Stairway to Taboo Conversations…

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http://www.sarahmariestone.com

With a teaser like THAT,…I don’t know WHY you’re still HERE.  🙂

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12 Dates and Beyond

Kind of like Bed Bath and Beyond, but way sexier…

So here we are at the end of the 12 Dates series AND at the end of the year, so I thought I’d take a moment to look back on both.

First, the numbers:

17 years age range
11 men
10 good dates
9 restaurants
6 kisses
5 pubs
4 dating sites
3 cities
2 shows
1 lost skirt

I’ve done improv comedy,
walked the zoo at night,
2-stepped,
salsa danced,
worked my way through a scavenger hunt,
go kart raced,
bowled,
played darts
and pool

What a ride!!

The 12 Dates of Christmas series was an interesting (and exhausting!) study in human interaction. 
I’ll take some great (and not so great) memories with me, as well as a few lessons about myself and the dating game.  Here are some of my observations:

1.  There are a LOT of boys out there.  But, there are still some men.  This gives me hope. 
Most of the guys I went out with were men of character… men that will be amazing partners.  How nice is it to know that they’re out there?

2.  Profiles can be deceiving – both for good and bad.
A couple of these guys, I may not have said yes to SOLELY based on their profiles, but because of the series, I agreed…and I’m glad I did – they were more handsome and charming in reality than their profiles let on.  I realize I’m a huge spelling/grammar nazi, so I often dismiss men who may just not be the best at representing themselves in writing, but are still very intelligent/talented/creative.

3.  I can broaden my physical parameters a bit.  I’ve had these ‘rules’ in my mind about age, height, race, hair…
I didn’t want to date anyone younger than 30 or older than 42, shorter than me in heels, a different race (read the post on that before assuming I’m a horrible person), or bald/balding.  And yet, I went out with ALL of those during this series, and had a fantastic time! 
The youngest and oldest dates were two of the most fun. 
I discovered a black man that kisses the way I like,
had a blast with men who were my height or shorter,
thoroughly enjoyed 3 men who were bald or balding
and basically all-around had to eat my own words.

I’ve gotten a lot of judgement for having too many first dates, very few second dates and being too picky. 
But, the more I’m in this game and learning about myself and the people I spend time with, the more confident I am that I CAN hold out for what I really want.  Not perfection… but perfect for me.

I’m going to keep being picky.
I’m going to keep eliminating quickly – being decisive and honest, so that no one gets unnecessarily hurt.
I’m going to continue expecting the best.  Because, not only am I worth finding an amazing man, but I have a big, passionate and authentic love to GIVE.

So, there you have it. 
The last year has run the gamut for me.  Almost exactly a year ago, I had my heart broken so badly – I didn’t think I’d survive. 
And, in some ways I’m NOT the same…that experience is still with me…it shaped me… but I’m good.  REALLY good.  And after the initial pain subsided, and I ventured back into the world of dating, I gained SO much!   What exactly did I gain from all this, you ask?

– I’ve learned more about myself, my expectations and desires in a relationship.  The things I used to think were at the top of the list aren’t, and other things have become priorities.
– I’ve grown more comfortable on dates, so that – as I walk into a bar/wine bar/restaurant/coffee shop, I’m not nervous or anxious… I just have an excitement and anticipation about what THIS date will bring.  I’m not worried that I’ll run out of things to say or that I’ll make a fool of myself… because I’ve learned now that I probably WILL and it’s ok!   I’m at ease in my own skin.
– I’ve made some AMAZING friends.  A year ago, there was no Tyler, Brian G., Alan, Doug, Derek, Jenny, Denise, Jason, James or Brian K. in my life.  ALL of these people have been added into my circle of friends because of online dating/blogging, …and I couldn’t be more grateful. 

So, when we’re laughing (or wincing) at all the horrible messages, terrible texts and unthinkably awful profiles, remember that there is a huge GOOD side to this world.  I’m glad I’m in it.  Of course I hope that my search for love doesn’t last too much longer… but while it continues, I’m going to thoroughly enjoy the ride.

See you in 2013!  And see you on my website – launching TOMORROW!

www.sarahmariestone.com

-Sarah-

The 12 Dates of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…
12 oppor-tu-u-nities!

Announcing, (the first annual?):
12 Dates of Christmas:  A Dating Experiment Adventure Series

Many of you have asked to hear more from my own dating life, and in an attempt to show the good parts of online dating and not just display the horror show that is 95% of online profiles, I thought I’d do a series showcasing the REAL story of dating—my kinda dating (single mom, on the online scene, etc.)

So – in this upcoming Advent season–a season of longing and hope (how appropriate, right??),
I’m going to go on 12 dates and chronicle each one.  Here are the terms/parameters:

  1. Each guy will KNOW that I’m going to be blogging about the date.
  2. I’ll include picture(s) from the date as well as a link to each of their online profiles (if they are online)
  3. Each post-date write-up will include:  who is he?  how did we meet?  what did I wear/what did we do?  how was it?  and…that ever pressing question… will there be another date?

I’d like to TRY to get a large sample of types of dates – including:

  •  just drinks (easy first date)
  • dinner/longer date
  • a second date
  • dates with men I normally might not say ‘yes’ to initially
    (stay tuned for a quasi-hot-topic post on dating outside your ethnicity…)
  • a blind date (set-up)…. Still don’t have this one set…anyone want to suggest a friend?
  • a friends-only date (to show that the online dating world can be a great place to make friends,
    as well as search for love)
  • …..any other ideas?

So far, I have a few interesting ones lined up and I’m ready to write!

The plan is to tell the REAL story – good, bad and everything in-between.
It will be an honest account.
So…you’ll hear my thoughts on everything from first impressions to how his breath smells to what we ate/drank, and even if there was a goodnight smooch.

This means that some of the posts may be less-than-thrilling, because most of these guys are GOOD guys.  I’m not going to intentionally waste my time on someone who’s an obvious jerk JUST for your entertainment.  I don’t love you all THAT much.

But, hopefully it will give you an honest glimpse into the reality of dating in phase two of your life.

Interspersed throughout these 12 posts, I will continue to publish winner’s circle posts and others…not to worry.

Before I begin… do any of you have any suggestions on this?  Details to include?  Types of men/dates to choose?  I’m open…so let the comments roll on in.

Also…I don’t yet HAVE 12 dates on the calendar…so – if any of you have any hunky, Jesus-lovin’, witty and smart bachelors just lyin’ around… don’t hold out on a blogger.  Show a sister some set-up love.

10 Mistakes Every Guy Should Avoid – pt. 2

Let’s just pick right up in the barren wasteland where we left off, shall we?

6.  No punching.

Do I need to review the rules of behavior from Kindergarten playground days?
(Actually….. (strokes invisible Fu Manchu ‘stache)… that wouldn’t be a bad idea for a blog post… things you learned on the Kindergarten playground that apply to your dating life now.  So, I’ll work on the title, whatevs)

I don’t want to see you making your most menacing face, assuming the bully stance and capturing your clenched fist in the shot.  I see – no lie – at least one of these a week.

Did I miss some macabre memo where women want to see a guy’s “rage-y” side?  Last I heard, we liked when men were kind and sweet and used their hands to stroke our hair or rub our feet, not threaten abuse.  But, then, what do I know… perhaps they’re going for a Chris Brown sorta vibe?  (too soon…?)

__________________________________________________________________________________

7.  Messaging a woman multiple times when she’s clearly not interested.

Look… I just don’t have the time to reply to every man who messages me.

If I think I’m interested, I’ll write back.

If I’m not interested, but his message is sweet or charming, I’ll often write back.

But, if I’m not interested at all, I move on.  No time to waste.

Why do guys think that if a woman hasn’t written back, that the best course of action is to keep bugging her?

Sure, there’s something to be said for persistence (maybe TWO messages), but when you just can’t stop… we call that a stalker.

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8.  Photos of you with your car.

Unless you are an auto-mechanic, a car salesman or a pimp, this really isn’t relevant.  I don’t want to see pictures OF your car, and I don’t even want to see photos of you posing WITH your car like you’re some 1980’s magazine model.  You are not.

If you’re into cars, great.  Tell me that in the written part of your profile.  You don’t see me snapping photos of my bargain finds from Sam Moon or the latest mortar ‘n pestle I found for perfectly muddling my mint, do you?  The only reason for putting the cars in there is to brag that they’re either expensive or particularly manly.  That’s lame.  Stop doing it, MmmmK?

__________________________________________________________________________________

9.  Tattoo shots.

You may be thinking, “hey, these people are just showing a piece of their personality.  Or, maybe you’re thinking, “they’re letting you know that they HAVE a tattoo, in case you’re not a “tattoo person” (which, incidentally, I’m not).
But I postulate that it’s just a cheap excuse to show off their bodies/muscles.  It’s like the male equivalent to the gratuitous cleavage photo.

What’s worse is that half the time, ALL they have on their profiles are the tat pics.

No faces, jut skulls.

No charming smiles, just flames and crosses.

No “check out my friends and I at last year’s Halloween Pub Crawl!”…only unintelligible Chinese characters and old girlfriends’ names.  Really?  (Sighs…)

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10.  Abs.
They’re great…but I don’t need to see you pulling up your shirt to show them off.

Look – women certainly appreciate a guy who’s fit – I’d be lying if I said otherwise.  We also like a guy who’s strong – it appeals to that primal desire for a protector.  But, we’re not sitting around dreaming about a man with tight abs.  Seriously.

In fact, if I was to make a list of qualities women look for (say I polled 1,000 women), I’m willing to bet that “a wicked 6-pack” doesn’t even crack the top 25.  Am I alone here, ladies?

Show me a photo where you’re smiling ear to ear or caught mid-laugh, and I’m yours.  Cutting off your head so as to get a focused shot of your abs…I’m not yours.

Well, there you go… for now.

I’m sure there are a hundred more “tips” I could provide, based on my unfortunately protracted foray into the online dating profile world, but…. .baby steps.

10 Mistakes Every Guy Should Avoid – pt. 1

As I cull through online profiles, I see SO many of the same mistakes…I may actually be slowly going insane.

So, if I’m forced to be subjected to the ignorance and stupidity of online men,
you all will have to listen to the occasional ranting…
Consider it a public service announcement.  I’m a giver, what can I say.

Here are a few tips if you men out there wanna make the ladies swoon…
Or, at the very least, not make them throw up a little in their mouth when they view your profile.

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1.  It’s “woman.”  With an “a.”  You’re looking for a womAn.  You are not looking for a women.
If you are, you may want to consider a religious change of venue.  Might I recommend Yearning for Zion?

Whenever I see this typo (and I’m being gracious that it’s a typo and not just sheer idiocy), it makes me ill-inclined to “lime to chat”… I’m just sayin’.

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2.  Apostrophes.  Use them.  I can’t stress this enough.  How many TIMES will the lazy men of this cyber world force this grammar-savvy girl to read the word “im?”  I’m here to spread the gospel news:  “Im” is not a word!  Say it with me…

If you can’t handle inserting the appropriate symbol, then just type in the ONE extra letter and say, “I am.”  And this guy HERE?  He’s studying English.  The sad irony is so thick, I may need to take the lid off to drink it all in…

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3.  Punctuation.

It is your friend.
Don’t be afraid to use it.
Otherwise, I will purposely read your profile thusly:  I’ll take one enormous breath and then read the entire thing without pause or intonation in a robotic monotone.
It kills at parties.

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4.  Scary photos.

I will never understand this phenomenon.  Why would you want to terrify your potential soul mate?

Most women I know don’t want to see your face painted to look like your flesh is coming off, covered in creepy duck tape or with an eery gas mask on the only un-tattooed part of your body.

I know, I know… we’re so high maintenance not wanting to go out with a guy who may be imagining how we’d taste with a little Tony Chachere, slow roasted on a rotisserie spit…

The funny part is, these are usually the guys who say they don’t want any drama.

Really?

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5.  Crass messages.

Dude.  I don’t know how to be MORE clear in my profile that I’m not just looking for a hook-up.
And, if you DO insist on going for it, at least put some nuance and cleverness into your approach.
A witty line has a lot more potential than something like this:

Listen, “I rich,” even if I WAS easy, …between the lame-sauce handle (you rich, huh?  you know how talk right too?), the photos of you covered in obvious prison tats, and your practically comical use of “no” instead of “know,”…you never stood a chance.  I hope dats kool.

More tips for later… if online profiles have taught me anything, it’s that the population out there has a very limited attention spa….. oh!  Look!  A butterfly!

You get the point.  See you tomorrow!

Breakin’ Up is Hard to Deux

So…HOW exactly do you break things off with someone when you’ve decided you’re not a good fit, you ask?
(No, literally, several people have asked me this recently).

I say, you can’t go wrong with honesty.
No, not the nasty “brutal honesty” where you crush a person’s spirit…I’m not suggesting we go all Bill O Reilly on a less-than-perfect match, but just being authentic.  Most people truly appreciate that.

Here are a few tips I’ve found in my foray:

1.  If you’ve gone on 2/3 dates or fewer, texting someone to end things is perfectly acceptable.

“What?  (audibly gasps)  Isn’t texting so TACKY!?!”

Alright…let’s do this.  Let’s have the talk about texting.  It’s been comin’ for a while now…

Back in the day when texting was new to the social communication scene, yeah… it was tacky.  Because then, texting was only used for quick details, directions… more pragmatic purposes.  Texts were adjuncts to phone calls, not the culturally acceptable vehicle of communication that they are now.  Texting is ok!

If you don’t believe me that we can use texts to convey matters of the heart, think back to your dating/love life and tell me honestly that you’ve never gotten a text that made your heart flutter with excitement?  Or (especially if you’re a girl), made you get that visceral version of “awwww….” inside you?
If we can convey the good parts of dating via text (falling in love, flirting, proclamations of devotion and affection), why can we not do the negative equivalent?

Using texting or FB messaging to let someone off your dating hook is also an act of mercy.  Think about it – would you rather get a disappointing text while you’re in your own safe territory or would you prefer to have someone sit you down to dinner, break things off and force you to decide what sort of awkward conversation to have for the duration of your time together?  The phone isn’t AS bad as in person, but it still requires a poised response, whereas being on the receiving end of a text, you don’t have to do ANYthing!?  You can make funny faces, yell, flip the other party the bird…whatever works in your time of grief.

2.  Do NOT use the “fall off the map” method to get your point across.  This is just childish.

I know some of you out there (men AND women) think you’re sparing someone by just fading away… that way you don’t have to say those hurtful words about not wanting to date them anymore.  And you think that somehow, magically, this will make them be JUST FINE with you being gone.

You are wrong.

People want answers.  They want explanations.

If you don’t feel like the two of you have what it takes to be happy as a romantic couple, then have the decency to say so.
Even if it’s hard to be the bearer of bad news, you’re sparing the other person having to guess at WHY you went away.  And I hypothesize that usually the REAL reason why someone walks away from a relationship is FAR LESS hurtful than the possibilities we’re left to come up with in our heads.

In my own personal experience over the last 9 months, if a guy says he’d rather just be friends or he’s not interested and he tells me the reason, it’s SO much better than what my own fear and insecurity will plot against me in my mind.  If a guy just disappears, I’m left thinking he thought I was hideous or worse-he doesn’t think my jokes are funny!  *cringes…

We are grown-ups.  If you don’t want something/someone, be kind enough to tell that person.

You don’t have to offer up a long explanation.
You can simply say, “I’ve thought about the two of us and I just don’t think we’ll make a good match.”  TaDa!  Done.

Now, if the person comes back and asks why, it’s up to you whether you want to

a.  give a politician’s answer (double speak, using ambiguity and confusion to sound like you’re saying something when you’re really not).  This smoke ‘n mirrors option is recommended if the reason you’re taking the last train to splitsville is something out of his control.  Better to use dizzying circular logic to say nothing, than to say, “you’re so short that when we’re out together, even without wearing heels, I feel like I’m walking my child across the street.”

b.  tell him/her the truth.  I usually opt for this one because I know how much I want this when I’m on the other side of the ‘no match’ message.  You’ll be surprised how well people will react to this.

By way of example, I’ve told men:  We don’t line up on the issue of faith/spirituality, your ADD makes me feel like you’re not interested in knowing me, we having different smooching styles, and a myriad other answers.  Surprisingly, all have been graciously received.

3.  Don’t waste time out of guilt, talking with or going out on dates with someone when you know you’re not into it. 

Women are especially notorious for this unnecessary sense of obligation.  Why?  Once you know in your mind that the duo isn’t meant for romantic greatness – break it off right away.  You’ll save yourself time and energy and you won’t lead the other person on, thinking things are good when they’re oh-so-not.

Half the time I begin communicating with someone, all it takes is a series of texts or a phone call to know we’re not meant to be.  And there’s NO way I’m going on a date (read: getting dolled up and using up precious kid-free schedule real estate) if I know we won’t click… that’s just not good biz.

In my NEXT post, I’ll tell you about Raul…Rahul?…hmm… anyway – a guy who I went on 7 dates with before I finally had to break it off, HOW I did it and how HE reacted.

‘Til then – no falling off maps.  Keep it real.

It’s so Ha-a-a-ard to say GoodBy-y-y-ye to Men Todaaaaayyy…

Neil Sedaka knew a great truth about the world of love.  Breaking up IS hard to do.

But, take heart – putting the kibosh on a budding romance these days doesn’t have to be the sad-song-mix-tape making, soul-crushing drama it was in your teenage years.
So, step away from the origami-folded note, stop belting out U2’s “One,” put down your mascara-stained ‘break-up’ pillow and listen up.

I’m gonna use the next few posts to talk about this process.  After all, statistically you’ll do WAY more breaking things off than not.  Let’s hope, for my sake, that I don’t have THAT many more “it’s not gonna work out” texts in my future before I can send the “Hey!  I really think this is gonna work out!” one.  But, until that day, I’ll share my “expertise” with you.

As much as Hilary Duff or the cast of “St. Elmo’s Fire” would love you to believe that ending a courtship must carry with it months of tortured grief, I’m here to postulate that times have, indeed, a-changed.

Now, duh…I’m not talking about the end of a solid long-term relationship.
Those are horrible to recover from.  Best in those cases to just to just stock up on stereotypical frozen treats, load up on youtube stand-up comedy clips to distract from the heart-wrenching pain and hunker down for the long-haul.  I don’t have any great advice for those.  They suck.  Plain and simple.

I’m talking about those situations where you’ve gone out with someone a handful of times (like…the number of dates is still in the single digits), and it’s just not what you’re looking for.

The beauty of dating as a grown-up is that… well… we get to act like grown-ups.
No need to dust off the ‘ol “It’s not you, it’s me” aphorism.  Men these days can usually (usually being an important caveat there) handle hearing that, in fact…. it IS them.  Let me e’splain…

People in their 30’s+ are, in my experience, more invested in the dating process.  This means they actually have given some thought to what they want, what they don’t like, where they’re willing to sacrifice and bend and where they’re not.  So, with that contemplation also comes a sense of self-awareness.  Thus – when you go to tell someone it’s not a good match, he (or she), instead of being a babyish whiney brat about it (a la high school/college), will probably do one of the following:

a.  agree with you, and be genuinely open to staying friends (see my next post on a recent “break up” of mine)

b.  be disappointed, and ask for an explanation.  This is where things get a little tricky…I’ll get into that later…

c.  be disappointed, but appreciate your honesty and bow out graciously.

Example:  Last week I told a guy that I didn’t think we’d make a good match.  Here’s his response:
“Well, I appreciate your candor.  I guess we all know what we want, and I can’t argue with that.  I would love to keep you as a friend and hanger outer!  I definitely enjoy my time spent with you and, while I’m optimistic about any new person I meet, if it doesn’t work (for whatever reason), I roll with it. …Life is too short to be with someone that does not meet our needs.”

And, friends – that is not an exception.  I get that kind of gracious response all the time!  It’s great.

In fact – I have assembled a hodgepodge group of singles that get together and hang out, and most of the men on the list are guys I’ve gone out with and, while it wasn’t a great romantic match, they’ve continued being my friend.   Being an adult…ain’t it grand?

So, stay tuned …tomorrow:  HOW to walk away from a “not so heaven-made match.”