The Online Dating Dilemma

  While I am on the subject of online dating, I want to address a few things.  First, maneuvering through these online sites, can be frustrating, disappointing, and cause one to lose your faith in the opposite sex.  Sometimes people place their own expectations on others and when others do not respond in the way they think they should, they make assumptions about them that could be very far from the truth.

For instance, I was recently contacted by a man I had been communicating with awhile back.  Apparently, both of our lives got busy and we stopped communicating.  He recently sent me a message asking how I have been, which I answered honestly saying that I have been extremely busy and have not been on the site much.   The response I got actually shocked me, since all I was doing was giving an honest answer to his question.  What I got back bordered on intimidation and verbal abuse – especially since this man doesn’t know me.  I was called a “broad” (who even uses that word these days?) and told that he thinks that is a problem and he is sure that is why I am single (and then he used some other derogatory language).   Pardon me for being honest!

What I have found on these sites is that men think you should be at their beck and call.  They are busy and try to “fit” you into their busy schedules.  After all, aren’t their jobs what defines them (please excuse the slight bit of sarcasm)?  However, the minute we, as women,  are busy and have to schedule dates for when we are available, it seems to be a problem.  Since I have an extremely busy life, there are many times I have to schedule dates weeks out.  It is not that I don’t want to meet them (I DO!), but I keep my calendar full.

Ladies, we all know men will not cancel plans they have to meet you – especially if they met you online and do not know what to expect when they do meet you.  Why on earth would we do that for them?  I don’t!  If I have plans, they will have to work with me on a time that works for BOTH of us.  You should not be canceling your plans to meet someone you do not know and may never hear from again – plain and simple.  They would not do it for you.  What I find extremely annoying is that in our hearts, we know this (and so do they).  However, in practice, there are many times when women will cancel their plans to meet a man.  How many times has this left you disappointed?  What did you miss out on that you had on your calendar with friends?  Your friends have been there for you and will be going forward.  This man you have never met has no track record with you yet.

So what if you really want to meet a man you have been chatting with online but are too busy to fit him in for a few weeks?  I say schedule him when you are free.  More than likely, he will try to pressure you into changing some plans to accommodate him and meet sooner – don’t!  Here is why- this sets the precedent for the whole relationship!  If he can bully you into catering to him now, he will definitely think it is okay to do it going forward.  Your time and your life is no less important than his – ever!!!  If he is a decent man, he will get this simple concept and work with you on meeting at a time that works for both of you.  If he balks at the fact that you are busy or asks you if you are always this busy, he may not be the one for you.  You want a man who respects your time as much as he does his own.

I was also recently communicating with another man who asked me since I am so busy, why I would be on a dating site.  My reply?  I am on a dating site BECAUSE I am busy AND if I wait until a time when I am not busy, I could be dead first!  It is true, if you think about it.  Today, our lives are so busy we barely have time to come up for air.  Who is not busy?  While it is absolutely necessary to make time in our lives to develop a relationship, we want to make sure we divvy out that time to the right man – not everyone who demands our attention.  Believe me, if I meet the right one, he will have my time and attention.  Until then, no man has the right to demand my time (or yours).  I get tired of the double standard that still exists where we are expected to cater to their time – what about our time?  There are many, many decent men out there who are wonderful, understanding and respectful – these are the ones we want!  Not the ones who think we are not as valuable as they think they are.  We owe it to ourselves to make sure we ask for the same respect they demand.  We want to make sure we find the gems and not the stones.  Keep your standards high, but realistic.

Show Some Respect

 Listen closely to your date.  Trying to decode what a man is looking for in a woman could be like decoding a foreign language.  Are you missing subtle signs?  Did you shut out certain information because you did not want to hear it?  I question myself on this very thing.

On a date this past week, I was pleasantly surprised when I met my date.  I do not find many men my age and older to be very attractive.  It is like they gave up and let themselves go, and yet they tend to think they have the right to demand a women look a certain way.  I prefer teeth, hair, some intelligence, and well-groomed (not necessarily dressed up, but decently presentable).

This man pulled up to the restaurant and got out of his car and to my surprise, was actually more handsome than his online profile picture.  Finally, a man I could find attractive AND intelligent!  It is so rare that I find a guy my age or older attractive.  I must also note here that he is seven years older than me and I usually do not date more than 2 years older than myself for this very reason.

We went into the restaurant and had a nice dinner and what I thought was a great conversation.  We seemed to hit it off and had a lot to talk about.  The conversation was very pleasant as we exchanged information about our lives.  This man pretty much fit everything I was looking for in a guy.  However, we were talking about things we wanted in a partner and I did mention finding someone who believes in God is important to me.  He seemed a little taken aback by my church denomination when he asked me.  This actually surprised me.  As he could clearly see, I am a fun-loving female, just as any other.  As my friends can attest to, I am just as “normal” – well, really what is normal, anyway – as any other person out there.  In most previous relationships, I have been told I am really fun to hang out with.  Simply put, I enjoy life!

Dinner ended and, at his suggestion, we went to a different restaurant for dessert.  The conversation was easy and continued through dessert.  In my mind, we hit if off well.  In my line of thinking, if he did not like me he would never have asked me to dessert at a different restaurant.  After dessert, he was the perfect gentleman and walked me to my car, which was about a block farther than his from where we were.  Over the course of the evening, we had somehow exchanged business cards (I know, business cards!).  As we parted, everything seemed like it was on great terms.  In parting, I never ask a man if he will call me or if we will see each other because many tend to lie about that, anyway.  I drove home pleasantly surprised by this wonderful man I had just met.

This broken heart is an over-dramatization to make my point.

When I got home, I was super busy for a few days and did not have time to get back to him.  However, by the second evening, my life calmed down and I had the chance to log back onto the dating site.  I wanted to make sure to thank him again for the wonderful evening and make sure he knew I was interested in knowing him better.  As I went online into the email feature to send him an email, I was not given the option to do that.  Now my computer does weird things from time to time, so I played around with the site for a little while, to no avail.  I found his profile in my list of people I am not interested in, and I never put it there.  How could that happen?  I was definitely interested.  I also could not remove it from that category, so was totally baffled at how he got into that category when I did not place him there.

As it turns out he must have placed me there on his profile, which automatically put him there on mine, and does not allow me to remove it or communicate with him anymore.  Wow.  Sheer disappointment flooded over me.  I have not met a man I was this interested in for years – yes, YEARS!  Now this.  So apparently there was something about me that did not coincide with what he was looking for.  While this is all fine, the way it was handled is not okay.  It is rude, inconsiderate, and carried out with a total lack of respect for me.

While a man not being interested is always a potential outcome, I expect the same respect I would give to him if I was not interested in him, and that is communication.  If I am not interested in a guy after a date, I will let him know that I do not think we are good for each other.  I may or may not give a reason, depending on whether or not he asks.  However, acknowledging the individual and communicating the fact that he/she is not interested is the very least decency one could offer in this situation.  While I realize some people are not comfortable with this, he could have at least sent me an email explaining this.  Instead, I actually had to find out by the help center at the dating web site.  It was rude and inconsiderate of me as a fellow human being.  It is like saying I was not a real human to him, with thoughts and feelings.  It is cold and disrespectful.

I realize we are in the age of online dating, but we all need to realize that these people are real people.  They deserve respect, just as you want respect.  My point here is that if you are not interested in someone you dated, let them know, either in person or in an email.  The very least they deserve is the respect of a follow-up on the date.  While I would rather hear this at the end of the date, I know many would be uncomfortable with that.  It is okay to communicate this via email, but the key is to actually communicate!

Being respected and respectful of those you meet is a basic human interaction that is so often lost on our society today.  I would love to hear how you handle these situations and what your reaction is to others in these situations.  Comments are welcome!

How to Find Out What He Wants in a Woman

So far I have focused on what you are looking for in a man, and how to get this information out of  him on your date.  While you are focused on evaluating him based on what you are looking for, you had better believe he is doing the same!  Even if he is everything you dream of finding in a man, if you are not what he is looking for, it is still not a good match.    You need to listen more than you speak and really read between the lines of what is being said to understand what he truly wants.

If a man says that something is important to him, you need to understand that this is not going to change and you need to assess how you feel about that particular issue.  By the time we get to our 40’s, there are few fundamental things about who we are that would ever change.  We have already lived, learned and established habits, likes and dislikes that are well-defined.  This is not to say that things do not change and people do not grow because we absolutely do and should!  However, fundamental values do not alter all that much.  If you find through conversation that there are questions about how he feels about a specific topic, ask for more details.  If it is something that is important to him, he will fill you in.  He knows you are evaluating him just like he is doing the same with you.

So what happens when you find the perfect guy for you based on your must-haves and non-negotiables, but you find there is something he is looking for that you feel you are not?  My suggestion will always be that the key is conversation!  It is better to address what could potentially be big issues right up front before either of you is emotionally invested in a relationship.  It is much easier to deal with these types of issues now than to have them cause problems in your relationship in the future and one or both of you ends up hurt and broken-hearted.  I realize this is not romantic or fun, but if you are in your 40’s or older and you really do want to find the right one to spend your life with, do you really have the time not to address them?

For instance, if he feels that finding a woman who is financially stable is important, and you have been through several jobs in the past few years, your finances are a mess, and you are barely able to make ends meet, you do not want to mislead him into thinking otherwise.  If this is important to him, it will definitely affect your relationship in an adverse way going forward.  Plus, he will feel you have not been honest with him, which is a whole other issue.  In these economic times, things are tough, and everyone does know that.  It is better to be honest and have an honest discussion than to leave him disillusioned about who you are.

But when is the right time to bring up something you feel you are not fitting into his non-negotiables and must-haves?  The answer will come as the relationship progresses.  I would not suggest on the first date because you want to allow for time to get to know each other a bit so the other can make a more informed decision.  I would, however, suggest these issues be addressed in a timely manner before you both have too much time and emotion invested and end up hurt and disillusioned by dating.  It is always better to be honest with someone you are seriously looking at potentially having a future with.  How they respond and work with you through whatever the situation is will say a lot about their character and who they are, so it will be a way you can really know for sure if this is the right person for you.  If he calmly listens in an understanding way, and wants to work through the issue with you, you have found a gem, so make every effort to work with him to get to where you need to be.  Let’s face it, relationships are hard, and in these times in Internet Dating and economic hardship, it is even harder.

As previously referenced in comments on a prior blog post, I have recently read a book written by a famous talk show host and celebrity on what men want.  He makes men seem so primal and simplistic, and many men can be.  However, I would like to at least be optimistic in thinking they are a little more complex than this author alludes to.  As with most things in life, the key is good open honest communication.  You want to learn about him and who he really is just as he wants the same in return.  Be respectful of each other, your time, your hearts, and most of all understand that being honest with each other will set the precedent for all future interaction (as well as dishonesty does).  You want the right man to be in your life just as he wants the right woman.  Do we not owe this to ourselves?

Are Non-Negotiables Ever Negotiable?

As the saying goes, the only constant in life is change.  Life is constantly changing.  We, as individuals, are constantly changing.  Our situations are constantly changing.  The point is that we need to reassess our thinking from time to time to make sure it aligns with our lives, goals, dreams and who we are. For instance, if you are very active, you may only want to consider someone who has a similar activity level.  However, if something should happen to your health, and you are no longer able to keep up the same level of activity, your non-negotiable of an active partner may now shift to align with your current situation.  A man who you may once have not considered ideal may now be ideal due to your new situation.  This is not to say that your standards have lowered, but merely they have shifted to better align with your present situation.  These men were ideal for others, but not you in the past.  Now they are ideal for you, also.  You have just expanded your dating pool due to an unfortunate personal situation.  The same thing can happen in reverse – a negotiable item may become non-negotiable due to changing life circumstances. The point is to make sure you are looking for the right Mr. Maybe.  The right one will align with who you are and support you in where you are going, no matter how the situation changes going forward.  Once you are together you will go through the constant change together and will need to keep communication open to stay in alignment with each other.

It is hard enough finding our Mr. Maybe, so we need to make sure we are re-evaluating our life situations and not counting out the many potential good matches that pass our way every day.  While we may always have certain things that will be non-negotiable, other things may change from non-negotiable to negotiable, and vice versa.  Try to keep an open mind with each new person you meet, but do not compromise the core of who you are.

If you are on a date and you are unsure of something – ask!  Do not be shy about asking people about things in question – this is important!  It is vital to learn this information so you know where to effectively spend your time in your quest for love.  It is not very effective dating quantity, if the quality is not there.  Date smartly.  If you are like me at this point in life, your time is valuable.  Do not waste your precious time on dates with men who are not ideal or carry non-negotiables on your list.  They will not be changing and you should not expect they will.  Date the right ones.  I know it doesn’t seem like it at times, but they really are out there somewhere – you just need to weed out all the Mr. Wrongs.  If you really do want to find your Mr. Maybe, you will.  It may take awhile, but you will find him easier and faster if you are dating the right men instead men you think will change or men who are not up to your standards.  Mr. Maybe is out there and he wants the same thing you do.  Be smart, because he will appreciate that you are!

Non-Negotiables: Our Must-Haves

While we should have many things we will compromise on, there are also many things that we do not want to, or should not compromise on.  These things are the core of who we are as individuals.  These items are non-negotiable, we must have them in our Mr. Maybe.  These items range anywhere from core value items to lifestyle items.  While everyone will have a different set of items, it is important to understand exactly what yours are, which is why I say you must start with you before you bring another into the picture.

Today, our society is very diverse and we should accept everyone for who they are.  However, that doesn’t mean everyone is a good match as a significant other.  There are some very fundamental differences that could cause serious issues in relationships, and could cause a lot of pain and heartache if not properly thought out and looked at totally honestly.  We may think some things are not a problem if we meet someone who we really connect with, only to find out later this very thing is a major source of conflict in the relationship.

To give you an example, I will briefly touch on one that has come up several times in my own life: Religion.  While I am very open-minded, accept and respect all people for what they believe, my Mr. Maybe MUST believe in God, have a relationship with God and attend church.  Since I tend to love all people and accept others as they are, it took me many years to come to this realization.  I have dealt with a lot of heartache because I didn’t honestly look into myself, and tried to fit other people’s belief systems into my life without realizing just how important this was to me.  I spent 10 years of my life trying to make 2 separate relationships work, without realizing they could never work for me.  Had I spent time with myself, as I suggest here, I would have realized just how much this means to me.  While this is only one example of what a non-negotiable could be, it does demonstrate how much time could potentially be spent on a relationship that is going nowhere.  Those are 10 years of my life I will never get back!

Many people with children will have a different set of non-negotiables because there are other people they must think about – their children!  When children are present in a relationship, it is particularly important to consider core values, how you want your children raised and what environment you want them living in.  This is tough!  You not only have you, but you have precious young impressionable lives you need to consider, also.

Another area to consider is lifestyle.  Are you active?  How active are you?  Is it important for your Mr. Maybe to be active, too?  For instance, if you like to participate in activities such as hiking or other outdoor activities and you would like your partner to enjoy them with you, you would not want to consider someone who does not enjoy these activities.  While there are times you may want to do things with friends and apart from each other, if this is a big part of your life, it is also a big part of your life your Mr. Maybe would not be enjoying with you.  Only you can decide how important these things are to you.  Your friends may tell you to compromise if you are not finding the right partner.  However, only YOU can decide if compromising a non-negotiable will make you unhappy and unsatisfied with your relationship.  If it will, then follow what only you can decide for yourself.

The goal for most is to find the right person and to be happy.  This is not something to take lightly.  Your life and future are at stake.  Take the time to make it the one you dream of having, not the one someone else thinks you should have.  Most of all, enjoy the road you travel to find Mr. Maybe.  Just because he may not be for you does not mean he is not a very special person.  Always acknowledge that in the men you meet.  There really are a lot of good ones out there, they just may not be the right one for you.  Keep looking, he is sure to arrive on your doorstep when you least expect it!

Negotiables & What We Will Compromise On

  Today, many people resort to Internet Dating as a means to find people.  Online dating sites offer one way to meet eligible (or at least that is the idea) singles in the age range and geographic area you choose.  Whether we go through the process of meeting our potential Mr. Maybe online, or by other means, a big part of the initial process is determining if he is truly a potential Mr. Maybe.  We already have our list of things we are looking for in a potential mate.  However, this list, whether in our heads or in written form, is not set in stone and we must evaluate each item separately.

Sometimes we think we need things in a partner that are really just wants, and not needs.  What is the most important thing about finding the right one?  Is it happiness?  Is it financial security?  Is it someone to do social activities with?  My point here is that we all have different priorities in our lives regarding the person we want to have in our lives.  Ultimately, we all do want to be happy, so in evaluating what you think you need in a partner, think about if it will make you unhappy if you met the ideal guy and they did not have this thing.  Is it a deal breaker?  Or could you be perfectly happy with him anyway?

An example of this could be you are looking for someone who has a specific type of job, such as white collar over blue collar (or vice versa).  Assuming he is earning at least an okay living, is this really that important if he is everything else you are looking for?  This may be something that is a negotiable item to you.  Were you looking for someone who does not have children at home?  You found the perfect guy, but he has custody of two small children.  Could you love these children and get used to having them in your life, or if this a complete change of lifestyle that you have no desire to make?  If you find someone who is everything you are looking for except for this one thing, you need to take some time with yourself and really understand your true feelings on that matter.  If you could grow to love these children and know in your heart you could handle the commitment of having them in your life and care for them for many years into the future, this item may be negotiable for you, even if it was not ideally what you wanted.

Great men are hard to find.  When we do find them, we do not want to pass over gems because of our own selfishness.  I am not saying  it is not good to want certain things in our man or relationship.  I am simply stating that we need to really evaluate what it is that will bring happiness into our lives.  We need lists as a guideline.  We need initial self evaluation to know ourselves so we know who we are and what makes us happy.  However, sometimes we can place unrealistic expectations on a potential partner, and miss out on the ones who cross our paths due to our “criteria”.  Do we really NEED these things, or is it just something we would like to have but could really live without and be perfectly happy?  Think about this so you do not miss out on your Mr. Maybe!

Negotiables vs. Non-Negotiables

While I realize that not everyone wants to find a permanent union with another, I am writing from the perspective of wanting to find Mr. Maybe, the one you could potentially marry.  In our quest to find Mr. Maybe, we go through many ups and downs, we mask our disappointment, and bravely trudge on.  We guard our hearts with an iron shield against the craziness out in the world.  We keep our faith in man mainly because we do see happy couples every day and know that there is some possibility of us having this also.  We have friends who have found their Mr. Maybe, or even “the one.”  And yet, where is our Mr. maybe?

As I addressed before, we need to do a self-evaluation before we even consider dating.  This will allow us to date more appropriately.  In part of this self-evaluation, we should look at our negotiables and our non-negotiables.  Before I get into this, first we should have these terms defined.

Negotiable

A negotiable is something that can easily be negotiated or transferred.  It is something that can be easily agreed upon.  In other words, it is something that easily passes our list of things we look for in a significant other.  It could be something we have in common, or at least have very similar views on.

Non-Negotiable

A non-negotiable is something that cannot be changed.  It is rigid in form and could be considered an obstruction.  In relationship terms, this could be something that you are looking for in someone that you absolutely MUST have.  It could also be something that is the core of who a person is and cannot be changed.  Either way, you need to really think about this one.

Going forward, we will consider both negotiables and non-negotiables when evaluating our Mr. Maybe.  Everyone will have a different set of criteria to evaluate.  This is why looking into yourself is the key to really knowing what you want in your Mr. Maybe.  If you have not done this yet, take some time with yourself.  Make a date with yourself, go to a coffee shop, or find a nice quiet spot in your home to sit down and really evaluate who you are, where you are in your life right now and where you see yourself going.  Write down the characteristics you want in the ideal partner you want to travel this road with.  While you may want to see the end result of marriage as a final destination, living life is more about the journey.  Who do you want to take that journey with?  Be realistic and true to who you are, and not who you wish to be.  It is critical that you are honest with yourself in order to get the best results when evaluating all the potential Mr. Maybes who cross your path.  Life is in the journey, and you want to enjoy that journey with the right man!