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Catfish

I confess, I am addicted to MTV’s reality show, Catfish.  I recently read that before hosts Nev Schulman and Max Joseph are able to read a single word from the victim of a potential Catfish, the production staff does extensive homework on all involved parties, which includes verification of the story, obtaining signed releases, and often requesting that the person being Catfished write a letter to Nev and Max asking for their help.  This is done because the majority of the people who contact MTV are the Catfish themselves, likely looking to finally come clean, which explains why their first words are almost always an apology.  Almost always.

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Catfish has gotten quite heavy in its third season.  While Nev has always been the calm voice of reason with Max occasionally losing patience and having to take a breather, we have seen Nev become seriously heated and angry at the people who have been hiding behind a false persona.  On the episode featuring Kidd Cole, who has scammed thousands of dollars out of who knows how many people, Nev became so angry at Cole’s lack of empathy with his latest victim that he threw Cole’s phone into a river.  Producers on-site have had to step in multiple times to calm Nev and Max down because, in their words, they are in danger of sabotaging their own show unless they get their emotions in check.  But honestly, who can blame them?

To my knowledge, I have never been Catfished, but I feel very confident that it has happened to me at least once during my life online.  Like most people nowadays, I’ve formed numerous friendships with people I’ve met online but never been able to see in person or video chat with.  I even met my husband online, although he was thankfully very real and never once hid behind any online falsehood.  I have friendships with people on Twitter that I still have yet to meet in person.  I’ve had brief interactions with people I assume are celebrities on a verified account that could in fact be just a random employee of that public figure.  Every single day, I find myself in some sort of contact with a person that could be someone very different from who I assume they are.

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The idea of Catfishing someone is hardly a new concept though, just one that has only recently been thrown into a spotlight.  Back when I was eleven and my AOL access was limited to an hour of glorious dial-up per week, I can recall spending the majority of that hour in various chat rooms made for my age group.  I quickly noticed that unlike the real world, each chat room would have a huge number of tall blond cheerleaders and ruggedly handsome football players.  The older I got, the bigger the lies became.  A slight exaggeration on physical appearance became outright lies that took hundreds of pounds off of bodies, changed genders and orientations, shaved off decades from a person’s age, and allowed anyone to have whatever career and financial status they wanted.  The joke became that any and all lesbian chat rooms were actually nothing but 30 – 50 year old men talking dirty to one another.

You would think that the more we see liars and cheats exposed online, and the more we see how easily one person can become someone else entirely via the internet, the more cautious we would all become.  Nev and Max’s investigations on Catfish are reduced from hours into minutes, but their work gives us more than a few tricks that can easily be used to verify someone’s identity.  The last episode of Catfish featured a tech-savvy guy who didn’t do his homework out of respect for the girl he thought he was talking to, but surely our own safety is more important that an imagined slight against a stranger.  I just popped my photo into a Google image search and scared myself a bit at how accurate the results were.  Lying is easy, but exposing those lies is easier.

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In addition to being cautious, we need to be smart.  Giving some random stranger online your full trust is beyond stupid.  People who wouldn’t trust some of their own family will put all of their faith into a person from Facebook that they’ve never met.  It’s mind-boggling.  Stopping for a moment and being rational rather than emotional could work to save a lot of people from a lot of heartache.  In the case of recent Catfish, Kidd Cole, it could have saved people a lot of money had they not taken the word of someone simply because he had a shiny cover story and amazing empty promises.  Every single person who puts themselves on the internet immediately makes themselves vulnerable to some extent.  How vulnerable you allow yourself to be, however, is something every one of us can closely control.

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Our Own Worst Enemy

While screwing around on Twitter this morning, I saw a few random comical comments from a female that I could once call a friend but who I’m now unsure of where she fits into my life, if she even fits at all.  We have not spoken since the day I finally became fed up with her friend’s boyfriend and told him that I want nothing to do with him.  This was after he had acted very inappropriately and disrespectfully to me and to his girlfriend (indirectly), but I kept the trash talk out of it and just ended the friendship I had with him.  His girlfriend slowly cut me out of her life, but this one female has kept me around on her Twitter feed for some reason even though we no longer speak.  She’s favorited things I’ve said after the incident, yet uninvited me to two things we had previously planned.  And I don’t understand it at all.

I suspect the reasoning behind it, other than her loyalty to her friend, is that she sees me as wrong and ill-informed when it comes to the guy I cut out of my life.  She was drinking and distracted the first time he acted like a royal ass, not around the second time he acted inappropriately, and not present on Twitter enough to see the rest of it.  To her, this guy is amazing and a perfect match for her friend.  To her, I am jealous, bitter, bitchy or a combination of all three.  Since I have not defended my actions and not explained why I cut the guy out of my life, I am probably also seen as cowardly.  Truth is, there is no way in hell she or her friend would listen to anything I have to say.  It’s like that too often with women.  We get blinded by love and ignore everything else while treating other females like garbage if we feel threatened in any way.

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This is one of the main reasons I have a very small group of female friends.  This nonsense was a daily issue in middle and high school as we fought over boys and battled with our self-esteem.  I expected and accepted it as a teenager, but I’ll be 32 this year and I’m not okay with dealing with it any longer.  If I slip up and make a mistake, I will own up to it and make efforts to repair the damage, but if I am justified in my behavior and it just so happens to upset you, I don’t feel that I am in the wrong.  If I am hitting on your boyfriend, that is my mistake and I owe you an apology and must right the situation.  If your boyfriend hits on me and I tell him where to stick it, I have nothing to apologize for.  So why is it that I am seen as in the wrong and given the silent treatment in those situations where boyfriend was bad?  Why is he absolved of all wrongdoing while I am slowly pushed away?

Part of me thinks that certain females see me as a threat.  I don’t say that in an egotistical way and I’m not trying to claim that I’m so gorgeous, guys can’t resist me.  But I am confident and confidence can be sexy.  I’m married and I don’t care what any other man thinks of me outside of my husband.  The lack of worry about having to impress the masses has boosted my confidence, plus my husband makes me feel gorgeous, so I suspect that lends to females thinking that I could pose a threat to their relationships.  I was once that same shy little girl who was threatened by any woman who was pretty or that came across as sure of themselves.  But then I grew up.

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Another reason I feel that I’ve been pushed away by this female is the fact that I have chosen to remain absolutely quiet about why I became angry at the boyfriend, as I do not want to be the one who messes up the relationship.  If I could put her in my place and show her what I’ve seen, this would likely be a very different situation right now.  Sadly, I can’t do this and I won’t waste time trying to convince her of what I know.  I didn’t listen when people told me that my ex was a liar and a cheat, I just felt very silly when I found out the hard way.  If I had let loose with details, there is a small chance that I would have been heard, but it was too small of a chance for me to bother.  So I remain silent and look like the bad guy.  All anyone has to do is ask, but it’s easier to stick to the strange girl code of shunning females who threaten us.

Whatever the reasoning, the bottom line is that the female who has yet to delete me from her Twitter and the female who has already done so are both reminding me way too much of my high school days.  I tried hanging on, as we have a mutual friend in the mix, but I no longer see the point.  To be so irate at me that you uninvite my kid to your own kid’s birthday party is just silly and I want no part of it.  I don’t want to associate with someone who thinks so little of me and I don’t want to associate with anyone who doesn’t have the guts to express what they are feeling and express why they are angry.  It’s cowardly and it shows that you know deep down that you’re angry for a stupid reason.

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Ladies, every female out there isn’t secretly plotting and planning, her mind set on tearing your life apart so she can steal your man, take your job, and laugh as you are left with nothing.  Not every chick who doesn’t like your boyfriend is acting that way because they are secretly crushing on them; often they see something you don’t and shouldn’t be ignored.  It is pointless and petty to treat each other as if we are all waiting to stab the other in the back.  I’m exhausted by it all.  I’ve taken the few seconds today to delete the female in question from my following feed and I’ve blocked both of these ladies in order to further distance myself.  If they want to talk things out, they both have my phone number.  In the meantime, I’m content in sticking them both in the past until we can all act like adults.

I Just Had Sex

I’ve been married for almost five years now to an amazing man.  I find him incredibly intelligent, sexy, and the perfect embodiment of everything I could ask for in a guy.  I don’t have to ever wonder if he finds me sexy and I never feel ignored or neglected.  We live together, drive to work together, and work in the same building.  Throughout the day, we visit, email, text, and converse on Twitter.  If an hour goes by without a word exchanged, I miss him terribly.  I’m not the hottest thing to ever walk this Earth, but I feel like I am with my husband.  We have a pretty amazing life together on all levels.  He is the one person in this entire world that I am 100% comfortable with and who knows me inside and out, the good and the bad.

I consider us to be a strong couple who is going to go the distance; I’ve gone through enough and seen enough in my life to easily recognize when a relationship is based on the wrong things, based on lies, not a two-way street, or simply wrong.  Thankfully, none of that negativity is a part of my current relationship, of that I am 100% sure of for reasons that could fill another blog entry entirely.  Unfortunately, most of us never realize our relationship is flawed until it’s over and the damage is already done.  Generally, you don’t see how your guy/girl is worthless until you finally leave them behind or they finally take off for greener pastures.  You overlook the warning signs because you’re so infatuated with them, you mistake that feeling for love, and you subconsciously ignore their faults and bad behavior.  I know the chances of this helping are slim to none, but I want to touch on some subtle warning signs anyway; if it saves just one person from a bit of heartache, it’s worth it.

1.  You are objectified by your significant other.  If your guy/girl refers to you as something to do, treats you like a trophy, or is constantly showing you off to whoever is watching, you probably have a problem.  There is a huge difference between being happy and proud about being with someone and acting as though you achieved some sort of higher social status due to your newly obtained arm candy.  The “look what I got” attitude is fine (although annoying) when talking about a new car or tickets to some exclusive event.  When talking about your new love, it’s highly inappropriate.  This is a person, not a thing.

2.  Your sex life is secret to no one.  My husband and I have sex.  Obviously.  In a variety of ways.  This is probably the most I’ve ever publicly said about it, and even saying that much makes me feel odd.  The thing is, unless you’re a very virginal person, people are going to assume you and your significant other are boning behind closed doors.  They don’t need to hear about it.  If your guy/girl is constantly dropping hints to those around you (either in person or on social media) about your extracurricular activities, they obviously don’t respect you, don’t take you seriously, and are just happy to boast about the tail they’re getting.  This hardly creates a solid base for a good relationship.

3.  They are a social media whore.  There are two parts to this; your guy/girl has close to a thousand “friends” on Twitter (or more) or adds random people without thought on Facebook just to up their numbers AND they engage in flirtatious behavior in ways you aren’t likely to see without prying and snooping.  First, no stable and content person is out recruiting friends left and right via the internet; they’re obviously trying to fill a hole in their life that they don’t consider you or the core group around them qualified to fill.  The second part of this doesn’t require much explanation; you don’t need to be calling other people cute, irresistible, or flirting in any other way when you’re committed to someone else.

4.  You are the subject matter when your significant other wants to show off.  This goes hand in hand with number 1, as it is a way of objectifying you, but it’s a tad more specific.  When your guy/girl is actively trying to make people jealous of them by bragging about your dates, how pretty/sexy you are in comparison to others, or constantly telling everyone within earshot how “lucky” they are, they’re just showing off.  Can any sincerity exist in a person who would rather erect a neon sign to tell the world they’re on an extravagant date with someone who could be a supermodel than to simply enjoy being with that person and knowing internally that they are incredibly lucky to have captured their heart?

5.  You lose your individuality due to their possessive behavior.  If you’re having to check with your guy/girl prior to making plans with friends or if your friends go out of their way to thank your significant other for “letting” you go out with them, congratulations on becoming someone’s property.  If while you’re out, the two of you MUST text/tweet/Facebook back and forth, distracting you from your time apart, you have a problem.  Just hope you don’t turn into one of those couples with a joint Facebook page.  You may not even realize they are being possessive, but it’s easy to become shortsighted when your shiny new love distracts you with kind words while slowly but surely inserting themselves in every tiny aspect of your private life.  Who you are apart is just as important as who you are together.

6.  Your friends hate him/her.  This isn’t always a surefire way to tell, but it’s a great indicator if you look at your close friends and gauge their reaction to your new guy/girl.  This is not about your friend being jealous or having personality clashes; if it’s something superficial, it can go ignored.  If your close friends, those who know you the best, begin to shy away from hanging out with the two of you as a couple and begin to avoid you both or just your new love, it’s worth taking a closer look at.  Often, a true friend will not want to come out and tell you what a worthless person your love is out of risk of hurting you; they’re just waiting it out so they can be there afterward to pick up the pieces.

7.  You find yourself withdrawing from friends and family.  Prior to dating him/her, you were posting various updates on Facebook or your blog every day without fail.  Now, you barely log on to do a thing with it.  You’ve gone almost silent on Twitter, text message conversations are cut short, and you let your phone go to voicemail more often than you answer it.  Too often, fear of losing time with your significant other is actually fear of them getting annoyed at having to share you with others.  Because this fear is misunderstood, it’s quite easy to almost unknowingly withdraw from your loved ones.

8.  They embarrass you (and your close friends).  My husband laughs at me quite a bit, and I laugh right back at him.  We do NOT, however, take to Twitter and post godawful photos of each other, tell humiliating stories to friends, or overshare any other private and embarrassing personal details.  You are not being respected if your guy/girl is showing everyone the drunk photos of you acting a fool, telling and retelling stories about how you tripped up the stairs, or sharing anything else that makes you feel foolish.  The same goes if they do this to your close friends.  Being the butt of someone’s joke isn’t what a relationship is about.

9.  You’re becoming someone you’re not.  You were once an independent and strong person who loved a good book on a cold night and couldn’t get enough of cheesy romantic comedies.  Now, you’re ______’s boy/girlfriend, you must only watch horror flicks and action movies, and your free time has become Playstation time.  You hate cats, but are now a cat person due to their pets.  You love steak but now must believe meat is murder.  We all have to adjust ourselves when in a relationship and it’s great to be introduced to new things, but not when you abandon everything you once were in order to fit this mold of ______’s boy/girlfriend.  Obviously, they weren’t happy with who you were; why else would you have changes so drastically?

10.  You know it’s wrong.  Deep down, even the most deluded people in this world know when they are in a bad situation.  Maybe you feel shame in certain situations, maybe you feel discomfort, but regardless of what it is you feel, there is something there that tells you this relationship isn’t the right one for you.  I wish I had listened to these gut feelings in the past, especially in the serious relationship I was in prior to meeting my husband, but I chose to ignore them because I was “so in love” and it screwed a lot of things up for me.  LISTEN TO THOSE TINY WARNING SIGNS!!!  Love is about a lot of things, but it’s not about losing your common sense.  Make the right choices with both eyes open; it’s the only way you have any chance of truly finding happiness in a healthy relationship with a person who truly and purely loves you for you.

Did It Hurt When You Fell From Heaven?

I’ve been hit on a lot in my life.  I don’t say that our of vanity, just as a woman who possesses the proper body parts to entice a guy to want to make attempts to get me naked.  There are too many men out there who will flirt with anything on two legs in the hopes of getting laid.  Ever since my classmates became old enough to forget that girls have cooties and develop a desire to see naked women, I’ve been hit on in every thinkable way.

The scariest would have to be one afternoon driving home from college; a guy pulled up next to me on the highway and began gesturing to me as we drove.  I ignored him as best as I could, but he was quite persistent and eventually settled in behind me for about 20 miles.  Beginning to get nervous as he followed me off of my exit, I immediately pulled into a gas station and began to make my way inside.  As I did, he flew into the lot and jumped out of his car.  Wearing jean overalls and no shirt, he approached me and told me I was hot and asked for my number.  I practically ran inside, waiting for him to leave so I could go home without this creep following me.

I read an article about women who feel that unwanted flirtation is a form of sexual harassment.  It states that fear and discomfort are what define sexual harassment and that aggressive or sexual comments alone can instill terror in a female who is uninterested in a male’s advances.  In public, there is no real way to escape it other than blocking it out and getting from point A to B as quickly as possible.  It also cites a report from the CDC stating that noncontact and unwanted sexual experiences will affect one third of women in their lifetime (compared to 12.8% of men).

As a female, it is our responsibility to protect ourselves in public against such advances and to also not overreact over advances that are solely verbal.  Obviously, unwanted physical contact is wrong and often in violation of the law, but words are just words.  Riding MARTA through Atlanta made me a target for a wide variety of verbal advances, some as tame as “hey cutie, can I get your number” and some as strong as commenting on my body and letting me know what they would like to do to it.  Rather than sit on that train and become a victim, I chose to ignore it.  I would move my seat if necessary, always had my earbuds in and my nose in a book to make myself unavailable, and always sat in an area near an official or near other females.

It may be morally wrong for a man to shout out “nice tits” to a female who is minding her own business while walking down the street, but there is also a problem with us expecting everyone to properly censor themselves in public areas.  It’s impossible to control the actions of others, especially in bars, on city streets, on public transportation, and other areas that are unable to enforce strict rules on proper behavior.  At work, we can go to our boss or HR, but while out enjoying drinks with friends, there isn’t an easy route to take to make it stop.  The bartender or manager isn’t going to do much unless the offender is drunk and/or disorderly and the police likely won’t do much either in a he-said she-said situation where no contact was made and no real laws were broken.  You’re on your own.

I’ve hit guys who have grabbed my ass in bars and clubs, figuring that their decision to touch me justified my decision to smack them in the face.  I’ve told guys to piss off after they refuse to get the hint that I’m not interested.  I’ve laughed with friends at pathetic attempts by men to get my attention.  I’ve learned to deal with unwanted advances without getting angry or upset by it.  I decided not to allow it to control me or interrupt my life.  I’ve realized that some men will go after any female that is conscious and I’ve realized there isn’t a damn thing I can do about their behavior.

Instead of getting angry and upset, females need to be strong and stop playing the victim.  If it escalates beyond words into physical contact or if it becomes threatening, it’s definitely a problem.  If it’s simply unwanted flirtation and advances, find a way to deal with it and don’t be so soft about it.  No one chooses harassment, but people do unwillingly choose to be an easy target by allowing their emotions to cloud their judgment and by getting upset instead of brushing it off and removing themselves from the situation.  Choose to be strong, choose to be unafraid to tell these guys to piss off, and choose to hold your head up high and not let some horny idiot ruin your entire day.

Mixed Signals

Single men and women are complete fucking idiots.  Some of them anyway.  Perfectly datable, good-looking people without crazy skeletons locked in the closet or demons in their shadows are unable to find a date because of the simple fact that they behave like morons.  I would love to get a hold of them and beat some sense into their thick skulls so they can quit embarrassing themselves and being miserable and finally find love and shut the hell up about the woes of single life!

*deep breath*

The biggest mistake I see people make when they are single and looking is holding on to bitter feelings from past relationships and experiences.  It seems like a no-brainer to let these things go in order to move on and find happiness, yet some people seem unable to do so.  It becomes a problem thanks to one of my favorite things in the digital world:  Twitter.  Facebook as well, but I stay away from that evil place.  It has become way too easy to vent about things that are sent out to dozens or hundreds of people and that are out there for any potential date to see and be frightened away by.

Offense #1 is the constant bitching.  I bitch on Twitter (surprise to no one) but I don’t bitch about the people I’m trying to get to like me.  As a single person, if you engage in too much bashing of the gender you want to get naked with in the near future, you’re going to have a lot of lonely nights alone with your hand or mechanical toy.  What guy wants to date a person who is always saying things like “Men are so immature,” or “Why are all the GOOD guys taken and I’m left with nothing but losers?”  It’s a turn off and an insult and is making you undateable.  If you constantly call women sluts, do you think your chances are good of scoring a date with one?  Unless you truly adore sluts, in which case you might have a chance.

Offense #2 is the mixed messages.  On Monday, you’re bragging about how awesome your boobs look in your low-cut shirt.  On Tuesday, you’re bitching about guys being interested in nothing but your chest.  One moment, you’re enjoying random flirtation and the next you’re saying it makes you feel cheap and you don’t appreciate childish come-ons.  You need to make up your mind!  Bragging about your giant package is fine if you’re okay with the feedback that kind of admission is going to get.  You can’t engage in public penis talk and then get mad when the attention is more on your magic stick than on your personality.

Offense #3 is the oversharing.  If you’re not currently serious and you feel like boning random people until you find someone special, go for it.  But if you put it on the internet, you’re going to sound like a whore, regardless of what gender you are.  Most people don’t want a relationship with a whore.  They probably want you to act like one with them behind closed doors, but they also want to know that 100+ people haven’t been playing with your fun bits before they got a run at them.  Likewise, they don’t want to hear about your past relationships and conquests in great detail.  I’m happy that your ex had the most amazing breasts you’ve ever seen, but do you need to still be talking about them years later?

Offense #4 is trying too hard.  Desperation isn’t a good look on anyone.  You can be sexy without the thousands of instagrammed pictures of you showing cleavage and wearing miniskirts.  You don’t need to talk about how hot your ass looks in those new jeans.  You can seem appealing without insisting you’re not the typical guy/girl and people always love you instantly.  If I’m being told over and over again that a person is sexy, I’m going to find that person less sexy each time I hear it.  Trying too hard to present yourself in a certain light or be someone you’re really not is always going to backfire.

And finally, offense #5 is being nothing but a flirt.  Flirting is awesome, don’t get me wrong, but at some point you have to make a move past that and actually make an effort to get someone to agree to go to dinner with you.  Too much flirting is also a turn off; if I (pretending I’m single) look at your Twitter feed and see you telling dozens of chicks how cool and pretty there are with winky faces everywhere, I stop feeling special.  I feel like I’m just one of many you’re throwing out lines to, and now that I know I’m not truly on your radar, I’m not going to bite.  Give flirting a purpose.

This blog link gets thrown out on Twitter, so maybe one of the offending parties will happen upon it and adjust their behavior.  Probably not.  Either way, I hope for their sake they are able to figure out that it’s their bad behavior that is keeping them single, not the rest of the world.  It’s easier to change yourself than it is to change the entire dating pool.  Take the easy road.

Hold On… I Need To Check My Phone

It’s your first date with this amazing new guy and you’re a messy combination of nervous, excited, and hopeful.  You sit down to eat at a restaurant he promises you’ll fall in love with.  Your waiter takes your drink order; a water and a mixed cocktail your guy says is to die for.  The drinks come and the two of you clink your glasses together.  As you smile shyly over your glass, you see your guy reach down into his pocket, pull out his phone, and begin running his finger across the touchscreen.  Your smile fades as you ask, “What are you doing?”  “Just checking in with Foursquare,” he replies.  And so it begins.

Smartphones, along with all the social media applications that are installed within seconds, allow us to connect to people across the globe instantaneously.  We can throw photos and status updates onto Facebook and Twitter, share our location on Foursquare, and play games with friends or strangers.  But where does that leave the person right in front of you?  Is it right or fair to interrupt a date, movie, or quiet night at home with activity on your phone?  Is it even possible not to?

I’m a married woman, so thankfully dating etiquette isn’t a huge issue, but my husband and I still go out and still have to decide where the phone’s place is on a date.  Last night we went for sushi, then to a movie, an outing that could have easily been cast in a shadow if one or both of us made Twitter more important than each other.  The phones have, on occasion, become an annoyance at home, especially when one of us is engrossed in a television show or movie, but the other is more interested in whatever is on the Smartphone’s screen.

I feel that Smartphones have become a tool to help people fill the silence when they run out of things to say or are simply just having a shy moment.  This makes them easy to turn to on dates, especially the first few when you are still trying to get to know a person.  It also gives people a passive way to compliment their date; checking in on Foursquare and commenting how incredible your date is can be much easier than actually turning to your date and saying how much you love it.  Facebook and Twitter updates about how it is going accomplish the same thing.

But what exactly is being accomplished?  Is it helpful to share with many what should, in reality, be between the two of you?  When my husband and I met, it was through MySpace, so our relationship played out online for all our friends to see.  It was annoying, to say the least, especially with negative friends putting in their two cents on my side and a jealous female friend on his.  Had we not been living a thousand miles apart at the time and had I been braver and more willing to turn to the phone and instant messaging, there would be no way I would have been courting him via the internet.

I’m not saying it’s wrong to put yourself and your love out there, but there definitely needs to be a line that both of you agree should not be crossed.  Perhaps it’s that the phone doesn’t make an appearance during meals, or maybe it’s that you just decide that your Facebook friends shouldn’t be privy to every gritty detail of your relationship.  The thing to remember is that it’s not the sharing part that is wrong, it’s in how it’s done where people make wrong turns.

Respect plays a major role here and you must respect your partner enough, and ensure they respect you, to make sure the phone isn’t turning your relationship into a three or foursome.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with putting things related to your relationship online, but is the middle of dinner or a concert really the right time?  Are you both on the same page or do you just want to think you are so you don’t feel guilty about tweeting while dating?

Trust me, I’m not climbing on my high horse and calling anyone out because I’m as guilty as the next person of allowing my phone to interfere with my time with my husband.  Being comfortable in our relationship allows the two of us to be pretty vocal when something is becoming an issue, so the phones have definitely been a discussion topic.  For two people who are still in the early stages, however, it’s much harder to state a complaint comfortably; the easier route is to ignore it and hope it goes away for the sake of the newly budding romance.  But without communication, there cannot be change.

What I suggest is stashing the phone away in your pocket or purse or throwing it out of reach somewhere so you are concentrating fully on the person within arm’s reach.  Make sure you’re not dedicating more time to a little electronic device than you are to the living breathing soul in the room with you.  Be aware that things you share via social media can come back to bite you in the ass and can give nosy people free reign to throw advice and opinions at you that you just don’t want.  Use your phone as a tool instead of just existing in its shadow.

Help! Dating Questions Need Answers!

I’m conducting a survey to find out what the biggest annoyances are when dating or in a committed relationship for a project I have in the works. I need your help!

Please let me know:
1. What is something your date/significant other does that bothers you?
2. What is the ultimate turn-off or deal breaker?
3. What do YOU do that bothers your date/significant other?
4. If there was one thing you could make the people you date/significant other stop for good, what would it be?

All ideas used will be credited back to the person who contributed it (unless you wish otherwise). I thank you for your help!!

The Single Life

I have never been as happy to be married as I was last Saturday night.  My husband and I went to a couple of bars with a friend of ours to grab dinner, listen to some live music, and indulge in some lovely adult beverages.  Our first stop was the Moon Dog Tavern, which was pretty packed but we were lucky enough to find a table right next to one that was reserved for the band.  We began ordering and quickly noticed that we seemed to be the youngest people in attendance other than the wait staff.  Eventually we spotted a band poster advertising the talent for tonight would be covering songs by Elton John and Journey.

As tempted as we were to stick around with the geriatric crowd, we grabbed our checks from our waitress and worked on finishing our drinks.  A cougar in a shirt that was two sizes too small spotted us preparing to leave and ran over to our table to claim it for her group, totally oblivious to the fact that our friend still had half a beer left.  She and her chubby friend started “dancing” behind our friend, so the beer was left abandoned and we high tailed it out of there.

After some searching, we landed at Fox And Hound and scored a high top table in the back by the basketball hoop and pool tables.  To my right was a glass partition separating our area from the main restaurant, and in the booth next to our table were two single guys, one in a striped polo and the other in a turtleneck sweater.  They eyeballed me like crazy, polo shirt edging his sleeve up more and more to show off his awful tattoo and turtleneck coming into our room to show off his skills (or lack thereof) shooting hoops.  The rest of the guys there were less than impressive; too-tan guido, guy in suspenders, oddly shaped muscle man, chubby dudes with bowl cuts, and various freaks of nature.  I love to people watch and we all had fun checking out the various patrons, but it definitely made me grateful that my single days are over and I wasn’t out at that bar to try to meet a guy and score a date.

Granted, bars aren’t the best place to meet a potential girlfriend or boyfriend, but it is a pretty easy way to meet new people, especially when your inhibitions are slightly lowered and the beer goggles are on.  I went on one date with a guy I met at a bar a couple of years before I met my husband, and there wasn’t anything terribly wrong with him except for his broken car and lack of a job and motivation.  Prior to that, I met a guy while in college at a local bar and he seemed nice enough, but he didn’t impress me enough to get a phone call after that night was over.  Other than those two, any and all guys I’ve met at bars have been creepy, unattractive, pushy, and not worth my time or manners.  I’ve left countless establishments during my single days trying to escape guys who won’t take no for an answer or who assume paying for my drink requires me to sleep with them later, or at least make out with them at the bar.

Our friend is single, which made me more aware that evening of some of the joys of being single, mainly the nonsense that goes into meeting a good guy.  If the places we went to are any indication, chances are slim to none of finding a decent person at a bar.  Meeting someone at work is an option and if I was single, the building I work in is large enough where I could meet someone and not have it interfere with my job or deal with discomfort if the relationship doesn’t pan out; my husband and I have to make an effort to see each other during the day and not once in the 19 months I’ve worked here have I ever accidentally ran into him.  Unfortunately, the selection isn’t necessarily going to be great and you run the risk of meeting someone who is married but decides to withhold that tidbit of information from you; I hear stories of married folk in my building who have a spouse at home and a special friend at work.  For those in smaller work spaces, the risk of having your love life interfere with your job is just too high to risk dating a coworker, and some offices have policies against doing so, especially when it involves a supervisor.

So, bar is out, work is out.  There’s always the option of asking a friend to hook you up with somebody.  Of course with that, you run the risk of alienating your friend if things don’t pan out or if they arrange something with a person you have no interest in.  I ticked off a friend of my mother’s when I declined an offer to go on a date with her son.  Her barely 5 foot tall son.  Who was older than me by three years and still lived at home.  Rather than go on a date to make them happy and refuse to go on a second, I turned down the entire thing and was deemed as thinking I was “too good for him.”

I met my husband online through NewBlog and got to know him on MySpace.  Obviously we have a success story with online dating, but I wouldn’t say that it’s the greatest way to meet people.  For every positive story of finding love online, there is a horror story or two to counter it.  Before I was old enough to drive, I started talking to this guy on AOL.  We talked a few times a week, exchanged photos, and got along great.  When it came time to meet, we arranged to hook up in the mall and I took one look at him and ran the other way.  He had lied about his weight by at least 100 pounds, had sent me an obviously old photo, and I could smell his BO from ten feet away.  Now that we don’t have to rely on dial-up and A/S/L questions, it’s insanely simple to find someone and start flirting online, even simpler to lie and make yourself seem twice as amazing as you actually are on your best day, and quite easy to be let down or have your heart broken in the end.

I’ve always heard that if you want to find love, stop looking for it.  I hate that saying.  It’s something I always expect to hear from incredibly attractive people who are currently in committed relationships and have not once struggled to find a date.  I do have to give it some credit though; I met my husband during a time when I had zero interest in dating and was in the mindset that all men were going to be idiots just like my ex.  Although I wasn’t actively trying to date, I did have to put in a great deal of effort to get him to notice me and after about a year, feelings developed and we began taking steps to be together.  Not looking can’t equal not trying, otherwise you’re destined for the single life for the long haul.  At any rate, I feel damn lucky that I managed to find the man I love more than words can say and I’m glad we somehow stumbled upon each other despite living 1000 miles apart at the time.  All the failed dates, bad pick-up lines, broken hearts, and bitter betrayals were definitely worth it to now be with a man who honestly loves me for better and for worse.

Find Me On Facebook

I was on MySpace back when you could only have 8 photos and a handful of top friends.  It took me a while to get into it, but it became a nice way to keep in touch with people from high school and see how people were doing.  The more room MySpace gave for photos and opportunities to meet the masses of members it accumulated, the more probability a person would fall into a pattern of using it to stroke their ego and get into trouble.  People became obsessed with getting multiple comments on photos, even posting captions like “Comment me and I’ll comment back!”  Single people and some in relationships gave into the temptation to flirt with people from afar, taking it as a compliment when random people would call them hot or sexy.  Some began using MySpace as a way to become famous, or at least feel like they were.  It lost its appeal for me shortly after I got married.

The new king of social networking is now Facebook, with an insane amount of members and activity.  I’ve been a member of Facebook three times; two of those times I took it seriously and tried to get into it, the third was just to view a contest and my account was deleted immediately afterward.  The two times I tried to get into Facebook were both a waste of time.  The first time I discovered how easy it was to locate people and for them to locate me; I had a barrage of people contacting me that I had either not spoken to in years or that I was never friends with, or sometimes both.  It was fun at first until I began getting contacted by people who had wronged me in the past for a variety of reasons and who were simply being a nuisance, so I deleted my account.  The second time was fun at first, but began to get frustrating when people from my past would express interest in talking only to immediately drop off the radar and remind me again why I don’t speak to them anymore.  There was also a great deal of drama that I simply don’t have time for, so I again deleted my account.  Sadly, from what I’ve read about Facebook, I have no doubt that one or all of my profiles are still floating around out there somewhere.

Social networking can be fun and it can be a great way for people to stay in touch.  So can my cell phone or email or going out to dinner with friends.  Currently the only networking site I use on a regular basis is Twitter, but I do have a Google+ profile that I check two or three times a week.  The nice thing about Twitter is that it’s a tiny bit of information at a time from only the people I choose to hear from, it’s easy to ignore if I’m not in the mood without offending anyone, and it’s much harder for people to strive for attention since there are no “Like” buttons or any option to comment on tweets other than replying or retweeting.  Google+ is quiet so far, but has the appeal of being secure and allows me to share things only with the circles of people I choose to, allowing me to be as open or private as I choose.  I’ve also had the pleasure of not experiencing unwanted contact from people on either site and enjoyed the ease of blocking the few people I choose not to hear from.

People tend to act shocked when I say I’m not on Facebook.  I used to be shocked that people expected me to be on there and acted as if I was committing a cardinal sin by not being a member.  I simply don’t see the point.  I’ve been out of high school for 12 years now and if I haven’t talked to you in those 12 years, why do I want to talk to you now?  Sure, it’s fun for a minute to laugh at the chick who used to make fun of me because she’s gained 100 pounds and lives in an awful apartment, but is my time really being well spent mocking people I haven’t dealt with in years?  I don’t need any validation from people so it’s pointless for me to care about how many people like my photos or comments.  The only thing I feel that I miss out on by not being on Facebook are the various contests that are Facebook only, places that ask you to like their page in order to enter a contest or to check their page for exclusive information.

Another reason for my anti-Facebook attitude is Mark Zuckerberg’s mouth.  He’s been quoted as calling users “dumb fucks” for submitting their information to him.  He’s also been quoted as saying that “blogging has taken off in a huge way and all these different services that have people sharing all this information. People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people.”  A Facebook employee has said that Zuckerberg doesn’t believe in privacy.  Recently, he’s tried to lay the blame elsewhere, saying other sites violate your privacy, but people attack Facebook because of its transparency.  Given that he insulted Google+ as trying to be its own little version of Facebook, I don’t put much stock into his comments, especially since I have never felt uncomfortable and exposed on any site except for Facebook.

Unfortunately, Facebook has also become a great place to go if you’re looking to step outside of your relationship for a while.  People take advantage of the ability to become who they truly want to be online and have the options of talking to as many people as they choose.  The fear of rejection is nearly extinct when you’re not face-to-face with someone and the temptations are great when you’re faced with your old crushes and boy/girlfriends.  I’ve read through a site dedicated to stories of cheaters who used Facebook to find new love; it’s gotten so bad that lawyers are using the site in divorce proceedings to showcase the unfaithfulness of a spouse.  It’s beyond simple to log in and seek out what you feel that you’re missing in your own relationship, much simpler than actually taking the time to talk to your loved one and fix the problems you have or just leave them prior to beginning your search for new love.  There’s also the danger of getting a little too carried away; what one person could see as harmless banter their spouse could see as blatant flirtation.

Facebook can’t be blamed for the choices people make, but the fact that so many people are carrying on this way makes it easy for me to turn away from the site.  My husband and I have obviously dated others prior to getting married and I suspect that the majority of them are floating around on Facebook somewhere.  It’s safe to assume that if we both were on the site, at least one of our exes would shoot us a message eventually or comment on a cute photo or any other seemingly innocent type of contact.  It could go nowhere but there’s also the chance that our ex could decide to cross a line and try to arrange a meeting or steer the conversation to a place it shouldn’t go.  If a couple isn’t strong enough, there’s a huge possibility that this new attention could result in reciprocation and eventually a broken relationship.  Before my husband and I got serious, there was a female that would leave lovey messages on his MySpace page and it bothered me immensely, so I can’t imagine how I’d feel if one of his ex-girlfriends decided to lay it on thick on his Facebook page.

I don’t fault anyone for being on Facebook, nor do I think any less of them for being a member.  I only want the shock of me NOT being on it to die out.  It doesn’t matter to me how popular it is or will be in the future, it’s simply not for me.  My husband is amazing, I love my small circle of friends and I enjoy the people I interact with on Twitter and that alone is enough for me.  I don’t need you to click a button to “like” my photo in order for me to feel pretty, nor do I need you to comment below my status updates for me to feel like I said something important.  As of this very moment, the site’s statistics say there are 800 million people registered to the site and the average user has 130 friends.  Perhaps I’m the crazy one here, but I don’t need to be connected to 800 million people and I sure as hell wouldn’t know what to do with 130 friends.  I’m Facebook free and quite happy about it.

So… What Do You Look Like?

How many of you have met someone online and began dating them, either through a site dedicated to matching people romantically or by chance on a social networking site?  We’ve gone from the days of posting “a/s/l” upon entering AOL chatrooms to laying our heart in the hands of Match.com or befriending that random hottie on Facebook in the hopes of some future conversation.  The internet opens up the entire world to those looking to get lucky in love.  You don’t need to look your best so long as you have a photographic evidence of when you did to put on display.  You’re not limited by time or distance and the fear of rejection is limited due to the absence of face to face communication.  It’s also much easier to communicate via text than it is trying to talk in person, especially when you’re nervous about making a great impression.

Online dating is full of downsides as well, as anyone who’s tried it should know.  The disappointment of meeting someone from the first time only to discover their profile picture was from at least 20 years or 20 pounds ago.  I can recall two times in my days before driving that I met a guy from AOL at the mall; both times I caught a glimpse and bolted in the other direction.  There is the anger you feel when you find out they lied about their job or living situation; unemployed and living with mom isn’t that sexy.  There’s the betrayal you feel when they admit they’re married or finding out through an angry call you receive from their wife.  You can be whoever you want to be online and even sites that verify information can’t truly guarantee you that you’ll be getting what’s advertised.

I met my husband online on a site called NewBlog and our friendship carried over into the wondrous world of MySpace, resulting in a move to AOL Instant Messenger, then to text messages and phone calls, and finally to where we are now.  For me, online dating scored me the man of my dreams, but it is not the end all, it’s just one option among many we have to meet people.  It’s the most convenient but that doesn’t translate to meaning it’s the easiest.  I don’t see it as any better or worse than searching for a date at a bar, between classes at school, at a concert or festival, or through friends just to name a few.  I’m not a believer in one person for everyone and the universe bringing you together through fate, but I do believe that finding love does have a lot to do with chance and luck; being in the right place during the right time and keeping your eyes and heart open.

With dating in general you need to be open and honest, but this becomes even more important when searching for a date online.  It’s difficult to hide your quirks in person and near impossible to lie about your appearance unless you’re extremely skilled with makeup and prosthetics.  You can also partially judge a person’s financial situation by their clothing, car, and how much or little they spend while you’re out.  These things and others obvious in person tend to vanish when the computer screen comes between the two of you.  It’s a struggle to know whether or not they are being honest and often also for you to decide if you should be honest or embellish things to make yourself more attractive.

With dating of any kind comes the risk of unfaithfulness.  The single person has the world at their fingertips when they grab their laptop, but so does the married crowd.  There are many websites dedicated to online cheaters, especially those on Facebook.  Sites like this connect you not only with old friends from school or former places you’ve lived, but also with millions of other people.  The curiosity to search for an ex from years ago or to finally say something to your old crush can be too tempting for some to resist.  What can begin as an innocent exchange of words can soon escalate into flirtation and eventually crossing the line, be it with a meeting or phone sex or the simple yet painful betrayal of exchanging words that your significant other deems inappropriate.

The casual dater can be much worse than those in committed relationships; they either have the freedom or feel entitled to keep their options wide open and seek out as many people as their heart desires.  I’ve had so many friends discover that the guy or girl they had a date with a few days ago is trolling Facebook or Twitter in search of a hot piece of ass, their pages flooded with words from girls with cleavage pictures or shirtless guys.  And why shouldn’t they?  It’s right there, available in a few clicks.  There’s no shortage of people selling their sexed up image and no shortage of people who eat it up.

If you are planning to give online dating a try, or maybe just another chance after being let down by it earlier in life, please keep a few things in mind:

BE YOURSELF!  Embrace your nerdy side, your sports obsession, your addiction to shopping, whatever it is that makes you the person you are and be proud of it.  Things shouldn’t be hidden away to impress anyone and won’t stay hidden in the long run anyway.  You don’t have to like the same kind of music to be compatible; it’s fun to introduce each other to things you love individually and have fun finding common ground together.

BE REALISTIC!  The commercials on TV with the cute as can be couple from Match.com isn’t a guarantee of what their service provides.  You may have that kind of luck, but you may also have bad luck or none at all.  Sometimes it just doesn’t happen; people aren’t compatible and those who are don’t find each other.  Go into it wanting to succeed but don’t get down on yourself if you don’t get the results you expected.

BE HONEST!  Don’t hide the fact that you have a kid, have an embarrassing job, or have a crazy relative you help care for.  If you’re truly interested in someone, it’s better to air out this kind of dirt early on.  Also, don’t fib about your appearance!  They’re going to find out what you look like eventually.  If you can’t pass as a busty blonde or a Ryan Reynolds look-alike in person, don’t advertise yourself as that online.

BE CAREFUL!  Keep your eyes open and be aware of what your interest is doing when they’re not talking to you.  If you pursue a guy who has online friends who resemble porn stars, don’t expect him to drop them just because you’re now in the picture.  Don’t be a stalker, but look for warning signs of infidelity, addictions, bad habits, etc.  It’s better to spot a chronic liar or habitual partier and wild child early on and cut ties than it is to realize it down the road when you’re already emotionally invested.

BE AGGRESSIVE!  Don’t sit on your ass hoping that your super cute photo gets you noticed.  Say something, or rather type something.  Had I just admired my husband’s picture on his blog, I wouldn’t be married right now.  Rejection for you is just the other person’s loss, don’t be afraid of it.

BE ACTIVE!  Online dating is great, but nothing can stand in for the real thing.  Don’t spent too much time surfing the web.  Get off your ass and get out there and make something happen!

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