Tag Archives: online dating

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 (https://freethetwins.wordpress.com/category/mckenzie-james/bad-dates/) 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!


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 Match.com.  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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