“I need your help,” Sara e-mailed me.
“That’s what I’m here for. Dish, girlfriend,” I e-mailed back.
“Please come over tonight and help me look through the latest batch of OKCupid profiles.”
Not quite the evening I had in mind, but since I didn’t have anything in my tired, middle-aged mind, I said OK. If nothing else, reading online profiles is always entertaining.
When I arrived, she’d already bookmarked several potentials.
“I kind of like this guy, Mr. ‘I Believe in Magic.’”
“Well, it’s kind of sweet.”
“Sweet, great. What does he look like?”
“See, Kat. That’s the difference between you and me. You focus on the physical and I go for the big picture.”
“That’s not true! I look at the whole profile.”
“After the picture.”
“Hey, physical matters. That’s the first thing we’d notice if we saw each other on the street.”
“Anyway, at least I’m not looking at his income
“I do, eventually.”
Not me. And it’s just plain weird that dating sites even ask for that; I never revealed mine because
it’s no one’s business! Even my parents don’t know how much I make — why should some 60-year-old from Turlock who thinks I’m Ms. Right (although evidently, PlentyofFish demands it, according to Online Dating Insider)?
But as “shallow” as I may be — or “picky,” if you believe Lori “Marry Him!” Gottlieb — by paying attention to the physical, I wouldn’t be surprised if more women care more about a guy’s income than his picture.
I know a lot of people don’t like online dating or at least feel conflicted by it (like Dad’s House) but, you know what — they’re wrong. Online dating is just another way to meet people. It doesn’t guarantee you anything beyond that, so you have to let go of any expectations. Really, any.
Still, what is it that we’re looking for when we scroll through all the profiles of men we might want to meet? What matters more when we’re looking at an online profile? The headline, like Sara? The profile picture, like me (which, I discovered early, people lie about)? User name, income, height, weight, age, interests, kids/no kids? What he actually says about himself?
Can’t speak for anyone else, but when I was heavy into the online thing, here’s how I approached it, after looking in my general area (25 miles, give or take) and general age (five years younger and older, give or take):
- what he says about himself
- height/body type
A cliched headline or user name? It made me grimace but it certainly wasn’t a deal-breaker.
Marital status? Not an issue except if he was newly separated. I was a mess when I was newly separated; he has to be, too. Figure it out first, and then start dating.
Income? Couldn’t care less.
Now, there were times when I loosened my online dating requirements, like for the younger, 6-foot-8 1/2-inch hunk (hey, it was for NSA sex, and I figured all things being equal …) who lived far away (because it was going to be really awkward if we ran into each other at, say, my kid’s soccer game, if you know what I mean).
But, that’s just me.
When you’re looking for love online, what do you care about on someone’s profile?
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“I envy you guys,” Sara said as she, Mia and I sat in her hot tub last night.
“As you should! We’re such fabulous, gorgeous women with perfect children and perfect lives,” Mia quipped. “But we still like to hang with you, Sara, so that almost, almost, makes you one of us. Be thankful.”
“Don’t be silly, and don’t pay attention to Mia, either,” I said. “But, why in the world do you envy us?”
“You both have found love and I’m beginning to feel like one of those picky single women. I’m stuck in “impress a guy” mode while you both are walking around in your faded jammy pants, cozy Ts, chipped nail polish and no makeup.”
Sara did have a point. When you’ve been seeing someone for a while, you can finally relax and be yourself, although wouldn’t it be better to be yourself from the beginning? Which leads to the bigger question — can you be yourself from the beginning?
I sure thought I was back when I was dating, well, except for the enormous amount of time I spent on beauty maintenance — waxing, hair and facial
fussing, outfit organizing and other assorted
routines. But that’s the superficial stuff.
The “being you” is showing all your quirks, your good and bad sides, the way you deal with life, work, friends and family — especially your kids.
And that’s one of the things that freaked me out about getting to the point in a relationship when your kid and your sweetie meet (besides not wanting to put The Kid through another breakup); as Art Linkletter said, kids say the darndest things — mostly about you. They also make us act like crazy people sometimes.
I feared my kid was going to burst the bubble I’d created about myself to the guy I was trying to impress.
I’ll be damned if my parenting skills are
going to influence a guy, I thought. After all,
it isn’t fair to begin with: The Kid has a lot of ammo against me for all the times I grounded him, took away his PlayStation or told him, “No!” In fact, he’s got 17 years’ worth!
And yet, few things reveal more of the real you than how you are around others, especially your kid. As Single Mom Seeking says, “something about parenting around and in front of someone you’re dating seems to bring everyone to stark reality.”
Yes, it does.
Impressions can only go so far when you’ve finally invited your guy over to meet your kid and all hell breaks loose. That Mommy of the Year award you were hoping for? Forget about it!
But, maybe not.
I remember Sean telling me about a day I don’t even remember. He’d stopped by the house to fix something and, as he did — quite obliviously to me — was watching Trent and me doing our thing, mom and son interacting like we do every day. No pretense, no “impress” mode — just me (although I’m pretty sure I was waxed, but whatever). That’s the day Sean says he fell in love with me.
So, maybe stark reality is not only nothing to fear, but something essential in an honest relationship.
And who would guess that having kids would help make that happen?
- For how long after you meet someone do you feel that you’re in “impress” mode?
- Can you “be yourself” in the early stages of dating, or do you have to “impress” him/her?
- Does parenting around your date show the “real” you quickly?
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Mia and I were about to head off on our bikes for a West Marin ride when her cell phone rang.
“Oh, it’s Rex. I’ve gotta take this, sorry.”
“Sure, no rush.”
I wasn’t really listening in, but it’s such a joy to watch a divorced middle-aged girlfriend so happy to find love again that it’s hard not to want to soak in some of that energy.
“Did you just call him pumpkin?”
“So, what does he call you?”
“Amazing you’re both so fit,” I observed.
“Why, don’t you and Sean have pet names?”
I had to think about it. Not really, except I call him Love because — well, must I explain that? But I have had relationships in the past in which one or the other of us was Baby, Sweetie Pie, Honey or Sugar. In private, because pet names should be kept in the same place that you talk to yourself, hang your “unmentionables” to dry and where you’re not totally embarrassed if you pass gas — home. They are not meant for public display.
But, in the home? Schmoopie away! It’s silly, but relationship experts say pet names are just one of the ways couples keep their communication positive, which means they’re more likely to stay happy longer. (Of course, those cutesy-name-calling relationships of mine are long gone, but whatever.)
Plus, calling someone you’re seeing Babe or Sweetie is a safe way to stay out of trouble if you’re cheating or dating several people at one time; certainly don’t want to let the other guy’s name slip at an inopportune time, like in the throes of passion or when you’ve run out of toilet paper and you need him to bring you another roll from the closet. (Just don’t let on that you call all your guys Babe; if you’re doling out a nickname, it should at least be personal, don’t you think?)
Nicknames aside, Sean and I do have a love language of sorts — one-liners and catchphrases that are unique to us. He’s a lot of wonderful things, but he’s no Snookums or Honey-Bunny. And, I’m not either, although my perfect pet name according to the Pet Nickname Generator turns out to be Sweetums Hot-Lush Lips.
Hey, that’s kind of catchy ….
- Do you use pet names?
- Do you use pet names in public?
- Does it bother you if others do?
- What was the best pet name you’ve been called?
- What was the worst?
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