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Top 5 Dating Tips (aka How To Avoid Losers)

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Dating, like dealing with customer service, using the remote, and getting on a plane, was easier in my 20s. I’d meet a guy; in a bar, at work, in a dorm or in a cockpit (true story) and zing zang zoom, we’d be dating. There wasn’t much at stake and there was little baggage accumulated. Everyone was pretty much in the “same place” developmentally and it was all pretty much harmless fun. Yes things got real and often fraught, and sometimes ended in his and her tears. But the sheer volume of single people in their 20s meant a helluva big drawing board to which to return. As long as someone was unmarried there was very little that was suspect in a potential date. Not employed to his full potential? Well who is in their 20s? Living with roommates and/or in a hovel? Hey, these are early days. Unless one wrestled with mental stability, there really was nothing to hide from a potential date. Fast forward to your 40s and beyond and it’s quite a different tableau. Internet dating and messy lives have nudged us towards self-marketing that borders on deceit. We put our best face forward. Sometimes it’s a vaseline on the lens version of ourselves (a la Cybill Shepherd in every close-up of Moonlighting; by the way if you get that reference, this article is for you!). We leave out the less attractive aspects of our biographies, or we simply choose to forget. The dating pool gets significantly smaller as we age, unless you’re a dude over 75 & then yowza the world is your oyster once more. But for everyone else the pickings get slimmer, as so many former singles are happily (or not so happily) Noah’s Arking their way through life. And unlike in our 20s, we are not all equal now. It’s true and there’s no point in grousing over it; older men like younger women. So it is written, so it will always be. (If it helps, employ the serenity prayer from time to time.) This fact slenderizes the options even further. It is tempting then to overlook certain quirks or niggling details or even that little voice in your head screaming; “RUN!!!!” The more we’re attracted or intrigued, the more muffled that poor exhausted voice becomes, until it’s just as small & muted as Dustin Hoffman pounding on the church glass (Elaine, Elaine.) If you won’t listen to your own little voice, maybe you’ll listen to my big booming bossy one! Resolve dissolves, but commandments do not. So it is written…

1. Help From The IRS

Have you ever noticed that there is no box to check for “separated” on your tax form? That’s because it is legally meaningless. However it does mean many things to many people. Some people see business travel as being “separated”, others consider their separate vacations as a change in marital status. Suffice it to say, there are all kinds of ways to be separated and it’s key to know which version works for you. If the wife has publicly left the marriage (in a juicy embezzlement/infidelity scandal) and is gearing up to be her married boyfriend’s 4th wife, chances are she isn’t coming back (oops, have I said too much?). But separated ain’t divorced, and it’s going to get messier before it gets neater. Caveat Emptor dear reader, caveat emptor.

2. Professions Are Not Accidental

After a certain age, professions are just as much about personality as they are about credentials. It’s kinda like when dogs look like their owners. Do people choose dogs that look familiar or do they begin to take on the characteristics of their dogs over time? Either way, don’t be surprised when the lawyer likes to talk (a lot!), or when the professor is happiest with disciples. If you’re looking for a good conversationalist you might want to avoid dating anesthesiologists. If you’d like to be seen as something more than an audience member on a date you might want to forgo actors. Oh I’m sure there are many many actors capable of very healthy and wonderful relationships and utterly devoid of narcissism. I look forward to meeting one some day. It is more likely that you’ll find yourself listening to the actor’s monologue over dinner, a dinner at which he appeared 15 minutes late without an apology. There’s also a chance you’ll run into him a few weeks later and he’ll have no idea who you are, having never really “seen” you at all.

3. Less Filling, Taste Great

Whether in person or on-line we’ve all become pretty adept at selling ourselves. It can be quite advantageous to all parties to put one’s best foot forward. However, actual misrepresentation will bite everyone in the ass. Any advertiser worth their fee will make sure they understand their product before launching a campaign. I’m not suggesting swami level enlightenment here; just a good long look in the (full-length) mirror. There’s nothing wrong with keeping a few irrelevant details to oneself. Does any date really need to know about the skinny-dipping and wedding crashing of your (I mean, my) past? But it’s best to get the major stuff right out front. Saying you “don’t see well at night” isn’t an accurate representation of stick wielding, sunglass wearing, golden retriever assisted, blind. We’re all differently abled in one way or another. However I’d like to know that I’ll need to help my blind blind date to the door of the restaurant. (I’d have noticed his condition sooner had I not been mesmerized by the calloused grooves in his guitar playing fingertips. So what does that leave, just three senses?)

4. Linkedin = Match.com v.2

Have a first date with anyone. Seriously. As long as it’s in a public place and one friend knows where you are and what you’re doing; throw caution to the wind. But before you get serious or sleep with someone, do a bit of research. There’s simply no excuse for not Googling. If your potential bed buddy has no digital footprint be wary. As cold shower as it sounds, check out his/her Linkedin profile. Does it sound similar to what you’ve been told? Does it appear to be written by a 5-year old with one-sentence job descriptions devoid of capitalization or punctuation? You might be about to bed Peter Pan or be arrested. Are there discrepancies with dates and schools? Are there a lot of very brief stints? It’s probably not a game changer but the more you know…

5. Actions Are Deafening

People tell you an awful lot about themselves right off the bat. What they say is important, but it’s their actions that we really should be listening to. If you meet someone at a party, and not once during the hours long conversation do they offer to get you a drink, they’re probably not entirely adept at adult situations. If a date buys you a lovely dinner and then leaves you on the street to hail your own cab in the dark, he probably thinks his wallet can do all his heavy lifting. If a date lets you hail your own cab because he’s too busy figuring out whether or how to kiss you, he’s probably rather limited. If it all sounds confusing and embarrassingly retro and anti-feminist, try thinking of it in a non-sexual way. How do you and your friends treat each other? How do you expect to interact with people when there’s no sexual charge present? Now transfer that to a dating situation. Don’t you want to know a friend got home safely? Do you tell a friend they look fab and/or you had a great time? During a first encounter with a fella I find myself noticing the lack of a drink offer or other borderline boorish behavior and think of a recent incident I had. A married couple, two very tall and imposing gorgeous men, took me to the theatre days after I had broken a toe. They continuously surrounded me The Bodyguard fashion in the crowded, congested, toe crushing theatre. Out on the street, one stayed with me as the other ran two blocks, jumped in a cab and rode it to me. I will always love them.

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2015 in Cultural Critique, Dating

 

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We’ll Always Be Bosom Buddies

“Make new friends but keep the old, some are silver and the others gold.”  Did you sing this in music class too?  No doubt my little girl hand clutched my bestest (at that moment) friend’s hand, as we sang with all our might.  Once we enter the “adolescent years” friendships explode and burn like Jiffy Pop kernels.  Alliances and stand-offs occur at every turn.

But then things (hopefully) normalize as we get older.  We travel through adult life wearing many more hats than we did as students.  We are workers, alumni, community members, spouses and parents.  As we take new jobs or join new gyms, we shyly look for people with whom we might click.  It’s exciting to discover a kindred spirit, particularly as we become even more individually defined.  (Let’s face it, it’s a lot easier to find a classmate who shares your obsession with Harriet the Spy and Kit Kat bars, than it is an adult with whom you care to have lunch.)  Sometimes a work friend is just that; someone with whom to share frustrations and gossip and maybe an occasional lunch.  On the rare occasion a friend discovered in the workplace shares your sensibilities throughout your life.  The same is true for friends found at the school gate, house of worship, or neighborhood.  If you are lucky, there will be people in your life who transcend place.

Something most of us could never have foreseen is the impact of social media.  The generation that created it could not even have predicted how it would impact those of us long passed paying off our student loans.  Why would they?  For them it was a great way to connect with age and class-mates.  For those of us of a certain age it means our past has found us.  On our own terms of course.  If someone would had told me, ten years ago, that I would be in touch with the girl who taught me fractions, well, I would have looked at them as I looked at her when she tried to explain the difference between fourths and fifths.  There are friends I have thought of throughout the years.  Some I even Googled periodically.  But today, through the magic of Facebook, like a good military commander, I can report that almost every person is accounted for.  Almost without exception, most are doing wonderfully in their lives, and that is a joy to know.  I have been reminded of the longevity of intellect and creativity.  That girl who was so quick and so funny?  She’s gotten even better.  The woman at work who had more style than should be allowed?  Nothing’s changed, and her daughter seems to have inherited it.

But what about all those found friends with whom a mutual interest in Wacky Packs, Dr. Pepper lip balm and the claymation of Mr. Bill, were the ties that bind?  Is there much to discuss (on Facebook or in person) beyond, “Hey, there you are!”  After a few awkward versions of “So, you’re like a grown-up now” is there anything left to say?  Any connecting points whatsoever?  What if it’s worse than that?  What if through the public broadcasting of Facebook you discover your schoolyard chum is a bigot or invokes the name of their favorite deity far more frequently than your comfort level allows?  What if they post photos of babies dressed as flowers or puppies playing football?  Is the fact that you grew up within a mile of each other enough to sustain a friendship, even one in the virtual world?  For better or worse, “unsubscribe” is as effective as not returning calls.  I am almost never a fan of letting things go unsaid, but what is the point of a conversation that starts with; “I wish I never knew these things about you.”  Luckily those incidences are a just a tiny fraction of the larger friendship pie; their denominator being larger (see! I did catch on eventually.)  The vast majority of found friends are a gift I simply never could have foreseen.  It has created a fluidity and continuity of life for which I am so grateful.  When the very best part of your past can be part of your present; well, what a wonderful world it is.

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2012 in Cultural Critique, Media/Marketing

 

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