Sunday, February 28, 2010

Car Metaphors

I started to write this as a response to Lanafactrix's comment on my last post, but I decided to make a new post out of it. 

Lanafactrix has identified with my rational brain completely. Paul probably is bad news, but I'm not quite ready to let go of him yet.

The thing is, I think I like Theo a lot. L suggested that if he doesn't light my fire, that perhaps I ought to be with someone who does. However, it's not that Theo doesn't light my fire, rather that we are moving at a very different speed than I have with Paul.

I don't know how to drive, but if I did, Peter would be a red Miata and Theo would be a silver Volvo. The Miata is prone to being pulled over by cops, but is exhilarating to drive; the Volvo, on the other hand, is top quality, down to earth, and safe.

Ultimately, I know I want the Volvo, but I'm not quite done with my test drive of the Miata.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

I'm Completely and Utterly Confused

So I made the mistake of going out with Paul on Thursday and then Theo on Friday. Knowing that I'd be seeing Theo on Friday for a second date, I told Paul that Thursday was going to be a strictly friends outing for us. I had to specify this because Paul has recently told me that, while he is not ready to be in a committed relationship, he's very much attracted to me and isn't sure he can be "just friends." When I met up with him for a casual dinner, I was feeling really excited about my upcoming date with Theo. I was sure that I'd have no problem behaving like I do with any of my other friends.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Paul tried to play it cool during dinner, but by the time we went across the street for ice cream, he was rapidly losing his ability to be just friendly. There was much flirtation and flattery and it got to me. My rational brain was fighting a serious uphill battle against my emotional brain; his rational brain was nearly decimated.

And still, the night was young, so we went over to a bar to sit and talk some more. By this point we were holding hands across the table. He wouldn't let go, but I didn't want him to. Therein lies the confusion. Even though I'd only been on one, completely G-rated date with Theo, at this point, I really want things to work out with him. Were I to do anything with Paul at this point, I worry that it would come back to bite me later if things with Theo continue to go well.

To make matters even more confusing, the second date with Theo went really well, but it was just as slow as the first. We seem to like each other and enjoy each other's company, we share many of the same likes and dislikes, and we always have plenty to talk about. That last point has, oddly enough, been the only real problem on our dates as we've found ourselves rushing to get him on the last train home at the end of the evening and never have time for a decent goodbye.

On paper, Theo wins against Paul hands down. He's older, more mature, witty and funny in the same way I am, passionate about classical music, a good dresser (I never did tell him last night how handsome he looked in his suit), doesn't drink or smoke, etc. However, I can't ignore the fact that there's incredibly intense physical attraction between me and Paul. My rational self picks Theo. My emotional self picks Paul. Which one will win in the end? I don't know, but I sure would like to find out soon.

P.S. In my last post I mentioned that I'd messaged with Jesse while waiting for an e-mail from Theo. I'd not heard anything from him since, so I assumed that I wouldn't. Only I did. I'm incredibly flattered to have the attention of these guys, but it makes everything so freaking complicated. If Daria's Quinn Morgendorfer (top left) and Gilmore Girls' Rory Gilmore (above right) morphed into one person, it might very well be me.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Online Dating Etiquette

Edit: Since writing this, I've received a short but sweet message back from Theo. All is well. We're talking about getting together again this weekend. Plus, while I was waiting to hear from him I had a nice exchange of messages with a guy I'll call Jesse. Depending on how things work out with Theo, I may end up meeting up with Jesse. So the below now really is just a lot of frustration I needed to get out of my system.

Disclaimer: this post is a bit of a rant, though it's also an update and an ask for advice.

When looking for a date in the real world, one must have tough skin. A lot of energy is put into scoping out, approaching, and attempting to speak to potential dates. It's hard enough to approach, let alone speak, to someone new, so there are plenty of people who are only seen from afar and remembered as "what ifs?." In the real world, if one is fortunate enough to elicit a phone number from another, it's up to the receiver of that number to call it and the giver to answer (or even give a real number in the first place).

Online, it's different. Everyone is just as approachable as everyone else. There are no groups of friends to push you toward someone, the person being approached can't see you coming and hide before you get to them (well, not usually), and his/her friends can't intervene. If you do choose to message someone, it's understood that if he/she is not interested, there's no need to reply.

However, what remains the same with real-world and online dating is that if you actually go on a date with someone, the rules during and after that date are the same. Correct me if I'm wrong, but if a date ends with "This was really fun and we should do it again," there's going to be an assumption that there might be a second date.

Such is the situation I find myself in with Theo (and the one I had with Aiden). I sent that second date message and am now waiting for a response. Perhaps I'm more polite than the average person, but if I receive a second date message from someone I've decided I don't want to see again, I at least have the courtesy to write him back. Is this too much to ask?

The one difference between the real world and online, is that in the real world, if you go on a date with a guy you met at the bar and you don't hear from a him again, you have no idea what he's up to. In the online world, you can see what he's up to, if he's been online, if he's been updating his profile.

Then again, one can also see that 21 year-old guys with usernames like kickaxecode want you to IM with them. That just adds insult to injury.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Second Date vs. Nth Date

As I mentioned in the comments on a recent post, I've reached the point of wanting to settle down. For good. Therefore, the stakes have changed for my dates. If I'm asked out and I accept, it's usually because the guy seems nice enough, though I usually don't have a lot of hope of him making it to a second date. However, if I ask a guy out, there's a huge difference—I want him to make it to the nth date, not just the second.

Such is the case with Theo. I had an excellent time with him Saturday night and I'd really like to see him again. Unless if I completely misread him as we said hasty goodbyes as I got off the train, he's interested too. I sent him a short message this morning, so now the wait begins.

In other news, I read this somewhat offensive column on Huffington Post today. Now, I have to start by saying that the author is a senior in college and a guy, so his perspective is likely to be different than mine anyway. Still, I can't say that I'd consider doing any of the things he mentions in his column. Would you?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Theo: Henry v.2?

I've got another date tomorrow—guy number 18 for those of you playing along at home—with a guy I'll call Theo. I first came across his profile last October after the breakup with Henry, but, given that he'd just joined the site, I thought I'd wait a little while before messaging him. Then, as is my wont, I decided he was too good to message. (I know I've written about this before, but for the life of me I can't find the post.) However, as I was searching through my matches last weekend, I saw that he hadn't been messaged in over a week. I figured this might improve my chances of hearing back from him, so I got up the nerve to write.

To keep this short(er), we're going out tomorrow. So here's my worry: he's oddly similar to Henry. They share these things (among many others, I'm sure):
- Theo is German, Henry studied abroad in Austria and speaks German
- Theo is a "retired musicologist," Henry went to grad school for music
- Theo is in grad school for computer stuff, Henry did that in undergrad

To cap that off, our first date is going to be pretty much what my first date was with Henry: dinner at an ethnic restaurant and a free concert at a cafe. Who knows though? Henry and I dated for over seven months. Perhaps Theo will at least make it to date two.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Tyrany of Soft Expectations

The title of this post comes from a comment on my last post left by the lovely Lanafactrix. In case you didn't see her comment, she said:

I think, as far as men our age go, they're suffering partly from the tyranny of soft expectations. American culture tells them that they shouldn't want a steady girlfriend or a wife or, God forbid, children. Young men in serious relationships are ridiculed constantly by their peers, whereas young women are congratulated by theirs.

Her comment reminded me of an article I read in the New York Times a few weeks ago ("On College Campuses, a Shortage of Men"). While not about online dating, the article pointed out how men, particularly when they are in the minority of a population, "have all the power to control the intensity of sexual and romantic relationships."

What I find particularly interesting about all of this is that the gender split on my dating site seems to favor women. From what I can tell, there are significantly more men on the site than there are women. I did a sample search using my standard criteria (straight, 25-32, within 25 miles of me, single, no smoking) for men and then women. There were over 1000 men, but only 840 women who fit that search. Sure, this is not the most scientific data, but I'd wager it's pretty accurate. Add to this the societal pressure for men to send the first message and women can really be picky.

But then, perhaps this is all one vicious downward spiral: More men than women, women can pick and choose from the messages sent by men, but then fewer men want long-term relationships, etc. My head is starting to spin… What do you think?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Short-term vs. Long-term Dating

I've been thinking about this a lot recently due to the whole Paul situation. When I wrote last week, I said that Paul and I had agreed we were going to be friends due to his inability to commit to a relationship at present. I also thought we were going to see each other this past weekend. It turns out that a) he's too busy to hang out on most weekends and b) he just doesn't want to be in a committed relationship at all at this point in his life. We IMed tonight and, in our honest conversation, he said that he's going to stay on the dating site despite his unwillingness to commit to anyone. His profile says he's looking for short-term as well as long-term dating (clearly that last one doesn't match up with reality).

In the more than two years I've been on the dating site, I've never really been able to determine what's meant by "short-term" dating. Now that I've finally had to think about it, I guess it's whatever is between one-night stands and long-term relationships. I guess I've wanted to "settle down" for a while now—I've always craved stability—so I can't remember a time when I wanted to casually date anyone. I am realizing though, what with Paul and, of course, Henry, that there aren't a lot of guys out there that are ready at this point in their lives (mid- to late-twenties) to settle down. Why is this?

If you have any insight into the short-term/long-term situation, please share.

Middle of February

This is an awkward time for most single folks, but slightly more awkward for me: if Henry and I hadn't broken up, today would have been our first anniversary. I battled bouts of general loneliness all last week, but then with the approach of Valentine's Day and the non-anniversary, I was particularly out of sorts.

Enter Jake. I found his profile Friday night, looked at it, determined I should message him, left the window open, and then turned away from my computer screen to watch the Olympics. When I looked back at the screen a little while later, I found a message from him. I messaged him back and after a few more messages over the next 24 hours, he decided to ask if I might be free on Sunday. He acknowledged that it was VD and that we didn't have to go out that day if it would be weird, but I had nothing better to do, so I said yes.

I'm not going to go into the details of the date—we took a long walk through many neighborhoods of the city he'd not been to before—because ultimately, it wasn't that exciting. We managed to keep a conversation going throughout the three or so hours, but by the end of that time we were really out of things to say. However, it was nice to get out yesterday, meet someone new, (eat some ice cream), and not be at home moping about how everyone seems to have a Valentine except me—which, of course, I realize is not true, but it sometimes feels that way.

On a related note, did anyone see the commercials for Walgreens' Valentine's Day gift help? I can't find a video of it online, but Walgreens still has the promotional website up. Check it out here. It's a bit ridiculous, no?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Finding Mr. Right

With Valentine's Day only a few days away, the media is throwing countless dating stories at us. This year the hot topic is social media and dating—they had to find a new angle for a new year, but they all chose the same one…

Rachel Greenwald, author of Find a Husband After 35: Using What I Learned at Harvard Business School, has a new book out called Have Him at Hello: Confessions From 1,000 Guys About What Makes Them Fall in Love… or Never Call Back. She blogged about it today on the Huffington Post, focusing on four ways to find men in the digital age. In the post titled "Valentine's Day Book: Where Can I Find Mr. Right?" she says women too often ask "where" rather than "how." Her suggestions for how:
  1. Using Facebook - Scroll through your friends' friends and ask for an introduction
  2. Tweeting - Tweet details of a casual meeting, i.e., happy hour, and ask your friends/followers to bring friends
  3. - Search for local singles groups
  4. Teaching your own man-class - Teach a class on a topic about which men are often clueless, i.e., cooking; men will flock to the class, and hopefully some will ask you out after
Of these, I've done one of the four. After Henry and I split, I joined and joined a number of groups, including some targeted at singles. I've yet to go to any group designed for singles; however, I did meet Alex through a group. 

I have thought about asking my friends on Facebook to set me up on a blind date, but I've never looked at their friends to find a date.

I—and most of my friends—refuse to use Twitter (at least for my personal life). Therefore, I won't be using Twitter as she suggests.

Finally, teaching a man-class? I don't think so. I'm way too introverted.

Have you, dear readers, ever used any of these techniques to find a date? Please let me know.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Bachelor

I should preface this post by saying that I've never watched "The Bachelor" or any of the other such programs that have tarnished the airwaves over the last decade.

The other day I came across a Newsweek article entitled "A Black President Before a Black 'Bachelor'?" It was the TV critic's review of the current season of ABC's "The Bachelor" and the critic, Joshua Alston, chose to focus on the glaring fact that the "bachelor" has been white in each of the show's 14 seasons. (Side note: 14 seasons? I had no idea, but that just seems like 13 too many.) Mr. Alston writes about how he realized it would be silly to call the producers to ask about this because he knows that Americans overwhelmingly marry within their own race. He goes on to say,

White people are the majority in this country and, therefore, the best audience to target from a ratings standpoint, and there's risk in alienating viewers who may have less enlightened views on interracial couples. Could they cast a black man? Sure. Would it be smart to? Probably not. The Bachelor is one of many pop-culture artifacts that highlight the uncomfortable gap between the way we'd like to think of racial integration and the way it actually is. Just as people of different races don't often date each other or worship together, we also don't read many of the same books, or like many of the same movies, or adore many of the same celebrities. Certainly not as much as we'd like to believe.

Read the article and, if you've not already read them, my two previous posts about race (here and here). Then, let me know what you think. I'm curious to know if you think that the online dating world reflects the larger, nationwide trends written about in the Newsweek piece or if it is more liberal or conservative.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Smart Women

  1. Some smart women put themselves in a no-win bind when it comes to finding an intellectual match.
  2. Smart women bring their inner CEO to the date.
  3. Smart women don't make love a top priority.
  4. Smart women mistake a person for real fulfillment.
  5. Smart women overthink it.
  6. Smart women underplay their feminine charms.
  7. Smart women are waiting for love to show up versus showing up as love.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

From One to Three

The second date with Paul was really fun and we both had a really good time. However, Paul made it clear—and I much prefer this to being strung along—that he's not ready for a relationship at the moment. (This, of course, begs the question (as *Ily actually asked me the other day) of why he's even on a dating site in the first place; however, I'm willing to overlook that for the time being). Paul's finishing college this year—finally—and he's also got a stressful job running the campus newspaper, so I can understand him not wanting to start a relationship now. Looking back on my own college experience, I can't imagine having a new relationship start up my senior year. The poor guy wouldn't have gotten much of my time, and what he did would have involved a very stressed-out me.

That all said, Paul and I have agreed that we are far too compatible to let each other go. We're going to go out again this week and see what happens from there. I'm not exactly sure we stand on the friend/friendlier continuum, but I'm surprisingly OK with that. What I do know is that I haven't stopped looking at other guys on the dating site.

In other news, I've been saving a bunch of articles to share and debate with you all. I've got them all set up and they'll post one a day over the week. Please share your thoughts. I love reading your comments!