Category Archives: Dating on the Far Side of Forty

Str8 Talk

Recently I got a message on an online dating site from an attractive man with the profile name “str8t_rod”.  I thought his meant his hobby was racing street rods.  Not something I’m into, but then I’m not the type of person that thinks couples need to share all the same hobbies, so I emailed him back and we began to chat.  The conversation moved quickly from “How are you doing today?” to “I’d love to caress your sensuous curves and run my hand down …”

I was taken aback but this fast dash to inappropriate sex chat so I went back to review his profile and see if there was something in there that would have clued me in to his real intent.  I’m sure my readers, who are most likely not as dyslexic as I am, and who probably paid more attention in pre-school while being taught phonetics, are already laughing, have easily recognized my mistake.  He wasn’t talking about a “street rod”; he was talking about a “straight rod”!  This is a particularly embarrassing mistake for a woman who’s already written an article about how to read online dating profiles.

Looking back I realize that even if I’d read it correctly I might still have responded thinking he was just a guy name “Rod” who wanted everyone to know he isn’t gay.  Alas, his name is Paul!

Some women may have been shocked by this interchange and put off from online dating altogether but McKenzie is not faint of heart.  I simply laughed and wrote it off as another experience worth blogging about.


A Few Good Men

The Marines and I have both been looking for a few good men for some time now.  (Well, actually, they need a few while I honestly only need one.)  When I first began online dating I assumed I would meet a lot of good men and that, among all those good men, there would be one who wasn’t perfect but who suited me perfectly.  What I found instead were droves of men who had attained middle-age with little knowledge of themselves.  Among them were those who seemed completely unaware of their needs, their neurosis, their selfishness, their general lack of social skills, and any part they themselves had played in creating their current circumstances.  Then there were those who I’m sure were not necessarily bad men but who were simply, as my sister would say, “odd”.

You can only go on so many failed coffee dates and then most of us, men and women alike, have to take a break from online dating and focus our energy in other ways in order to maintain our optimism about love, life and the pursuit of happiness.  I took just such a break in the last few months.  Then over the holidays, having a lot of time off work and feeling ready to dance again, I updated my profile and threw it out to the universe with a hopeful sigh.

To my great surprise and joy the outcome was emails and subsequent meetings with several good men.  They are each and every one of them, intelligent, respectful, interesting and self-aware and I am completely enjoying my time getting to know them better.  We’ve shared drinks, meals, movies, and conversations about our life’s journey and our hopes for the future and I imagine we will remain friends regardless of the outcome.  It’s been like a breath of fresh air to someone who’s been dating for way too long.

I suspect that part of the reason it’s working out better for me this time is because I’ve been determined to broaden my own horizons.  I tend to be attracted to and to fall for the tall, dark and handsome types.  The problem with this is that judging a book by its cover has gotten me into repeatedly bad relationships over the years.  This time I promised myself I would place more credence on what each match had to say, how he presented himself, and how he approached me, than in his looks.  Not that any of these men are unattractive, they are simply not my usual 6’2” tall charmers.  So, just as the Marines have adjusted their definition of what it means to be “one of the few” over the years in order to enhance recruitment I’ve found that adjusting my perspective has worked as well.

Since I’ve written enough pieces about my bad dating experiences that they have their own category in the archives ( I thought it only fair that I report here that I’ve found there are still good, single men out there who are looking for relationships with strong, confident, intelligent women.  It’s way too early to tell if one of these men is the match I’ve been looking for but, whether or not one of these new friends turns out to be perfect for me, they have already renewed my faith in men.  What a wonderful way to begin a new year!

Everyone Loves Me!

I have been told I have a charming personality.  I suspect it’s partly just the personality I was born with and partly from being a middle child in a large family.  I’m basically a happy person. I get a kick out of life and find my fellow inmates on this planet fascinating.  I have made friends easily through my adult life.  I also tend to be very loyal so a lot of my closest friends I’ve known for over twenty years, some since childhood.

I remember sharing my angst over moving to New York City for a job a few years ago with my sister.  “What am I doing? I don’t know a soul in New York?  How will I meet people?”  My sister laughed and said, “You’ll make friends everywhere you go the way you always have.”

And, of course, she was right.  If I go to a new hairdresser, within a few visits we’re best of friends and meeting for drinks and dinner.  When I change jobs my new staff is usually happy I’m there and I make friends among my colleagues without difficulty.  In fact, at a recent job, my boss actually told me one of my fellow directors was jealous because staff liked me so well so quickly.  I just seem to be able to sense the type of support that each person needs to flourish and am somehow able to bring out their best.  I can prompt people to try and succeed at things they didn’t think they could do previously.

I put others at ease.  I laugh at all the everyday occurrences that make some people angry and frustrated and I get others to laugh along with me.  I’m the one that gets the party going.  I coax those who wouldn’t normally dance out on to the dance floor.  I laugh at myself. I use humor as an ice breaker and I’m often the one who helps others to relax and begin to enjoy each other’s company.

I’ve been told I’m adorable, fun, funny, charming, even enchanting.  (Okay, that last one may have been my Mom!)   Everybody loves me: my neighbors love me, the plumber loves me, babies love me, the cable guy loves me, my friends’ husbands and boyfriends love me, my friends’ kids love me, my nieces and nephews love me.

So what I don’t understand is this:  How is it that if everyone I meet loves me I can’t find just one, single man who loves me too?  I only need one man to find me enchanting — not an entire world.  Just one, single, stable, honest man who thinks I’m as special as everyone else does.  I only need one man to share my everyday life, my joys and sorrows, my laughter and tears.

Even at my ripe old age I’m still hopeful that this man exists somewhere and one day we’ll meet.  We’ll connect and he’ll see in me all the good that others do and eventually he’ll look across the room at me the way my girlfriend’s husband still looks at her after 35 years of marriage and say, “I’m a damn lucky man.”  And I’ll be across the room smiling back knowing I’m the one who’s truly lucky.

The Long Good-Byes

In my experience breaking up isn’t as hard to do as the song suggests.  The actual break-up is usually short and sweet.  The hard part is the much longer good-bye that takes place inside your own head for months, sometimes years, after the relationship ends.  The things you were too polite to say; the things you wish you’d said but you know they couldn’t hear, and; the questions you wish you’d asked but knew they wouldn’t answer honestly.

NOTE:  Names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Dear Garei (pronounced Gary),

                I know you think spelling your name strangely makes you unique and interesting but really it just makes people think your parents were stupid.  No, I don’t think smoking pot and drinking daily is a normal pastime for a middle-aged male unless he’s a total loser.   It’s called addiction.  Did you really think a woman would continue to respect a man who couldn’t make it home from the bar without stopping for more beer at the grocery store and then had to ask her to come in with him because he didn’t have any money to pay for it himself?

 Dear Geoffrey,

I told you the first day we met that I had no problems dating a recovering alcoholic but that if you ever took another drink the only word you’d hear from me again was good-bye.  Did you think I was kidding?

Dear Frank,

                You have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder to such an extent that you can’t fit anything, or anyone, new into your daily routine.   Astronauts go to the moon with less planning than it takes you to go to Hawaii for a week.   Just for the record, having sex between 3 and 6 in the afternoon won’t fit most working women’s schedules even if that is the only time of the day when your “mojo” is working.  Plus, it was just plain stingy of you not to share your blueberries with a woman you were willing to share your bed with.

 Dear Paul,

I can’t believe you didn’t even call to apologize after the woman you failed to mention you were living with chased me across the yard and tried to pummel me.  I was pleased to note as I drove away that she had redirected her aim toward the true villain of the affair.

Dear Samuel,    

               Exactly how long had you been sleeping with the woman you told me you’d “just met”?

 Dear Bruce,

I vacillated for months between wondering if you were the cruelest man I ever dated, or simply the craziest, until one day a good friend reminded me that the two are not mutually exclusive.

Dear Larry,

               Please stop calling me.  No, I’m not mad.  Sadly I never cared enough to get mad.  The truth is you simply bore me.

 Dear Steven,

You’d pull me towards you and as soon as I got close you’d push me away.  I still can’t decide if it amused your ego or if you really were that confused.  Regardless, it was suppose to be a relationship – not a swing set.

Dear Geezzz,

                We haven’t broken up yet.  We’ve barely begun to see each other.  But you did say you’d like to see your name on my BLOG. 

               When you do break up with me I suspect you’ll do it using very few words in the same strong, responsible, calm way you take care of everything else.


McKenzie James

October 6, 2011

Is Heartbreak One Word or Two?

My husband and I were together for 19 years and then just two weeks before my 49th birthday he asked for a divorce.  Happy Birthday to me and then almost before I knew what was happening I was single and thrown into the dating world again.  Looking back I remember that my mother was only 50 when my father died.  As far as I know she never dated or slept with another man again.  At the time that didn’t seem the least bit strange to me, but now it occurs to me that perhaps she understood more about men than I ever gave her credit for.  She always had admirers, even at 85 she had a gentleman sending her poetry about her beauty, but she just smiled with a twinkle in her eye and carried on alone.

Recently I received one of those funny emails where someone had written eloquently (and humorously) about how men and women view their bodies at different stages of life.  I wish I knew who wrote it (actually I wish I had written it myself!) and I would give her credit here.  What she said so profoundly is that women feel very differently about their bodies at every stage of their lives until around age 50 when we finally all figure out that regardless of our body shape…we’re awesome!  Men, on the other hand feel the same about their bodies at every stage until old age.  They have a penis, it works, and they’re obsessed with it!

It was right on target and it made me think perhaps this is one of the reasons why men and women find dating so hard in middle age.   We’re finally at a stage of acceptance and the men we’re dating still feel the same way they did as teenagers.  It also explains a great deal about why so many middle aged men want to date women who are so much younger than they are.  Because they have a penis, it works, and they’re obsessed with it.  Wow, I never realized it was so simple!

Seriously though, sitting here today after suffering yet another middle-aged heart ache, I have to admit there must be more to it than that.  I swore I would not become one of those bitter, middle-aged women who hate men and have given up on relationships altogether.  But, it’s been seven years, and I have to admit to dating a lot of men, and each time things became serious, one by one, they broke my heart.  Some slowly, some quickly, some in person, some over the phone or with a text!  And every time I got up, brushed my heart off, and got on with my life.

Somehow, today feels very different.  This was, by all accounts, a very good man.  A nice, well-educated, well-spoken, attractive, fun, sexy man who just two days ago told me he wanted a “relationship”.  Just forty-eight hours later, nothing at all has changed in the world, and he calls me at work to let me know he can’t do it.

Is everyone so broken down by their previous heart aches that they just can’t do it again?  I try not to be cynical but I’ve heard it all before.  He actually said the “I’d like to be friends” phrase!  What is wrong with men that they think after you’ve slept with them and given a piece of your soul up you can just turn back the clock and be friends?  I can only determine they don’t “feel” things the same way women do.

I miss my twenties.  Not just the hot, firm body I had.  Not even the fact that everyone else was single too and there were a lot more men to choose from.  Mostly I miss that there were rules.  I have fond memories of dating in my twenties.  The rules were clear and everyone was aware of them.  You met a man somehow… through friends, or out at a club, or in the grocery store, or the parking lot of your apartment building.  You struck up a conversation.  If he was interested in getting to know you better he asked you out, usually for lunch first.   If that went well he’d ask you out again — usually for a Thursday night — because Thursday night was official first date night.

If you weren’t in a relationship, Friday night both men and women went out with their friends and continued to try and meet people of the opposite sex.  Saturday night was serious date night.  You didn’t ask a woman out on Saturday night unless you were serious about her or already in a relationship with her.  If you wanted to see a woman on Saturday night you had to call and ask her by Wednesday.  No self respecting woman would say yes to a weekend date any later than Wednesday.  If all went well after your first Saturday night date…you began to see each other regularly.  After a few weeks you began having sex and you were now a couple.  It was simple, everyone knew the rules, and it worked really well.

The Beach Boys knew what Saturday night meant.  In their famous cruising song, “I Get Around”, they sang:

None of the guys go steady ‘cause it wouldn’t be right
To leave their best girl home on a Saturday night”

We all followed the rules back then and a good time was had by all.  Now dating again at middle age it appears there are no rules.  For one thing dating was designed for two people to spend time together in order to see if they have the possibility of making good partners.  In middle age, very few people are looking for a life partner any more.  In fact most of the men I’ve met have no idea what they’re looking for.

You can date a man for weeks, sometimes months, and it usually never gets past lunch or a walk by the river.  (Walking by the river seems to be big with men over 50.  Don’t ask me why because I can’t answer for them.   I suspect it’s for budgetary reasons, since they’re all divorced and have been hit financially, but that would just be a guess.)  After hours spent talking, eating, walking sometimes you get to the sex part but you still have no idea what it means to them.

For me, sex means we’ve reached a new level of intimacy.  We now have a new dimension to our relationship; a joyful, exciting, fresh area to explore.  For men it appears to mean one of two things:  either they now own you and expect you to be with them every free moment, or the relationship is now over.  They become uncomfortable, don’t want to talk about what it meant, become frightened about commitment and ride off into the sunset.

Most recently:  I met a man.  That’s how it usually starts!  We enjoyed a lot of the same things and had a lot in common.   We met for coffee and couldn’t stop talking.  We enjoyed some lunches and dinners and a wonderful trip to the coast.   We dated casually for a while and then one Saturday night I invited him over for dinner and a movie.  We had some dinner, we watched part of the movie, and then in the middle of a quiet boring patch…he made his move… and we ended up having sex.  The next morning we got up and took my dog for a walk, after which he went home.

No flowers were delivered.  No phone call telling me what a wonderful evening he had.  Days came and went with no phone call, email or text.  Finally, being a person who has a need to know, I called him and asked why he would walk away without so much as a word.  He hadn’t called because: he didn’t know what to say; it was too soon; he shouldn’t have done it; it’s not me it’s him; he didn’t want a relationship, etc.   Oh my God — I’ve heard it all before – from men I’ve dated and similar stories from my girlfriend’s forays into the dating world.

Sometimes I wish they’d make up some fascinating new reason simply for entertainment.  Something like this: His first wife, who he believed walked out on him, really was in a car accident in New Mexico and suffered from amnesia.  She just recovered and remembered she was married and showed up on his door step the very morning he left my house.   If you’re going to dump me at least be creative so I have something new to write about!

It makes a woman wonder if she’s no good at the sex thing –but over the years I have had the opportunity to learn that can’t be the case.  Sex just simply seems to turn most middle aged men back into foolish teenage boys who treat girls badly because they’re embarrassed by their own behavior and it’s easier to make light of it in front of the other boys in the locker room.

I’ve been thinking of writing a sitcom entitled “Another One Bites the Dust” wherein every week a middle-aged woman meets a new man who for one reason or another isn’t ready for love.  My girlfriend said she can’t see the humor in it but I think if I’m going to survive middle-age and not become a bitter, old woman I’m going to have to find a way to laugh about it.

As I sit here alone again tonight, just having been dumped by my most recent love and drinking the bottle of wine he bought me and told me to save for a “special occasion”, I find myself wondering: Is heartbreak one word, or two?  (Because that’s the kind of things writers think about even when they’re in pain.)  The other thing I’m wondering is:  Is getting dumped “special” enough of an occasion?  And:  Is this it for me?  Is there a limit on the number of heartaches one person can endure?  Have I reached mine?  Will I now become that cliché I so wanted to avoid?  Will I have to learn to live alone for the next thirty years?  Other than the spelling of heartbreak, I don’t have the answers.  We’ll have to stay tuned to life and see what happens next.

McKenzie James

September 27, 2011

Fix Me Up! (Fourth in a Series)

Fix Me Up!

This town is devoid of interesting, single men between the ages of 45 and 60.  It’s not just a complaint, it’s a fact.  So when my girlfriend down the street told me her former brother-in-law who she was really fond of had recently moved back from Hawaii and asked if I would like to go out with him, I said “sure, fix me up!”

I was still game to give it a try even after she told me he had a handle-bar mustache which I find completely offensive.  I figured, what the heck, if he’s a good guy we can work on the facial hair issue sometime down the road.  And, I didn’t even flinch when she told me his name was “Lester”.  A person has no control over what his parent’s name him, right?  I could always call him “Les”.

So he called and we talked on the phone.  He sounded relatively normal, other than the fact that he couldn’t make a plan, so I took the reins and said, “Let’s meet for dinner”.  He couldn’t figure out where to go, so I said, “Let’s go to P.F. Changs”.  He wanted to pick me up and since he was a friend of a friend, and not an online connection, I gave him my address and we set an evening and a time.

The evening came and I was looking gorgeous as always and waiting for my date to arrive at my door.  When he did I looked out the window and what did I see?  A short, bald man with a handle-bar mustache wearing stained chinos at least two sizes too big for him cinched at the waist with a belt.  Don’t be shallow, I told myself as I opened the door, she said he’s a great guy.

After the initial introductions and a little “how’s your friend Joanie doing?” we’re on our way to the restaurant.  He hardly spoke at all in the car.  Luckily, the restaurant was only five minutes away.

There was a long wait so we asked to be seated in the bar.  The waiter brought the menus and we began to take a look.  Then he leaned over and asked me, “What do the numbers mean in front of the items?”  I thought, finally a bit of a sense of humor, but then I realized he was asking a serious question.  “That’s the price of the item,” I told him.  Okay…things were going downhill fast.  Fifty years old and he’d never seen a restaurant menu where the prices were in front, rather than behind the entrée names?

So, we order, and still he doesn’t have much to say.  In an attempt to draw him out, I think…what do men like to talk about?   Someone had just recently been teaching me to target shoot so I asked him, “Do you shoot?”   “Oh yeah,” he replied, “I’d never hesitate to kill someone that’s why they loved me when I was a prison guard.”  Once again, completely straight faced and totally serious!  Now, I was getting worried.  I was married for nineteen years to a Marine who served three tours in Vietnam and I know he killed people when he had to, obviously it was a war, but I NEVER heard him speak of it and certainly not in an off the cuff manner that suggested people’s lives don’t really matter.  The evening had crossed a line from boring and not my type to a little bit scary.

Silence again, so I made an attempt to change the subject to something lighter, “What did you do for fun in Hawaii.” I asked him.  I was expecting him to tell me about the sun and the surf or exploring the islands but instead he replied, “Gambled and hung out at strip clubs.”  OH MY!!!!  If this had not been a friend of a friend this would have been the cue for me to excuse myself to the ladies room and never come back.  Instead, I sat through the rest of the meal relatively quietly and let the man take me home after which I left my friend a voice mail that I’m sure you can imagine for yourself!

The best part of the story is the next day Joanie responded to my voice mail and called to let me know she had heard from Lester and he had told her I really wasn’t his type.  “Of course not”, I told her, “I don’t dance naked around a pole in public!”

Needless to say…should you ever know a guy, an old friend or someone new in town who’s looking to date…please…DON’T FIX ME UP!

McKenzie James

July 27, 2011

The Essential Coffee Date (Third in a Series)

The Initial Coffee Meet – An Online Dating Necessity (Third in Series)

First, let me tell you that I don’t drink coffee.  I have never been able to stand the taste of it.  I don’t even like a little mocha flavoring in my chocolate cake.  It ruins the entire thing for me.  But, I’ve learned the hard way that the initial coffee meet is the only way to go for online dating.

When I first got divorced and moved back to town I tried good, old  How else are you expected to meet men when you’re not in your twenties anymore?  No one I knew appeared to know one, single man they felt was socially acceptable.  So, I signed up.  I wrote a unique and witty profile.  I posted numerous clear, recent photos of me smiling and having fun with friends and family.  And then I waited for the men to find me.  And find me they did.

Oh, how depressing it is the first time you see the long list of photos of the men in your age group who might be interested in you.  I’m sure among them are mostly nice, loving, decent men.  But, multiple images of pot-bellied, ball cap-wearing, unsmiling men holding large dead fish, cans of beer, or stupidly another woman’s hand doesn’t make a woman’s heart soar.

So, out of all of these wonderful pictures, one man had the courage to send me an email and say hello.  He had only one photo posted (something I know now to avoid in a “match”) but it was a nice photo of his shoulders and face.  He was attractive, with a full head of brown hair and beautiful, deep green eyes.  So, we began to chat.  His profile said he was a veterinarian; although no longer practicing.  He loved hiking and biking just like me.

After a couple of days of chatting online he asked me to dinner.   I thought, “I’m a very social person.  Certainly there isn’t anyone I couldn’t have dinner with?”  So we made a date and met for dinner at a local restaurant in my neighborhood.

That night I got ready with the usual care.  Make-up and hair perfect, an outfit that best framed my figure and brought out the color of my eyes, and I walked down to the restaurant and through the door with a light feeling of hopefulness.  I looked around and didn’t see anyone that looked like my date.  Then, I heard my name being called.  At a table across the room a man was standing smiling at me; a bald man, who looked to weigh about 400 pounds, wearing suspenders to hold up his enormous pants.

At the very same moment that I realized this man was my date and my jaw dropped open, the waitress walked by me with a smile her face and asked “drink?”  “Oh yes,” I told her, “and keep ‘em coming”.

I try not to be a shallow person and I’m not exactly svelte myself, so across the room I went to meet my date.  This signified the beginning of one of the most tortuous meals of my life.  He started the conversation by telling me he was a widower who had lost his wife to cancer and then went on to tell the painful story.  Now, I’m a compassionate person but, it seems to me that if you still have to relive the events of your wife’s death in detail you’re probably not ready to enter the dating pool.

After the stories of his wife, came the problems with his father, also a veterinarian who apparently didn’t respect him or think he could be a success in the field.   Many people have difficult relationships with their parents, and this wouldn’t be the worst topic I’ve discussed on a date if it weren’t for the fact that his parents had both been dead for over ten years.  Ten years and he still had unresolved issues he felt worthy to talk about on a first date.

Worst of all, as I tried to eat my chicken and polenta dish, he told me that he had stopped practicing as a veterinarian and now worked for the USDA inspecting poultry plants.  Oh yes, he described in detail the sanitation problems he found every day inside poultry plants.  I had to ask him to stop but I still couldn’t finish my chicken.  Thanks for dinner!

As soon as we were done eating, I made my escape saying “No Thank You” to an offer of a ride home.  The next day as I was telling the story to a male friend of mine he asked, “Why didn’t you just turn around and walk out when you saw that he didn’t look like his picture?”  “I’d never do that to someone,” I replied, “I’m overweight myself so I wouldn’t walk out on someone for being overweight.”  “You wouldn’t have been walking out on him for being fat,” he said, “you’d be walking out on him for being a big, fat liar.”  And that, I realized, was the truth.  In posting a picture that was probably ten years old he wasn’t honestly portraying who he really was.

I learned two things from this experience and you can learn from my mistake.  First, never agree to meet someone who’s only posted one photo and, second, only agree to meet for coffee or a drink thereby limiting the time you have to spend with someone who may not be your cup of tea.  These two little pieces of advice could save you hours of uncomfortable, boring time that once spent you can never get back.

McKenzie James

July 20, 2011

How to Read an Online Dating Profile (Second in a Series)

How to Read an Online Dating Profile (Second in a Series)

A famous television psychiatrist, who I usually think is full of common sense, when talking about dating over 40 on one of his shows said that you should “think outside the box”, “go out of your comfort zone”, “don’t be too quick to judge”.  For instance, don’t turn down a man because he’s wearing Birkenstocks and you HATE Birkenstocks and the life style you think most people who wear them are into.  So, when I first began online dating I took his advice and didn’t read too much into profiles with bad photos, poor English, not enough information, etc.  Don’t be too quick to judge, I told myself, after all it’s only a coffee date.

After about a hundred coffee dates I’m here to tell you:  Judge!  Use your judge-o-meter!  If the man looks like a hippie freak, and hippie freaks aren’t your type, move on.  Politely say “no thank you”, and spare yourself the wasted hour.  There may be diamonds in the rough at a younger age but, in the over forty crowd, who we are and the essentials of our life style are pretty much well established and not likely to change.  I can’t tell you how many boring coffee dates I sat through with men I met because I was “giving them the benefit of the doubt”.  It amazes me that so many people can live over 50 years and not have anything to talk about.

I don’t spend much time reading women’s profiles, other than one or two of my friends who’ve asked for my advice, so I can’t speak to that.  Men, you’ll have to find another article written by a man for advice.  But, here’s what I’ve learned from reading men’s profiles and chatting with, emailing, and meeting many of them.  Save yourself five years of bad coffee dates ladies and learn from my mistakes.

First of all, start at the beginning.  The profile name a man chooses can tell you a lot about his personality before you decide to read further.  It depends, of course, on what you’re looking for so you can decide for yourself if they might be your kind of guy.  Here are just a few actual profile names used on one of the sites:

  • Sirlixalot
  • Mrawesome
  • sonofabeach
  • Drtouch
  • horsearoundguy
  • awesomedudedada

Next, never waste time with a man who only posts one picture of himself, especially if that photo is one he took of himself in the bathroom mirror.  Think about it for a minute.  We now live in a society where everywhere we go at least fifty percent of the people there have a camera with a cell phone, and are posting to Facebook before we leave the event.  And this man hasn’t gone anywhere in the last year where one person, not even his mother, took a photo of him enjoying himself in a social setting that he can post?  Worrisome at best.

Ask a few important questions up front such as:  Where do you live?  What do you do for a living?  Do you have a car?   Not to judge whether or not the man has money, as they may think, but to verify that they actually don’t live in a tree house or are writing from prison.

Are you laughing?  I once had a weekly email exchange with a man for three weeks before he mentioned that he lived in a tree house outside of town and only came into town once a week to shower at a friend’s and check his email at the cyber café.  Absolutely true story!

I also emailed a man daily for a week before finding out he was writing me from the state penitentiary.  (By the way: even HE had more than one photo and not in his prison garb either!)  I think the answer to the “What do you do for a living?” question would have keyed me in to this one quicker.  Do they still make license plates in prisons?

Plenty of Fish gets right to the point on the car issue and asks whether or not you have one when you’re setting up your profile.  This may not be important in major cities like New York where many people can’t afford to house a car in the city and use cabs and public transportation to get around.  For the rest of the country, however, dating without a car is a bit tricky.  Most of us don’t want to go out on a bicycle built for two no matter how catchy the tune to that old song may be.  In Weird Town, USA, men will try and tell you they don’t own a car because they are eco-friendly.  This rarely stops them from wanting to bum a ride off you or anyone else around, however.  The truth of the matter is usually they either don’t have a job, and therefore no way to pay for a car (or your dinner either), or they’ve had so many DUIs they’ve had their license revoked.

If the first line of their profile admits that they lied about their age, because telling the truth would have put them out of your eligible age range, why bother?  Do you really want to get to know a man better if before you’ve even met him you know he’s dishonest if it will get him what he wants?

Men who are serious about dating and meeting women don’t actually spend a lot of time emailing.  They want to meet you. That’s why they’re on the sites.  If they chat forever and don’t ask for the meet…move on.  It’s not going to happen.  Talking to women online is simply their way of amusing themselves in the evenings.  They may be married and bored and this is what they do for fun, or they’re just too shy to leave the house.

Which leads us to… drum roll please…the fake profile.  Usually this man is too good looking to be true.  Head’s up…he’s not.  He’s posting many, many fake profiles a day from a cubicle in India, or Nigeria or somewhere else outside of the US.  Clues?   He is always a widower.  His young daughter is the one pushing him to get out there and date again.  If you read his profile carefully, even though it says he grew up somewhere completely mundane like Omaha, and he went to a US University and has a Masters Degree, parts of his profile will be written in broken English.  Sometimes they are so quick to post they get the sex wrong and will say they are looking for a “man” who wants a relationship.

He’ll send you an email.  He is going to treat you like a queen.  He read your profile and he saw in you something he’s always been looking for.  Right!  From your three paragraph profile that says you like to dance and from the photos of you, a cute, slightly overweight, middle-aged woman, he is now completely beside himself having found the woman of his dreams.  He is dying to meet you BUT, he’s out of town on business.  He has to go somewhere exotic…like the diamond mines of Africa…but can’t wait to meet you when he gets back.    Ladies…this is real life not a fairy tale.  If he appears too good to be true…it’s because he’s NOT TRUE!  He simply wants you to fall in love with his beautiful photos and love letters so that when he gets stuck in South Africa having lost his passport and needs $5,000 to pay off the guy at the Embassy and get home to you, his beloved, you’ll be willing to whip out that credit card.

Those are just a few of the more obvious and easiest to spot pitfalls of online dating.  If you’re new to the game you’ll pick up on these relatively quickly.   But, there’s also a special art to the language of the internet.   Here’s a little glossary of often used terms to help you read between the lines of the regular guys profiles.

I look young for my age (This one always cracks me up because their picture is posted and they always look their age to me):

This means they are only looking to date someone who is younger and way more attractive than they are which they think they can make happen because they have money and own a lot of toys.  (Also used by men who don’t have money or toys and are simply delusional.)

Often followed directly by, I Act Young for my age:

Men in quest of the eternal fountain of youth who think continuing to ignore responsibility and adulthood makes them appear youthful, rather than just like sad men looking for their lost youth between a young woman’s legs.

Looking for a woman of substance:

This one caught me off guard at first.  It may sound flattering to be flirted with by a man who has this in his profile but what it really means is…I like fat women.  Yes, my dears, these would be the chubby chasers.

No Drama Please!:

This one is a bit obvious.  It means I have no interest in a relationship with an actual flesh and blood woman with a real life consisting of a job and friends and family, any of which may have challenges associated with them.  These boys just want to have fun.   If you have a problem they won’t be there to support you unless the problem is how to get more tequila in you so they look attractive enough for you to want to sleep with them.   They will most likely complain about their drama filled ex who whines all the time just because they don’t pay child support.

I Like Romantic Walks on the Beach:

They simply have been told by someone that all women like this.  It’s amazing how many men include this line in their profile even though they live in land locked states.

Looking for a woman who is equally comfortable in jeans or a little black dress:

Look carefully, but the key word in this sentence is “little”.  Once again, this simply means, I want eye candy on my arm.  Often posted by men who haven’t been anywhere in their adult lives that would require a date to wear a cocktail dress.

I Love the Outdoors:

This is the most frequently used line in profiles of men of the Pacific Northwest.  Often the same men who post a photo of themselves proudly holding some enormous fish they’re about to gut.  If you’re into the outdoors and a camping trip up the McKenzie is your idea of a good time, this is your man.  If you have visions of romantic, candle lit dinners and the theatre he’s not a good match.

I Love Sports:

IT means just what it says so don’t respond unless you really are willing to sit through every single college and professional ball game, rain or shine and want your television constantly tuned to the sports channel!

I enjoy cuddling on the sofa and watching a movie:

This man is never going to get off that sofa.  If you’re looking for a couch potato…here’s your guy.

It used to be reading profiles and deciding whether or not to contact someone or respond to a wink or email was all you needed to do.  But nowadays most sites have enabled The Chat Feature!  Most men simply want to chat in the evening because they are sitting home alone bored.  Most of these men will keep you online for hours if they can.  Be aware, they may be chatting with several women at the same time as you.   They will most likely never mention getting together or going out.

Many men use the chat feature because they think it will lead to the late night phone call and some free phone sex with a stranger.  Personally, I have more respect for the men who actually pay for phone sex.  Don’t get me wrong I have nothing against phone sex and in many relationships, especially if you have a partner who travels a lot, it can be great fun.  But if I’m going to have phone sex outside of a committed relationship…I want to get the same rate of pay other sex callers do!  Interestingly, on most of the sites you can’t block anyone from chatting, only emailing, so no matter how many times you ignore them they may just keep coming back.

Like everything else in life online dating is a learning process and there are special social rules and nuances involved.  I hope this gives some of you who are thinking of trying it for the first time a little jump start on the process.

Good luck and happy hunting!

McKenzie James

July 25, 2011

Dating in Weird Town, USA (First in a Series)

Dating in Weird Town, USA

Divorce hit me hard, even though I thought I was ready for it.  It signified failure, loss, and the end of a life we’d built that I thought was what I’d always wanted.  So, like the age old cliché, I ran home to Mama.   Back to the town I never thought I’d want to live in again, back to Weird Town, USA.  I thought that the lower cost of living in such a small town and the beautiful summers would be such a change from my East Coast life that it would comfort me.  Not to mention having the support of my mother and sister, no small thing when life as one has known it has been flushed down the toilet.

I’d gained a lot of weight during my 20 years of marriage.  I look back at it now and realize it had to do with being unhappy, boxing up a huge part of my nature that couldn’t co-exist with my husband, and feeding myself in other ways instead.  So, when I arrived in Weird Town I decided to join a gym.  (Working out…another thing I hadn’t done in 10 years or so!)

The first week there, as I painfully moved from machine to machine I overheard a conversation a group of women were having regarding dating.  Since I knew I’d be in this dating pool very soon, and they were more or less in my age group, I blatantly listened in.  And, after several minutes of discussion this is what they came up with as the list of items a man had to possess in order for them to consider dating him:

  • a car
  • a driver’s license
  • a job, and
  • he couldn’t live with his mother.

REALLY?  Really?  My head was spinning.  Coming from the East Coast I had the sense that the bar was being set WAY TOO LOW.  Raise the bar ladies!  Where was humor?  intellectual stimulation?  shared activities?  good looks?  I realized I was much older than the last time I was in the dating pool but my needs were still the same.  The items on their list were things that I had always taken for granted as a given, then my list carried on to good looking, a good dresser, a good dancer,  a great conversationalist, intellectually stimulating, makes me laugh until I cry, gives me lots of freedom, can hang with my friends, and has a REALLY DIRTY MIND.   There’s my list for consideration and I may be leaving a couple of things out (like no children who want to fry in oil any woman who looks at their Dad and isn’t their mother).  I went home wondering how these women could have come up with such a minimalist list.

I’ve now been dating in Weird Town for five years and it is quite possible I’ve already been out with every unmarried man between the ages of 45 and 65 in this town (and a couple of married ones who forgot to remind me they had wives at home!).  And now I get it.  I understand my fellow gym mates and their pathetically short list.  Because now I realize if one waits for a man who possesses more than those minimum traits, one will be spending a lot of time home alone or out with girlfriends.

The truth of the matter is, if you can find a man in Weird Town between the ages of 45 and 65 who has a car, a driver’s license, a job, and doesn’t live with his mother you had better snatch him up fast before the hordes of attractive, creative, successful single women descend upon him.

So, you can sit and wait for that perfect man believing that someday the universe will stop laughing and answer your prayers.  Or, you can do what I’ve decided to do and get busy enjoying your life and your women friends and not worry about whether or not you’ll ever have an intimate, monogamous relationship with a man again.

Off and on I decide to give dating another try, but these days I look at it more as a hobby, something similar to golf, crocheting , or pool.  And every once in a while a man comes along and reminds me that I’m female and that there was a time when the world and I were both younger and men desired me.

Mckenzie James

July 17, 2011

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