Dating During the Holidays

 Let’s face it.  The Holidays can be challenging for many singles for a variety of reasons.  Dating during these busy and sometimes stressful times can also prove challenging.  While I will not say I have answers to these issues, I would like to share some of the challenges I encounter.  By sharing, I hope this may help some other who feel as I do!

Loneliness

Singles can feel lonely on any given day, but during the Holidays this can be amplified by basic Holiday activities.  For me, watching families just out enjoying shopping, or enjoying other Holiday fun can send me into a downward spiral that I don’t want to go down.  While I am genuinely happy for these families, and especially my friends, when I see the joy they have with their families, it hits me hard that I want this also, and don’t have it.  If I dwell on this too long, I am in trouble.  The Holidays tend to make me think of all the things I don’t have that are so valuable.  

When I was younger, I was so focused on having the husband, family,  good job, the latest fashions, nice house and nice car.  Out of all of those things, there were only two that were really worth spending my time on.  Since I felt education was the key to getting all of those material things I wanted in life, I lost focus of the things that mattered to me the most – a husband and family.  I spent 10 years in the prime of my life in college to get my education while working my way up the corporate ladder.  That did not leave me time to establish a solid relationship and several were destroyed in that time because they could not be properly nurtured.  I wasted so much time on the things that really did not matter and not enough on the ones that did.  The Holidays have a way of forcing me to think of these things when I watch others enjoying the families they have, and yearning for the one I don’t have.

Bittersweet Family Gatherings

While I love seeing my family and thoroughly enjoy the time with them, there is a real disconnect at family gatherings for me.  I listen to their banter of Christmas morning, the thrill of the children, the gifts received by the adults, and can only wish I had someone to share those memories with.  The Holidays are essentially very sad for me – and I haven’t even touched on New Years, yet!  New Years Gatherings are extremely stressful, with everyone toasting with their significant others, and kissing at New Year’s Eve and bringing in the new year with a new-found hope for their future together.  While I know my New Year will hold promises I have not yet imagined, I cannot help but be brought to my knees at the thought of having another year alone without love in my life.  Many of my single friends don’t really understand the deep desire and longing I have for being married.  Many have spent years in marriage.  I have not.  At family gatherings, I feel a little left out and forgotten.  I don’t have stories to share of Christmas morning, and I have received gifts from no one.

Someone to Enjoy Holiday Events With

Another stressful thing is going to Holiday events alone, being a third wheel, or just not going at all because you have no one to go with.  Sure, many people go to events with friends, and that is great!  I do, too!  However, some events are just not the same without a special love in your life to enjoy them with.  For someone who yearns for love, the Holidays can be a very lonely and stressful time.

Some Things that Can Help

As briefly mentioned above, there are some things you can do to alleviate the stress and loneliness. Spending time with friends enjoying festivities certainly helps.  You can find Holiday singles mixers to meet others just like you!  You could do what I do and keep really busy, so you don’t have time to think about it.  While most of us try to embrace being single and making the best of it, there are times when it can get to us.  We all put on our brave faces and go out into the world, but brave faces do not change the way we feel inside.  .

Since this post is a little different than most of my posts, and the intention is to help others by letting them know they are not alone in how they feel, I would love to hear some things you do to manage the stress of being single during the Holidays.

 

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Are You Too Busy to Date?

Busy

How Busy is too Busy?

The answer to this question depends on who you ask.  As an extremely busy person, I am asked this all the time when communicating with men online.  Usually they will ask probing questions trying to figure out if I will make time for them in my schedule.  The answer is: it depends.

First, I will not cancel any of my plans for a date.  Most of these men, you never hear from again, so they need to find a time that is good for me if they want to meet.  This can be challenging since I keep an extremely full schedule, but it also gives me a very good indication of what the man is all about.  If he is respectful and understanding, then he is worth meeting.  Any man who questions me too much or acts like me being busy is a problem is almost certainly not the man for me.

While some may not agree with me, my take on this is that a man would expect you to understand if he is busy and would expect you to work with his schedule.  What is the difference if it is a women?  There is none – other than that some men expect women to cater to their needs without regard to hers.  For this simple reason, I know right away if someone will work with my lifestyle.  Someone who seems as though he wants all my time and attention prior to even knowing me, will surely be far too needy and clingy for me.

Prioritizing Dating and the Rest of your Life

I have a canned response when someone asks me if I am too busy to date right now. And that response is: “Today everyone is busy and if we all wait until we are not busy to date, we may be dead first.”  It is true, if you think about it.  Who do you know that is NOT busy?  Not very many people can say that.

While I will not cancel anything in my schedule to accommodate a date, I will reprioritize if I meet someone worth a relationship.  This is the part that men do not seem to get.  They see busy and they think there is no room for them.  As in anything important in life, it is all about priorities!  When we first meet someone, they have not earned a place in our schedules before other things in our lives.  When we establish a relationship with someone, that shifts, and they become a higher priority than some of those other things.  For any man to expect a women to cancel other plans to go on a date with them is totally unrealistic, since there is no guarantee you will even like each other.  However, when a relationship is being established and people spend more time together, they have earned a place in our schedules.  I am uncertain as to why men only see busy as no place for them.  It could be selfishness, it could be ego, it could be neediness, or something deeper like control issues.  However, I do know that if someone doesn’t respect my life as it is now, and does not want to work on a common time to meet, it puts up all kinds of red flags for me.

NO ONE is too busy to date if it is something that is important to them.  Stop asking.  If we did not want to be dating, we would not be looking!  Don’t be needy, be a gentleman!  Happy dating!

 

2 Things That Will Scare Men Away

  In our quest for love, sometimes we try so hard we do not realize what we are doing or saying can be counterproductive.  While we need to ask questions in order to determine if our date is someone we want to continue a relationship with, we have to be smart about the questions we ask and the messages we send out.  We need to realize that men are not women, and they do not think like women, either.  There are a few subjects that should be saved for later in a relationship, and some that are just never good to ask.  Here are two that will surely send most men running the other direction:

1. Marriage

This should be a no-brainer.  However, sometimes women forget this because they want to be married and they feel they need to let the man know this, or they are nervous and blurt out things like this to try to make conversation.  While this subject will need to be addressed at some point if that’s the direction you want to go, it is never a good idea to address it within the first few dates.  Most women realize that many men have a fear of marriage for a variety of reasons.  There may be a fear of being “tied down” or not being “free.”  Or some men may feel a loss of control in their lives if they feel they are being pressured or forced into something or feeling a specific way.  My suggestion is to allow the relationship to progress naturally.  There needs to be a certain level of connection to address this subject.  When women put this out, they do not mean they want to marry that particular man or at that particular time, men hear something quite different and if the subject of wanting to be married is approached too soon, they will run the other direction if they are not in a place where they could actually see it with you.  Yes, some of us may want to be married, but we need to keep this conversation to ourselves until we have a deep connection with the man we are having the conversation with!

2. His “Type”

Another subject sure to make a man cringe is asking his “type” of woman.  First of all, do you really want an answer to that?  Ladies, if a man answers this one with what pops into his head, I assure you it will not be anything you want to hear or could ever live up to.   A man’s “type” is not necessarily who his ideal mate is.  Men are visual and when you are asking a type, many men will conjure up images of what they want a woman to look like, followed by all of their ideal personality characteristics.  This is hardly a real human, just as your fantasy guy is not real.  Do not make your date squirm, or put yourself through this!  Leave this one alone!  You may be his ideal woman, but he does not yet know it.  Why torture yourself and feed all the insecurities we all carry around?  Learn about each other and allow your relationship to grow naturally.  Do not try to force your way in by trying to meet an ideal that does not exist in real life.

Of course, if you are on a date and you want to send him running, feel free to talk about these.  I do NOT guarantee these subjects will send the wrong guy running.  He could be one of the few guys these subjects do not send running.  But do not chance talking about these to someone who could potentially be the right guy.  You want him to be around to get to know you!  Happy dating!

Online Dating Opening Lines

There is no doubt about it – first impressions count and they make a lasting impression!  Here is where so many men (I can only write what I know and I have no idea what other women write) mess up.  On top of the need for a certain level of attraction, there is also the need for a certain level of intelligence and creativity.

A great profile is wonderful, but it is only the starting point.  How you communicate with potential dates says more about who you actually are than anything you write in your profile.  I will be addressing some of the biggest turn-offs I come across and explain why they make negative impressions.  I seriously believe men should take a course in Online Dating 101 because more than half of the first contacts I receive fall into one or more of these categories (and they either get a no reply or a negative reply from me).

The One-Liner

These guys send you one word or thought and call it an “email”.  “Hi” and “Hello” does not make an email, nor does it warrant a response from any woman with a brain.  What this says about you is that you are lazy and want to leave all the thought up to the woman you send this nonsense to.  You are refusing to use your brain, or acknowledge that she actually wrote a profile.  You are leaving the whole conversation up to her because you are plain old lazy.  I delete every one of these so-called emails.  Intelligent women want to date someone who has a brain and can think of something intelligent to say to them.  They have no time for this nonsense, which should have ended back in high school.  We want to know that a man that says he wants to get to know us, actually used his brain and thought about who we are based on what we wrote in our profiles.

The Question One-Liner

Here’s another one that requires no brain power: “How are you?”  Any variation of this one is exactly the same as the basic one-liner.  It is thoughtless and a desperate show of throwing something out there and seeing if it sticks.  Really guys, we are much smarter than this.  Do you really want someone who sees you as desperate and unable to think for yourself?  Another variation of this is: “What are you doing this evening?”  Wow, really?  I find this one to be an invasion of my privacy.  I am usually inclined to make up something sensational, just to get a rise out of the guy for kicks, but then he may think I am actually interested.  We don’t really have time for this.  Plain and simple – it is none of your business what we are doing, or who with, unless you know us and are our significant other!

The Looks Comments

“You’re pretty”, “You’re beautiful”, “I love your smile” and all variations of comments on looks are among the most annoying conversation starters.  Guys, really, we want to know you want to know us, not sleep with us.  While you may be thinking of the latter, you need to be smart and keep the looks part under wraps until later.  When you start a conversation like this, many of us think you only have one thing in mind.  Plus, we doubt very much you even took the time to read out profiles.  We want to know you want to truly know us as human beings, not just sleep with us!  When you start out like this, many of us will run the other direction.  While we all like compliments and we all like to know we are desired, we want to know there are REAL reasons you want to go out with us.

Using Text Abbreviations When Communicating

Honestly, do you know how to spell and write a complete sentence?  We want to know you do!  We do not have the time to decode every email you send us.  Make it simple and spell things out, and use complete sentences!  We want to know you have a firm grasp of the English language!  I, for one, delete all messages that are not written out in English.  If you cannot take the time to write a complete sentence, why should we waste our time decoding and trying to figure out what on earth you are saying?

Sending (or asking for) Personal Email Information or Phone Numbers on First Contact

Dating sites were established to be a platform where we are able to meet people to date, while keeping our personal information private – the key word being private!  These sites gather and retain information about their members.  Others may differ on this view, but I never ever give out my personal information to guys on dating sites.  Think of it this way – do we really want all these strangers to have our phone numbers and personal email addresses?  We do not know you!  Plus, women are asked by every Tom, Dick, and Harry for their number on dating sites.  If we gave out our numbers to all who want them, there would be hundreds of strangers out there with our personal information.

Also, as I addressed previously, these men could be scam artists.  It is never okay to request someone’s personal information up front on a dating site.  Men, if you really want to know us, you will pay for a 30 day membership and get to know us.  If we are not worth that to you, why should we provide you our personal information?  We all need to be smart when dating online.  Being courteous and respectful includes not pushing for someone’s personal information.  After all, the dating site already does provide a platform for communication.

In conclusion, I would love to hear some other definite “No” emails you have received in your online dating experiences!  Please feel free to comment on what you have experienced!

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!

Always Be Your Authentic Self

 

When searching for your Mr. Maybe, I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to always be your authentic self.  Never, ever pretend to be something you are not.  Be true to YOU.  This is why I always suggest to take time for yourself before your search to get to know your authentic self.  Some of us may need to dig deep to find ourselves, and some will be living their authentic selves already.  This will really depend on a lot of variable circumstances in our individual lives.

The important thing to remember is that you will find the right one for you only if you are your authentic self.   If you feel an emptiness, void or incompleteness, then you are not living your authentic self.  More than likely you are filling this void with living to the expectations of your friends and family instead of being who you really want to be.  This can be draining, and it will never give you the inner peace and happiness everyone craves.  Instead try focusing on what your true gifts and talents are, and live your life expressing these things and focusing on working them into your life instead of living your life as others expect.

When you discover your authentic self, you will draw to you someone who is attracted to the core essence of who you are, and not who you think you are supposed to be.  You will attract the right men and the right friendships into your life, and they will lead to a very fulfilling life.  Now, all of this may not be instantaneous!  You may need to work on yourself and spend time with yourself.  If you have been bogged down by family obligations or children or your job, you may need time to disconnect your fictitious self from your authentic self.

As we live our lives, most of us fall into some form of our fictitious selves due to obligations we feel are placed onto us by our circumstances and loved ones.   Many will live out these expectations without giving thought as to what it is that we want or need – because those we love need us, and we want to be there for them!  This is okay, of course, because we all want to make sure our loved ones are happy and taken care of, and we want to provide them with the love and attention they need.  However, if we step back a little and think about who our core self is, we will discover that there may be many ways to provide this to them without losing who we are in the process.  Sometimes stepping back allows us to move forward in a way that is far better for us than living to those perceived expectations places on us by others.

Dating is much the same.  We all want to attract the right person into our lives and we all want to be happy.  But how can we be truly happy unless we are living our authentic selves?  We can’t!  This is why it is so important to really take the time with yourself and discover who you really are.  Mr. Maybe will fall in love with your authentic self and not the fictitious one!  Your chances of finding the right one are much better if you live your core you instead of the one others expect you to be!  Take time between dates to reflect.  Take time between relationships and think about if you were true to your authentic self or living someone else’s expectations of you.  You may discover that things did not work out because you were not authentic, which will always create unhappiness and incompleteness.  Be authentic.  Be YOU!  The right people will come into your life!  You will be well on your way to your Mr. Maybe!