Entries in dating (25)


Summer 2016: My Review

This post marks an attempt at something new on this blog, something more diary-style, though necessarily selective in its details.

We’ll see whether I keep it up. This may turn into a one-of-a-kind. Yet in case it becomes a regular feature, I’ve decided to craft it as a season in review, and to cover June through August.

Here goes:

Work, Work, WorkWorkWork

The FrogDog team's two wins at the IABC Bronze Quill Awards. June 2016.

Let’s get the professional matters out of the way first, as they probably have less interest for the most of you and, out of necessity, I can only and always keep relatively mum on specifics in this life facet.

In June, my FrogDog strategy team and I won two Bronze Quill Awards from the Houston IABC for our work helping a client redirect its marketing strategy and message through primary research and analysis.

Otherwise, the summer brought a number of evolutions to FrogDog:

  • We worked on setting an aggressive road map for the rest of 2016, for one.
  • For two, we started assessing our strategy for the year ahead.
  • And third, we had some staff changes: In addition to bringing on board an amazing new FrogDogger I’ve tried to team with for a couple years at least—a big win!—one of our staff transitioned out due to her husband’s transfer back to Australia and another left as planned a full-time MBA program at The University of Chicago. A couple other teammates moved on to other roles. We miss them!

Ahead for fall: Our end-of-year plan and our strategy work will kick into action, which excites me. Also, we’ve applied for the next award up from the one we won in June—the regional Silver Quill—for which the IABC will announce nominees in late September or early October.


For one reason or another, spending time with friends became a big focus of this summer. No huge doings: Just getting together over food, drink, fireworks, parties and celebrations, porch sitting, and even pedicures.

In most cases, these friends and I live near enough in Houston to see each other more often than we do—and shame on us that we don’t—yet a few of the occasions brought in friends from as near as Corpus Christi and as far as Guelph, Canada.

Life feels better on all levels with close friends to share it. Not long ago, I took my friendships for granted. Not so much in recent years, in which nurturing my friendships has taken priority.


The gardens across the street from The French Laundry. July 2016.

In July, my mother and her husband, my brother and his wife and two young children, and I met up in Calistoga, California, for a long weekend of family time.

Nonstop time, actually, as the swimsuit and extra books I brought for relaxing and reading by the pool went untouched: We visited a couple wineries, saw some of the Redwoods, feasted at The French Laundry, ate at other fabulous restaurants (frankly, I munched my way through Napa Valley), and had a photographer come along to take varieties of posed and candid family photos.

After that, I needed a vacation from the vacation. (Didn’t happen.)

In August, a cousin threw a housewarming party that brought together members of the family I rarely get to see though with whom I grew up.

We didn’t have nearly enough time together as I’d have liked; it feels melancholy, a bit, to spend so little time with people you saw weekly as a kid. Though distance makes it a challenge, I call for more such gatherings in the future. (Too bad I don’t have a backyard pool to lure people!)


I’ll say here that dating this summer has held some interesting surprises. And I will leave it at that.

When I have more distance through which to distill the lessons learned, I might. Stay tuned.


My blindingly, awesomely vibrant new Adidas boxing shoes. August 2016.

Can’t say much changed in the fitness arena—I still ran four to six miles four or so times per week and boxed on the nonrunning days—except that the importance of exercise increased with my eating. Even when not with friends or on travel, I managed to feast on everything terrible I could find, from cookies to chips to crackers to cake to… You name it.

This fall, I’ll need to keep my mouth shut in addition to keeping the body moving to atone for my sins.

Thankfully, I now have a pair of super-sweet Adidas boxing shoes that help. (Think I’ll blind ‘em?) And watching Claressa Shields, Heather Hardy, and Shelly Vincent fight on the national and international stages gives me motivation, as does a 10k with a good friend coming up on Thanksgiving morning. (Love when I can mix two loves at once: Friends and fitness!)

World Events

I can’t hark back to a golden era—a time during which truth and beauty and light infused the majority of this planet. Yet this summer, the world looked sad and dark, indeed.

I have so much more to say—and have written so much already on some of this summer’s predominant tragic themes—but I’ll hold the additional words for some other, future post.

Tell me about your summer.


Six Great First Dates

One of the vehicles on display for the Museum of Fine Arts Houston's exhibit Sculpted in Steel: Art Deco Automobiles and Motorcycles 1929-1940. February 23, 2016.

Most people default to coffee or drinks for a first date.


Meeting someone new for coffee feels like networking. First dates feel enough like interviews without having the accoutrements of an actual business meeting.

A first date over drinks makes dinner afterward feel obligatory, and you may not want to risk putting so much time on the line for a stranger.

Further, having drinks with someone can feel overly romantic, and when you meet someone for the first time at a sultry bar and you feel anything but sultry upon first real-life encounter, something already awkward—a first date—just ratcheted up eleventeen notches of awkward, where you’re contorting your body in such a way as to ensure they don’t get the idea for a good-night kiss later.

Take the following suggestions for great first dates from a—sigh—dating veteran:

  1. Visit a museum. Doesn’t matter the subject, a museum makes for a great first date. On first dates, I’ve visited mainly art museums, but science museums would work as well—as would quirky museums like the ones we have in Houston celebrating art cars and funeral history. (Yes, really.) You can spend the entire time talking in a museum—yet the setting makes it so you don’t have to talk nonstop, either. Even better, looking at exhibits together gives you something immediate to discuss with someone you don’t otherwise know.
  2. Go for a walk. I’ve enjoyed jaunts around a few parks and city neighborhoods in Houston; the movement keeps down jitters and the things and people you encounter provide good conversation fodder. Even better, you might run into a free performance of some kind—live music in parks happens on the regular. (Side note: Walks and bike rides fall on opposite sides of the good-idea list for first dates. Cycling’s single-file formation, speedier pace, and road or trail noise do not make for good conversation.)
  3. Take a dance class. Early in a date one late afternoon, a salsa dancing class struck up in the tea shop where my date and I had met. The instructors begged us to join, mainly because they wanted to move our table out of the way. Though I may not have jumped at a dancing date if offered, the lesson gave us an excuse to touch chastely, a lot of laughter, the challenge of attempting to learn something together, and a good story.
  4. Go shopping. I’ve only tried this at a bookstore, yet I figure a mall or a street market would prove just as good a way to get to know someone by discussing items on offer and getting a feel for your date’s purchasing habits. (Hey, can’t hurt to figure out the buying habits of a potential partner sooner rather than later.)
  5. Paint. These wine-and-painting-party places have had passed heyday, and I wouldn’t plan a party at one of them today. For a date, though, the activity feels perfect. You have a job to do, you sit together, you can flirt over painting styles, and the paints and water and aprons and easels lend a sense of play and childhood and allow you to let down your guard just a bit.
  6. Try trivia night. Though at a bar, and so technically in the category of “meeting for a drink,” going to a trivia night adds a little sense of competition—and you can see what kind of sport you’ve chosen to meet. If someone’s ego gets toasted by missing a question at a bar’s trivia night, or if they spew sarcasm at you for suggesting a wrong answer, knowing it first thing allows you to avoid a second thing.

Have any of these first dates turned into second dates? Not yet. The first date my last serious relationship and I had took place over lunch on a weekday. (Hey, low pressure—and therefore not bad as an option.) The first date for the previous serious relationship took place over dinner.

However, I met both men in the real world—not on-line. So perhaps that helped; we’d met and had some level of in-person conversation prior to our first formal date. Allow me to feel wistful for a moment: Sure seems like few people meet “organically” like that anymore.

Tell me about your best first date.


What I Think When You Hit on Me at the Gym

Me, stretching on the floor preworkout, as Ramona tries to smother me. Though you can't see what I'm wearing, you can trust her judgement in trying to put me out of my misery. June 2015.

Anyone who tries to flirt with me—in any setting—who has any intention of an actual pick-up needs to make his approach almost comically obvious. Take (or not, as I didn’t) the guy who hit on me in the parking lot while I was leaving the gym this week:

Him: “Beautiful car.”

Me, navigating out of a tight spot, windows down: “Thanks.”

Him: “Not as lovely as the woman in it, though.”

Me, thinking how nice a random act of complimentary kindness feels on a Monday morning: “Aww. Thanks!”

Long pause, during which I wiggle my car back and forth. I still haven’t thought to get a good look at the dude.

Him: “Maybe I could take you to lunch sometime?”

And yes, dear reader, it still took a couple seconds after this exchange for me to realize he had intentions beyond simply making pleasantries and exhibiting patience while I got out of the way.

In the scene above, I wore ratty maroon gym shorts, a gray tank top, a forest-green towel-as-cape, fuchsia sneakers with holes, and sweaty hair standing up a la Bart Simpson.

No one could call me an attractive exerciser.

Even after long road races for which I feel pride of accomplishment, I don’t buy the overpriced promotional photos. Actually, I try to position my race bibs so that the photographers can’t capture the identifier by which they’d horrify me via e-mail with visual evidence of what I look like exercising.

I can’t possibly imagine on any given workout day how someone could find me alluring.

Should I feel flattered that someone likes me in a sweaty, mismatched, frumpy, disheveled state, seeing it as an opportunity to wow him in the future? Yet if he likes me at the gym, will he like me not at the gym? What about a nasty gym look appeals to this man? And what does liking a nasty gym look say about him? Should I question this guy’s mental health? His judgement?


I met my last serious long-term relationship in an early-morning running group. (Yes, this means we met sweaty in the dark, which sounds a lot sexier than the reality.)

So maybe I should give fitness locales a little more credence.

Given how much time I spend in gyms and on running routes, meeting someone in one of these spots would probably make lifestyle-matching somewhat easier.

Yet wouldn’t this mean I need to put more care into my workout façade? And I don’t want to spend the time, effort, or money to look good during a workout. I just want to work out.

A conundrum.

Where did you meet your spouse, partner, significant other?


How We See Ourselves—and How it Hurts Us

A confessional blogger who has frequently written funny stories about her dating experiences for XO Jane stated she’d never write another article about her single status because she wanted to find a relationship. She felt that the more people see her as “the single woman” or “the woman with the funny dating stories,” the longer she’ll stay solo.

If you identify as a single person, she wrote, you’ll stay that way.

The post reminded me of Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain, a book it took some convincing for me to read. (A book intended for adults written from a dog’s point of view? No, thank you. But count me highly glad someone convinced me otherwise.) In the book, the protagonist—a race-car driver—states that if you think about the racetrack wall, you’ll hit the racetrack wall. Look in your desired direction over the feared outcome.

In other words, he wrote, we manifest what’s before us.

If you think of the worst, you’ll realize the worst. You’ll manifest it. Likewise, we become what we think of ourselves. If you consider yourself shy, you’ll stay a wallflower—or turn into one. If you think of yourself as unattractive, you’ll come across that way.

And in the XO Jane author’s vein, perhaps the way you think of your relationship status—single or paired—accounts for the recently divorced’s tendency to hook up again so quickly: They don’t see themselves as single. Whereas people who have stayed single for a long time, who think of themselves as single and talk about their singlehood, tend to stay that way.

Positive, willful thinking can’t overcome all obstacles. But certainly it can prevent quite a number of pitfalls and a passel of trouble.

After I read the XO Jane author’s post earlier this year, I stopped writing about my relationship status, thinking about myself as single, and talking about my dating experiences. I may have made brief mention of singlehood and dating, but only in context of another subject and only when necessary to making a point.

Further, I reviewed other life intentions to think through ways I could think and act differently to avoid self-sabotage. I’ve got some work to do.

Don’t we all?

What about your life would you like to change? What should you change about your self-concept that would help that change happen?

What do you think?


Why Singlehood is Harder for Men

In commiserating over the difficulty of dating, my friend mentioned off-hand that men don’t do as well as women single.

He didn’t mean men in their twenties and early thirties. Instead, he referred to men in their late thirties, forties, and beyond—men beyond the state of patrolling the bars until all hours with a gaggle of guy friends.

And he’s right.

Despite how our culture portrays men as fleeing the married state—and, once married, how we like to pretend that the married state chafes them—I’ve noticed that the men in my circles remarry pretty quickly after a divorce, whereas divorced women stay single a while (if not in perpetuity).

Humans need companionship. And our culture makes it hard for men to forge profound, nurturing friendships—especially when compared to women. For close personal connections, men need to get married.

Unless they forged a friendship in childhood and have a longstanding buddy relationship, a man feels uncomfortable reaching out to another man for dinner, a movie, or a cultural event. And a rare man would call another man to catch up or to unload his innermost thoughts, joys, and frustrations.

A man may gather with a few guys for a poker night or a round of golf, but as men get older and have obligations around careers and children and family, getting a group together grows harder. One-on-one meet-ups could happen more easily and would better foster deep conversation and connection, but a man meeting another individual male for an activity feels odd.

Friendships with women feel more natural for men, given the reduced cultural-norm baggage around a man calling a woman to spend time together and to talk. However, established adults of the opposite sex rarely spend time together outside dating or relationships. Casting an invitation for social time seems like an attempt to take the connection in a romantic direction.

Bring on the awkward. Again.

Without companionship and connectivity, single men get lonely. They feel disconnected. Their happiness falters. They quickly move to end their single status and, fortunately for them, the odds favor their plights: After forty, the dating odds favor men over women.

If only sifting through a greater number of options made it easy to find the ideal mate.

What do you think? Do single men have it easier or harder than single women?