Note: The "Trooper" in question is not actually in the military. It's a metaphor, people.

March 20, 2007

It's one button, dammit

Tonight I spent a little bit of time reading over my Match.com profile to see if I could find the paragraph where I say, "I'm looking for some schmuck to marry me and be the father of my children."

Not surprisingly, I can't find this sentence, or anything remotely like it. Overall my profile falls into the "normal but interesting" category. I have confirmed this with plenty of outside feedback as well, so it's not just my opinion.. So why then is nobody responding?

At first I thought it must be the pictures. So I informally surveyed a few friends and discovered that I might be better served by using a different, "sexier" photo as my primary.

I get it. Men are visual and need to be "lured" by their eyes right off the bat. No complaints from me. I switched pictures and waited for the responses to start rolling in. Like they did when I was 29.

So when THAT didn't happen, I noted the age thing. A large percentage of guys in my age range put their maximum cutoff age about 2 years below their own. Ridiculous. They won't even match their own age? Good God.

But most of the guys guilty of ignoring my emails claim to be looking for girls even a few years older than me. Are they lying in their own profiles? I don't see why they would, so I think I've ruled this reason out for the most part.

Then I think they just aren't getting my emails. Maybe I have some block set up on my account I don't know about. After some tooling around in my account settings, I see I'm in the clear and fully activated (this is especially important if I want to qualify for Match.com's "Get your second 6 months free if you don't find the love of your life in the first 6 months" guarantee that I'm bound to be in need of in a few short months.

Then I go to what I call the "Narcissism" page to see who's viewed my profile. It feels somewhat gratifying to see that my profile has been viewed 846 times. That is, until I see who's been looking. Old combover guys from places like Las Vegas and Beverly Hills. And greased up guys that email at least 10 different girls a day and begin every email with, "Hey beautiful," and misspell just about everything else after that. Then there's the serial killer looking guy from Oklahoma and the military guy from Virginia.

And then I see him - Mr. Wonderful. Nice smile, funny but sincere profile, over 6' tall and "spiritual but not religious." Maybe even throws in a well-chosen Seinfeld or Office Space quote. Everything I've been looking for.

But when I look a little closer at the profile, it seems oddly familiar. And then I realize. I emailed him already. And he never responded. This is what has happened 95% of the time (the other 5% is not worth going into I assure you).

So my uncanny skills of deduction lead me to this sad conclusion: He got the email. He read the email. He looked at my profile. He chose not to respond.

Whatever excuses that may fall in between these short sentences is irrelevant. He's dating someone. He isn't a Match. com member. His computer's broken. None of it matters because the one thing he didn't do was respond, not even with the most insincere form of rejection available at his disposal- the Match.com supplied "No Thank You"button. Even with this pathetic excuse for a reply, you can feel somewhat better knowing that your email registered on some small level to at least inspire him to make the terribly exhausting effort of hitting a button.

OK, I'm WAY over dramatizing. Actually I don't take it personally at all. It means nothing. It's on line dating for God's sake. So what if almost every woman (that I like anyway) admits she almost always hits the "No Thank you" button. Maybe not out of sympathy for the guy, but because she knows how much it sucks when someone does the same to her.

But who cares why? The fact is it is just laziness. Is it a gender thing? I won't go that far, but if this pattern continues I'm going to have to start applying those amazing deduction skills of mine and make some unflattering conclusions about the male species.

In the words of one fellow Trooper, "It's one Button, Dammit. Just push one Goddamn Button!"

Oh, the man update. I went on two dates in the last three days. One with a guy I met playing shuffleboard at a bar (a corral of wild animals?). Another with the Jewish Dr. of my mother's dreams. One was fine, the other better than fine but with an awkward ending (a handshake? really?!).

For those of you who don't know me personally, take note. The less I say about a guy after a date, the more I like him. So when you get a short update like the above, be suspicious. Another immediate clue that I like him is how many times I end a sentence about the guy with a "We'll see" and shrug of the shoulders intended to convey nonchalance but is really nothing but a load of crap.

Dismissed.

March 14, 2007

Dating in the Wild

It wasn't until I developed a small crush on a guy in my weekly tennis league that I realized I had no clue how to date "In The Wild." When I share this sentiment with my friends they have no clue what I'm talking about - just like you are probably feeling right now. So let me clarify.

Dating in the Wild applies to situations where you meet someone with dating potential in a natural, non-dating focused setting. Like work, an art class, waiting in line at the grocery store.

I'm sure some of you are thinking, "I'm always on the lookout for a potential date no matter where I am." But this Dating in the Wild classification makes more sense when I compare it to its polar opposite - Dating in a Corral.

Corral Dating is a situation clearly designed for meeting others who are also looking to date (or hook up, or marry or whatever). It can range from the most obvious (like on-line dating sites or blind dates) to the more disguised variety (like a crowded bar on a Saturday night). Basically both parties are entering a defined social (somewhat animalistic) setting, or Corral, with the same mindset - "I'm looking for someone to date."

So here I am with my tennis group - people I've hung out with every week for the past two months. I know some people are likely in the league to meet potential dates. But for me it really is just an outlet to play, act like a goof on the courts, and grab a few drinks with everyone afterwards. I enjoy the innocence of it - no drama, no scandal, no gossip. Just a ball, a racket, and some wisecracks. If anything, it has become a welcome escape from the dating battlefield.

Then one day while waiting in line for one of our pointless volley drills, I turn to the guy next to me and feel myself completely clam up. I can't think of anything interesting to say. I get nervous when he makes eye contact (and he's damn good at that with those puppy dog eyes). I over analyze everything I do manage to blurt out. I giggle more annoyingly than usual. What the hell is wrong with me?

It could only be one thing - I like him.

Great. Now my safety zone has turned into a battlefield and I am completely unarmed.

I don't know about you, but I have been dating almost exclusively in a Corral for most of my adult dating life. Bars, set-ups, e-harmony, Match.com. For better or for worse, I'm almost always in a controlled setting with established dating protocols.

On-Line: If you are interested, you email. If it's mutual, they respond and you meet. If it's still mutual, you keep meeting until you are a couple or you aren't. Plus you get the added bonus of knowing in advance their age, career, if they want kids, their religion and all that other b.s. you can put out there. Of course, they could be lying but let's assume for the sake of argument they aren't.

Bars: If you are interested, you smile in their direction, talk to them, let them buy you a drink. If you aren't interested, you avoid them, ditch them to "go to the bathroom" or give them a fake phone number.

Blind Dates: If you are interested you smile a lot, maybe touch their arm during conversation, give a hug at the end of the night. If you are not interested you don't call them again.

Most of us pretty much understand these rules and, although they can be painful and awkward, they are relatively clear and easy to follow.

But In The Wild, it's another story entirely. You are flying blind and have no idea if they are feeling the same attraction you are. Did that guy in the produce section linger a little longer than necessary around the Granny Smiths because he wanted to talk to me? Should I talk to him first?

Or if you already know them, like with my Tennis Crush, you see and talk to them regularly whether you like each other romantically or not. So how do you all of a sudden indicate your interest without changing the dynamic that already seems to be working?

In my case, I took a two-pronged approach. I paid him extra attention with more smiles than usual, and established an inside joke. But I have no idea if those were picked up on so I also added the middle school move of mentioning my crush to a few other people in the group. (I'm embarrased to admit that I am not "evolved" enough to ask a guy out first. It just isn't even on my radar - yet.)

One of the reasons I have this crush in the first place is that he is so genuine and friendly with everyone in the group. So of course I can't tell if he's paying me any special attention in return, or if he's even noticed at all.

The league ended last week and I supposed I have to wait and see what - if anything- happens. He's got my phone number and my email so the tennis ball is in his court (I couldn't resist the pun -sorry). But to be perfectly honest, I kind of hope nothing happens at all. Having a harmless crush is actually kind of fun and innocent all on its own. And it would be nice to maintain at least one peaceful, war-free zone.

Oh, for the update on the other war fronts:
International Business Man of Mystery remains a mystery. We had plans to meet last week and he never replied to my email confirming the time and place. When I went to his Match.com profile, I got this message: "This profile is no longer available." Considering that I didn't even want to meet him anyway (he kind of freaked me out on the phone - way too much energy, but I was curious to meet him at least for blog material), I was relieved. But the Invisible Man lives on.

I have a blind date scheduled for next week with a Jewish Doctor a friend insists I will like. I'm sure he's shorter than me, but my mother would kill me if I didn't at least meet him.

Dismissed.

March 3, 2007

The Invisible Man?


If I was going to be all Freudian about this, I'd say that this whole phenomenon of men simply disappearing is all in my head. A result of my abandonment "issues" stemming from my dad's unexpected death when I was five. One day they're there, the next day they're gone without one word of explanation.

OK, so I do have some "issues" when it comes to abandonment. Who wouldn't after something so traumatic at such a young age. But that only justifies my reaction to a man's disappearance - a little overblown perhaps. But the disappearance itself? That doesn't have a damn thing to do with me. I think it's just what men (or a lot of the dating ones anyway) do. Trust me, that Post-It note breakup on "Sex in the City" was painfully realistic.

I don't know many women that would end it with a guy (even one they have dated only a few times) by just walking away without some explanation. We feel the need to EXPLAIN everything.
"It's just not working"
"I'm dating someone else"
"You gave me carnations on Valentine's Day"

We are compelled to give some reason behind our dumping. Maybe that's because we know how awful it feels when they just stop calling us without any explanation.

But men seem to be able to just turn their backs and walk away. I have no idea if they feel bad, think about it at all, or really don't give a crap. Probably somewhere in between. But I think I've figured out that the reason they do it is because it's easier. I can admit that we do not make it easy when we are being dumped. And I know men don't like to see a girl with hurt feelings or be responsible for those hurt feelings. They also don't like the unpredictability of our reaction. So when I'm being really honest with myself, I kind of don't blame them.

I think back to one guy I dated for a few months in LA. (the very first in my string of what I call "Gay-Straight Boyfriends" or GSBs. No, he wasn't gay, just liked shopping far more than me and is now a successful men's accessories designer). We had a good time together and our groups of friends were mixing wonderfully. But he was 25 (as was I) and just didn't want a girlfriend, while I clearly wanted a boyfriend.

He flaked on me a few times to give me the "hint" that something was up, then called and asked if we could talk. I knew what was coming. I was new to adult dating (as opposed to the college version of "hooking up regularly") and didn't understand how unusual it is to have a guy kindly go out of his way to break up with you and give you polite reasons. So instead of being grateful, I was prepared for battle.

I made sure I looked really good, put on a strong front and walked with him to my favorite yogurt shop across the street (my comfort place). There we sat and he told me he was changing careers and really going for a new life and didn't really want the obligation of a girlfriend right now. But he really likes hanging out and our group and hopes we can still be friends. I was ready for retaliation.

No way. You don't get my friends and you don't get to hang out with me anymore. And here are all the reasons why I don't want to be your girlfriend anyway.

The poor guy. Here he was trying to be kind and honest and I turn it all around and make him feel like he was the one being dumped. Women have that talent, don't we?

I got up and left him there, dejected. And walked home Woman of Power.

No fucking wonder guys don't make the effort to break up with us properly. That was probably the last time GSB #1 went out of his way to nicely dump a girl. I bet the next time he just stopped calling until she got the picture and went away.

Today, over 10 years later, if a guy I was dating took the time to dump me kindly, I would grab his hands and say, "Thank you for the consideration," give him a kiss on the cheek and go home a relatively satisfied, though dumped, woman. Sounds too good to be true? It is, because a guy would probably never do that and if he did, I wouldn't think to be grateful until the sting of the dumping faded after a few weeks.

So, what brought this on? My Match.com first date that was supposed to happen. Nope. He flaked. Twice. I gave him a chance the first time after I called him the day before our scheduled date (schedule a week in advance!) and he said, "Oh, I can't make it because of work. Let's reschedule." So we pick the next Friday, but not til 8pm because he will be working until 7:30. Friday night for a blind date - that's asking a lot but what the hell else do I have to do? The morning of the date - not a word. I email him a short "Are we meeting tonight? Otherwise I would like to make other plans." He replies "I will probably have to work. Why don' t you call my house at 7:30 and if I'm home let's definitely meet up. If not, I'm at work."

Are you kidding me?!! I'm supposed to wait around on a Friday night for a "maybe" date with some guy I don't even know?! I replied with a curt "Why don't we try to schedule when you aren't so busy." So maybe he didn't actually disappear. He's more like a hologram of some theoretical guy I've emailed with and talked to on the phone but never met -and never will thank you very much.

More Match.com stories to come I assure you. One guy who I will call "Mr. International Business Man of Mystery" I'm meeting Monday and, assuming he doesn't murder me or something, I have a feeling it will be entertaining, which is my main motivation for meeting him at this point.

Stay tuned, Soldiers. Dismissed.