Online daters: please, read your own profile

So here’s the topic of my post today – online daters who seem to not even know what their own profiles say. I recently got back into online dating. I’ve used several sites over the years, both the paid and unpaid sites. I’ve encountered so many profiles for which the owner seems to be clueless about what their own profile says. This is not a good way to make a first impression, assuming you’re looking for an actual relationship and not just a hook-up for the night.

Case in point, today I received an email from a guy who said he’d looked at my profile, found me attractive, thought we had some things in common and that he hoped to hear back from me. So I took a look at his profile. One of the first things that caught my eye was that he was a “cigar aficionado”. In the section of my profile where l list what I’m looking for, the smoking section is tagged “no way”.

That tells me that either he didn’t look at my profile very carefully, or he’s hoping that’s something I’m willing to compromise on. Since his email was worded nicely, albeit with several careless grammar errors, I decided to send him an actual reply instead of clicking on the generic, no-thanks button.

I thanked him for his email but said that I’m not interested in dating anyone who smokes. Turns out that maybe not only did he not look at my profile very carefully, but he doesn’t seem to know what his own profile says. I got a reply almost immediately in which he said, “I do not smoke. Last time I did I was on a cruise six years ago. And that was a cigar.”

Several questions start running through my mind, like – then why did you tag yourself as a “cigar aficionado”…if that’s inaccurate, what else on your profile is not true…is he trying to separate a cigar from ‘smoking’ (the way his comment was worded seemed a little strange to me)?

Normally, I would just not even reply back. But today I was feeling a little feisty. So after closing the email so I could move on, I opened it again, knowing I was going against my better judgment in doing so. But I was rather annoyed. So I sent one more reply, saying, “Okay, well your profile says you’re a cigar aficionado, so that’s what I was going off.”

I thought that would be the end of it, or that possibly he’d reply saying he hadn’t realized that was still there and that he was going to take it off since he isn’t a cigar aficionado. But no. Instead he replies again saying, “Sweet. Sorry for the confusion.” And then goes on to ask me what part of town I live in. As if the problem was solved. No mystery – he’s a cigar aficionado that doesn’t smoke.

I’m left wondering if he knows what ‘aficionado’ means, whether he actually smokes, and how serious is he? I didn’t reply this time.

If you don’t smoke, then why in the world would you want to put that on your profile? Or anything else for that matter? Although I get why people exaggerate about things like how often they visit the gym or read a book. Those are things that might impress someone. But in today’s American society, bragging about smoking isn’t generally something you do to impress people. So I find it odd that someone who doesn’t smoke would purposefully say they do.

Also, while I’m at it, please, take a minute and proofread your profiles. It’s like a resume, but instead of it being for a job that you’re probably not planning to stay at for the rest of your life, it’s for a person that you’re hoping to spend the rest of your life with. I’m not saying it needs to be completely error proof. Everyone makes mistakes and most of us have a weak spot or two in grammar (it’s commas for me). But if your profile is filled with all kinds of careless errors, it sends a message – that maybe you aren’t taking your search seriously, or that you aren’t who you say you are. If I see someone’s profile says they have a master’s degree or a PhD and yet their profile reads like it was written by someone with a seventh-grade education, I’ll close it out and move on, feeling like something just isn’t right. I also won’t acknowledge a profile that doesn’t include a picture. But that’s a topic for another day.

What bugs you about online dating? Any suggestions to make the process better?

One small change can really awaken us to more

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut and not even notice it. Time passes, things feel fine. But you’re missing out. Staying in the rut keeps you from moving forward, and it could bleed over into other parts of your life so slowly you might not even realize it. Then suddenly, even the smallest change could turn into the wake-up call you’ve been needing.

This just happened to me yesterday. I got a haircut – nothing super dramatic, just cleaned up the mess I’d allowed my hair to become by not having anything done to it since February 2013, so about a year-and-a-half. No trims, no color. Nothing.

The split-ends were getting pretty horrible, but I kept putting it off. I was really disappointed in the last stylist I visited. Normally I’m fairly easy-going and open-minded when it comes to my hair. But I’ve had a hard time finding a stylist I truly like in Houston, and I’ve been here about 11 years now. I asked my friends for suggestions, and one had someone she raved about. I looked him up and discovered he trained under a well-known stylist and had overall positive reviews, except that he was a bit pricey. But you know that going in, so no complaining there.

I went in for my consultation first, explaining that I needed a change and wanted something different in terms of style and color. My only requirements were that my hair not be short enough for my neck to show, and that the color couldn’t be super crazy – like pink, green, etc. because of my job. I asked about the ombré look I was seeing on celebrities. He strongly suggested I not do it, saying it was already on its way out as a trend. I decided to trust his knowledge of hair trends and not go with ombré. When I left the salon, I looked almost exactly the same as when I’d gone in. He took off an inch or two, but when your hair is pretty long, it’s hard to notice such a small amount disappearing. In addition to the cut, he put in some very subtle partial lowlights.

Several friends who knew I had an appointment and had been wanting a different look said something along the lines of, “I thought you were getting your hair done this weekend?” Most people didn’t even notice. Kind of a disappointing use of $200.

After that I decided that I needed to come up with a specific style and color choice on my own before I visited another stylist. But I couldn’t seem to come up with anything that I was really excited about, so I kept putting it off. Meanwhile, my hair kept getting longer and longer. Then the split-ends started appearing, but still I waited. Finally, this past Friday, I told myself that enough was enough and that I needed to do something now – even if it was just cleaning up what I had now.

I turned to Yelp and looked up stylists in my neighborhood. I gave one a call and she said she could fit me in late Saturday afternoon. I knew I would be her last appointment so I opted for a cut only as that was my most pressing need. She took off all my split-ends, added a bunch of layers to give some life to my hair. We even discussed color options for next time. When I looked in the mirror at the finished look, I just brightened up. Wow! I hadn’t realized just what a boring, blah mess my hair had become.

I felt like a gray cloud lifted off me that I hadn’t even known was there to begin with. I actually felt suddenly inspired to go home and clean out my makeup drawer. As I looked around, I realized maybe more than my hair needed to be given a new life. The next morning I still felt inspired to make changes in other areas of my life. It seems strange that cutting my hair would make me look at my world differently. But it did. I told myself to never again let it get as out-of-hand as it did.

Right now I’m feeling super inspired not only to come up with a choice of hair color for my next visit – all over, highlights, lowlights, sombré (just discovered that term last night when I was Googling hair color trends), but also to do some spring-cleaning at home, even though it’s almost fall. I like feeling good, and part of that is liking how you look.

I feel renewed, and I’m loving it! What are some things you do to give yourself a little pick-me-up?

A different way of thinking about ‘good-enough’

I’ve been struggling the past few weeks with my singleness and string of failed relationships. Yet again, things are off with the guy I’ve been seeing on-and-off for the past nearly four years. I’m familiar with the saying about the common denominator in all your relationships is you. So I’ve been looking back, searching for common threads among various ex-boyfriends.

I realized that for a long time, like many women, I struggled with self-esteem issues (and admit to still working on that today). I’ve chalked up some of the exes to me not being confident enough to date guys more on my level in terms of education, upbringing, career and lifestyle. That much is clear from this distance. But then I met someone I thought was out of my league. I figured it was time I aimed higher, and hey, what could I lose? If it didn’t work out, I’d just have to add one more ex-boyfriend to the list. Time to be brave and make a change.

To give a little background, we met through an online dating site and emailed/talked for a few weeks before we actually met. And when we did meet – he was everything I thought I wanted. I felt swept off my feet and was totally into him. I was so excited and happy that I’d decided to take a chance. I thought I was finally getting the guy I deserved.

But things were just not working out. He was dealing with a lot when we met – terminally ill family member, unhappy at work. So I kept making excuses for him to myself. Yet we continued to have relationship-ending arguments. And then we’d somehow make our way back to each other, after weeks or months. I convinced myself that it must be a sign that we were meant to be and just needed to figure out a way to make things work because at the end of the day, we loved each other.

However, the last breakup seemed more final. And actually, that’s just what I said to him, that this was the final goodbye. At some point, enough has to be enough. I know it takes two to make or break a relationship, so I’m not placing all the blame on either of us. We both contributed to the demise of our relationship over the years.

That brings me to the point of today’s post. I’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching the past couple of weeks. And today, something occurred to me. One of those ‘light-bulb’ moments, if you will.

I realized that maybe I’d been looking at it all wrong. We’re taught from a young age not to settle for ‘good-enough’ when it comes to choosing a partner (and many other things in life too, but I’m just talking about relationships today). I’d always understood that and knew I wanted something more, something special. But now I’m thinking maybe I actually do want ‘good-enough’ after all, just in a different sense. Meaning, not someone who just ticks off certain boxes, but someone who, in an elevated sense, is good enough for me.

I can recall stories my mother told me about how her mother told her that the man who one day would become her husband and my father was a really great guy and that she better not let him go. Thankfully, she listened to that advice. That’s what I want. Someone who treats me so well that everyone important in my life notices and thinks I’m lucky. Not because I need them to notice, but because it means that he’s treating me the way I deserve to be treated. That’s the key.

I also realized that this is what my now-ex had in me. I can recall several people either saying to him while I was standing there or him recalling the conversation to me later that I was really good for him, good to him, it was obvious from looking at me how I felt about him, etc. And I know these things were all true. I really did love him. (And I still do care for him. Things didn’t work out for us, but I still wish him well and hope that we both find the right person for us.) The way I felt about him, the way I treated him, was unlike how I’d felt or treated anyone else that I’d dated in my whole life.

But I didn’t get that in return. Looking back, in nearly four years, not once did a family member, friend or coworker say anything along the lines of, I better hold on to him, what a great guy, and so forth. Sure, I got comments that he’s really good looking, dresses great, is funny, and has huge muscles. But those are all things on the surface. Like maybe my friends were just searching for something nice to say. Maybe that was what was missing in our relationship – something deeper.

I realized I haven’t had that yet – a guy that is just really, really good to me, the way my father was to my mother, and the way some of my friends are to their spouses. And I want that. Someone who is not ‘good-enough’, but who is ‘good-enough-for-me’. Sure, I aimed higher with my last boyfriend, but not high enough. I need to dig deeper. And I plan on doing so. If the next guy doesn’t want to treat me the way I deserve to be treated, and if I don’t feel the calling to be really good to him in return, then I need to be ready to move on and continue my search. I’m not giving up hope yet!

Planning a trip is leaving me in need of a vacation

Some friends and I are planning a trip to France in the spring. In all, it will be four of us – three coming from the US and one temporarily living in Paris. I’ve been wanting to see France since I was a pre-teen, so this will be a dream-come-true for me. I finally decided earlier this year to stop saying that one day I will go to France. It was time to make it happen. I’ve read a lot of motivational books, and one common theme is to start taking steps as though the thing you want is actually happening. So I did just that. I mentioned my plan to a friend that I sometimes travel with, and she was immediately on board and even knew our other friend was planning to go visit her daughter (the one temporarily living in Paris) next year.

I opened a dedicated savings account for France before I’d even researched the cost of a flight, and just started putting a little something aside from each paycheck. Now things are starting to fall into place. We’ve picked our travel dates, looked at flights, and discussed lodging options. One of the important things we needed to talk about was our ‘must-sees’ while there so we could work out an overall plan. Luckily we’re all fairly laid-back people with just one or two required stops. I even said if no one was interested in mine, I’d have no problem hanging out by myself for part of the trip, but it sounds like we were all interested in each other’s choices.

Since we’re planning to be there about 10 days, one of my friends suggested we take a couple of days and visit another city. This seemed like such a great idea that I was immediately glad we were traveling together and could build off each other’s experiences. But now to narrow down which will be the second city. That will require some research into ease of travel, things to do, expected cost, and who knows what else. Right now, we’re seriously considering Lyon or Nice.

Another great idea is that we each only take a carry-on with a minimum of clothes. I was especially fond of this suggestion once we had determined to stay in another location. Now we won’t have to worry about lugging around our bags on the train. We’ll just have to wash and reuse a few things, and as the Parisian-living friend volunteered – scarves are hugely popular over there. So I’m thinking I’ll take some basics and change up my look with accessories. Light scarves shouldn’t take up too much room in my bag, nor be too heavy.

We’ll also be lucky in that the girl that lives there speaks French, so we can rely on her quite a bit to do the talking for us. However, I’d like to learn some basic French before the trip so I can experience the Paris scene a little more personally. So that brings me to the next item – French lessons. I took a couple of years of French in high school, but that was 20 years ago, so without having used it since then, I’ve forgotten quite a bit. I researched taking some classes, but most are quite expensive, and I’m trying to save for the trip itself. Then it occurred to me yesterday that you can find just about anything on YouTube these days.

I spent about 30 minutes yesterday taking some beginner lessons. I have a French coworker and am thinking about asking her if she would mind having a couple of short conversations with me in French before the trip. She knows I like to travel, and when I got back from my Montreal trip earlier this summer, she asked me where my next trip would be. When I told her Paris, she volunteered to help with suggestions right away. She said there are things I need to be aware of so I don’t go to the wrong places and end up hating Paris. I’ve often heard people either love Paris or hate it, there’s no in-between. My coworker said it’s the ones who don’t know the right places to go that give the city a bad reputation. Her main point that she immediately said I should take note of is under no circumstances eat at the restaurants right by the museums. The food is horrible, really expensive and in no way representative of true French cooking. Note taken.

Another matter on my mind is not being one of those ‘annoying American tourists’. That’s partly why I want to make sure I know at least a few basic phrases before I go. I also read up on clothing and styles, because I know that’s another thing that really bothers people in many countries around the world – the lack of respect Americans show with some of their clothing choices. Plus, since we’re packing light, I’m going to need some quality, basic choices. So I spent some time researching good traveling pants and have found a pair I’d like to go try on.

As you can see by the varied topics above – things to do, places to go, where to stay, French language lessons, French cultural tips, etc., I’m beginning to feel a bit exhausted by planning my vacation. I didn’t even cover our plans to increase our walking stamina before the trip (we live in Houston, a city with very little walking when compared with most of the world). But I think as long as I do a little here and there, by the time the trip really does get here, I’ll be relaxed and confident that I’ll be able to enjoy myself while marking off one of my longest-running ‘bucket list’ items.

I am so excited and grateful that everything is coming together so nicely! Let me know in the comments section if you have any great international travel tips in general, or something related to France in particular. Merci!

Recharge Sunday

It’s been a long week, and I could definitely use a day to recharge and shake off the doldrums. I started by taking a little walk around my apartment complex while I mentally listed things I’m thankful for and worked on improving my mood through gratitude. I recently watched an episode of Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday that featured Dr. Brené Brown. I really liked what she had to see and am planning to look up her TED Talk one of these days and read her books as well. Anyway, something she said in that episode really registered with me. I’m paraphrasing here, but basically it went something like this – it isn’t an attitude of gratitude, but the practice of gratitude.

Well, the walk and talk did help, but I still wasn’t feeling quite myself. I knew I needed a little something more to raise my spirits. I did some reading, which is one of my favorite pastimes, but I found my mind wandering where I didn’t want it to go. So I decided to try a different tactic. I pulled out my laptop and started doing some searches on France, as I’m in the early stages of planning a trip next year. I started with the basics – weather at that time of year, what to pack (or not pack), an article on customs and etiquette suggestions to avoid being one of those ‘annoying American tourists’.

I realized a solid amount of time had passed in which I’d remained focused on good, positive things and was already beginning to feel a little better. But now I was hungry and tired of looking at the computer. I ordered a pizza just the way I like it, then picked out a few movies – comedies. As the saying goes, laughter is the best medicine.

I started with The Other Woman, which I love not only for the comedy and camaraderie, but also the fashions. I love, love, love all of Cameron Diaz’s outfits in this movie. Leslie Mann also wears some great stuff, but it’s Diaz’s style I want to emulate. Next up is Ride Along, which cracks me up. It’s playing in the background now. I only recently discovered Kevin Hart and am loving his sense of comedy. Next on today’s lineup is probably going to be Horrible Bosses, which I can’t seem to get enough of. I’m excited for the sequel and hope it will be as great as the first one.

Laughter, quiet time, focusing on the things I’m grateful for. These are all helping me to recharge, leaving the past few days behind, and prepare for the upcoming week. What are some of the things you do to help recharge yourself?

Thoughts on the guy who ended the Starbucks ‘pay it forward’ line

So this morning I saw a headline about a guy in Florida who purposefully refused to pay it forward and ended a run of over 450 people. Okay, I admit it. My initial reaction was – what a jerk, it wouldn’t have killed him to keep it going, I mean, he was going to buy his own coffee anyway, right?!

Then I read the article, which incorporated his statement on why he refused. And now, I kind of agree with him. Yeah, someone did something nice that got it started. And the whole idea of paying it forward is wonderful. But when it’s mostly peer pressure and no one is actually being helped, then where is the benefit except to the person that generously starts the chain? 

I understand from the article that the guy who ended it was in the drive-thru line. Probably not a lot of homeless people use the drive-thru to buy a cup of coffee. And if someone has to resort to living in their car (thankfully, I never have, so I’m speaking from a place of not knowing), I would imagine they would not go to Starbucks for overpriced coffee. I get that Starbucks isn’t about just a cup of coffee – it’s an experience. I’m just saying that if you’re having to live in your car, you probably want the cup of coffee and not the experience, and will therefore go elsewhere. You probably wouldn’t get in line at the drive-thru and hope for a cup of free coffee. 

But let’s backup a little. Like the guy said, when the barista informs you that your coffee was paid for already and asks if you want to pay for the next person’s coffee, it becomes a peer pressure situation. 

This is far from the first time we’ve heard about paying it forward at Starbucks. And while I’m sure it started out with the best of intentions – to bring a smile to someone who isn’t expecting anything – I think it might have gone too far and is starting to become more of a socially expected situation, rather like tipping at restaurants even when you’ve had subpar service. I probably wouldn’t have been able to say no if I had been in that line. I would’ve felt bad about being ‘the one that broke the streak’. 

How about we go back to the roots of ‘pay it forward’ and honor the movement at its core by actually giving a leg up or a helping hand to someone who could really use it. For example, take that $5 you would have used at a Starbucks, where I’m pretty sure the person behind you also has $5, and go to a grocery store. Find a checkout line with an elderly person buying a large number of cat food cans but noticeably no human food, or a stressed-looking mom with all generic labels in her basket and a look on her face that you can tell is her calculating if she’ll have to leave something behind, or an exhausted looking blue-collar worker with only the bare minimum in his basket and a hungry look on his face. Hand the cashier your $5 and ask them to apply it to that person’s grocery bill. Now that’s paying it forward at its true meaning – being thankful for all you have and showing your thankfulness by helping someone else and giving them something to look up and smile about. 

Or maybe next time you’re at the gas station and run inside to by a splurge candy bar or energy drink, and you see that person counting their change and asking the attendant for $3 in gas. Maybe try giving them a boost and adding an extra couple bucks to their tank. 

I can’t help but feel using ‘pay it forward’ in this manner can have such a bigger, more positive impact on the world, than feeling obligated to buy the next person’s Starbucks coffee, when you’re fairly certain they can more than afford it anyway and might even be expecting you to pay for their coffee. Helping someone truly in need is good for them obviously, but it’s also good for you. It’ll perk up your spirits to know that you did a good deed and helped someone. Let’s get back to buying our own coffee, please.

My kind of randomness – an introduction to me

Nowadays it’s certainly popular to have your own blog, and I’ve been thinking about it for quite some time. But I could never figure out what one topic I wanted to focus on. I have several friends with blogs – about dating, teaching, running, fashion, etc. But I kept putting off starting my own because I was afraid of tying myself down to just one subject.

I’m a person who has a lot of interests and also finds lots of things interesting. I also have a tendency to be a little blunt at times and say something that someone might find hurtful. And I definitely don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. In the meantime, more time kept passing. More friends kept starting blogs, and there I was, still thinking about it.

Then it hit me this morning – can’t I be the Seinfeld of the blogosphere (minus the comedy, my humor is very subtle, and I’ve resigned myself, probably won’t be detectable in print)? A blog about nothing in particular, like a show about nothing in particular.

I had just read an article that inspired a long internal thought session, as my boyfriend and I were not getting along so I was home alone and didn’t have anyone to discuss the article with. I realized that I should just jump in and start a blog about whatever I happened to be passionate about at that moment. It wouldn’t have to be a life-long commitment. And to give myself the freedom to say what I want, I’d keep it anonymous, except for a few stats to give my readers a little more insight to where I’m coming from.

I’m a single female from Texas – born and raised. I have lived in a few others places as an adult and also traveled to several places. Since travel is something I’m passionate about, I’m sure there’ll be entries on travel in the future. I love to read, watch movies, listen to music and work on crafts. I’m a life-long lover of learning. I hope that by starting this blog, I’ll be able to find a few people who also like to exchange ideas and we can have a grown-up conversation about various matters.

Thanks for reading! Can’t wait to see where this goes!

Whatever I feel like talking about today :)