Category Archives: Dating Rules

Something New

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Someone was asking me recently about all of the ways I weed out the men that are unsuitable for me.  I mentioned a few key things like how he talks about his ex, how many alcoholic drinks he consumes on our first outing (if applicable according to venue) and whether he speaks in a positive or negative way about things in general. But one thing I hadn’t really thought about before is how far a man goes out of his way to impress me.

If you are a regular reader or you have known me for any significant period of time you know the lengths that some men have gone to get my attention. There was the guy who I barely knew who presented me with a pair of half carat diamond studs on our third date, the man I met on vacation in Barbados who paid for my upgrade to first class just to have my company on the return flight to the States and innumerable dinners in expensive restaurants, bouquets of flowers and boxes of high-end chocolates. But all of that happened prior to my dating enlightenment- that time in my life when I stopped looking at the external gestures (many of them cliche anyway and not really having anything to do with me personally) and started looking for a particular set of characteristics in a potential partner.

I blame my former shallow outlook on the materialistic society in which I was raised in which I was crammed with fairy tales of imperiled princesses or chamber maids saved by  what was prescribed as the most desirable man possible, someone wealthy and good-looking. This concept of seeing a man for what he could provide in a material sense rather than examining his character was further entrenched by 13 years spent in a isolationist prep school where almost everyone’s value was equated by their familial wealth. I refused to play this game – or so I thought. I decided I would not choose a man for his money and in rebellion turned down several rich suitors. I chose instead to marry someone who lacked two dimes to rub together but with whom I shared a certain taste for the finer things and was delighted to shower me with the material trimmings of love (jewelry, nice clothes, expensive wine, art, etc). This was great for a while but slowly I came to realize that there are qualities a good partner should have that don’t come wrapped with a bow.

I am reminded of Madonna’s 1980’s pop hit, Material Girl. The basic premise is while “on” Madonna is all about the material stuff ala Marilyn Monroe performing Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend,but in the end she goes home with the guy who distinguishes himself by offering her simple pleasures (and I like to imagine has a good character).  The message: stuff is nice but it is the simple things that are more important when it comes to love.

What I am saying here is this: Find someone who impresses you without all the trimmings. Someone who gets your attention because they are smart, funny, interesting, honest, forthright and intellectually stimulating to you. A person who gets your attention because they are a good person with morals and values and some interests that align with yours.

Remember y’all, anyone can buy you things but its the person who is offering the things you can’t buy that matters most.

 

 

Setting Standards from the Beginning

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Goddess Power

Goddess Power

So I met this man.  What else is new, right?  Those of you who have been reading for a while know that it is normal for me to meet men, it is just abnormal for me to like them after a date or two.  But I like a lot about this man mostly that he seems devoted to his family and has a similar outlook regarding spirituality and how to live life – some really important and apparently rare to find qualities.  Anyway, I am catching myself thinking about him throughout the day which means I am starting to like him which traditionally means that I am about to sacrifice my goddess power to a mere mortal man.

But not this time.

Although this guy seems great and I like him and all and other women would bend over backwards for him (and some have, I am sure, because he is good looking, nice, and has worked hard and been successful so that now, at age 50 he can relax a little and not work so hard and anyone who has tried to find a sane, nice, fiscally comfortable person to date in the middle of life understands how utterly RARE all of the qualities are in one person), I refuse to set my self up for later misery by letting him get away with treating me the least bit shabbily. Twice in five days he has said he would call within a certain time frame and failed to do so not contacting me for more than 24 hours after each incident. This is a problem for me – A BIG problem.

Because I am searching for a long term mate, a partner with which to navigate life,  it is imperative that any candidate possess traits and demonstrates habits that are conducive to creating a happy day-to-day existence.  Showing respect for my time and practicing good communication skills including communicating information at an agreed upon time is one of those important habits  that contributes to the achievement of daily harmonious co-habitation.  If I fail to convey that standard now, then I am cheating myself and this man.  I am giving him the green light to treat me differently than the way I desire, require and deserve.

According to Steve Harvey, men want directions in how to treat you and if you give them up front, when you first meet, then the man can decided if he is willing to adhere to your standards or not before anyone’s time is wasted and emotions are at risk.  Harvey writes:

“Men are very simple, logical people; if you tell us what you like and what you don’t like, we’ll do anything we can to make sure we live up to your expectations, particularly if we’re interested in forging a relationship with you. … But really, we’re not programmed to figure it out.  It really makes us quite happy when you lay out your requirements for us. And we need you to do it up front, so we can decide if we’re up for the challenge – not two weeks into the relationship, not two months after we’ve had sex, not two hers after we’ve said “I do” in front of the preacher and our respective families and friends.  Heck, we’ll take them while you’re standing at the bar, sipping on the peach martini we just bought you, so long as you’re laying them out.  Because now you’ve given us a road map for how to conduct ourselves, especially if we’re truly interested in a relationship with you.”

This is sound advice for everyone.  How can we possibly find someone we can go through life with if we fail to share the roadmap of our standards and values OR fail to get their roadmap.

In my previous dating life, I never wanted to rock the boat.  I would put up with all kinds of crap, particularly if a sexual relationship had started, to keep the relationship in tact out of fear or laziness (what a bother to have to find someone else to have sex with, right?).  Then later after I felt like things were comfortable and it was time to move into a more serious commitment I would start to map out the parameters or became super resentful and blamed the man for being stupid.  I now recognize that I was the one being stupid.  No wonder I ended up with badly behaving men!  If I had mapped out my standards for treatment up front (or even taken the time to understood what they were) the losers would have taken off long before I had become emotional/physically attached and the goods ones might have stuck around rather than quitting the dumb game I was playing early on in search of someone who had their personal act better put together.

Part of this issue was my own low self-esteem at the time but another part of the problem is how I was raised.  I remember my authority figures squashing my attempts to express my needs  by telling me to stop complaining rather than teaching me better language  or training me to suppress any undesirable emotions like anger, resentment, fear or jealousy because they were not “nice”, saying, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.  In Southern homes of the time,  young ladies were trained that your guests (read anyone who is not family) ruled and you responded to their every whim with compliance and never gave criticism or set a boundary.  You were supposed to be pretty and compliant. Entire generations of women were trained to be doormats.  Southern literature is full of depictions of these women like Stella and Blanche from “A Streetcar Named Desire”. Every Southerner knows the description of the little lady who, “Tells you to go to hell in a way that you thought she was paying you a compliment”.  This type of suppression is a twisted disease that has been passed down from generation to generation and hopefully in my lineage stops with me.

So this time with this guy I put it on the line, up front, confidently and boldly. I left him a message politely but firmly describing my annoyance and how I expect to be communicated with from this second on. Maybe his phone died but there are other ways to get messages to people nowadays.  He can either work within the parameters of my standards or take a hike because respect for myself far outweighs need for a person in my life who treats me disrespectfully.

Thanks, Steve Harvey.  We will see if this guy is sport fishing or looking for a keeper very soon.  His reaction to my message will speak volumes.

And

We will see if he is worth investing my precious time in pursuing a relationship or not.

Oh, behave! Should you connect with someone new while on a date?

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Modern dating is full of etiquette land mines, from appropriate texting to when to “friend” request. But here is one I am most curious about since available single people are rare in the “middle” age bracket: What is the etiquette for connecting with someone else when out on a date?

The situation:

You are at a party with a date with whom you have not yet committed to a singular relationship (we used to call that status “going steady”). You meet an attractive, available person with whom you have much in common and you would like to get to know better. Should you:

A. Give them your number and ask them to call you? After all, good prospects are scarce.

B. Wait for them to ask for your contact information and give it freely? They made the first move. Obviously they are interested.

C. Neither give nor receive contact information? Behave! You are out on a date after all.

D. Get their contact information later from the host or a mutual friend? This discrete tact saves face for you and your date while allowing you a way to pursue something interesting.

Given the lack of information available online on this particular subject, I consulted the next best source of information at hand—my Facebook friends—and got some pretty hilarious answers . One likened the situation to U.S. international relations and bridge-burning, using a supply and demand model. Another suggested that cuteness and winking would smooth over any bad feelings on the date’s part and entice the third party. Several responses concerned defining the “dating” relationship and gave answers based on the level of involvement—the more involved you are with the “date,” the less passing out of contact info you should be doing. But my favorite response was this: Take a cue from Frank Sinatra’s song list (not his personal life) and listen to the lyrics of “Luck be a Lady Tonight.” I think my friend meant this stanza in particular:

A lady never flirts with strangers
She’d have a heart, she’d be nice
A lady doesn’t wander all over the room
And blow on some other guy’s dice

I have to agree. The way one behaves in public speaks volumes regarding their character. Plus, if dating is an audition for a long term relationship then loyalty is an important character trait. I would be offended if my date gave out contact information to another woman for personal reasons (business is another matter). It shows a lack of respect. If I am out with a guy and we are just friends and we both have a clear understanding of that, then I would explain that to any potential dating material before I gave him my contact information. If the date and I are not exclusively dating, I would totally get the third party’s information from the host(ess) later.

It seems to me the better behaved one is, the better chance of attracting a nice person in the long run.

THE INFLUENCE FOR THIS POST:

Of course this blogpost was instigated by an actual event in my life.  I was at an all day event with a large group of people, some who were coupled but also several single people.  There was one single guy who seemed to be interested in hitting on every single single woman there.  Though I was probably old enough to be his mother (albeit very young mother but still possible) once he determined that I was single but on a date, he spent some considerable time trying to convince me that I should not be with the man with whom I came to the event.  I thought this was amusing but thought he was simply bored of trying to score with the younger single ladies.

At one point he was seated next to me as someone decided to snap a group photo – my date seated on my other side. We all turned so our backs were table side and the guy in question put his arm behind me on the table, my arm went behind my date and my dates arms were at his front, his hands in his own lap.  After a few minutes I felt someone caressing my hand.  I noticed that my dates hands were still in his lap and realized the it was the other guy.  To send the right message without embarrassing anyone or causing a scene, I moved my arm, leaned into my date and gave him a kiss on the cheek.  Desperate single guy left me alone after that but I started thinking about the appropriateness of hitting on someone on a date.  So there you have it.

COMING SOON:

What to do when you are alone for the Holidays and another segment of: MEN TO AVOID.

Thanks for reading!

Mary

 

Boys of This Summer

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Hope you are enjoying Spanish Holiday.  I am taking a short break from it to fill you in on my current personal life.

School started for my daughter today.  It is a marker not only of her growing up, a new chapter in her life but also the end of summer for both of us and consequently, the end of a time when I tend to date more.

The score for  this summer:  7 married men thwarted, spent some brief time with a divorced guy that just didn’t work out,  2 former lovers rejected, and met 3 “never-been-marrieds”.  One of the latter three men lives in another part of the country so we email and chat on the phone but really there is little opportunity for it to go anywhere though he is wonderful.  One, I just met and we are having a first date soon.  The other one, (I will refer to him as CC), seemed like the most interesting prospect I have come across since my separation from H2 in 2009.  We “dated” (a word used for simplicity) for a month (almost to the day), starting out luke warm, moving on to “we don’t want to date”, advancing to definite interest and official dating -which was lovely, though short-lived – and ending up with him wanting to downgrade back to friends.

(Mary’s rule:  You do not French kiss your friends.)

Though I respect his feelings and am fine with the pursuit of a friendship with this man as I think he is a rare find in so many of the best ways, I am admittedly disappointed. It just seems so hard to find someone with the qualities I now seek.* Plus it felt really good to have someone special in my life.  Nice to get a daily “How is it going?” and “Sleep tight, xo” texts.  Nice to have someone be excited about going places with me and exploring my new home town. And really nice to be genuinely interested in getting to  know someone with the idea of a long term romantic relationship in mind.

I am grateful to have taken it slowly, following Steve Harvey’s advice regarding the 90 day rule,  setting and adhering to standards- saving me a lot of potential emotional turmoil.

So in my post quick- downgrade- blahs I decided to go on match.com just to look and see what was out there.  My original intention was to check out CC’s profile to see how he represented himself in the dating world at large but then since he decided he was uninterested in me romantically, I thought I would just go on to look at what is out there in the area.

Wouldn’t you know it.  Match.com’s number one pick for me is,…. drum roll, …..CC.

Fabulous! The irony nearly drives me to despair.

Oh well, back to the drawing board.  Will be removing my “just looking” profile from match directly.

Chat later,

Mary

* Qualities I am now seeking in a man:

  1. A good sense of humor
  2. An even temper and positive attitude
  3. A willingness to overlook my flaws
  4. A sensitivity to me and what I care about
  5. An ability to express caring in a way I understand
  6. Addiction free (this includes but is not limited to cigarettes, alcohol, legal or illegal drugs, work, sports, sex)

Why Men Cheat

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Four in the last 10 days.  If you have been following this blog you know what the number 4 means in relationship to the number of married men that I feel are crossing boundaries (three described in a recent post and now one more).  No details needed.  The point is that I have, up until now, been absolutely perplexed by this phenomenon of married or otherwise attached men approaching other women.

Enter Comedian and Author, Steve Harvey and his book, ACT LIKE A LADY, THINK LIKE A MAN. His chapter, aptly titled, Why Men Cheat, explains in simple terms the answer (drum roll)- Because They Can.  He goes in to the reasons why and the various roles in the cheating scenario.  That plus hearing what feels like  100 men relate their tales of marital woe,  rebuffing what feels like an equal number of would be cheaters and listening to dozens of women’s stories who have either  been cheated on, cheated on someone or both, I think I get it now.

If you are waiting for me to share my revelations in this post, you will be disappointed. Perhaps another day.

But I will say this:

I have changed my perspective from disgust or flattery (depending on my mood) to mild amusement when married men approach me after reading this book.  Men are just programmed   to populate the planet and mix up as many gene pools as possible in doing so and sex is not necessarily an emotional experience.  That is just plain different than how women are programmed.  They don’t mean to be smarmy or rude.  They simply want to see what they can get.

Granted, I speak in general terms.  I understand that there are different kinds of cheaters and varying circumstances.  What Harvey’s book has taught me is that most men (single or attached)  start out with the idea of just getting sex from a woman and that if I look at all males from that perspective I can control the outcome.  If I can accept that it is just what they do, I can defuse the importance of it and take it for what it is- not a compliment or a slight- just what is.

I have also discovered that if I calmly call a man on the carpet rather than getting all uptight and offended or scared that his mate will hate me for standing there when the man made his advance, he will just laugh about it and brush it off as nothing- which is exactly what it is to him- NOTHING- a try at his luck.

All I have to do to be appropriate is rebuff his advances.

Please know, ladies, that these guys will L-I-E their faces off to get what they want so you have to be very careful.  Harvey offers up a 90 day rule for “giving up the cookie” – excellent advice that I totally support.

That way you can avoid situations like the one Delanie Moore, Author of I am Divorced Not Dead

 

, found herself in when she made out with a man she had just met and then discovered  a few days later he was married.  Harvey’s 90 day rule gives you the chance to discover whether or not a man is interested in you as long term potential or just sex.  (There is more to it than just waiting 90 days but it is a good guideline with which to start.)

Click here to read Delanie’s story – it is a really good example of the lengths a man will go to lure an unsuspecting woman into having sex.

Remember also that this advice is geared towards women seeking a long term committed relationship rather than  simply some fun.There is a place for that too but I strongly suggest that you stick with single men for that as well. It makes everyone’s life far less complicated.

Anyone have any good stories to tell along these topics?

The 80/20 rule- dating advice

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Pareto’s principle or the 80/20 rule is often used in business and economics to determine efficiency and to make decisions.  You have probably heard or read it used in terms of wealth distribution ( 20% of the population owns 80% or the wealth or 20% or the population pays 80% of collected taxes – not the same 20% by the way) . But Christian Carter has finally written something that makes sense to me.  He is using Pareto’s principle to describe the ratio of good available men to all men.  (To learn a little about Pareto’s rule click here)

In a recent email he writes:

Out of a random sample of 100 handsome guys, you’d probably find that only 20 of them (or so) are:

– Single

– Emotionally stable and at least semi-mature

– Able to carry on an interesting conversation

– Open to a relationship, should the right woman come along

– Not a player, or looking for just “fun”

This is just an estimate from my own personal experience, but I think you get the point.

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HOOORAAAAHH!  Now I get  why there are seemingly so few great men out there.  I have been frustrated, as I am sure many single women in their “middle-age”are also, because I failed to realize I was looking for something so rare.

I love that Christian includes “able to carry on an interesting conversation” on his list of qualities.  I have found this especially to be true (with the exception of a very interesting and eloquent man I have been communicating with lately.)   What I love about the “conversation” attribute is that if a man fails to intrigue me with words he hasn’t got a chance regardless of his status or qualities. I know the misery of being with someone who has a limited capacity for thinking and expression.  You know what I mean,  A person with this issue might repeat themselves, the same stories, the same jokes, phrases and responses to adnauseum as if they are in a mental and lingual holding pattern for ever.  Like the man who made a funny comment about the way I said the word, “phone”. (Occasionally, my native Southern accent makes its way into my word pronunciation.  Sometime I pronounce the word phone with a very long “O” sound so that PhOne becomes Phowne. It is very cute when it happens, I am sure.) It was funny the first time he said it.  I showed  that he was paying attention to me and what I was saying, that he found something  charming about me.  The second through fifth time he said it, it was sort of an inside joke- an attempt at creating intimacy, perhaps.  By the 20th time it was annoying and I asked him to stop.  By the 30th time it was a demonstration of mental calcification on his part, a lack of creativity (couldn’t he move on from that joke and create another?) and a lack of respect for my wishes. Or they simply lack a decent command of the language.  I thought, “Good god, am I going to have to hear this for the rest of my life?” and I decided, “Nope.” and ended the relationship. Of course that was not all that was problematic in the relationship. The “phone” thing was merely a symbol of some bigger issues. OR there is the man who uses too many slang and/or curse words in his speech.  I mean, just get a little more creative, will you? But I digress.

In my experience it is not that there is a dirth of single men that is the problem but meeting all of Christian’s criteria that is the main issue. But Christian also says that it is not  the quality of men out there that is important.  He claims it is how women interact with them that counts.

Here is where Christian sort of offers some useful advice for once.  Read what he writes later in the same email quoted above:

THE POWER OF BELIEF IN YOUR LOVE LIFE

So what do you think could happen if you yourself suspended your disbelief that there weren’t many great men out there…

And instead you lived your life with the generosity that only comes from an open heart who’s willing to seek out the best in people?

How do you think men would respond if you were that woman who believed that every man you start talking to could be interesting, SINGLE, and that he’s probably a great guy?

And how do you think men would FEEL around you if they didn’t see that you looked at them suspiciously as though they might be like some of the other men who weren’t acting so great?

There’s an old principle that stands true in the world of advertising…

It basically says that out of 100 people reading your ad or seeing your commercial, maybe ONE of them is that someone who would buy your product. The rest will tune your message out even if it’s a great message.

Which means, if you try and talk to the 100 people in your ad, you’ll fail to grab that 1 real genuine buyers attention.

To put it another way: “Don’t worry about the DOGS, concentrate on selling the FOXES.”

It’s great metaphor I borrowed from a smart writer I know named Gary Halbert.

The point is…talk to the men you meet AS IF they’re single, open, interesting, and wonderful.

And then don’t worry about the ones who don’t turn out to actually BE single, open, interesting, available, and wonderful.

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I really like that Christian says to just go out there with your good attitude, your heart open and chat up every man you meet with reckless abandon. I think I have been doing this all my life . But what Christian fails to mention here is that when you put yourself wholeheartedly out there and treat every man like he’s wonderful and available you may attract the attention of some serious psychos who can be difficult to shake (I will be starting my “stalker” novel this month) or enjoy the wrath of an insecure girlfriend or jealous wife or two (not a fun experience to be reamed up the butt by a woman who feels you are a threat because you treated “her man”  (I hate this term because it Implies ownership – might indicate the real problem right there) like he was single.)

I agree with Christian that you should be comfortable, open and confident when talking to men – all men, single or otherwise.  But I invite you to keep that radar of intuition up while you are enjoying some good conversations.

A fun book to read regarding weeding out the looser/player/undeserving guys from the keepers is Steve Harvey’s “Act Like A Lady, Think Like a Man“.  His 5 questions are super smart and his writing style is spritely and clear.

So Sistahs get on out there, put on your confidence, raise that radar and chat up some guys.

Let me know what happens.

 

My Rules Concerning Attached Men

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Yep, I am on my soap box again.  Last night’s incident has set me off and here is where my head is today…

Someone recently suggested that I was “making a play” for a man who was already in a relationship.  I found that comment to be hurtful and insulting.  It is my  belief that there are plenty of suitable un-attached men in the world to date without getting entangled in a drama involving another woman and life has certainly re-enforced that concept for me ten fold.

I think that behaving ethically is important not so much for anyone else but because I have to live with myself. By my definition, “making a play” implies initiating connection with someone with the intention of starting a romantic relationship. I have never “made a play” for an attached man in my life.  “Making a play” for someone already in a relationship  is like starting a war- a good outcome is impossible. I have heard stories of women being successful at this sort of thing, meaning they end up with the man in question. But do they really want to be with someone who so easily breaks commitments?

 When an attached person approaches someone outside of their attachment it is absurd to blame the third party. Last night’s incident is a prime example of what pisses me off.  At a party a married man came on to me.  Wedding ring off his finger.  No indication in his conversation that he was attached.  Paying me compliments.  Hinting at potential future meetings.  Just like any single man who was interested would do.  I listened and having been jaded by recent events, I was a bit guarded but mildly open to his attentions. He seemed nice enough as a “single” guy after all. At the END of the evening I asked him if he is married and he hesitates to answer.

Turns out that at several points throughout the evening his wife was within earshot of our conversation – at one point she was sitting about three feet away.  He didn’t bother to introduce me.  He told me how much he  enjoyed my company while she is right there!  I have no idea what was going on. Perhaps I read him all wrong?  Perhaps they enjoy this type of game and go home and have wild sex afterwards?  Not one person at that party bothered to clue me in.  But guess who will be gossiped about as being loose and inappropriate?  Not the man!  Guess who his wife will be pissed off with if she is not a party to this activity?  Maybe him but definitely me.

The dynamic of this situation is what irritates me.

Person A misrepresents themselves to person B. Person B acts on the information provided and Person B gets blamed for wrongdoing. IT IS SO UNFAIR!!!

Why do attached women get so angry at women who get involved with their liar mates?

And not just that…

There is, perhaps worse, the woman who encourages a “friendship” with her husband/boyfriend then gets angry when he makes an advance.

Here is an event in my life that has bothered me for years:

When I was in college, I worked as a hostess in a restaurant.  When I started working there one of the waitresses had just broken up with her boyfriend, a very handsome man who took my breath away upon our first meeting.  She approached me and gave me his telephone number suggesting I call him and ask him out. Despite the intense attraction, I threw his number in the trash and tried to avoid him as much as possible.  Weeks later I ran into him at a party where he made it a point to talk to me.  We stayed out together all night and  though we had a great time and his ex was already involved with someone else, I was uncomfortable with his recent break up status and intended on not seeing him again.  He was persistent in his pursuit, after a few weeks, I caved and his ex-girlfriend became furious with ME. Although her anger was, in my opinion, completely misdirected, it was still awful to think that I had a part in causing her pain. The extra drama around it all was also irritating.

I dated that man for the better part of a year and his ex went on to marry the guy she met post break up but to this day I am sure she would be happy to tell you what a bitch I am.

My standard response when  a(n) married/attached men proposition me I tell them plainly that I hear that they are unhappy  in their current situation and that makes me sad. Then I suggest they might  go see a therapist and work on themselves.

I mean really, Who wants to be in a relationship with a man who would put on such a drama (lie and sneak around) rather than take responsibility for his initial relationship and communicate his feelings, or do the work on himself to satisfy whatever need he has that he goes to such lengths?

As a single mom trying to make a living as a writer, I prefer to keep my life as simple and trouble free as possible.

What are your thoughts or experiences on/with relationship status and dating?