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Aug 27, 2012

Quote of the Day #10

Every so often, I work out a little phrase or thought. Often it seems like I've heard it before, but I'll admit I don't read libraries of literature and I'm not well versed in the world's quotes. In any case, here's one from the other day: 

"I find it a profound irony that we spend all of our time dating obsessing about similarity and our relationships/marriages learning to appreciate and overcome our differences. "

As always, thoughts or feedback are appreciated.

Aug 20, 2012

The Dangler

I'm a pretty straight-laced guy, so when I go out on a date with a woman and let her know at the end that I had a great time and would like to go out again, I mean it. I also contact her within the next couple of days, at least to chat a bit, build more of a connection, flirt, etc. Either way, I definitely have the next date in mind even if I don't always get "down to business" straight away.

I have come to understand that the process of dating takes time, to wait for a suggestion, consider it carefully, to answer and wait back for an affirmative response, to make contact and compare schedules, to set a date and go out, to talk a day or two later. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Still, sometimes it's too drawn out, like this story about the dangler, who strung me a long for a couple weeks after a first date. 

As I've mentioned, graduate school keeps me somewhat busy on occasion, reducing my available dating time. Summers are often the best and most open time I have, which also makes them the most precious for dating. While I could probably cram in 4-6 dates a week with anywhere between 2-6 women, being straight-laced means (to me) that I'll take it one at a time. I'd rather not compare or cram. 

So, onto the dangler. Our initial contact and phone conversation was great, and we set a time to go out. I thoroughly enjoyed exchanging stories on the date, I happen to think it's a great way to start getting to know each other, and there's always extra points when the stories are funny, shocking or otherwise striking. It's also a great way to slip in some intrigue, a la "remind me to tell you the story about my first experience with peas..."

Unfortunately it was all lateral from there. Lateral as in "sideways," as in "no upwards or downwards movement."

Communication almost immediately became particularly patchy. Texts would sometimes garner little response and other times multiple responses, calls went unanswered but returned via text (and then responded to patchily, as above), she'd selectively answer questions and comments I made. In the two weeks that followed our first date I mentioned talking about setting up another date at least twice, if not thrice, and I would have been perfectly fine if she were not interested. 

At first I wondered if it was a game of hot-and-cold. Personally, I don't have much interest in the game, but I was wondering about it. After about a week, I found my interest dropping, particularly since I experienced a significant drop in receptiveness. You'd think it could indicate her lack of interest, but I didn't sense that. Then I wondered if she was having a busy week, perhaps not unlike some of my own, but I thought she should have said something about that.

And then she did.

"Okay, that happens"  I thought to myself. "I have had busy weeks, I know what it's like. Maybe this week will be better." Meanwhile, a precious week of summer dating time had gone by with nary a date in sight.

And then she did it again.

After twelve days of this, I had pretty much lost interest. I didn't even really want to go out on a second date anymore. Being straight-laced does have its drawbacks, and feeling obligated to stay true to my word and go out again is one of them.

I figured if I didn't have a stellar time and a third date didn't materialize quickly thereafter, I'd wash my hands of the whole ordeal.

Finally, we set a time to talk on the phone. At this point I was pretty much done with chasing her, so we figured out a time and I let her know she can call me, thinking that I wasn't going to keep initiating forever with someone so busy. Let her make time and contact me when she is comfortable.

The call never came, but I did get a text three days later saying she's a bit too busy to date right now. "No kidding," I thought to myself, "I figured that one out on my own, thanks." Then she offered to talk on the phone about it. Having had enough of the dangling, this cat just walked away.

I learned two lessons. First, never tell a woman you'd like to go out again, until you are planning the next date already. Second, if someone you go out with is too busy to schedule another date, just tell them that they seem busy and cut 'em loose. Third, receptivity is #1. Okay, that's three, but the last one is an old lesson anyways. 

Aug 14, 2012

On Books and Covers

People say "don't judge a book by its cover" and sure, they're usually right. But sometimes you just wish the rest of the book is just like the cover.

Aug 10, 2012

#1 on my List is...

I can safely say that the largest factor for me when it comes to dating (and women in general) is receptivity.

But before I explain and qualify myself, permit me to paint a picture that clearly shows the difference between an encounter with someone who is receptive and someone who isn't. Let's say I'm in a room full of singles ready to mingle. I am taking my time walking around slowly, allowing myself to scan and note anyone I find potentially appealing or attractive. That's how the first impression works, and I've come to trust in what I find interesting.

And let's say I see two women that I am interested in talking to, and perhaps for the sake of this illustration I will posit that I find one significantly more attractive than the other at the moment. So, as I mingle and make my way around the room (assuming I wouldn't just make a beeline for whomever I found interesting), I look over a few times. Say the more attractive one is oblivious to my existence, and the other attractive woman looks back and smiles. Can you guess which I would approach?

I would not give it a second thought. If there were a balance and the initial attraction had it tipped to one side, at this point it would be almost entirely weighed on the other side.

What I'm hoping for is an indication of potential interest because -let's face it -I know how I feel and what I am thinking, but not what she's thinking or feeling. I'm just not very likely to spend or waste my time trying to charm or convince a woman to be interested in me. Furthermore, with every response, smile, laugh and look I will find myself more attracted and interested in this woman and less interested in the other one.

In one sense, it's not super complicated: we are more attracted to people who we think and feel are attracted to us. That's why hearing a woman likes me or has an interest in me will more likely pique my interest in her.

The same has been my experience with online and shidduch dating. Whether it's because of emotional (interest/attraction) or logistical (school/work/being busy) factors, I'm MUCH more into a woman who is available and responsive to me (and of course we have lives, I don't expect 24/6 responsiveness).

And there you have a definition for receptivity: being available and responsive. Body language and nonverbals are just as important as listening and being open to hearing and responding to whatever stories, thoughts or jokes I'm sharing (and of course that goes two ways as well). It's not just about responding, but how she responds too.

Receptivity is honestly, seriously, actually, very attractive. Downright hott. It easily tips the scales for me.

I naturally gravitate towards people who are more responsive to me, and I assume that's the case for most people. On the flip side, when I sense less receptivity, I'm often finding myself less interested, less invested and less attracted.

Some people think that "playing the game" -when they wait, hold back and are not very receptive -works better. Maybe in America we were raised and told to play our cards close to our chest, to give up as little as possible it's understandable that people would do so. I would much rather smile and see smiles, tease and be teased, to quip and use wordplay, push away and pull in with playful communication.

Aug 3, 2012

My Love-Hate Relationship with Dating

I recently go back on the horse and started dating again. It was not easy for me. In fact, I practically had to drag my resistant heart and mind through the process just to get myself out on a date. I found myself very much lacking in motivation, and found my body leading my heart. It was an odd, dream-like, zombie-esque experience.

I recently heard a great analogy (for guys, at least): dating is like shaving. See, when you start it's super exciting, because of what it means (as sign of manhood/adulthood) and because of the newness. After a couple months or so (no, I don't mean dating the same person for two months, I mean dating bunches of people), it starts to become a chore. Pretty soon after it's a downright pain.

At least the date was fun. Taking time away helped in that being on the date felt refreshing rather than jaded. Kind of like how guys often have fun shaving after the three weeks or the Omer, making all kinds of designs, patterns and crazy beards before going baby-faced again.

During my long "break," in random moments when I had some time to breathe, I reflected on my dating experiences, what I enjoy and appreciate and what I really don't like.

I found that I enjoy having time and space for myself, that I like to be more laid back and relaxed about dating, and that formality, pressure and stress just get in the way of being myself and actually experiencing the other person. I found that when I feel the dating is pressured or formal I become a lot more self-conscious and focus on myself instead of getting to know the woman. I become preoccupied with protocol and all of these things rather than just spending time swapping stories, building rapport and flirting.

As much as I've learned about myself through dating, the things I like and don't like about it, I wonder about my on-again-off-again relationship with it. I spent some time dating intensely when I started, and then found I had to back off quite a bit. Perhaps finding a balance, something more laid back with less pressure to keep going out with women back-to-back may be more ideal for me.

Either way, though I love to get out there and meet people, I'm finding my heart isn't always into it. I have to balance listening to my heart with persevering through the chore and pain of shaving. Oops, dating.