Single, Divorced, or Other

  One of the mistakes people make with their online dating profile is they do not properly classify themselves. You may ask what the big deal is if you are not attached and honestly looking for someone.  Again, I must revisit the honesty aspect of dating.  You need to be totally honest if you are to find someone who is right for you.  If a prospective date feels you are not being totally honest, you will either lose their interest or their respect.  If someone is looking to have a long term relationship, this is one area that you cannot compromise in your search.  While all of this should go without saying, we have all seen our share is information on profiles that is either not true, embellished, or downright fabricated.

SINGLE

You are only single if you have NEVER been married.  Period.  There is no discussion or “but if’s” that should be taking place here.  Single is single.  There are many reasons this may be important to others who view your profile.  One reason is that some people, for religious reasons, are not comfortable dating someone who has been divorced.  This may be hugely important to them!  Another reason this may be important to someone is if someone has children, they will more than likely be looking for someone who fits into their children’s life also.  They will consider maturity level and lifestyle, and never being married does come into play many times.  One last reason I want to address here for a single status being of importance is that if you are over a certain age (for example 40, just for my example’s purpose) and you have never been married, there are certain things that a potential date will be considering:  1) What is wrong with this person? 2) Does this person have a commitment problem?  3) Is he a womanizer? or 4) What other issues are going on with this person that prevent them from having been married by this age?  While some of this thought process may not seem fair, there are very valid reasons to think about each of these questions.

Do not mistake me here, there are many, many wonderful people out there who are single and have never been married for a multitude of reason, including they just haven’t found the right one yet.  However, I am suggesting that for some, there is a lot more to it than that.  So if you find someone who has never been married and is over 40, dig deep to find out everything you can.  This does NOT suggest there is anything wrong with them – they may just not have found YOU yet!  I am only saying to tread with caution!

DIVORCED

Again, divorced is divorced!!  PERIOD.  This also should be a no-brainer, but for some it is a whole discussion.  Divorced means you have gone through the whole time period of a legal separation, as required by your state, and been granted a divorce by the state.  Divorced never, ever means you are separated.  IF YOU ARE SEPARATED, YOU ARE NOT DIVORCED – no question about it!  On almost every dating site, there is a category for separated – use it!  While some may think this is no big deal because they WILL BE divorced, it is a HUGE deal to others who are looking and sincerely want to find that right one and get married.  Separated means you are not available to get married, maybe not for a very long time.  You should not be misleading someone who really wants that in their life.  It is just not right to lead someone into a relationship that cannot be what they are looking for.  Some may argue that if the two parties have a great relationship then there is nothing wrong with it.  I disagree.  While you may have a great relationship with each other, you are still preventing that person from living out their life hopes and dreams of marriage, or you are asking them to wait until you are available.  If you are willing to be this unfair to someone now, how do you expect them to think this would ever change?  There is just nothing right about lying about your real availability when dating.  It hurt others and breaks hearts, and there is no acceptable excuse for it.

OTHER

Another kind of man (or women) we find is the one who is already in a relationship, but not married.  Yes, unfortunately, they are out there trolling the dating sites.  They will act in a similar manner to the married men.  They will be secretive about where they live, come to your neighborhood for a date (of course, they will say if is for your convenience), they may avoid phone calls while on the date, but they will always be charming.  They are trying to woo you into being their side thing.  If you are seeing any red flags, or even question marks along the way, get their last name and google them.  Check out Facebook tagged pictures (many are public).  There are so many things you can find out online without paying for a background check.  Property searches are public records – I once found out a man was married by the property search (the document included his wife’s name).  Be diligent if you are serious about marriage in your future.  There are many fabrications on dating profiles.  Unfortunately, it is a buyer beware marketplace.

There are great people to meet online, but you need to be smart about it!  Do not give up hope if you run into these characters, for you surely will.  Just know that for each of these characters, there are also well-meaning wonderful men online.  Enjoy those you meet and appreciate the experience.  As we get older, the gems are harder to find, but keep looking – he is out there.  He may find you if you keep the right attitude about your search and enjoy the moments instead of being discouraged.  Seriously, have fun with it!  Life is an adventure – enjoy the ride!

Online Dating Hazards

  For anyone who has done any online dating, I do not need to tell you some of the obvious hazards of trying to to find love online.  However, I will address some of these issues one by one and offer some potential solutions to avoid all the aggravation they bring.

The Picture

If someone has a picture in which they look unusually good for their posted age, the picture may be a lot older than they would like you to know.  If you are communicating with someone like this, ask them how old the picture is!   They may or may not tell you if you ask directly, so here are some things you can do to find out without asking directly.  If they have a picture of them doing something, or at a specific place, show interest in that place and ask when they were there.  People naturally like talking about themselves, and they are more likely to let slip the “when” if you ask them to talk about the event.

If they have a series of pictures, ask them in what order they were taken.  Pictures do not necessarily appear in chronological order on profiles.  Some people do actually look better now than they did when they were younger.  The idea here is to get a realistic idea of who the person is today and the progression of the series.  While looks alone should never be the only determining factor, they do and will play a part in your decision-making.

The Fake Profile (Married, Committed, or Otherwise Not Available)

Since many of the sites, especially the free sites, do little to screen people on their sites, we must be vigilant in doing our own leg work to investigate potential dates.   There are many, many men (and I am sure some women, too) on dating sites who are either married or in committed relationships.  So how do we know who they are?  Well, sometimes, we don’t!

However, there are a few things you can do to help you determine if the possibility is there.   One thing I have done, although it can be time consuming, is to search other dating sites with the well-defined search information (so the # of hits is limited to a manageable number).   I did this with one man and found out he had different categories listed on different sites (single, separated, and divorced).  This should have been a red flag, but this was actually where I learned this lesson!  I did date this man, who told me he was actually divorced.

As it turned out, he was not divorced.  He was actually legally separated, still living in the same house as his wife.  He told me they had filed for divorce, but since they were both looking for work neither could afford to get their own place.   Since he lied initially, I did not believe they were separated and getting divorced and broke off the relationship.

However, as it turned out, this man was telling me the truth and has since been divorced, and both have moved on.  This is why I say to people to ALWAYS be honest.  Had he been honest from the beginning, I may still not have believed him, but I would have certainly been a lot more forgiving than to someone who thinks it is okay to lie about who he really is.  Lies always kick you in the butt in the end.  The truth always comes out in the end, so why risk a potential relationship by filling it with lies?  If something in a profile does not add up, or there are pictures with a woman who always seems to be cut out of the picture – stay away!  Dating profiles should never contain picture with others cut out of them.  Everyone knows someone who can snap a few pictures of them for their profile. This should always raise red flags, so beware.

The Scam Artist 

We’ve all seen them.  You know those dating profiles you run across where they immediately send you their phone number typed out digit by digit spelled out in words instead of numbers or their email address typed out by syllable.  Men, if you are guilty of this – STOP IMMEDIATELY!  Ladies, stay away from these men.   Here’s why.  There are a lot of scams out there in which people either try to get your phone number to hijack it to make calls to other countries or want your email address to SPAM you, send you computer viruses, or sell either of these pieces of information to those who will do these things.

KEEP ALL COMMUNICATION ON THE DATING SITES!  These sites store data and can retrieve it if there is ever a serious issue.  Be safe when you communicate with strangers online.  If someone asks for your personal information right away, there is usually a reason – and not a good one.  Sure, they will tell you their membership is up, or better yet, that they are on the site for a free weekend, or any number of other excuses, but do not buy into these stories.  If it is a paid site and someone wants to meet you , then they need to pay for at least one month to communicate with you.  If they are too cheap to pay for one month of service, do you really want someone like that?  You should never be rushed into giving your personal information online!  If he has a true interest in you, then he will also respect your privacy.  If he doesn’t, then you do not want him.  After all, that is the whole reason to be on these sites – to keep your personal information private.  Be smart and date safely!  Your chances of finding your Mr. Maybe actually do increase if you weed out the ones you would not want anyway!

There is No Such Thing as an “Old Maid”

During the last Presidential election, things got pretty heated here in the USA.  On social media, things got downright ugly at times.  Not only did people hold vastly different views and argue with each other nonstop, but many took it to a personal level and verbally attacked each other based on their differing views.  This happened to me.  When a guy from my hometown had no comeback, he decided it was okay to attack me personally.  As if personal attacks and name calling are ever an adult and respectable way to resolve differences!

What did he say?  Well, he called me an “Old Maid“.  Now this got me to thinking, where did this term come from?  Who would even use such an archaic term in 2012?  My other thought was this guy needs to get out more and live in the world of today and not centuries ago! This attitude does tend to prevail among some in the small rural community where I grew up.

So where did the term “Old Maid” come from?  It is actually a term used in the 18th Century.  While the term originate in England, the card game we all played as children actually originated in Asia, where playing cards originated.  During Victorian times, people were concerned about etiquette and rules of adornment(they also played a lot of cards), so this term was used to reinforce the negative image of a spinster or unmarried woman.  The card game became popular in the United States in the 19th century and many latched onto the term to refer negatively to an unmarried woman.

Today, we rarely hear this term.  Societal norms have changed our ideas about many things.  Centuries ago,  people did not spend years in college or wait so long to get married – they married very young.  Today, many wait until their thirties or later to marry for the first time.

Since “Old Maid” is defined as a woman who remains single beyond the conventional age for marrying, does this term really apply to anything today?  Unless you live under a rock and are not immersed into our society today, there is little room for this term to be applied to anyone.  Is there a conventional age for marrying today?  While many people do marry in their 20’s and 30’s, many others choose their careers and live happy and full lives.  Some people have no desire to marry at all and choose not to.  There does not seem to be much of a norm.  Besides, is it really anyone else’s business what you choose?  Why does it even matter?

While this term mildly annoyed me, I can now sit back and reflect on just how far women have come.  Today women are a strong and influential part of our society.  We have our own lives and our own careers.  So the next time someone tries (keyword is TRIES) to put you down or make you feel bad because you are single or still looking for your Mr. Maybe, stand tall and be proud that you are a strong woman who will not settle for less than she deserves.  You are a force to be reckoned with and you should be proud of that!  Remember, people try to put others down based on their own insecurities.  They have the problem, not you.  Do not allow them to make you question yourself or the wonderful woman you are.  The only “Old Maid” that exists today is a card game with Victorian roots.   

Time to Move on

You have taken my advice and given him a chance.  You have taken the time to actually get to know him better than the surface knowledge gained on the first few dates.  He is a great guy with a lot going for him.  However, you are still not feeling it.  You enjoy hanging out and have a good time, but you are just not looking forward to those times the way you feel you should be.  It happens!  Sometimes we meet great people along the way that are just not the right ones for us, for whatever reason.  That is a good case scenario.

On the other hand, we also do meet those who riddle us with one disappointment after another, leaving us wondering whether there really are any good men out there,  Trust that there are!  You do not want to become bitter and negative in your search because that will attract the wrong men to you.  Stay positive and know that Mr. Maybe is out there – you just have not met him yet!

As we go through the process of finding our Mr. Maybe, there will more than likely be many disappointments along the way.  Do not allow that to deter you.  However, do take time after each one to reflect on what initially attracted you to him, what it was that made you question it, if you missed anything earlier on, and what you can do to improve the situation next time.   Seriously, take time for you – especially if things started out really well and turned into heartbreak and disappointment.  You need time to heal your heart and your mind in order to attract the right one.  You also need to understand what happened and know how to do things better next time.  In our quest for love, so few of us take the time to reflect when we need.  Time seems short, and it is.  But if you jump back in and make the same mistakes again and again, you are wasting more time than it would have taken to reflect on the situation – and you cause yourself more heartache and aggravation.

If you find there are some things that need to improve and you really like the person, you may want to have a discussion and work through those things.  However, if the problem is larger than that and you do not see the situation improving, or if there is something that has been recurring, then you will probably be best served by moving on.   Many women stay with men and think things will improve.  If a man leaves you disappointed again and again, and it is a recurring theme – he will surely continue acting in that manner and you will be left feeling alone and empty.  The point is to find the right man, not the one who is okay for now.  Be good to yourself, demand to be treated as you should be treated, and do not settle for less than that.  Stick to your guns.  If you compromise what you deserve, it may end up being a lifetime commitment to that compromise.  You deserve better than that!

Love is Like a Butterfly

The Metamorphosis of Love

I found this little guy earlier this morning eating all my parsley and got to thinking about the metamorphosis the caterpillar will go through to be the beautiful butterfly.  The simple little caterpillar is gorgeous by its own right.  Nature has adorned it with a beautiful pattern and beautiful colors, and also camouflage.

In many ways this reminded me of love and relationships,  When we first meet someone, there is a certain beauty there that fascinates us and we want to learn more.  Just as this little guy totally intrigued me and made me want to take multiple photos of it.    It is the initial beauty that attracts us – and not necessarily physical beauty, either.

As with the caterpillar here, there is also a lot of camouflage that exists when we meet someone new.  We can see the physical and we interpret the other things, many times in ways that benefit our own wants and desires.  If we want to get to know that person, we may gloss over the red flags, or maybe not even see them at all at first.  On the other hand, if we are not interested in them, we may blow things that they do or say out of proportion to suit our own line of thinking.

While we all want to believe we are open-minded, are we really?  Do we make snap decisions about others before we have all of the information?  Let’s face it, we have all done this at one time or another.  While there needs to be at least a certain level of attraction, the ideal partner for you may not be that “hot” man or woman you have fantasies about.  This is the real world.  People do not walk around looking like that.  The other side of this is when we see someone we think is attractive, but we base our decision on that, not knowing they are camouflaging potentially very negative things about their lives.  Are you missing really wonderful men (or women) who could be perfect for you because you have prejudged?  Are you going only for the ones who look good physically?  I think this happens more often than we would like to think it does.  We may be missing the one we could have a wonderful and happy life with.

Chrysalis, or pupa, stage of a butterfly. This is where the real change takes place!

Once the caterpillar matures to a certain level, it turns into a chrysalis of brown or green, and not usually very attractive.  This is what happens in new relationships, also.  Everything starts out pretty, then as we get to know each other better, we find there are things that are maybe not as pretty as we thought they were.  And sometimes things can turn ugly as we try to work through them.  And here is where it ends for many and what I believe is a societal problem today.  Ending relationships, even marriages, is much too easy on our society.   Many people are not willing to go through the metamorphosis, that every relationship will have at some point, to get to the real beauty that awaits on the other side.

I have a really good friend who went through so much in her marriage, but yet she also has one of the strongest, happiest marriages I know of.   She has told me many time it is because of what they went through that made them strong.  This, and her faith in God, has brought her to this point of having such a wonderfully happy life.  Life is full of ups and downs, but when it comes to relationships, most people seem to want to give up when the going gets tough.  Her family is living proof that everyone has hardships, but when the couple works together and communicates with each other, the future is much better than anything we could dream of when we are going through it.  The beauty in her marriage is something we can all hope to aspire to.

This can also be applied to relationships that are not yet marriage.  Do we give up too soon?  As soon as there are red flags, do we just give up?  Maybe some of us are really missing that diamond in the rough because he/she is still rough and we have not get polished the stone to find the gem that lies within.  So many people in their 40’s and beyond date, and date, and date, and never seem to find that right one.  Are we giving up on people too soon?  Did the relationship have the time to metamorphosize into all that it can be?  Or are we ending at the pupa stage?  Are we giving people the time to be that beautiful butterfly they were meant to be?

One of the reasons I question this is because there are so many times I would love to get to know men I date better, but never hear from them again.  I was willing to give them a chance, but they were unwilling to give me one.  I am a firm believer that unless you are absolutely repulsed by the person, and have not a thing in common, everyone deserves a few dates in order to really understand who they are.  While there are some things you can conclude on a first date, most things need to develop in relationships.  True love is not about how much you want to sleep with someone, but it has everything to do with connecting in your minds.  Real love connects people in the head and heart, not the groin.  When you are connected in the mind, the person is automatically attractive to you, because you are connected on a deep and real level, and that needs time to develop.  You will not know that on a first date.

My suggestion here is merely to think about how you date and if you really give yourself a chance to get to know the person you are on a date with.  From what I have seen, few do.  Since we are all looking for the same thing, and so few are actually finding it, don’t we owe it to ourselves to at least consider this?  I think we do.  We all want to be happy, and if we need to re-evaluate ourselves along the way, so be it.  The next time you find yourself on a date and you do find yourself not wanting to see the person again, ask yourself why.  Rethink it right there.  Are you even giving them a chance?  You may be pleasantly surprised if you do!  They may be that butterfly you have been looking for in the garden of life!

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!