Therapy Thursday

I’m sitting in the waiting room at my therapist’s office. There’s this bubbling, gurgling Japanese water fountain in the corner. I think it’s supposed to make me feel more peaceful. On the end table, between two of the waiting room chairs, there’s a miniature Japanese Zen garden. You know the ones, those little square sandboxes with the miniature rake. It’s supposed to be calming to rake the sand around in different patterns. All I can think is that I want to draw obscene pictures. Maybe it’s some sort of Asian Rorschach test and my therapist will realize that I’m some kind of twisted. I decide to leave it alone.

I settle for the latest New Yorker instead. I don’t know why I always make this choice. I can never get through an entire article before my therapist calls me into  his office, but I always choose The New Yorker. What can I say? I like the writing.

My therapist is funny, and by funny, I mean funny weird. You can have your shoes on in the waiting area, but you have to take them off before you enter his office. The other thing that he does is he always asks me, “what’s new and good?” It pisses me off. Every time I go to see him I have to figure out what’s new and good. I figure it’s just one of his methods for making the weight of his job a little less dreary. I mean imagine having to listen to everybody’s problems all day long. It irritates me though, because sometimes, like today, it’s a real struggle for me to come up with something.

The angry couple I heard behind the wall leaves and it’s my turn. My Jewish doctor/Zen master calls me into his office. I slip off my sandals at the door and take my spot on the sofa.

“So, what’s new and good,” he asks.

Here we go.

“Um, I wore slip-on shoes today?”

“No, there must be something. Come on. What’s new and good?” he says. He’ll embrace my inner child but not my inner smart ass.

I don’t fucking know. I’d been wracking my brain all the way over to his office in my car, and I couldn’t come up with anything. Now, he waits. He sits there and waits. He’ll wait at $120 an hour until I come up with something, which is why I usually try to come up with something acceptable in the car.

Oh for fuck sake.

“Um, I’ve made it to all of my personal training appointments, three times a week, for the past three months?”

“Great! How does that make you feel?”

“Strong. Strong and still fat.”

“Strong is good.”

I can tell he’s trying to work with me here.

“I’m stronger than I was in my twenties.”

“That’s good, especially considering where you were last year.”

It’s true. A year ago, I was still broken, physically broken from a bicycling accident and emotionally broken from my divorce. I had done the right thing. I got a trainer for my body and a therapist for my mind. Things were looking up.

“What else is going on?”

“Well, I think I’m obsessing.”

“About what?”

“Well, there’s this guy I’ve been corresponding with through email…”

I start to tell him about My Stalker/Super Fan. I tell him how he’s charming, funny, intelligent, and…a complete mystery.

“He says he’s #100.”

“Do YOU think he’s #100? What does #100 mean for you at this point?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know anything about him. He could turn out to be a hairy troll beating off in a basement for all I know. The scary part is that I find myself looking forward to his emails and thinking about him during the day…and I don’t even know what he looks like! It’s ridiculous!”

“What is it that you like about him?”

“He’s hilarious. I laugh out load when I read his emails, and there’s this, sort of, in charge, kind of charisma that seems to come through in his emails. For the most part though, I feel like the rest of it is just one big Cinderella fantasy that I’m making up in my head, like he’s going to come sweeping in at the end of this and whisk me away to live happily ever after or some shit…Mr. 100. Whoo hoo! That shit NEVER happens to me. My life is never a fairy tale. It’s more like tragedy and comedy…or a horror story.”

“I hear a couple of things going on here. First, you need to base your decisions and feelings on reality, not fantasy.”

“I know. I know. I know. I need to reign it in. I know I’m falling into that fairy tale bullshit I was sold as a little girl. You know, the prince comes and saves the princess and they live happily ever after. I have a business degree for crying out loud. I can choose between two separate investments based on their net present value, but I can’t seem to evaluate a good guy from a bad guy. It’s like I’m hoping this guy will be my knight in shining armor or something and it’s bullshit! I know it’s bullshit!”

I can hear myself getting louder, ranting and rambling, and I stop and look at my therapist.

“I’ve just had really rotten luck with men,” I finally admit in defeat.

“I know. You deserve a man who loves you, but that love has to be based on fact, not fiction. Just like any of your other dates, if you’re really interested in this guy, you need to take the time to get to know him. Ask him questions. You’ll have to ask a lot of questions and meet face to face before you decide if what you’re feeling is real or not.”

“Yeah, I know,” I sigh and look out the window.

“But, that brings me to the other thing I was going to say, which is, do you think you could believe that something good could happen to you?”

“Oh,…well,…I don’t know.”

The question floods my mind with thoughts of how in love I had been with STBex and I have to fight back tears. Look how that turned out. How was I going to love again and be able to trust those feelings after I had been so betrayed?

“I hear you building this guy up to be a prince and then, just as quickly, writing him off because you don’t think he’s going to come through for you. What if you took time to get to know him, and he actually turned out to be a good guy?”

“That would be nice for a change.”

“And, that would be a good thing, right?”

“Yeah, it would.”

My therapist goes on to suggest exercises to refocus my attention when my fantasizing about My Stalker/Super Fan gets out of control, and, again, he reminds me to slowly figure out what’s real and what’s fantasy. I realize that waiting to meet My Stalker/Super Fan until date #100 is probably a good thing. You gotta admit: it’s slow. If Man #100 is really going to wait to date me, at the rate my dating is going, it could be another two years before we meet face to face. If My Stalker/Super Fan really believes he’s Man #100, he either has incredible perseverance, is unusually goal driven, or maybe he’s the one who’s fantasizing. There are long odds on Man #100.

I slip my shoes on as I leave my therapist’s office and exit into the sunlight to head to my car. My mind feels more clear…at least for now.

Photo here.

Ok, I’ll Try OkCupid

If you are a reader who has been following my adventures since the beginning, you may have wondered how I happened to get an email from my STBex on OkCupid if I wasn’t on OkCupid.  Well, the truth is; I’m now on OkCupid.

Last year, when I initially set up my online dating profiles, I was unfamiliar with the dating sites that had not existed before I met STBex.  I was aware of eHarmony and match.com, but the free sites like PlentyofFish and OkCupid were new to me.  If you have been reading from the beginning, you may recall that, because I received a message that my computer was attacked by malware while I was browsing OkCupid, I had decided to forego creating a profile on that site at that time.

I had settled on a paid subscription on match.com and a free profile on Plentyoffish.

Despite my failure to create a profile on OkCupid, they apparently had enough information about me to send a birthday message last year, which, although I was pissed to get a notice that I was a year older, served as a reminder that I should go broaden the age range of men I’m interested in on the other dating sites.  Even at that point, however, I refused to fill out an online dating profile on OkCupid.  Over the past year, however, I’ve talked to some of my friends and readers and discovered that quite a few of them were using OkCupid to meet people.  I try to keep an open mind about these things, so I finally decided to go check it out in more detail, malware or not.

Quite honestly, my newfound interest in OkCupid really came down to two things.  First, my six month free membership with match.com, which I had managed to score by qualifying for their guarantee, ran out, and they automatically billed me $107 for another year.  I called match.com’s customer service and had the charges reversed.  Quite frankly, I couldn’t justify the price.  I had only gone on 7 dates from match.com in a year.  That’s $15.29 plus tax per date!  Now, some of you romantics out there might be thinking,…

…getting winked at,…$8.92 per month,…

…coffee date with a man from match.com,…$15.29 + coffee

…meeting the man of your dreams…priceless,

…but I don’t think so.  Ok, maybe, yes, meeting the man of my dreams would be priceless, but I don’t think I’m going to find him on match.com.  I just don’t think so.

First of all, you have to remember that I am extremely cheap, by which I mean frugal. Plus, I have no evidence to prove that my $15 dates were of any better quality than my free dates from Plentyoffish and Craigslist.  In fact, when it comes to bang for my buck…

…wait…no,…sadly, I can’t say that.

There has been no banging.

(Sigh)

Anyway, what I was going to say was that, despite the horror stories one hears about Craigslist, the two free ads I had placed on Craigslist had resulted in far more dates than any of the time and energy I had put into creating and editing my online dating profiles.  Furthermore, I have had a number of dates from Craigslist that have gone quite nicely, so, consequently, I just didn’t see the point in paying $107 dollars plus tax for another year of being winked at by men on match.com who never seem to ask anyone out.  I politely insisted that Match reverse the charges on my credit card and hide my profile.

It’s official.  I am no longer on match.com.

The other factor affecting my decision to try OkCupid was that I have come to believe that there are no literate men on Plentyoffish.  You may recall the creepy, poorly worded email I received last year.  Sadly, this email is representative of most of the messages I have received from men on Plentyoffish.  Most men will forego saying anything about my feet, but, as far as grammar and spelling are concerned, this is pretty much what communication on Plentyoffish looks like.

Plus, Plentyoffish has this feature called “Meet Me,” where you can simply click through a series of pictures and click yes or no as to whether or not you would like to meet the person in the picture.  I swear; every time I receive an email telling me someone wants to meet me, I open it, and have the same reaction that occurs when I find a long forgotten container in the back of my refrigerator, pop it open, and discover something truly sickening inside.  We’re talking fear and gag reflex in one motion as I race to close it.  Because of this, I have gotten to the point where I don’t even open “Meet Me” emails from Plentyoffish anymore.  I also don’t open the weekly email I receive telling me that I have new matches.  If I receive an actual email from a man on Plentyoffish, I will go check it out.   Let’s face it, sometimes it’s just damned amusing and makes for good blog fodder.

I don’t want to say that all of my Plentyoffish dates have been bad.  That’s not true.  I have had a few good ones, but the ratio of good dates and emails to bad is just far too low.

All this is to say that I had become tired of the fish on Plentyoffish, and I was ready for a change, hence my decision to finally give OkCupid a try.  OkCupid has an interesting feature where they ask questions, and then match people up by the percentage of questions you have that are similar.  Therefore, when you look at a person’s profile, it will say something like,

95% Match, 89% Friend, 10% Enemy.

Now, this I find rather interesting.   There seems to be an unlimited supply of questions to answer.  One guy I found had answered upwards of 1400 questions.  I have not answered anywhere close to that amount, but it did make me wonder about something.  You have to remember that, with my new MBA, I have taken statistics.  As a person answers more and more questions on OkCupid does a linear regression occur allowing for increased accuracy in the site’s matching capability?

Now, I’m probably WAY over-thinking this.  After all, some of the questions on OkCupid are pretty stupid.  Perhaps with more questions answered you are more likely to be matched with a drunken college student, for that is who I think may have written a lot of these questions.  However, it does make you wonder, and it is rather comforting to be able to cruise through the answers and discover that the man you might be interested in…

…does not want to be peed on during sex,

or

…does not think it’s ok to tell racist jokes,

or

…does not want an open relationship.

Pick your poison.

So, anyway, there you have it.  I am officially on OkCupid, and I’ve already had three dates, which I will tell you about very soon.  Have a great weekend.

My Daily 5 – My Online Dating Profile Rant

Since I’ve been buried in schoolwork for the past three weeks I haven’t had time to log on to match.com and check my Daily 5 like I should.  For anyone unfamiliar with match.com, the Daily 5 are the profiles of five men (or women, depending on your gender) that are selected by match.com and sent to a person’s profile each day.  You choose from three buttons: yes, maybe, and no, depending on whether you’re interested in meeting the prospects or no.

Match.com has not been a very productive venue for me and my online dating adventures lately.  I’m not sure why this is exactly. Perhaps I’m not logged in enough.  I just can’t stand the idea of looking like I’m online all the time like that.  Who wants someone who looks like they’re logged onto an online dating site 24/7?  I have a life, and to keep myself signed into match.com or Plentyoffish seems like it would look, well, desperate, or worse, skeazy.  It’s just my personal preference, but it may be one of the factors contributing to the fact that I’m not getting many dates from match.com.

The other factor is that I find reading men’s profiles extraordinarily boring and it takes a lot of effort for me to send an email to any of them.  (Despite the fact that I don’t like to make the first move, I have to send at least 5 emails to new men each month in order to qualify for match.com’s 6 month guarantee.)  This brings me back to my Daily 5.

Everyday, 5 new profiles arrive. Everyday, 5 profiles look and sound the same.  A while back, fellow blogger, Zak, wrote about things girls should say in their profiles, and he made some really good suggestions.  After reading his post, I made changes to my own profile, and recently, one of the best compliments I received was when a man told me that my profile was different from most of the other profiles he had read.

Similar rewrites of men’s profiles would help the banal experience of online dating immensely, and would make those men who took the time to write a unique profile stand out from the pack.  I’ve taken the following quotes from some actual online dating profiles on match.com, and here are some thoughts on this subject from my own experience:

  1. “I’m a social guy.”  This shows up a lot in men’s profiles.  What does this mean exactly? Does this mean that the man is a party animal?  Is he good at business networking? A shameless flirt who will be out every night?  Telling women that you are a social guy tells them nothing. If a man is going to write about being “social,” it would be better to describe what types of social situations he enjoys.  Does he enjoy black tie events or does he love finding a good hole-in-the-wall kind of place that he can escape to with his friends?
  2. “I’m a really easy-going guy.”  Yes, and supposedly so are about 95% of the other guys online.  This has got to be the most over-used line in online dating profiles.  Here again, I don’t know what this line means exactly, but what I have found is that the more a man insists that he’s easy-going (or drama-free or not a player) the more uptight (drama-prone or philandering) he seems to be.  Skip this one.  If it exists in your profile, take it out.
  3. “I like going out for dinner, and trying new places.”  Really? Who doesn’t?  Do you go out because you don’t have a clue how to cook a meal for yourself? What types of new places do you want to try?  Do you like Indian food? Can’t stand Italian?  These are things a woman is going to want to know, especially, for example, if she loves Italian food.  What is it about new experiences that you like?
  4. “I love a good movie.”  Rather than saying that you love a good movie, it would be better to write about your favorite movie genres or your favorite movies and what it was about them that made them your favorites.
  5. “I’m ambitious and work hard.”  This is great to know, but it is a VERY over-used line.  It’s better to write specifically about your work and what you’re passionate about, because one person’s idea of ambition will be different from another’s.  First of all, working hard does not necessarily equal results, and second, a woman could interpret this as, “I’m a workaholic.”  Workaholism is not really a plus when trying to find a mate.
  6. “Hi there. Thanks for looking at my profile.”  This sounds pathetic.  Don’t thank women for reading your profile.  If a woman is really interested in finding a man, she SHOULD be reading your profile. Save your “thank you” for right after the first date or the day after.  Not enough people in today’s world say thank you when they should.  I’m a big believer in saying please and thank you, but thanking women for looking at your profile does not add anything of substance, and it makes you sound a little woosy.
  7. “I love the great outdoors.”  Apparently, all of the men who live is Seattle love the great outdoors.  It makes sense, I suppose.  Seattle is a great place to live if you love the great outdoors.  Unfortunately, in Seattle, this not a differentiator.  Does this mean that I’ll be dragged on a death march up Mount Rainier, or that you have an extensive repertoire of campfire recipes and will be able to perfectly roast me a marshmallow?  What do you like to do in the outdoors?  Do you go sailing?  Do you ski? Have you won any competitions?  Do you know how to tie flies? WHAT?  Don’t just say that you like the great outdoors.  I like the outdoors too, but it usually involves inviting my friends over for BBQ and sitting in my backyard with a glass of wine.
  8. Don’t be angry in your profile.  This shows up in all sorts of ways.  It’s usually just an  undercurrent of bitterness that weaves its way through the profile.  If you find yourself writing about all of the things you DON’T want in a woman in a resentful, bitchy way, check it.  This never sounds good, it’s a total turn-off, and any woman who is remotely attracted to your anger, is not a healthy one.

So, there’s a theme here, right? Be specific.  When the first lines of your online dating profile sound like everyone else’s, your potential match will just look through the pictures and move on.  That means your pictures better be DAMN good!

On that note, make sure that your photos are current.  You don’t want to end up like the Italian Meatball.  Photos should be current and should vary between headshots and photos showing your physique.  If you are bald, take the fucking baseball cap off!  You’re not fooling anyone.   Don’t show 15 photos where you’re wearing cargo shorts, a t-shirt, a baseball cap, crew socks, and tennis shoes.  This seems to be the uniform of men in their thirties and forties.  Show yourself in some casual shots, but also show that you can clean up well.

Finally, if you are seriously trying to find a nice woman, DO NOT take a picture of yourself shirtless in the bathroom mirror with your cell phone.  I delete every profile that has a shirtless man in it.  (This alone might explain why I’m not getting any dates from match.com.  Anthony Weiner’s habit of taking self portraits is really not that unique.)  The thing is, the message this sends is that the man is more interested in meaningless sex than in actually finding a woman for a long-term relationship.  If that’s your thing, great, but then don’t expect the caliber of the women you’re meeting to be particularly high.

Now, I need to go peruse my Daily 5.  I’ll skim the first two sentences, and if that doesn’t catch my attention, I’ll just scroll through the pictures.