But when she was her fittest she was also her most obsessive about everything else. And in contrast, when she had just given birth to our second child, and was probably at her softest, body wise, and heart-wise, I thought she was about perfect.
I’ve met the fit-obsessed women in my recent years of singlehood, and talking about “working out” is probably one of the last things I find fascination with. Um, do it, run, swim, diet, Pilates, whatever, but don’t make a life’s journey about. OR, if you do, I guess you need to find someone else who has the same priority in life. My priority is health, wellness, and how I feel about myself. The six-pack abs of my high school swim team days are long gone.
I’d rather walk around the lake with you than try and keep up a conversation while we’re jogging. Besides, if you don’t run correctly you’re probably in for more injuries and less overall quality of life, that greatly outweighs the longevity benefits in my life. There was a joke once about how for every hour you ran you added a day of life to your mortality. The punchline, yes, but you just spent an hour running.
Why do 90% of the people on the trail who are running look so uncomfortable? And us walkers seem much happier. And I don’t really see the runners=fit walkers=not-as-fit concept holding up as I observe the men and women on the trail. There are just as many obese people running as there are fit people walking. Again, fitness and uber-fitness (or fitness obsession) are different things.
There is something about a beautiful face or smile that can transform any body type into a potential. But there are also a lot of beautiful people who are unhappy. It may not be due to their outward appearance, but it seems the most beautiful people I’ve ever met have been pretty neurotic in some fundamental way. Either they were overly focused on their hair, makeup, clothes, shoes, etc. to really pay much attention to their attitudes or their mental/spiritual programs. No, beauty is not a spiritual attainment, but it can be a part of someone’s life that is more of a burden than a blessing.
And with beauty I have to talk about my fixation on women’s shoes. 90% of the time, when I see a woman in Carry Bradshaw heals I think, “Gross.” And it’s not that I don’t think some of them are quite sexy, but it’s something else. Perhaps it’s the extravagance of a $500 pair of fashion accessories that is distasteful to me, but I don’t really know an expensive one from a cheap knockoff. Perhaps it’s the “porn look” that I associate with this kind of foot ware, the in-the-mall-look-at-me sort of vibe. And I am willing to admit that it’s my problem. But something about a woman in really sexy shoes says, “No thanks,” to me. And I’ve known men who were just as shoe obsessed, but it was running shoes, lots and lots of running shoes. There’s something a bit hedonistic about a shoe obsession, and when the budgets have monthly dollars assigned to them, I’m just baffled.
Anyway, what I’m learning about, in my short dating career is that all of these things factor together to make a YES or a NO for me, for my base animal instinct, we like to refer to as chemistry. It’s either we are wagging our tail when we see the other person or we are not. And if we are both wagging our tails we can start imagining or drafting ideas about a relationship.
I have never known chemistry to develop over time. Either you have a tail wag or you don’t. There are “maybe” tail wags, that might actually be an indication of something that could be build more firmly on the rest of the relationship, but most of us want the strong, leg-slapping, tail wag of passion before we’re ready to invest in building a relationship.
And of course, there are the casual daters who are looking for nothing more than an opportunity to exploit the tale of another animal without any concern about “where things are going.” That’s okay too, but it’s just not me. I tried casual sex and I’m not that into it. But maybe I haven’t had the leg-slapper yet either. And if I did, I imagine I would want to start building something where there may be nothing to build.
The Off Parent
back to On Dating Again
- Crossfit Sex
- An Early Frost: Dating Options and Casual Sex
- If Age is Just a Number Why Do I Still Want to Lie About My Age?
- 5 Early Warning Signs When Dating: Looking for Ms. Lovejoy
2. Mass media and cheesecake photos.
3. Online dating.
Each of these types of browsable partners has something to offer. Let’s see if there is a relationship between them, or if we can understand something about ourselves through a bit of exploration.
Only one of these pools of images has the potential for a real human connection. (With someone other than yourself, I mean.) One of these pools of images and videos has the potential for immediate sexual gratification, if at a lower level than the real human connection version. One of these pools offers but doesn’t reveal the potential for both of the previous pools.
I turned on my online dating profile again yesterday and I was a bit underwhelmed by the opportunities for real human interaction. (see “momentum” in previous post) But the non-human (self) interaction gets a bit boring when you’ve recently sampled something delicious and alive. I glanced at some nudie sites but there was ZERO arousal. And then I started finding myself looking at TheChive. (Home of the almost nude, cheesecake shots and teases.) And while this didn’t exactly fire me up, there was something more enticing about the tease.
Again, nothing physical about photos, but the covered breast often offers more than the plentiful and heaving breast.
Either way, it’s odd, browsing for a pretty face online. It seems like there are several levels of this hell. 1. The topmost hell, cheesecake offers enticement without reward. 2. The second hell, gives plenty of sex at the expense of enthusiasm or potential. 3. The final hell is trying to browse actual women on a dating site and seeing how many are WTF?
Shopping for a house online is a similar experience. You browse by area then you look for the curb appeal. Without a nice preview photo you’re not even going to take the 10 seconds to look at the portfolio of pictures. That’s how it works.
And online dating, in my experience, is similar. And these days I’ve become even more selective in who I would consider. Yesterday I spent most of my time hitting the HIDE button on profiles that could not possibly have been accurately returned by my search results. I was left with 20 smiling faces. (This is from thousands, according to the site.) And from there I contacted 4 of them. I got a casual response from one of them.
So here we are, here I am, browsing women online and hoping to find a spark. A real live spark, not a fantasy one. And I’m travelling back and forth through the three levels of hell.
The Off Parent
< back to On Dating Again index
- The Promise in a Thumbnail; Online Dating Hits and Misses
- Five Habits of Bad Sex
- Seven Signs of a Healthy Post-Divorce Relationship
- The Honey Trap: How Beauty Can Lead Us Astray
- The Divorce Library (reading list)
- Songs of Divorce (free listening library – youtube sourced songs)
- Laugh It Off (building a resource library of funny videos and other diversions)
- Facebook (follow us on Facebook and keep up with all the conversations)
- The 5 Love Languages (a book on love styles by Gary Chapman)
image: a few of my “potential” dates from yesterday’s foraging.