Category Archives: Shared Experiences

It pays to be prepared

Second date. Still not entirely sure what the mutual understanding of the crowd in regards to sex. Three dates has always been what I’ve heard, though in my life, that’s rarely happened. Seven dates? Maybe. Longer than that and you risk losing the person…or so they say. I had only been out with this girl once before, and found her incredibly sexy. Yes, I’d love to sleep with her, but she’s also a really great person and so I didn’t want to push anything. It was a second date, and I didn’t know what would happen, but I did want to be prepared.

I knew that we’d end up back at my place. The restaurant was pretty close by, and I was sure inviting her back wouldn’t be a problem. I had no “move” in mind to try to get her into the bedroom, just a little bit of hope that things might naturally lead there. You never know in these situations – even the smallest thing could derail the possibility of a hedonistic night together. No, I wasn’t going to leave anything to chance. If we made it to the bedroom, it would have to be smooth sailing to the finish line.

The first thing I did was check the condoms I had in my room. It had been a while since I last entertained a young lady there, and I wanted to make sure I was ready. Condoms have expiration dates, so always good to double-check those to be safe. Six left from the original package and not past the expiration date. Sweet. I then made sure they were within arm’s reach of the bed.

Next up, a little cleaning. I think this is a piece that guys completely miss. Few girls want to get down and dirty if your place is literally dirty. I put away the laundry, made the bed, cleared the floor. I didn’t want there to be any looks of shock or disgust when we made it there. I made sure the steps leading up to the bedroom didn’t betray any bit of disorganization – everything within eyeshot was in its place.

I worked my way backwards to the living room (my typical dumping ground for whatever I’m too lazy to put away). The coffee table was cleared of everything but a few interesting books and remote controls. Lights were dim, music was playing. The usual mess on the kitchen table was stacked into neat piles. The kitchen counter was clean and I cleaned all dishes in the sink.

The last point of focus was myself. Clean clothes and a little cologne always make a good impression. Clean underwear (no holes!) and a little looser than usual pair of pants (no one wants to struggle to get their pants off).

It’s details like this that “clear the runway” for sex. It’s not about doing things that will get her into your bedroom, necessarily; it’s about doing things to ensure there’s nothing standing in the way. As for my second date, things went great. It turns out that she had prepared in her own way, as well. But a gentleman doesn’t share such details, you’ll just have to imagine for yourself.

Awkward mating rituals

This is a guest post contributed by Erin Whitehead. Erin is a featured writer for the online dating site onlinedatingsites.net and a comedian and improviser in Los Angeles. You can follow her on Twitter at @girlwithatail.

So I’m driving through Hollywood checking out a billboard for yet another show about beautiful people coping with terrible things, when the Mercedes in front of me gets smashed into by a classic Jaguar. I manage to brake in time and steer my little Echo over to the curb. Both parties are okay, though you can see the driver of the Jag eyeing my unscathed, dingy little car with a look of all being wrong in the world. Since I witnessed the whole thing I figure I should stay. First on the scene is a fireman. He approaches me and asks which car I was in. “Neither, I just witnessed it. Should I stay?” He smiles. “Let’s start with your name.” Oh right, witness protocol I guess. I tell him my name. “Great,” he says, “Can I call you sometime?” There are two smoking cars leaking fluid and holding up four lanes of traffic, two disgruntled drivers looking ready to fight (one limping), and this guy prioritizes asking me out? You gotta kind of respect that.

My friend Natalie and I have had this conversation before. She’s a free spirited German girl raised by gypsies and only dates sexually overt men. She has a tattoo of heaven on her lower abdomen and I’m still not sure whether that suggests the area below is hell. The last guy she dated picked her up in a store on Hollywood Blvd with the line, “Damn, girl, why don’t you back that ass up this way?” Natalie and I operate slightly differently in the love department. When the fireman handed me his number at the scene I smiled, pocketed it, then threw it away when I got home. It was clear to me that a guy who moves that fast on the street probably moves fast other places. And if a guy ever asked me to back my ass up anywhere I would either think I was in his way or he was totally sleazy.

But Natalie doesn’t see it that way. “He was just expressing an interest in you,” she tells me. “Yes,” I tell her. “An interest in… doing… stuff.” (I have an inner 12 year-old, by the way, who refers to sex as ‘stuff’ and my lady parts as ‘down stairs’). Natalie laughs and asks what else you think about when you’re first attracted to someone. When I found out she actually went out with a guy who’s first words to her involved a body part and a directional command, I was grossed out. But to her, he was just being direct. “How do you know if a guy likes you?” she wanted to know. I consider the mating rituals of the white and awkward. “Well, you know, we talk about everything other than the fact that we’re actually attracted to each other. Then we make some jokes to see if we laugh at the right parts… then maybe we make plans to go do something under the guise of just liking each other as people even though really, we’re probably thinking about making out the whole time.” Natalie looks at me like I’m nuts.

So maybe it does sound like kind of lot of work. Pretending not to want to kiss someone while also sending the signal that you want to be kissed is a tricky endeavor. And truth be told, Natalie has had far more lasting relationships with men who have picked her up with some kind of sexual comment than I’ve had doing my Wonder Years, “Do you like me or like-like me” dance. There doesn’t seem to be an argument that beating around the bush suggests more noble intentions. It’s more like a last attempt to throw a little romance into the courting process. Which I guess means that my idea of romance equals mixed messages and pretending. Maybe it all comes back to my inner 12 year-old, the one who got depressed after sex-ed because it all seemed so technical and dangerous, the one who cried when no one asked her to dance to “End of the Road,” by Boyz 2 Men. That kid still wants to believe that when someone likes you (like-likes you) they are seeing a piece of your soul. Yeah, that kid also apparently listens to Jewel.

I respect the direct approach Natalie and her suitors take to relationships. It seems no-nonsense, adult. But even though I am one, I find adults depressing. Congratulations if you can say, “I’m lonely, you’re hot, so here’s an obvious solution.” But even if it’s all means to the same end, I’ll beat around the bush a few rounds to feel like I’m falling for somebody, not anybody. And sure, then we can dry hump. Because now it’s meaningful dry humping.

Issues? What issues?

When we’re single, we want a relationship. When we’re in a relationship–an incompatible one, that is–we want to be single. Never satisfied, it’s easy to miss what’s really wrong in the picture.

I’m what the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator would refer to as “Perceiving.” Basically, that means that I’m comfortable in a state of indecision. To those who are opposite of Perceiving, or “Judging” (not the same as judgemental) it’s important to know what their weekly schedule looks like. But I like to keep it open and have options.

Even in a relationship with a boyfriend, I was never comfortable with the idea that he was “the one.” Get married? I’d rather wait and see. Any excuse I could find to get out of a relationship and find a new one was acceptable in my eyes. But then I turned 37. My boyfriend of 4 years and I broke up the year before. (My longest relationship to date.) At this age I started to think about whether or not I really wanted to bear a child. I decided I did and thought about settling down.

Fast forward to May 2010. I turn 39 in two months, and my boyfriend– who I found on a dating website– and I have been together over a year. Until a month ago, I was still in that state of indecision about marriage. Except this boyfriend is different from the other ones. He’s compatible with me. But why haven’t I felt in love with him? It’s that gnawing question that plagues many of us, that make us wonder if we can be more than friends, or whatever.

I got the answer to that question a month ago. It was something that I had been ignoring for years.

I had been in love once before. And I was in a relationship with him, Bill, in 2003. But I broke up with him because I wanted to pursue a career in entertainment and thought our relationship was getting in the way. But really it was my lack of independence that was in the way. About 4 months after leaving him, he was in a car accident and died.

Bill and I were still in touch the day of his accident. In fact, I ran into him the same day. He invited me to see a play. Inside I wanted to go, because I was still in love with him, but instead declined. Years later, while in this new relationship, I still hadn’t let go of my lost love and wasn’t allowing my heart to open up. I squashed my feelings with busyness and avoided intimacy out of fear for losing another loved one to death.

It’s very easy to go into denial about our problems. But being in denial doesn’t help anyone. Whether we’re in a relationship, dating casually, or playing around, every person we get close to can be affected by our issues.

My issue with my present boyfriend became a non-issue after I decided to let go of Bill’s spirit and move on. I had been feeling guilty for breaking up with the only man I ever felt like I could die for (besides my dad). And my reason for breaking up was my own problem. Another issue.

There are other details that affected my story that would take a book to write about. But rather than go there, it should suffice to say there were many other personal issues that needed attention and healing.

Since Bill died, I’ve learned to be independent. My present boyfriend, Jason, is also an independent person. It’s amazing when two independent people get together and are compatible. They become two interdependent people, and the chemistry is awesome. But the only way I could be here in this (amazingly) healthy relationship is to have dealt with those issues without dragging my significant others into the depressing depths of their roots. Of course, the guys were aware I was working through emotional trials, but they were not victims to them.

Got issues? Face up.

Sometimes, they just don’t know

So you’ve been reading this blog, perhaps other dating sites and books, trying to pick up on subtle hints that someone is interested in you. You’ve read about indicators of interest (IOI), the subconscious actions that give away a person’s romantic attraction. You’ve mastered listening to the words that someone else is saying and finding hidden meaning. You’ve even paid attention to small moments of seemingly harmless physical contact. Yes, you’re convinced, this person likes you.

In some cases you’ll be right, yet in others you’ll be completely wrong. Why is that? The reason is actually very simple. At some point during life, you start to refine your behaviors as you interact with others. Everything becomes more streamlined and develop a rock solid persona. People come to know you as a “type” of person, meaning that they can predict your reactions to certain types of situations. You play be a set of rules that are defined by you based on your past experiences. Your flirting behaviors, those that are intended to attract another, fall into this category as well.

I’m sure you’ve met someone who completely lacks the ability to flirt. We’ve all run into them at one point or another. This can happen for a number of reasons such as never having been in a situation to flirt (often a misconception) or being so bad at it that you just give up (more common). Equally awkward are those people who have no idea that they’re flirting and, therefore, end up in uncomfortable situations all the time.

I recently asked out a girl that I’ve had a crush on for a while, and was incredibly excited when she said yes. I had gotten all kinds of signals from her. She complimented me seemingly out of the blue both on my work and on my style; she implied she’d like to see me again and then followed up by actually saying it; she was overly friendly, laughed at my jokes, and generally agreed to everything I asked. When I asked her out to dinner, she said she it sounded great and that she’d look forward to it. I had asked a few questions designed to determine if she was seeing anyone (i.e., so what did you do last weekend?) and there was no mention of a boyfriend. What I didn’t know: she had no idea this was a date.

She had to cancel our “date” and when we talked about rescheduling, she revealed that she was seeing someone. Certainly something that one would think to mention when someone asks you out to dinner, one would think. As our conversation went on, I could sense the confusion. She literally had no idea that she was sending me signals and no idea that I had asked her out on a date. To her, I was just the friendly guy at work that she talks to sometimes. What more could there possibly be?

The initial anger I felt faded away pretty quickly as she told me more stories of her mixing up guys’ intentions. This poor girl literally had no idea when guys were flirting with her, let alone when she was flirting with guys. My anger turned to sympathy – this girl is so completely lost. Who knows how many guys she’s inadvertently hurt in the past. And I instantly felt sorry for the guy she’s seeing, after all, does he know that she’s accepting invitations for dinner from random guys she meets?

We can do all of the studying on dating and flirting that we can, but none of it makes up for the uniqueness of each personality. For someone who doesn’t realize that she’s flirting, or someone who doesn’t realize that someone else is flirting with her, the rules don’t matter. The words she says don’t mean what you think they mean, and the looks, smiles, and winks are nothing more than the playful acts of a child. You’re reading into these signals as if they matter only to be left disappointed and confused. Don’t blame yourself, there’s nothing you could have done differently.

For some people, they just don’t know.

emotional REAL estate

Robyn just posted a recent sonogram as her FaceBook photo. I decide to ring her and we meet for an impromptu picnic in the park. Something we both have shirked since I left the firm we sold our souls for. It was high time for some herbal Honest Teas, huge hoagies from Saigon Sandwiches coupled with Sprinkles’ vegan red velvety goodness.

“How’s what’s-his-face?” Her affection for a particular man-in-my-life zeroes in the second we meet up.

“We’re good.” I struggle with the Built NY bags as Robyn smooths the blankets on the still dewy grass.

“Just good? You two were inseparable last time I saw you guys.” She needles. Nothing escapes this woman. Her seventh-sense is always spot-on.

“Eh, you know. Growing pains.” I’m no good when it comes to being nonchalant.

“Hmmm.”

“What’s THAT supposed to mean?” I feign offense. We’re cronies. We’re past pretenses, but it doesn’t hurt to act hurt once in a while. Keeps us from tip-toeing our way through each others’ lives.

“Nothing.” Her eyes dart to the way my fingers fiddle with the loose button on my cardigan. “You know when I met my husband, right?”

“When you went online.” I still have trouble piecing together what she’s driving at.

“Yes AND no.” She pinches my nose playfully. I grimace. She caught me wrinkling it again. Key word. WRINKLE. She has none, and insists it’s because she’s met her soul’s mate. “Yes. I met him online. No, that’s not what I meant.”

I look at her blankly. She giggles. “I mean to say, it’s good that you and what’s-his-face are not so hunky-dory.” She’s resorted to riddles. I sigh. Loudly.

“Engrish. Preez.”

“The day I lost ALL my guy friends, was the day I met MY guy.”

“Huh?” I swipe my pinky against the pseudo cream-cheesy goodness of the vegan cupcake. Robyn’s deciding to slam dairy during her pregnancy still eludes me, but I’m game for trying new ways of tricking my tastebuds into thinking they’re being sated.

“Look, I know you’ve got a ton of buddies that have your back. There’s nothing wrong with your band of bros. I just think it’s great timing for you to concentrate on you moving past [the EX-factor].” She’s chattering really quickly now. I’m certain she’s been dying to get this off her chest. “What’s-his-face is the best of the bunch. I know that. You know that. We all have known this.”

“So what’s your point?” I’m edgy. The cupcake is not cutting it. I reach for a Vietnamese sandwich. Robyn’s usually succinct. It’s not characteristic for her to circumvent conversational shrubbery. I bite down hard into my hoagie. She follows suit. We sit silent for a split second. Then it begins.

“I”m just saying. I’m glad what’s-his-face is giving you room now to meet the man-of-your-dreams.”

“Say what?” I’m puzzled. If memory serves me correctly, a few years back, I couldn’t get Robyn off my back about how my best bud and I were meant to be Plato’s picture perfect definition of soulmates.

“Emotional space.” Prompt replies are Robyn’s forte. “It’s prime relationship real estate. Own it. Stop letting what’s-his-face lease it with 0% APR.”

We both sip our teas in silence. Staring at the boats slide lazily across the Bay.

Online, huh?”

“Yep.”

“Should I let what’s-his-face know?” My best bud balked the last time we spoke of my perusing internet dating. That particular conversation is partially to blame for the “[emotional] space between.”

“You’re no longer renting, hon.” I know this. “It’s time to buy.”

The talk

There’s a fairly small number of reasons that relationships end. Well, there seem to be a lot of different ways to end relationships, but they all boil down to three things in my mind:

  1. There’s someone else. Whether that means someone actually cheated or not is irrelevant; interest in someone else usually leads to the end of a relationship sooner or later.
  2. Big argument. He left the toilet seat up one too many times. She doesn’t like his friends. The number of arguments we have in relationships is infinite, but it just takes one big one to throw the relationship away.
  3. Going separate directions. This is also sometimes called “outgrowing” your partner (to be polite, of course). It really means that you both dont want the same thing anymore, whether that be in your career or relationship.

Perhaps the most heartbreaking is number three because it seems like there’s nothing “wrong” with the relationship. The problem is that it’s not exactly “right” either. That’s usually when the talk happens.

The talk is a completely heartfelt admission by one of you that things can’t stay the way they are. It can center around any number of topics but the end result is the same. Sometimes this takes one of you by surprise while others know that the relationship is building to the talk.

Why is it called the talk? Because it’s usually initiated by saying, “we need to talk,” or “can we talk?” When you hear either of these, you know that your relationship is going to take a sudden turn. And frequently, you will have no choice in the matter. Your partner has already made up his or her mind, and things are about to change.

Most of my relationships have ended with the talk. That doesn’t necessarily reflect anything about my dating style, just about my choice in women. I tend to pick partners that I respect and admire, and I hope that they feel the same way about me. Thus I’ve only ever been cheated on once and only ever had a big argument end a relationship once. The rest all centered around the talk. And in some ways, that has been more difficult.

Ending a relationship with the talk always leaves the door open. You don’t hate each other, there’s nothing concrete to point to as a dealbreaker. It’s kind of exciting thinking that you could run into that person in another place and time and things might actually work out. But in the short term, there are more questions than answers.

This doesn’t mean you should pick a fight or cheat to avoid the complexities of the talk, just that you should be prepared.

Introducing the Dating Thoughts Community

It’s been a couple of years since we started Dating Thoughts, and we’ve met some incredible people through comments on the various blog posts. One post in particular, I’m tired of being single, has become a story around which an entire community has appeared. Apparently the sentiments of that post struck a deep chord with readers and so many keep coming back to update each other on their lives.

Several people have since written to us, expressing the desire to have other ways to communicate with one another through the site. This is the very reason we started the Dating Thoughts Community on SocialGo. The Dating Thoughts Community is a social network centered around the theme of dating and love, and it’s a place where you can interact with other Dating Thoughts readers as well as the writers themselves.

Don’t get us wrong, we don’t expect people to give up their Facebook or MySpace accounts to join our community. We just aim to provide a social experience for those who want to further discuss all of the ins and outs of dating life. As such, we’re moving our forum to the Dating Thoughts Community site, where there are many more options for communicating with one another.

Please consider this your personal invitation to join myself and the other Dating Thoughts readers in our community. It’s absolutely free to sign up. We hope to see you there soon!

A Good Man is Not That Hard to Find

Reposted from GoodMenBook.org (November 18, 2009)

My mother used to pressure me to settle down. “Get married,” she pestered. In spite of this being the modern world and all, it’s still not as easy for a woman to get a husband as it is for a man to get a wife. And I don’t mean finding the “right” spouse. I mean getting someone to say “I do” before witnesses. Let’s face it, women, in general, want to get married before men do.

Granted, people overall take more precautions today before jumping over the broomstick than they did thirty or forty years ago. Just look at the median ages of first-time wedders. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 1971 (when I was born), the median ages of Americans marrying for the first time was twenty-three for men and twenty-one for women. Thirty years later–when Mom really started bugging me–the median ages were twenty-seven and twenty-five. I’m sure those ages would be even higher if not for the increasing number of women doing the proposing. Perhaps these women are tired of being kept up at night by their biological ticking.

A few years ago, my boyfriend of four years broke up with me. My thought was, “Cool. I’m glad I didn’t have to do it.” Don’t get me wrong. We had a great four years, and I was sad. But it was time to move on. He was and still is a good man. He just wasn’t for me. You see, I think a lot like a guy; I’ve tested in the top percentiles in subjects men tend to do better in, such as mechanical comprehension. I enjoy working on my Honda CL360 and watching the Giants kick the Patriots’ asses. But my boyfriend watched football only when the Super Bowl was on–and only when the Steelers were playing. Baseball? Forget it. He wouldn’t even watch the World Series.

At age 36, the age my mother gave birth to me, I decided it was time to consider what she wanted. So I dated–a lot. I had a date almost every week, sometimes two or three in a week. I don’t remember how I met most of those guys, never mind their names. After about six months of this, I started asking my dates, “Can I give you a suggestion?” Then I’d tell them what bugged me about going out with them. I did this as much to help them as to figure out exactly what I was looking for.

All these men were great guys. I saw something endearing in each one, even the guy who didn’t want to hear my suggestion–definitely can’t remember his name. But none of them lit my fire long enough to consider marriage. Relationship, yes. Marriage, no way.

Their grateful responses to my dating suggestions encouraged me to write a book that these great guys would want to read. I researched high and low for issues to write about. I Googled dozens of keywords and read articles six-links deep. In the process I came across a book by clinical psychologist Dr. Alex Avila, LoveTypes: Discover Your Romantic Style and Find Your Soul Mate.

In a nutshell, Dr. Avila says that each of us has one of 16 personality types based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) that is romantically compatible with another particular personality type. One out of every 100 American women has my personality type. Go figure.

Six out of every 100 American men have the personality type that perfectly matches mine. So that means that six of the last 100 men I dated were my type, right? Not. A man with this personality type marries earlier, and he is compatible with other types besides mine, the types belonging to seventeen out of 100 women. The math = not good for me.

After I learned about the MBTI, how relationships work made more sense to me. It was as though scales had fallen off my eyes. I could see why that good man I was with for four years never rang marriage bells to my ears.

To test Dr. Avila’s theories, I decided to look for my perfect match. I found an abundance of my perfect match at my favorite hangout, the Soho Grand Hotel in New York, but all those men were married. Not so perfect, actually. Then I looked online.

I realized that it’s possible to determine a guy’s MBTI type by examining his online profile. Once in a while, I’d find someone, but he either never responded, was much younger than me, or he was married. Yes, married and dating online. At this point, I just wanted know if Dr. Avila is right. So I wrote to a guy who was married but separated. He wrote back. Twelve emails and two phone calls later, we met. It was eighteen months after breaking up with the Good Man.

The doctor is right. And not only is my now-boyfriend my perfect match, he is also a good man. His story is another blog.

The dream

I was in a large, bright apartment for a party. The floor was a light bamboo and the furniture was all white. A feeling of spirituality resonated throughout. As I moved through the party I came to notice her, my ex. In that moment, everyone else at the party disappeared and it was just her and me. She looked just how I remembered her: casual, classy, and cute. She held a wine glass delicately in her hand as she turned to address me.

“It’s time for you to move on,” she said in her typical calm, matter-of-fact manner that I used to find so comforting.

“I know,” I replied quietly, holding back the tears, “it’s just so hard.”

Then, the scene shifted and I got the distinct impression that she was having trouble in life. I tried to get her to talk to me, but she wouldn’t. This was no longer the girl I knew, and I was concerned.

A man appeared, a man of clear and present authority. I asked him what we could do to fix things for her. He swept us into a side room and closed the doors. A moment later, she had disappeared and I was there by myself, awaiting the guidance and decision of the authoritative man. His voice then boomed: “I choose him for her.”

An old man appeared in front of me. He seemed quite caring and I got the distinct impression that he would become a young man and be sent to take care of her. I was disappointed, as part of me wanted it to be me. The old man began to fade backwards into the wall, being sent to her right before my eyes. I reached out with both arms and pulled him back.

“Promise me you’ll take care of her,” I pleaded.

“Don’t worry,” he said with a kind smile, “I will.”

I let go of him and he faded back into the wall, on his way to be with her.

At that moment, I woke up and, overwhelmed by the dream, cried one of the most powerful cries I have ever had. The dream was so vivid and emotionally charged. We had broken up five years ago and hadn’t spoken in two and a half. But she was never really out of my mind or out of my heart. I took this dream at its face value, that it was time to let her go and allow another man to take care of her.

The dream turned out to be more prophetic than I could have imagined. Just yesterday, I accidentally discovered that she got married earlier this year. She got the exact wedding I knew she wanted. It took place back where she grew up, the place that she loved, and it took place several months ago…around the time I had the dream.

The waiting game

I find myself in this same situation so frequently that it drives me slightly crazy. I meet a girl and things seemingly go great during that initial conversation. I get her number and leave with a good feeling. Then I give her a call and she doesn’t pick up, so I leave a phone message. And then I wait.

In the hours following the message, I start to wonder. Will she actually call back? Perhaps I misread the situation…no, couldn’t be. She said I should definitely call her. And she said that she’d love to get together. That must mean she was actually interested. But then, why hasn’t she called back yet? Okay, I know it’s only been thirty minutes, but still.

I try to occupy myself for the next few hours. I wonder what’s going on with my Facebook friends. I wonder why she hasn’t called yet. Distraction clearly doesn’t work. I see her eyes when we parted ways, and I want to see them again. Did I remember to leave my number? Dammit, I hope I did. I know I can’t call again this soon without seeming desperate or needy. Except, apparently, that’s exactly what I am.

I flip open my phone. I do sometimes miss calls due to connection issues, I should just make sure that I didn’t miss hers. Nope. Nothing.

Was that actually her number? Well, that was her voice on the message, so I’m going to say yes. Is she screening her calls, not picking up because it was my number? Argh.

Five hours later, I’m still wondering. It’s 11pm, so chances are that she’s not calling back tonight. Though I did tell her I’d be up late…no, probably not. So I’ll go to bed trying to forget this knot in my stomach and repeat this pattern tomorrow.

Maybe she’ll call back then.