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Drop a Pin, Yo: Self Preservation + Online Dating = Winning

There is a super special bonus to being single and dating that no one tells you about. So, I’m going to tell you, because I care.

You, my friend, are about to be the center of attention at every family get-together until you get hitched again. No, not the entire get-together; but for a long, awkward, craptastic portion of it – all eyes will be on you. Because somebody there (Grandma) is gonna pop off with this gem,

“So, how’s it going with [insert name of the last person they saw you with on Facebook]?”

…and every head in the joint will snap your direction, as every member of your family anxiously awaits your response. Because they aaalllll want to know, but only Grandma (who sometimes doesn’t even remember she has grandchildren but somehow remembers that jackass you posted a pic with in front of the Lincoln Memorial) has the balls to ask.

And you will answer, to get it over with, and because they are your family (although you’ll briefly consider unfriending every one of the fuckers to avoid future post-breakup embarrassment). And you’ll be really glad you brought your own car and didn’t ride with your mom because now you can bail.

I had a moment in the spotlight last night at a family dinner when my uncle asked about The Narcissist. Of course, my uncle didn’t call him, “The Narcissist.” That’s my nickname for the most recent ex because he – for real – has narcissistic personality disorder. Also, he’s a lying assclown.

The nicknames are a fun little trend that Bestie accidentally started when I began dating. The guys were all so bad that she couldn’t keep track of them except by their flaws. She’d end up asking me stuff like, “So, how’s Stinky Face?” Or, “Are you seeing The Lisper this weekend?” And, “Did you kick Gina’s ass yet for setting you up with The Tranny?” Since then, the guy-quality has improved a little, but they all still get nicknames (“Dog Park Guy,” “Memphis”) until they become an actual boyfriend. Only then do we refer to them by name.

Last night, I had to tell my uncle (and aunt, and cousin, and her husband, and their two kids who are both under the age of three but were clearly dying to hear the story) about how I dumped The Narcissist the day before Valentine’s Day because he was batshit crazy.

We really overuse the term “crazy.” If a guy calls too much, he’s “crazy.” If a girl is moody, she’s “crazy.” This is unfortunate because it desensitizes us to the term and we neglect to appreciate the seriousness of the situation when we start dating someone who is mother fucking crazy.

In two years (on-and-off) of online dating, I’ve probably gone out with ten guys from the site I use. Of those ten, The Narcissist was the only truly crazy one. So while the crazies aren’t in the majority (if you’re picky…and be picky…be all of the picky), they are out there. So as you go skipping off on your online dating adventures (people really should skip more), here are some nuggets o’ wisdom to keep you safe.

Nugget #1. When you’re meeting someone for the first time, document the date like it’s going to be applying for citizenship the next day. Get his last name. Copy the guy’s pictures from the dating site and send the pics to your BFF with his name and telephone number. Let a couple of people know where you are meeting the guy. Drop pins or text your bestie if you change locations.

Do not agree to a house date on your first meeting. Yours or his. For safety AND because a house date is a gettin’ naked date. Fact. Unless you just want to get naked with the guy, and that doesn’t make you a bad girl. Still, drop a pin.

Nugget #2. Much like every family get-together you attend for the rest of your single days, I strongly urge you to take your own vehicle when first dating a guy you meet online. Yes, it’s kinda’ sweet having the guy pick you up at your house. But you know what else is sweet? The freedom to fucking flee. I have only abruptly ended one date – and, because I’d disregarded Nugget #2, I was riding in his car. Abruptly ending a date is awkward. Having to ride home with the guy afterward…I can’t even talk about it.

I’ve been on some terrible dates, and I was always relieved to get back into my own car and go back to my home, the location of which he did not know. Bonus!

Nugget #3. If you get a bad vibe about someone, chances are good that something is off. Maybe he steals cable…or maybe he wants to put you in a hole and rub the lotion on its skin. Trust your gut. You may not be able to pinpoint exactly what’s off, but abort the mission anyway. There is no reason to stick around just to find out if it’s free Cinemax or free skin suits he’s into. This goes for the first date, or the twentieth. If you’re seeing red flags, get out of there.

Nugget #4. Adult beverages can make a bad first date much more tolerable. They can also drop your inhibitions to the point that “bad date” becomes “house date” and then you stop checking in and your bestie will freak because you haven’t dropped a pin in four hours so how are they gonna find the ditch you’ve been left in, probably with your panties around your neck?! Overindulging can have less-than-flattering effects on a date that’s going well, too. So whether you’re crazy about the guy, or you can’t wait to get out of there, don’t get sideways.

I once broke three of my own rules by having too much Merlot during a horrible date and letting the guy talk me into going by his house “to check on the dog.” I justified the rule-breaking because (a) the guy was a friend of a friend, and (b) he was awful and NO amount of wine was going to change my mind about his awfulness. Upon entering his domicile, I was almost knocked to the ground by the stench of dog urine. Apparently, the dog had peed on…everything. I stepped over dog pee on “the tour.” There were dog pee stains on the walls. I sat in dog pee on the couch. And because that wasn’t awkward enough, Merlot began hypothesizing that perhaps dog pee stench – once super concentrated – had the same effect as Rohypnol. Yes, she was certain she’d read that somewhere. In fact, we were feeling dizzy! We were having trouble breathing! And why else would a grown man let his home turn into a pee pit, then bring a woman there? Merlot was making valid points. Now convinced that I was being pee roofied, and because that awful dog had somehow managed to climb the back of the couch and was trying to hump my head, I quickly jumped up and yelled, “I gotta go!” whilst sprinting to his car…because I’d let him pick me up. I have literally blocked that car ride from my memory and couldn’t begin to tell you how it went. I imagine…poorly.

Really, just be the smart girl (or guy) you are and take care of yourself out there. There is never a good reason to go into a dark alley, the woods, a corn field, Pine Bluff, etc. You know this stuff, just make sure you do it.

And have fun. You’re out there, you’re dating, you’re meeting new people, and you’re taking chances. There will be horrible dates that you flee. There will be sparkless dates with guys that become dear friends. And there will be great dates that lead to relationships that are pretty awesome until you catch him on three dating sites (where he’s created three different identities) and now you have to figure out how to explain CougarLife.com to Grandma.

And there will eventually be that date that goes beautifully and leads to a relationship that goes exactly like it should. And that’s the one we are all looking for, and that’s why you’re gonna put yourself through all of this.

Just take your own damn car and you’re gonna’ be fine.

The Delicate Art of Dating Site Messaging, or Why Proofreading is Important, Kiddos!

Online dating came up in two different conversations I had today with two different friends. They both knew I had tried it in the past, and both knew my results had been pretty craptastic.

In actuality, my reason for pulling my own profile down a few months ago had little to do with craptastic results and lots to do with a horrible message I got from some random stranger on the site. It said,

“Ho.”

I was stunned. I’d been on and off this particular site for over two years and hostility was not the norm. So I went to the guy’s profile. He was an unsmiling, ridiculously overweight, balding 50-something man posed shirtless on a boat. Because the ladies love a boat.

Obviously, I was being baited. He wanted a reaction. He wanted my attention. Knowing this, I decided to ignore him and not give him either. Then the Merlot kicked in and said, “Oh, yes, we will give him both of those things!”

So Merlot and I lit him up. Mostly Merlot. That bitch is crazy.

I don’t remember exactly what our reply said, but I know “that astrodome you call a forehead” and “go shave your back” were included somewhere in our rant. We might have suggested his trolling was some misdirected angst brought on by the shortage of Hostess Snack Cakes, of which he was clearly a fan. And I’m almost certain Merlot said he lacked the balls to call me a “ho” to my face and that I’d gladly meet him at the well-lit WalMart parking lot of his choosing to test the hypothesis…and kick his ass.

Feeling very pleased with ourselves, we hit the “send” button about the same time I glanced at the keyboard and noticed that the I and the O are right next to each other…and typing on phones is prolly hard with chubby fingers…and this poor schmuck probably just meant to say,

“Hi.”

I felt terrible. Ish. (It was one word. If he can’t be troubled to make sure he gets it right, I can only work myself up to feeling sorta awful.)

Ladies, once you’ve launched your dating site profile, chances are good that you will be inundated with messages. The women outnumber the men big time on those sites, so when a new gal pops up it’s like some jackass only put one cinnamon roll on the buffet at The Sizzler. The men, they pounce.

Just remember this nugget o’ wisdom from Pulp Fiction – be cool, Honey Bunny.

And these other nuggets. They’ll help, too…

Nugget #1. Do not feel like you have to reply to every message you get. You will receive plenty that only say, “What’s up?” (he just looked at your pictures and didn’t read your profile). You will get many that go on for 18 paragraphs about everything you have in common (he’s needy – run away). You will be astounded at the blatant disregard for proper grammar and punctuation (these people do not need a mate, just let natural selection do its thing here, please).

It may go against every “polite” grain in your body to let the message go unanswered, but trust me on this – don’t answer. That first message is a door opener. Let those guys in and you (a) give them hope that they have a chance, and (b) allow your inbox to be flooded with more of their lame messages and novellas and assaults on the English language. You’ll burn out quickly, you’ll quit checking your mail, and then you’ll miss that clever message that makes you crack.

Nugget #2. When you do get that clever message, check out his profile before replying. I’ve received plenty of clever messages that came from guys whose profiles revealed big, BIG issues. Issues like:

The guy didn’t have a car/job/house;
The guy was only twenty-one (but that might be your thing, and that doesn’t make you a bad girl);
The guy was still “technically” married;
The guy once peed on his sister so his dad peed on him as punishment.

(You should spend some time perusing the singles in Kentucky. There is an inordinate amount of weirdness in that state. Like, peeing on your offspring is an accepted form of punishment there. You’re not gonna find shit like that on any Google search, my friends.)

Nugget #3. You got the clever message, and the profile checks out! Yay you! Now, it’s time to reply. Keep it simple – a few sentences, tops. Ask him a question in this first reply, so he knows you are interested in keeping the dialogue going. Don’t tell him your name yet. Save that for your second message.

And for the love of all things holy, proofread before you hit send.

Nugget #4. Once the messaging is going well, he should ask for your telephone number within a week or so. Feel free to give it to him if you’re sure he’s not batshit crazy. I can’t stress this enough. If any part of you feels like a red flag is waving in the distance, trust your gut and hold off on handing over the digits. Unless getting texts first thing in the morning requesting pictures of your feet is something you consider super awesome.

Nugget #5. Texting should give you each a good feel for the other, and if you’re clicking he shouldn’t wait too long to ask you out. And if you’re still sensing no red flags, then you should go! Don’t be alarmed if you never have an actual phone call prior to the date. I’ve found that most guys don’t call before the first date, and they end up being nice, normal guys. Be more alarmed if he never asks you out. There seems to be a large number of guys out there who want to text. Forever. Cut him lose if he hasn’t proposed a date within a few weeks.

Because dating is the point of all this. Getting out there. Meeting folks. Putting on your highest heels and looking fantastic.

I ended both conversations earlier today by saying that online dating can be a train wreck, but it can also be fun. Even the bad dates can be enjoyable, as long as “bad” doesn’t mean you had to call the cops. You just have to go in with the mindset that you’re going to have a good time. And you have to be smart about it, but we’ll talk about that in our next fabulous and exciting post…

Drop a Pin, Yo: Self Preservation + Online Dating = Winning

This is How it All Started

In October of 2009, I’d had enough. Exhausted, I went home from work, sat down on the couch, and said to my husband,

“I think I’m done here.”

We’d been together for twelve years, and I’d finally convinced myself that it was time to mosey along. The decision to leave evoked a grab bag of emotions – I felt empowered, afraid, happy, and lonely. Mostly, though, I felt like I was going to throw up.

Still, I forced myself on. I packed my things, rented a house, and loaded up my kids, in a whirlwind of tears and apologies and promises that everything would be okay.

And, as it turns out, everything was okay. Kids are tough, and they thought it was cool that they’d have two Christmases every year. Silver linings. I decided not to date for at least a year to make sure the kids were in a good place, and they needed me to be at home. Hell, I needed to be at home. I liked this new home. It was a happy place.

The first year passed, and – lo and behold – we were all in a good place. The kids had adjusted beautifully (two Christmases does not suck), The Ex and I were on decent terms, and my job was going well. I decided it was time to wade back into the dating pool.

Sweet Jesus, that’s where everything went sideways.

I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, but I do know it was not this hell bus ride that I seem to have jumped aboard. In the last three years I have met, and dated, and slept next to, and even loved what are surely the most flawed and just downright fucked up men to ever walk this planet. That’s right, ladies, they aaaaaall found me.

There was:

The guy who lisped;
The guy who laughed like a woman;
The guy whose face smelled bad;
The guy with long pinky nails;
The guy with a tic;
The guy who’d get drunk, forget he’d already called me, and call me again;
The guy whose dog humped my head;
The narcissist (do NOT date one of these);
The Jesus fish;
The ugly guy; and
The cross dresser.

There was also the broken boy, but we don’t make fun of him. He’s the only one of them I loved.

The rest, however, are fair game and that’s why we are here. Because if you’re going to put yourself out in the dating world, you need to be ready. I thought I was ready. I went to great lengths to make sure I was ready. But no one told me what was waiting out there.

Truckloads of flawed men.

Guys, I’m not saying women are perfect, so don’t blow me up with a bunch of hate mail. I’m a big fan of men; y’all are fantastic. I’m just saying that I haven’t found my fantastic one; apparently he’s caught in a bear trap somewhere because I can’t locate him. But whilst searching for Mr. Fantastic McBeartrap I found, instead, men who smelled their shoes in front of me…and asked me to send them pictures of my feet. (The latter happened more than once.) The ladies need to know these guys are out there.

I’m a cautionary tale, girls. Heed these nuggets of wisdom! Dating sucks. Seriously, you don’t want this. So try to make your crappy relationship less craptastic (unless he’s abusive, that shit is not cool). Try to save your failing marriage. Try anything before you try the dating thing.

To those of you already out here in this dating muck, I sincerely hope you have better luck than me. I mean, your chances are good since I seem to find all the really, really bad ones. You’re welcome.

You can repay me by keeping your eyes peeled for a fantastic guy caught in a bear trap. If you spot him, kindly set him free. That one is mine.