About Me

April 30, 2008

More on "Settling" vs. Compromising

I’ve been thinking some more about Lori Gottlieb’s Atlantic Monthly article “Marry Him! The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough" (http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200803/single-marry), which I first blogged about it in my April 18th post. It made me think about Emily Giffin’s novel “Baby Proof,” which I read last year. In the book, one of the narrator’s sisters had, ten years earlier, dated a really nice, sweet guy who truly loved her, but she broke up with him because he wasn’t exciting enough. She said she couldn’t stay with anyone who didn’t make her pulse race on a regular basis. She ended up marrying a guy who did that, all right – but he ended up being equally passionate about other women and had one affair after another. I think that’s the sort of behavior Gottleib is trying to warn against. Don’t “settle” for the first guy who comes along, but do recognize that real love isn’t necessarily about nonstop passion and excitement. Real love is also about who will speak in soothing tones and hold your hair back when you’re throwing up from the flu. As Gottlieb writes,

“In my formative years, romance was John Cusack and Ione Skye in 'Say Anything.' But when I think about marriage nowadays, my role models are the television characters Will and Grace, who, though Will was gay and his relationship with Grace was platonic, were one of the most romantic couples I can think of. What I long for in a marriage is that sense of having a partner in crime. Someone who knows your day-to-day trivia. Someone who both calls you on your bullshit and puts up with your quirks…As your priorities change from romance to family, the so-called ‘deal breakers’ change. Some guys aren’t worldly, but they’d make great dads. Or you walk into a room and start talking to this person who is 5'4" and has an unfortunate nose, but he ‘gets’ you.”

See, to me, those examples are not examples of settling. They are examples of discovering that what you want in a partner grows and changes as you grow and change, as well it should, and being willing to compromise on things (I mean, height? c’mon!) that aren’t that important. Looking for someone who would be good to have a one-night stand with is much different than looking for someone who would be good to partner with for life – but don’t most people in their 30s and 40s realize that?

Gottlieb also feels that it’s better to be with SOMEONE, even if he doesn’t live up to your romantic ideal, than be alone (because, as she would say, no one can be your perfect romantic ideal anyway). That reminds me of when my sister and brother-in-law went on their honeymoon. They hadn’t traveled much together before, and they had a terrific time touring London and seeing the sights – so much so that at one point my sister exclaimed, “Wow! Traveling with you is so much better than traveling by myself!” At which point, my brother-in-law quipped, “Great – I’m better than nobody!” ;)

I also read Sara Lipka's interview with Gottlieb on the Atlantic Monthly web site (http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200802u/gottlieb-interview). Interestingly, Gottlieb broke up with a serious boyfriend right before starting to go through the artifical insemination process to have a child on her own. In response to the question, "Feeling as you do now, what would you have done differently?" Gottlieb says,

"I would have considered dating guys I never gave a chance. Platonic guy-friends, or guys I met who asked me out but I turned them down, or guys I went on just one date with because I didn’t feel any chemistry or whatever I thought I was supposed to feel. I was looking for a spark when I should have been looking for a solid life partner. And some of those guys would have been really excellent life partners. They’re all married now, of course, because the guys always get married. Maybe it would have been nice to wake up with one of those guys every day and raise a family together. One in particular was much closer to the kind of person I’d want to marry than anybody I’d likely end up meeting now. "

I wonder if she's talking about the guy she broke up with to have a baby on her own?

By the way, Gottlieb got both a lucrative book deal AND a movie deal (!) out of this one article. If anyone out there is moved to offer The Dating Guru a book deal or a movie deal based on this blog, don't be shy -- I'd happily "settle" for either one. (I won't even insist that a gorgeous actress be cast as me!)

April 29, 2008

Catholic Match Discount Code

Hey, all you single Catholics out there – Catholic Match (http://www.CatholicMatch.com) is running a 60%-off special: six months for only $9.95 per month (billed in one payment of $59.70). Just use promo code SPRING8 when you sign up. This offer expires TOMORROW, Wed. April 30th, at midnight. I haven’t tried this one, so if you do let me know how it goes!

Star Jones to Divorce

You’ve probably all read by now that Star Jones has filed for divorce from husband Al Reynolds (http://www.thecelebritycafe.com/features/15472.html). This mildly interested me for three reasons. First, Star and Al got married three and a half years ago at St. Bart’s Episcopal Church in Manhattan (http://www.stbarts.org), one of my two churches and the place where I met Hyper Boy (see my March 10th post).

Second, there were always those rumors swirling around that Al was gay and only married Star for her money. At the time I thought people were being age-ist, assuming that no guy would marry an older, successful female without an ulterior motive. But, sigh, I guess he might really be gay after all, since apparently the marriage has been on the rocks for a while – a quick Google search turned up this article from August 2006: “Star Jones Reynolds: I’m Not Getting a Divorce” (http://www.people.com/people/article/0,26334,1222487,00.html).

Third, even though she can be a bit obnoxious in her desire for the spotlight, I was happy that Star finally seemed to have found someone. I remember this one time years ago on “The View,” they played a clip of her talking about how her goal was to find someone and get married by a certain year – and it turned out it was the end of that year, and she still hadn’t gotten married. I don’t think she was even dating anyone at that point. But she didn’t seem depressed about it. She just said, “I know God’s picked him out. I just haven’t found him yet.”

Inspired, I thought maybe *I* should pick a date to get married, and then the right guy would come along! So I decided on July 28, 2007. Didn’t you get the invite? (ha ha) Well, that date came and went without anything close to a wedding, obviously. Still, my relationship that had ended the year before was the longest I’d ever had, so at least I was getting closer – in a more long-term-relationship frame of mind, so to speak. Better to wait and marry the right person, of course, than marry the wrong person too soon and end up getting divorced.

Worst of all, though, is to wait, STILL marry the wrong person, and get divorced anyway! Poor Star. At least she has a lot of money to comfort her.

April 23, 2008

Affairs for the asking?

Oh my gosh! After I did my last post, I viewed my blog and noticed one of the Adsense ads at the top is advertising "local cheating wives." Love how they specify that they're local -- no need to cross state lines if you wanna meet a cheater! The rest of the ad says "meet real cheating wives. Millions of women. Search now!" MILLIONS of women? Really?? Or just millions of pictures of the same three women? I guess the fear of getting caught or the rush of getting away with something really turns some people on. Wish I could click on it and see what it looks like without risking my Adsense membership.
On second thought, it's probably just as well that I can't.

Do good while you date

There's a dating service in New York City where you meet people by volunteering! It's called Cause and Effect Dating (http://www.causeandeffectnyc.com), and their slogan is "helping the world...to fall in love." The founder, Sandra Schwartz, interviews everyone who applies and sets you up with your dates, but instead of going out to dinner and a movie, you volunteer together somewhere, walking dogs at an animal shelter, for example, or planting trees. What a great idea -- why didn't I think of it!? The costs aren't posted on the web site, but according to an article in Time Out New York's Feb. 7 - 13 "singles issue," the monthly membership fees vary, starting at $19.95 per month for group dates and $44.95 per month for one-on-one dates. A good price -- most on-line dating sites charge at least that much, with no guarantee you'll ever actually meet anyone in person. I'll probably try it in the next month or two. Stay tuned for a full report!

April 20, 2008

Comment from a friend on Compromising vs. Settling

"What I think is interesting is that there were no articles from happily married women. I think most of them would say that they did not settle. All of the articles you read were from women who have not found the right man for themselves yet, so if they were to get married it would feel like, or in fact be, settling. I think when you find the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, and you are honest with yourself about what that actually means, there is no way you can feel like you are settling. You're just excited, hopeful, and have trust and faith that the other person feels the same way."

April 18, 2008

Compromising vs. "Settling"

Where do you draw the line between compromising -- something everyone has to do in any relationship -- and “settling,” or resigning yourself to a relationship that isn’t all you’d hoped for? On one hand, I’m a ton less hard on myself in my 30s than I was in my 20s, which has made me less critical and more forgiving of the faults of other people, including the people I date (difficult as it may be to believe from reading this blog ;). On the other hand, I also find myself thinking things like, “Well, I’ve waited this long to find someone – I might as well hold out for the perfect guy!”

Of course, the perfect guy, much like the perfect city or the perfect job, does not exist. But you can fall in love with someone, or something, in spite of its imperfections. For example, I moved to New York City in 2000 having lived in four different cities/towns in the previous five years (Roma, TX; Austin, TX; my hometown of Oakland, NJ; and Boston, MA), and I assumed that, like with the previous places I’d lived, I would stay for a year or two, then move on. I didn’t fall in love with New York at first sight. It took months to get the knack of pressing myself into a crowded subway car during rush hour without feeling like I’d faint from claustrophobia. Not being able to drive to a supermarket and load up on enough groceries to last a couple of weeks took some getting used to. My rent was high, and I wasn’t making that much money. But as I walked the streets of Manhattan during my lunch hour, I could feel the energy of the city pulsing around me, and after only a few months, I knew I had finally found the place I never wanted to leave -- and except for my year in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps a couple of years ago (when New York and I had a long-distance relationship), I never have.

Interestingly, I had the opposite experience when I’d moved to Boston the year before. After I got into Boston University’s creative writing program, I excitedly planned to fall in love with Boston and spend the rest of my life there. But then I arrived. I tried to like living in Boston, I really did. But I was always lost (Boston is NOT the place to live if you have no sense of direction), continually being disappointed by public transportation, and lonely. I’d been living there nine or ten months when I suddenly thought, why am I trying to force myself to like it here when my heart is just not in it? As soon as I got my master’s degree a couple months later, I fled to New York, only because I had three friends there and it was relatively close to my dad in NJ. It was never the city I expected to love – but that’s what ended up happening.

And so it is with dating. You can spend months, even years, with someone who is perfectly nice and who, on paper, has everything you’re looking for, yet you’re just not feeling it. Then someone who doesn’t match your vision of the ideal partner at all ambles into your life, and before you know it, you’re in love. It’s the furthest thing from an exact science.

What triggered all of this were several interesting essays on compromising vs. settling. First was an article on eHarmony’s web site titled “Do You Have Realistic Expectations?” It starts out with, “To date is to have standards. But expectations for your future flame must have compromising perimeters to allow for the unpredicted.” You can find the whole article at http://advice.eharmony.com/?page=articles/view&AID=1956&cid=2091&aid=41607 but it basically says that you shouldn’t rule out a good person who actually exists because you’re holding out for some impossible fantasy. However, the article doesn’t help you discern when you’ve crossed the line between “having standards” and being too choosy.

Intrigued, I then typed “is he the one or are you settling” into Google, which turned up this amazing article by Lori Gottlieb entitled “Marry Him! The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough,” which appeared in the March 2008 Atlantic Monthly. Go to http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200803/single-marry to read the whole article, which is unsettling, thought-provoking – and really, really funny. After years of search for Mr. Right, Gottlieb finally decided to have a baby on her own. Now she is the mother of a beautiful baby boy, still single, and her advice, as summed up in paragraph 6, is:

“Settle! That’s right. Don’t worry about passion or intense connection. Don’t nix a guy based on his annoying habit of yelling ‘Bravo!’ in movie theaters. Overlook his halitosis or abysmal sense of aesthetics. Because if you want to have the infrastructure in place to have a family, settling is the way to go. Based on my observations, in fact, settling will probably make you happier in the long run, since many of those who marry with great expectations become more disillusioned with each passing year. (It’s hard to maintain that level of zing when the conversation morphs into discussions about who’s changing the diapers or balancing the checkbook.)”

Trust her, she says – the man of your dreams is NOT out there, “because you dreamed him up.” Better to “settle” for someone who doesn’t completely rock your world than end up permanently single. The funniest part is paragraph 11, where Gottlieb points out that “what makes for a good marriage isn’t necessarily what makes for a good romantic relationship. Once you’re married, it’s not about whom you want to go on vacation with; it’s about whom you want to run a household with. Marriage isn’t a passion-fest; it’s more like a partnership formed to run a very small, mundane, and often boring nonprofit business. And I mean this in a good way.”

Marriage and family as a “very small, mundane, and often boring nonprofit business” – ha! I love it!

Her article, however, is definitely geared to thirty-something women who hear the incessant ticking of their biological clocks. She says once you and Mr. Good Enough start churning out babies, you’ll barely see each other anyway, so at that point, what difference did it make WHO you married? At least you can take turns watching the kids. And if, worst case scenario, you get divorced, at least you’ll get your weekends free when your kids are with their dad, plus child support – none of which you’ll get if you have a baby on your own. (She doesn’t take into account how extraordinarily expensive, time-consuming, and emotionally draining divorce can be, though – not to mention hard on the kids.) Since I don’t care if I ever have biological kids and I want to adopt older children, my situation is a little different – easier in some ways (much longer time frame to work with), harder in others (most guys either want to have biological kids or don’t want to have kids at all).

If you’d like to read single moms’ reactions to Gottlieb’s article, check out author and single mother Rachel Sarah’s blog at http://singlemomseeking.com/blog/2008/03/09/one-single-mom-says-that-you-should-settle-for-mr-good-enough/ Some of the comments noted that if Gottlieb had used “compromise” or some word other than “settle,” her article would have been a lot easier to agree with. Tellingly, some said that they were single moms precisely BECAUSE they had settled for their now ex-husbands – with whom they’d been miserable. As Barb (http://www.zenmothers.com/) noted in her comment, “It’s hard to do everything yourself and would love a break from being my kid’s short order cook and taxi driver every now and then, but I would rather be alone than pick a man just to have someone cover the husband duties.”

And finally, I also found an article by Joe Atkinson entitled “Are You Settling for Someone?” (http://www.revolutionhealth.com/healthy-living/womens-health/relationships/dating/settling) which quotes from a book by psychotherapist Mira Kirshenbaum called “Is He Mr. Right? Everything You Need to Know Before you Commit.” Kirshenbaum thinks that a healthy relationship needs to have the following five traits: “1) physical chemistry or affection; 2) real intimacy, or an ‘at-homeness’ with the other person; 3) fun, which she describes as ‘the glue of intimacy’; 4) safety, trust and security with the other person; and 5) mutual respect. To Kirshenbaum, settling is accepting a relationship in which one of these ‘five dimensions of chemistry’ is missing.”

What do you all think?

April 16, 2008

Worst Date Ever: #2 in a series

Scene: Restaurant at dinner time
Characters: 1) Me
2) A guy we’ll call Too Much Skull-Manipulation, who I’d met at a “museum mingle” the week before

Me: So how long have you been getting this – what was it called again?
TMSM: Craniosacral therapy. A few years now. They manipulate the bones in your cranium.
Me: Is it safe?
TMSM: Oh, totally. It gets your central nervous system into complete harmony.
Me: Interesting.


TMSM: Are you an albino?
Me: (dropping my fork) Um – NO.
TMSM: Okay.
Me: (staring at TMSM)
(my fork stays abandoned on the floor)
(awkward silence builds)
TMSM: Are you mad at me?
Me: Why would I be mad? You just asked if I was a genetic mutant, that’s all.
TMSM: No – that’s not it – I think you’re very pretty –
Me: Right. For a genetic mutant.
TMSM: That’s not what I meant – um –

(Awkward silence builds to a deafening crescendo)

Me: Maybe I could get the rest of this food to go....

The End.
(Note: There was no second date.)

April 14, 2008

Weddings: Under-Utilized "Meet Market"?

Name: Weddings

What it is: Where a couple pledges to love each other to death, and throws a big party to celebrate

Cost: However much you want to spend on a wedding gift

The scoop: Although weddings are allegedly a great place to meet people, the only person I know who it ever worked out for long-term is my sister, who met her husband at a friend’s wedding. Neither of them had come with a date. (In fact, my brother-in-law happened to be seated next to a visibly pregnant woman, and he had to make it clear to my sister that they were NOT together!) But usually, single people tend to feel weird about not bringing a guest, especially if they don’t know anyone except the bride and groom, which probably hinders meeting someone new.

My dates: I have been to at least 17 weddings over the course of my life (I just counted). But the closest I ever came to meeting anyone was, coincidentally, at my sister’s wedding. I wasn’t seeing anyone exclusively, so I hadn’t come with a date, and neither had Guy from Four Years Ago. I had met him for the first time four years earlier (hence his nickname) through my sister, and we had gone on two dates back then. He was a nice enough guy, but all he was interested in was career and business and making money. Who wants to date a guy who makes a lot of money?? (Ha ha.) I tried to like him, I really did, but aside from the fact that we both breathed oxygen, we had absolutely nothing in common. By our second date, I had to make up stories in my head to entertain myself. After dinner we ducked into a bookstore, and when he headed straight for the business section and I made a beeline for fiction, I knew it would never work out.

Four years later, Guy from Four Years Ago and I got to talking at my sister’s wedding. He hadn’t changed a bit, except that now he was in law school, further solidifying his fast-track career credentials. We still didn’t have anything to talk about, so we started kissing instead. That was fun. But when we tried talking again, he mentioned that he was going to vote to re-elect President Bush later that year, and my renewed interest in him quickly evaporated. Too bad he didn’t just keep quiet – he might have at least gotten one more date out of me!

April 8, 2008

Next Stop: Alaska?

Nilsa made a very good point in my last post about the best cities for singles – what about Alaska?? There are supposed to be a ton more single men than women there.

Well, that is still the case in much of Alaska, especially remote, rural villages that are only accessible by plane or boat (!). I’m sure it’s beautiful there. I’m also sure it’s freakin’ FREEZING, obviously isolated, and I would get so homesick for my family and for New York City.

But if you’re curious, check out Susie’s Alaska Men Magazine and web site, which proclaims it has been “bringing you Alaskan bachelors since 1987” (http://www.alaskamen-online.com).

Interestingly, according to a New York Times article on lovelorn Alaskan men, “Anchorage and Fairbanks, the state's two largest cities, are becoming the fast-growing hot spots of a new demographic -- lesbians. Alaska now ranks 12th in the nation in its concentration of lesbian couples per capita.” Here is the complete article with URL:

It's a Long, Lonely Search for Men Looking for Love in Alaska
By SARAH KERSHAW (July 21, 2004)


It was late on a summer evening at a saloon on Front Street in this dusty mining and fishing town on the Bering Sea, and the men were excited.

The bar, Breakers, was packed. And standing on the beer-stained floor was a most unusual sight for Nome's many bachelors: women.

There they were, an oasis in the Arctic, shooting pool, giving out phone numbers, dashing off to the restroom to apply lipstick, coquettishly sipping drinks bought by their suitors, including a popular cocktail, ''Love Me Tender,'' made with gin and peach vodka.

''Aren't they so fantastic?'' one single man said to another. ''I wish they wouldn't leave us.''

Summer is a time of hope for the unattached men of Nome, a tough gold rush town of 3,500 people in Alaska's far western corner, where single men outnumber single women by almost two to one. Each June, with the midnight sun come the summer interns -- this year, seven fresh-faced women in their 20's from across the lower 48 states. They work on a nutrition project with Nome's Alaska Natives and then spend many of their nights barhopping.

In July, a troupe of traveling strippers from Minnesota makes its annual stop in Nome; the other night, five topless dancers drew a huge crowd to another Nome saloon for their show, ''Erotica.''
Seth Augdahl, 24, a ticket agent for Bering Air, attended the topless revue, and he was heavily flirting with the interns at Breakers the night before. But there was a certain sadness in his eyes.

''The summer influx is great,'' Mr. Augdahl said. ''But I would like something long term. My friends keep telling me, 'Seth, one of these days, a girl will move to town, and she will be perfect for you.' I'm still waiting for that day.''

Alaska is known for its abundance of single men. Gold miners, oil workers, hunters, trappers and fishermen moving here in droves to live out the fantasy of a rugged, prosperous life on the frontier, a fantasy not often shared by women. The latest census data show there are 114 single men for every 100 single women in Alaska, compared to 86 single men for every 100 single women nationally (and 80 to 100 in New York State.)

The current ratio in Alaska actually reflects a slight improvement, from the single man's perspective, over 10 years ago. In 1990, there were about 94,000 single men and 75,000 single women, while in 2000, there were about 113,000 single men and 100,000 single women, according to the census. Forty-eight percent of Alaska's 650,000 residents are women, according to the 2000 Census, up from 47 percent in 1990.

Complicating matters for lovelorn men, Anchorage and Fairbanks, the state's two largest cities, are becoming the fast-growing hot spots of a new demographic -- lesbians. Alaska now ranks 12th in the nation in its concentration of lesbian couples per capita, said Jason Ost, a researcher at the Urban Institute and the co-author of ''The Gay & Lesbian Atlas.''

The increase in the number of women here is largely because of the growth of urban areas like Anchorage and Fairbanks, where life has become much less isolated and difficult and therefore more appealing to women, experts say. The Internet and ''big box'' stores provide the kind of conveniences that were lacking in much of Alaska until just a decade ago.

''What is happening is that the cities are normalizing,'' said Judy Kleinfeld, a professor of psychology at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and the director of the university's northern studies center, who specializes in gender studies. ''City life is just like life in the lower 48, and there's no particular reason why women should want to leave.''

But Professor Kleinfeld, who has conducted extensive interviews with unattached men living in the bush, acknowledged that bachelors looking for love in rural areas of Alaska were still facing tough odds and that mail-order brides were common.

''In a place like Nome, they are still asking, 'Where are the girls?''' she said.

If the shortage of women is less severe now in the big cities, Jason Friars, 25, who lives in Anchorage, has neither noticed it nor reaped the benefits.

Mr. Friars, a hotel cook who moved to Alaska a year ago from California, was interviewed one evening at a downtown bar called Darwin's Theory. When asked about the dating situation, he paused, took note of who was at the bar and announced bitterly that there were 22 men and four women, including a female reporter from out of town.

''I have one girl in mind right now,'' Mr. Friars said. ''And she has 200 options.''

Repeating a commonly exaggerated interpretation of the male-female ratio, Mr. Friars said, ''The women up here, they know it's 10-to-one odds, so they can be as picky as they want.''

There was some evidence of pickiness among women on an online dating Web site, Plentyoffish.com, where an Anchorage woman recently posted a message headlined ''Bye Bye Losers.''

''I am a female who knows what she wants and will stop at nothing to get what I want,'' the woman wrote. ''That means what I want I get and I will not take no for an answer.''

On the same site, where there were significantly more Alaskan men seeking women than women seeking men, a man posted this message: ''Bushdweller seeks good woman,'' saying, ''I live out in the Alaska bush 1/3wilderness$) leading a back to basic lifestyle. I have no electricity except when I use a generator. I haul water and heat with wood.''

A bartender at Darwin's Theory, Brandi Domas, 31, said she saw many solo men at the bar.
''These guys are really sweet, and they should not be sitting here alone,'' Ms. Domas said. ''I tell them to import, to go out of state, bring a girl back and then watch her close. Import, import, import!''

But the women had complaints, too, and it seemed, from dozens of interviews with singles across the state, from Nome to Juneau, in the southeast, that Alaska was embroiled in an intense war of the sexes. A popular cliché about finding a man in Alaska is, ''The odds are good, but the goods are odd.'' A popular cliché about breaking up with a woman in Alaska is, ''You don't lose your girl, you lose your turn.''

''Men? They are looking for someone who can skin a moose and bring home a sixpack of beer,'' Liz Lynch, 37, a single publicity agent for an oil company, said. ''A lot of women out there say, 'Get thee to Alaska.' But they're nuts. And I like a mountain man, a rugged individual, oh, my God. But these guys don't commit.''

In terms of the male-to-female ratio, things have not changed much in Nome, famous for its rough saloons, its frontier state of mind and for being the last stop of the annual Iditarod dog sled race.

And Mr. Augdahl, the wistful ticket agent, is not alone. Well, he is alone, romantically speaking, but he has plenty of male friends who are single, too. According to the Census, there are 598 unmarried men in Nome, not counting widowers and divorcees, and 344 unmarried women.
One of Mr. Augdahl's friends, Haven Harris, 25, an aide to a state senator from Nome, said that he had not had a girlfriend in years and that he was planning to move to San Francisco by the end of the year to find a woman. The ratio of single men to single women in California is 92 to 100, according to the Census.

Mr. Harris made reference to the long, dark, freezing, icebound winters in Nome, which is 100 miles south of the Arctic Circle.

''I want to live in Alaska all my life, but it's hard being in the bush in Alaska when it's so hard to find someone,'' Mr. Harris said one night between innings at a softball game on a gravel field in the tundra. ''If you're going to live up here as you get older, you're going to want to be with someone.''

The interns, socializing later that night with Mr. Harris and Mr. Augdahl, said they were warned about the male-female ratio before coming to Nome last month.

''My friends thought it was funny they were bringing all these nutrition girls to Nome,'' said Kelly Keyes, a 26-year-old intern from Worcester, Mass. ''And they kept saying, 'The ratio, the ratio, the ratio! It's 30 to one!'''

''You get a lot of attention here,'' Ms. Keyes said. ''The guys are like 'Woo!'''

At Breakers, Mr. Harris was pulling out all the stops with Ms. Keyes and the other interns, massaging their shoulders, mentioning that he worked out five times a week, impressing them, he hoped, with his cue shots and quick wit.

But near 2 a.m., as the midnight sun was setting, he left the bar alone.

April 7, 2008

What are the odds?

Where should you live if you want to maximize your odds of meeting someone? A friend (thanks, Matt!) forwarded me an article from the Boston Globe by Richard Florida which shows a “singles map” of the U.S. (http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2008/03/30/a_singles_map_of_the_united_states_of_america/?p1=Well_MostPop_Emailed3)

My favorite line in the article is that “smart women who gravitate to vibrant cities are more likely to stay single - for longer, at least - because they rightly refuse to settle for someone who can't keep up with them intellectually or otherwise.” Exactly. No incoherent e-mailers, please.

Unfortunately, in the NYC area, where I live, there are a LOT of smart, single women: there are 210,820 more single females than males here. With dismal odds like that, it’s amazing I’ve ever found anyone to date. Philly and Washington, D.C. are also better for men, with single women outnumbering single men by about 50,000 in each of those cities.

If I want a bigger pool to choose from, I have to move to Dallas (40,000 more single men than women), Phoenix (60,000 more single men than women), or San Francisco (also 60,000 more single men than women). Seattle, Las Vegas, Denver, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Honolulu are also good prospects. But in terms of sheer numbers, Los Angeles appears to be the winner, with 90,000 more single men than women.

No word on how many of these men are straight, however....

April 2, 2008

It Was Raining Men (Hallelujah!)

I’m excited about all the recent comments on my blog, especially from Scot McKay, who wrote the article that I referenced in my March 28th post about meeting people in the supermarket (his web site is http://www.deservewhatyouwant.com/), and from Tournesol. Thanks very much, and keep those comments coming!

I was recently reflecting on the fact that if anyone had told me as recently as seven years ago that one day I would have enough material to fill more than, say, a day’s worth of a dating blog, I would have said, “THERE’S NO WAY!” Well, actually, I first would’ve said, “What’s a blog?” But then I would’ve tried to imagine being The Dating Guru, and I simply would not have been able to. A friend talked to the other week said she admired my dating persistence. “If I hadn’t gotten married, I’d probably be a recluse or something,” she mused. “I must’ve been 20 before I ever went on a date – I never even had one in high school.”

The thing is – me, neither! With a few rare exceptions, nobody paid any attention to me until 2002, when I was nearly 30. I had a few great female friends in middle and high school who I’m still friends with to this day, but no male was ever remotely interested in me. Boys had made brutal fun of me in middle school, so I was extremely shy and nervous around them. I didn’t even have any male friends in high school, really – the few guys I still keep in touch with from high school, I got to know much better after we’d all graduated. I did not go to my senior prom because I didn’t have a date, and I was too humiliated to go by myself – I didn’t have so much as an ounce of the self-confidence necessary to pull THAT off. Instead, I stayed home and wrote letters to my pen-pals. Seriously.

I’d hoped everything would be different once I went away to college. But my first roommate stopped speaking to me, for no apparent reason, on the third day of school, and by the time they had another free room to move me to, nearly a month had passed. My new roommates/suitemates were a lot nicer, but they already had their set group -- I was still too shy and never quite fit in with them. By the end of the year, a couple of them were dating a couple of the guys from our dorm. But the only time any guys from our dorm talked to me was when they wanted to type their papers on my computer (a cutting-edge Macintosh II, if memory serves, thanks to Mom and Dad’s Christmas generosity).

I transferred to a college in NJ my sophomore year, but since I was still too shy and lived at home rather than in the dorm, I didn’t make one friend, let alone a boyfriend. For my junior and senior years, however, I transferred to lovely Alfred University in upstate NY, where I finally met my first boyfriend – on the computer. Yep. I was ahead of my time. We didn’t have the internet as we know it today, but we did have the VAX, a campus intranet system where you could see who was online typing a paper or e-mailing, and you could put a quote or something by your username. My memory of how it all worked is foggy, but somehow a guy I’ll call the First College Guy and I started e-mailing. Either I commented on his quote or vice versa, I can’t remember how it began. One thing led to another, we decided to meet in person, and almost immediately became a couple. He was in R.O.T.C., a Republican from rural NY State who had a huge American flag pinned to his dorm room wall. Yet after two months, HE had to break up with ME! I was so excited to finally have a boyfriend, I was blind to the fact that it never would’ve worked out between us. Thank goodness he wasn’t!

It wasn’t long before Last College Guy asked me out. This was a step up because we didn’t meet on the computer – we were in the university’s choir together. After we’d talked a few times, he looked up my number in the campus directory and called me. That had never, ever happened to me before, so I was quite flattered. We dated on and off for months, but I never called him my boyfriend because by then I knew we didn’t have enough in common to make it work. It ended for good soon after graduation.

Last College Guy gave me hope, however. After he asked me out, I thought, Oh, is this how it works? Has the spell been broken, and guys will just ask me out regularly, guys who keep improving and improving, until finally the perfect one will just appear?

Well…no. Not so much.

Over the seven years after I graduated from college, I moved back home for a year and worked as a teacher’s aide; moved to South Texas and taught middle school for two years; moved to Austin for a year to get a master’s in education; moved back home for a year, teaching and then working for a publishing company; moved to Boston for a year to get a master’s in creative writing; and moved to NYC at the age of 28. As you can see, I was not a recluse in any way, shape or form. Yet in those seven years in my early- to mid-twenties, when I was young, vibrant and single – NOBODY PAID ANY ATTENTION TO ME! Oh, there were the two “old-bachelor” teachers who asked me out, one nearly 20 years older and the other 11 years older than I was. But that was basically it, and only one of them led to so much as a date!

Then 2002 happened. Chinese tradition called it the Year of the Horse, but for me it was, without question, The Year of the Men. Suddenly, and without warning, they were everywhere! Last College Guy called my old phone number at my dad’s, completely out of the blue, just to say hello. He was married by then, and he asked my status.

“Single,” I said.

“But surely you’ve had relationships since college?” he asked.

“Not really,” I admitted, embarrassed. What was wrong with me?

I needn’t have worried, because Last College Guy was just the tip of the man-iceberg that year. A single guy I’d been pen pals with for years also called my old number at my dad’s to get back in touch with me. Since a good friend from college and I were both unemployed, we had time to work on our social lives, so we went out to parties and clubs a few nights a week, where, to my amazement, guys actually talked to me and asked me out. I dipped my toe into the water of the internet dating sites and met a few guys that way. I started attending St. Bart’s Church and met Hyper Boy (see my March 10th post). One night in particular, a bunch of us from church went out to a bar after our class. We were all laughing and talking, Hyper Boy couldn’t keep his eyes off me, and I suddenly flashed back to a church I had attended in Austin five years earlier. I’d had a crush on one of the guys in the young adult group there and had even e-mailed back and forth with him a few times, trying to show I was interested. A few months later, at the church Christmas party, he arrived – holding hands with another woman from the group. It was all I could do to keep from screaming. What is wrong with me, I wondered in despair – why am I never the one who gets the guy??

In 2002, I was. And I was pretty darn happy about it.

But why then? It’s not like I had suddenly lost a lot of weight or did anything else to radically alter my physical appearance. And I know I looked older in 2002 than I had in, say, 1995. I think part of it was that since I didn’t have a job, and I had a friend to go out with, I finally had both the time and the bravery to put myself out there and go to bars and clubs. Part of it was also joining a church I liked and felt very comfortable with. The small amount of internet dating I did at that time was a good way for me to ease into dating, since I’ve always gravitated toward connecting with people through writing. And guys in their late 20s/early 30s are probably more mature (or less picky!) than they are in their teens and early 20s. It’s not like every guy I liked that year suddenly asked me out. But I got enough positive attention to feel more confident, and the more confident you feel, the more people you attract, or so they say.

Some of it, though, like my old pen pal and Last College Guy coming out of the woodwork within weeks of each other, is just inexplicable.

It is interesting to think about how life would have been different if the internet had been invented and in wide use ten years earlier, or when I was a teenager. Would I have tried on-line dating sooner, and therefore become more social and more confident earlier? Or would it have made me even more shy and reclusive, because I wouldn’t have had to come out of my shell to talk to people in person? I probably still wouldn’t have had a date for the prom -- I would’ve just e-mailed my e-Pals instead of writing snail mail to my pen-pals. ;O So maybe it’s all working out for the best. I can take my time. It’s not like I want biological kids, anyway, so I have the huge advantage of not having the proverbial ticking biological clock. Well, I have one, I suppose -- I just don’t listen to it. :) Incidentally, last year I made an off-hand comment in a group of people about how I’ll probably adopt a 10-year-old when I’m 40, and one of my acquaintances looked at me in astonishment and exclaimed, “You’re not 40 yet!?” (Uh, no, still five years away, but thanks for that.)

Anyway, for all of you out there going through a dry spell, take heart. Your time is coming. Believe me: if I can have a Year of the Men, ANYONE can.

April 1, 2008

Funniest. E-mail. EVER.

I could not stop laughing at this e-mail my friend Veronica Shea was nice enough to send to Chemistry.com with a BRILLIANT idea for how to improve their service. Seemed an appropriate post for April Fool's Day. :) Thanks, Veronica, for giving me permission to share it!

Veronica wrote:

Just wondering if you've ever considered a sort of 'recommended for counseling' button for matches to click.

For example, one match, on arriving home and finding my e-mail, which included my phone number, as I thought it was appropriate to move to that level, chose to make his first ever phone call to me at 11:50 PM on a weeknight. Another, within the first three sentences of our first phone conversation, chose to tell me that he had been rejected by eharmony.com. While I understand that this is part of the chemistry.com ad campaign, he was not joking about it; instead, he was wondering why they rejected him. Within a few more moments of the conversation, he had revealed to me the amount of rent he pays, and the fact that he moved to that apartment because the rent was cheaper.

Most recently, my first e-mail from a match included no personal details, but, instead, a long, and what could be construed as misogynistic joke about women never being satisfied.

I'm sure that all of these gentlemen are good at heart, but could use a little guidance on how to make a better first impression.

So, a 'counseling recommended' button where a match could alert a chemistry.com or match.com counselor that a particular match could use some recommendations to improve his/her social skills...?

Just an idea.

Thanks and regards,
Veronica Shea"