I decided in the spring to take Evan Marc Katz's advice and try online dating again, only this time, try it his way. My plan was to spend the summer having fun, dating everyone, and not worry too much about any of it until the fall, provided I actually found anyone interesting on these sites. Three months isn't very long, but I did learn some things about those crazy animals we call men and what it takes to actually try and have a relationship with them. Here are some of the things I learned:
1. There is a difference between chemistry and biology, but you need one or the other at least or a relationship will never work.
Evan Marc Katz talks a lot about chemistry (as in that spark you feel for someone you are sexually/romantically attracted to), but I like to take it a little more in depth thanks to an episode of Parker Lewis Can't Lose (way back from the '90's). They discuss chemistry AND biology, as in Parker Lewis (played by the adorable Corin Nemec) was debating who he should take to the dance; a larger awkward girl with an amazing personality, or a knockout blonde with a mean streak. He said he had amazing chemistry with the larger girl and his friend observed "But not much biology."
I found this interesting. Chemistry, I believe, is when two people gel mentally, emotionally, on all levels, and if they are lucky, physically too. Biology is just physical. It's easy enough to have biology with anyone who looks like Chris Evans, but it might be harder to develop biology with someone who looks like Woody Allen. For me anyway, I don't always have chemistry with someone who looks like Chris Evans. I do think biology can develop from very strong chemistry. Usually chemistry doesn't form out of just strict biology, though. I dated a hot firefighter for a whole summer once and he looked like Adonis. We had nothing in common and he was a jackass. Sometimes the chemistry isn't strong enough to build a biological attraction. Sometimes I wonder if two people have so much chemistry that they might actually be too much of the same person. This summer I dated someone I had tons of biology with; I dated someone I had tons of chemistry with; I dated a good-looking, fun guy with a motorcycle, who I felt neither chemistry or biology with (I was running away from him physically by the fourth date); and I dated someone with whom I had a nice balance of both chemistry and biology. I guess the lesson here is to find that nice balance. You don't want to date a great-looking moron who has nothing to say to you. You also don't want to date yourself.
2. Evan Marc Katz is right - believe the negative, ignore the positive.
This one I find interesting. Women tend to put up with a lot of crap just because a guy does a few sweet things, or looks good in a burlap bag, or gives the best orgasms in the world (this is a myth, by the way. Sorry, boys, but you can't give a woman an orgasm, she has to help it along on her own). I have learned along the way that I may have chemistry and biology with someone, but if he's kind of a jackass, none of that matters. Once again, Adonis Firefighter comes to mind. He was so beautiful I did put up with a lot of shit for a summer, but then when he left for Texas, told me he loved me and wanted me to come with, I said, sorry buddy, no way. Also, the red flags are going to end up being deal breakers and all the chemistry and biology in the world aren't going to fix that. I had crazy chemistry and biology with the Drug Dealing Felon, but in the end, well, he was a Drug Dealing Felon. Sure we could talk all night, finish each other's sentences, read each other's minds, and feel each other's emotions, but I was always going to come second to his addictions. Chemistry and biology alone do not a relationship make. There has to be respect, kindness, and loyalty. I think I could sooner deal with a nice, respectful, loyal guy with lots of biology, than a lot of chemistry but zero attraction, or lots of chemistry and biology but no compatibility. Bottom line is, I'm no longer in my twenties. I no longer find jackasses and damaged alpha males with attitude problems attractive, and I don't care how many flowers he brings me.
3. Texting does not create intimacy, no matter how many months and how often during the day one texts.
What is with these guys who just text and text and text and expect a relationship to spring out of that? Cyber relationships seem to be all the rage. I'm suspicious of anyone who just wants to text or Facebook little love notes all day long, but never actually wants to get together to meet or go on a date. Three things go through my mind: What is he hiding, is he already in a relationship, and why does he have so much time to waste online. Doesn't he have a job?
4. Looks don't matter. Neither does size.
I have had crazy attractions to some of the gawkiest, dorkiest looking guys one ever wants to see. I was ass over teakettle in love with a guy who tattooed naked ladies all over his forearms, had gauged piercings in his ears, and nipple piercings. I've experienced zero attraction to men who are considered extremely handsome (Brad Pitt does NOTHING for me), and have turned my nose up at the stud in the bar that all the women are drooling over. Looks don't matter. It's more about the pheromones. Those can only be gauged in person, thus attraction can only be gauged in person. You can't tell from a picture if you are going to be attracted to someone. It doesn't matter how many cute, clever, fun emails he writes, how many long winded conversations about Star Wars you have, or how much his profile picture looks like Chris Hemsworth. If you meet in person and he can't generate even an iota of attraction from you, then that relationship isn't going to work. And on that note, size doesn't matter either. I'm not a tall lady, so I don't have the struggles tall ladies do, but does it really matter if a guy is everything you wanted and more, but happens to be an inch shorter than you in Monolo Blahniks? And for the record, I may be short but I've dated guys shorter than me. I think short is cute. I just feel like it's unfair to write a guy off for a physical attribute he has zero control over. I don't want to be written off for wearing a size 32A bra, so I'm not going to write off a guy for his diminutive height. And speaking of size, there is another size he can't control. I'm no expert, but I have some experience with a few different sizes here. If he knows how to use it, it doesn't matter really how big it is.
5. And yet, it doesn't matter how not shallow one thinks they are, they are always a little shallow.
Even when looks don't matter, they do a little bit. I'm not going to go so far as to say I'm not a little shallow as a certain gentleman suitor's six-pack abs about drove me over the edge, and that was just what I felt through his shirt. I immediately became eager to learn more about what was going on underneath that shirt. He turned bright red and told me to stop tickling him. No, lacking a set of six-pack abs is not a deal breaker, but you know, I'm going to enjoy them while they are in my face.
6. Some people are a slow burn.
I found that it takes a couple of dates sometimes for me to develop an attraction towards someone. This is why I always give someone at least two dates unless he was a complete jackass on the first date and behaved disrespectfully or cruel. If the person was kind, respectful, and fun I will go out with him again because everyone is nervous on a first date. After all, on a first date you don't really know the person. I went out with one guy three times before I realized that I really liked him, and by the fourth date I was pretty attracted to him. If I had written him off after the first date because I wasn't quite feeling it yet, I would have missed out on getting to know someone pretty great. Ultimately that one didn't work out, but I don't regret the time I spent with him, and I had fun. I don't have a bad thing to say about him, but we just didn't quite fit.
7. A guy will say anything to get you into bed.
If a guy really really really wants to sleep with you, he will do and say anything to make that happen, even lie about his true intentions or omit things. It doesn't matter if you've been friends for years or if you thought you could trust him. Sometimes that really is just a front and once he's gotten what he wants, he will most likely disappear. Exercise caution before falling into bed with someone.
8. Most of the time, getting involved with a friend will ruin the friendship.
I have gone down this road several times and I have lost several friends. Mostly it's because they really just wanted to sleep with me under the guise of being a friend. A true friend will stick around even after the fireworks are done. I've had several guy friends proposition dating or friends with benefits during many a lonely stretch between girlfriends. Among the ones I weakened and risked this with, only one is still my friend. He's a true friend. Before getting involved with a friend, make sure you weigh the risks and make peace with the fact that you very well might lose this friend.
9. Dating more than one person at a time divides your focus and keeps you from getting too obsessed over one person.
I've been a serial monogamist all my life, meaning I tend to start dating one guy, get completely wrapped up in him, and then fixate a little too much on him whether he's right for me or not. That's when chemistry and biology can get confused with compatibility (Drug Dealing Felon, anyone?). When I finally learned to date several people at once, I didn't get so wrapped up in the chemistry with one guy that I couldn't focus on other guys. There is something to that saying of don't make someone a priority who is only making you an option. Spread it around a little, get to know a lot of people and decide what qualities you like or don't like. It's a lot harder to get blinded by chemistry and biology with someone when you are seeing a few other someones that are fun and cute too. This way one can make an informed decision about who they want to date exclusively.
10. Dating two people at a time that you like a lot is very complicated.
Unfortunately, for awhile I found myself equally attracted to and liking two guys for completely different reasons. There was chemistry, there was biology, there were good times and fun to be had by all. That just gets complicated then. When you have one who is pulling ahead of the pack, it makes it easier if he asks for an exclusive commitment. When you have another one who you like just as much, it's a lot harder to make the choice between the two, and no I don't believe that if either one was "the one" you wouldn't have to choose. I don't think love, relationships, and dating are that simple.
Of course, I do have to point out here, that eventually one does pull ahead of the pack completely and the problem is usually solved. Sometimes the rose-colored glasses come off for both and the problem is solved as well.
11. A positive attitude about dating really does draw men in.
Once I stopped hating men and feeling cynical, and just started having fun with the whole dating process without expecting anything, men were all over me. At one point I had a date lined up every night, with a lunch date and a dinner date in the same day. Men on the street and at the coffee shop responded differently to me. I had one guy strike up a conversation at the coffee shop while I was writing, just to have a conversation. I had another guy sit down at the piano at the coffee shop and ask me if I had any requests for him to play. They were coming out of the woodwork, being friendly and nice, opening doors for me, striking up conversations, and metaphorically picking my handkerchiefs.
12. Scheduling a date every night for a week might be fun and exciting, but it's also exhausting.
Speaking of that, having a date every night of the week definitely opens one up to meeting a larger amount of people, and incidentally removes the need for grocery shopping that week. However, it can also be exhausting for someone who identifies as an empathic introvert.
13. You are never more popular with the gentlemen than when several of them are vying for your attention.
Good, decent guys don't get crazy stupid jealous, but I have noticed when I have other options they all sort of try a little harder. Of course, I've also noticed that as soon as I show a decent level of interest they seem to lose it and move on to the next chase. That didn't happen so much this summer as in the past. But I will say, I have several stuffed animals, and I've gotten several bouquets of flowers from my suitors.
14. Pay attention to what your pets think of a potential date.
My pets are a good barometer of character. I don't rely on Puckett so much as she hates everyone. Only special cases get on her good side, and then those people I know are legit. But if Percy, Willow, and especially Tess get freaked out by anyone, or don't behave with any kind of friendliness, then I am immediately suspicious of that person. Tess loves everyone and she's only ever growled at two people in her life. If she doesn't like someone there is probably a very good reason, and he is not someone I need to get involved with.
15. Just because someone is a fabulous human being doesn't mean they are a fabulous human being for you.
I dated one guy who is perfectly wonderful on paper. He was good looking, sweet, had basic tastes. He worked hard, played hard, he was kind and respectful and he believed in God. I had some fun on his motorcycle. I just couldn't get there. There was no spark, no magic, no chemistry, no biology. I couldn't figure out why whenever I was with him, but I'm here to tell you, if you kiss a guy and all you feel is a slight wave of revulsion, that is not a good sign. If you have a date scheduled and you are not looking forward to it, even dreading it, and you don't even know why because you do sort of like him as a person, that is definitely not a good sign. End it as quickly and painlessly as possible and move on. It will never happen.
16. Don't talk so much.
As soon as you mention your date to people everyone has an opinion. I am way guilty of this. I talk way too much because when I'm excited over a guy, I tell my friends about him. This is a mistake. You gush a little too much, and your friends are planning your wedding. As soon as you mention any little row or spat with said guy, he is suddenly a loser who is not good enough for you and you should dump him. Take it from me (and I plan to take my own advice) keep it zipped. You can talk to one or two very very trusted nonjudgmental friends, but the rest of them don't need to know unless you received a ring the night before.
17. Don't listen to other people's opinions over your own gut.
This goes hand in hand with don't talk too much. As soon as you are dating a guy or several guys, your best friend, your mother, your boss, your hairdresser all have an opinion of the relationship, the guy, and why is he wearing those painter pants? He's too young or you slept with him too soon or he doesn't have a glamorous job or long distance relationships don't work. I was seeing several guys in the beginning and had different friends on Team This Guy or Team That Guy. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what they think. What do you think? How do you feel about the guy and what deal breakers can you live with?
18. Evan is pretty awesome and knowledgeable, but he doesn't know everything.
Sometimes underdog relationships do work out, sometimes two people who seem to have the least in common end up being the most in love, and sometimes the concept of soul mates isn't completely dead. These are definitely not the norm and don't count on them, but they can and do happen. It's Evan's job to maximize women's chances in falling in love by helping them get out of their own way, but it is also Evan's job to make money off his blog, his products, and his Love U curriculum. Likewise Match.com wants you to find your perfect match, but in reality if you do, they lose money. Keep in mind that self help books on dating, bloggers on dating, and dating sites are first and foremost out for number one. Sure they want to help you, but you are going to have to help yourself, too. Evan's an expert, but even he's admitted to being wrong a few times. Also I've used a lot of his tips and advice without shelling out a single cent and it's been helpful. Use the advice that applies to you, ignore the white noise in the background, and don't completely discount your gut.
19. Don't ever lose sight of your dreams. Dating is fun, but it's very easy to get wrapped up in finding someone that everything else takes a backseat.
It's been several months since I picked up my novel and I'm sort of behind on my freelance writing course. Enough said.
20. As Blanche Devereaux from The Golden Girls pointed out, most dates are just for the stories. However, when the right one comes along, he is almost never who you expected (or who your friends expected).
And have I found that right one yet? Well, I'm taking my own advice and shutting the fuck up. Stay tuned.