Adventures in Dating, Part III

It’s been a little more than a year since I’ve ventured into the world of  Dating as an Older Adult.  The Reader’s Digest version is that during that time, I’ve met eight men in person. Among these eight,  I’ve made some new friends and acquaintances, but lasting romance remains as elusive as it was at the beginning.  If you want a few of the juicy details, read on.

A few demographics:  They grew up in eight different places:  Minnesota, North Dakota, Puerto Rico, Texas, Vermont, New York, Louisiana and New Jersey.  Of the eight, four live in the American Southwest, and four in the Twin Cities.  I met seven of them online, and one at church.  I initiated contact with six of them, two initiated contact with me. Five I’ve seen multiple times, three of them I’ve met only once.  They range in age from 54 to 70, with four being older than me, and four younger.  Six have children, two do not.  Four have advanced degrees,  two have bachelor’s degrees, and two have no degree.  Five are retired, three are not.  Six are Caucasian, two are Latino.  Two are widowed, seven are divorced (one being both divorced and widowed.)   Five are not religious, one is a Presbyterian, one an Episcopalian, one a Jew. Three are or were college professors, two are or were businessmen,  two are or were civil servants, and one is a prison guard.  Five of them dress well, three of them do not.  All of them write well, and none of them has a motorcycle, boat or dead thing in their profile pictures.  Only one  travels much and can afford to do so.

In reflecting on all of this, one on the eight keeps rising to the top.  Putting him into the matrix above, he comes out like this:  he is from Minnesota, lives in the Twin Cities, and we met online, with me making the  first move. He is younger than me, has two advanced degrees, is not retired, is Caucasian, non-religious, divorced, has children, dresses well and is a self-employed business consultant.  He loves the arts, and I would describe him as energetic, creative, funny, upbeat and the one who likes to and can afford to  travel.

He is also the one who is not interested in dating.  We met in January, have traveled together, and get together about once a month.  We always have a great time.  We went to a concert and then dinner on Sunday.   At dinner he said, “Do you think we are dating?” My response was, “No, do you?”  His response was “No, good!”  He then said he valued our friendship, and didn’t want to screw it up by trying to date.  Maybe this was the truth, maybe just a gentle way of saying he’s not interested.

I told him that when I when I was young, a good friend and  I tried dating,  that that it nearly ruined our friendship, and that we had the good sense to stop before  before it it was too late, and that we are still friends to this day.  Then he asked if he could visit me in Arizona this winter, and I said, “Of course.”  He loves New Orleans.  Then he said something about maybe going to  Mardi Gras together next year.  As friends.

In this process, I’ve learned alot about myself and what I want.  I need to find someone who is social, energetic and engaged in their community, and not a homebody; someone who would rather go to a play, concert, festival  or gallery than watch a movie;  someone who is interested in exploring the world beyond Minnnesota or Arizona;  someone who has had a modicum of success in  life.  Most of this this was not clear to me at the outset.  I owe a debt of gratitute to these eight men for what they have taught me about life.  And about me.

Katie Couric’s advice on dating is to ask your friends to introduce you to their friends.  So friends, I am asking you to keep me in mind.  Meanwhile, Year Two, bring it on!

Aside

Daughter Molly and I started our current adventure on Friday, June 13. Our flight from Chicago to Amsterdam was delayed more than three hours, which caused us to miss our connection to Geneva. We arrived in Geneva six hours later than planned. By the time we got the rental car, it was after 5:00 pm, but the car rental people assured us that we could still make it to Nice, France where we had hotel reservations for the night. They recommended that we take the Italian route, as it was faster and cheaper.

We stopped at about 7:00 for a sandwich, still in France–lovely smoked salmon and cucumbers on a whole-wheat baguette, with strong coffee to keep us awake.

By 9:00 and about $75 in tolls later (this was the cheaper route?) it was getting dark, and we were only in Turin, which was less than halfway to Nice. We spent an hour driving the streets of central Turin in search of a hotel. We stayed at the Hotel Majestic, near the main rail station. We had a nice room on the second floor with a a window that opened on to the noisy street below.

This morning we set off a second time for Nice. Had I known how much time we were going to spend in Italy, I would have tried to expand my six-word Italian vocabulary before we left.

We stopped this morning at an automated, attendantless gas station. The first question was what kind of gas to select, since the categories are not the same as at home. Then there was the question of how to actually GET the gas. There was credit card machine, but it refused my American, chipless credit card. The machine also accepted Euro notes. The machine happliy gobbled up my 20 Euro note and then silently refused to dispense any fuel. An older Italian man stopped for gas, but he spoke no English. None of my six words of Italian helped convey my dilemna, and I lapsed into Spanish, which he seemed to understand at least in part. But alas, he had no solution for us. After he left, we pulled around to the pump he had used, inserted a five Euro note, and then another, and got ten Euros worth of gas. The moral of this story is never put a 20 Euro note in a machine when a five will do.

Our route today took us through an extremely mountainous, but beautiful part of Italy and France. There were many, many tunnels, and I was very glad we had not tried to travel this route at night.

By mid-day we reached Monte Carlo, and spent some time wandering the streets of the “Old” City. We also found the Cathedral where Princess Grace and Prince Rainier were married. We had lunch at a great open air restaurant near the Palace Gardens before we started the last leg of the trip to Nice. Leaving Monaco, we took a tunnel big enough that it had both a fork and a roundabout in it. The right fork and the roundabout brought us to exactly the place that Google maps wanted us to be to get to our hotel in Nice.

I am so happy to be with Molly. These last two days have not been for the faint-hearted traveler. We had what I thought were good maps, but it turns out the road numbers on the maps do not match the signs on the roads. Still, we were lost surprisingly few times–just unsure where we were most of the time. We went back and forth between France and Italy so many times that when we got to Monaco I was still using my six-word Italian vocabulary rather than my 25-word French vocabulary.

We now settled at our hotel in Nice. We will be in France for the next few days–unless we decide to go back to Italy tomorrow before we head to Provence on Tuesday. Buon giorno y bon soir.

My Adventures in Online Dating: Part 2

I’m now nine months into my experiment with online dating, with a two month hiatus that began in mid-March.  Several months ago, I blogged about my experience with online dating at Zoosk and Match.com.  To review, my experience with these two services has been roughly equivalent to a hitter batting less than .001.  Today, I’m sharing my (mostly dismal) experiences with several other dating sites, including OurTime, eHarmony, Chemistry.com and Twoo.  If you want the Readers Digest version, suffice it to say  it’s grim.  If you want the juicy details, read on.

OurTime, the dating site exclusively for those over 50, is to me, boring.   Reading the profiles mostly feels like walking into nursing home after the lights are out. 

There is one guy at OurTime who has been an ardent suitor.  Unfortunately, he made unwise photo choices.  He is quite heavy, and the photo of him in a chair, wearing shorts with his legs splayed apart—perhaps intended to be sexy–simply is not.  It is just….gross.  It has been hard to get out of my mind—in a nightmarish kind of way.

There have been a couple of guys who have emailed once.  But if I don’t get back to them instantly, I don’t hear back from them.  Maybe they have memory issues.  Or maybe they just die of old age in the interim.  There’s no way to know. 

OurTime is the only site that has shown me profiles of men I know.  Two of them to be exact,  both of them lawyers that I’ve known for decades.   The first one I know well enough that he told me in detail once about his son’s bris at age 10 (ouch).  Well enough that when he was handling a high profile case that I thought was stupid a couple of years ago I called him and told him so.  Well enough to know he is a super nice guy, but not dating material for me. 

The second one had a profile that I wasn’t sure belonged to him.  Even though we have lots of common experiences and common friends and we have dinner together once a year at a professional meeting, conversation is always a tough go for me with this guy.  Yet, his profile goes on at some length about how much he enjoys great conversation.  But then, I still think of myself as young and shy……

To be fair, there is one guy from OurTime that I met for coffee.  He was a nice guy, a retired college professor, but he was…old.  It felt sort of like meeting with my father.

So the score at OurTime so far (yawn) is several hundred views (I’m not sure how often the counter resets), no pen pals, and one date.  This is a paid subscription service.

Then there’s eHarmony.  Their format tells you the person’s occupation right away, and this seems to attract a better educated, more successful crowd.  The profiles contain only the occasional bare chest, motorcycle, car or boat, and almost no dead things appear in the profiles. Their computer gives you a handful of names each day, and you can go through a guided “let’s get acquainted” format if you are interested.  Their pool of people seems small, however, and having exhausted all the choices near where I live, I have expanded the search parameters and am now getting matches from places like Dubai, England and Western Australia—none of whom have replied to my inquires.

I met Man #2 on eHarmony.  We had one date, and then 10 days later went on a 3 ½ day road trip of convenience together (which if you if you figure a date lasts three or four hours, counts as quite a few dates, right?)  A friend asked, “Mary, what if he gets ‘ideas’ on the trip?”  (Isn’t that sort of the point?)   But, her concern was for naught: Man #2 and I had a great time, but he had no ‘ideas’ whatsoever. 

So at eHarmony so far, it’s a couple hundred views, one new friend, no romance.  This is a paid subscription service.

Then there is Chemistry.com.  You take a personality test, and their computer matches you to one person at a time.  On Chemistry, I met Man #3, who is a very nice man who lives an hour and a half away.  But Man #3 thinks an hour and a half is too far to drive for romance, and would prefer to date a woman whose first language is Spanish.  Our deal was that we would see each other once a month or so until one of us met someone else, and we did.  I liked his honesty, and we had fun when we got together, but it was clearly not going to be a long-term thing.    So the score at Chemistry.com so far is about 160 matches, one new friend.  This is a paid subscription service that has occasional “free” weekends and events.

I’ve also explored  a social networking site called Twoo.  It is not promoted as a dating site, but it is mostly a dating site.  What is fun about Twoo is that because it is not promoted as a dating site, people actually write to each other!  I’ve been penpalling it with men in Arizona, Oregon, the Netherlands, Egypt, and Morocco.  I get messages in French, Arabic and Spanish.  There is a nice man in Yuma who writes to me in English and I write to him in Spanish.  I may not meet Mr. Right on Twoo, but there is actually social interaction, which is (mostly) fun and refreshing.  And free, although there is a paid subscription option as well.  So the score at Twoo is an undetermined number of views, a handful of pen pals, no dates, no romance.

Next up:  Still more dating sites:  probably to include Plenty of Fish, Cupid and  Geek2geek.