Diving back into dating

I had such high hopes.  A few weeks ago, I set aside my abundant skepticism around what passes for dating in this day and age, and decided to reactivate my profile on a popular dating app. I keep calling it dating, but seriously, what we do now is not dating, and I am not even talking about how the Covid pandemic has impacted it. I’ve been around long enough to remember what dating was like before cell phones and texting and sexting and dating apps. I was just getting into the dating scene when meeting people through a website became all the rage. I’m not here to knock dating apps. I know a lot of people who have met their lifelong partner in this way, so I know it is possible. I am just oversharing about my own personal experiences in some hope that it will suddenly start to make sense.

So here I was, smack in the middle of Mercury Retrograde, (I do not recommend this in the least!) attempting to connect with cute guys via catchy one-liners and a mixture of photos (theirs and mine) and turn that into something that lasts longer than a handful of messages. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to make this conclusion on so little information? It’s kindof like being invited to walk into a restaurant, sit down with a complete stranger and make small talk about them and yourself. It would go something like this,

“Hey how are you (insert name you barely remember)? I see you are eating food. I like food too! Wow, we have so much in common. ”

I know I am exaggerating things a bit, but really I’m not that far off. Dating, like everything on social media, is like a promotional event. We only talk about our good qualities, we downplay reality and insist upon quick intimacy when that hasn’t even had a chance to develop yet.

Let’s take for example, a guy that I’ve been “chatting” with for a few weeks. He had all the qualities that I find attractive. His children were all grown up, he had his own business, a great smile and an inviting sense of humor. He was tall, in my age range, had a cute dog and was obviously single. So far so good and so many boxes checked. For some reason though, planning a phone call, a short hike in nature or meeting in person for a cup of coffee seemed unusually difficult.

On one hand, he asked when we could meet and in the next breath (text), he mentioned that he was completely unavailable for a week. One of the things that I’ve discovered about dating is that there is a certain momentum that happens. There’s mutual interest, texting, a possible phone call, etc., and then at some point in the very near future, there needs to be an in-person introduction. Some people are very charismatic onscreen and then very shy or aloof in person. It is nice to find these things out before we invest too much of our emotional bank account on them. When the phone call or in person invitation doesn’t happen, the energy starts to wane, and that is what was happening in this example.

So here we are, two weeks invested into getting to know this person, and we finally make plans to have a phone call. Isn’t that just the funniest thing you ever heard? We have to make a date to talk on the phone. What the hell is happening to us as a culture? Sorry, tangent. Anyway, we had chosen a range of possible days when both of us could manage this overwhelming task, since committing to a specific hour was just too restrictive. I had forgotten about an online class I had that night, so when he did call, I couldn’t talk. He was very understanding and we made plans to try again after my class.

Since we both had iPhones, he wanted to have a FaceTime phone call. I wasn’t super excited about this because while I wanted to look my best I also wanted to take off all my work clothes, makeup and put my hair in a ponytail. When we finally did get on a call, I was happy to see that he looked as good on screen as in his photos which is not always the case. However, a few minutes into it, his face freezes and the internet shuts down, along with our call. I called right back, but he doesn’t pick up. Then he texts me that we should try again the next day because he is suddenly working on some report that needs his full attention, even though he was completely available a few minutes earlier.

To say I was a little tweaked by this response is an understatement. I had to have an emergency phone call with one of my best girlfriends for advice on how to respond. I tend to be overly honest in these instances, so I had to reign myself in a bit. In all her wisdom, she advised me to play it cool and nonchalant. Apparently that worked, because he FaceTimed me the next morning before I had even started to get ready for work. To give you a visual, I had smudged eyeliner on one eye and not the other, my hair had that smashed pillow look about it and I was still in my pj’s which means I was sans-bra. I’m not used to FaceTime calls so I picked up the call before I realized it had video and by then there was nowhere to hide!

In spite of all this, we had a nice conversation and I was smitten by his warmth and engaging personality. A few minutes after we ended the call, and completely out of the blue, he sends me a message saying, “Morning sex is so intimate . . . ” I’m like FUCK! please don’t be THAT guy, but it’s too late. He is that guy. I know exactly what he is doing, and I am not playing, not because I disagree, but because this is the equivalent of being back at that restaurant table with a stranger, taking a sip of coffee and saying, ‘You know, morning sex is my favorite’, just to see how he reacts. And that is exactly what this guy was doing. I’ve seen it before. I’ve experienced it before and I know how it ends. Once again though, I took the high road and side stepped his statement with my own truth, that all sex can be intimate with the right person. That’s when he decided to man-splain it to me since I clearly wasn’t getting it. He says,

“I was coming from the standpoint [that] sex feels different at various points throughout the day. Morning sex “to me” is so comfy and raw.”

Here’s the thing. I am not denying that sex is a really wonderful thing or that I miss it dearly, but I find it incredibly offensive when a man starts talking to me about this before we’ve even met and especially before we’ve had a chance to build any sort of connection. And just to be clear, in my early days of dating, I fell right into the rhythm of talking about sex before meeting a guy and you know what? When we did finally meet, I realized that I was physically attracted to his words, but not to him.

The really depressing part of all this is that I was really attracted to this guy on many levels. But here we are, early on a Saturday morning, and after all that talk about sex, all I hear is crickets from him. The modern day dating term for this is called “ghosting”. I start to question myself. Did I say something wrong? Or maybe that’s not it at all. Maybe he wasn’t being transparent with his intentions. Even though he said he wanted to “love on a level very few can imagine”(his words), maybe what he really wanted was someone to rev him up without all the effort of actually dating. Either way, I am chalking this one up as another example of what I do not want. I know it is the contrast that helps us redefine how we want to experience life, but dammit I feel like I’ve had enough contrast for a lifetime. I feel like Charlotte in one of my favorite scenes from Sex in the City when she says, “Where is he? I’ve been dating since I was 15, I’m exhausted!” I feel you Charlotte. I feel you.

This is Logynn Northrhip, reporting to you live from the dating trenches of Colorado. Back to you Trevor.

Swipe Left or Right . . . The Truth about Dating

For starters, dating apps have absolutely taken over.   If you’ve ever heard the phrase, “Swipe left or swipe right”, you can thank a dating app for that.  For anyone who hasn’t had the “opportunity” to date through a dating app, prepare yourself, because it is not for the weak, and most definitely requires a thick skin.  I’ve been dating off and on since my divorce, and I can say that online dating and/or dating apps has evolved, a little.  However, it has also devolved.

I have tried a few different dating apps in the past year, and the thing I have noticed is that meeting potential dates and mates this way feels like a job interview with one purpose and one purpose only, to determine your desire to have a meaningless and untethered sexual encounter . . . preferably on the first date.  

The vast majority of men I’ve met on dating sites have one thing in common; they are looking for a low-investment connection.  Trust me, you haven’t lived until a guy tells you he is looking for this type of connection. I remember when I first heard a guy say something like this to me.  We were at a cute little speakeasy, standing at the bar when he leans in, and asks, “So what are you looking for?” I had literally known this person for two hours, tops, so I really wasn’t sure how to answer that question.  He helped steer me through it by telling me that he had just ended a nine month relationship and wasn’t looking for anything serious.  Ding! A light bulb suddenly went off as I realized what he was really asking.

In my head I did a flashback to his profile that said he was looking for an adventure and travel partner who lives life deep, but loves to laugh, is into keeping it real while having a good time.  He also mentioned that he was spiritual and interested in the metaphysical.  That was the thing that made him stand out to me.  I rarely meet men who have an interest in this topic which is very close to my heart.  Something wasn’t lining up.  Turns out, either he hadn’t updated his preferences lately, or he was lying about what he was seeking.  Hold that thought.

We later made plans to celebrate my 50th birthday doing something totally cool and new which I had decided was the theme for the upcoming year, but a conversation we had in between those plans almost derailed things as I admitted that while I wasn’t looking for a serious relationship at the moment, I also don’t like to carelessly hook up and have random sex with men that I have just met.  In order to save face, he did his part and made sure I had a fun birthday experience, but he disappeared, as I knew he would, because he was really only there for the sex.

If I am going to spend time picking out a cute outfit and making myself look as if I just nonchalantly woke up this way without any effort, than believe me, it will take some effort!  If I go to all that effort, it means I care and want to make a good impression because something about the guy’s profile made me want to know him outside of the virtual world. Call me old-fashioned, but I can promise that if we meet in person, it isn’t because I just want to fuck.  It appears however, that I am in the minority on this one.

Take for example, a guy I met on a dating app whom we will call the,  “I’m Super Motivated to Date You Guy”; and before you ask, yes, he really said that.  This guy went from zero to 60 in less than 24 hours.  Here’s his strategy.  First, he stalked my Facebook page and tried to emulate things he thought mattered to me. Once he realized that wasn’t working, he decided on a new strategy.  He begged me to give him my number and message outside of the dating app, and it went downhill from there. Here’s a sample of one of our texted conversations:

Him: I’d also like to hang out with you on a regular basis.

Me: I’d like to meet you to see how compatible we are in person. 

Him: Or we can just talk on the phone prior.  That whole compatible thing, im gunna need you to work with me on that. Honestly I prefer older women for this very reason. (spelling and punctuation his)

Me: (in my head . . and what reason is that? ) I’d like to hear your voice so talking on the phone ahead of meeting would be nice. (I have a thing for voices, the deeper and sexier, the better)

Him: Anytime babe (in my head: So I’m your babe now am I? Phfff!)

A few texts later, and by later, I mean a few minutes; I get this doozie:

Him: I may even insist on a commitment beyond one date.

Me: Wait, What?! You barely know me.  . . . 

Him: I know you pretty well, its mostly documented on FB and this conversation.

(Me, in my head: Hahahahahaha!) Well again, how about we meet before we start making too many plans for the future . . .

Him: Oh im already sold. 

(Me, in my head: well, I’m not). Yeah, I’m a little more cautious with my heart. 

As if all of this wasn’t enough to ignite a major red flag, I kept playing along. Honestly, by this point, I just really wanted to see what the hell he was going to say next. And he did not disappoint! Within minutes, he managed to bring up sex, but first he made sure to soften it by mentioning that he was only looking for a monogamous partner. That appealed to me, but then he launched into this dialogue:

Him: I do like to have a fair amount of sex, fair warning. Again, not my primary thing, just something I figured id mention. (He went on to mention it 3 more times that night)

Me: (in my head, WTF?!) 

It was about to get really interesting, and this ladies, is your on-line dating public service announcement . . .

Him: I’m toying with idea of committing early on to like a 2 month commitment, that way sex early on won’t wreck it.

Me: Wait, what? (Me, in my head, OMG is this guy for real?!)

Him: Right so if i commit for 2 months you don’t get hurt, we can grow into the relationship and have sex while doing it. Its genius really.

(It’s like watching a train crash in slow motion . . . but I just can’t help myself, I’ve got to see how crazy this guy truly is)

Me: And what happens after two months?

Him: So after 2 months we keep building the relationship. if not well we’ll both of had a lot of fun, no regrets. I’ve cleared the next 8 weekends for you.

Me: literally speechless

A few texts later, he was feeling pretty confident that I had just bought his entire line of bullshit so he lobs one out into the stratosphere . . .

Him: Night baby. You should just swing by tonight, thatd be baller.

And that ladies, is how a narcissistic predator sounds when he is trying to “date” you.  I shared this particular encounter because it was the most absurd and over the top version of what dating via phone apps has become.

I am also sharing this because I have to admit, even though my defenses were cued up and I was immediately suspicious of this guy’s game, a part of me started to get sucked into the vortex of it all.  It was that quick.  Seriously, as soon as he started talking about sex, the boundaries started melting because I mean, sex is nice when it has some intimacy and emotion mixed in with a nice orgasm.  And talking about that via text makes us drop our inhibitions because it doesn’t seem real.  It’s like talking to one of your girlfriends, and then you realize that you AREN’T talking to one of your girlfriends and it’s like ummmmmm, who is this again?

It suddenly makes perfect sense why guys so often lose interest if we don’t immediately give out our number. I have lost count of the number of men who deleted me when I refused to give them my number after they said “hi”. That’s how you know what they are all about. Is it too much to ask to meet for a coffee or a fancy water before I let you start blowing up my phone with inappropriate questions? Or worse, dick pics?!

So how did dating become such a field of virtual landmines?  I think it started with an app designed to locate a person you’ve just met online so that you can “hook up” for a quickie. When this happened, the world of dating started to devolve. The other factor that makes dating today more difficult than ever is age.  I was 49 going on 50 when I started dating here in Colorado, and let me tell you, nobody is dating in their age group.

My first Colorado date was in July 2018, and I finally took a break in March of 2019.   In the space of 9 months, I went on 22 dates with 16 different men and their ages ranged from 25 years (don’t judge!) to 51 years old. Obviously, based on those numbers, a few of these men warranted more than one date; very few.  Out of all of them, only one has become a friend, and that says a lot about him and his character.

One of the things that I noticed and cannot deny is that all of these men were mirroring a blatant truth back to me.  I am not ready to be in a serious relationship right now, just as they aren’t.  I am enjoying the hell out of my life, and for me, being in a serious relationship just feels like a trap full of compromise, topped with compromise.  Not too long ago, I was in a 4-year relationship that was nothing but compromise on my part.  I think I still have a little PTSD from that experience.

At this point in my life, I am not looking to marry anyone, but I do want the opportunity to get to know them, go on a hike, see a movie, talk, walk around Pearl Street, experience something new together, and hold the space for something to potentially develop.  I think people have forgotten how dating used to be.  It wasn’t always like this.  It used to be exciting to just talk to each other and take things slowish.  That little flip that your stomach would do when he called, or you saw him and smelled his cologne, the sparks that would fly when you held hands or kissed for the first time; I miss that.

As much as I would like to tell you that the example from above was the only weirdo I’ve had to deal with over the past several months, I have much more hilarium to share.

Next, is a guy I nicknamed GQ, or Fifty Shades of No Thank You, because quite honestly his photos looked like they were straight out of Vogue.  So when we matched up and did some texting, I was thrilled when he asked me out.  I mentioned that I was craving some Tex-Mex, so he invited me out to Chuy’s, one of my favorites.

We had a great conversation; he was very charismatic and just as good-looking in person as online, (not always the case).  After he walked me to my car, he turned away with his hands in his pockets, and mumbled something over his shoulder about how we should do it again sometime.  Well, I’m no psychic, but with body language like that, I figured I’d never see him again.  Turns out the Universe heard my frustration, and we matched up a second time. That is when I finally discovered the real reason that he hadn’t called for a second date.

We were texting a little about Halloween and such when he messaged me with this little shocker:

Him: So, you do know that I am a Dominant right?

Me: (in my head . . and how would I know that?) Are you talking about 50 Shades of Grey dominant?

Him: That’s the one doll. (Me: I hate it when men patronize me with names like doll.  I’ll show you doll, asshole!)

Me: (momentarily speechless) Alright, well, I actually hated that book and couldn’t even finish it but  . . . out of curiosity, how long have you been into this dominant/submissive thing? Do you get a lot of positive feedback? (The journalism student in me suddenly came to life).

Him: A long time.  And it’s hit or miss. Some are into it and some not. I consider it a filter.

Me: (in my head: Funny, I’m using this conversation as a filter) Um, probably gained some traction with the books and movies . . . I just take issue with being required to give up control. Is it about one night stands or mutual pleasure?

Him: Not a one night stand. It’s about pleasure through giving up control.

Me: Yeah, I can see how that works for one person, but you’re not giving up any control; you’re taking it.

Needless to say, I never saw him again.

I’d like to point out that I did not start dating again in order to gather evidence of the weirdness out there in the dating world, that just happened. I started dating again because I was tired of spending all my time alone and curious to see if guys in Colorado are different than the ones I dated in Texas. (They are).

I would also like to say that I am grateful for all the men that I met during the past 9 months.  Even though a vast majority of them were only there for the sex, they were men I never would have met otherwise.  I had some good conversations, discovered some cool new restaurants, and felt that flutter in my belly when I saw a few of them and smelled their cologne. I also learned a lot about myself and my needs right now.

I guess what I am saying is that if both parties are only there for the sex, that’s one thing, but don’t ask me out and pretend that you care, only to instantly lose interest when we do have sex. That’s just rude, even if you do apologize for it later.

Dating is not a complete waste of time, but it is something that requires intention and mindfulness. If you are brave enough to dive in, I applaud you! I hope that you meet a kindred spirit and have some fun together. Whether that fun involves a sexual connection only, or something deeper is totally up to you. Just be prepared and know that dating has changed, and not necessarily for the better. Knowledge is power and is a requirement today more than ever, as we try to understand ourselves through the process of dating.