Project Toad: Letters from a Toad – An Online Dating Confessional

Not for the faint of heart…

Never – when I asked our dear Toad, Jake, to tell me his Lessons Learned so far about Online Dating – did I anticipate the depth of spirit he would share with us. He wrote us a letter, and he intends to write to us often as he experiences Online Dating. I won’t take anymore of your reading attention with my words. Instead, I give you Jake…

Dear Heidi Lee,

When I came to you with the idea of personally joining Match.com to find a relationship, I was thrilled that you offered your help. I also really enjoy seeing my adventures immortalized in your blog. I thought it would be fun and I trusted your instincts. I’ve seen your relationship with your own Prince Charming (aka PC) first hand, and I’d hoped your guidance would help me find that same magic.

Yet I have to acknowledge upfront that this project has spiraled into something I never imagined. Had I known what I was faced with, I would have never volunteered.  However, you’re my friend. Now that I’ve made the commitment to this endeavor and to you, my personal code of conduct mandates that I follow through.  But, Heidi Lee, it’s hard. I’m looking at myself and the man I feel like I have been. I see now that I have to become…

So let’s begin with what I’ve learned from you about myself. My only stipulation is that you do not judge me too harshly or see me shrouded in a perpetual cloak of ignorance. You are my friend, and that would hurt.

I never actually had a successful relationship in any capacity.  I’ve gone from one micro-relationship to another (or should I say I’ve been a Toad-Hopping from bed to bed?) I’ve done this all my life.  I prided myself in the belief that I held a keen understanding of what women want only to learn at 41 that I couldn’t have been farther from the truth.

I have dated, and yes, I use that term carelessly, women who were between 18 and 25.  I’ve always told you that I dated these younger women because I lived in a college town with limited options. Now I confess that this is not entirely true.

I never understood that my geographic location wasn’t the only reason for my perpetually young, ever changing, flock of female companions. Funny thing is you did, you called me on it, and I’m grateful that you forced me to open my eyes to reality.  I guess on some level, buried deep within, I couldn’t deny that I was (and still am) incapable of having an adult relationship.  Hence, Lesson #1:

  • Women don’t date boys, and boys aren’t capable of dating women.

Despite a list of what others may consider to be my sexual conquests, I’ve never felt good about the ease at which I leaped from one bedroom to the next. It secretly sickened me.  What I never realized was that I wasn’t just hurting myself. I was actually hurting these women as well. Although I never intended to do harm, my collateral damage remains in the aftermath.  I hid from the ugliness of my behavior and the reality of my actions behind a pretense of self-righteousness, anchored in a pool of arrogance and vanity.  I was actually pompous enough to believe – to hold as concrete – that I was doing these women a favor by sleeping with them. Hence, Lesson #2:

  • What women deserve from men comes from North of the equator!

Heidi Lee, it’s been said that “the truth hurts”. To be quite honest with you I don’t know how much more truth I’ll be able to handle.  In this short time I’ve already seen enough to know that this journey will be a painful education into self-discovery…which leads me to the lesson that keeps me engaged in this process:

  • I owe this to myself, to my sons, and to all the women in my past, present and future.

In light of my confession, I’ll take this next step with you, Heidi Lee. I want to begin this process in earnest by apologizing to all those that I’ve hurt and by forgiving myself for leading a less than respectable life.

Respectfully,

BD – Jake

P.S. As instructed, I will be dining out this evening with just me, myself, and a good book – so that I can learn that my own skin can be a happy place to live.

 

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

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

Beat the Holiday Stress by saying Thank You

Happy Friday to you all! As we prepare for the Thanksgiving Holiday, do you feel life getting a little more stressful? I sure do, but I think I found a way to ward of the evil spirits of stress, frustration and anxiety. If you will allow me, I’ll share.

Last night, PC took me to the grocery store to pick up a few items for my son Cole’s 16th birthday. Needless to say – Festival Foods was a madhouse filled with people shopping for their Thanksgiving Feasts.

Using my shopping cart to cover my Offensive Line, I gingerly tried to lug my orthopedic boot through the aisles. Women were yelling in their cell phones about whether to serve turkey or ham. Young children were terrorizing their parents by playing hide & seek in the produce section. Most people were hurried to jump in the shortest line – damning every person in the way. Calling the store a war zone just about captures the atmosphere.

PC ran interference for me so I could grab only the necessities for Cole’s Birthday dinner and his Turtle Cheesecake birthday cake. He unloaded my cart for me at the checkout, and he went to pull the car up to the curb. He kept me safe while I tried to survive a battle that is hard to fight with two good feet, and I only have one working for me right now.

Watching PC help me, I started to think about the sweet little things PC and I do for each other to make each day a little sunnier than the last. I would love to share an example with you, friends, with the hope that you also get the opportunity to appreciate the little things.

The best little thing that PC did for me this week was to come home. He has season tickets for the local college basketball team – a tradition he has shared with his parents for many years before he met me. It is their ritual, and Ma and Pa love being able to spend this time with their oldest son.

Wednesday night, PC went to the game while Cole and I hung out at home. I had planned to watch a favorite show, Revenge, while PC was at the game. I turned the channel to ABC at 9:00. PC came through the door just in time to hear the theme song. He rushed in and sat with me to watch the show.

When I asked PC if UW Green Bay won the basketball game, he told me he left with 5 minutes still on the clock. He likes watching Revenge with me.

“Wow”, I thought to myself. I really did find a gem, and he really does love me. I know that this was such a small gesture, but it has a huge impact. Imagine having someone think you are important enough to them that they would leave before the end of a game. Saying thank you and seeing his smile simply eased my stress away.

I believe that I often overlook those little things. I know that people in my life do those sorts of things often for me. I need to appreciate the little things more. My goal is to remember to acknowledge and thank people – whether for an intentional act of kindness or simply some spur of the moment good deed. I need to just say thank you. It goes a long way.

And friends, if you are looking for a little something special to do for your special someone, I pack lunch for PC every day. He loves it.

Warm Regards,

Heidi Lee

Dating’s Gone Digital! A Smart Phone App for Singles?

A friend recently forwarded me a New York Times article, With an App, Your Next Date Could Be Just Around the Corner. The concept: “I’ve just finished up with a long day at the office and could use a relaxing drink with a charming man. Crap! No handsome man in my life right now!”

If I’m not curled up in front of my home computer, I may not have access to a readily available Little Black Book. No worries; I’ve got my 4G technology.

Yes, there’s an app that can act as a Little Black Book full of potential blind dates. Sites like OKCupid Locals and HowAboutWe allow for flirty singles to meet up in the spur of the moment. The app delivers recommendations based on geography and timing – a list of singles in a 5-mile radius right now. A couple of quick scans over profiles, and I could send a “How about we…” invitation to another trendy mobile-dater nearby.

Reading the article, I couldn’t help but thinking about a handful of my friends. Many have asked me about the various traditional dating sites like Match.com and eHarmony because I found Prince Charming online.

Wait, did I say “traditional” as if to mean “old school”? Yes, I suppose that I did. If I look at how I met PC a little over a year ago, I am reminded of the thousands of Singles Profiles I scoured during my digital dating days. Reading this article I felt as if my once oh-so-progressive approach to Happily Ever After may now be considered somewhat dated by the younger generations. The 20-somethings might gravitate towards this new spunky way to meet a match, or at least to have a date for a Friday night.

I thought about my single-and-seeking friends as I continued reading. Who might I recommend use this type of dating service? Clearly both the old-school online and the new-aged cellular sites have credibility. Here is what I came up with:

Sites such as Match allow singles to take their time and to get to know people before they actually meet. Singles even have the opportunity to speak to each other using and anonymous Call Me tool. They don’t have to divulge a personal phone number, a last name, or where they might be found. I think these sites are perfect for my friends who need a little caution and security in their lives while also wanting a touch of romance.

The thirty-something single or divorced Mom, for example, can cautiously multi-task through laundry, dishes, and Match-surfing. She can build up a nice little stash of men who may be available at the same time as her babysitter. Single moms and dads probably have the roughest time actually meeting like-minded people, so online dating is a perfect social channel.

I ran into many single dads online – I found many good guys who took a more private approach to meeting Ms. Right. Many of the men were dating online because they didn’t feel they were meeting the right women during bar crawls with their single, child-free buddies. Other men were simply motivated professionals who sought women outside of their existing social and professional circles. Yes, I met a few “creepy, wish I could roll back the clock” sort of men. All-in-all though, the men were vulnerably putting themselves “out there”.

Some of my younger friends are a bit more adventurous. A last minute suggestion for grabbing a martini might be just what they need after a long day at work or in school. I’m sure that a quick invitation from a handsome stranger could put a little kick back into a fallen step. A missed deadline, a failed project, or perhaps a celebration of a tiny personal conquest might be all the reason someone needs to reach out and spin the wheel. Whatever the reason, I think the App is aimed towards instant gratification rather than long-term commitment.

As long as the singles follow a few rules for safety, either sort of blind date could be a load of fun. I have 2 rules that clearly apply to both channels, but even more specifically to the Mobile App.

  1. Always meet out in public until you are comfortable that you are not dating Jeffrey Dahmer. If your gut check tells you not to go back to his place, your gut is really
    smart.
  2. Cash – not credit! A lady always knows when and how to pay for her own drink.

While the first rule may seem self-explanatory, please allow me to elaborate on Rule #2. None of these sites give away your personal identity – you shouldn’t either. Men and women both should always carry cash-on-hand. Paying for a drink with a credit card can give the other person the opportunity to glance at your last name – something you don’t want if your date seems to be sizing up your body parts for a coffin in the basement. Keep a spare $20 or two in your purse or wallet, and use it wisely. One day you may find yourself grateful to have listened to your mother’s advice to tuck a $20 away just in case – this advice comes from experience.

But have fun – enjoy – be creative. Most importantly, be safe.

Happy Dating!

Heidi Lee

Reference: Jenna Wortham. With an App, Your Next Date Could Be Just Around the Corner. New York Times. November 2, 2011.

Kitchen Blunder transformed to Wonder: Southwest Sausage and Peppers

Oh, for the love of MUFAs! I miss being in my kitchen. For the last week and a half I’ve been resigned to bed rest. I’ve been at the mercy of the men in my household to bring me food and drink. Just try getting someone to bring you a glass of Merlot to wash down your Percocet – impossible!

The care and feeding of Heidi Lee has no doubt been a challenge for PC as well as for my son, Cole. I love to cook and I can be a little picky/snobby with my flavors. My poor PC has been a bachelor for 46 years and has gotten, how shall we say…. well, very creative with his culinary skills. I was able to detour him in his misguided attempt to slush canned tuna and applesauce together onto a plate by strategically requesting that he make a pot of his Chili. A big pot goes a long way, and every guy in the world swears by his own Chili recipe.

Yes, I’m sharing this strategy with you proactively should you ever find yourself in my position. Play it safe and ask for the chili.

Cole, on the other hand, brings me candy bars and licorice. Good kid.

Lately, though, our gallons of chili has begun to run dry. I find myself moving around a little better though. Last night I hobbled off my lazy duff and finally got back into my kitchen. A bit of a struggle scooting between the stove and the refrigerator, wearing my orthopedic boot makes me feel like I’ve got a 10 lb bag of flour strapped to my leg. No worries, though. I was successful.

I had been craving sausage and peppers for a while, and I could almost smell the fresh basil and garlic dancing around my drugged up nose for over a week. I had grabbed Italian Sausage from my freezer earlier and set it out to thaw.

When it came time to cook, I teetered my way through my cupboard pulling out all of my standard ingredients. As I grabbed the sausage to begin slicing, I realized my challenge. The Italian sausage I thought I had grabbed turned out to be a Southwest smoked chicken sausage I had never used before. Ok, so a change of flavors on the fly. Cool, I’ve got this. Basil and garlic became chipotle chili powder and smoky cumin – throw in a little paprika to boot….Voila! Perfection.

My hodge-podge of a throw together turned into a delectable variation on the traditional Italian Sausage & Peppers. I’d love to share it with you as I am certain I stayed within the requirements to make it a Flat Belly Mufa Meal. The best thing – this meal was my first adventure with a new favorite ingredient – Johnsonville Chicken Sausage with 50% Less Fat! (coupon) I can tell you the sausage was full of flavor. I was very impressed, and PC couldn’t tell that it was actually chicken.

Now to the meat of my post 😉 A little bit of kitchen magic:

Southwest Sausage & Peppers

  • 2 tbsps olive oil (Mufa)
  • 1 pkg Chicken Sausage with Cheese & Chipotle Peppers, cut into bite sized slices
  • 1 large yellow pepper, cut in thin strips
  • 1 large orange pepper, cut in thin strips
  • 2 large green peppers, cut in thin strips
  • 1 med yellow onion, cut in thin strips
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (you can substitute with minced garlic in a jar if you want)
  • 6 oz can of tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup dry red wine – Leave enough in the bottle for drinking. You be the judge.
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 small can tomato sauce (I believe these cans are ~ 4 oz)
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Whole Wheat Spaghetti, prepared

Pour a 5 oz glass of the red wine – set aside for drinking. See, now I’m back in charge!

Fill a pasta pot with water and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, using a 5 quart kettle, heat the olive oil over a medium heat and add sausage. Sauté until lightly browned. Add in the vegetables and the garlic, and sauté for 3 – 4 minutes. You want to keep the crispness of these peppers in the sauce, so don’t over-cook.

Enjoy a sip or two of wine and again, set aside. You need to pay attention to adding the tomato paste so don’t let the wine become the activity for right now. If you do this next step right, you get an added surprise in your meal of a rich, sweetened tomato sauce – mess up and your paste turns the whole dish burnt and bitter. So no gulping down the fruit of the vine just yet, k?

Add the tomato paste to the meat & veggie mixture and toss until the paste begins to coat through. You will begin to see the paste start to get a little gloss to it – this is the time to add in the wine and stir until the paste and wine begin to blend. Perfect! Nicely done.

Throw in the rest of the ingredients – not art to this part. Just be careful to toss gently through your sauce rather than to vigorously disturb your lovely veggies.

Set aside to simmer for about 20 minutes – and enjoy that glass of red while the aroma starts to fill your house. Be sure to offer a glass to your own Prince Charming while you are at it.

With about 10 minutes left, remember to start your spaghetti (my favorite wheat pasta). Add a little salt into the boiling water, and add enough of the noodles to feed your family. You may even want to prepare a little extra to take leftovers to work for lunch tomorrow. This meal tasted is even better today.

Guidelines for serving size to make this a Mufa Meal – 1/2 cup of pasta and 3 oz of sausage (1 link is 3 oz). You’re getting your Mufa from the olive oil. However, the wine throws the allowed calories off track – be sure to refer to The Flat Belly Diet recommendations about adding alcohol with a meal if you are attempting the diet plan.

Stop back by and let me know if you liked this recipe. Also, feel free to share a variation if you come up with any.

Cheers,

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.