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.
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.
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.
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!”
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.
- 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
- 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.
Reference: Jenna Wortham. With an App, Your Next Date Could Be Just Around the Corner. New York Times. November 2, 2011.
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.
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.
Hello, my Dear Friends. I’m recovering uncomfortably from my foot surgery, and I’ve come to the realization that I am the world’s worst patient. Fortunately, PC has the bedside manner of a saint. I whine, whimper and pout, and he simply strokes my hair from out of my face and stumbles in the dark to find me another pain pill.
My doctor mentioned that I would have at least a week’s worth of pain before I started to feel better, but I honestly could not have imagined the extent. True to form though, PC is right beside me holding my hand. I’ve kept him up all night through restlessness and crying, and the only thing he could think of this morning was to tell me that I look beautiful. Poor guy – he really needs some sleep.
While I am too doped up today to showcase the romance or the humor in the Care and Feeding of Heidi Lee, I did want to take a moment and say thank you.
Friends, remember to thank someone you love today.
Hey there! Please let me beg your forgiveness today and possibly for the next few days. My wonderful doctor just performed surgery on my poor little arthritic foot so that one day I can get back into my Stilettos and Slingbacks. While I am comfortably recovering, that’s because I’m simply doped-up, my friends. God forbid this Vicodin wears off and I actually feel my mangled, rheumatic limb.
Yesterday afternoon in the recovery room, I had quite the Epiphany about love and my Prince Charming. Having recently read Deanna Fry’s love-related-tales, a stunning lady with similar romantic challenges (and a new favorite blog) helped me to firm up my analysis. As a result, I’m even more excited about the man who I chose to share my life with – my handsome, witty, and considerate Prince Charming.
The truth is, I was frightened about the looming surgical redesign of my slowly deforming foot. Not only was I freaking out about potentially crippling long-term complications from my Rheumatoid A.,I was also fixating on Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs) from poor aseptic technique. (Fact: Over 50% of hospital related illnesses are preventable when a health care worker properly washes his or her hands the Right way – but that is a whole other blogging experience.)
Needless to say, taking care and keeping me calm was no picnic. My PC mastered it with graceful aplomb.
To explain, let me take you back to 2006. I spent the majority of my 30’s dating and eventually being engaged to The Wrong Man. We’ll call him Tom. Tom was a divorced dad who had both of his teenage girls living with him (and eventually with us).
He had established his beliefs, behaviors, and bad habits – I certainly wasn’t going to change him. His daughters were his princesses, and I, as their stepmother, did the work of Cinderella – backwards did you say? Where is that Fairy Godmother when you need her?
These girls got to stay home from school for 3 days a month when they had their periods, and he would stay home from work with them to bring them chicken soup. Sweet girls, but they clearly played their best Daddy-take-care-of-me Card when they didn’t want to take a test.
When I was 36, my loving doctors finally decided that I should stop suffering from one of my many ailments – my feminine curse. I’d had several surgeries over the years for cysts and for endometriosis – in short, my reproductive system was the Devil incarnate and Lucifer saw to it that I suffered regularly. In the worst of my monthly demonic sufferings, Tom would find me curled into the fetal position, perhaps weeping with a glass of red to ease the affliction.
When Tom saw me this way, he saw me only as a burden: He had to do the dishes and cook dinner. He couldn’t understand why I would cry while folding laundry when my feminine cramps or my Rheumatoid or other medical challenges acted up.
Momma always said I was a walking Medical Dictionary. I always said, “If it’s not one thing, it’s your mother <wink>.” Love ya, Ma!
I felt like a burden even asking for a glass of water. You can imagine, then, the trouble that brewed when my doctors advised me to undergo a total hysterectomy. Not only would I lose the works that the Good Lord gave me, but I would also be thrown into menopausal trauma far too early in my ongoing battle against sanity.
I was to be laid up for 6 – 8 weeks. I begged Tom to stay with me and my son, Cole (age 8 at the time), while his daughters stayed with their mother. He agreed but … only …after … a … lot … of … hesitation. He finally admitted that didn’t want the extra drive time to work – roughly 20 minutes more one way. And, he didn’t want to do “your housework.” He thought that if I was able to walk, well, I should be just fine to carry the laundry up 2 flights of stairs.
What a burden you are, Heidi Lee, I told myself. But I was his burden, and he was going to marry this burden – and I carried a kingdom of guilt. My health has never been stellar, but I am ambitious, motivated, and active in spite of it. I don’t let my physical challenges own me. Occasionally, it would have been nice to feel supported by the man in my life, but something even better happened, dear reader. Tom did me the favor of dumping me for an Online Affair when I was 38. Talk about the other glass slipper dropping! Wow.
Yesterday, many of those old Tom-like feelings resurfaced as I waited with my Prince Charming in the hospital room. I was a basket case by the time the nurse wheeled me away to the OR, and I hesitantly looked to PC for an unfamiliar hint of moral support. He squeezed my hand and leaned in for a kiss.
“Will you be here when I wake up?” I managed to whisper.
“Of course, Dear. I’m right where I am supposed to be today.”
“I’m sorry that you have to go through this, PC.”
“Heidi Lee, will you get into that room and get your foot fixed already? I want to take
After I woke up, he was waiting in my post-op room to dress me and carry me home.He never left my side, and he’s still home with me today – helping me to shower and bringing me soup and cookies. His only complaint last night: “Heidi Lee, you’re not in your spot tonight. Hurry up and heal up so I can sleep with my arms around you again.”
Now that we’ve got a bit of background, it’s time to share my Relationship Epiphany. Is there only one person, a Soul-Mate for each of us? I think we need to break this
question down more accurately. Can we be happy with more than one man or woman
for the rest of our lives? I think some of us can. Does this mean that he or she is the person we are meant to be with? No – that’s something more special, and we can’t know It unless we are lucky enough to find It.
I think I could have been happy with Tom for several reasons. Although I’ve described him as being an insensitive and unsupportive jerk, he did have many good qualities. We were friends. And we could have been relatively happy – but I would have been
settling for less than I deserved.
Do I think that many happy marriages /relationships exist without the head-over-heels love factor? You bet! Do I think it’s possible to marry your best friend and be content? Of course.
But … Do I think optimistically that there’s another level of love that transcends so many of us? Do I believe that we miss out on It because we lose patience or settle for what is quite clearly not in our best interest? Absolutely! Do I think that certain marriages are bad or doomed because of this? Not at all.
I believe now, as I miss my “spot” curled up in the nook of PC’s arms feeling cherished and protected, that there is one perfect person. I am simply very lucky to have found mine. I witness PC’s parents as they grow old together – and they are perfect together. They laugh together, play football pools, and they sneak away to gamble at the Casinos nearby. They know each other’s best and worst, and they love each other more for their eccentricities. They are what I call Legacy Toad Kissers.
Flipping through the news channels, I see this same sort of love in the eyes of #MarkKelly as he watches the graceful and formidable #GabrielleGifford come back stronger than ever. I envy their love story, and I admire them both personally as well as a couple. She is not, and never will be, his burden. His love helped her through, and he was right where he was supposed to be – with her. When you are truly with the one you are meant to find, you know you are in your “spot.”
Wow, this Love-Drug retelling of yesterday makes me feel like I don’t need another Vicodin – well, almost. PC, Honey – will you please bring me my medication?
He loves me, he loves me not. He loves me – oh look, a Vicodin. He loves me. Time to sleep.