Looking for Love

Looking for Love Online: Tips from Women to Men (for Women and Men)

The following are some basic rules for men who would like to date women, or for men who are looking to develop a relationship with a woman and not just jump from unsuccessful venture to unsuccessful venture. These rules apply to the part where you meet on-line and then to the part where you hopefully meet in-person.

1. Tacky ads. You know, some of us really do love walks on the beach and candlelit dinners—don’t mock them and us, the people who have managed to remain romantics in spite of all the odds.

2. Do not send an old or untrue photograph. Truth is better than fiction in this instance. If you’re bald, shine the lights on it. If you’re fat, reveal it (well, covered, please). If you have a wonderful smile, show it.

3. Do not send pictures with your children. You are probably the best father in the world, but, honestly, it feels like you are using your kids to get to a woman, and that is just not good—it is not what a good father would do.

4. Do not send pictures with or of your wife (whether she is dead or you are divorced). Really, how could you think that a woman wants to see her before she has met you? If your plan is to show what a great wife you had, then get a bottle of wine and stay at home to watch the wedding video.

5. Do not send a photograph with you and a vehicle of any type. We will not assume that the size of the vehicle, you know, represents your size, although we may assume that the speed does correlate to your speed.

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Still Looking, Kind Of

I just read a listing on JDate and the guy noted that he is not interested in a woman who blogs about the details of her life. Well la-de-da to you. Why? Is he scared that his foibles will be blazed across the internet and multitudes of people will read that he is sweet and has restored my faith in men, or conversely that he is another controlling man who won’t see me again. Oh well, I have self-selected out of some people’s lives by writing, by communicating, by reaching out to friends and creating new friends. If that is scary to some men, so be it. 

Looking for Love on Craig’s List: Why Don’t Relationships Begin

Coffee man and I have independently agreed that this is not to become a relationship. Before I go any further, I would like to state that I was not the relationship coward; I was the one who, on Wednesday morning, emailed him stating this conclusion from our date on Sunday. A little while later he got back to me to affirm that conclusion. I wonder if the fact that I spoke up and he did not is why this was yet another case of a non-click.

Was he planning to not get back to me and let me come to my own conclusion that it ended before it began? And me, while I was expecting to hear from him regarding his suggestion that we do something more exciting next time we go out (instead of dinner, although I was wary since he didn’t state a specific day, which is what he had been doing up until then), was thinking about how to tell him that it’s just not going anywhere. But there was no way that I would not tell him that, it seems so cowardly and not where I am in this mature woman’s desire to be upfront as much as possible in my relationships with boys. So, his reticence and my upfrontness (okay, brash, maybe I have become brash?) did not make clarions call.

After contemplating our few dates, and the few dates with men who came before him, I have realized that dating is not about one person being boring or uninteresting, it’s about how two people who are probably (possibly) not boring and uninteresting appear to be that way to each other. There was nothing “wrong” with him, and (I hope) there was nothing wrong with me (except my brashness, and I am sure that there are some who would find charm in my New York-Israel-Virginia personality combo), it was just the two of us that flopped and foundered. I had always thought to term people who didn’t click with me as being boring, but I finally get it, that interpersonal chemistry thing, it’s no one’s fault.

An hour before our final date (of four) I picked up my younger daughter from a friend’s house (note: after the age of eleven it can no longer be referred to as a “playdate,” rather it is hanging out). I talked to the boy’s father (yes, one of her BFFs is a boy) for a few minutes. We talked, laughed, and joked. And then I went inside and talked to his mother, who seems to like to talk and laugh as much as I do. What ensued was the mommy-mommy talk that gives the kids at least another twenty-minutes of “hanging out” time. In that time we covered: Sarah Palin, teen pregnancy, gossip from Alaska (thanks Carly), Bat Mitzvahs, chicken wings and chicken wing places, Baja Fresh, dating, silent auctions, and how incredibly tall my daughter is getting and why does she have such long legs unlike her mother. Our conversation covered more and was livelier than my date, by far.

It’s not that I want to date my daughter’s friends’ mothers, but why is it that it’s so much easier to find women with whom I click and not men? Is it the whole “similarity of experience” thing, where we virtually speak in shorthand, we get each other so well. Or is it that my daughter has already done a pre-screening and if her friends pass the test to flow with her personality, the parents will flow with mine as well? I once wrote an essay titled, “My Daughter, My Pimp,” in which I talked about how all of my friends at that time were mothers of my older daughter’s friends (this is the daughter who minutes ago called me “the biggest fucking bitch” because I cancelled her Netflix subscription because she is so defiant and nasty, so we are going back a long way). So I know that there are people I get along with, and I don’t think that it is “faked,” those doorway friendships, so why is it so hard to find a man with whom I can freely talk and joke?

I’m not kidding here—I want to figure this out. Is it just that I have not met any clickable men? Is it that I don’t do a good Craig’s List screening? Is it really that men and women are so different in outlook and mindset that only the attraction enables them to overcome those natural differences? TM (Transition Man) and I had great email and in-person conversations, and I always wanted to be touching him (up until the end when I was too pissed off and hurt). Is it that without sexual tension there is no conversational click? Or is it that without an attraction I don’t (or am unable to) “put out” in the conversation?

Is this a chicken and an egg scenario? Or is it my libido dictating? If there’s no physical click, then there’s no mental click. I guess that makes it easier to say “ciao baby.” But if just feels harder, to not find someone to talk to or tryst with, repeatedly. Maybe I need to ask my mommy friends if they know of someone. But I’m thinking that if they knew someone they would already have suggested them. Oh, well. I still believe that there’s a click in my future.

* * *

Looking for Love on Craig’s List: Coffee Anyone?

Contrary to prior pronouncements, on Saturday I “consulted” Craig’s List personals. My intense feeling of being beaten down, of not being in control of my life, of needing to be outside of my box in even a small way, caused this pledge breaker. I answered one ad, because there was only one that seemed to correspond with a man who might be, well, a decent human being.

No, I am not interested in being spanked. No, I am not interested in dominating you. No, I am not interested in your dominated me. No, I am not interested in your need to bring passion to your life because you are in a passionless marriage. No, I am not slender. No, I do not come without baggage. No, I am not interested in going on a ride on your bike. No, I am not fascinated by your need to write a full-page ad about how wonderful you are.

And when I un-ranaway on Saturday, I had a response from that possibly decent man. And following through on this need of movement, the correspondence was brief and to the point. We set up a date for coffee on Sunday afternoon. When he suggested that we go to the coffee shop I had mentioned off-handedly, I was tempted to say “No, no you can’t come to my place.” But I decided to go with the flow here; why not meet in my favorite coffee shop? Will he stalk me for ever after? Again, trusting my ability to know when to flow, I flowed and agreed to meet there.

When I walked in at precisely the right time, he was sitting there, with a cup of coffee in front of him. Oy. I was ready to leave.

My last date also had his coffee before I got there. What is with these men? Mr. Previous waited at the table outside of Panera’s as I went in and got my lemonade. Yes, I eschewed coffee. I wanted to have some tartness in my drink, at least, for all hope of a charming date had flown the coop with that cheap maneuver. I admit it, I am a feminist, except when it comes to men paying on a date, at least in the beginning. If he can’t rise to the occasion for a $2 cup of coffee or lemonade, what hope is there for the future? Generosity of spirit has got to start somewhere.

I’m not sure if my face fell or if I was able to hold it up, but to his credit he got up immediately and offered to get me something. (There is still the strike of impatience that is being held against him, but I don’t hold grudges for too long.) Yes, I permitted him to buy me a cup of iced coffee. And then we sat outside and talked for an hour and a half. And I was not tempted in the least to provide a point-by-point account against the ex, I just didn’t want to, it was—is—not who I am now. And as my friend said to me the next day when I told her this, “good for you;” I am glad that I no longer define myself through that experience.

When we walked back inside the coffee shop to go potty, there was a friend’s husband (thankfully he was not at my usual table). The man, my friend and I discovered in very heart-wrenching discussions, is my ex’s twin. A man who could go count for count opposite my ex in behavior toward his wife and daughters. Ugh. What a way to end a date.

Outside, the hopefully decent, yet impatient man, told me how much he enjoyed our date and how attractive I am. Did I say anything about his being impatient? I meant to say that he is perceptive. And he asked if I would like to go out for dinner on Friday. Sounds nice to me. 

Looking for Love on Craig's List: Dumped in the Bathroom

I'm not sure what lesson must be learned from my last date, but it is one that was not learned with a smile and I have not yet been able to find the humor in it. Disregarding the fact that the gentleman in question was a half-hour late (he did tell me that he might be running late), he seemed to be a nice man. Well, that is until he completely veered from the story told in his ad. The ad, in part, stated:

This has been quite a week. The long term demise of my long term relationship finally came toppling down.

However, all is not lost. With this frustrating period now just ending, I would love to have an adventure.

At first he revealed what has become a disconcertingly common theme: that his wife abused him. (Words people, words do hurt.) And, of course, they should have divorced a long time ago. Oh why, why do we stay in dead marriages? What’s with the “for the good of the children” b.s.? Someone has just got to realize that it is not good for the children to think that marriage is about how two people stop loving each other and in place come to dislike (even hate) each other, and how family meals and vacations are not about enjoying themselves but about not getting into arguments. What is good for children in that?

Okay, back to the gentleman and his oops detail; and I mean OOPS! His wife has cancer; she was diagnosed a year ago. Big OOPS! Oh, and (at least here he gave some credibility to his role as husband and human being) he is not pursuing a divorce nor a separation, since he would “be there for her” as she battles the cancer. So why didn’t he just say that he needs a night out with someone to listen to him without the "relationship over" detail? And why didn't he go to the "casual encounters" section?


I had originally thought I could just listen and talk to someone who’s also getting out of a long-term relationship and see where it goes, without too many expectations (in fact, that was a positive point for me). But this, this was certainly not what his words alluded to. I think I’m a compassionate woman, but there’s a difference between laying yourself out to be used to soothe a man’s psyche (seems like I’ve been there before) and a grownup cooperative, mutually beneficial relationship (or whatever it is where you both get something out of the relationship and one is not used to bolster up the other with no compensating sentiments). Maybe I’m harsh, lacking in compassion, and maybe that’s why I had the relationship I did, but I think that I gave mr. ex what he needed for years, but I did not get what I needed, and I am very leery of being used again or letting myself put someone else’s needs ahead of my own. (Is that bad to say? Are we really supposed to listen to those love songs that say we should love unconditionally and forever and put our beloved’s needs ahead of our own? Has anyone noticed that most of those love songs are written by kids in their teens and twenties and they know not of the realities of love and life?)  

Alright, at this point I figured we’d have a couple of drinks, I’d listen to him and the evening would come to an end. I would think of it as a night out with a friend, who really needed it, no more. But those drinks were strong, very strong. After one and a half (if I have a drink, it is generally just one), I tried to elegantly walk to the bathroom, past the prostitutes at the bar, and into the handicapped stall—I needed space. And, it turned out, time. The lovely tiramisu that I shared with a friend at lunch came up, as did those nuts in a dish.

Each time I thought I was ready to go back, I decided to stay and, well, nurture myself. When I finally made it out, I found the table empty: empty of glasses, empty (thankfully) of the check, and empty of a man in a confused state. Gone gone gone. I sat down at the empty table, wondering how he had just left (why couldn't my ex-husband do that?). My mother, upon recounting this tale to her a few days later, wondered how he had left me—without ensuring that I got home safely. My response was, “I’m a big girl.” Maybe now she really gets it that I don’t have a man to look after me; that I am the "man" who looks after myself. He certainly was not responsible for my getting home safely.

After I told the waiter that, no, I don’t want another drink, I sat there for a few more minutes, waiting until I felt ready to drive home.

Back in the handicapped stall, I got a call from the gentleman of the hour. “Where are you?” he asked. Apparently, people really do believe that in real life people walk out on their dates with nary a word. He, apparently, thought that I had left and was home snug in my bed. As I was about to revisit some more tiramisu, I told him that I had drank too much, was still in the bathroom, and excuse me I have to go.

I finally made it to my car, feeling sober, in more ways than one. I drank some of the cold coffee from the morning and ate part of a donut. That and a piece of gum and I was on my way, slowly, home.

At 8am the next day I got a text message from him that I am a nice girl (I am 47, I am not a girl, but that is a topic for a separate post) and that he apologized for leaving, that he thought I had left.

All the best to him and his wife.

Regarding the lessons learned, I think I figured them out. One: I will not be looking for love on Craig’s List anytime soon—if ever. I think the ease of it and the lack of any commitment (money) required makes it rife for people to act on whim. Two: my rule about not dating anyone with a more complicated home life than mine definitely seems to be one worth upholding. Three: one drink needs to be a rule, not a habit. And four, don't let other people's actions bring me down; sometimes it really is about them, not me.


Humor: nope, I still haven’t found it. This still seems sad, sad for both of us.

Looking for Love on Craig's List: Nice Guys

I just returned from my fifth date in about two months (with four different men). Yeah me! Well, not really. They were nice guys, but not one of them offered the faintest spark in me—or, it seemed to me, in themselves. They seemed bored with who they are. Bored or tired, perhaps, all heading into or in the midst of their midlife crises. And for me, a newcomer into their lives, it does not offer a welcome environment.


Tonight’s date was with Andrew. Now why would a 54-year-old man who is losing his job and his apartment in two weeks and who is contemplating moving out-of-state in two weeks be looking for love on Craig’s List? And does he really expect some damsel to save him from his distress? He is a nice guy, but what am I supposed to say to a man who asks me if I think he should shave his head? And when I asked him why he wanted to shave it, his response was that his hair was so gray. Again, what am I supposed to say? I, of course, said the wrong thing. I said, then you will need to shave your beard, too. Immediately his hand went up to his goatee and stated hesitantly, it’s not so gray. No, of course it’s not, and it’s not. But I really didn’t feel the desire to be exposed to his turmoil. I mean couldn’t he at least try to reel me in before firing down on me his absolute sense of dejection? Luckily my car was close by and it was about to rain. I walked to the car in a very weary state. But, at least I had a good dinner (I paid for my meal, not wanting to feel that I had added to his burden in any way).


A few weeks ago I had a date with Mark. I am pleased to state that upon learning that his home situation is even worse than mine, I knew to run run run! But not after we had a great conversation comparing war stories. I wish him all the best with someone who will offer him the compassion he deserves. Unfortunately, I need a break from giving and would like to be on the receiving side of care and compassion for a change.  


Now, last night’s date was with Terrence, who is single. Single as in never married; some men say that they’re single which is a euphemism for divorced or separated; apparently some men think if they ignore or deny their past they can invite a better future into their lives. Whatever.


It’s not that Terrence’s being a caddie in any way had a negative impact on me. He had dropped out of the rat race, either temporarily or permanently, and was thoroughly enjoying his stress free life. What got to me was that he said that on his last day off he went fishing with a buddy. I don’t know, for me he just seemed to be disconnected from people, from the world, from the things that—to me—make a life worthwhile. Maybe he’s looking to meet the woman with whom he can connect, but it seems that a woman would not change him, just get in sync with him. I don’t want stress in my life, either, but I do want to feel that I am having an impact, that my life is not merely a place-holder.


And then there is Frank, with whom I had two dates. Frank is another forty-something, never-married man. We had a nice first date, although I did have the feeling that the exchange of stories was as deep as our conversation would get, I still decided to give him a second chance. On date number two my intuition was proven to be as sturdy as ever. When I commented on having eaten wonderful Egyptian hummus with beans in an Arab restaurant in Jerusalem when I was living in Israel, I received a nod. Not a question about life in Israel. I mean everyone—everyone—asks if I was afraid living there. And I always—always—comment on how I felt safer there than in New York. But nary a word or comment from Frank. A few minutes later I commented on having met an acquaintance in a coffee shop that morning, who, it turns out, has a husband who is the apparent twin of my ex-husband. Again, the nod. Not a question. Not an inquiry. Okay, maybe he doesn’t want to pry, which is fine for him, but not for me. I have no desire to be with someone who exhibits no curiosity, for whom life seems to be about which restaurant to eat in and what to order.


So here I am. Home alone. After all of these dates I realize how hard it really is to find some one who is on the same path and current as I am. I don’t despair of finding him, I just hope that I won’t be so bored by the whole dating process that I end up boring him away.


* * *


Note: All names have been changed to protect the truly innocent (men who did not know that they were going on a date with a woman who blogs about her life).


* * *



Looking for Love on Craig's List: 47 Is Not the New 27

The other day I answered an ad in Craig’s List that couldn’t have received, in my mind, a more appropriate response. But I got no response.

The ad’s heading was: “Arise, fair sun! (45).” That quote is from Romeo and Juliet, which I have spent weeks reading and discussing with my classes. I opened my book right to those lines to find a response. The body of the ad was Romeo’s soliloquy when he espies Juliet on her balcony. It begins: "But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks? / It is the east, and Juliet is the sun. / Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon.” It even includes the lines I have been repeating in my head for the past few days, “It is my lady, O, it is my love!” O, a romantic!

I was so ready with my response. I wrote back what Juliet says when she hears an as yet unidentified man in her orchard talking to her, “What man art thou, that, thus bescreened on craigslist, / So Stumblest on my counsel?” I mean how more appropriate could a response be? It even showed wit. Except, except I wrote my age in the subject line. Maybe he really is looking for a Juliet (which would be a 13-year-old), or someone closer to her age than I am.

Except for the twenty-year-old who responded to my ad saying that he always wanted to have sex with an older woman, my age doesn’t generally act as bait. And if a man discounts a woman just for her age, then I might as well be upfront about it.

I have a ten-year age range: five years younger or five years older than me, that seems about right on a superficial level. But the “men” seem to have a different idea. Forty-year-olds seem to not want women in their forties. I, obviously, can’t be sure why men don’t respond to responses. Maybe they are intimidated by responses with no spelling or grammatical errors? But my declaration of age—yes, I am as old as you are (maybe even a year older!) and so, probably, as potentially graying, decaying, and burdened as you—may not be what they desire.

At this point, I am not looking to enter into a November-August relationship (that would be he is November). I would like to meet someone who is approximately where I am in life, with similar challenges and concerns. Why would I seek out someone who is looking for a retirement home in Florida? (I am assuming that, keeping with men’s desire for younger women, my age would be attractive to this age group.)

Oh, it was so easy when I was in my twenties. I didn’t have to entice anyone online; I didn’t have to reveal my age and body type to strange strangers so that they could cross me off since I didn’t meet their requirements. I could just walk down the streets of New York and Israel and Ireland and meet men. Yes, I had the power! But now, now I’m not sure what I have, but it’s obviously not the power. (Except with one man, but he turned out to be married, so that kind of negated the whole “you’re the woman for me” thing.)

I was 24 when I got married; I got married young not just because I met the love of my life (I hope not!), but because I looked forward to sharing my life with someone. The sharing of lives and dreams (theoretically, since it obviously didn’t work out that way) was what I sought. Maybe because I have always been an independent spirit that groundedness of being part of a couple was good for me (at least initially). So this solitary life, while it suits my personality, does not bring me joy. And so I am compelled to see if there is someone out there, if there is a truer love, even though each non-answered response tears at me. At this age—47—I should have developed thicker skin, but it is just as sensitive as when I was younger, but at least then the encounters were kinder, at least then there were encounters.

* * *

Looking for Love on Craig's List (3): More One-Date Wonders

Some more one date wonders from Craig's List. You don't wonder why they are unattached, you do wonder, though, how they got so far in life (age-wise only) without having learned anything about women, and how men need to interact with women.

Divorced? Oh, yes.

Before agreeing to meet, I asked Thomas his marital status. (There's a reason for the question which I haven't brought up yet, it is because of the separated man who was not as upfront as he should have been about the degree of his separation.) Thomas told me that years ago his wife had left him and their two young sons, because she felt that "she couldn't do it," and that he raised them himself. One was in college and the other had already graduated. What the heck, I thought, maybe a sensitive man.

So, when we met for wine and appetizers, I was a bit stunned when his life story had an important chapter that he had not mentioned when answering my question. It seems that there was another marriage. It seems, too, that his answer that he was divorced only referred to wife number one, not wife number two. From her he had only been separated for two months. Oh, and while he was figuring out what to do, he was living in a friend's basement.

Need I say that there were no more meetings. But I did get a needed ego boost, he asked me out again at the end of the date.

Widowed for how long ago?

I was definitely looking forward to meeting the successful Jewish widower, who was semi-retired at 35, totally devoted to his children and cared for his wife through her illness. Can I say that I was thinking "rescue" as he described his life and what he was looking for in a woman. But, as always, there were some hints at wrinkles in the smooth sail to early retirement with him.  First, his wife passed away less than three months prior. Try as I could to validate his rush to remarry, it still made me feel uneasy. I was separated for three years before I ventured into the field. Also, he did have some lack of esteem issues, even though he built a successful business that was supporting his early retirement, he kept commenting on how intelligent other people were. I mean who's afraid of an English teacher once they gets out of high school?

When we met, in one of my favorite restaurants (I was going for food with him, not coffee), he stared at me, assessing my observable qualities. But, vixen that I am, I stared right back at him. Perhaps my forthrightness was not the way to win the man who was willing to buy an $800,000 beach condo for his next wife as he had done for his deceased wife. Ah, well. I didn't really want to retire from life at 47 to have sex, eat breakfast, have sex, go for a walk on the beach with him for the rest of my life. It had an unseemly quality, since he wanted to "save" someone from her trailer park life with his McMansion lifestyle. Besides, I have things I still want to do.   

Insight from a Singer-Songwriter

And then there was Jeremy, the singer-songwriter who, upon meeting at Greenberry's Coffee Shop got me a cup of coffee, but none for himself, since he only likes Starbucks and had just had a cup. What to say to that?

As he told me about his two divorces and three children, his being estranged from his two children from his first marriage because she poisoned them against him, and how his second ex-wife was moving with his daughter to California, I kept thinking RUN LAURA RUN. And I should have, because when he espoused to me his opinion of my life, I became poisoned by his thoughts. According to his version of Zen philosophy, I am where I am in my life because that is I where I have led myself and where I want to be. How people think that we really are masters of our fate, and that we have control over other people and their actions, stuns me. Is this a man thing? this impression that you are the rudder, mast, and even wind of your life? So now, every once in a while, I have Jeremy's "insight" swirling about in my head, as if I need even more negative thoughts there.

By the way, Jeremy, you have a lot less hair than in your picture, and your teeth are much yellower, too.

Needless to say, Jeremy won't be writing any songs about me.

Looking for Love on Craig's List (2): One Date Wonders

One Friday night, while I was in a coffee shop, alone, waiting to pick up my younger daughter from a dance (she's twelve), I looked at two men sitting at a table across from me and had an epiphany, a tough one at that. It looked to be a father and son; the father was still in a suit and tie and sat stiffly in his chair while the son had the scruffy slouched look that some men can carry off, and he, indeed, carried it off. As I looked at them I realized that the last time I dated, twenty-five years ago, I would have dated the son, but now, now I would have to set my sights on the father, and that was tough to bear. My eye, my mind, still has me looking toward the young man because that's what I expect and am "used to," and not the father-of-the-bride, who I must grow used to (sigh).

My last posting about Looking for Love on Craig's List talked about the men who didn't get to the ball park with me, never mind any of the bases. But have no fear, there have been some dates, although there is no mystery here, I am still alone on Friday nights.


There was one glorious weekend when I had three dates set up. I felt on the pinnacle, certain that something would come out of that, I mean I had already screened them through emails and I figured that at least one would work out. I did keep the thoughts of what to do if I liked all of them in check, but I was feeling mighty good.

Now I must say that I haven't done more than a week of emailing without a meeting. Call me shallow, but I want to see the person before I become too invested in him. It's not that looks count for everything, but if there is a relationship it won't be via email, but face-to-face meetings. So the emailing was a first screening, but certainly not a venue for falling in love.

Health Issues Are Not a Turn-on

On Saturday morning I met the librarian from New York. Seemed promising, I'm from New York and love books, too. I was a bit anxious at his being single at 48, but that wasn't cause enough to discount him. The brunch date went well, if you call learning about his health concerns, current and future, and his mother, and her health concerns, current and future, to be of interest. And add to that the fact that he didn't seem to have ever established himself, and I just withdrew mentally. It's not that I am looking for someone rich to step in and save me (although that doesn't sound like a bad idea), he just seemed, still, so unformed, so unable to make a decision. I'm sure that I didn't fascinate him either, I felt my bubbles just fade in his presence. There were no follow-up emails in either direction.

To Date or Not to Date

My Saturday evening date was with a man who I didn't find particularly attractive on-line, but I thought, maybe he'll look better in person. He didn't dazzle me in the word department either, but I thought, "a date, a date, go on a date." Well, at the time and locale of the meeting, wearing the brown coat that he was supposed to be wearing, and being the right height stood a bald man who looked so unappealing to ME that the very thought of even spending an hour with him was too of-putting. Now I am not opposed to bald men, but in the picture there was hair. I was just so not drawn to him that I decided not to meet him. Yes, I stood him up. I went into the hotel by which we were meeting, went to the bathroom, considered my decision, and kept to it. I do not have to do anything I don't want to do--on the boy-girl front. Rather than forcing myself to do something that I was uncomfortable with, I decided to act on my own intuition. Call me mean, call me selfish, call me what you will, but after so much time of doing what I am supposed to do, I felt EMPOWERED to do what I wanted to do. Granted, it was a negative thing, I know that, but it was, for me, the right thing. One more step on the path of reconstructing myself.

I drove home, wrote him an apologetic email, that at the last minute I couldn't make it and sorry. He was nice, emailed back expressing his concern, and then again a few days later. But I just let it go.

Who's Sally

On Sunday night I was to meet a "well-known" poet from Washington State. The first thing he said to me was that he had to thank Sally for getting him to the meeting point on time. Sally, I thought, who's Sally? Maybe it's a colleague who knows the area since he's new here? Maybe he stopped to ask someone named Sally for directions? Seeing my confusion, he took his GPS out of his pocket, and, showing it to me, said, "Sally, she helped me get here," and then he cackled. Oh, Sally--you talk to your GPS system. Should I say that the date ended there? Because, really, who wants to date a man who has a relationship with his GPS? But no, after feeling bad (I admit it) for standing up the man the previous night, I figured that I would go through with this date.

I had been thinking about having coffee and a piece of chocolate cake all day. But when he got to the cashier he asked me, "coffee?" I said "yes," and that was it. There was no invitation to order something else. And since I already knew the future with this man, I just let it go. I figured I'd stop at the supermarket on the way home and get something very chocolately to take home and enjoy, a night cap if you will.

The poet tried to make a joke about the name of the town where I live, but his humor (obviously) was lost on me. I tried to clarify what he was talking about. And again he cackled with himself. And so it went. After less than an hour I felt that I had been through the longest date in history. Thankfully, there were no follow-up emails. I can just picture him, commenting on my lack of a sense of humor, to Sally as she directed him home.

More one-daters to come, including: the wealthy Jewish widower, the karma-knowing singer-songwriter; and the divorced man with an unknown present.

Looking for Love on Craig's List

Part I.

Responding to their Ads: On-line Encounters Only

When the time came to look for love after my divorce, I realized that I don’t meet any men at work since I am a high school English teacher. So I headed to the internet. After all, a cousin had met her husband on JDate, and a colleague had met her husband on Yahoo Personals, and stories kept coming about people who met their true love on-line.

I went to the CL site for my area, and under Personals clicked on “Men Seeking Women.” Since I had already determined that I was looking for men in my age range, I didn’t have many ads to read, since most postings were by men in their twenties and thirties. After skipping over (after a cursory reading, I admit) the postings by men who were looking for sundry aspects of non-traditional sex roles and activities, I came upon the posting by an artist from Ireland. It seemed interesting, and I figured that a creative person would be sensitive and intelligent. So I emailed him, and the dialogue began.

Things looked good; we seemed to be interested in what the other had to say. That is until I read his response to my question about his marital status: “Pulled a 12 year stint in NYC with the same female. Fathered a young son, 6 years ago.” What was that? Would I be a “female” or a “stint” with this man? Could a caring man actually say that he “fathered a child”? Without any qualms, I decided to not contact Artist man again. But, I guess I had intrigued him (lucky me). His 6pm email to the unanswered 9am email asked if I wanted to meet for a beer. My response was, “Don't think so. I have to say, your responses to the personal questions were kind of cold. What’s a ‘stint’ with a woman?” To which he promptly replied, “Oh, I have been concentrating on deadlines. Good luck to you.” Obviously, he should stick to work. After momentarily considering a response, I decided to let it go, what could I possibly teach a man who sees people as two-dimensional objects?

Back to CL. Unfortunately, “seeking like spirit – 45” wasn’t interested in a “46-year old mother, daughter, sister, friend, writer, and teacher,” so he never got back to me. Nothing I can do to change those things, nothing that I figured was offensive except, maybe, my age?

Onward. Next was Harry* who, how shall I put it, put me off with his “pic.” As I scrutinized his picture I kept trying to imagine wanting to kiss him. And I couldn’t. So I didn’t get back to him. As a sign of what goes around comes around, I did not get to see Springsteen with John or to a basketball game with Steven because, well, they didn’t like my pic. I tried to ease my ache by telling myself that they probably wanted someone younger, but I have to say to be rejected online for my looks is tough. It’s not like at a bar or a party where you don’t go up to the people who you are not attracted to or to whom you can with a simple expression let them know that you are not interested. Oh the pain, oh the angst, oh the bluntness of it all. I know, I know, I rejected Harry because he didn’t appeal to me, but ‘tis easier to reject than to be rejected. It started sinking in that meeting men online was not going to be as easy as I had initially thought. There is a lot of culling going on with so many people to choose from. Realizing that you have been tossed so readily is hard to take.

The desperation grew. How could it be so hard I kept wondering? I tried with “Looking for LTR for My Ex-Husband—50” but the ex-wife decided that I was not worthy of her ex-hubby. Then there was the “atypical ad” where all of the words, but one, began with an “a.” Okay, a bit corny, but I am an English teacher and such attention to language interested me. I was pretty blunt with him, even letting on that my thighs are not my favorite part of my body. But, alas, honesty got me nowhere.

“You seem like a pretty wonderful person. Sadly for me, the way you described yourself doesn’t sound like what I’m looking for physically. So with the  physical incompatibility, you living in suburbs, not living alone, being a mother, being in your 40’s… all by themselves may be ok but together they present too many cons to justify anything other than  pen-pals.”

Could he find anything else to say to reject me? And he didn’t even know that I have BAGGAGE from my marriage.

After that, the were rejections flying: my pic not loved, or their pics not loved. That is until Mark, a recently divorced man with two children. When Mark wrote that he would be the happiest man in the world if he could have a horse, I once again sat opposite the computer and pondered. Now I was confronted with a middle-aged man who felt that he would be fulfilled by a horse. I had my horse phase (when I was in my early teens), but the idea that a horse would make me happy now was so absurd that I figured we would not be compatible.  But rather than let his email fade into the night, I felt that I should reply. “I think I'll pass. Good luck to you in this new chapter.” Alright, not a great response, but I at least did not ignore him. He then emailed me asking me:

Was there something wrong with asking you if you were busy?  I wasn’t propositioning you. More confusion.  I really don't understand women today, but I’m new at this and will keep trying.

I should have just let it go, but I felt that I needed to inform this man how women think.

We’re still the same women you knew twenty years ago, in the same way that you are the same man you were twenty years ago. No, I did not see your email as a proposition but asking out for a date, which is fine—nice even. I just had the sense, from our emails, that our interests are different. Nothing deeper than that.

That didn’t seem insensitive to me, it said what I felt and said it in a nice way—I thought. But not, apparently, to Mark:

Thank goodness I've grown and I'm not that same man I was 20 years ago.  Back then, if someone didn't interest me, I'd say "I think I'll pass".  Today I would probably respond with the things I like to do to see if there might be something in common.

Why does he think that he should be the one to decide if there might be a connection between us? Why couldn’t he accept that I had realized that it wouldn’t work and take that at face value? And I certainly did not like that he was telling me how to respond to him, and that he would have responded in a better way. The main reason that I had divorced my husband was because he was trying to control me; this email made me see how insidious that controlling urge was in some people. (I want to say ‘men’ here, but I have a friend whose wife is quite the controller.) Maybe I’m hyper-sensitive, but that is where my life has led me, but still, isn’t that the advantage of emailing, you can delete the people who you fear will simply lead you to repeat past errors?

Ah. Then there was H. Mile who for one day emailed me ten times, and then abandoned ship at about five pm. Maybe things were boring at the office that day and I was a diversion. Who knows? Oh, and then Alan was in my inbox. I didn’t find him particularly interesting or attractive, but felt a great need to go on another date, and since he didn’t do anything too offensive, we made plans. But a day before our date Alan emailed: “I have met someone and we decided this weekend to be exclusive as we have the same basic desires and dreams.  I'm sorry.  Good luck with your search.” Thanks Alan. His response made me feel the pressure, the pressure of all of those men and women looking for love on CL—now.

Things seemed to change when I began a wonderful exchange with Chris, who told me that he smiled when he saw that he had received an email from me, and that they would go down in the annals of Craig’s Listian lore for their eloquence and humor. Alas, they came to an abrupt end after our one and only phone call. When he asked, “Where’s your ex?” I replied, truthfully, unfortunately, “In the house, he won’t leave and we haven’t been able to sell it yet.” I could feel the tenor of the conversation change. So, instead of meeting a man I seemed to finally click with, I was alone again, still. These men don’t seem to like baggage or complications, but what is a 47-year-old woman who has lived life to do?

But I had not given up hope of finding love on CL until Terrence’s email. When I didn’t get back to him when he expected me to, he emailed me:

I knew you were going to have an excuse, which is so typical of women. God, what scares you women so much from telling a man he’s not your type? Such cowards. You always dodge, duck and make up excuses. So what? So you don’t like my looks? Big deal? I will just find another woman who does. You have nothing that every other woman doesn’t have.

God, I wish you women would one day be honest.

I decided it was break time. I had enough exposure to the vagaries of men's personalities for a while. This whole meeting via email seemed like such a good idea (easy even!) in the beginning, but the unfiltered entry into some of these men's minds was so off-putting that the bluntness of a bar was beginning to appeal to me.

But maybe “Ready to Meet Someone New – 44” is different?   

* All email names have been changed.

I’d love to hear your experiences with on-line dating.