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Date prep: How interesting is your story?

Date prep: How interesting is your story?

It’s a cold winter’s night in Brisvegas and I’m at a loose end. I’m a single woman living in the time of Corona – when dating is challenging and socialising hasn’t quite returned to normal.

I’ve done my daily scroll through the dating apps and still feel uninspired. Why do so many men have a strong penchant for bushranger-style facial hair and scowling demeanours? Who told them this is attractive?

Clearly my true love is not online this evening.

I decide to do a little romantic personal development and pull out my friend Carolyn’s book, Finding Love Again. I finished reading it a few weeks ago but I skipped over most of the exercises in the back.

The first part of the book contains personal stories of men and women who have lost and then found love again. With a strong emphasis on common values as the glue that makes relationships work, people share their experiences of divorce, being single, grief, children and much more. It also explores what each of them learned on their journey to finding love again.

But it’s the end of the book with its self-reflection exercises that I turn to tonight, specifically Exercise 6 – Your Story which centres on the problem of how to talk about yourself when you first meet a new potential date.

I’ve joined some online speed-dating events recently and been faced with the challenge of describing myself in an interesting way to a complete stranger in two minutes via Zoom. It’s not for the faint-hearted.

Carolyn has a suggestion about how to approach telling your story, so I decide to give it a go. It seems I need to go back and map out the most interesting and significant events in my life so far, from birth.

Perhaps this is going to be a rather short story…

No. I’m doing this – you never know what gold I may discover to fill those awkward silences on my next date.

Carolyn suggests you create a table and for each year, jot down things like where you were living, what you were doing, an achievement, a people thing, a funny thing, little known fact. You don’t need to fill every box for each year, just put in anything noteworthy that springs to mind.

Obviously being born was significant for me but I’m not sure if that’s something I need to highlight on a date. Fast forward to late primary school though and I won a prize for one of my oil paintings and got my picture in the paper – that was pretty cool. I still have the newspaper clipping somewhere – all skinny legs and gaunt-faced cheekbones. I was one of those kids who ate and ate and never put on any weight. Pity that didn’t last post-21…

Back to the task at hand.

Two memorable moments from my under-graduate degree – watching a disturbing German film where the female protagonist had all her teeth pulled out and sitting behind some Goths and their pet rat in a lecture.

Got married, traveled overseas for the first time and my love affair with Italy truly began. Repelled down five stories of the children’s hospital with the police special emergency response team – as you do.

Went overseas for a second time – yes, Italy again and I still loved it. Left marriage and traveled solo overseas, felt fearless and free. Watched the moon rise above camel trains in the Sahara.

Bought a house, worked with judges, zip-lined with gibbons through the jungle, published a book…

I could keep going but I don’t want to reveal everything before we’ve met in person, dear reader. But I’m sure you get the picture.

I know this is meant as a dating preparation activity, but I think it has value far beyond that. Revisiting your history and recognising your achievements and the events that have shaped you is a great thing to do at any time. When we get stuck in the daily grind and pressures of life, we often forget just how far we’ve come – this exercise is a great way to remind ourselves.

As I read back over my story, I have a laugh to myself and realise Carolyn’s words on page 238 ring very true – “this exercise demonstrates how uninteresting your previous break-up is in the totality of your life story”.

Your copy of Finding Love Again by Carolyn Martinez is waiting for you at Hawkeye Books.

The Worst Date of My Life

The Worst Date of My Life

My first (and last) foray into online dating didn’t go very well. Actually, it was an unmitigated disaster. It was early 2012 when I met my first match from a well-known dating site. We’d chatted briefly online and agreed to meet in the Valley for drink to get to know each other better.

That first date went really well. It lasted from 4-11pm and we had drinks, then dinner and saw a movie. It was great. We laughed, had things in common and it was clear he didn’t want the date to end. He was also kind of cute (which always helps).

But the second date didn’t go quite as well. In fact, it was so bad it took me a few days to write down the story (which I later featured in my book The Men I’ve Almost Dated). The truth was, I had to process an interaction with a man who turned out to be a truly awful person before I could write about it. After that experience, I wasn’t sure if I ever want to date again.

Anyway, here’s the story…

On a Saturday night, I dressed up and headed out for a second date with DH. I’ll let you work out what those initials could stand for (hint, the first word is a name for the male genitalia) .

Anyway, the first date went really well. It lasted from 4-11pm and we had drinks, then dinner and saw a movie. It was great. We laughed, had things in common and it was clear he didn’t want the date to end. He was also kind of cute (which always helps).

So when he asked me out for dinner on Saturday night I said yes. I was looking forward to it.

We met a local bar and it probably wasn’t a good sign that he confessed to flinging his chewing gum into the street just as I exited the cab. When he’d removed his shoes and socks in the movie I’d thought it was quirky. But throwing his gum onto the footpath for someone to wear as an unwanted shoe ornament just seemed disrespectful.

We settled into a table for two, he ordered me a glass of wine and we chatted about this and that.

He mentioned he’d seen Underworld: Awakening earlier that day and how much he loved the 3-D effects. Then he said he was hanging out for 3-D porn.

Mmm.

I convinced myself that he was joking and changed the subject. After all, we’ve all said stupid things at the wrong moment and maybe he was just nervous.

The conversation seemed to get back on track and I started telling him about my blog.

When he asked, ‘What’s the point of blogging?’ I thought I detected a hint of disparagement but thought ‘No, that would be crazy. After all, why would someone who has never read my work and barely knows me ever disparage my blog?’ So, I told him it was about the discipline of writing and we talked about the book I’m writing.

Then things definitely went downhill.

I told him I was writing about my own life and hoped that people could relate to the things that happened to me. ‘Nobody wants to see a movie or read about someone who is like them,’ DH said. ‘They want to escape.’

Mmm.

I asked a few more questions just to clarify his meaning. Surely I was misinterpreting him? Sadly, it was very clear. He didn’t think anyone would want to read my writing because it would be too much like their own lives. Just to be clear, this man had never read or asked to see any of my work.

Mmm.

We left the bar and walked along the street to the restaurant. Then it got worse. I wasn’t feeling too great by this stage and he said, ‘You look confused?’

‘I’m perplexed,’ I said. ‘You seem to have a good heart but you’re saying things that are likely to offend me.

‘You’re too sensitive,’ he said. ‘Besides if I don’t say what I think there would be nothing to say.’ Then he tried to make a joke of it.

We didn’t talk a lot during dinner and he continued to act like everything was great. But I wasn’t feeling great. During the strained chitchat, DH said he often offends people and asked me why I thought that was. ‘Maybe you need to consider the feelings of the person you’re talking to,’ I quietly suggested.

Throughout the date I continued to be polite to this man because I’ve been raised to have good manners. Everything I said was politely worded and smilingly delivered because I kept thinking that maybe I was misinterpreting something.

DH had told me on our first date that he always tells his students (he’s a primary school teacher) they can do anything and encourages them to follow their dreams. When I compared this to his comments to me he said, ‘I just wouldn’t want someone to waste their time.’

Yes. That is exactly what he said.

And still I sat there sucking down my sangria like there was no tomorrow and thinking I need to get drunk really quickly or else I’m going to throw this cocktail into his face.

When the waitress returned I declined her offer of dessert because I was really hoping to end the ‘date’ as soon as possible. I put ‘date’ in inverted commas because dates are supposed to be pleasurable and this was definitely not.

But DH went ahead and ordered dessert for us to share!

Then he made some crack that no one wants to see another Sex and the City and laughed when he saw my face. ‘Ha ha, that’s what you’re aiming for isn’t it?’ he said. Then he laughed some more.

That’s not what I’m aiming for and the look on my face was pure shock at his atrocious behaviour. What a jerk. What a complete and utter jerk.

Often when I’m confronted with an insensitive and rude person I continue to smile, be polite and pretend that everything is fine.

But this time I chose a different route. This time I left. I excused myself and went to the bathroom. While there I accosted some poor woman and asked her if she had change for a $50 note. You see, I wanted to go back into the restaurant, fling my half of the money on the table and leave. But the woman (who probably thought I was a little nuts) said, ‘Um, no,’ then fled out the door. I followed close behind but stopped short of making my way back up the hallway to the restaurant.

The woman had gone in the opposite direction and exited through the glass doors into the car park. I watched her leave, then looked back towards the restaurant. Then I looked back at the glass doors. Then back to the restaurant entrance again.

Suddenly I was half-running down the hallway, shoving open those glass doors and emerging into the dark car park beyond.

Yes, I was legging it!

I remember ducking and weaving behind the parked cars because I didn’t want DH to spot me leaving (there was a concrete wall between us but my adrenaline was running and I felt a little crazy). I’d never done anything like that before. My parents had brought me up with good manners for heaven’s sake! Yet there I was fleeing like a fugitive before somehow flagging down a passing cab and throwing myself into the backseat.

When I started laughing (probably a little hysterically) the cab driver asked if I’d had a good date. That made me laugh even more. When he heard the story, the driver started laughing too.

Although I did laugh about it, I think I was also really shocked. The whole thing was unbelievable. I mean, who acts like that?

After about 10 minutes in the cab I sent DH a text saying, ‘Thanks for the not so lovely evening. If you’d like to send me your account details I will transfer you the funds for dinner.’

But I didn’t hear from him and blocked all communication with him on the xxx dating site.

I guess he probably felt humiliated sitting there in the restaurant on his own with his dessert for two. But I can’t really find it in my heart to feel sorry for him. Beside it could have been worse – I could have stained his shirt with my sangria.

Would you like to read more disastrous dating and men-related stories like this one? Check out my new book The Men I’ve Almost Dated. It’s available in eBook and paperback today.

Online dating craziness

Is it just me or is there a sudden glut of online dating commercials running on our televisions these holidays?

As soon as the lights were snuffed out on Christmas Day, BAM, suddenly I can’t watch a program without a new and allegedly fabulous dating service being rammed down my throat.

Bizarrely, one of the ads doesn’t even feature people. Instead all I saw was an  animated man and woman being all smiley and happy on my TV screen.

I was confused.

Aren’t we even pretending to date real people anymore? Or can the site build me the perfect animated man to service my every whim and desire?

And is this just another symptom of our rapidly diminishing ability to relate to and/or meet people without the buffer of technology?

I was so incredulous I forgot to write down the name of the dating service so, if you come across it, please let me know so we can share it with everyone.

In my search for the TV commercial online I came across some other sites that disturbed me just a tad.

Unfortunately, these ones included that derogatory term I detest…the ‘cougar’. Apparently there are all these cougars out there looking for cubs this season…and vice versa.

The mind reels!!!

But really, I suppose it’s no different from the sugar daddy sites, the hook up sites and the sugar momma sites that abound online. They are all advertising the promise of love (short and long-term).

And I guess we are all looking for that, in whatever form suits us.

At least going online means we can be more specific about what we do and don’t want. Although sometimes I wonder if we’re all getting a little too specific about our ‘love requirements’.

Online dating means we fill out a form (or ten) and a computer decides who matches best with whom. And I have to say, based on my previous online dating experience (see http://lucyandlife.com/?s=Eat+and+run&submit=Search), sometimes it all goes terribly wrong.

Does that mean we actually say we want one thing but we really want another? Or is the computer just completely clueless?

I have friends who swear by these dating sites and some of them have now married (or hooked-up) with their online matches. But I remain unconvinced.

And honestly, maybe it’s just the thought of filling out the profile paperwork that turns me off.

How do I make my interests sound interesting to a complete stranger? And what profile picture should I use? Do I want to seem mysterious, sexy or intelligent…or all three of these? Do I want a blonde man, a tall man, an average man or just any man?

Sigh. It’s all a little too exhausting for me to attempt today. Maybe I’ll try again in the New Year.

In the meantime, for all you singletons out there…good luck with your dating adventures in 2013…whatever method suits you.

And don’t forget to steal a kiss from that random stranger standing beside you when the clock strikes 12 tonight.

Happy New Year!!

F**K! I’m nearly 40.

Last week, while looking at some recent holiday photos, I had an awful moment. I looked at myself and thought, ‘Oh my God, I look middle-aged’.

Yes, I know I was in the tropics and no one looks great when they’re permanently dehydrated, in a foreign country and travelling in heat measured in the high thirties with 100 percent humidity. I get that. But still, when I looked at myself I thought, F**K, how the hell did that happen?

And today I’ve looked at the date and realised that in exactly three months I will turn 40. Yes, 40. It’s happened.

The approach of major birthdays often makes us stop and think about our lives. We ask ourselves, ‘What have I achieved,’ and ‘Am I on the right path?’

As for the actual birthday, many of us drink ourselves into a stupor, spend the day in bed with the blankets over our heads or just pretend it isn’t happening. We just want it over so we can get on with things.

I still can’t remember my 30th birthday. I’m told I had a party with friends but, even though I didn’t drink a lot, I cannot remember a single thing from that day or night. My brain has quite simply wiped it from my memory.

My life was very different at 30.  I was married to a man everyone loved, working in a full-time job (with great security and benefits) and we owned a nice house in various stages of renovation.

I had the life many of my friends desperately wanted. But I was unhappy.

Now, almost a decade later, my life is completely different.

It’s been a decade of firsts for me. My first (and hopefully last) divorce, my first solo overseas trip (followed by several more), my first solo property purchase (and accompanying mortgage), my first one-night stand, my first time staying out all night (yes, I’m definitely a late bloomer), my first redundancy, and the list goes on.

It’s been eventful.

And now I am three months away from 40 and wondering if I should have done more by now. Shouldn’t I be clawing my way up the career ladder instead of taking an indulgent year off to scribble my thoughts in the hope that others may eventually pay to read my words?

Shouldn’t I be on every dating site in Australia desperately trying to partner up for life (or at least for the next six months to get me over the 40 hump)?

And then there’s the question of children. I haven’t had any of them yet. Will I ever? And more importantly, do I want to? I still don’t know the answer to the children questions…but shouldn’t I have figured that out by my age?

And while these questions scurry around in my head, like mice looking for an exit, forty still approaches. I am inexorably drawn forward to that date by time…it cannot be avoided.

I’ve decided I won’t attempt to answer the questions for a while. I’m putting them back into a box called, Questions for another day. You might call this approach denial; I’m calling it mental survival.

I’m just going to trust, for now, that time and circumstance will answer all questions.

I will continue to enjoy my gap year and the space it gives me to think my own thoughts and write them down.

I will trust that the perfect man for me will appear in my life when the time is right.

And the questions about children will just have to resolve themselves.

As for being middle-aged, I’m going to pretend that I’m not, just for a little while longer.

The 13 year-old daughter of a close friend says she wants to hang out with me because, ‘You look 29 and you are awesome’. Holding onto that comment should help me stave off middle-age for another week or month or year.

The future, and forty, can take care of itself.

 

 

 

Eat and run

It’s taken me a few days to write this blog. I’ve been processing an interaction with a truly awful person and couldn’t quite bring myself to write about it.

Unfortunately this person was also the first man I’d met through online dating.

Now I’m not sure if I ever want to date again.

Anyway, here’s the story…

On Saturday night, I dressed up and headed out for a second date with a man I’d met through eHarmony. I think I’ll refer to him as DH. I’ll let you work out what those initials could stand for.

Anyway, the first went really well. It lasted from 4-11pm and we had drinks, then dinner and saw a movie. It was great. We laughed, had things in common and it was clear he didn’t want the date to end. He was also kind of cute (which always helps).

So when he asked me out for dinner on Saturday night I said yes. I was looking forward to it.

We met a local bar and it probably wasn’t a good sign that he confessed to flinging his chewing gum into the street just as I exited the cab. When he’d removed his shoes and socks in the movie I’d thought it was quirky. But throwing his gum onto the footpath for someone to wear as an unwanted shoe ornament just seemed disrespectful.

We settled into a table for two, he ordered me a glass of wine and we chatted about this and that.

He mentioned he’d seen Underworld: Awakening earlier that day and how much he loved the 3-D effects. Then he said he was hanging out for 3-D porn.

Mmm.

I convinced myself that he was joking and changed the subject. After all, we’ve all said stupid things at the wrong moment and maybe he was just nervous.

The conversation seemed to get back on track and I started telling him about my blog.

When he asked, ‘What’s the point of blogging?’ I thought I detected a hint of disparagement but thought ‘No, that would be crazy. After all, why would someone who has never read my work and barely knows me ever disparage my blog?’ So, I told him it was about the discipline of writing and we talked about the book I’m writing.

Then things definitely went downhill.

I told him I was writing about my own life and hoped that people could relate to the things that happened to me. ‘Nobody wants to see a movie or read about someone who is like them,’ DH said. ‘They want to escape.’

Mmm.

I asked a few more questions just to clarify his meaning. Surely I was misinterpreting him? Sadly, it was very clear. He didn’t think anyone would want to read my writing because it would be too much like their own lives. Just to be clear, this man had never read or asked to see any of my work.

Mmm.

We left the bar and walked along the street to the restaurant.

It got worse. I wasn’t feeling too great by this stage and he said, ‘You look confused?’

‘I’m perplexed,’ I said. ‘You seem to have a good heart but you’re saying things that are likely to offend me.

‘You’re too sensitive,’ he said. ‘Besides if I don’t say what I think there would be nothing to say.’ Then he tried to make a joke of it.

We didn’t talk a lot during dinner and he continued to act like everything was great. But I wasn’t feeling great.

During the strained chitchat, DH said he often offends people and asked me why I thought that was. ‘Maybe you need to consider the feelings of the person you’re talking to,’ I quietly suggested.

Throughout the date I continued to be polite to this man because I’ve been raised to have good manners. Everything I said was politely worded and smilingly delivered because I kept thinking that maybe I was misinterpreting something.

DH had told me on our first date that he always tells his students (he’s a primary school teacher) they can do anything and encourages them to follow their dreams. When I compared this to his comments to me he said, ‘I just wouldn’t want someone to waste their time.’

Yes. That is exactly what he said.

And still I sat there sucking down my sangria like there was no tomorrow and thinking I need to get drunk really quickly or else I’m going to throw this cocktail into his face.

When the waitress returned I declined her offer of dessert because I was really hoping to end the ‘date’ as soon as possible. I put ‘date’ in inverted commas because dates are supposed to be pleasurable and this was definitely not.

But DH went ahead and ordered dessert for us to share!

Then he made some crack that no one wants to see another Sex and the City and laughed when he saw my face. ‘Ha ha, that’s what you’re aiming for isn’t it?’ he said. Then he laughed some more.

That’s not what I’m aiming for and the look on my face was pure shock at his atrocious behaviour. What a jerk. What a complete and utter jerk.

Often when I’m confronted with an insensitive and rude person I continue to smile, be polite and pretend that everything is fine.

But this time I chose a different route. This time I left.

I excused myself and went to the bathroom. Then I found the back exit, legged it out of there, hailed a cab and headed home.

When I started laughing (probably a little hysterically) the cab driver asked if I’d had a good date. That made me laugh even more. When he heard the story, the driver started laughing too.

Although I did laugh about it, I think I was also really shocked. The whole thing was unbelievable. I mean, who acts like that?

After about ten minutes in the cab I sent DH a text saying, ‘Thanks for the not so lovely evening. If you’d like to send me your account details I will transfer you the funds for dinner.’

I haven’t heard from him again and I’ve blocked all communication with him on the eHarmony site.

I guess he probably felt humiliated sitting there in the restaurant on his own with his dessert for two. But I can’t really find it in my heart to feel sorry for him. Beside it could have been worse – I could have stained his shirt with my sangria.