Online Dating – It’s The New Psychotherapy!

I joined OK Cupid not too long ago just to see if there were any single men I could have possibly missed in my years of online dating (apparently there are!). Typical of a dating site, one needs to fill out a form with age, height, build, name-rank-and-serial number…all the usual. Then, you get to answer questions. Lots and lots of questions. Some are to the point “Does smoking disgust you?” (yes). Some are about general social opinions – “Is intoxication ever an excuse for acting stupid?” (Yes. Isn’t this why one gets drunk in the first place?). There are questions which measure geekiness – “Star Trek: Cool or Uncool? (Jean Luc Picard is Tres Sexy!), and even the completely bizarre: “Which pubic hair style do you prefer in a partner?” (Not something I’ve ever pondered. EVER) I started answering these questions and found it was loads of fun. Kind of reminded me of the quizzes I used to take in my 20′s when I read “Cosmopolitan” magazine (“Are You The Princess or The Pea In Bed?”)

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I’d answered about a hundred when I started noticing that the men coming up in my searches had answered upwards of three-hundred questions. Seriously? Could this be why I’m finding it so easy to connect online with new men here, but almost impossible to get any of them to meet for a face-to-face cup of coffee?? “Sorry honey, no time to meet. I’ve got QUESTIONS to answer!”

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Now I’m noticing all the questions to be found on OK Cupid…Are you Jewish?…How often do you wash your dishes?…Do you like the beach?…Could you date someone with no long term goals? Do you ever wear mis-matched socks? As of this writing I have yet to find the question: How often to you clean out the lint trap in your washer? But I feel positive that I will…soon.

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eHarmony boasts a self-evaluation test that’s “guaranteed” to find you the best possible matches based on 29 points of compatibility! What that means is, when you sign up on the site you will spend at least 4 hours (Yes! FOUR HOURS) filling out their excruciatingly detailed personality test. Talk about self-evaluation gone wild.

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With all this in-depth personal evaluation going on online, it’s a wonder that therapists are still in business. I think it’s quite possible that we’ve all become so self-aware and uber-self-actualized that we’ve discovered we don’t need a date…we’re just too perfect now, thank you very much.

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I think I’d like to find someone with a few warts. I always pictured my knight in shining armor as having a few (endearing) dings in said armor. So I’ll just need to find the man who does not, in fact, clean out his lint trap often enough!

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And that’s all the ranting I’ll be doing on this particular subject today. I have to go and answer some more questions now…

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Sharon

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Do I LOOK Like The Perfect Pen Pal?

OK Cupid, what's with the pen pal thing?I recently joined OK Cupid. I’d been putting it off for some time since, the one time I scoped out the site, I had the impression that it would be LOTS of work to build a profile, answer questions and interact with members often enough to actually connect with anyone. Free site or not, I was feeling way too lazy for that.

But I finally decided to give it a whirl and see what was going on there. After all, I could just close my profile if I didn’t like the site…or “working” it exhausted me. Surprisingly, I’m finding it easy and fun to use. What I don’t like is that most of the men I’m contacted by here seem to want a pen pal rather than a date.

The first man who contacted me wrote a beautiful, chatty and friendly email as an ice-breaker. I was completely impressed, good writing is one sure-fire way to get my attention. For about three weeks we wrote back and forth and finally, he mentioned that it might be nice to get together. Of course I wrote back in agreement and mentioned that my upcoming week looked open..lets plan. I have never heard back from him. I’m on the fence as to whether to send him a quick note asking if he’s still interested…leaning towards sending it…I’ll keep you posted on how that unfolds.

In the meantime, I found another man, lives close by and sounded down-to-earth and intelligent, so I wrote a short note to say hi and ask if he’d like to write, talk, maybe meet. He wrote this back: “Perhaps”. One word?? Cat got your keyboard??? I DO try to be open-minded and give everyone the benefit of the doubt, especially with these first emails, so I wrote again to see if I could elicit at least a handful of English words, preferably strung together into a sentence. I even sent my cell number with the note that, if he preferred speaking to typing it would be fine to talk on the phone. One, two word responses went on, back and forth, for an email or two. I’ve now given up trying here.

I know that men can be reticent about pursuing an online gal if they’re “not sure” about her. That’s fine, I totally accept that. But for cripe’s sake…call if you’re not sure. Even if you are sure…CALL, or say you’re not interested…it’s OK to do that. It is also OK to write more than one word at a time. Guys, tell me…is this a new trend in online dating? Or am I just pickin’ the wrong apples?

I will though, stay on OK Cupid because it is kind of fun and …you never know. Also, the questions you can answer there are interesting, weird sometimes, but interesting….Hmmmm…I sense a future blog post about this.

Sharon

Online Dating and Bulima…Perfect Together!

Don't bother me now, I'm getting ready for my date.

Early on in our LifeBytes project, Mariann and I attended the International Women’s Writing Guild (IWWG) weekend writing conference. Sunday afternoon featured a “meet the agents” session. Mare and I attended, eagerly clutching our book proposal, ready to sell our idea to a literary agent. We were, and still are, enamored of our anthology concept and excited to offer it to an agent for representation. After all, how could they not LOVE this idea.

We made our way to the hall where the agents had set up tables. We had approximately four minutes to pitch our proposal to each agent, and we had about three that we’d targeted as being good agents for us. We thought we’d sail in there, make out pitches and chill out over a glass of wine while the bidding war waged on. HA.

First, there were hundreds of women on line to pitch various agents. Apparently ALL of them had stellar books to propose (of course, ours is better…:). So, we queued up on a line. By the time we got to our first agent “Lucy Litqueen” our feet hurt, but we were undaunted…history was about to be made. We began our pitch.

“True stories about the ups and downs of online dating. Like Chicken Soup for the Soul, but without all the touchy-feely stuff. More real-life stories. Fun, Exciting. Sexy. Playful.”

Lucy put her hand up, raised her head slightly, and waved said hand in a limp-wristed imitation of the Queen’s Royal Wave.

“Hmm, anthologies are hard to sell. But there is one coming out that seems to be good. It’s about…”

Mare and I glanced at each other…about singles? Dating? Something akin to our exciting romp in the online dating world??

“BULIMIA. Do you have any stories in there like that? Eating disorders are very big these days. OH…and do you have any stories by celebrities??”

And thus began our long and continuing trek through the land of literary agents.

We did, that evening, chill out to a glass or two of wine. Although instead of pondering the results of a bidding war we ended up laughing hysterically at the pitch letters we could send to celebrities, asking for submissions:

Dear Obscenely Skinny, Single Movie Star,
We understand from the National Enquirer, that you are bulimic AND suddenly single again after a long 3 week marriage. We were quite thrilled to hear this as we are editing an anthology about bulimic online daters! We don’t know if you’re actually dating online or just having your agent pimp you out to single Hollywood, but you are Bulimic and that’s half the battle! If you are interested in contributing a story to our book, we’d set you up with a Match.com account so you could start compiling some skinny-ass dating stories. We could even get Snooki Polizzi from “The Jersey Shore” to ghost-write it for you. We heard that she wrote her book “all by herself” you know ;).

To this day Mariann and I are still at a loss as to what the connection between a book that’s “Fun, Exciting. Sexy. Playful” is to Bulimia – but you can’t say we don’t have a sense of humor about it.

Sharon

Love it..or Hate it…V-Day is here “again”.

Valentine's Day...Love It Or Hate ItMy track record: Around this time of year I’m either just broken up with someone, am in the process of breaking up with someone, or am about to experience a surprise breakup by that ex who’d been seeing the woman who would later become his first (Yeah…it didn’t last. Not that I’m gloating, heheheh) wife. So is it any wonder I have an intense love/hate relationship with Valentine’s Day?

One year, I was in the middle of a new relationship and THAT V-Day was sweet, romantic, fun and hot, all rolled into one spectacular day. THEN…the next year, we broke up on Feb. 16th. Ah well, it was fun while it lasted.

Most year’s I just want to hide under the covers and eat all the chocolate covered caramels from the heart-shaped box of candies…that I’d bought for my son. He’s too old to get candy from Mom anymore so I’ve taken to buying candy for myself. I have the routine down to an Oscar-winning performance. Stroll into the Hallmark store, looking bemused, besotted and bewilderingly in love. Pick a velvet-flocked heart box, glide over to the register and ask if this brand has a LOT of chocolate covered caramels in it.

“My valentine has a thing for caramel”, I say, with a perfectly demure little blush.

One year…OMG…I found a heart-box filled with ALL caramels. I really was in love that year, well with the candy anyway.

Occasionally the clerk will ask if I want to pick out a card to go with it.

“No,” I say, “I making a very special home-made greeting this year”, this said with a slight wink and a nod. Hey, might as well play it up big, right? I know I could just stroll in, buy a box and boldly proclaim that I’m buying it for myself but I am, after all, an actress deep down…these theatrical moments feed my soul:)

So, on Valentine’s Day, armed with candy and a glass of wine and wrapped in my purple Snuggie, I celebrate the fact that I’m loving two of my favorite foods.

Valentine’s Day is after all just a consumer holiday meant to keep the greeting card and candy industries in business. What, you’re not buying that?? Have you EVER seen these industries in need of a government bail-out? I think not!

What I love about V-Day is being able to hate it if I so choose. I’ve had plenty of warm, romantic times during the other 364 days in the year. I’ve had Valentine’s Day dinners with other single friends that were way more fun than candlelight for two. So this year I will once again dine on sugar and liquor…and enjoy the hell out of it. Because really, you don’t need a holiday to appreciate the person you love (even if that person is you).

Do you agree? Have any tales of Valentine’s Day ups and downs of your own to share?

Sharon

This Is Harder Than Dating!

When Mariann and I decided to compile true stories about online dating we went into it with that old “Our Gang” mentality. As in “Let’s put on a show…my dad has a barn we can use!!” and voila…twenty minutes later there’s a full-scale musical revue complete with washtub orchestra and costumes. Not so – creating and publishing an anthology, even one as fabulous  as “LifeBytes™, Real Stories” takes a bit more time, and work, and patience.

Luckily Mare and I, creative business-women to the core, relish the hard work and have patience and determination to spare. And apparently we are getting to use as much of it as the good Lord has seen fit to grace us with.

Publishing is a strange universe and Mare and I have spent as much, if not more, time learning to navigate it as we have in compiling and editing stories for our first anthology. We’ve had to deal with convincing potential agents that computer dating is about meeting other people online, not about dating actual computers. Seriously, we’ve had to do that…agents it seems are Luddites at heart. But…we have found recently that some agents are actually understanding the concept. A step in the right direction – or at least into the 21st Century!

We’ve been in negotiations with an agent over an agency agreement…and have had that agent seemingly fall off the face of the earth. Very frustrating, but we forge on. We’ve seen friends, acquaintances, and complete strangers get excited about the possibility of reading LifeBytes (or contributing to future volumes). This is one of the things that keeps us going on this project – that and the amazing stories we’ve been collecting from around the globe from singles and formerly singles about their ups and downs in the cyber-dating world. And we send thanks to each and every one of them for their infinite patience in this slow process.

Recently Mariann and I were entertaining our friends with tales of our adventures in publishing and realized that the “real stories” of getting this book produced are as weird and interesting as our dating sagas. So, we thought you’d all enjoy hearing some of them, and of course our contributing authors deserve to be able to at least laugh and cry with us a bit about all this nonsense. So we’ve decided to add an occasional additional post to LifeBytes for your edification, entertainment and overall sharing of our pain.

More to come…
Sharon

Online Dating: The Pros and Cons

Is online dating for you?When I mention to people that I “Date Online”, I get various reactions. These range from Really? How cool! I’ve always wanted to try doing that, to Nooooo….all the guys online are creeps and losers! No matter the initial response, just about everyone is curious about it. If they’re not single themselves then they have a single friend or relative who they think should try dating online.

I’ve helped singles get online, pick a site and write a great profile. Some of these folks do quite well and, even if they don’t immediately find the love of their life, have loads of fun looking. Then there are people who go online, meet one or two people and drop off the site immediately because they HATE IT.

This is why I always advise everyone to at least try it, because you don’t know if cyber-dating is for you or not…until you get in the pool at least once.

There are pros and cons to dating online and you have to decide what your comfort level is with the down-side and whether the benefits outweigh them. So here are a few to ponder.

The Pros:
1. You get to date. More than you would by hanging out at a club. Certainly more than you ever will if you’re just relying on friends and family to hook you up with someone. Ever notice how the “perfect” person your friend/relative fixed you up with is just SOOO wrong for you? I have…makes me wonder what these people who should know me well are thinking!!

2. You get to meet people you NEVER would have met otherwise. Fact is, you probably will have to date many people online before you meet someone with whom you’d consider a long-term relationship. But that doesn’t mean that all the others are horrible dates…just not right for you. You’ll at least be able to look forward to coffee, drinks or dinner with a new person and interesting conversation.

3. It’s cheaper than psycho-analysis. I’ve found that setting up a profile calls for much self-examination. You need to be able to describe yourself in less than 2000 words, and that is more challenging than you’d think. You really have to look into yourself to decide who you are and who your ideal match would be. When I first went online to date I described myself as shy. A few dates later, I realized that I wasn’t “shy” at all – just more interested in hearing what my date had to say than in going on and on about Me. You learn much about yourself.

4. You hone your sense-of-humor to a razor sharp point. The first thing I tell singles about online dating is…you must have a sense of humor. You will meet wackos, unsavory types and people who are charming but…weird. You need to be able to laugh about these encounters at some point. Remember, they’re just brief stops on a journey to love.

So…the Cons:

1. Dating online takes time. It’s a lot of work. You need to craft a great profile, put up pictures (you don’t have to, but you should) and you have to update them from time to time. You have to troll through the profiles of potential dates (they do all seem to run together into one big “I like walking on the beach at sunset” profile at times). Send emails, answer emails, wonder why only “strange” or “weird” people are sending YOU emails. It takes a certain commitment to finding love to be able to stay patient.

2. There are liars and baddies online. And not necessarily compulsive liars. People lie about their age all the time! I don’t and have actually gotten into a bit of an argument with a date because he kept insisting that I was older than my profile stated, since “everyone” lied. No, I didn’t show him my driver’s license…which brings me to the Baddies. There are unsavory people online and you have to be aware of that. This is often what scares us off from online dating, but it shouldn’t. If you are a savvy dater, you will learn to recognize these people before you even meet them. You will follow the safety rules: Meet in a public, crowded place. Drive yourself there! NO super personal information is to be shared.

3. You need a thick skin. There is rejection galore online. People will reject you…and YOU will reject some of them. It happens, don’t take it personally. When you meet Mr./Ms. Right you will know it and it will work out, and you’ll marvel at how easy THAT came about…because it is easier when you have a good connection.

4. You can lose your sense-of-humor. See number 4 in the pros. You will have to work at finding the funny sometimes, but it’s there. Just think of all the laughs you’ll have about past bad dates with the guy/gal who eventually steals your heart!

So there you have the basic Pros and Cons. There are a few more, but these are the major points to consider when deciding if online dating is for you. And if it is, send us a story or two about your adventures!

Happy Dating
Sharon