Questions You Could Ask

(That’s pretend me on the right at an awkward family gathering!)
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

A few weeks ago I was minding my own business in Barnes & Noble rewarding myself with some new books after a great therapy session when my aunt called. She wanted to tell me about her new love for CBD oil, invite me to attend the company’s conference in Charlotte, and then ask me whether I was bringing a significant other to my brother’s engagement party in August.

Um, What?!

She went from calling me an “Instagram Influencer” (I mean, seriously those were her words) to asking me about my relationship status. I share a lot of things in Instagram so don’t you think if there was an amazing man in my life that I was going to be bringing to the happy parties surrounding my brother’s upcoming wedding you would have seen him appear? I’m not that stealthy. I’d be so forking excited to be partnered up for the first time in like forever, that I’d also be great at keeping him a secret? I’m not that good at keeping secrets.

The thing that drives me the craziest about the “Are you seeing anybody?” question is that when I say “No, not right now” with no hint of bitterness or shame or regret or sadness, I’m met with “Well, it’ll happen some day” or “You know your uncle and I met when we were in our 40s” or “You’re still young.” How did this get to a comforting me about something I wasn’t upset about two minutes ago? Now you feel bad and have no idea what to say, so I get shamed. Great. Who’s coming out a winner? Also, I’m not the only single person who hates this question … spoiler: we all do!

So to avoid this at all of the wonderful upcoming events related to my brother’s wedding – and every family gathering and phone call in the future, I’m going to make a list of questions that are appropriate for catching up with someone you haven’t seen in a while “that you love” and “just want to be happy.” If you really mean those two things, then you’ll avoid “are you seeing anybody” and choose any or all of the following options. These definitely work for me, but really – they could work for anyone you meet! I’m doing a public service here people, since the art of conversation is practically dead.

  1. Read any good books lately?
  2. How’s your work travel? Enjoyed any great visits recently?
  3. What are you up to next weekend?
  4. Doing any DIY projects?
  5. What’s your secret to finding time to cook amazing meals for yourself?
  6. How’s book club? What’s this month’s read?
  7. If I came to visit for the weekend, where would we go in Charlotte?
  8. Love your yoga practice that you share online, what’s your secret?
  9. I’ve just been getting into Podcasts, what do you listen to on a regular basis?
  10. Love seeing your book reviews on the blog, what made you get into writing?

Is that enough questions for you to choose from? I mean, 10 great options that I have fantastic answers to. And if that’s not enough, let’s talk about Trump, Immigration, the 2020 Presidential election, building a wall at the border, and why I’m still Catholic! Those are all still better than “are you seeing anyone?

Online Dating is Weird

I’ve said it before, but I’m saying it again. Online Dating is Weird. I think it’s created some really terrible relationship and communication habits. I’d say “in the old days it was like this…” but truthfully this seems to be the only dating method in my life. There aren’t any ‘old days’ over here. Those days are gone.

I’m now in the days of “send him a smile” then “respond with a question” and “did he view my profile” and “what should I say as an opening line (because ‘hi’ doesn’t seem to actually work)?”

So eHarmony has been my ‘drug of choice’ for online dating (after some advice from a trusted person who was just getting her opinion from someone else, not from personal experience), and I feel like I understand their process. Although that’s not really getting me any dates, I mean, none at all. So maybe I don’t understand it. But here goes:

They match you with a finite amount of people each day, anywhere from 1 to 30, depending on the date, the happiness of the algorithm, and your match preferences. Some of these people are ‘compatible’ with you based on their ‘proven matching history’ and some aren’t. The men are also given your information as someone they matched with.

Then the weird online flirting of clicking and smiling and question asking and favoriting begins followed by blocking or hiding or removing of matches. One good thing is that they do tell you if the person has moved on so you don’t keep messaging them or seeing them in your list. It removes that person from both of your matches.

I’ve sent a hundred or more smiles, some well-crafted first lines, questions, and still nothing. But today I was really taken-aback. I know, from all the other weird things I’ve already written about like here and here and here and here – today’s is what annoyed me.

This super Christian, pretty great sounding guy had a well-written profile (not a common thing) … so I ‘smiled at him’ … to be honest, I didn’t craft a message (even after thinking about it for a few minutes) because that has proven to be a waste of time. I figured he’d look at my profile, decide if he was interested in ‘smiling back’ or blocking me (kindly saying, ‘thanks, but no thanks’). Instead he sent me a YouTube video of him asking people what they are looking for in a partner.

Hmmm. I mean, he didn’t look at my profile to learn anything about me. It felt like a copy and pasted message to promote his channel.

Did I respond well? Should I have taken notes and engaged more? Should I have said, “Finally a man who understand what women want!” … well really all I wanted was for him to engage in a conversation. I’m pretty clear on my profile that I’m a Christian seeking a Christ-centered relationship. I have lots of ‘conversation openers’ listed. His profile is even pretty detailed. I learned that he loves the Lord and is starting a non-profit to help couples adopt easier.

Will he respond back?

Do I just not ‘have enough game’ to do this online dating dance? It feels annoying. It feels not real, and dumb, to be honest. Am I so bad at flirting that I’ll just stay single? What’s my next move? Not specifically with him, but if I can’t do this online, then what? I’m feeling a little “all hope is lost” regarding my future marriage. And this one felt like “one of the good ones” who isn’t a crazy, weirdo.

Online Dating has worked for millions of people (supposedly). I know five couples super well who it worked for. They’re either married or getting married in the next year. I don’t doubt that it works for some people, but I’m starting to doubt that it will work for me. Online Dating was how these people got married. But online dating can’t even help me find someone to share a cup of coffee with … or frankly, even some witty banter in an online chat box.

What is up with the world? Is it the medium or is it me?

Be Satisfied*

Photo by Fischer Twins on Unsplash

A few years ago I read this post on David’s blog with a long prayer attributed to St. Anthony of Padua called Be Satisfied With Me. On its surface I don’t disagree with the concept. He writes:

Everyone longs to give themselves completely to someone,
To have a deep soul relationship with another,
To be loved thoroughly and exclusively.

But to a Christian, God says, “No, not until you are satisfied,
Fulfilled and content with being loved by Me alone,
With giving yourself totally and unreservedly to Me.”

It is true that we should all be satisfied with God alone before we need other people.

I was reminded of this poem/prayer by a coworker when I was having a particularly rough day being okay with my singleness. The women in our chat were a mix of married people, dating people, and single people. One remarked that this prayer was always a comfort to her. I said that I had seen it before, but it’d been a while since I read through it again.

Discovering that only in Me is your satisfaction to be found,
Will you be capable of the perfect human relationship,
That I have planned for you.
You will never be united to another
Until you are united with Me.
Exclusive of anyone or anything else.
Exclusive of any other desires or longings.
I want you to stop planning, to stop wishing, and allow Me to give you
The most thrilling plan existing . . . one you cannot imagine.
I want you to have the best. Please allow Me to bring it to you.

As I read through it though, I found myself only becoming upset rather an comforted. I was reminded of my inadequacies, my unworthiness, and how I’m not enough yet. I know that wasn’t St. Anthony’s intention. I believe the intention of the poem/prayer is for us to be reminded that the Lord comes first in our lives. Additional human love is gravy. If we aren’t satisfied with the Lord’s love, then we won’t be satisfied with another person’s love. Only God can fill the “God shaped hole in our hearts.”

That is something that I believe.

However, this poem/prayer lays out a condition on the Lord’s goodness. It doesn’t say, “wait on me, I’ve got great things for you.” Instead it says, “You’re waiting for these great things because you haven’t trusted in me enough yet, you aren’t holy enough yet, you aren’t fully satisfied.”

And then, when you’re ready, I’ll surprise you with a love
Far more wonderful than you could dream of.

You see, until you are ready, and until the one I have for you is ready,
I am working even at this moment
To have both of you ready at the same time.
Until you are both satisfied exclusively with Me
And the life I prepared for you,
You won’t be able to experience the love that exemplified your relationship with Me.
And this is perfect love.

It reminds me that there’s something wrong with me today, that’s why I’m not married. I’m alone because there’s something missing from the love I have to give to another person, not because it’s just dumb luck. I don’t think that’s the intention of the poem/prayer, but words have meaning, they create worlds.

This poem/prayer is saying that daily Mass, the regular reading of Scripture, earnest novenas, a devotion to the Rosary, honest praise and heartfelt prayer time each morning and evening just isn’t enough. Believing that I am satisfied with His love just isn’t enough. I’m still missing something, some magic pill that no one’s told me about and no one who has found it (ie: married people who have found their love) will share about. It implies that something is lacking in me and that is why I’m unmarried while all of my friends are married. It implies that once you have found that special love that the Lord has in store for you, you won’t doubt Him again, struggle with prayer time, or have any struggles in your life. Because you’re fully satisfied with Him, how could you ever struggle? And every married person I know will assure me that’s not true … even if they don’t say it, I can see it plain as day.

The poem/prayer isn’t helpful for me. I dare say that it’s harmful and is someone’s odd attempt at explaining why there are so many great Catholic single women. [I know there have got to be some great Catholic single men out there longing for a spouse, but I don’t know them … if I did I might not be in this current waiting state. Okay, there probably are some out there, just not in my general vicinity. If you’re out there, give a shout … I know a lot of amazing single women you might be interested in knowing.]

When the truth is the reason for all of this waiting is that we live in a broken world, not that we are individually the only ones broken. Our world is broken.

And the long and short of why I’m still single, or you are still single, is that “we haven’t met the right person at the right time” not that “we aren’t satisfied with the Lord.” No one on earth is fully satisfied with the Lord, that’s a condition of our humanity, our brokenness. We are all longing for more because this world will never satisfy. Terrible things will happen, suffering will be presented, and we will wonder where is God in all of this. We might turn to him directly, but we will still be longing for something more. Longing for a world that isn’t this one. Longing for the time in Heaven when all will be revealed and nothing will be in the way of fully experiencing the love the Lord has in store for us.

*or the post in which I say that a Saint got it wrong. This might not help my canonization for sainthood. Maybe the internet will erase all markings of me after I die so this can’t be entered into evidence.

What Men Are Looking For

Stuff like this is what drives me crazy about online dating … Dave, what was your intention with this photo? What am I supposed to this of you?

Last week I wrote about what I’m really looking for in a husband. I’ve started saving what these men I’ve been matched with are looking for. So here we go. Here are a few gems from just today’s matches!

James is looking for: “I am looking for someone who can complete my existence a soul mate, confidant, and lover.” So no pressure there, just ‘complete his entire existence’ … that seems pretty realistic.

William is looking for: “I am looking for that right person who has a big heart, loves, cares, happiness, emotional, cuddles, and has that wild nympho side that I have.” I don’t even know what a ‘wild nympho side’ is! I’m thinking I don’t have that…

James is looking for: “Honestly and Excitement.” Good at grammar must not be high on his list…

Ben is looking for: “I am looking for a real woman to be open with me about everything, enjoy laughing with me and enjoy lots of laughs.” A good sense of humor is pretty important…

Mario is looking for: “How harmony we could have….the smile, eyes, goals….” What does that even mean?

Most profiles are pretty generic about what they’re looking for. I’ll admit that’s a hard question to answer in just 650 characters because most of this is really about getting to know the other person and finding out who they really are. Can we really do that online? I don’t think so, I know I don’t.

Sam was a little more verbose: “A Christian woman who is, kind, caring, creative and adventurous. A woman who can encourage me as I do the same for them as we build a relationship on our shared faith in God. A woman who, looks to see people for who they really are, has her own ideas and opinions, and is open to trying new things as well as sharing new things with me. I’m Looking for someone to share my life with, someone who can appreciate the simple things in life, is up for spontaneous road trips, enjoys going to flea markets and antique shops and loves to learn and explore!”

It’s the nature of the platform though, that’s the real issue. If the platform doesn’t get us talking on the phone so we can set up a time to meet, I don’t think it is worthwhile. I don’t think I’m the only one who dislikes this platform, but are we in too deep to change anything? It’s really all just a numbers game. There’s no secret except to “be in the right place (or website) at the right time (ie: same time as a guy who’s also interested).”

I feel like if I do meet a spouse on eHarmony it will be in spite of the platform rather than because of it.

What I’m Really Looking for

Photo by Matthew Fassnacht on Unsplash

Over the past five or so months, I’ve read a lot of online dating profiles. A lot of advice exists out there on the internet about how to write a good dating profile. Be positive, uplifting, encouraging, open to anything, blah, blah, blah. There’s a section in eHarmony that asks you to describe what you’re looking for in a partner. Mine says this right now:

I’m looking for someone who is faith-filled, loyal, easy going but likes to have serious conversations. I appreciate someone who knows their point of view on a subject, but can see the situation for all angles. Someone who wants a family, is excited about being a dad, and understands the importance of each of our families too. I’m looking for someone to hang with on the couch when I’ve had a bad day, to cook interesting things with, and to read with!

But I got to thinking the other day about what I’m really looking for in a husband, not the big ideas of something who is virtuous, employed, and in general delightful. But the truth is, I’m looking for someone who wants to do these things:

  • Put away the clean dishes (I love washing, but putting them all away is my least favorite chore)
  • Close the clasp of this beautiful bracelet gave me a few weeks ago that I just cannot do one handed
  • Have small talk at the end of the day about how much it rained today, the odd, but funny, thing someone said to me at Mass, or that random phone call we had at work
  • Go to Mass and sit with me every week so I don’t have to be there alone … and have someone to say ‘hi’ to at the beginning when everyone is just shaking hands with their family
  • Talk to me on road trips about whatever comes to mind
  • Stop at random places just because we want to see them and not because there’s anything special there
  • Sit and read in bed at night together just to say “we’re not alone anymore”
  • Roll their eyes when we visit my family and things are just odd
  • Help me escape for an afternoon in the middle of a long family visit
  • Go to the grocery store so there’s something more than yogurt & leftover roasted cabbage to eat when I get home from a work trip
  • Shovel the snow the two times a year it comes down in the south
  • Watch my bags at the airport when I’ve decided I need to use the bathroom just one more time before getting on the plane
  • Appreciates a good sarcastic comment and can dish it out himself
  • Indulge in ice cream for dinner or for breakfast just because the day called for it
  • Attend Wednesday night Latin Mass just because it’s beautiful
  • Enjoy eating new recipe creations even when they’re ugly, but delicious
  • Kneels down in the morning to say “thanks to the Lord” for another beautiful day
  • Wants to slow dance in the kitchen just because we can, not because we’re good
  • Gives slow hugs, just to say “I’m here, I’ve got you, You’re all I need right now”

Maybe it’s overly romantic, maybe I’d have better luck if I was just brutally honest in what I was looking for. Maybe these are all things just come naturally as we grow in relationship together. Maybe I’m just being a hopeless romantic. Maybe none of this matters or maybe this matters more than anything else. Maybe no one is interested in being this for me. Maybe they are and they just didn’t know this was what I was looking for. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.

LOL’ing a LOT

Actual text from an “actual” man…

It’s possible I’m being a little nitpicky here, but hear me out.

I’m witty person. People laugh when I tell stories. One time on the way home from Maine my friend’s boyfriend and I couldn’t stop laughing at something I’d said (I can’t remember it now) … my friend didn’t get the joke. But it was funny, trust me! I’m cracking up right now just thinking about how funny it was.

I also love to laugh. It’s so heart warming and delightful to just have a great laugh. It completely alters my mood, and I want to do it a lot. I also read a lot of things online or Instagram or in texts that make me giggle out loud. Laugh Out Loud or LOL if you will.

But I’m not that funny, and sometimes ‘Laughing Out Loud’ isn’t the appropriate response. Like in the above text message from the latest online dating guy, let’s call him Will (mostly because that’s his name and he will make you ‘laugh out loud’ since laughter is contagious and he does it all. of. the. time.). Also he’s sick right now, so whatever he’s got is already pretty catching.

He’s sick and that’s funny? One misplaced LOL does not a weirdo make … but in less than 2 days of us being acquainted he’s LOL’d 10% of the time. And all I’m asking is WHY? Why is being sick funny?

Why does this grown man not know how to communicate? That’s the bigger issue. What happened immediately following this text?

Did you read that and LOL? I didn’t! I’m curious if this is a real adult man, to be honest. He also says things like ‘totes.’ I don’t think he’s referring to these:

get yours here

What happened to the art of conversation? Why does one want to text about all the controversial topics? Why is that ‘before we’ve even met in real life’ appropriate conversation? He lives 15 minutes from me, we could easily meet for coffee or another novel idea … we could talk on the phone?

I know I’m being nitpicky, but seriously LOL and TOTES?!

Maybe I’m just an old fashioned being someone who writes out words in text messages. And who does not ever say TOTES instead of ‘totally’ or ‘great’ or ‘anything else.

My biggest issue with online dating is how it creates this weird sense of intimacy … I can text you all of the time, every morning, before we’ve ever talked on the phone. Someday that will be appropriate for our relationship, today is not that day. Just call or ask me out for coffee or stop laughing out loud (or at least stop documenting it in text messages to me) … because you will drive me absolutely mad!

p.s. I’m just re-reading that message from above and thinking “why are we starting our conversations with controversial topics?” Adjusting my profile to try to stop some of this ‘controversial topics’ and ‘lol’ing’ nonsense!

Why Do I Know That?

Photo by Tim Wright on Unsplash

Below are some things I’ve learned about a few of the men who have showed interest in me via my online dating adventure. I thought I’d share since they are oh so strange.

“For a few years in a row I dressed up as a baby for Halloween, complete with diaper and pacifier. The last year I wore the costume I took some old, wet coffee grounds and rubbed them on my ass. The whole night everyone kept touching my butt and saying ‘How’d you get that there?'”

J from Texas

“At work mostly what I do is find and print statements for our house customers. We print a lot of statements. One time a large customer, an oil company, asked us to print all of the statements they’d ever received from us. There were more than 220. So we printed them and mailed them. They also wanted them emailed, but we couldn’t do that because the file was so big.”

J from Charlotte

“Nice, so I have to let you know I have a dark twisted sense of humor and my views on things are different than most. I believe that we should nationally legalize recreational and medical marijuana for many reasons, I think taxes/healthcare and our government is one big business and a complete fraud and I don’t like many of the laws of ‘man.'”

J from North Carolina

I was going to give first names because that’s all I have of these guys, but I decided they should retain some of their anonymity … I wouldn’t want to publicly shame them, although maybe it would be good to forewarn you if you encounter them in the future.

In and of themselves these are not terrible statements or stories. Life is made up of the mundane and ordinary so I don’t expect to have profound, deep conversations all of the time. Sometimes I do want to talk about the weather (it seriously won’t stop raining), what to cook for dinner, how simply my day went, if we should buy a new vacuum, and more ridiculously ordinary things. I also want a partner who is willing to talk about all the things – big and small.

The question remains though … why do I know this? We haven’t met in person (or it was our first date), we’ve only talked on the phone once or twice, you don’t even know the superficial things about me, and this is the beginning where we’re trying to make a good impression.

I’m trying to make a good impression.

Why isn’t he trying to make a good impression? These men aren’t 15 year old teens who haven’t figured out how to talk to a pretty girl or have no interesting things to say because all they do is play video games. They are in their 30s, accomplished in their career, and paying money to a service to find a spouse! I mean, think about what you’re going to say before we go out … come up with a few good conversation starters to get you through that first 60 minutes over a cup of coffee.

Do some forking work to prepare to meet a woman you’ve decided you are interested in!

Seriously, put some effort into this budding relationship. Hide just a little bit of your crazy for just a hot minute and act like a normal human being. Because although we are all a little weird (I mean, ME, if you’ve read this blog for more than a minute, you know … I’m a tad crazy), when we meet someone new we should try to make a good impression.

A coffee date is not a marriage … but isn’t that the reason why we’re meeting … to see if we want to even be asking that question? A friend told me her strategy for online dating (& it’s been successful for her) is to think one of three things when she was matched: YES! I want to learn more! or Nope, not interested! or Maybe, intrigued, interested to learn more.

Each of the guys above was a “Maybe, intrigued, interested to learn more” and then the things I learned were too weird, too fast. I’m not going to agree with everything another person says, does, or believes … there’s no one in my life for whom that is true (and I’ve got some great friends ‘Hi Ladies!’). I’m not expecting too … but I am expecting to be impressed and wow’d by my husband … and that starts right away. Do something to make me think “Wow, this guy’s amazing … and he’s interested in me? Wow!”

That’s what I want to think after talking with you, having coffee with you, and getting to know you. It doesn’t mean that everything will always be amazing … but if things go downhill, I want to have started on top of the mountain, not deep down in the valley below sea level.