Monday, August 27, 2007

The Return of the Inner Lizard

Once you begin meeting men and entering the dating scene again, you may find that your Inner Lizard rears it's head again!! What I mean by this, is that even though you have worked on your issues and worked hard to love yourself, your reptilian brain still has a picture of who it thinks you should be dating.
For me this tended to be short, dark, and somewhat stocky men, often with an exotic and adventuresome bent. I had my list of what I wanted in a relationship, and I thought I was open to new ideas, and to a new kind of man. When I met my husband, he was all wrong for my Inner Lizard. He is tall, has light brown hair, blue eyes, and is pretty average on the adventure scale. Lucky for me, he had a great sense of humor and made me laugh on our first date, or me and my lizard might have written him off. He also met a lot of the qualifications I was looking for on my list, so even though I had a hard time believing this incredibly nice guy could be right for me, I gave it a chance.
This may not seem that hard to some of you who have always met and dated nice guys, but I found it very difficult. I wanted more adventure. I thought I would be bored stiff if I stayed with him. Over the first year we dated, I thought about ending it any number of times but I didn't. Here's why. First, I never told him about my misgivings, and he just kept coming back, showing up, being accountable and reliable, and all those things I knew I wanted, but found confusing. And second, even though he didn't look my type physically, when he kissed me for the first time, it definitely left me wanting more. Even though my brain didn't know it, my body knew the chemistry was there.
The point is, that after you have done all that hard work figuring out who you are, and what you want in a relationship, don't let your Inner Lizard mess it up. Be willing to date men that are totally different than you are used to. Remember that the other ones didn't work so well, or you wouldn't be reading this. Nice guys are not always as forward as the men you have dated in the past, they may not immediately make your knees go weak, but given a chance they can be everything you need.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Web of Love

Last post I talked about meeting my husband on the Internet. Considering my earlier statements about the Internet not being a good dating ground I am a little embarrassed. But you have to realize it was an accident!!

To begin with, I originally saw the Internet as being a fun place to meet men. I could have some very interesting and exciting discussions with people, and not have to follow through unless I felt like it. I joined a couple of online dating sites and checked out men in my area. I talked to a few, but they seemed to want to jump too fast into intimate details about me and my life. I was cautious, as I still believe everyone should be about opening up about personal details. When I did meet someone, who lived in my small rural area, we talked for quite a while getting to know each other. I found this very exciting (actually I now realize my inner Cinderella was still fantasizing about happily ever after!), and enjoyed the ability to get to know someone without the physical constraints of actually meeting. It was apparent from the way he wrote back that he was feeling the same way. This went on for several months, and then we decided to meet. We met and frankly our meeting was a big dud. All those expectations we had built up by talking so long fell flat when we actually met in person and had no chemistry whatsoever.

In talking with a good friend who had a much longer history of Internet dating, she told me that she had met over a hundred men and was still looking for mister right. I don't know about you, but I didn't want to go through that torture at all. Five years later, this same woman is getting ready to go to Morocco to meet a man she has been talking with for two years. Then one of the women I worked with met someone on the net, promptly left her husband, and had the guy move in with her on the night that they actually met in person!! I decided after a few more months of lackluster discussions that the Internet wasn't for me. I would wait until I met someone in person and we could judge all areas of chemistry, and I stopped looking on the net.

What happened was that I met a guy in person who I thought was really interesting, and we started the getting to know each other. Then one day I got an email from one of the old match sites, that said someone had written to me. I checked it out and the guy said that he thought we had a lot in common. I looked over the profile, and not only did he live close to me, but he liked to play golf and do outdoorsy things. We began talking by email, and so I had two men that I was interested in at the same time.

As I was getting to know my Internet fellow, I decided to follow certain rules in Internet dating. For any of you who are currently using the Internet or want to start, I would suggest the following:

  1. Be honest about who you are on your profile, and provide a good picture of how you look on an everyday basis, not one of those mall fashion shoot pictures. People who are attracted to the real you, will be more suited to you.
  2. Don't give away any personal information, such as full name (I used a pseudonym to start), address, telephone number, or work place, until you are sure that you would want to actually date the other person. I would suggest a first name, and a phone number after you are interested, and are considering meeting. I wouldn't give out your address or work place until after you have met, and feel safe.
  3. If you are interested, and he is writing regularly, consider meeting. I found that I couldn't really gage chemistry or what a person was truly like without meeting them. If you wait too long it is easy to build up an unrealistic attachment, on your part or his, and you will be disappointed.
  4. Meet only in a public place for coffee or a light meal such as lunch. Make him come to you, and to a place you are familiar with. Never go to another town, state, country, planet, etc. to meet someone. If they are into you, they will meet you on your turf. Drive your own car and meet them at the restaurant. You set the tone of how you want the date to go. If at any time you feel uncomfortable, excuse yourself and leave. A good trick is to have a friend call you about half way through the meal at a predetermined time, and you can use them to excuse yourself if you have to.
  5. Again keep the meeting on your terms. Whether or not you shake hands or hug or don't touch at all is up to you. When lunch is over if you had a great time suggest another meeting in a public place. I know some of you are going, "Wow, this woman is such a prude!" Believe me, I'm not. If you learn early in a dating relationship of any kind to set good clear boundaries for yourself, the relationship has a better chance of progressing.

But that is another post down the road. I'll talk to you next time.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Available, Authentic, and Open

Now that you are ready to get out there, what next? Most of us, myself included still bought into the Cinderella idea that somehow the universe would provide me with the right mate. Unfortunately, the universe is often busy with other things, and might forget to look my way. The next step to finding someone is being truly open, authentic, and available. This is harder than it seems. Most of us have spent a long time building lives that we are proud of, and we work hard to maintain them. This can mean long work days, many projects and activities in our time off, and not a lot of time left for relationship hunting.
When I first entered the dating field again, I thought I was totally ready and available. However, I had a busy job, was getting my Master's degree, had several busy pass times, as well as a family I was close to. This didn't leave a lot of time and energy for relationships, or even dating for that matter. My life was great, and very full, but I still wanted more. So what I did was get a little help from my friends. You know how your friends are always wanting to set you up with their crazy brother Randolph, or their favorite cousin Duke? Well in the past, I shied away from set ups, I didn't do blind dates, and I thought the Internet was for losers.
Well, I was wrong. When you have limited time, and don't necessarily want to look in bars, friends and relatives are a good place to begin. Let them know that you are ready to join the dating scene, and see if they have any single friends that might work for you. I still don't like blind dates, but small parties and get togethers with friends is a great place to meet other single people. I met and dated a couple of people this way, and although we didn't hook up, it was a place to start.
Another area that is often overlooked is social clubs, or sports clubs, classes etc. I would suggest if you have a hobby or sport you love, that you look around and see if there are any regular clubs, or sports teams to check out. I played softball, so in my not so spare time, I joined a co-ed softball league. It was allot of fun and I met some great people. If you've always wanted to learn to ballroom dance, there are many local places to learn, and you don't usually need a partner. One of my best friends has been married for 10 years to the man she met and partnered with, while she was learning to swing dance.
I am wondering if some of you at this point are going, "I don't want to do any of those things." I would ask myself, am I truly ready and available for a relationship? When I first started this process I thought I was a lot more ready than I was. The reality was that I was still not completely open to a relationship. This was due to a fear of opening myself up to being hurt again. What I would suggest is to go back and read the last post. Don't do more than you are ready for. Be open to the idea of dating, and see what happens. Along the way you may meet someone who is safe enough to open up with. One trick I used was to practice openness, by asking the universe (or any higher power you believe in) to put someone in front of me if that was their plan. Otherwise, I would go about my business enjoying life, until the universe did just that. And it did, via the Internet, which we will get to in my next post.
If you keep trying, and keep finding you are not ready, then you may need to go back a few steps, and work more on loving yourself, and making sure you know what you want in a relationship.
Until next time,

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Ready, Set, Dream

Are you ready? Have you spent the time to get to really know you? Good!! We are ready for the next step, which is figuring out what you want in a relationship. When I was getting set to go out and explore dating again, a friend of mine gave me the book, "If I'm So Wonderful, Why Am I Still Single?" by Susan Page. I found this to be a great book because it posed some questions that I had never considered before. Questions like, what do I want, need, and hope for in a relationship? What qualities are important in the partners I choose, and which ones are deal breakers? Ms Page suggested writing a list, and checking it over and over again.

Now this may seem really simple to a lot of you, but at the time it was new territory for me. I began writing down what I thought was important in a relationship. I knew that I wanted someone who was funny, dependable, and who had many of the same basic values that I had. I wrote and edited this list, and ended up with several columns. I found that I had a column for things I hoped for in a partner, that would be great to have, but not an absolute must. I had a column for characteristics that were extremely important and necessary for a long term partnership. The most important column was for the things I was no longer willing to accept in a relationship. I didn't want addiction, unavailability, current court dates, no job, and my favorite, needing fixing in some way.

The second point that Susan Page made that I found valuable was that not every one I dated needed to be a future marriage candidate. She suggested that some men were acceptable as dating material, but not relationship material, and that some who were boyfriend material, were not necessarily marriage material. What a concept!! I could go out on a date with someone for fun, and not worry about whether it was going anywhere. I could have a boyfriend without having it become a long term relationship. I really began to open up to dating as an art form. I let people know, friends, family, etc. that I was available, and I began dating men who I hadn't considered before. And the best part of all of this was that I was so comfortable with myself and my life that I had fun, did not jump into any relationships, and really enjoyed meeting new guys. The other great thing is when you feel good about yourself, and are open to dating, the men just seem to appear. They can tell you are not desperate, or heartbroken, or angry at men in general, and they love women who know what they want.

So the next step is to begin that list. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What are the qualities I would want in a long term partnership?

  2. What are the things I would like to have, but that are not absolutely necessary?

  3. What are the things that I don't want in a relationship?

  4. What are the absolute deal breakers, the things I never want to have in a relationship?

And then begin to do a little dreaming everyday about what that relationship and that partner would look like. Keep picturing it, until you have a clear idea of what is important to you, and then start making the dream happen in your life.