It is a completely different world. A world with female doctors, a woman running for president and winning the popular vote, men wearing pink t-shirts fighting breast cancer, little girls and boys killing it on the soccer field, female news anchors on every station and just so darn much opportunity. In this environment, it is difficult for a self-proclaimed ugly teenager to stay ugly.
An old high school friend and I are goofing around on Facebook and find him. She dares me to send a friend request. I do, and he has no idea who I am. I am hurt for about 3 seconds because after going to college, getting a degree, getting married, having a kid, getting divorced, being a single parent, teaching kids, seeing my child graduate, retiring from teaching, and fitting in some traveling and new relationships, I still remember him. We start messaging and gradually our texts lengthen. I invite him to my high school reunion (he is one year older) and he agrees to come. I’m a nervous wreck and feel like I have reverted to my former teenage self.
We meet and have both changed, a lot. He is no longer the young Adonis and I am no longer the gawky girl. We talk about those times and I realize something very important. High school had a huge impact on who we would both become. I went on to college dreaming of better things while he enjoyed the fruits of being so darn attractive.
We go to the reunion and my classmates are very surprised to see him again. One comments on how ironic it was that I, of all people, found him. I agree. We have fun and later try to see if there is anything between us. Unfortunately, both of us have traveled too far down our individual paths and neither of us is going to turn around.
We both wonder if we had stayed together if it would have ever worked. I doubt it. Being so attractive, he needed to enjoy all that attention and I needed to pursue my dreams. So maybe things turned out just the way they were supposed to. I now have a new friend who has mad organic gardening skills, hunts and fishes for his own food, is the dog whisperer, can build a house, and I have known since I was 15. Maybe this is our happy ending.
Side note: I recently looked up my “one who got away” from college. He is divorced and has absconded with his clients’ retirement funds. Sometimes there’s a reason they “got away”.
A hundred years ago in high school, I was gangly, too tall and nerdy. I had a “good personality” and was “nice” but these characteristics were not highly coveted in teen dating. In contrast, my friends were beautiful, petite and curvaceous. My presence just seemed to accent this fact. Or paraphrasing gothic romances: I was a foil to their beauty. Guys swarmed them almost knocking me over in the process and I could very much identify with the Janis Ian song: “I learned the truth at 17, that love was meant for beauty queens.”
When my family moved, everything changed…
He was Adonis, tall with wide shoulders, sandy curly hair, and over the top masculinity. When he asked me to dance at a school party, I could barely look at him. He was so handsome. I remember thinking I did not want him to get too close. He would see how unattractive I was and not want to be around me. Shockingly enough, his interest grew, and it was the first time I felt special, I mean really special. No one had ever shown me much deference and it was absolutely intoxicating. But at the same time, it was terrifying. What if he finally saw my ugliness? What if he found out I was not one bit special?
We went to the homecoming dance together. He borrowed his friend’s sportscar and looked so striking in it. He took me to an expensive restaurant and a really old waitress (she must have been in her 20s) hit on him. I tried to be cool and fascinating, but I didn’t know what I was doing and was very shy.
After that, everything fell apart. He acted like he did not know me, and I heard rumors of him complaining I did not talk the whole night of our date. The jig was up. Cinderella was back from the ball and Prince Charming was no longer interested.
I felt heartsick and wrote pages in my diary trying to come to terms with the loss. He avoided me on campus and when I did see him, I searched desperately for some sign of lingering interest. There was none.
At the end of the school year, his family moved, and I figured I would never see him again. He was “the one who got away.” He was the first person who made me feel special and I never felt quite like that ever again.
Fast forward a few decades to a world of social media, a world where anyone can be found…
To be continued next week...
Here is my article for the UK website Singles Warehouse :
With recent political events, I’m not sure any citizens from the British monarchy are listening to the colonies anymore but after paging through 1000s of American dating profile pictures, I do have a couple pieces of advice. Hopefully, this information will bring more romance and harmony to the British Isles.
2. Clear body parts, other than your own, from the photo.
3. Think carefully regarding your largest asset.
4. Hunter-gatherers are so passé.
5. Just put the Sharpie® away
I’m hoping this assists you in selecting the perfect dating profile picture. As you can see, the States have a way to go.
P.S. P.J. thanks for your ideas! I'm on it!
Unfortunately, an already very shallow dating pool has been split in half. We now have a left end and a right end and our ideas are the rope floats keeping us apart. Websites are popping up all over, catering to this new polarization. On your right, you have TrumpSingles.com displaying a very upwardly mobile attractive couple out for an elegant evening. On the left, you have Maple Match catering to liberal U.S. citizens who, as a result of the election, are ready to exit the country.
So, the big question is: Can a pink beanie and a red baseball cap ever live happily ever after?
According to Grindstone, there are some political unicorn couples out there. You have Mary Matalin, a Republican political consultant, and James Carville, a Democratic commentator. Their diametrically opposing views seem to fuel the passion and perhaps their disagreements are a form of foreplay.
They are not unprecedented. Although, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt had 6 children, their marriage definitely had its rocky moments. During FDR’s presidency, Mrs. Roosevelt wrote This Troubled World, a book directly opposing many of her husband’s ideas.
There are other presidential examples as well. After the very conservative George W. Bush exited his presidency, his former first lady Laura Bush, proclaimed she was pro-choice and supported same-sex marriage, in direct opposition to her husband’s beliefs.
All three couples have differing values and opinions but managed to keep their marriages together. Of course, I suspect with very different levels of success. So, maybe it works and maybe it does not work but they do offer hope. If they can come together, compromise, and make their relationships work, shouldn’t our country, with all its collective resources, be able to do the same?
I decided to get a head start on this “fighting my flirting fears” thing and made a b-line for a local bar with dancing. I had already vetted the place. It’s not a 20 something hang-out and there are no cars in the parking lot worth more than my condo.
Upon entering, a guy catches my eye because I’m certain he has not caught anyone else’s eye. He is unattractive; thus he is not intimidating and the perfect man for some flirting practice! Also, I figure he might appreciate the attention, so I head over his way. Couples are pulling some complicated esoteric dance moves and I turn to him and crack, “How come you’re not dancing?” He pauses and looking slightly panicked, points to the opposite end of the bar and responds in a squeaky voice, “My girlfriend is over there.”
I consider this guy for a beat, a whole lot of dialogues running through my head, and decide to take Kenny Rogers’ sage advice: You've got to know when to hold 'em. Know when to fold 'em. Know when to walk away.
Do one thing every day that scares you. ~Eleanor Roosevelt
There is something very empowering in throwing caution to the wind, getting down and dirty, and battling your fears. You walk away, with your back a little straighter, knowing you had the grit to take on those demons. With time, stretching your fear-fighting muscle can become a habit creating an emboldened you. With each new challenge, you become a cage fighter yelling, “Bring it on!” with new found guts and determination propelling you forward, making you more and more unstoppable.
Flirting is my terror trigger If I see an interesting man in a coffee shop, I can’t start a conversation. I would never approach a guy at the grocery store or go to a sports bar by myself to watch a game. If I see a man looking at me with interest, I always avert my eyes. I worry about being embarrassed or looking stupid or being rejected. That, dear reader, is a life based on fear and a recipe for a whole lot of missed opportunities. My New Year’s Resolution is to get out there and not be so darn fearful. I want to figure out a way to meet that guy in the coffee shop or grocery store. Right now, my only strategies are dumping coffee in his lap or knocking over a fruit display. I may need more help than I thought…
And then I’m going to blog about it. You can offer me suggestions because I sure don’t know what I’m doing! You, dear reader, can sit in the judge’s booth displaying your number cards: 6 for technique! 2 for creativity! 10 for tenacity! And maybe this little blog will inspire you to get out there too!
My business partner Patty, whom I call Wordsmith, came up with the perfect catch phrase for this resolution. Instead of Happy New Year’s, we’re calling it Happy No Fears!
In Gillian Flynn’s bestselling novel Gone Girl, the protagonist
talks about being the “cool chick”. She wants her man to fall in love with her so she denies her own aspirations and desires to become his dream girl. As a result, she gets the guy but compromises her soul in the process.
Here is the BIG problem: Not only is the “cool chick” setting up unrealistic expectations for her relationship, she also is doing it for the rest of us. Men see these idealized women and start expecting everyone to behave accordingly. Those of us who would like honest, authentic relationships cannot be ourselves and cool at the same time and thus begins the frustration.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of you “cool chicks” out there! You know who you are, but if you’re in total denial, here is a list of some of your “cool chick” moves:
STOP IT RIGHT NOW! Not only are you swimming in a huge vat of Not Happy, you are forcing the rest of us to swim with you. By you compromising yourself, you are sending a message to all men that this is what women do. They expect it of the rest of us and we are SICK OF IT.
So, what do us non-cool chicks do? Perhaps we should unionize and come up with a conduct contract declaring a boycott on cool chick-ery. None of us put down our gender. None of us sell our soul for a relationship and none of us become someone we are not. Of course, there will be scabs among us and we will need to figure out a relevant way to deal with their actions. Perhaps, it is enough to live a life of inauthentic relationships, acting like someone else, and the consequences of those “cool chick” choices.
When we last left our nerdy heroine, she was sitting in a Scottish hostel, drinking coffee and trying to determine if she should “hit on” a guy a couple tables away.
Unfortunately, the internal battle continued: So what do I say to this guy? He looks pretty busy to me. What if he treats me like a total annoyance? I would hate that. But what if it goes well? Geez…this is making me a little nuts.
“Do you mind if I sit here?” interrupts a young girl, carrying a food tray.
“Of course not,” I respond slowly.
The two of us proceed to talk about traveling in the Highlands and similar childhoods. After about 15 minutes, I look up and notice the “guy of my dreams” is long gone. A lost opportunity with him and a gained opportunity with her. Still pretty great.
My biggest regret: I wish I’d been more brave. I lost my opportunity because I was looking for the perfect thing to say and was worried about the outcome. Maybe I didn’t need to worry about being all perfect. Maybe it was more important to just do it. The young girl did and got a great conversation and a new Instagram follower. Maybe it’s more important to grab opportunities no matter what.
Have a good life European male version of me! I guess our universes weren’t meant to collide. And maybe that’s okay.
Over 120 years ago, Jules Verne wrote of a phenomena called the Green Ray or Green Flash. As the sun sets, just before it dips below the horizon, the last
burning sliver appears to explode into green fire. It is a rare occurrence and according to Mount Wilson Observatory, only happens when visibility is good, several miles from the curvature of the planet, usually over the ocean and when your “line of sight is parallel to the horizon.” Many have sailed the Seven Seas, toasted the end of a day in Key West, and stared at ocean sunsets hoping to observe this rarity. Few do.
Finding compatibility with a man is a lot like the conditions for the elusive Green Flash. A whole lot needs to happen and it just doesn’t come together very often.
Take eating together: Do the two of you eat in or out? What kind of food? If you go out, where do you both want to go? Do you both drink? Who’s the designated driver? Is one of you on the wagon and the other want to leave because there is no alcohol served? Do you share a meal? Do you eat off each other’s plates? Who pays? Do you share the bill? Is he appropriate with the server? Are you appropriate with the server!? What kind of tip do you leave? If you stay in, whose kitchen? Do you cook together or does one of you sit and watch the other do culinary magic? What do you cook? Healthy or not healthy? Is one of you watching the salt or sugar or fat or whatever intake? Do you have the right equipment? Who gets the groceries? Is one of you telling the other what to do? Who cleans up? Do you need to re-clean? Was it fun? Would you rather be eating cold pizza watching a rerun of The Bachelor???
And that is only one meal…
Try planning for a vacation: Where do you go? Domestic or International? Sail, rail, drive, or fly? City or country? Camping or luxury spa? Is he a big golfer? Are you a big golfer? Are you cool with golf taking over the vacation? Is he a sailor? Is he a pirate at heart with a rope in his teeth challenging the elements and do you get seasick? Are you a peak bagging hiker anxious for the next death march and is he whining due to an old football injury? Perhaps he’s hitting Vegas and getting everything comped. Or is he sitting on the beach with an umbrella drink giving you his take on the big game? On road trips, who does the driving? Is he that guy who stops and gives you 5 minutes to go to the bathroom? Or is he a long rider trying to break records? Does he have road rage? Or is he making sure everyone behind him is doing the speed limit?
And that’s only eating and planning a vacation. You haven’t even touched open windows at night, exercising, bedtime, money, toilet paper rolls, family, friends, house temperature, holiday traditions, religion, arrest records, or politics.
In comparison to finding a partner, seeing the Green Flash seems downright common.
Sometimes it feels like your online dating profile pic is from the Sesame Street song: One of These Things is Not Like the Others. And you’re one of those things that “doesn’t belong.” You find:
*Paraphrasing Wanda Gag: Boobs here, boobs there, boobs and more boobs everywhere. Almost (yours is one of the few exceptions) every picture features the de rigueur cleavage.
*One of the other exceptions shows a gal casually doing the splits looking all come-hither.
*Another positions the camera from behind so it’s hard to tell if she has any clothes on.
*On a competing site, a woman has a martini precariously perched between her breasts. (As I said, always more cleavage…)
*Another just happens to be photographed riding a bike in her thong bikini.
*There’s one profile with no picture…just a bunch of cats. (You wonder about her response rate.)
*Further down the page, a woman is reclining on the sofa with a fishtail, in place of her legs, in some kind of mad mermaid move.
*And then there are the body parts: a pair of legs seductively crossed at the ankle, a toned arm with a hint of that ubiquitous boobage, and the perfect heart-shaped butt.
Somehow, your cute little smiling selfie melts in this cavalcade of hotness and all that’s left is a puddle of prudishness. You wonder if the cat lady had the right idea...
A profile pic offers you a little peak at your future with a guy. Unfortunately, it ain’t always pretty:
*The dude grins broadly displaying a huge dead fish.
*The dude grins broadly displaying a huge dead deer.
*The dude grins broadly displaying anything dead.
*He is sheathed in a loincloth exposing his man buns as he Tarzans through the jungle.
*The guy smiles a wide, toothy grin with his arm slung around his smoking-hot daughter.
*He looks especially young for his 50 years with those straight-legged comfort mants (man pants) from the 90s. (How old is this freakin’ picture anyway?!)
*The dude poses for a selfie with his new bestie: some big name celebrity. (So if I date him I get on the A list?)
*He has his shirt off flaunting his man boobs.
*He has his shirt off not flaunting man boobs.
*He has his shirt off. (What’s the deal with the shirt off?!)
Yep, profile pictures offer you a little glimpse into your future with a guy. Sometimes, even a glimpse is a little too much…
Online dating websites are a great way to screen your potential boyfriends:
Either he doesn’t want to commit to more than 3 words or he doesn’t have more than 3 words or he wants you to do all the work or he’s not that interested. None of it is good and after less than 10 words, you’re over it.
In the good old days, you would have spent months wondering if one of these guys was Mr. Right. Now you can figure it out in a matter of minutes. Doesn’t technology rock!?
The shooting range is not the only place for dodging bullets:
Yep, there's lots of bullets at the shooting range. Sometimes you should just flip the safety and head home...
He comes out of the blue on some social media site and you wrack your brain trying to remember him. Had he been a good guy or a bad guy? Wasn’t there something? He messages wondering if you are finally single and he can date you. You are charmed by his words and the past melts away. He’s working abroad but will return soon. The two of you talk for three hours on the phone and he starts texting and calling all the time. He even video chats in the middle of the day introducing you to his colleagues and you feel so happy and glad. Of course, there are a few minor red flags but you just decide to be careful. You know you look a little too hard for those warning signs. And he is already “we-ing” you! We can live in Florida or Rome. We should go to a Giants’ game. We should get married. It’s a little fast but you knew him in high school. Sometimes these things move fast. Right?
And then one morning it all changes. He texts he wants to talk. Unfortunately, life is a little crazy and you message back you will call later. You get his response…
Him: Hey you. What’s your number?
What’s he talking about?
You text back: What number? You’ve called a bunch of times…
You’re a little annoyed but want to appear cool.
You add: Phone? Landline? Social security? Pin? ;-)
And then it hits you. You make the horrible realization he’s texting someone else at the same time and it ain’t his sister. The You sitting at the back of the bar sipping a martini with a plateful of cigarette butts thinks, “And here it is….” The You still doodling guys’ names on her binder thinks, “Please….nooooooo…” You feel embarrassed for believing this fairy tale and know there is no coming back from this. The "we’s" have dissipated and cold hard reality has returned. You become oddly scientific as you watch this spider trying to wriggle his way out of his own web. His remonstrations are much like the stages of grief and you actually start labeling them.
In two hours, either he’s finished talking to her or gotten his story straight and all the phones start ringing.
Landline message: So…
Text: Been trying to call you, strange you’re not picking up.
A few hours later…
Text: I don’t understand what’s happened to us? Can you please respond? I’ve called you numerous times only to get nothing! How can you ignore me? I must admit you fooled me, I was totally falling or had fallen for you…oh well.
Text: Seriously is this what you do? It feels funny! I don’t think I let my heart go this far for a while and then nothing!! CRAZY!
Text: What the hell! What happened? Do you act lame like this always? I’m freaked out!
Text: What happened to you? I don’t understand? We were talking every day. Planning to fall in love and start a life together. My heart is filled with sadness. Please tell me. I was so falling for us.
Text: I would marry you tomorrow. Please honey love me back like I’m loving you, can’t you feel us and what we could be? What about our plans? Baby
Text: Call my phone please.
Text: My heart is aching ok
Text: Will you pick me up at LAX and spend a couple of days with me? Please?
Text: Baby I’m here! I’ll call you when I wake up. I want you to pick me and not leave my side! Let’s be together and love beyond our dreams!! Ok Baby
Text: Hey, please pick up.
Text: Please talk to me
Your only response is a text: This is not going to work. I wish you only the best.
You get a rambling message about how he can’t believe you broke up with him in a text and how he now understands why you’ve been by yourself so long and a week later he texts you that it’s a bummer you’re a lesbian. So not only is he a liar and a cheater, he’s also a mean liar and cheater.
In the stages of grief there is DEPRESSION and ACCEPTANCE. You do not witness these but hope he hurts at least a little. He blocks you on Facebook, you suspect because he doesn’t want you warning others. You are pretty sure he easily found someone to take your place. You realize he’s pulled this stuff in the past and has probably left a path wide with heartbreak. But it still hurts. You remind yourself you were lucky you got out early. He’s a player. He senses what you want to hear and says it to get what he wants. He’s the reason you’re so afraid. He’s the reason many walk alone. Nobody wants to be hurt that badly. He’s the reason.
You review the texts and phone calls and all the platitudes come flying at you. In a world of guys like this you still “led with an open heart” and “loved like you’d never been hurt.” He tried to take advantage of you but “talk is cheap” and “actions speak louder than words.”
You think your feelings are unique and special but actually you are the stuff of a really bad romance novel. You try to garner some kind of truth from the situation but the truth is there are people who make you never want to put yourself out there again because you can’t bear the potential of hurting that much. And you hate him for this.
There comes a time in every single gal’s life when she realizes online dating is not working and she has lost her way. Here are some sure signs you need to back away from the laptop:
Yep, you have definitely lost your way. You’re a cynical dating survivalist, holed up with your laptop, setting your sights on potential red flags and warding off suitors with your paranoia.
Maybe it’s time to power off and hit the bars again.