Sunday, October 28, 2007

On-Line Dating

On-line dating in a 3 ring circus.

As one of the masses in the ever growing breed of single parents, it appears that I am way too busy to meet people and find the time to date. As an example, I work full time, am attempting a part time career in real estate in an abysmal market, plus try to be around for the kids and occasional house hold chores. Martha Stewart would be very ashamed of my house. A friend at work told me that he thought I needed a wife. I'd really prefer a sugar daddy!

I once read an article about places to meet men besides the bar scene. Some suggestions included your children’s school, a home improvement or grocery store and volunteer efforts. Speaking from the trenches let me dispel the rumors to these myths.

The idea of meeting a single, interesting guy at a PTO meeting, or at any school function only happens in sitcoms and contrived romance novels. From my experiences, stay at home moms are generally the only ones attending PTO meetings since these meetings are inconveniently scheduled during the day or immediately after school. As for school functions…please! If you are volunteering at a school fundraiser, you are so busy organizing games, taking tickets, corralling kids, or giving out prizes that you can’t even think about what intriguing person is around and if they are single, interesting, or interested.

As for house projects, the times that I have been working on home improvement projects, do you realistically think I’m going to walk into Home Depot with make-up freshly applied? NO!! If I am working on the house, my hair is pulled back in a pony tail, I’m in a grungy t-shirt or sweatshirt and am on a mission to find what I need and to get back to the project. The whole time I am praying I don't make a fool out of myself as my knowledge of home improvement projects is extremely low and my vocabulary of materials necessary for said home improvement projects is non-existent. Example: a molly to me is not a plastic doohickey placed in a wall to secure a towel rod. To me, Molly is an American Girl Doll. That said, picture me in grungy clothes - possibly showered - possibly not - hair up in a pony, sans make-up, trying to sound intelligent about widgets and whatsits necessary to fix whatever is falling apart at the house. There isn't a guy on this earth that would find me attractive while I'm trying to comprehend/translate the foreign language the Home Depot employee is speaking. This summer while redecorating my bathroom, I had white and lavender paint in my hair and on my hands for weeks. This was not the time for me to meet anyone unless they had a paint fetish and I am unsure that I want to date someone with a paint fetish.

Lately, the grocery store could possibly be an option. The men that I have met all love to cook. I could probably get (and probably could use) a few pointers. Lately, though, when I am shopping I am flying through the store doing my best impersonation of Flash Gordon. How fast can I get in and out the door? I do a lot of volunteer work, but have yet to meet any single men, or even married men for that matter. It seems as if I always meet women.

So, now that I have dispelled the rumors of where you can meet men, I have attempted to once again on-line date. Back in February I vowed never to attempt it again. In hindsight, never is a pretty strong term and, well, I would really like to meet someone to share my life. My attitude now with on-line dating is that if I meet someone, great. If I don't, it is a source of entertainment and amusement. I've been single for a very long time, yet I know what I want and refuse to accept anything less.
My first foray into on-line dating was January 1, 2007. Here was a brand new year full of possibilities, so why not? I met Mark that day. We met through a local dating site created by a Chicago woman. We both tried it out because it was free. We chatted for a couple of weeks, had many similarities, hit it off, but neither of us were ready to date. Mark for his own reasons. For me, I realized I never allowed myself to heal a long time ago. During my marriage, I shut myself down emotionally and 9 years later couldn't quite figure out how to be the "me" I am with my close friends or when I am hiding behind my keyboard. Basically, one-on-one I was rather stunted. I tried chalking it up to really great guy...really bad timing for both of us, but the fact that I felt as if I was 2 different people bothered me immensely.
There was the confident, witty, charming "me" that Mark met on-line. Then there was this other "in- person me" who was nervous and petrified. When I was married, I was constantly criticized, and therefore extremely insecure. Now, 9 years later, I found those old insecurities emerging again when they were supposed to be banished years ago. Old demons are extremely difficult to exorcise. They must require industrial strength holy water.
Although the relationship was very brief (ya think?), it was a catalyst of self discovery for me. By meeting Mark, I realized how much of an emotional nutball I truly was. There will always be some nuttiness to my personality. That's part of my charm and quirkiness which I completely embrace. Thankfully, though, I am a million times more emotionally stable than I was at the beginning of the year. Believe me, one could only go up from where I was.

So, with laptop in hand, I decided to give it one more try. I signed up with two sites and now that I know which one I like best, I am trying to figure out how to cancel the other. It sure is easy to sign up, but dang...trying to cancel requires an act of God.

I initially tried eHarmony, but realized I am way to shallow and time crunched for this site. Technically, if you are to participate in eHarmony correctly, you read each lengthy profile and decide if they are for you. In a perfect world, it is the perfect way to go about this, but in a time crunched life where you are just sitting down at the computer at 10:30PM the last thing I want to do is read lengthy profiles that may determine my fate. I neither have the time, nor the inclination to go through all of that work when I am bleary eyed from the day. I also realized that I'd be flipping through the bios and only reading the bios of the cute guys. Thankfully, they have a 7 day trial policy. So on the 7th day, I called to cancel. The customer service agent did her best schpeil on me; trying to convince me not to cancel. So finally when she asked what the main reason was for my cancellation I explained that I am too busy and way too shallow. She was speechless...but cancelled my subscription.

The two sites that I am now on are national sites - in fact one is an international site - someone emailed me from London. You meet a variety of people and would be amazed by some of the bios and emails. I honestly cannot take anyone seriously who starts out a letter to me with, “What’s up Sugar Buns?!” Or the guys from TX, FL, NC, HI or London who want to date. Really, I can barely schedule time to date someone within 30 miles of my zip code, so it's insanity to even think about dating someone across the country…or either ocean for that matter. Rarely do I respond to the out of state ones. With my luck, I'd fall for the guy in North Carolina which would require a long distance thing I don’t want to deal with. Besides, a judge once informed me that I could move to any state of my choice, but my "minor children shall reside in the same state in which their father resides until they are 18." So, unless Mr. TX, FL, NC, or HI want to move to Chicago, we don't have much of a future for the next 6 years. Although a trip to HI might just be what the doctor ordered. I DEFINITELY did not respond to the “Sugar Buns” guy.
There are also men (and I am sure women as well) who only want "an immediate intimate/physical relationship" (yes, that was actually taken from an email). Wow...I don't want to know how many women on-line have taken him up on that request. Ewww!!! Sorry, Babe! We're not even meeting for coffee unless you have a notarized medical report dated today that states you are disease free. I'm not a prude, but I'm not stupid either!

I am also learning that some things never change. The guys that I would love to ask me out, never do. One guy was very interesting. He taught at a prestigious local university and had been published. He gave enough information in his profile that I was able to google him to determine his validity. What he stated appeared to be true. He was an all around intriguing would love to spend the rest of my life with him, or at least meet him for coffee, kind of guy. Our profiles are very similar and so I emailed him. Just a brief note (strategically leaving out the wanting to spend the rest of my life with him part), but mentioned baseball and a few things we do have in common. NOTHING…not even a sorry, your not my type, or I only date blonds response. Just nothing. Crap! I felt as if I was back to high school all over again…liking the unattainable guy.

The kids are actually having fun with the idea of me dating. They are both old enough now and would like me to start dating. My guess is they think if I am occupied, they don’t have to check in as much. Little do they realize I am a master at multi-tasking. A few weeks ago I actually had a date (and hell hadn't even frozen over!). It was the same night as Kat's homecoming. So while I was dropping her off, Kat informed me that she would call after the dance. If I was having a great time, she would find another ride home. If I was having a bad time, she would ask me to pick her up. Nothing like having your 14 year old watch your back! Thanks Baby! He was walking me to my car when she called, so I picked her up…and never heard from him again. Which was OK by me. Nice guy, but absolutely no spark.

I've been skewered by well meaning relatives and friends because I am looking for a spark. Is that so wrong? I want my heart to flutter, my stomach to have butterflies and to feel that spark...not the burning of Atlanta (yet)...just a spark. "Give it time. A spark could appear. Don't discount someone so quickly." Granted, my instincts have never been spot on when it comes to relationships, but I need to feel something. Anything. Whoever I meet, I plan to proceed with caution. Jumping to the finish line, has disaster written all over it. But whoever this elusive man is, he needs to be intelligent, kind, honest, funny, creative and who makes my stomach do somersaults when he calls, emails, or when I just think of him. I want to be twitterpated. On top of all of that we need to feel a mutual spark. Maybe I live in a dream world. Maybe I've watched too many romantic comedies. I don't care. That is what I am looking for. I know that spark exists. Although a rare feeling, I felt it back in January. It is attainable. I want that feeling and won't settle for something less.

The kids are also fun to goof around with regarding dating. At dinner the other day, there was a lull in the conversation and I felt like instigating a bit. It was after I emailed the university/published guy who I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, or at least meet for coffee, but before I realized there would be absolutely no response, I told the kids that I met their future step-dad. I mentioned it as Adam had his fork to his lips and he almost choked on his dinner. It’s always good to keep the kids on their toes. Jeez, they do it to me enough…I might as well reciprocate! I later told Adam it was payback for the time when he was 7. He had heard the words humping and french-kissing on the playground and asked me their meaning just as I placed a fork full of rice in my mouth. I think I aspirated rice at that question and nearly choked to death! Anyway, this time around the look on Adam’s face was priceless. I then explained that I emailed a guy, but had not heard back from him. They think their mom is a bit weird. That's fine. They're a little weird themselves. It's genetic.

Adam would actually love to have another male around, so he is all for his mom dating as long as my dates are interesting, artistic in some way and fun. Works for me. At least he's not walking around with a picture of me in his backpack like Kat did when she was six. She would walk up to men with picture in hand and say, "Want to meet my mom?"

There are perils to Internet dating though. I actually ended up with my own on-line stalker. He kept emailing me through the site telling me he wanted to be my "forever friend", sending me emails telling me how beautiful I was (so he also obviously needs glasses) and giving me his phone number. Thankfully, they do protect your information. After 6 emails in 48 hours, I contacted the site and filed a complaint. I also, blocked him from viewing and contacting me. I realize he may just be a very lonely man and could be harmless, BUT it can be a bit unnerving. So, you have to be careful how much information you put out there. Heck, I was able to google the published guy just by the info in his bio. As in any other circumstance, you never know who you are going to meet. It can be scary.

So...this foray into Internet dating, or just dating in general, will be interesting. I can log on at my leisure, test the waters and learn about myself at the same time all the while staying away from those that start out with "What's up Sugar Buns!" yet looking for that intangible spark.

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