My Facebook friends, most of whom are married, love to read my posts about my online dating experiences: guys with twenty-year-old photos of themselves, guys with chest hair shots, guys with pictures of their motorcycles. And of course, the often very odd messages that they write (check out the Annals of online dating and you will be laughing for hours). To me, online dating is a fascinating sociological phenomenon, and it is undoubtedly entertaining. However, it can also be very tedious. Just the e-mails back and forth can become a full time job. Sometimes, I want to meet men the old-fashioned way. But do any of us know how to do that anymore?
My dating coach Sheila Paxton dedicated one of our recent sessions to this very topic, and she asked me about three potential ways to meet a partner: places (you know, like real live places instead of internet sites), organizations, and personal contacts. The funny thing was that I was already one step ahead of her on two of those ideas. A friend of mine had suggested that I meet a friend of hers, and I had announced on Facebook that I was tired of online dating and that I would be donning my new red lipstick (which does seem to be garnering me a lot of attention) and heading out to bars to meet men.
So the following week, I put two of the three strategies in motion (I still haven’t explored the Meetup groups that she suggested). Instead of a bar, I first headed to a café in Cambridge, where there seem to be a lot of single men (maybe they are affiliated with the universities, high-tech companies or whatnot). When I walked in, I noticed a handsome man right away, and he just happened to be occupying two tables when all the other tables were full. So I had the perfect excuse to approach him and ask him if I could use his other table. We got chatting, about his eyeglasses and whether or not he would change his prescription. Hmm…middle age can be sexy, but a conversation about the need for reading glasses? Not so scintillating.
He left, and another attractive grey-haired man walked in and sat right behind me and started reading. I wanted to make eye contact with him, but it was impossible to do so without eyes in the back of my head. I considered blowing it off, but then I remembered the action plan that Sheila had me make, and I reminded myself that I had nothing to lose. So I asked him if he knew if there was a wine store nearby. It turned out that he wasn’t from the area and couldn’t speak very good English, so that conversation never took off.
As I left, I asked the baristas if they knew of a wine store and a really nice woman smiled brightly at me and told me that the market next door sold beer and wine. It reminded me of the article that I wrote a couple of weeks ago about how I have met many of my best friends in public places. If I hadn’t been obviously on my way out, I would have stopped and chatted with her because she seemed great. While the whole exchange didn’t get me a date, I was proud of myself for putting my plan into action, and I reminded myself not to get discouraged right out of the gate. In fact, I felt empowered for just having done it.
A friend of mine recently told me that she once saw a guy who looked really interesting in a café, and that she wrote him a note saying that she thought he was cute and gave him her name and number. Sure enough, the guy called her and they went out on a date. Unfortunately, they were of very different political persuasions, but I certainly admired her pluck. This week a friend of mine shared with me a photo of a business card that read “Hello. I would just like to inform you that I find you to be very attractive. Thank you and have a nice day.” I loved this idea and just might print some up and try them out. At the very least, it would make a good story.
This week, I also had a date with a man that my friend set me up with. Now, I must admit that I have long been a fan of match-making. In fact, I set my sister up with her now husband back in 1991. My friend showed me the man’s profile on Facebook (I guess that would be de rigeur these days), and I noticed that we had a friend in common. Both of my friends said the same thing about him, that he is very smart and very funny, and that at the very least, we would enjoy each other’s company. So he and I met one night for drinks (while my adorable friend babysat!) and had a really great time. All I will say is that we are going to see each other again.
So, I like the idea of getting away from the online dating pool, which can wear on you after a while, and trying some new approaches. When you meet someone in person, it is so much easier to know if you like them. It is also just fun to try new things. I had to push myself out of my comfort zone to try to make these connections. I went to the café when I really just wanted to go back to the comfort of my home. I had to stay up late to talk to this guy on the phone, as he suggested (you’d be surprised how hard it is for my to find phone times when I have the kids). I accepted my friend’s offer to babysit on a weeknight. I had to do things a little differently, and as far as I am concerned, they have paid off greatly. As I told my sister today, a change of routine always gives me energy and excitement. And of course, I am planting seeds that just may bloom in the not too distant future. As Sheila says, it is all practice.
* * * * * * * * *
So, friends, do any of you have any good stories about how you met your partners or any ideas about where to meet good men? I’d love to hear them.