Monday, March 22, 2010

Stage Nine: Smooth Sailing

Hello Everyone,

Well, I may be taking the pace a little more slowly these days. I check messages in both POF and OKCupid. I have to say that I have become a little addicted to the emails, even if they are from strangers. I have found that I receive many more messages on POF than OkCupid. I am not sure if this is because POF has been around longer or because it is bigger. I had not even heard of OKCupid until a couple of weeks ago.

I met up with the man in aviation on Thursday night. It was the end of a long, hard week at college so I was exhausted by that time. But I knew that I needed to follow through. I came home, had a shower, ate some food and regrouped. Then off into the dating world I went again with a fresh sense of optimism.

We met at a cute little bar downtown that is both cosmopolitan and laid back. I had reserved a booth just in case it was a little busy. When I walked up to the door the mystery man was waiting outside for me. We said our hellos and wandered in. It was not very busy at all which was a relief. We sat down and ordered some drinks. He was polite and personable. And was also a good dresser: nice dark sweater, jeans, vest. I was immediately at ease. I am not sure if this was due to my new attitude moving forward, or simply because he was a very affable guy. Perhaps it was a bit of both.

We took our time and got to know each other. As far as venues go I think that this was the best one. A secluded place that puts you at ease, with a few cocktails thrown in, is the best for getting acquainted. He said that he was enjoying himself and kept asking me if I was okay to stay. I said yes. Since I had Friday off this was, in fact, the start of my weekend! The conversation flowed and we shared some laughs. Overall it was an enjoyable evening, if a bit on the mellow side. He walked me home and asked if he could call me again. I have to say that I wasn't overwhelmed by him, but I did agree to a second date. Since first dates are always a bit awkward, a second one might allow for a little bit more insight into someones personality. We shall see.

But another POF date has popped up on the horizon. This one is a sports doctor. We had emailed back and forth about a month ago and then he seemed to disappear. Now he is back and says that he wants to meet. Last night he phoned me and we spoke for over an hour. The conversation was fun and light. But I have a feeling that he might live in circles of people that I may not be accustomed to: particularly the flashy jet-setting crowd. But with my new-found courage and devil-may-care attitude I have agreed to meet him this coming week. This, my friends, is a learning experience. TTFN.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Stage Eight: A New Beginning

The last week has been spent getting used to the website OKCupid. I have to admit, if you are looking for something to suck away all of your time get involved with one of these websites. It is great for the inner voyeur and gives you the illusion of intimacy.

OKCupid is very different from PlentyofFish. For one thing, it has an area called a Quiver (in keeping with the cupid theme). This is where prospects are placed after the "staff robot" has taken a look at your profile and found some possible matches. It looks at the interests and requirements you have written in your profile to determine this. As yet, I have not agreed with the staff robot. (Surprise, surprise!) One major flaw (in my opinion) of this website is that you can't seem to pick a country as a requirement. Most of the men in my Quiver have been from NY state. I appreciate that the website doesn't see boundaries to love. However, this is not very practical since, if you did find love, one of you would eventually have to leave his/her country.

There is also an area called "Journals". You can write your own, as well as peruse others. This can give you a very good idea of education level, attitude, as well as insights into someone's personality. One morning recently, I got totally sucked in to reading all of the journal entries of a man in Michigan who has just gone through a divorce. My heart was aching for him! It's the online version of reality TV.

One of the fun and mindless features of OKC is that there are a myriad of quizzes that you can take. There is a vast range of topic:

1) The Personality Defect Test
2) The Lover Style Profile Test
3) The Four Variable IQ Test
4) The North American Trivia Test
5) The OKCupid Kissing Test

There are literally hundreds of these tests. And you can see which tests others have taken and what they scored. This site has a lot of gadgets that seem to be created just to keep you on the site. Oh, and I was surprised to find that it has chat built in. All of a sudden a man popped up asking me how I was! It was a short chat since he was, yet again, an American. You can turn the chat feature off if you aren't interested.

So other that having much more of a "fun" factor, there really hasn't been too much that's been different from the main function. I am still getting the same sorts of messages from men that I usually cross off my list for one reason or another. There has not been one yet that I've thought I'd like to meet.

I have, however, decided to meet up with a man that messaged me on POF about a month ago. He was in my possibilities list and now I have decided to see where it might go. He is an aviation engineer. He asked if we could speak on the phone. Two days ago I called him. We spoke for over half an hour and I have to say, it was an incredibly normal, pleasant conversation. At the end he asked if I'd like to meet up for a drink this week. I said yes and closer to the end of the week we will set up a time and place. So off I go again with an open mind, but with more subdued expectations. Wish me luck!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Stage Seven: Taking a Breather

Well, there have been no dates to report back on this week. I needed a rest! To be honest, I felt as though I needed a time-out to regroup. The messages still keep pouring in, however, and they are as funny, bizarre, and sometimes slightly normal, as ever.

It was reading week at my college, so I grabbed a friend and went away to Ottawa for a few days. It was a mini-break that we both needed very badly. We stayed with a male friend of mine whom I worked with years ago. We ate, we drank, we played Rock Band (as a beginner I was better than I thought I'd be!). And I reflected.

We met up with my friend's friend for a drink. He had used dating websites before, and had even gotten a relationship out of it. Funnily enough, he had differing opinions about the "rules" I had created. He believes that you should chat for a while before meeting someone, just to get to know more about them. But this was coming from a very analytical man. This leads me to believe that the rules might be personal rules and that knowing yourself is key. If you can keep your imagination in check then sure, get to know as much as possible. But it's that elusive chemistry quotient we all crave and there is no telling until you meet them whether it has all been for naught.

My friend's friend also suggested another site: OKCupid. It has been quoted as "The Google of online dating" by the Boston Globe and is also free. Apparently it has many more personal quizzes that can give you information on prospective mates. I have decided to give it a shot and have begun my profile. It is already much more graphically pleasing than POF. Perhaps a new beginning is what is needed. I will approach this endeavour now as good entertainment first and foremost. And wow, is it ever!

Things I have noticed:

1) Most men who message me do not have even the slightest idea how to write coherent sentences. It's scary. The occasionally period or capital letter comes in handy guys!
2) After a good few weeks, the men who messaged you and who you ignored, will try again. But in a new message that seems to show that they forgot they already tried.
3) Many of the pictures attached to profiles are horrible. A picture of your dog dressed in pants is not a good idea! And if you are scowling and haven't brushed your hair, we get the ax-murderer vibe.

So with a new perspective and a new website I continue my research. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Stage Six: Picking Up the Pace

Well friends,

It was a packed weekend of dating. I had three POF dates and one normal one thrown in for good measure. The normal one was more of a friendly coffee with someone I had known for quite some time. However, I will start from the beginning.

The first date was Saturday night. It was with a man who works for a professional cycling team and travels quite a bit. We met at a cute little Italian restaurant for dinner. We arrived at the same moment outside and my first impression was that he was cute and friendly. We went inside and were seated at a table for two by the front window. Other than a loud party of six next to us, the ambiance was perfect. I did feel a little like being on a job interview, but for the most part the conversation flowed. He asked if I would like to go out again sometime and I said yes. Nice guy, but I am not sure that I felt any real romantic connection. I am keeping an open mind.

The second date was with a musician. Our date was watching the gold medal hockey game at his house. (I don`t normally do this so I gave my friends his address just in case, and got regular texts to check up on me.) But in this circumstance breaking my other rules has come back to bite me. We had been texting non-stop for a week before the date. I had been googling him and now know his song lyrics word for word. Unfortunately, they are still playing in my head. I allowed myself to give in to the fantasy before we met. Bad idea. He was friendly and sweet. We sat on his couch watching the game, which was amazing as we all know! Canada's final gold! However, I was not nearly as successful. I felt stagnant and unable to be myself. It was difficult to have real conversation. And I wanted to! So disappointing. In the end though, it was as I had feared: He was a womanizer only interested in fun. And I am just not that kind of person. We had set an end time for the date just in case, so I went off to meet the man that I already knew for a coffee. My hopes had been dashed.

The third and final POF date was last night. We had drinks at a restaurant, and then moved onto a local pub. The conversation flowed. He was quite good-looking and we shared common interests. However, he mentioned at one point that he is not really looking for a long term relationship since he may get a job overseas in a year. Once again, I am not just looking for meaningless fun. I am truly interested in a relationship at this point. And I believe that he was a bit of a pessimist. So by the end of this date, my own optimism had fallen just a little bit.

I do believe that I have learned some hard lessons:

1) Don`t get attached to the idea of someone before you meet them. (This goes back to the rule about meeting them quickly!)

2) Keep an open mind and don`t get expectations up for what will come of the date. Think of it as net-working, or you will be frozen and unable to be yourself.

3) Try to stay positive even when things seem to be nose-diving and remain true to who you are.

I have to say that I have gotten to a point where the enthusiasm has worn off just a little. I started with higher hopes that have fallen back down to the ground now. I knew that this would be a challenging experience. However, I forgot how much of this is really left up to fate. How many people do we meet in our lives that we will truly connect with? This makes the task even more daunting and time-consuming. But if you don`t put yourself out there you risk nothing and gain nothing. I will perhaps slow down my pace and try to reset my emotions for something a bit more realistic.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Stage Five: In the Weeds

Well friends,

It has been a strange week for me in the online dating world. My emotions have been up and down. There have been some trials and tribulations. I might be losing my mojo and my mind. And no actual dates have taken place! But I can tell you this: All my time is being sucked away by this endeavour.

One of my messages early on in this experiment was from a good-looking man who reminds me of John F. Kennedy Jr. He's 31 years old and in marketing. We started chatting online and he asked me out. I texted him Friday to firm up the plans. He said that he was actually off that day, but unfortunately, I was on my way to Toronto. So we made plans to meet Sunday. I was feeling a bit of the residue of my Saturday night festivities and was not at my best Sunday. However, I planned to go through with it anyway, all in the name of research!

I got a text at 1 p.m. that said he might have to cancel. He would know for sure a bit later on. So I waited. I got another text that said he could meet after all. He suggested a pub at 7 p.m. I said okay. But I was starting to feel misgivings. This is all very nerve-racking in the first place. When there is a lot of lead time and planning the nerves get worse! Then I realized that the big Canada/U.S.A. hockey game was on that night. There would be massive crowds and everyone at this bar would be watching TVs. I wondered if that was his safety net if things went wrong. And I admit, I felt kind of annoyed. Was he not even bothering to take this seriously? I said maybe we should make it another place, or another night. He chose another night. So we have not met yet, and I have lost some enthusiasm. This Sunday we will try again.

But there is someone else, a dark horse, who has entered the scene. I believe he is not a practical choice, but am intrigued against my better judgement. We have chatted for a week and I have agreed to meet him this weekend. We have started a texting relationship, and have gotten wrapped up in the expectation and emotion. He is a musician and is divorced with a child. He did not post online that he has the child, but told me today in a text. I am wondering why. Is he cautious, or just out for a good time? These are things that you cannot tell online! This is trickier than I ever thought possible.

So I am already breaking two of my new rules:

1) If you think you want to meet someone, meet them quickly.
2) Don't begin a relationship online before you meet(i.e. emails/texts) in order to avoid overblown expectations.

Friends, I am keeping my chin up! I will not let my nerves or misfires make me give up this easily. But I am slowly realizing the truth: Online dating is hard work, and not play.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Stage Four: First Date

Hello Dear Followers,

Well, it was accomplished yesterday: my first ever online-dating date! It was with the boyishly-cute man with the PH.D. in English. We chatted online for a few days, then finally connected on the phone. He asked me out for a coffee the next day. Funnily enough, this turned out to be Valentine's Day. What could be more romantic than possibly meeting my future husband on Valentine's Day?

So at 3:30 p.m. I boldly walked into a coffee shop to search for a stranger who I hoped to be able to recognize from his photograph. But as soon as I walked in he saw me and waved me over to a table. We exchanged pleasantries. We sauntered over to the counter and he offered to buy my coffee. (I am always a sucker for a gentleman.) Then we went back to our table to get to know each other a little better.

Unfortunately dear followers, this is where it turns into a case of "swing-and-a-miss". He is a lovely man, but he is not for me. He loves to talk...I mean A LOT. Any time I started to speak, he would talk over top of me as if he didn't even hear me! And the funny thing was that I even commented on it early on. He asked me a question, and as I started to answer it, he asked me another one. So I said with a slight chuckle, "Okay, you need to let me answer the first question before moving on to the next." He apologized, but for the next hour it was a battle to get a word in edgewise. It was dizzying. I have to admit that I started to tune out. I caught myself doing the smile-and-nod head bob. I thought about things such as my laundry, and what I was going to have for dinner.

I was wondering how it would end and hoped that he wouldn't ask if I wanted to see him again. But it all came to an abrupt close when he said "Well, it was nice to meet you. I have to go home and finish my laundry." Ha ha ha! Perhaps he had as awkward a time as I did.

Lessons learned so far:

1) People can look great on paper, but that does not guarantee any sort of chemisty.
2) You can tell if there is chemistry within the first five minutes of meeting someone.
3) Develop a plan of escape if things are not going the way you had hoped.
4) Always tell a good friend when and where you are meeting. (Safety first!)

But, dear friends, I took the first step! My courage and confidence are rising. In fact, I have already made a date with a second man for this Sunday. This man's pictures look like they should be on the cover of GQ. I am at once both suspicious and intrigued. But I will try to reserve judgement until Sunday.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Stage Three: Online

Well, it has been a crazy week with many messages pouring into my newly-created POF account. I have deleted many. I have responded to a few. In the beginning I felt that good etiquette required that I respond to all requests in some fashion. It quickly became apparent that I would never have the time. And to be honest, I felt that there were some men who I just didn't want to engage in conversation. Let's just call it a "gut-feeling" that they were not on my wave-length.

A small cross-section:

1) The tall, dark and handsome man who keeps calling me "Hun" and asking me out for a drink. (playa?)
2) The sweet, boyishly cute man with a PH.D. in English who has given me his number (whom I plan to call tomorrow....)
3) The man who works repairing bikes for a cycling team and travels all over the world for a living. (So jealous....He has gone to Cuba for three weeks now, but wants to meet when he gets back.)

There have been various others that I have crossed off the list immediately: the multi-tattooed, the ones who have more pictures of their dogs than themselves, the ones who have posted only a picture of their naked chest! (No judgement, to each his/her own.) I am looking for a genuine man with a sense of humour, sense of fun, and a positive attitude. Oh, and a mischievous grin is never a bad thing.

This weekend could be first contact. This may include a drink, a coffee, all of my lovable friends sitting at all the surrounding tables for support! I can do this!