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Two Lost Souls

1 out of 8 couples that got married last year met online.

That’s not to say that they went out on a few dates and then added them on Facebook, eventually taking the all important step of updating their status to let the world know they are legit.

And these are just the people who got MARRIED from dating online.  How many others had healthy long-term relationships that just didn’t work out?  Or maybe are still dating at the time of the data gathering.  Still, there are those folks who met online but continue carrying on the story of how their eyes met over lattes at the local coffee shop where in reality that’s where they chose to meet for the first time cause public places are safer that way.

This isn’t about online dating so much, especially since I’ve written a fair amount on it already.  My jury is still out on the whole process, I think it works wonderfully for some and is the equivalent of a loud night of bachelorette parties and 21st celebrations in the Old Port for others.

This is a careful look at one of the top 3 pieces of advice single people hear far too often that has truly begun to perplex me.  And that piece of advice is the popular “You’ll find it when you are least expecting it” for which it’s close derivitive is “Maybe you’re trying too hard.”

Gives a whole new meaning to "being clingy"
Photo Credit: Getty Images – Joos Mind

The funny thing with this advice is that it’s frequently coming from someone who either met their significant other at the age of 20 in Econ 301 or in one of thosefreak Hollywood movie-type moments that a tiny piece of the population actually experiences.  People who rolled the dice and somehow came out with Yahtzee.

But if the secret for “older singles” (oh god, am I an “older single” at the age of 30?!) is to not look or try to find someone, then how is it that all these people are having success finding love online?  That process is a life lesson in trying and looking and clicking and emailing and one thing after another to weed out your next potential date from a saturated fishbowl that everyone is just swimming around in.  Year after year.

Don’t get me wrong.  There does come a point in time that, like the photo above, desperation just gets a little too clingy.  And potential mates can smell that pressing need “to be with someone” from miles away.  There’s a lot to be said for being comfortable and confident and happy on your own, and looking for someone to share that with rather than finding someone to complete it.

It’s like the job hunt.  I’ve never once heard someone tell a job seeker “Maybe you’re trying too hard to find a job.  Have you ever thought of not looking and just seeing what happens?”  Of course not!  Cause we all know that people NEED jobs.  On top of finding something to occupy a good 20-75 hours of your week (depending) that job is the thing that pays you.  And people need paychecks to exist in the world.

But I get the impression everyone needs love to exist too.  So what is so wrong with wanting to find that?

am, however, taking this piece of dating advice under careful advisement, cause I know how much guys REALLY like bacon.

Where do you draw the line?  At what point is being open and looking for the right dating opportunity just an act of desperation?

Love Detox

Falling in love? You might as well take a good haul off a crack pipe or down a fifth of vodka.

According to a recent WebMD article romantic love seems to be linked with the same parts of the brain that also facilitate addiction.  And more importantly, the loss of that feeling causes a reaction similar to that of detox.

“You crave the person who dumped you,” states Helen E. Fisher, PhD from Rutger University (where the study was conducted.)  “You go through withdrawal, you can relapse, and cravings can be sparked months after you think you’ve gotten over it.”

And for anyone who has been through a dicey break-up of any sort, this theory probably rings more than true.  You have that can’t eat, can’t sleep (or constantly sleep,) melancholy aching void that you can’t seem to fill no matter how much Pinot you down.  You spend an inordinate amount of time on their Facebook page, desperately searching for a clue or hint, wondering what ever happened.  You find yourself going to your old “couple haunts” on the impossible chance that the Universe will somehow decide to send them there the same night.

The study further provides that the longer the addiction to your love drug, the harder and more painful the detoxing is.

Can't Eat, Can't Sleep, Can't Breathe
Photo Credit: Getty Images – Julian Hibbard

Sure, it’s “easier” if the break if mutual, but re-learning your life pre-relationship/cigarette/crack pipe is a challenge no matter how you cut it.

Much like Jenna Elfman in the movie Keeping The Faith, I quit smoking and “when I see someone smoking I want to french kiss them just to suck the nicotine our of their lungs.”  I feel that is probably not a healthy reaction.  And would cause many awkward conversations on the lower (smoking) deck at Brian Boru.

The withdrawal is much worse when you never saw the loss coming.  There’s a reason that doctors have concluded that yes, a person CAN in fact die “from a broken heart.”  When you are going along in a happy blissful state, completely unaware of what is happening and suddenly someone rips that drugs out of your veins.  They stop calling, they meet you in public and yelling ensues, they tell you they’re just not that into you which sucks because you are VERY much into them.

I’ll admit, I’ve never detoxed off of anything like a crack pipe or 5th of vodka a day addiction.  They say you have to have a predispsition to addiction, and my personality is far too non-committal to allow for such things.  And maybe thiscomparison is trite and ridiculous in that respect.

Still, I don’t know that the abrupt end of a relationship is something that anyone can “handle well.”

At least it maybe helps to explain why I have close to twenty empty wines bottles in my kitchen, a DVR full of Made-For-TV Chick Flicks, a freezer full of ice cream sandwiches and pints of Ben & Jerry’s, and an irregular sleeping patten (at best) lately.

What do you think of the Rutgers/WebMD study?  Have you experienced the “love detox” before?  What was it like?

Looking For Fireworks

If Hollywood and Zach Morris have taught us nothing, it is that fireworks are everything.

I know, I know…Zach Morris was a stud with a different girl every episode (except those in which he was with the love of his life, Kelly Kapowski.)  But this was the Fourth of July Saved By The Bell episode, where he finally won the heart of one Miss Stacey Carosi at the Malibu Sands beach club.  And at the end of the episode, when they finally admitted their deep-seeded feelings and allowed the red hot (well…the Saturday Morning Programming version of red hot) chemistry to take over, they saw fireworks.

As if the pressure of the first few dates isn’t enough, there’s the pressure that comes with creating the most perfect and memorable and wonderful first kiss together that you will remember for the rest of time and tell your grandkids about.  The sparking warmth that starts as your heart beats rapidly up and out of of your chest and somehow that simple action causes your toes at the other end of your body to curl up inside your shoes.

You desperately want to see (and feel) the fireworks.

You just can't force these things
Photo Credit: Getty Images – Image Source

I went out with Clint a few times after we met at a friend’s party.  He apparently used to work with one of my close friends and they chatted for bit while I sipped my Shipyard and watched from a distance.  He certainly was cute and my friend seemed riveted in the coversation.

I spent the next week trying to convince her that she should date him.  And I told her that I’m a relationship columnist and I know these things and she needed to put herself out there and ask him out.  She kept telling me that while he was a great guy she wasn’t
interested.  And that maybe *I* should give him a call if I thought he was so great and wanted to pontificate on asking people out.

It must have been a good a good amount of yolk that dripped down my face when he emailed her to ask for my phone number.

The beginning of our first date was amazing.  Coffee at my favorite downtown shop that lasted for almost six hours as we talked and laughed and got along so amazingly well that I was already begging for a second date before we had gotten a second cup of coffee.  Those people you just have a perfect connection with, that you can converse with about anything, that get you so well…yes, Clint was one of them.

He walked me to my car afterwards and there came the palpable moment.  Where we were standing on the sidewalk beside my Jeep shuffling from foot to foot wondering “Should I kiss him?  Will she let me kiss her?  Do I have coffee breath?  Oh god, he’s gonna kiss me on a public sidewalk and people will see and I cannot STAND PDA’s.”

Clint stepped forward and put his arm around my waist and pulled me beside him.  He looked down at me, and went for the patented guy move of finger under the chin to pull up the face so they can kiss you.  (Seriously, do they pull you guys aside in 7th grade to teach you this?!)  I closed my eyes and prepared to melt, knowing how much of a connection I had to him.

But. there. was. nothing.

I pulled away, confused and chilled.  Obviously this was some sort of first kiss anxiety that was jading the experience.  I leaned up to kiss him again, desperately willing the spark to happen.  Hell, at this point I’d take a dull flicker from somewhere close to my heart, maybe a hiccup from my spleen or something.

But still. there. was. nothing.

I went out on two more dates with him, searching for the chemistry to be there.  I had friends and family tell me about the people they had dated that they hadn’t IMMEDIATELY felt a spark for, but the ember grew and eventually they settled into very happy life.  I kept that all in mind through about 4 more kisses, but it just wasn’t destined to happen.

I wonder frequently if I gave up too soon, if I should have tried harder.

Or if sometimes the heart knows, and that’s why we see those fireworks.

Have you ignited fireworks from the first moment your eyes met?  Or been on a date where you could barely muster a pop-cap worth of intensity?

The Whirligig of Time

Do you believe in dating karma?

My friend recently wrote that: “Karma is not a bitch, karma’s a sneaky ninja that waits till you trip up
to blow poison darts at your neck.”

In the moment I laughed out loud (yes, a full LOL from a blog post…did you question my dorkiness?!) cause seriously, who doesn’t love a good ninja reference?

Til that sneaky ninja crept up out of the Fore River and shot darts straight into my neck.

Frickin’ ninja.

I have never been the one in a relationship to put myself out there or to put my feelings on the line.  Kind of like the Runaway Bride.  No, not that one.  This one, the one from the sub-par movie.  Not to spoil the whole thing for you, but let’s just say that Maggie had a similar problem.  She ran.  Away.  From weddings.  She was in.  As a bride.  (See how it’s all coming together?)

may have done similar things in the past.  And by may I mean I have.

Young woman running away
Photo Credit: Getty Images – Dirk Anschuta

In college I was seeing a guy that I would never ever EVER have discussed my like with.  Ironic since I spent just about every weekend of my junior year at his house.  I should probably note that we didn’t really spend a ton of time OUTSIDE the weekend with each other.  Probably not a ton DURING the weekends either.  It was a good college fling.  You’re supposed to have one (or seventeen) of those, right?!

At one point, though, things got out of hand.  Somewhere between games of beer pong and ESPN Sportscenter on Sunday morning I kind of started feeling thingstowards him.  So I did what any red-blooded all-American girl would do.

I stopped hanging out and hooking up with him and found other interests.

Now I’m not sure if he ever even *liked* me back.  At least in a more than “you’re kinda cute after a six-pack” kind of way.  But the reality is that less than six months later a girl met him and fell in total adoration.

And she managed to tell him how she felt.  And she pushed to spend time with him.  And she dared to like him out in the open where people questioned them but it didn’t matter.  I *think* they are still together today.  And adorable.  Justifiably so.

So therein lies the question.

Is it more worthwhile to put your feelings and emotions out there to see what gets returned?  Or is it safer to keep them close to the vest and just see how things work out?

And most importantly…is it better to be safe or to be out there?  Cause I *think* I’m fine being a fool for love, but only when someone is willing to be a fool right back?

Have you taken the leap when you didn’t know if the other person was “in?”  How did it work out for you?

Meetcha at 8?

Let’s face it – dating strangers is awkward.

And with online dating, no matter how much emailing and messaging and e-flirting you do through the site it’s nothing compared to that first time you meet up “IRL” (In Real Life for the online dating-free.)  You know, when you agree to wear that blue sweater you love so much to make sure they’ll definitely know who you are when you see each other at the restaurant.  Then you sit down to dinner and within five minutes you know that this is absolutely not going to work.  But you suffer through the next ninety-minutes because you want to give it a try – see if it will work.  The site couldn’t be that wrong, could it?

When Jeff Taylor (the founder of monster.com) started his newest online endeavor, an online community for Baby Boomers called Eons, he was looking to create a space for people aged 40+ to chat, find folks to hang out with and really connect with.  On a platonic level.  Like Facebook for the generation.

But he quickly found that rather than just sharing gardening tips and catching up on the latest episode of Lost, his community members were using the site to meet – on a more than platonic level.  He knew he wanted to facilitate more dates for this awesome and unique segment of the population to find love…or at least someone to check out the latest summer blockbuster on Saturday night.

Enter meetcha.com, an online dating site for 40+ singles that is actually so much cooler than most other online dating sites.  Wherein those other sites focus on (again, let’s face it) painfully created and clumsy cookie cutter profiles and photos of only our best and email conversations focusing on tiny snippets of information extracted from a 100-word “About Me” this site is about singles events and acitivities.  As Jeff noted, it’s as if you are trying to choose from the best of the worst.

You know how you always wished that you would meet someone at a friends dinner party?  Or at a book signing for your favorite author?  Or out hiking on your favorite trail?  That’s the dream we all have, that we meet people with similar interests while we are out doing stuff.  People Out Doing Stuff.  PODS.  Flash PODing in Post Office Park and Deering Oakes Park and Hadlock Field (umm…Park?)

Oh, maybe that’s just the awesome way *I* spent my Saturday afternoon…

Yep, hanging out with PODSworth in 90 degree weather certainly gets you thinking, and it got me thinking that there’s gotta be something to this PODS dating style.  Not everyone can have a great first date off a site.  Heck, some can’t even get a good second or third one.  So an opportunity to take off some of that pressure by going out with like-minded people to do fun things and not have to force that awkward conversation.

Well, as Parks McKinney, one of my PODS-ey dancing comrades says “Is there really a GOOD way to meet people?” (PS – It’s important to note she’s speculating on the experiences on her friends, some brilliant person snagged her into wedded bliss years ago!)

There certainly might be something to the PODS.  And there definitely is something to single folks 40+ who are fabulous in their own rights and just want to find someone else who is just as fabulous.

Most importantly, there’s something to dating folks who share some common interests and having some fun with them and taking out the awkward pressure of the games and forcing it.

What do you think of PODS?  Would you be up for meeting someone special while out doing stuff you love?