“Tell me about yourself.”

In the world of online dating this is one of the questions I see at the beginning of the conversations, “Tell me about yourself.” I’m usually at a loss as to what to say. I ask myself and often write back, “Do you want my one minute elevator speech?” I know they don’t want that but where should I start? If I lead with, “I’m the mother of four children” I’m almost assured that’s the end of the inquiry. 

It’s a valid question. Here is my new standard answer:

I am a woman. With womanhood comes a multitude of experiences, feelings/emotions and opportunities. I walk with Love. I have loved deeply yet have been shallow. I am intelligent. I can be kind. I have been cruel. I was the conduit by which four lives have been realized. I nurture. I provide comfort and care. I am sensual. I am light. I give hope. I shed tears. I laugh out loud. I can mold a lump of dough into bread. I am a place to lay a weary head. I am woman. I am joy and peace. I am now. I was yesterday. I hope to be tomorrow. I am the stuff dreams are made of. I am some of what you need. I am some of what you want. I am some of what you never knew to dream. I am the sum total of my life experience. I am not the total package. I am who I am. I am woman. 

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Teen Dating

Let me give you a quick review. I have four children. I’m divorced. I prefer to say we are co-parenting rather than single parenting. I refer to my children collectively as the fan4 or fantastik4. The oldest will be 17 soon and I lovingly refer to him as The Teenager. Second up is my daughter who is now 14 and she is my Honeygirl. The third one, who has the qualities of the attention grabbing middle child, is 11 and referred to as Little Dude. The last one in our line up is my baby boy who is nine. He acts like he’s 39 most of the time. He’s the self appointed referee for Little Dude and often finds himself blowing the whistle, throwing flags and explaining the rules of life to him. From now on we shall refer to him as Ref. I determined early on to protect their identities since I share things that occur in their lives. 

Dating… (Insert eye roll and a deep sigh) (after I typed that I realized I should use some really funny meme but since I don’t have a stock pile of them to flip through and select from I’m using good old fashioned words) I will not lie, I’m not a fan of teen dating. After polling my daughter and her previous bff, we determined that from middle school to high school the average relationship lasts about four weeks. We have six six week grading session during the school year. By the time they begin middle school in sixth grade until they graduate they could potentially have “dated” 63 people at the rate of nine per year. 

But what is dating at 11 or even at 16? 

When I think about my daughter and her friend excitedly discussing dating and boys in general it made me sad and a bit anxious. 

Sad because the friend felt incomplete and was upset with her parents because they wouldn’t allow her to date. She really wanted her very own boyfriend. This disagreement sparked a rebellion and she began running away. My daughter has been asking me about dating for years. She asks her dad and me to define the timeline and allowed activities. His standard answer is 36. Mine is based on maturity and decision making ability. She is enamored with dating. I refer to it as the Disney effect. After watching those popular teen shows she thinks dating has perfect lighting, a laugh track, great clothes, hair and make up as well as a great ending. Periodically I like to dash their dating dreams on the rocks of reality and talk about kissing, hugging, touching and what if that’s not what you want? What’s your exit plan? How do you protect yourself from a person who may overpower or manipulate you into something you aren’t ready to do?

I was anxious because a lot of adults don’t have the cognitive ability to select a good partner and remain committed. If after years of education, reading articles, blogs, after video viewing and talking to other people we as adults make questionable relationship choices then how are they expected to make sound decisions at such a young age? Each dating partner is given a tiny piece if not large chunk of their hearts. They aren’t looking for spouses. They are looking for good times. They aren’t searching for anything deep and long lasting. It’s fleeting and shallow. 

Exhibit 1- the teenager went on a first date to the movies recently with some girl he met through a friend. He asked her to be his girlfriend the next day. She asked him to join her at church on Sunday, meet her parents and have lunch with her family afterwards. She prepped him on what her parents would say and how to respond. I texted his dad with my concerns of how quickly this was moving. She broke up with him the next day. 

I’m glad I never really learned her name or got attached. I don’t even want to know the newest interest’s name until they make it past the four week mark. 

I’m not into the whole bring people home so I can meet them thing. My two brothers ruined that for me. They brought everybody by the house. It wasn’t something special it was normal. I have a male friend who whole heartedly disagrees with me. He wants to meet any and everybody his daughter dates. The one time he and is ex found out she had a boyfriend they planned a family dinner and invited him over. They broke up after the invite but before dinner. 

I understand the desire to have somebody to call your very own.  Who doesn’t want their very own George or squishy? I have friends who met the loves of their lives in high school. It happens. Is it possible to somehow bypass the other 62 people to get to that one? Yes, it is. Serial dating does not have to become their norm neither does looking for someone to define or complete them. 

How are you helping your teen manuver through the obstacle dating course?

He Loves Me He Loves Me Not

Lauren was no more than about eight when she learned about this practice. Her best friend told her it would work and if she said so then it was true. She closed her eyes and giggled. She could see his face and laughed at the thought of him running from her as she chased him all over the play ground. As she sat in the middle of the field she picked a flower with lots of petals and began the ritual. As Lauren plucked a petal from the flower she said out loud, “He loves me”, then she pulled another and said “He loves me not”. She continued this pattern of plucking flower petals and reciting the words until she reached the last one, “He loves me not!” She picked up another flower and started again. He just had to love her.

Twenty years later she was sitting in a coffee shop thinking about her fiance Mark. She absent mindedly picked up a flower from the vase in the middle of the table and started plucking the petals and reciting the words. She knew it was a silly game but she continued until the last petal lay on the table, “He loves me not?”

She thought about the six years they had been dating. He was not perfect but then who is? They met her senior year in college. She has just ended a six year relationship year with her high school sweetheart. She was going through a tough time. Jeff had been her world since the end of their sophomore year. She would find herself sitting on a park bench crying. It wasn’t just any bench, it was their bench. At least they claimed it as theirs. It’s where they sat and talked for hours. It served as their dining room table. This bench was where they discussed their futures. It was also the place of their breakup. 

As tears slid down her face she had an overwhelming sense of being watched. She raised her head and looked into his eyes. Those eyes were beauitiful, intense, questioning and sympathetic. She tried to smile but according to his version of the story it was more of a painful grimace. He did not say anything that day but he came back a few nights later and gave her a lace handkerchief. He later revealed to her why he brought her the lace handkerchief instead of tissue. He told his mother about her and she said a brokenhearted woman needs permanence in her life, not temporary.

First Date Do’s and Don’ts

I met this guy a few months ago. We’ve talked and texted since then but due to our schedules and let’s face it, lack of any real effort we went out for the first time recently. After I write this article I really should write one that helps you determine if the person is date worthy.
I’m not new to dating. I’ve had several first dates that never led to a second date. I’m not a serial dater but I consider my time valuable and can’t see spending hours with a person I never want to see again, because they seem nice but have no substance or are self-absorbed. First dates can be awkward. But there are things you can do to lessen the awkwardness and increase the chances of there being a second date.

Shall we number these? Sure, why not?

1. Resist the urge stare at your date – seems like a no brainer right? If it wasn’t occurring I wouldn’t add it to my list. My last two dates sat across from me and stared. One with the intention of making me uncomfortable. He was trying to, “see my soul through my eyes.” It reminded me of staring contests I would get into with my honeygirl when she was a toddler. She had uncanny ability to not blink. I always lost therefore I never accepted that particular challenge from anybody else. What’s the point anyway? Heck, I like blinking. The other person was much more smooth with his staring and even gave me a line upfront, “I’m not staring, I’m observing.” Call it what you want it still results in making your date uncomfortable.

2. If you are going to insist on the other person selecting the place then don’t complain or worse wait until you get to the restaurant to let them know how much you dislike their selection. “Why didn’t you say something two hours ago when I made the suggestion?” ” I didn’t want to offend you.” I can fully appreciate not wanting to offend someone, irritating them is a much better option.

3. Allow the other person to talk. I know you and your life are fascinating but there’s something so engaging about dialogue. If you don’t ruin the first date you might get a second one and can use that date to tell the other person how smart, talented and wonderful you are.

4. Keep your assets to yourself. I’m not using that as a metaphor. Unless you are looking for a gold digger it’s not necessary to list all of your assets on the first date. I understand you want to appear successful but unless you are giving out one of your many houses or putting my name on your large bank account, I honestly don’t care.

5. Don’t talk about your ex. I had one guy insist on taking me out for my birthday as our first date. He spent an hour ranting about his ex whom he had been divorced from for three years. Another one actually called his ex and the mother of his children a bitch. If you will call her a name what’s to keep you from calling me one? We aren’t friends and I’m not your confidante. Get over your ex or at the very least don’t disrepect them in front of your date.

6. Be yourself but not all of yourself. Save the revelation of fetishes, quirks and anything else that may abruptly end the potential relationship until the third date. Those things may seem charming and eclectic instead of weird and strange by then.

7. Hold off on the selfies or usies. I don’t like the thought of my face being plastered all over someone’s social media outlets. Call me old-fashioned. Let’s add, don’t take unauthorized photos either. One of my friends mentioned something about a guy taking pictures of her toe cleavage without asking her and it was on the first date. Had he waited to reveal his foot fetish until the third date who knows what could have happened between them.

8. Be “normal”- Use your active listening skills. Make brief eye contact, smile and even laugh a little.

9. Enjoy the silence. Every moment of a date doesn’t have to be filled with conversation. It may seem awkward at first but give it a try. This is not an opportunity to manipulate or intimidate the other person. “I’m going be quiet and stare at you until you talk.” It’s givng an opportunity to chew your food, enjoy the music or think about something intriguing you just said.

If you have any others to add feel free to leave them in the comments. Thanks for stopping by.

Oh my gosh!! If I see another post on Facebook about what a real man will do, I might just scream. Have you seen them? A real man will: change, love you better, not do this or become that. So many women jump on the “what a real man will do” train and give virtual high fives to author of the posts. I question personally whether or not the author’s of the post have ever met a “real man”.

Perhaps I’m hypersensitive because I have three real men in the making in my household. Here is my list of things that will increase the probability of you or your daughter getting a “real man”.

1. Take a spiritual, emotional, physical and mental inventory of yourself. Where are you hurting? What is lacking in your own life? Where does your healing need to occur? What kind of wife, friend or mother of his children will you become?

2. Ask yourself why would you consider being with a man who needs to change? I know everybody has room to change but why would you knowingly enter into a relationship with a man who has a long list of things you think he should change? I can hear you saying, I just want him to stop cheating, drinking, smoking, cursing, hitting me, doing drugs, calling me names, divorce his wife, pray more, dress differently, rub my feet daily, give me money, get or keep a job and start going to church. What’s wrong with that? I can’t say anything is wrong with it on the surface but go back to #1 and ask yourself why are you dating the type of man who doesn’t currently meet your standards and you might find the real change should occur in you. (side note, if you don’t have any standards go back to # 1 and create some when you are done with your inventory)

3. Stop giving ultimatums.Who decided it was a good idea to give ultimatums? Let’s take a quick poll, how many of you stuck to the action you threatened to take if he did not change? How many ultimatums have you given? When are you going to actually leave or stop tolerating the rest of the things that are on your list?

4. Ask yourself, what do I bringing to the table? I mean that literally and figuratively. I have a young male relative who is in his 20’s. A female asked him his name and he asked her if she could fry chicken. I laughed out loud when first heard about that conversation. He refused to give her his name if she couldn’t fry chicken. I know some of you are rolling your eyes and shaking your head but I’m giving him a fist bump because he has requirements and isn’t willing to compromise, give ultimatums or enter a relationship that doesn’t meet his expectations. What are you offering other than your body and the privilege of being in your presence? I am not just taking about material possessions.

5. Are you willing to change? Are you willing to become the person he needs so he will want to come home and love being there? Are you ready to stop complaining, nagging, manipulating and whining? Are you willing to cook, be his friend and not his mother, compliment and encourage him?

6. Be patient. Desperation doesn’t look good on anybody. I know you are ready to find Mr. Right and begin a life with him. He’s looking for you.  Keep doing #1 until he finds you.

My ex and I are doing the very best we can to raise men who will become good husbands. I am sure a woman will come along some day and tell them all the things they need to change. I will be there to tell them, if she can’t accept who you are today she is going to make you miserable tomorrow.

Looking for Mr. Real Man

Are you the main squeeze?

I went to a very nice place on Friday with some friends. One side of the place was an upscale restaurant and the other side was an upscale bar. As we walked in, one of the men in the group said, wives to the left, other women to the right. I didn’t catch on to what he said immediately but after he repeated it, I understood. You see, he was saying that husbands bring their wives to this place and take them to dinner in the restaurant section. Now, the bar wasn’t your typical neighborhood bar, it has a cigar room, the waiters and waitresses are dressed nicely, they give you warm towels and a lemon before bringing your food and they provide you with white linen napkins but it’s still to the right.
We laughed about his statement and then of course I knew I had a write a blog about that conversation. Now fellas, I am talking to the ladies. You can continue to read and you can comment but this one is not for you.

Alright ladies, it has happened to all of us at one time or another. You are dating a guy. He treats you the way you want to be treated. You have told your girlfriends about him and you may have even introduced him to friends and family. You consider him your man. Let me tell you how you know he’s not exclusively your man and you are not his main squeeze which means you are not his number one babe.

Does he consistently take you to the bar? I was doing that online dating thing and one guy kept inviting me out on dates to bars. Granted, some of the places were restaurant with bars but we always went to the bar section. After the third or fourth date I told him I like eating at restaurants and did not want to go to another bar. He invited me to one of my favorite restaurants and guess what? We sat at the bar. That was our last date. He received a Dear John text after that.

Are the only relatives you meet counting their last breaths or the ones the family has disowned?
He’s trying to make you feel like you are special but if you don’t meet the healthy relatives and the ones who get invited to family functions, you are not the main boo.

Speaking of family functions, if you have never been invited to one that means you are not the main one. Even if his family lives out of town, planes, trains and automobiles can get you to them. If you mean something to him, he will want to share you with his family.

He doesn’t allow you to come to his house or never invites you in his house. Do you know how much work it takes to remove pictures and feminine touches in a house? If he doesn’t let you in, there is somebody living there. I don’t care what he says, it’s not his sister, mother, aunt or cousin. It’s his honey and he is not allowing you in her house. Have you heard the saying, “Hell has no fury like a woman scorned?” He does not want to make her mad. Instead, he will take you to another bar.

Does he say he is active in his religion but never invites you to worship with him? He may come with you periodically but you have never been with him? No, you are not the girlfriend.

For my college ladies, if you are dating an athlete and he never invites you to see him play or if he is in a fraternity and he avoids you the night of the after party then you are not his college sweetheart.

He has limited availability. If he only calls you from the car, never between certain hours and hardly ever on the weekends it’s because he is with his wife and kids or number one woman which is not you.

If he puts distance between you when you are in public. He makes excuses not to hold your hand in or doesn’t walk beside you because he “just walks fast” then walk faster or face the reality.

I know if you are in the situation it’s hard to face the realities but there is someone out there that will take you to the left side of the restaurant, introduce you to his family and hold your hand in public.

All that glitters…

In 1848 the California gold rush was born. For every precious metal or jewel, there is either a man-made or nature made duplicate. In the case of the gold rush, there was fool’s gold. Now, to the amateur and inexperienced people fools gold looked real. But the people who understood the qualities of real gold or who had been deceived by fool’s gold or who simply did their research knew the difference. The difference, once you knew, was unmistakable. Real gold is soft, it doesn’t smell like sulfur, the colors were different and the gold could be cut or bitten into without breaking your teeth whereas fool’s gold is brittle and hard.

In 1995, 147 years after the California gold rush, the online dating rush began. I have heard of some success stories in this arena I have also heard from both men and women the difficulties. The challenge is determining what is foolishness versus what is genuine. I joined a site after a friend told me I need to start dating again. I had a few dates but nothing to brag about. I mostly had a lot of laughs at the foolishness. I eventually let my membership run out. Then six months later a different friend suggested I rejoin. Why do I keep listening to these people? I don’t know but I did.

This time around has been a little better but again, lots of phonies, posers, pretenders, fake people and fool’s gold. If a guy says he is 5’11 I don’t expect to be eye to eye with him if I have on 2 inch heels. (I’m 5’6) You may be thinking, that’s not a big deal, guys tend to round-up to the next whole inch. It is a big deal. If you would fudge on your height, what else are you fudging on? One guy had a picture posted that was 10 years old. The date was on the picture. Come one…really? Other’s say they are single when they are actually married and yet others say they like going out and experiencing new things but when you talk, they rant about the price of a glass of wine at a restaurant.

The premise of this particular site is you fill out a profile about your self, height, age, body type, ethnicity, religion etc. They you write a mini biography about yourself. This is where you sell yourself to who ever is searching or checking you our in their daily list of people. In this mini bio, people list their best qualities and characteristics. I’m guessing this is the stuff their mother’s tell them or maybe something they would have seen in a movie. Some are witty, some are straight forward and some are blah. The real test comes during conversation or on that first date. This is when you determine if you have the real thing or not. Some people can pretend for a while but eventually they show themselves. I have found that after a conversation or two I can smell the sulfur.

Recently one guy looked really good on paper. He was saying the right things but there was something not quite right. He was saying too many of the right things. He was saying things that most guys don’t say after a few years of marriage let alone after a few conversations. Because I had a suspicion, I googled him only to realize a lot of what he said was lies. Gotta love (or hate) the internet.

Nonetheless, I am still on the site and weeding through the foolishness or at least having a hearty laugh with my girlfriends. I am glad that I am just cynical enough not to believe everything I am told but hopeful enough to believe I will find real gold one day or I will write one heck of a book. In the mean time, I will keep an eye out for the fool’s gold.