The Agony And The Ecstasy: Memories Of Online Dating

shutterstock_242614333Before I got married, I had a love/hate relationship with online dating.

JDate and I had a torrid romance, an on-again, off-again love affair, filled with highs and lows, starts and stops, and plenty of hits and misses. There was never a dull moment for me and JDate; we broke up a million times, but somehow managed to always kiss and make up until I finally kissed it off for good.

Whether you’re on JDate, Match, OkCupid, Bumble, etc., most of you already know internet dating can be fantastic place to meet new people, make new friends, find true love, lift your spirits, boost your ego, or get laid.

Or, it can be living hell if you let it.

Dating online is a lot like a real relationship: when it works out, it’s great, but when it doesn’t, you hate its guts.

So how do you stay in love with internet dating? First, keep reasonable expectations so that you’re never disappointed. Second, don’t take it too seriously. If you don’t roll with the punches, you’ll go from dater to hater faster than a left-swipe on a Tinder dating app.

Looking back, JDate and I had some great times together. We had lots of conversation, coffees, and cocktails, but nothing that involved a real meal since that was too much of a commitment.

Most of my dates were “one and done.” Some lasted longer; some became good friends; and some I think back on and laugh (which is what you need to do with internet dating).

Like the E.R. doctor-turned-actor (always a red flag), who actually lasted for three months – practically a lifetime in the world of online dating. I can laugh about it now, but at the time, it wasn’t so funny.

After weeks of dating and courtship, and spending Thanksgiving with his family and Christmas with mine, he dumped me on New Year’s Eve. Just like that, with no heads-up, no warning, nothing. His reason? He said I was the “marrying type.” He felt bad dating me since he wanted to have fun and I was holding him back.

His timing may have sucked, but at least he wasn’t lying. I saw him back on JDate trolling for more “non-marrying” types the very next day.

There is a fair degree of lying online, I’m sorry to say. Typically, the online dater is 10 years older, 20lbs. heavier, or a few inches shorter than what’s on their profile.

I realized this early on in my online dating foray when I arranged to meet someone for drinks at a popular bar on the ground floor of an office building. It was crowded with after-work business types. Going on my date’s profile picture, I scanned the place but couldn’t see him.

Minutes later, a much older fellow who had been practically right in front of me the whole time, introduced himself. It was my date, but he looked nothing like his profile picture. In fact, he kind of looked like my grandpa.

Not that older men aren’t attractive, they are. So are bald men, short men and chubby men. The problem is that some men (and a lot of women too) feel the need to misrepresent themselves online and don’t have to.

You know what’s attractive? HONESTY.

Sometimes though, they’re not older or heavier or shorter, they’re just jerks – like the aforementioned doctor-turned-actor, and others of his ilk who think internet dating excuses them from bad etiquette.

I remember my very first online date showed up 40 minutes late, without an apology, wearing a bad toupee, and carrying no money on him. The actual “date” last 20 minutes. And when the check came, he laughed glibly and said he “forgot his wallet.” So I paid for my wine (which I was going to do anyway) and beat a gracious, yet hasty retreat.

Then there are the guys online whom you suspect are still married or juggling multiple women. How do you know? Because they text too much. They text all the time, at all hours, and will not pick up the phone to save their life. In lieu of texting, they often times show up on social media to say hi or compliment your new profile pic. Guys like that also use their kids, their jobs, or travel schedule to get out of having to actually speak.

NOTE TO THE LADIES: If you meet a guy online and he prefers to TEXT AND NOT TALK, do yourself a favor and RUN DON’T WALK.

After being on-again, off-again too many times with online dating, I finally called it quits. We broke up for good and went our separate ways. There’d be no more winks, flirts, chemistry tests, or e-cards of any kind. Instead, I threw in the towel, and gave it up to the universe to find the man of my dreams.

And when I wasn’t looking and least expected it, he appeared on Facebook of all places–quite possibly the greatest online dating site of them all.

Midlife Dating: Men, What Say You?

shutterstock_268928468I gave the guys a little dating tough love in my last blog post, so it’s only fair to give the guys some equal time to speak on the state of the midlife singles scene as they see it.

I wanted to know how men feel about dating fellow boomers, so I gathered up a few of my middle-aged guy friends, bought them a few beers, and picked their brains about their dating life: the good, bad, and ugly. They were buzzed just enough to let it rip.

Their feedback was insightful, honest, and very real. It was also cringe-worthy, because as a long-time single girl once myself (up until very recently) I made a lot of dating mistakes, and at times I felt they were describing me.

Now I know what you girls are thinking: By the time you’re post 50, everyone is bitter, jaded, or hardened – especially about dating – so why should I listen? These guys are probably all a bunch of sorry-ass losers who’ve struck out at love and know nothing.

Yeah, some have struck out, but who hasn’t? If you’re single and 50+ years old, you’ve probably seen it all, done it all, dated it all, and chances are, have a bad attitude about it all. Join the club! Everyone in the 50-something dating pool has had their fare share of hook ups, breakups, and fuck ups, and that’s a good thing. It makes you human.

The truth is, dating in your 50s can blow sometimes, but it doesn’t have to suck.

In fact, midlife can be a great time to be single, and my man friends here agree. These are nice guys, not shallow, not players, they’re looking for LOVE, not games, not one-nighters, younger chicks, or the bigger, better deal. They’re looking for smart, substantial, age-appropriate women who know who the Beatles are.

In other words, they want women like YOU. So ladies, if you’re listening, take note.

Note to the men: This stuff works both ways, so listen up.

THE GOOD

“I actually prefer dating women my own age because we have a common base of things to relate to, talk about, laugh at, or commiserate over. Women my age ‘get it.’ Very little gets lost in translation. Put it this way, if a woman isn’t familiar with Woody Allen’s early work, then it couldn’t possibly work.”

“Women in their 50s generally have more time and freedom. They’re more relaxed, especially if they’re empty nesters. We’ve been both been through the hell of raising young kids and now we can hang out.”

“Women over 50 are the sexiest humans in the world. They’re in command of their bodies, and in charge of what they want and need. They don’t care about stretch marks or a few extra pounds – and neither do I. Besides, I’ve got a big gut, so who am I to talk?”

THE BAD

“Women in their 50s can be a little too anxious to get involved. Right after the first date, they want you to meet their kids, their parents, their pets, whatever, without any regard to your comfort level. It feels rushed.”

“I’ve dated some divorced women in their 50s who are so bitter and angry toward their exes they can’t see straight. It’s hard to get close when she’s still fuming.”

“You can feel the desperation with some women in their 50s, especially if they’ve been single a long time or if they’re newly divorced.”

THE UGLY

“If a woman tells me what to do with my kids, or gives me unsolicited advice, or criticizes my parenting skills, I run for the hills.”

“Women who obviously judge you based on how much money you make, or in my case, don’t make, is a deal killer.”

“I’ve met some women in their 50s who believe having sex as quickly as possible is a way to get a man and it’s not.”

THE BOTTOM LINE

Men who seek out and date women in their 50s do so because they WANT TO. Because they dig chicks who have a little more maturity and experience; because they enjoy the mutual compatibility and sympatico you get with someone your own age; because there’s more freedom and fun; because women in their 50s are hot as hell, and I’m not talking about menopause.

Ladies, I’m not telling you what to do here, but this is what I’ve gleaned: If you stay open to the possibilities, TRY to have a good attitude, make peace with yourself, let go of anger and grief, and don’t jump into the sack too soon, you’ll see that midlife dating doesn’t have to blow or suck at all.

Unless you want it to of course.

 

Guys and gals, what say you? What’s the state of your singles scene?

Fast & Furious: Dating Men In Their 50s

shutterstock_153137504Fellas, if you’re in your 50s, single and dating (and feeling like you’re not getting anywhere), consider this a little friendly feedback from the ladies.

Maybe you’ve heard it all before, maybe it doesn’t apply to you, maybe you already know it all. It doesn’t matter, because when it comes to dating women, I say you can never know enough.

And women, lest you think you’re off the hook here, you’re not. Even though I’m talking to the men, many of these points may apply to you too. Dating in midlife isn’t always easy, but at least you’re all in it together.

So men, before you break out into a cold sweat, know that all this is well intended and researched. I’ve gathered input from three of my most trusted single girlfriends whose ages range from 40s to mid-50s. They’re smart, sane, successful, and they’re here to help.

And so am I. I’ll be chiming in with my own advice since I’ve dated more than a few 50-something men in my day and can speak from experience.

We love you and want the best for you guys, so listen up.

TOO FAST

Maybe you’re divorced, newly separated, or single forever. Maybe you’re lonely, horny, you want a girlfriend, need some company, or just need to get laid. Who can blame you? We ALL want love, but some guys blow it by rushing.

GF #1:

“There seems to be some kind of ‘trying on of a girlfriend.’ On the first date, I’ve had a guy take my hand and rub my shoulders, without any words of seduction or romance, to me, that’s a turn-off.”

GF #2:

“Some men don’t want to invest the time it takes getting to know you. If you don’t sleep with them fast enough, they get frustrated and lose interest. They want to rush things, have sex first, and if they like it, then they’ll get involved.”

GF #3:

“Online daters, especially the older ones, are like kids in a candy store, not ever giving anyone a chance because there’s always someone else.”

My Advice:

Slow down. Don’t get too flirty too fast, don’t text, and definitely don’t sext. Even if you’re fresh out of a miserable marriage and new to the singles scene, take a breath.

You can be romantic and take the lead, but exercise patience. Guys that are too fast getting in are probably going to be too fast getting out.

Chivalry and romance aren’t dead – in fact, they’re alive and well and much appreciated. So take your time getting to know your date. Ask questions, be curious. And when you’ve accrued a decent amount of courtship hours, then you can bang away.

TOO FURIOUS

Ok, so you’re livid at your ex, or fuming about the divorce, or bitter you’re still on Match.com after all these years. In other words, you’re furious. We get that your circumstances might suck, but don’t let them consume you. Make sure your anger is in check, and doesn’t turn into emotional baggage you carry around everywhere you go.

GF #1:

“The biggest turn-off for me is when a divorced man compares you to their ex-wife. You can prepare a lovely Italian meal for a guy, and all of a sudden he brings up the fact his ex made the best lasagna of all time.”

GF #2:

“Men in their fifties can be cynical, especially if they were in a bad marriage. They talk about how awful their ex-wives are, and how much money they had to give them.”

GF #3:

“Getting involved with a guy who’s still reeling from his divorce can sometimes feel like he’s having an affair, except that the ‘other woman’ isn’t a woman, it’s his anger.”

My Advice:

Dump the baggage, dude. Stop talking about your ex, your kids, your money, etc. If you’re still that angry and wounded, get help. A little therapy, some meditation, or a little alone time wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Neither would some medical marijuana. The point is, don’t date until you’re fully healed.

SO WHAT DO WOMEN WANT?

GF #1:

“Nothing is a bigger turn-on to a woman in her 50s than a man that makes her feel like she’s the best thing that ever happened to him.”

GF #2:

“Be honest with her and don’t lead her on. Listening and wanting to know everything about her earns you major points.”

GF #3:

“Keep an open mind and heart. Let go of your fear and allow yourself to love again.”

Here’s the good news: my girlfriends really dig you fellas in your 50s. Despite the occasional dating disasters and mating missteps, there’s a lot to love. You’re older and wiser, smarter and sexier than you were in your younger days. You’re more sophisticated and polished, and your life experiences give you more depth and better perspective. I say it’s time to use it to your advantage.

We’re rooting for you guys, so go get ‘em (just don’t go too fast).

Suddenly Single? Talk To The Suddenly Married

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Suddenly single to suddenly married.

When I was invited to speak on a panel called “Suddenly Single” in September 2014, I thought, why not? Even though I had just gotten married a few months earlier, I figured who better than me to speak on the subject of being single.

Between all the boyfriends and break-ups, I had been suddenly single so many times in my life, the conference organizers considered me an expert. So I said yes.

Part of the women’s conference “Deal With It: Taking Charge & Facing Life’s Curveballs,” sponsored by the MPTF (Motion Picture Television Fund), “Suddenly Single” was billed as a how-to on “Creating a social network, mastering the new dating game safely, and controlling your financial portfolio.”

http://www.mptf.com/dealwithit.

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Imparting wit and wisdom on the panel.

My fellow panelists included a divorce attorney, a former law enforcement guy who now runs his own security firm, and a divorced single mom. Together, we shared our insights on everything from dating profiles to pepper spray, from background checks to finding Mr. Right.

Our goal was to help those newly single people navigate the world of dating, mating, hooking-up, and breaking-up, all without fear and loathing. As the once-perpetually single person on the panel, I felt it was my personal duty to not only enlighten and empower my single sisters in the audience, but to also show them that single life needn’t suck.

Here are some Q&A highlights from the session:

What’s the secret to being a successful single person?

Striking a balance and being comfortable in your skin. It’s the ability to be alone with yourself without freaking out, and social without feeling pressure to do so. Having balance is doing what you love with frequency and passion, then knowing when to stop and be still.

How do you survive break-up hell?

First, process the grief any way you have to: therapy, exercise, spa treatments, journaling, meditating, drinking in mass quantities or smoking a bowl with your buddies. However, if you’re feeling fragile and your heart is still mending, don’t jump back into the sack too soon. “Getting over someone by getting under someone” is total bullshit and bad advice unless you’re an unevolved guy who thinks getting laid solves everything.

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Hey Ma look at me! I’m a speaker!

What are some red flags to look out for when dating?

Watch out for the guy who texts all the time and doesn’t talk on the phone. He’s either not available, not serious, a total wimp, or worse, married. Men who hide behind texts are a big red flag. So are men who can’t spell.

What are some of your hot tips for meeting guys?

Volunteer, take an extension class at a local university, join a gym, go to Happy Hour with your girlfriends, hit balls at a driving range, and always show up for jury duty– the jury pool is a captive audience filled with great dating potential. Most of all, learn how to make eye contact and smile. You may hate it, but it works. There’s nothing like a smile to say “I’m open for business!” It’s like hanging a welcome sign over your head.

How do you win at the dating game?

Keep your sense of humor and don’t take things too seriously. You want to be able to laugh the whole thing off when things go horribly wrong– and they will at times. Having healthy self-esteem and self-worth is most important though. It’s like dating catnip: it makes you extremely attractive to people. If you always think of yourself as the prize, then the best man will win.

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My groupies: Robby and Ma.

Hopefully by the end of “Suddenly Single,” attendees (including my divorced mother) came away feeling more confident and less anxious about being single and back on the market.

Either that, or they came away needing to take a Xanax and take to their bed.