10 New Year Resolutions for Online Dating

Toad Kissing New Year’s Resolutions: Promises to help you Never Kiss a Toad Again!

Ladies, repeat after me…

In 2012 I will:

  1. Learn to tell the difference between kissing a frog and kissing a toad.
  2. Toad-Proof my Online Dating Profile.
  3. Understand that while I may kiss a couple of frogs this year, I’m going to stay away from the wart-infested toad variety.
  4. Recognize the mating call of the toad so that I stop answering.
  5. Join a Toad Kissing Support Group and help myself and other women avoid warts.
  6. Identify my own personal toad tendencies and work on making sure I am a princess instead of a toad.
  7. Commit to kissing one less toad this year in my search for my handsome prince.
  8. Promise not to give up on online dating and go back to drunk sloppy guy at the bar – realizing that he is and always will be a toad.
  9. Listen to my gut – or at least the guts of my girlfriends – when Toad-Warning signs show up in Neon Pink.
  10. Be true to myself, first – last – always, and not compromise my instincts in the name of Toad Kissing.

And, Dear Friends, I promise to help you!

Happy New Year – Happy New You!

Loving Regards,
Heidi Lee

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Project Toad: Jake’s Online Dating Profile

Friends, you will all be happy to know that our friend Jake survived Thanksgiving Dinner, and he has been able to dedicate time to creating his Match.com profile. He and I spent some time this afternoon figuring out how much of himself he wants to let strangers see online, and we completed his Match.com questionaire together.

Jake struggled with creating his own version of an Anti-Profile. As soon as we got his mind out of the bedroom and into relationship mode, he realized he had no idea who he may be open to meeting. He had no idea of what activities he may enjoy, but he did share that he likes astronomy. Good start – viewing the stars followed by a nice glass of wine.

Jake realized that the women he has always dated wouldn’t fit the profile of the woman who needs to fit into his current life. Jake went to what he knew. When Match asked, “What things do you like?” Jake replied, “Women”.

When the questions came to enjoyable activities, he asked something along the lines of, “Do they mean other than sex?”

Jake manages to find young women who live in party-mode, but he is a business professional and a single father. In his words, he usually meets the girls who are looking for a last-minute “hook-up”, but then they expect the hook-up to last until the next guy trolls along.

Poor, boy-dumb Jake simply has no idea how to meet a woman that he can be proud to present as his date to an office Christmas party without having to worry that she will leave tushy-tracks on the copier.

Match also wanted to know if he was single, married, divorced or separated. Jake wanted to ignore his short-lived marriage because he believed that being a 41-year old divorced father would be a turn-off. As soon as I presented him with my Seinfeld Theory, we were back on track.

After a couple of hours of Toad Kissing therapy, Jake was able to tell me who he hopes to find…

Jake needs a woman who can be as comfortable throwing back a few beers with a couple of close friends as she is hosting a cocktail party for his colleagues. She should also be physically active. We’ve established that she must enjoy exercise from his earlier debacle. Jake identified exercise as a must-have for the woman who becomes part of his world.

Jake’s perfect woman must be confident and comfortable with herself, and she has to have her own interests and commitments. He cannot get involved with a woman who will make her life revolve around his, and she needs to be strong yet gentle enough to tell him when her plans don’t include an invitation for two.

Ok, so all of this is great! We managed to go live on Match.com today, and we even found a couple of cute women that he liked.

Jake asked about using the Wink feature built into Match. I explained from experience that if he finds the woman interesting enough that he needs to take the time and respond to her with an email.

Men who read about a woman’s interests and aspirations should respect her enough to give a creative response. To get the woman to notice him in return, Jake needed to lead with something more than “Hello” in the subject line.

He put together a saucy yet appropriate little note to a lady who showed spunk and energy. And together, we hit the Send  button. Now I find myself sitting anxiously waiting for the phone to ring…hoping Jake is calling me to read me her reply.

Wow, am I living vicariously or what? Tune in…

Kind Regards,

Heidi Lee

A Single Dad’s Guide to Thanksgiving Dinner: Part One

Dear Friends,

Do you ever wonder how single dads and bachelors survive if they can’t cook? I’m sometimes amazed at what can be found in their cupboards. So as a Thanksgiving treat, our endearing Jake from Project Toad has invited us into his kitchen.

Jake has full custody of his 2 teenaged sons. He has never really given them a traditional Thanksgiving dinner that didn’t involve cutting a slit in the top to vent and removing the film from over the dessert. With both boys growing up, he wants them to have a warm memory before they are out of the house.

Jake and I were catching up a little earlier today when he asked me what time on Thursday he should take the turkey out to thaw. Uhm, gee… how about now?

OK, so this guy needs more help than just in online dating. Our subject requires hand-holding to turn out an edible Thanksgiving Feast. Game On! I’m always up for a Turkey-Day challenge. And as we continue with the care and feeding of Heidi Lee, I won’t be preparing my own Thanksgiving feast. Mom is doing that, so I can baste my turkey vicariously through Jake.

Today’s tasks for Jake’s Norman Rockwell table:

  • Thaw the turkey
  • Prepare the menu
  • Shop for ingredients

As we were going down the grocery list, I mentioned that he would need green onions for the stuffing. His reply; “That’s a problem. What the hell is a green onion?”

“Jake, write this down. Find the produce section of the grocery store, and look around for a cute woman. Turn on the charm and ask her to help you find the scallions so you can make a turkey dinner for your sons.”

Jake, “What the hell is a scallion? Hold on….did you say cute woman? Can I sleep with her?”

Really, Jake? Seriously? Moving on….

For my readers who may have culinary challenges, scallion is another word for green onion.  I suppose I could have just said green onion again, but I have so much fun messing with him. LOL

Back to the prep work – something I didn’t understand upfront was that Jake’s kitchen tools include a skillet, a pasta kettle, a sauce pan and a few random utensils that have probably gotten more action swatting flies than cooking dinner.

Oh wait! He does have a George Foreman Grill. I believe that this grill is a staple kitchen appliance that can be found in most bachelor pads. Likely purchased while cleaning up beer cans at 2:00 AM from Poker night, men are drawn to this machine by the magic that happens when meat is put over heat in and cooks to perfection in a 2.38 minute infommercial.

Jake also doesn’t have a mixer to make mashed potatoes, so he will be making Mashed Baby Reds with the potato masher. No worries, I’ve texted him a picture so he can find one in the Utensil Aisle at the grocery store while he is also hunting down a turkey baster.

Here’s where I fess up. PC’s mother makes really good instant mashed potatoes, and my instant potatoes suck. Therefore…I make homemade. I’d love to teach Jake the easy way out, but PC says not to teach him how to make something that could be found in a glue factory. Believe you me; Colonel Sanders can’t make mashed potatoes like PC’s mother. She’s made Idaho Spuds an art form.

Jake is at the grocery store as we speak, so for now I will say good night. He has promised, though in return for the advice, to share every dirty detail and to photograph his victory dinner for us. Tune back later in the week to see how Dinner with Dad turns out…

Warm Regards,

Heidi Lee

Project Toad: Help us Create an Online Dating Profile…Pretty Please?

“I try not to drool when I eat in public, and I don’t spit my food when I’m having a conversation.”

Truly, friends, this is the response Jake gave me when he was asked to find his 5 best qualities that a woman may admire. He went on to tell me that, while finding admirable qualities in others was easy, he really struggles to list 5 strengths that someone else may value in him.

My response? “Perfect start, Jake! Looks like you were raised with a knowledge of good manners. We are on a roll!” Honestly, he also has a pretty good sense of humor also.

Following our little pep-talk, Jake was able to complete his homework assignment in preparation for designing his Online Dating Profile. He has a little bit of insight in how to tackle the personality profile now, because he has a level of self-awareness.

When asked about himself, Jake says he…

  • Generally doesn’t drool
  • Keeps himself in shape
  • Is loyal
  • Can be intelligent enough to know to use a spell-checker before sending an email and sometimes even intelligent enough to know to check for the correct tense
  • Remains open-minded and always wants to learn and improve both personally and professionally

So if I were to translate this back to Jack, I would say:

Jake is…..

  • Well mannered and respectful
  • Physically fit
  • Loyal
  • A Life-Learner
  • Open-minded
  • Is conscientious and able use Spell-Check before hitting Send

So he actually gave me 6 positive qualities – even better.

And for admirable qualities he looks for in others, he gave me these:

  • Ability to juggle multiple tasks while remaining calm
  • Patient and even-keeled
  • The ability to do the right thing even when it’s the hard and unpopular thing to do

Which tells me that he…

  • Needs a woman who thrives with spontaneity
  • Hopes to share patience and understanding
  • Values integrity and self-respect

I’d say we have a great start to who he is and what he is looking for in his Princess Charming. And Jake seems like a pretty great guy, right?

Perfect! We can move on to the next exercise.

Jake’s next homework assignment involves his interests. I’ll warn you, friends, he is going to be a little frustrated with this next task. He is excited to get a profile up so he can start winking, but I’m not allowing him to be so hasty. He needs to know what he wants to say, and who he wants to attract when he goes live on Match.

Jake’s list of good qualities now needs to be complimented by the type of hobbies and activities he enjoys. He took quite an interest in my earlier post that discusses creating the anti-profile, so we will use this concept as a foundation for building his How about we…. section of the All About Jake page.

Let’s find out what he absolutely would never do so we can start leveraging those Open-Minded Life Learner qualities that he claims to own. So, my toad kissing friends, here is where I ask for your help. Can you start throwing out some hobbies or interests that you enjoy? Maybe even share your idea for your favorite date?

I can promise that Jake will be reading each of your suggestions, and he’ll mull them over one at a time. This will help to open up his mind to enjoyable activities that don’t involve school plays or Pizza Night at Chuckie Cheeses.

So, how about it, friends? Help a Fellow Toad Kisser out? What are some activities you enjoy – on your own or sharing with others?

Warm Regards,

Heidi Lee

Project Toad: A How-To Guide to Online Dating

Hello friends. Welcome to my how-to guide to digital dating. By now, you probably know that I met my Prince Charming through Match.com. What you may not know is that I survived years of countless failed relationships in the journey to Happily Ever After.

I have kissed my fair share of toads, and I hope to help other people with what I’ve learned. Until now, I have given you a handful of tips for safety and for fun. I haven’t really shared anything, though, that isn’t common sense.

Today, I have an opportunity to let you into my dating secrets. My friend Jake wants to try a new approach to finding love. He knows several people who met their husbands and wives online, and he has asked me to coach him through internet dating.

Jake also agreed to let me share this journey with you. He has been reading my blog quietly since I started, and now he is ready to dive in. I am thrilled to welcome you to participate in Project Toad.

The first step is to develop a dating profile for Jake – not an easy task. You see, Jake says that he doesn’t know what qualities women look for in a prince. This, to me, is a big problem. Jake wants to create a profile to which he could never measure up. He wants to fit himself somewhere for the sake of belonging.

The first challenge; therefore, is to help Jake understand that he has the right qualities for the right woman. He can’t reinvent himself into something he is not, so he has to find pride in the person that he already is.

Yesterday, I asked Jake to make two lists for me. In the first list, Jake needs to describe his best 5 qualities. The only catch – he cannot talk at all about being a parent in this list. Whenever I ask Jake what he likes about himself, he somehow ends every sentence with “for my children”.

Jake has to look inside of himself to know who he is when his kids aren’t around. That is the person who will be taking some lucky lady to dinner. Jake needs to introduce us to the man who holds the door open for his date as they enter a restaurant that doesn’t have a menu option for Children under 12.

Making this list is harder than it seems. As a single mom, I always thought I needed to find someone who would be a perfect dad to my son. Single parents put their children first, so our views are often skewed by the needs of our kids. I didn’t realize that I was interesting because I was more than Cole’s mom.

I needed to learn to separate the mother from the woman. I needed to learn to have a conversation that didn’t involve grass stained soccer uniforms or lead roles in school plays. Making this list for myself helped me to understand that I was more than just Tuesday Night on the carpool rotation.

Jake is also supposed to write down 3 qualities that he admires in others – qualities that draw him to those people. Is ambition a top quality, or is it sincerity? Qualities that Jake admires in others can compliment his own strengths and characteristics.

For me, I admire someone who is grounded and stable – my polar opposite. I’m still out chasing my rainbows. My Prince Charming often comes to my rescue because he makes sure I keep at least one foot on the ground. We are a perfect balance between security and adventure.

I’m anxious to see what Jake comes up with. He has so many good qualities. I believe that he needs to recognize his potential so he can share himself with other people. I promise to let you know as soon as he finishes.

Warm Regards,

Heidi Lee

Online Dating: Finding Opera in a Chorus of Elmer Fudds

The view out from my bedroom window is a bit extraordinary – peering through frost-laced glass I see the sun glistening on Green Bay. PC wakes me with a fresh cup of coffee and our Sunday morning ritual of listening to Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me on #NPR radio. A Boom penetrates the bedroom and shakes me in my jammies. My first thought is “here comes an autumn storm” until I realize the thunder in the air is actually coming from Elmer Fudd in my back yard.

Beams of light cross the Bay, and dance in front of the hunters cruising in their viscous vessels of ducky death. I send my thoughts upwards towards Apollo; the Ancient Sun God, “Won’t you please, fair and just Apollo, please bless that hunter with a beam of light straight between the eyes as he lifts his gun and points towards our little feathered friends? Fly away, little birdies. Fly and be free.”

Living in Wisconsin, hunting is a way of life for many. I’m not opposed to the sport as I understand the need to control animal populations. I simply do not choose the rugged outdoors as a primary means of a food source or entertainment. I prefer to get my meat from my grocer’s freezer and my entertainment from HBO.

This morning’s hunting episode caused my mind to wander back to ancient Sunday mornings before PC was in my life – cruising through the Online classifieds of the ugly Singles scene. Those mornings were often dedicated to searching through the profiles of Match.com to see if any new specimens could peek my interest. Too often, however, my AM coffee and Danish was interrupted by an online photo stylings of a potential Match –

Screen Name: Mr. Bass Pro seeks his Little Mrs.

He clearly expectived that the ladies in waiting were anxiously awaiting a private viewing of his latest trophy buck from a hunting expedition.

For reasons unbeknownst to me, some men seem to believe that women are sexually drawn to the guy who can gut a wild boar with his bare hands, and use the tanned boar-skin to line the baskets we timid feminine creatures would use to gather and grind the grains. These men see themselves in the glowing image of Orion, the mythical hunter, and they think that women swoon under their protection.

Really? Why? Why would any person in their right mind think that posting a picture of a Gutted Deer hanging by twine from a rafter was sexy? Why would he believe a woman would get hot and bothered seeing the murderer himself poses next to the victim while toasting with a can of beer and a bag of pork rinds? Why?

People have asked me, how did I get lucky enough to find my Prince Charming (aka PC)? With all of the  unique  people online, how did I navigate through the herds of love-seekers to find my perfect Match? Well, while I truly believe that he and I are lucky in love, I will say that finding him took skill, planning and knowing myself.

I thought I might share some of my Match.com rules with you, my friends, so that you too may learn to enjoy the exciting people in the e-social scene. How do e-love seekers manage to find people in the online scene without trying to fit his square peg into her round hole? How does one avoid the after taste from the aroma of Elmer Fudd if she is more interested in the mindless babblings of PePe LePew?

First – you have to know and love yourself. Realize that you are entitled – not only what you want, but you also have a right to not settle for someone who you don’t want. I have said this before, and I will continue to remind you. If you aren’t happy with yourself, you cannot find true happiness with another person.

Next step – Build an Anti-profile. When I started building my online check list a couple of years ago, I was able to search for men based on hobbies and interests. At first, I started by naming the qualities I had hoped to find in a guy. I said I wanted someone who was romantic, intelligent, funny and who enjoyed travel, wine and conversation. I hoped for someone who liked books and music. I mentioned a couple of my bucket list items included learning to speak Italian or visiting Ancient Greece. Sounds good, right? Sure, but who wouldn’t want those things? It seemed that everyone online wanted some version of that exact thing – but each person had their own translation of how that looked.

I’d bet that profile matched probably 3/4 of the people who use online sites. I didn’t say anything unique or creative to stand out in the crowd, and I didn’t really give the men an idea of who I was looking for. How could I, right? I hadn’t found him yet. That would be like describing the a cozy little cottage in Ireland when you’ve never been outside of the United States. You haven’t been there – so you can’t do it.

Some of my mistakes:

  • I didn’t specify that when I spoke of books I meant the drunken mystique of Ernest Hemingway
  • I failed to describe the music I wanted to hear was the romantic and velvety tones of Frank Sinatra
  • I never pointed out that the wine I wanted didn’t involve cardboard recycling

I did get what I asked for though – books and music. For my first coffee date, I met a man in the Starbucks part of Barnes & Noble. Before he arrived, I positioned myself near the front door and watched the types of books each man coming in would pick up and thumb through. As my guy pushed through the crowds and made his way over to me, I saw him touch his fingers to the Bargain Bin where he lifted a copy of Beer-Making for Dummies. He grabbed onto the book as if it were the last true message from a Prophet, and he made a beeline for the empty chair next to me. Oh no!

As we began our cozy little chat, he went on to quote the literary genius from his recent copy of You Might Just be a Redneck. He continued to entice me with promises of visiting the world’s largest ball of twine as we toured the NASCAR museums around the country.

OK, so this guy wasn’t going to cut it for me.

What did I need to do differently in my search? I took a new approach. I needed a little fine-tuning of my strategy. Instead of describing what thought I wanted in 50 words or less, I learned to be proactive. I read into and behind what was in the pictures and the bios of the men on Match rather than waiting for them to come to me. I reached out with a wink and a smile, and I started making tracks with men who had real “Heidi Potential”.

What I found  as I searched through the profiles with a new awareness was that our personalities do really come through the computer screen. I targeted my search more in line with my specific interests. I kept I excluded the characteristics I couldn’t live with –  hobbies that included firearms for example. I only started communicating with the men who could fit outside of my Anti-Profile – well – for the most part anyways.

Typically, an avid Wisconsin hunter makes his passion clearly known through pictures and language. Although I didn’t learn immediately that the online poster boy of Brawny Paper Towels was not my dream man, over time I understood how to use profile images and language to sort through the guys I didn’t want. If their pictures and language resembled Mr. Brawny, then I didn’t try read something between the lines that didn’t really exist.

I’ve heard people say that you can’t tell much from a one-page profile on Match or eHarmony. But you can. True, you won’t find your Love at First Site – but you can figure out how to find the obvious deal-breakers before you get started.

When I went online that I couldn’t say,” I want…a, b, and c”. I it was that simple, I probably would have already found him already. In the past, every man I had chosen to be my Happily Ever After turned out to leave me as Heidi Happily Even After…and on my own.

I believe that we hurt our chances when we lock ourselves into finding the image of the perfect man or woman. Our preconceived ideas create blinders on us against other possibilities. This means we limit our choices to only people who fit inside of that box whether by looks, by career, by education level, by whatever…. But I say, get rid of what doesn’t fit at all – then work your way into finding something better.

Through trial and error, I learned to ask myself,” What are my deal-breakers from the start?”. For me, I knew I could never be a Hunter’s Widow – the Wife who loses her husband a couple of weeks every November to the guys at Deer Camp with several cases of Pabst Blue Ribbon. Images of Christmas shopping in the Taxidermy aisle; thoughts of batting my eyes as I open my new formaldehyde and pine scented anniversary gift –  simply not a chapter in my Happily Ever After. I’d stopped encouraging further winks and emails from profiles that led with the Outdoor themes, and I looked to isolate hobbies such as camping and fishing. While I like the the to take in a bit of nature, men who lead with these activities probably enjoy it way more than I ever would.

And even though the Wisconsin Hunter’s Widow Tradition involves a Tour Stop from the Chip -N- Dale dancers, I’d rather take a trip to the city with my best girl friends to drop the singles into the g-string-covered genitals of the golden Adonis. And I’d top the trip off with a day of shoe-shopping.

Knowing what I truly wanted in my Prince Charming took time. Women and men both build images of their perfect love, but those images are built on dreams and wishes – and often likenesses to one’s self. Quite frankly, I could never put up with dating me – I’m too high-maintenance.

The man who I fell in love with is nothing like the image I created over my 40 year search for happiness. Instead, he is someone who I could have never imagined. While he enjoys taking me to the Theater, to Concerts and to the Ballet, everything he learned about Opera he learned from Bugs Bunny. You would have never looked for that written into a profile, huh? His love of Wagner evolved over many episodes of the tragic conflict between Bugs and Elmer. What a guy!

So my advice to you, friends, Why try to fityour perfect match into an incomplete image? If you limit yourselves within what you think you need, you leave out a whole other world of interest and intrigue. Once you figure out what you don’t want, Let yourself be surprised by what you might find. I did, and I’ve put a new man into my dreams who actually fits there.

Warm Regards,

Heidi Lee

Side note: I realize that many people – men and women alike – are passionate about the sport of hunting. My thoughts are, if this is your primary passion, save the blood and glory stories for Date #3 – at least.