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Online Dating Reality #1: You Will Probably Cry

Sun, 03/30/2014 - 1:02pm

I've written a bit about my dating experiences here and on Facebook. I'm usually quite open about my life and always hope that what I'm going through is relatable, that maybe it can benefit someone else to share my story. As it turns out, I've had quite a lot of interest in my dating experiences. Many of my friends, mostly female, have told me they like hearing an inside view of the dating scene. I've had people ask me questions and share their own stories with me. So I've decided to delve into the topic even further here with a series of posts. Some posts will be lighthearted. Some will be serious. Some may be a bit TMI, but I figure if I'm going to share, I might as well truly share. 

So right off the bat, I'm going to start with a harsh reality of dating, online or otherwise: Yes, you will probably cry. You will likely get hurt. You'll feel overwhelming frustration. People will make you mad. They will hurt your feelings. You will be forced to examine yourself, your motivations and your emotions. It's not always pretty, so let's just get this grim truth out of the way. 

photo credit: martinak15 via photopin cc

If You Don't Even Meet Them

Something you should know right now is that despite the fact that I joke on Facebook and here on the blog about some of the ridiculous things men have said to me online, it can be profoundly frustrating. Okay, you may not cry over the frustration, but you'll probably want to. Truth be told, on a bad day, I'm sure I've cried in exasperation over the sheer pitifulness of the entire male species at that very moment. Yes, I said, "that very moment." Please don't think I'm anti-male or a man hater. If I were, would I even bother? Nope, I don't think so. But some days...

For instance, I just signed back into one of my online dating profiles. I know I said I was quitting them, but this is kind of an experiment. Here are the results of that experiment. Not even ten minutes after reactivating my account, I received a message saying, "Gm, beautiful how are u" Yes, it was written just like that. There are so many things wrong with this that it merits its own blog post. A post which I intend to write. But for now, let's just deconstruct this one message and why it's so frustrating to me. 

#1 - I'm a writer. Had he actually looked at my profile, he would have known that. Does this guy really think it's a good idea to approach a writer with text-ese such as, "Gm" and "how are u"? We won't even go into the lack of punctuation or capitlization. 

#2 - Our match rate. Another indication that he hadn't actually bothered to really look at my profile is that we are a 64% match. Okay, I'll admit it's not the lowest, but it isn't good. 

#3 - He called me, "beautiful." Yes, that may seem like a nice thing, a compliment even. But when you don't know someone and are interacting for the first time? Please. Don't. 

So when you receive message after message of this caliber or worse, it can bring you to tears without even having to meet the person. Remind me to tell you about the time a guy approached me with, "You into BDSM, Goddess?" Yep. True story. Oh, I almost forgot the time I was thisclose to actually going out with a guy when he asked me what I'd be wearing, following up that question with the suggestion that maybe I could go without panties because it'd be fun. Yep. Another true fucking story. 

After You've Met Them

So you've had your first date. It went well. Yay! You've set up a second date, a third. You know where this is going, right? We've all been in relationships before, and we know the possible outcomes. Yet we keep going back for more. So buck up and face the fact that it's possible that guy you click with will be the source of some tears. I don't mean to be negative or harsh. I really don't. I do, however, feel a duty to remind you that the euphoria of a new romantic connection is often fleeting. It's part of the process. No one reminded me of that. 

I've been through a number of hurts with regard to my relationships with men over the past several months. There was the man who was separated and decided to go back to his wife, breaking off all contact. Through an email, no less. Please no lectures. I know. Not the smartest move on my part to get involved in the first place. It was a rather casual relationship, and the tears were mostly because of the fact that I'd lost my friend. Then there was the only actual relationship of real substance I've had since my separation and divorce. Things with that one ended due to some differences in the ways we approached life, as well as the fact that it seemed he was not willing to go out of his way for me. The second part hurt. Quite a bit. 

Then there was the guy who, I believe, decided he no longer wished to be involved with me and turned the entire breakdown of our "romantic partnership" around as being my fault, accepting no responsibility whatsoever and playing a huge mindfuck on me. Yes, I'm still bitter over that one. "Mindfuck" is a great word, by the way. Thank you to my older and wiser female friend for introducing me to it, as it so aptly and succinctly describes the manipulation involved in that entire experience. And, finally, there was the man who didn't think sex should be a negotiation. What? I don't even know. That one still baffles me. I believe there was some mindfucking going on in that situation, as well. Thus, my next online dating reality post will probably surround the need for women to be secure in themselves, with a strong understanding of who they are, prior to dating. It's very easy to lose yourself and to allow others to define your truth if you aren't aware of and secure in who you are. I know I had to take a few steps back to examine what may have been true in these situations and what was merely projected upon me as a defense mechanism or way of escaping a difficult situation. 

  photo credit: ♥KatB Photography♥ via photopin cc   

When They're Gone

If you're like me, there may even be instances where you cry long after they're gone from your life. There may be regret, things you wish you'd said or a longing for the times that were good. There are likely to be times you look back on mistakes and feel sorry that you allowed yourself to make them. You may miss someone you dated with a genuine fierceness. Ladies, I will warn you that these emotions can come on hard, strong, suddenly and absolutely without warning. Most often during PMS, but they are real. I advise taking the time to honor and acknowledge them. Don't, however, allow yourself to dwell on them or to get stuck in them. Doing so will only hold you back. And don't allow them to take over your life. I've heard people say, "I no longer trust anyone." I can honestly tell you I've felt that very same thing. I simply do not wish to live that way. Maybe I'm just too stubborn to give up, but I still believe a genuine,loving, equitable connection can be found.

Plus, I just really don't want to end up a crazy cat lady, which has been suggested as one possibility for my future. Don't ask.

Categories: Personal

Be My Neighbor Day in Pittsburgh March 22nd

Fri, 03/21/2014 - 2:07pm

I am totally thrilled to be sharing information with you all about a local event happening tomorrow, March 22nd, at four YMCA locaitons in Pittsburgh. It's in conjunction with WQED and The Fred Rogers Company and is set to be a day of fun, family-friendly activities. Plus, it's free! Here's the official scoop:

What: United Way of Allegheny County, in partnership with The Fred Rogers Company and WQED, presents “Be My Neighbor Day.”  OnMarch 22, 2014, four YMCA locations across the Pittsburgh area will host a variety of fun, free, family-friendly activities to give children the opportunity to practice being neighborly. Daniel Tiger of the PBS series Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood will make his first Pittsburgh appearance as part of the event. “’Be My Neighbor Day’ builds on the indomitable legacy of Fred Rogers, who for more than 40 years taught kindness, generosity and respect to thousands of children and families,” said William Isler, president, The Fred Rogers Company. “Like our new series Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, this event embodies the values Fred stood for and carries his timeless message to a new generation of children.” Inspired by an episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, “Be My Neighbor Day” encourages neighbors to come together to help one another. Families will learn about acts of kindness, work together on craft projects to benefit their local communities, participate in YMCA Healthy Kids activities, and have the opportunity to meet Daniel Tiger.   Additionally, in honor of Rogers’ favorite attire, families are encouraged to bring a new or gently worn sweater to the event. Sweater donations will be distributed to needy families throughout the region. When: March 22, 2014 (times vary by location) Where: Those interested in participating are encouraged to visit www.bemyneighborday.org for more information and to register at one of four locations: Baierl Family YMCA (Sewickley), Western Area YMCA (Coraopolis), Penn Hills YMCA, or Thelma Lovett YMCA (Centre Avenue).  There is no cost to attend. Hashtag: #BeMyNeighborDay

A chance to meet Daniel Tiger? Very cool! I wish I could go, but I don't have any kids with me this weekend. However, the kids do know the importance I place on being a good neighbor, being friendly and helping others. I feel good that I've instilled in them that it's absolutely imperative to consider the feelings of those around them. All three of my kids have shared instances with me in which they were nice to a classmate who may have been having a rough day or who was not being treated well by someone else. I'm proud that they're so sensitive and caring.

We recently moved to a new neighborhood and haven't gotten the chance to really know our neighbors yet. I look forward to that, as our last neighborhood was quite friendly, and there were several neighbors we could count on for help and whom we assisted often. My kids would shovel snow for the older neighbors without asking for any kind of payment. We would pick up our neighbor's mail when she was on vacation, and we even responded once to a scary medical issue. Thankfully, it ended up being okay, but we were so glad to be able to help. I miss that sense of neighborhood closeness and hope to be able to establish that here. 

Here are some tips from Daniel Tiger for being neighborly:

To help encourage neighborliness with your little ones at home, here are some tips inspired by the “Neighbor Day” episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood that will help show your children that doing something nice for their neighbors can be a rewarding experience that makes them feel good about themselves!  
  • Volunteer!:  Check out your local food bank, library or neighborhood park for opportunities for your family to contribute, whether it is going through your house with your preschooler and donating extra canned goods or old books  or helping plant brand-new trees!
  • Play outside and meet new people!:  Bring your young children for a fun visit at the neighborhood playground, so they can make new friends and interact with old friends, too!
  • Ask to help!:  When your family sees someone who might need a hand, offer it!  Work together with an elderly neighbor who needs extra assistance in their yard or even have your preschooler help take care of a friend’s pet while they’re away on an end-of-summer trip.  You can also just talk with your child about times when you helped someone in need.
  • Smile and say, hello!:  Sometimes the littlest things makes the biggest difference!  When you are walking through your own neighborhood with your kids, greet passing neighbors with a friendly smile and a “hello” – you might just brighten someone’s day!
  • Make Coupons for Giving: Help your child create homemade paper coupons for kind and helpful acts, like “a hug,” “help with household chores” or “reading a book to a younger sibling.”

So please let me know if you're going to be attending Be a Good Neighbor Day. And take lots of pictures for me since I can't be there!

*sponsored post, all opinions my own

Categories: Personal

Why I'm Dumping the Dating Sites

Sun, 03/09/2014 - 7:21pm

Everyone who knows me in real life and through social networking knows that I have been engaged in online dating for several months now. As a newly single mom, who works from home, the idea of getting out there and meeting interesting people was very appealing. I made specific effort to reach out to men who were very different from those I would come across here in my town on a day to day basis. I wanted to expand my work-from-home horizons, to gain new insight and exposure to people with more variety to offer than I would find in my everyday life. As I wrote in a blog post shortly after the New Year, I was rather successful in my goals. I met an incredibly diverse array of men, who possessed some absolutely wonderful qualities. And, for that, I will be always grateful. What I haven't shared with many is the emotional downside and stress that can come from playing the dating game. If you're ready to hear it, I think I'm ready to tell it. Here goes. 

photo credit: tankgirlrs via photopin cc

It Can Be Intimidating

Letting your guard down enough to present what you hope is your best self to another person can be a very raw, intimidating experience. Especially if you haven't done it in a while, and you're an introverrt by nature. It's scary as hell putting yourself out there. I was, and still am, petrified. Every time I meet someone new, I get butterflies in my stomach from the nervousness involved in that first meeting. I've heard friends tell me that they feel this way even in online interactions before meeting in person. Because I've been networking as a blogger online for years, I actually feel rather comfortable behind the computer screen. It's the whole in-person thing that sometimes makes me want to run and hide. However, I've managed to push through it and remind myself that there could be an amazing encounter just waiting to be had. It also helps to remember that the worst-case scenario is that we don't like each other and we call it a night. Meh. No big deal.

Sometimes It's an Emotional Roller Coaster

Except sometimes it can become a big deal. When you get along quite well and think you've got something good going that you enjoy, and then something happens to make you realize that maybe things aren't as good as you'd hoped. Let's be realistic. We're human, and that can happen. People naturally want to make connections, and when we make them, it can be really awesome. However, should the time come when disagreements occur, personalities clash or there's simply a realization that values are not in alignment, deciding that things aren't working out can really take an emotional toll. The idea of setting yourself up for that kind of letdown is also, quite frankly, scary as hell, and your emotions can totally be thrown out of whack. 

It's Exhausting

It just is. Absolutely fucking exhausting. You receive that notification in your inbox saying you've gotten a message. You're excited because this could be the beginning of a real, legitimate experience with someone nice. Then you head over to the dating site to read... "Hi." Hi? What the hell is that? That is a huge letdown. That's what that is. "Hi." That tells me absolutely nothing. I don't have time to even deal with that. So I don't. The whole "hi" phenomena is nothing compared with the raunch, the hostility and the degradation faced regularly in online dating encounters. I've been known to share some of the more interesting interactions on Facebook, and my friends tend to think they're humorous. They can be rather funny. They can also be tiring, and even frightening. To have to be bombarded with, "Hey, sexy." And then, "I said hey to you. Why don't you respond? You're a fucking bitch for not responding," on a regular basis really makes you begin to question just what is out there and if it's worth considering meeting up with any of these assholes in person, even on that rare occasion when you get a thoughtful message or interaction. And then? You get to start the dance all over again with the next interaction, hoping it may lead to a positive outcome with a decent and interesting human being. So tiring. 

These are just a few of the realities I've faced in my online dating experience. Because it has become a bit overwhelming, I've decided to take a break from the online dating world and have deactivated all of my accounts. My intention is to focus on family, work and home pursuits for a while because I think that's what is best for me right now. Again, I don't have any regrets about my dating experiences. I needed to have them when I did. It made sense for me at the time. Some people take a relationship break first, then dive in. I'm not like most people, and I've come to accept and embrace that. Dating right off the bat helped me to get away from my tendency to be reclusive. It pushed me to expand my horizons and gave me the opportunity to see what I like and don't like about different kinds of people. Now, however, I need a break. So, dear dating sites, I'm breaking up with you. For now. xoxo

Categories: Personal