Friday, August 16, 2013

How Fast Is Too Fast

Disclaimer: This contains adult discussion topics. Dad, don't read this one.

How fast is too fast?

It's the age old question. You've gone out with a guy a few times. You're hitting it off. You find him attractive. Very attractive. It's been a loooong time so you might occasionally find the homeless guy on the corner attractive for a split second. When can you actually do the deed and jump in the sack with the guy? You don't want to seem easy, but guys aren't the only ones with needs. At our age, we are at our sexual peak after all.

Don't judge me

I have three close female friends who are also doing online dating. We've all been online for roughly the same amount of time, gone out on quite a lot of first dates, and are now getting on to second/third/fourth dates with one, maybe two, guys. So the topic of conversation has turned to how soon is too soon. When you're not online dating, it doesn't really play out like this. Guys in San Francisco don't usually take girls out on dates. It's uncharted territory.

All of the pressure seems to be on the female for this one. Popular media seems to put all of the responsibility for choosing the right time on the female. Obviously the guy will be ready to go whenever you are, as if he is not at all in control of taking an active part in making this decision. If it's not the right time, it's all your fault. And everything is contradictory. Be a lady, but don't hide your sexuality. Play hard to get, but not too hard or you're a tease. Wait too long and you're playing games, but too soon and you're not wife material. Faster, slower, longer, harder. AARRRGGGGHHH!

Sex is rarely what men want

Today one of the aforementioned friends circulated an article on this very subject that said the following-
Men want to have sex, but what they actually NEED is to feel attraction. That is what they are looking for, underneath the many cries for sex, sex, sex. So, sex is rarely what they really want. As a woman, its your job to remember that.
BULLSHIT! If sex is what we want, sex is what they want. You have got to be kidding me with this nonsense. Yes, men want to feel attraction. They likely won't want to sleep with you once, let alone twice, if there's no attraction. But don't feed me this nonsense that guys don't want sex. Please. One of my friend's responses to the article was, "Obviously we all want sex, especially if the well be dry." Amen.

Ice Cream???

It's becoming increasingly common to receive one word text/pings/emails from these online dating friends that just say something like "UGH" or "goddammit". The female need to be talkative is not necessary here. The message is simple. Sex. Something made her think about it, and she would like some. Now please. We've all been going out with lots of attractive, successful, single men. Previously in our dating lives, we haven't spent this much one on one time with different men over such a long period of time without getting a little something. It's nearly intolerable. I don't think men and women are really all that different in how they think about sex before the first time. It's after the first time that things get all complicated, but I'll save that for another post.

Some of the communication among the ladies about this has occurred during work hours so we've come up with some code words. It feels just a little more appropriate for the workplace. Two of my favorites are rest stop (fooling around with a guy who you're not super into seeing seriously but does the trick if needed) and ice cream (sex). Here they are used in context:
- How was your date?
- It was ok. Not sure if there's much of a connection.
- Was he cute at least?
- He's definitely rest stop potential.
- How was your date last night?
- Good :)
- Ice cream???
- Ice cream ;)
Society may try to make us feel all sorts of pressure about this, but we're going to laugh about it. It is just sex after all. And sex is good.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings

It's not easy being (orange/)green

I love personality tests, which in and of itself says something about my personality. While the tests are clearly not gospel, they are pretty accurate in pointing out where my relationships tend to go wrong.

I am...

What does this all mean? I'm a pain in the ass to date. I'm a walking contradiction. Not just in a relationship, but in all parts of my life. I like adventure and a schedule. I act fiercely independent until I seem super clingy. I come across as incredibly calm and emotionless, except for those somewhat inappropriate emotional outbursts. I have to be in charge, unless I have no opinion or disagree in which case I want nothing to do with making a decision. And I need to understand things. Everything.

I feel so alone

There's a great article going around about being an extrovert. I don't seem like an extrovert since I'm often quite quiet until I have something to say. But I love to be around people ALL THE TIME. I could be around people pretty much 24/7, and I would be perfectly ok with that. In fact, it would make me very happy. It's not that I can't be alone. It's just that I very much prefer and am much more energized when I'm around people. Even at work I would prefer a day of meetings to a day spent alone in my office.

Being an E (extrovert) combined with my J (judging) tendencies to have everything planned can be tough in a relationship. My social calendar is often planned out weeks in advance. A weekend spent alone in my apartment sounds like the worst weekend ever. I often tend to date guys that are P (perceiving) and are incredibly averse to planning more than 5 minutes into the future. If the guy is any part introvert, I'll likely drive him crazy since if given the option, I'll be around all day long. I've calmed down about this after years of frustrating relationships, and I'm starting to be better about just scheduling my own things. If he wants to see me he'll figure it out.

If everyone else jumped off a ... <already running out the door to find this bridge and jump>

Oranges are adventurers, risk-takers. I am a complete adrenaline junkie. I've done most of the standard adrenaline junkie activities with the exception of hang gliding, and that's only because it was too windy the day I was supposed to go in Queenstown. This means that a lot of the time my life is super exciting, but it also means I'm often attracted to terrible men. The party guy, the flirt, the alcoholic, the cheater. They're incredibly fun at first, but when my need for schedule and being goal-driven take over, it often ends the relationship in some sort of spectacular fashion. I'm trying now to look for someone who's a bit more balanced and over his Peter Pan phase.

Feelings, nothing more than feelings

Yes, I have feelings. No, you're not going to see them very often. A quote that is becoming popular to explain how ENTJs approach feelings is, "I'm sorry you have to die." It's true. At work, I have to go far outside of what's normal for T (thinking) me to relate to the F (feeling) people. I schedule lunches and coffee breaks, which is very J of me, with my direct reports to try to convey that I do actually care about them as people.

Talking about how I feel isn't always the easiest thing. When I'm dating someone seriously, I often revert to saying "I love you" way too much. I want to express that I'm feeling something and often that's all my brain comes up with. I've been told I trivialize the phrase, which is not at all my intention. In most of my life, it is the purely rational side of my brain that makes decisions. In a relationship, when the emotional side starts to take over I don't like it and I want to go back to my logical thought process.

It also doesn't help that I need to understand EVERYTHING. As a kid I had lots of books with titles like "How Things Work". The N (intuitive) side of me likes systems and how things are interrelated. I often see the patterns in things far sooner than other people. If I can't understand what's going on, I get super frustrated. I had one ex who tried to tell me that there were some things about his behavior I just wasn't ever going to understand and he wasn't going to try to explain. That didn't go over too well and the relationship did not end very pleasantly.

I like swimming, especially winning

At a work debrief of Strengths Finder, the facilitator asked if there was a strength that people didn't understand or made them uncomfortable. One girl raised her hand and said competition. I was one of two people in the large training room with competition as a strength. I have always been competitive, and my parents have no idea where it came from. As a tiny 8 & under swimmer, after a race I once threw a tantrum, hurling my cap and goggles onto the ground. I was upset not because I had lost, but because I hadn't gotten my best time. I had actually won the 25m race by more than 10m. Needless to say, my parents were mortified. After my first big win at championships that season, I was interviewed in the local newspaper. In part of the interview I said, "I like swimming, especially winning." Even as a child, I didn't like to lose.

age 9
ready to race

The competitive thing doesn't play out well in relationships. I don't like to feel like I have to compete for someone's attention. The competitive side of me is often not too likable. I've realized I need to be in a relationship where I can have a calm, rational conversation with my significant other if I'm upset about his interactions with someone else. This is a hard thing to be able to do though.

Alright, enough of my self-absorbed psychobabble. This probably isn't directly relevant to you unless you're trying to date me, but I'm realizing more and more how important it is to truly understand myself. To understand how I react to things, what I need, how I'm perceived, and how that can either strengthen or destroy a relationship. The description of Enneagram Type 3, strikes a chord in me:
Everyone needs attention, encouragement, and the affirmation of their value in order to thrive, and Threes are the type which most exemplifies this universal human need. Threes want success not so much for the things that success will buy (like Sevens), or for the power and feeling of independence that it will bring (like Eights). They want success because they are afraid of disappearing into a chasm of emptiness and worthlessness: without the increased attention and feeling of accomplishment which success usually brings, Threes fear that they are nobody and have no value. 
The problem is that, in the headlong rush to achieve whatever they believe will make them more valuable, Threes can become so alienated from themselves that they no longer know what they truly want, or what their real feelings or interests are. In this state, they are easy prey to self–deception, deceit, and falseness of all kinds. Thus, the deeper problem is that their search for a way to be value increasingly takes them further away from their own Essential Self with its core of real value. From their earliest years, as Threes become dependent on receiving attention from others and in pursuing the values that others reward, they gradually lose touch with themselves. Step by step, their own inner core, their “heart’s desire,” is left behind until they no longer recognize it.
While this is indicative of my personality type, I think it's telling for how easily anyone can lose sight of what's truly important to them. I highly recommend taking a few introspective moments to ponder some of these things about yourself. Or if you're a super E, grab a friend and discuss for a few hours.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

First Date Kiss of Death

Despite explaining my rationale, I continue to get comments about how wrong I am to not contact the guy first after a date. I understand that this has worked for other couples, but I'm sticking to my guns on this one. Why?

1) It's working as intented so far
2) All of the guys I've liked have messaged me after the date
3) I want to be pursued (this is not the same as playing games)
4) This whole social experiment of online dating is to do things differently than I have before

This sums it up about right

I'm cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs!

You sent a message, got a response, exchanged witty banter, scheduled a date, and the day has come to actually meet. You show up on time and feel pretty confident that you made a good first impression. Now to make sure you don't put your foot in your mouth and come off totally crazypants. There are a few topics of conversation that are very likely to be the kiss of death on a first date.

Politics and religion: First dates should be light and fun. These topics are not. Unless you are a politician or a pastor, save this for later. This is especially true if you believe in things that are a little less common, like astrology, witchcraft or alien abduction. Keep the crazy hidden during the first date.

Family issues: Your brother is a lazy good-for-nothing who only plays video games, your cousin is having fertility issues, you don't get along with your dad. These are all important topics that should be discussed at some point, but the first date is not that time. Not only are they just way too much, but they're so negative. I am not the most peppy positive person, so if I'm picking up on your negativity, that's a very bad sign. Pop a Prozac if needed, but keep it cheerful.

Feminism: This never goes well. Either she has an opinion, and a strong one, or she has none at all. Guys, don't bring up any feminist issue. You'll likely either get in a fight or she'll stare at you blankly. Neither of those are good. Ladies, resist the urge to go off on whatever feminist topic is your passion. He does NOT want to know how you vote on abortion on date #1.

Ryan Gosling talking about feminism is the one exception

Your ex: I don't care how well or badly the end of your last relationship went. There are no circumstances I can think of where I would like to hear that story on a first date. I don't want to think about your ex before I know you. I put online dating in this category as well. I understand that it's a point of commonality, but I really don't know what he's looking for when he asks about this on a first date. Do you want me to tell you I just started and I haven't seen anyone else? I'm not lying to you. I'm pretty sure you don't really want to hear about the terrible messages and you definitely don't want to hear about good dates. Talking about bad dates makes you look like an ass. If a girl threw a pepper shaker at your head, I'm going to guess you might have provoked her, even if she is a nutjob. Maybe I'll just say I have a blog the next time I'm asked about this. That should get a good reaction.

Sex: Clearly the guy shouldn't bring this up. If he does, run away. When I was chatting about this blog post with a friend, he said to put sex on the off-limits list. I asked if it's a bad idea for a girl to bring it up as well. I liked his response - "Neither should. Because as soon as a guy thinks about sex he can't think about anything else." Very true.

Greedy corporate bastards

When I'm on a date where I'm not interested in the guy, I tend to get chatty. It's a little counter-intuitive, but I've come to the conclusion that I just keep talking to amuse myself. I've also realized that my go-to topic when I'm bored on a first date (and this only applies to first dates for some reason) is rent control. My apartment complex is not rent control, and the leasing agency is raising our rent by an absurd amount. I hate them. And I will tell you about it if you let me. You probably shouldn't. [side note: I need a new roommate so if you know anyone who's looking, send them my way]


Climber Guy now knows about the blog. (If you're reading this, hello!) He came to see me at work on Friday and as we were leaving a coworker said, "Your blog is hilarious!" I dodged the topic a few times, then told him what it was later that day. He seems ok with it and so far has not hinted that he would rather I stop writing. He also seems to like the nickname. Well done, Italian Bear!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The "Status of the Relationship" Talk

How to say goodbye

I received quite a few comments after the last post about the proper protocol for ending a date and whether the guy should feel it's necessary to follow up. IMHO if you're not interested in seeing the girl again just say, "It was nice to meet you," and that's the end of that. There's no need to say something about making future plans if you have no intention to do so. It's not rude to say goodbye or goodnight and leave it at that. 9 times out of 10 (or I guess I should say 4 times out of 19), it's been very obvious when a guy I've been interested in is also interested. If not, there's no need for a follow up call or text. Most of us are doing this as a numbers game, and she'll likely forget about you faster if you leave her alone.

Some guys reported that they occasionally receive a text from the girl after a date before he's messaged her. They say that it's encouraging if they're already planning to ask her out, but that it doesn't change his mind about whether to ask her out for a second time. If I ever think I haven't properly shown appreciation for a first date, I'm sure I'll send a thank you text, but for now I'm sticking to my tactics of making him contact me. So far it's working. I want a guy who's going to pursue me so this seems like a good leading indicator.
He's out there somewhere. I know it.


One of the awkward things about online dating is that you know the person you're going on dates with is, well, online dating. So far I haven't talked to anyone who has only sent or received a single message, gone out with that person and lived happily ever after. That means both of you are talking to, and possibly seeing, multiple people with the intention of seeing if it goes anywhere romantically. In the real world, that may or may not be the case, but you don't know one way or the other.

Another awkward thing is that you each have a profile, often on multiple dating sites. On some dating sites you can see the last time someone logged in. As if you needed a reminder that your new crush is still thinking about dating other people. Maybe he's still actively messaging new girls, maybe he's just reading through any messages he's gotten, maybe he's only looking to see when I last logged in (I think only girls do this last one, but who knows). Finding a guy's profile on another dating site is a little deflating. It feels almost like seeing him on a date with another girl. This all is of course incredibly hypocritical since I'm still active on sites and have profiles on 7 of them, but it's a good reminder to protect my heart and not fall too fast, which I have a tendency to do.

The "status of the relationship" talk

Don't worry, this hasn't happened yet. There are still more blog posts to come. I've now seen Climber Guy enough times that if this were the real world, I wouldn't be seeing other people whether or not we'd discussed what was going on with the two of us. I have no problem with going on first dates with lots of different guys, but the idea of actually dating multiple men feels very strange to me. I'm not very good at juggling. However, with online dating it feels foolish to not be continuing to talk to other people when it's very likely the other person is still doing so. I'm still checking my daily bagel on CMB, but I'm only reading, not generally responding to, messages anymore. I've canceled one date and didn't bother following up with two others that were tentatively scheduled for this week. We'll see if this turns out to be good or bad decision.

At some point in every relationship, you have "the talk". Usually that conversation has gone very painlessly as you're fairly confident that the other person isn't actively seeing anyone else anyway. (That has turned out to be untrue in prior relationships, but that's a topic for another post.) Online dating is a whole different beast. Instead of being pretty sure the person isn't seeing anyone else, with online dating you're pretty sure that they ARE. Then there's the whole profile part. Do you even talk about that? Just pretend you never met online? Trust but verify? This is far too complicated.

So... I have a blog

In addition to the complications caused by online dating in general, there's this whole blog thing. I've tried to be respectful of the people I've been seeing, but you never know how someone is going to react to finding out that they've been written about in a blog, particularly one with 10,000+ pageviews. (I'm still amazed by this.) It could be fine. It could mean an early death to a relationship, though probably one that would have eventually occurred anyway. There's also the question of how exactly to bring this up and when. I try not to talk about the online dating thing in general while on dates. It's just weird. But that will likely need to be the start to the blog conversation. When to bring it up is also a debate. Wait too long and it might seem like I'm hiding something. Bring it up too early and it could seem like I'm trying to push things along too quickly. <sigh>

Instead of thinking about this more, I'm going to watch the free concert happening outside my building at work today, have a glass of wine this afternoon, then go climbing with my lovely friend who share this gem on Facebook today.

Thanks for the pic J.B. <3

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Journey from First Message to First Date

Today we're going to do a deep dive into how the 19 first dates I've been on have come about. From who sent the first message to how long it took to ask me out. Here goes.

Meme courtesy of C.W.


OKCupid has overwhelmingly been the best source of dates. 17 of the 19 dates have been from OKC. Of the other two, one was from Coffee Meets Bagel and the other from match. Granted I have been on OKC longer, but the dates from OKC started materializing quickly, while the other two are lagging far behind.

The first move

For every single date I've been on, the guy has sent the first message. I haven't sent all that many messages out first, but so far none of those have turned into dates. The mutual matching thing has been useful though. It's a very easy way for me express interest without even needing to send a message. Five of the dates came about from a mutual match of some type, though in every case with the exception of the CMB date where you rate simultaneously, the guy has rated me highly first.

The first message

The messages I've responded to that have turned into dates haven't been that long or even that clever. Nearly all of them referenced something in my profile, usually one of the activities I mention that I'm clearly passionate about, and most were only a few sentences. If I feel like there's enough in the message to start a conversation, it's not rude, and I find the profile pic attractive, I'll click through to look at his profile and decide whether to respond.

GUYS: Don't waste a ton of time writing a first message. Just read her profile and mention something about it  that you find interesting.

LADIES: Write about things that you're passionate about. Make it easy for a guy to find something to reference.

Pulling the trigger

Average number of messages he sends before actually asking me on a date is four. A few asked in the first message and the longest was seven. The longer ones usually happened when there were quick back and forth messages right away. Generally I'm going to get bored with the conversation if he doesn't ask me out relatively quickly. I say in my profile that I'm not looking for a pen pal. We're all on these sites to go out on dates so there's no point in beating around the bush.

The waiting time

After he asks me out, there are usually quite a few messages back and forth to schedule the date and pick an activity. Some banter is helpful too so that it all seems a little less awkward. It averages out to be twelve messages that he sends before we actually meet up.

From first message to first date is averaging a little over eight days. This is partly because I have generally avoided weekend night dates and reserve at least two weekday nights for my friends so that only leaves three possible nights and weekends during the day. The average is definitely going up as time goes on since my schedule is getting packed earlier and earlier in advance. I've only once met up with a guy the same day he asked me, and that was because he realized I had found him on LinkedIn already. Oops. Need to make sure I'm logged out before doing any investigating.

The date

Despite saying I like creative dates, the first dates have still been mostly the standard - seven have been drinks, three coffee. For the creative dates, leading the way are climbing (2) and the Exploratorium (2). If it's a non-creative date, I generally make sure it's somewhere close to home for me. I don't mind going farther if it's something a little out of the ordinary.

A second date?

So far all four of the guys I felt like I hit it off with have asked me on a second date. The asking on a second date situation has varied quite widely. For all four second dates, the guy has asked me out again AFTER the date was over either by text or via the messaging system. Five more guys have asked me out explicitly (as in saying let's plan a day and time) and I have declined. Four additional guys at the end of the date said they wanted to hang out again, but I never heard from them. I wasn't interested and would have declined, but I find this intriguing. Perhaps my somewhat flippant reply made it obvious that I wasn't interested, but if that's not the case, I wonder why the guy even bothered saying anything. Maybe he felt like it was polite? It's odd though. Five guys disappeared after the date, never to be heard from again. And the last one messaged me after, but never asked for a second date and faded away too.

GUYS: Just wait until later to ask her out a second time. It's awkward if she's not interested, and you seem like a gentleman for following up if she is. Wins all around!

Of the second dates, two were dinner, one was drinks and the last was the infamous laser tag. I went on a third date to a Giants game at which point I realized there definitely wasn't chemistry with that guy. The other third date was a bonfire which was super fun. There's still one more in play for a potential third date, but we'll see how things progress.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Ain't Nobody Got Time for That

Today we'll compare two dating services that take the minimal amount of time to use - Coffee Meets Bagel and Tinder. They're perfect for people who are super busy or aren't quite ready to dive into the full-blown world of online dating.

Setting up a profile

CMB: This service links with your Facebook account. The site pulls over a little bit of information so your profile already has some parts filled in. Like all of the sites, there's a part for your basic info like age and current city. It also asks for your occupation and education details. The next section is fill in the blank with prompts like "I like" and "I am". The last section is hidden from the public view of your profile and asks for what kind of person you want to be shown based on age, gender, ethnicity and religion.  CMB let's you add up to 4 photos. You can import from Facebook or upload a photo. Overall, pretty simple.

Tinder: It's as easy as it gets for setting up a profile. Like CMB, you link your profile with your Facebook account. You confirm you gender, add up to 5 photos from Facebook and write a one liner "About you". It pulls your age from Facebook, and apparently some people have the wrong age from Facebook and that's what their one liner says. It's strange. The photos can look kind of grainy so you have to check what the public view looks like. Lastly, you pick your settings for what type of person based on how far away from you they are (it can be set as close as one mile) and age range. For some reason it shows me guys well outside my age range. Not sure why. That's it.

Cost of an account

CMB: The account is free and there's no premium service. The site has a currency, "beans", that you can earn by inviting people to the service, answering questions about your matches, and a few other things. You can also buy extra beans. The beans can be used to find out which Facebook friends you have in common, rematch with a bagel you missed (didn't respond within the 24 hour time limit) or find out where you rank on the site.

Tinder: Free. No premium services.

The website

CMB: Every day at noon the service sends you an email with your bagel for the day (I don't always get the emails for some reason). Each day you can view one guy. You click on the email to open up the website and view your bagel. You can like or pass. If you like you get matched up over text. On the site you can also view your bagel history.

Tinder: No website.

The mobile app

CMB: No mobile app. I think this is one negative about this service. You can view your bagel on a mobile browser, but it doesn't look great. With a mobile app, it's likely more people would view their daily bagel within the 24 hour window.

Tinder: When you open the Tinder app, you first see a basic view of a guy's profile. You get the primary photo and see the number of Facebook friends and likes (any page or activity that you've liked on Facebook) that you have in common. You can open up the profile to see all of the photos and the details on common friends and likes. You swipe left to pass and right to like. Once you pass there's no way to see the profile again since there's no search function. The swiping is a little sensitive and I've accidentally both passed and liked people I didn't intend to. If you both like each other, it connects you via the messaging service in the app.

Quality of the guys

CMB: The service was started by a Harvard Business School alum and her two sisters. The site so far attracts relatively successful people, including a lot of MBAs, some of whom know each other. Most of the guys I've passed on because I haven't found them attractive. Of the 35 bagels I've gotten to date, I've liked 6 and been matched with 3. Two of the others I've liked later did the second chance option, but I passed the second time. One of them I found on Beautiful People, which is so sleazy, and the other I already connected with on OKCupid and he kept disappearing and reappearing. I'm not sure why he didn't just message me again on OKCupid. Of the 3 I've matched with, I've only met up with one. Another I may meet up with at some point. The third I texted with for awhile, but we could never make schedules work and we eventually stopped trying. I have two hypotheses why it's been tough to meet up with these guys - 1) they're successful and therefore quite busy and 2) when you're communicating over text message, you don't see the guys' photos and it makes the interaction a bit more impersonal since you forget who they are exactly and what they look like.

Tinder: I played around with the app for about a half hour on Saturday. I matched with 14 guys and got messages from 8 of them. Most of the messages just said, "Hi, how are you?" Two of them were trying to meet up that night, probably looking for a girl to go home with. I only responded to one message so far. Hard to tell the quality of the guys since you get so little information and I haven't met any of them. Everyone seems to be on multiple sites. Two guys I matched up with I had already seen on OKCupid. One I recognized the photo of, but I can't remember if we talked. I have to check my message history. The other I didn't recognize, but he recognized me and sent me a message. I also came across Climber Guy and accidentally passed when I tried to open his photos. It felt a little awkward to see his profile. I'm not sure if he had already seen mine or not.

The integration with Facebook is an interesting twist. It clues you in on a little more information about the person, and you can also ask your common friend who he is. On Saturday I took a screenshot of one guy's profile and sent it to my friend who was our mutual Facebook connection. Her response - "run". Good thing I asked before swiping right.

Update on Climber Guy: Things have been going well. We spent most of the weekend together. We packed in a lot of stuff - bonfire at Ocean Beach, impromptu party at a winery, concert at Stern Grove, mini-hike around the Baker Beach area. It's starting to feel a little weird to keep talking to other guys and especially to still have dates planned. I already canceled one date because I wanted to keep hanging out with him. But since he still has profiles on at least two dating services, I have to assume he's still talking to other girls until he tells me otherwise.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Laser Tag Vs Rock Climbing

Several people have asked me (or yelled at me on Facebook) about whether I think this online dating thing is a joke and if I'm getting jaded about the whole process. Well, rest assured, I do want to meet someone and I am taking it seriously. I've been going on 3-4 (mostly first) dates each week. It's exhausting to go on dates, write this blog, workout, do my real job, see my friends and try to squeeze some sleep in there too. I've given up on cleaning my apartment. I'm just going to get the housekeeper to come.

You tell 'em, Honey Boo Boo

The dates

Slightly against my better judgment, I'll give you some more stories about the dates. I haven't been writing too much about this because 1) they have all been nice guys and despite what some people seem to think, I'm not just mocking everyone, and 2) if it works out with any of these guys, they'll likely read the blog at some point and I don't want that to submarine what could have been a good relationship.

The past 6 weeks by the numbers... 
  • 18 first dates
  • 4 more first dates on my calendar
  • 2 more in the process of being scheduled
  • 4 second dates
  • 2 that will likely get third dates
  • 1 kiss

A girl can only drink so much coffee

One of the things that my profile says is bonus points if the guy can come up with something to do for a date that's not getting a drink or coffee. Not only does it show creativity, but to me it feels much less forced and contrived. That said, I've still done quite of lot of getting drinks and coffee. Creative dates have included going to the Exploratorium, seeing a concert in Dolores Park, watching the lights on the Bay Bridge, a Giants game, and the two most notable dates, laser tag and rock climbing.

While laser tag and rock climbing seem like similar styles of activities, the outcomes were completely opposite. Part was the environment and part was the execution, but some of it was just the guy and whether there was chemistry. Here's how the two played out.

It's war!

I gave a brief update earlier on Compliment Guy and the laser tag date. Now after some time has passed since that date, I have a few thoughts on why that date was doomed from the start. To reiterate, this was no normal game of laser tag. It was 5 hours of outdoor laser tag at night. I was a very good sport about the game and did enjoy myself (and won a round), but this wasn't the ideal situation for making a deeper connection with someone.
The environment: When I was asked about playing laser tag I was picturing How I Met Your Mother style indoor laser tag that would maybe last an hour or two. This was very different. We were outside in the pitch black in a park. Rolling around in the dirt, jumping off walls, and hiding in bushes were involved. Not exactly romantic.
The people: Laser tag was not me and Compliment guy against the world, it was me, him, his brother, his roommate and his coworker. And it was every man for himself. On a second date, it's a lot to ask of someone to be thrust into a group of people who already know each other, especially for this type of activity. It's particularly bad for me because I'm often quieter in those situations, and people don't always know what to make of that.
The outfit: He thought I was going to be cold so he gave me a pair of his plaid flannel pants that he insisted I wear. It wasn't that cold and I should have said no because at one point he cracked a joke saying I looked like a grandpa. That's just not sexy at all.
The activity: Laser tag is fun, but when all is said and done it's very competitive (especially with this group). It's a war game.
His mindset: He even admitted that he was in testosterone mode. Not the testosterone mode where he is trying to win over a female, but the mode where he's a boy playing boy games with his friends. There was a lot of debriefing about barrel rolls and other tactics. At one point, his coworker was trying to say that he and I should be on the same team, reminding him that it was a date. I mean we were in a park in the middle of the night. It could have been at least a little romantic had he been thinking that way. But no, his response was that you don't do date-like things during laser tag... 
My mindset: The whole time I felt a bit like I was being judged on my performance. Would everyone like me? Would I fit in? Was I going to hurt myself jumping down from something or trip on a rock? Was I going to lose the game? I had fun, but it did feel like a lot of pressure.
Sure enough, I could tell he was acting a little weird by the end, and I wasn't the slightest bit surprised that we didn't end up seeing each other again after the laser tag date.

Climbing. Climb on.

The rock climbing date was a first date, and an aggressive one at that. The place we went climbing was over an hour away so we were committing to nearly a full day together never having met. I figured at the very least I'd get a good workout in, but it was a big risk to be going on a first date with no escape route.
The environment: We went to Castle Rock which is a beautiful state park just over an hour south of the city. It was a warm, sunny day and the views were stunning. 
The people: There were lots of other hikers and climbers around so we weren't isolated just the two of us, but we weren't there with friends, family or coworkers. It was just us doing an activity together. 
The outfit: When I go climbing I wear a tank top and yoga/running tights. Plus, when you belay you're staring at the other person's butt the whole time. Much cuter look for me than flannel pants.
The activity: Climbing is about accomplishment and pushing yourself. It's a little bit competitive, but it's much more about the challenge and helping your climbing partner. Climbing is an environment of trust rather than a battle.
His mindset: He's a much more experienced climber than I am. I know enough to feel confident in what he was doing and that he wouldn't kill me. I think it was key that he was the expert for this kind of early date. I've gone climbing indoors on another first date, and I was as good as if not better than the guy, and it seemed like he was a bit emasculated. On the outdoor climbing date, he was teaching me and protecting me, essentially playing the classic chivalrous male role. 
My mindset: I had told him while we were planning the date that I'd only been climbing outdoors a few times and I was still basically a beginner. He was very patient with me, and I didn't feel like I had to pretend to be better than I was or know something I didn't. The whole date felt much more relaxed.

At the end of the date after packing up all of the gear, we were sitting at the top of the rocks taking in the view and talking. After a little while he kissed me. The first and only kiss of this whole endeavor so far. Usually on a first online date, that would be way too much, but we had spent enough time together that day that it seemed more like 2 or 3 dates. And he couldn't have picked a much better spot for a first kiss. We went out a second time last night. A more traditional second date of dinner and a walk. The second date went as well as the first. This could have some potential.

See, my friends, nothing to fear. I don't think the whole thing is a joke. There are definitely nice guys out there and I am meeting them. Who knows if "the one" is in the bunch, but it's too soon to tell.