Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Holding Out Hope for Handsome Honey

Handsome Honey is still around. And I *hope* it stays that way. Still, I hate to say it, but it's not looking good.

While we started off great with that 7-hour initial phone conversation, we've since diminished into talking on the phone maybe once a week, with an occasional text message in between.

I tried to write it off the last few weeks as him being busy. Finishing up final exams for his classes, demolishing and re-building his home, work commitments, etc. But let's face it: No one is that busy. And that's becoming more and more apparent now that he's on winter break from school and no longer has that excuse.

Don't get me wrong, I do like HH. Very much so. But we rarely talk at this point, so my interest is waning. I refuse to be the only one reaching out, so I'm basically just waiting to see if/when he calls me. The last time I saw him was the Sunday before Christmas. Then he texted me on Christmas day to wish me a happy holiday. I returned to town on the Sunday after Christmas after a visit with my family out of state and that evening, I received a text message from HH, asking when I'd be back in town. "I am back" was my reply. He replied soon after that, sounding annoyed that I hadn't let him know my whereabouts, saying he wanted to go to dinner with me that night.

But if you really wanted to take me to dinner, would you have waited until 7 p.m. that day to ask me? Really? Not to mention that we hadn't had an actual conversation in a week.

Nonetheless, I keep reminding myself that this isn't necessarily a dealbreaker if -- and that's a big IF -- he gets it together. If he doesn't, I will have to assume he's just not that into me and move on.

Meanwhile, Mr. Serious has thrown his hat back into the ring, and there's a new guy from my hometown who we'll refer to as Home Boy. He's headed to town this evening to have drinks with me. Never a dull moment for FabFem. More on that later.

Monday, December 21, 2009

My DC Snowpocolyse Survival Story

I don't know why and I don't know who, but *someone* cleared the mountain of snow from atop my car after the DC Snowpocolyse this weekend.

We got nearly two feet of snow. It literally snowed for more than 24 hours straight. I watched from my window as my car disappeared beneath the snow, and I began to wish I still lived in a former apartment building where an overly friendly neighbor routinely cleared snow from my car.

As it snowed, I realized I'd be clearing the snow myself this time -- or so I thought. When I looked out the window again at nearly 10 a.m. on Sunday morning, my mouth dropped: My car had NO snow on it. I rushed outside to ask the few people out shoveling if they knew who had been nice enough to clean my car off. No one knew. It was an angel, I surmised, and I thank him or her wholeheartedly.

I still had work to do, though. The plow had my car trapped something awful with snow piled as high as its hood, and it took an hour's worth of shoveling just to dig myself out. And you know how I hate manual labor.

Still, I knew someone had done me a huge favor, so when I heard a friend needed a shovel to dig her own car out, I headed to her place next to help her dig out.

About an hour later, her car was freed and I headed home ... To rest my aching back.

TALK BACK: Were you snowed in this weekend? What did you do to pass the time?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Holiday Gift Giving for the Man in Your Life

It's been a long while since there was a guy around who I actually wanted to buy a Christmas gift for.

Handsome Honey has changed that. We've been seeing each other just over a month, and not getting him something just doesn't feel right.

Nearly two weeks ago, HH surprised me with a very cute pair of nice heels. Not stripper heels, not ugly shoes, but fly heels that I know I'll rock. He has great taste! I'm not sure if the shoes are my Christmas gift, or if something else is coming, but either way, I know he deserves a good gift.

Thus the search began in my mind for the right Christmas gift. What could I get him without doing too much, given that we haven't been seeing each other that long? I wanted my gift to be thoughtful, but not overdone. And I didn't want to get him something useless, since he seems to have everything he might want/need already.

So I settled on two things: a bottle of his favorite cologne and a giftcard from Home Depot. Why? Because HH is in the midst of a major home renovation, so a giftcard to a home improvement store is something I know he'll appreciate and will put to good use.

It feels good to actually want to buy a guy a gift. And knowing it's something he'll enjoy is a bonus.

TALK BACK: What are you getting for Christmas for the man in your life? How did you settle on that gift?

This Text Message Won't Help You Get the Girl

If you're a guy who likes me, thinks you might like me, or have any interest in me whatsoever, sending me the following text message is probably a bad idea:

"If a fat man snatches u up & throws u in a bag, don't be afraid. It's just Santa collecting his hoes for Christmas. I'm texting you from the bag."

That's a message I received from Mr. Serious at about 9 a.m. on Saturday morning, the first I'd heard from him since Thanksgiving. A few seconds later, he sent another text: "Hello! Good morning!"

Really, dude?

Still recovering from my recent swine flu attack, I was easily annoyed by Mr. Serious's text. He interrupted my much needed bed rest for that?

Still, I guess it's not surprising for a guy whose Thanksgiving greeting to me (by text, of course, because they always text) was, "Happy Thanksgiving and shit." Classy, ain't he?

If I expressed my dismay at these messages to him directly, he would say I'm being stuck up, I'm sure. So rather than rock the boat, I just didn't reply at all to the Santa message he sent on Saturday. I mean seriously, WTF?!?

Now, don't get me wrong -- I think I have a good sense of humor. In fact, a guy who makes me laugh is one of the qualities I look for in men I date. But you also need to respect me. Mr. Serious clearly didn't think of that before he hit the send button.

TALK BACK: Has a guy ever sent you a text that was a total dealbreaker? What did it say?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Could Your 'Homepage' Face Scare Away Your Dream Guy?

By: Guest Blogger NINA LOVEHALL

Sometimes to amuse myself, I like to look at people's faces and wonder, or even make up, what might be on their minds.

I do it on the sneak tip, and I try not to linger. But I can't help but be interested in the way people "hold" their face when they are just going about their daily lives, not talking to anyone, just living while no one is noticing-- or so they think.

I call it the "homepage face." Simply put, it's just that general face you wear when you aren't running your mouth and more often than not the one you wear when you are all alone in public. You aren't smiling, yet you aren't scowling. You're just at, well, your homepage. It may be even better to call it a facial screensaver, because you pop right out of it when someone addresses you.  

Anyway, I've read that when it comes to dating or even in your professional life, what your face looks like when you think people aren't looking can say a lot about you and whether or not you are the kind of person folks want to deal with.

Even the annoying guy in the street who passes you saying, "Smile," might actually have a point. Sometimes.

When trying to get from point A to point B, we tend to put on a protective "don't approach me" face to rid ourselves of Mr. Undesirable-Pushy-Street guy. But are we possibly eliminating the kind of men we actually want in the process? Have you ever considered that Mr. Right might have been steps away, noticed you, got interested, but changed his mind once he observed your frosty encounter with Mr. Undesirable?

It's not far-fetched. I have close male friends (solid catches in their own rights), who say they tend to wait it out and observe a woman for a little while before they approach. If she's got a permanent stank grill, they immediately abort mission, regardless of how beautiful she is.
One day, I was walking down the street on my lunch break. I had on a great work-appropriate outfit, which accented my legs (heeeey) and for some reason, I couldn't ignore what a gorgeous day it was. The warmth of the sun, the flowers and the stately buildings surrounding me were commanding me to take notice and appreciate their beauty. 

TIMEOUT: It sounds sappy, but I was especially appreciative of that moment because at the time, misery was a regular companion. I was questioning myself workwise, and I had recently ended a rough relationship. TIME IN.

So, I walked into a fast food restaurant and ordered my lunch. I was patient and smiled and grabbed my food when it was my turn and rolled out. Now, I wasn't smiling like some idiot or skipping, but I was just naturally feeling pleasant. Apparently, my homepage reflected that.

I was taking the long way back to the office when a handsome, well-dressed man ran up behind me, begging my pardon. He startled me, but I stopped and noticed he was actually cute!

He gave the, "I'm not a stalker," disclaimer and told me he noticed me moments ago while standing in line ordering his food, too. (Well dressed, lunch break=has a job. Whoo hoo!) Then he apologized for sounding corny, but he said it seemed like I had some kind of glow. He continued that it was rather unusual to see a busy, professional woman seem so pleasant in the midst of a hungry mob and it didn't seem forced or fake. At first he said that he thought there was no way I could be that happy, but after watching me awhile, he had to meet me and see what I was really about.

Like my male friends, he obviously watched me for a good while to see if the stereotypical stank grill would surface. He was sizing me up once he realized he was physically attracted and followed up with observing how I carried myself.

I wasn't impatiently patting my foot, or huffing and puffing, or angrily looking at my watch or yacking on a cell phone or texting in line. I cracked a smile when placing and picking up my order, but still managed to not go to the default stank homepage face when I walked out. 

He was an engineer, never been married, no kids and ran marathons. A good catch. I just wasn't ready for anything at the time.

TALK BACK: Do you unconsciously keep a stank face when going about your daily business? And is it possible that your "homepage" face could scare away the men you actually want?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Representative Has Left the Building

By: Guest Blogger NINA LOVEHALL

Comedian Chris Rock once said that when we are initially dating, we are not our real selves, but instead we send our "representatives" out on the dates for us. This representative is kind of like the person we become on a job interview-- just with a lower cut blouse and higher heels--who help to make us look and sound good to help us seal the deal. (But at least on a date you can have a cocktail to calm your nerves.)

I know of people who are transitioning from their representatives to their real selves, and it's not only been a revelation to the people these folks are dating, but it's been a revelation of self when the mask comes off.

If you are fortunate enough to find someone special enough to let down your guard, it can be both a great relief, yet extremely scary. You've put in the work, you've snatched up the person of your dreams, the representative has done her job and now that she's left, it's just you and him. For real. So he knows that sometimes you are terribly forgetful or that you always leave the cap off of the toothpaste, and eek, he even knows you own a couple pairs of granny panties.

So my question is... are we liars out the gate? And do we adjust our bad habits or try to hide them according to the likes and dislikes of the people we like, in order to get them to stay?

I know women who started cooking more often because a guy they liked loved a home-cooked meal. But during a usual week, hidden cameras would probably catch them eating out breakfast, lunch and dinner, five out of seven days in the week.

"But I don't want him to think I'm not wife material," she says, trying to keep up the lie.  

I know men who aren't necessarily neat freaks and don't mind clutter as long as it's not pizza boxes and beer bottles piling up throughout the house, who find themselves scrambling to powerwash their entire homes because a neat freak gal they are interested in is stopping by in an hour to watch a movie.

"I don't want her to think I'm nasty," he says.

The prevailing theme in all these examples is fear. Folks are afraid of their faults, and folks are afraid that the people they've worked so hard to get to see them in a really great light will realize the gig is up, you are a fraud, leading them to walk out of your life forever. But a good question is, did these two misrepresent themselves in the first place? Or are they trying to adjust to what their significant other likes?

I don't like smoking.

But I even dated a smoker once who declined to share upfront that he was a smoker. He kept up the facade for a couple months before I confronted him about the pack of cigarettes I found in his car. Then he assured me that he only smoked when he went out for a drink or after a meal. I continued to date that person for a long time (I really liked him), yet I reminded him every so often (trying not to nag) about how smoking is a nasty, unhealthy habit, and I hoped he would give it up one day soon. To his credit, he constantly kept mints on hand, and he never smoked around me. Obviously, he wanted to keep me.  So I see how the other side works, too.

Believe it or not, smoking didn't end that relationship. Even though I didn't like his smoking, I liked him more. And he liked me enough to smoke on his porch when I visited (even in the winter). So was it fair of me to want him to quit? Was it fair of him to fight his urge after we've had a nice meal out, knowing he's trying to get through dessert while jonsing for a cig? Or were we both just making "reasonable" sacrifices to make it work?

TALK BACK: Will individual bad habits (we aren't talking drug abuse, porn addiction or other obvious bad, bad stuff here) eventually break a relationship? Or can people find a compromise? In other words, if you know it's something your partner struggles with, will you try to work past it as long as you see some effort on his end?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Deciding When to Have Sex With a New Guy

You're seeing a new guy and you hit it off really well. Soon, you're facing the age-old question: Is it too soon to have sex with him?

If you listen to comedian/self-proclaimed relationship expert Steve Harvey, a 90-day rule is the best approach. Give the guy a probationary period, Harvey advises in his book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. Joan on the TV show Girlfriends had a similar rule--no sex before the three-month mark.

And on the VH1 reality show, Tough Love, last week--a show about teaching perpetually single women skills to help them develop healthy dating relationships--there was a brief discussion of how quickly to have sex with men you're dating. One contestant said she usually has sex by/on the first date. Not a good move, advised Tough Love host/matchmaker Steven Ward. 

I asked three guys about this topic--one single, one engaged, and one married man. The overall consensus? Men know after a conversation or two whether a woman is, in their eyes, girlfriend material or a potential jumpoff. And there's not much, if anything, that a woman can do to change that.

Wow, ladies, definitely something to keep in mind.

Engaged Guy says, "It's always going to come down to who a woman actually is and how she carries herself." In other words, the guy feels you out and knows whether you have the potential to be his girlfriend before you even know he's doing it. (READ: So don't waste your time on a guy who is just not that into you.)

Single Guy says that a woman who has sex very early on after meeting a man could still be girlfriend material. And, he says, the quality of sex matters, too. "The girl could be boring in bed," he says, "and that could ruin everything." (READ: So make sure that when you do have sex that you're actually into it--because if you're not, the guy may lose interest anyway.)

Married Guy says he's in favor of some sort of timetable--a 30-, 60-, or 90-day rule. "I think guys lose interest sometimes the earlier it happens," he says. (READ: So play it by ear. Your mileage may vary.)

Another issue I've heard guys complain about is women who tease. So if you're not ready to have sex with a guy, they'd prefer you just say no. Don't get his engine revved up and then back out. One guy told me that he gets annoyed enough by such flip flopping that he's stopped dating women because of it.

As for me, I don't have a "rule" that governs when/if I'll have sex with a man. I trust my instincts, my mind and my gut instead.

TALK BACK: Do you think there is a such thing as having sex with a man too soon? Do you have a "rule" that dictates when you'll have sex?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Why This Picky Lady is Glad I Tried Online Dating

Friends who know me well know that I'm a little picky... OK, maybe a LOT picky.

I don't have a checklist of requirements for Mr. FabFem. But I do know what I like, and more importantly, what I don't like. I like tall guys, not short ones. I like guys with a little edge, but not so much that they're thugs. I like guys with careers, not just a job. A sense of humor, a car and his own roof over his head are a must. Any man who wants to be in my life must at least tolerate my little dog, and he has to want kids. It's OK if he already has a child, but more than one is pushing it. He should dress for the occasion and keep himself looking clean, put together and nice. Pretty teeth, fresh breath, and nice shoes are much appreciated. He should be caring, supportive, family oriented, and confident (maybe even a little cocky). And he can't be possessive or scary or crazy.

So with all of those requirements, many guys get ruled out quickly. But somehow, Handsome Honey is meeting all of them. He's 6'1 with a sexy bald head, a career, a pretty smile, the ability to make me laugh, a house, a nice car, and no kids. He plays with my little poodle, who seems to like him, too (a far cry from Cutie With Attitude, who suggested I get rid of my dog because he doesn't like animals. Ha, not gonna happen). So I'm not complaining... so far. It's still very early, so let's hope it stays that way.

I met Handsome Honey via eHarmony a couple of weeks ago now. We see each other a few times a week. And oddly, I don't even mind hanging out in the house with him on occasion, watching TV or playing Guitar Hero. Strange, because you know that's my pet peeve when it comes to these other random dudes who I wasn't feeling like that.

After meeting Handsome Honey on the cusp of deciding whether to give up online dating, I ultimately decided to take a break after a month of paid membership on eHarmony. But I didn't cancel my subscription because I hated it. On the contrary, I'd say it was worthwhile.

In fact, I think there may be something to eHarmony's claim that it matches you with people with compatible personalities. What else can explain the 7-hour phone conversation Handsome Honey and I had on the very first day we talked? (Yes, I said *seven* hours straight. Crazy, right?) Or the fact that we spent hours together on the first day we met in person? Or that we find each other finishing each other's sentences because we think so much alike?

It's funny to say that now because I was so hesitant to try online dating in the first place. Remember that?

But I gave in, and I'm glad I tried it. I met a crazy (Weed Smoker), a weirdo (E-mail Man) and a loser (Southern Gentleman). But I also met Handsome Honey.

So, um....why didn't someone put me onto this online dating thing a little sooner?

TALK BACK: Are you a picky dater? What is on your list of requirements?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Exes Who Reappear During the Holidays

Every Thanksgiving and Christmas, without fail, I hear from a few exes. That includes the more official exes who were my boyfriends or damn near it, as well as the guys who never made the cut but thought they'd put in a good effort.

On Thanksgiving this year, I received text messages from four guys from my past, wishing me a Happy Thanksgiving, inquiring about my well being, wanting to know if I was celebrating with my family. I replied to them all, but not until late that night. And my answer was simple: "Thanks. Happy Thanksgiving to you, too." After all, no need to imply I wanted to continue the conversation.

The guys who texted me are men you've read about here before: Super Texter, Prince Charming, Mr. Serious, and Cutie With Attitude. Each one offered some variation of the following: "Thinking of you and your family today. Hope you're having a Happy Thankgiving."

Seems harmless, I guess, but it's just so funny to me. For years, Biggest Dog Ever called or texted on the holidays, until he finally got a clue and stopped.

I have to wonder why these guys even bother. Is it an effort to remain on my mind--even if it's only once or twice a year? Is it a twinge of guilt at letting a good one slip away? Is it the hope that one text message might lead to a phone call or maybe more?

Or are they just being friendly, showing they still care? Who knows. These are all guys who I've decided to cut off for one reason or another, and I intend to keep it that way.

TALK BACK: Do you usually hear from your exes during the holiday season? If so, how do you respond?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Meeting Your Man's Single Mama on Turkey Day

By: Guest Blogger NINA LOVEHALL

My good friend is all nerves and inhaling into a brown paper bag right now.  After a real long and tumultuous run as far as relationships are concerned, my friend has finally hit the jackpot. And ironically, while FabFem has been recently talking about the jungle that is online dating, computer love actually did work out in my friend's favor.

So far, my friend--who I'll call Southern Belle--has been on a whirlwind romance with her new beau, who I'll call Mr. Checklist (good job-check, nice car-check, has his own spot, no kids.. you get the idea). They've been going out to restaurants, spending quiet evenings and weekends together, and he was her lone moving man when she moved last month as well. He goes out of his way to surprise her with little gifts to show he cares, and he helps her run errands. He also has no problem telling her just how much she means to him and how he can totally see a future with her.

Naturally a man this smitten was raised right, and naturally a man who knows how to make a woman float around the city as if she's wearing Jimmy Choos made of cotton candy has to have a close, healthy relationship with his mama. So, of course he wants his two favorite women to meet. And meet they will on Thanksgiving.

I've already assured my friend that (1) her warm personality alone is going to win over Mama Checklist. (2) She's a fantastic cook, all she has to do is let Mama Checklist sample some of her food, and it will put Mama Checklist at ease to know this lovely girl can actually make her son a good meal. (3) Let's be real. If you are a real mother who loves her son, the fact that he's so into her and happy should make you happy. SHOULD.

So here's the caveat.

Some folks have said in the past that when meeting Mom, you ESPECIALLY have your work cut out for you if:

He's an only child
He's an only son

I also heard the situation is further amplified if, as in the case with Mr. Checklist, he's an only boy child to a single mother. It's no secret that these relationships can be super tight because both the mother and the son have often depended on one another over the years, and they've seen each other through some really tough times.

Successful sons of single moms often work their hardest to make them happy and feel a proud obligation to help them out as much as they can now that they're grown men. It completely makes sense. I mean, even the most seemingly meanest, toughest rappers who talk about hoes and bitches also rhyme about putting their mothers in mansions and "designer fabrics" once they've made it big. Childhood memories of mama struggling to make ends meet are hard to shake. So I say men who take care of mama, without falling into chronic mama's boy syndrome, are worthy of Shakespearean sonnets being written in their honor.

TALK BACK: What are some good tips for Southern Belle to help her shake those nerves before Turkey Day? And are single mothers with sons really harder to impress, or is that just an urban relationship myth?

Why Prince Charming is Gone After Three Strikes

It turns out my Prince Charming is a toad.

It's a little disappointing because I was such a PC fan. He was sexy, he was cool, he was charming, and he showed up right on time--at my birthday party this year.

PC appeared at the table where my friends and I were sitting that night and asked what each of us were drinking. He and his friend bought all of our drinks (and I had a large group of friends) and delivered them to us on trays. He and I danced all night. I had a ball. 

We exchanged phone numbers and called and texted each other. But soon, I began to suspect that PC was married, engaged or had a girlfriend. He met several of my criteria, such as mostly calling when he was in transit and taking a long time to respond to text messages and phone calls (and coming up with lame excuses for the delay). Eventually I told him about my suspicion. To prove me wrong, he called me when he got home a couple of nights rather than calling me when he was driving.

Hmmmm. Nice try, but not quite good enough.

PC asked me out twice during the month of October. Both times we talked the day before we were supposed to go out. But when the day of our scheduled date arrived, PC disappeared. No call, no text, no nothing. The first time it happened, I think he called a few days later, and I honestly don't recall what his excuse was. The second time, he disappeared and I didn't hear from him for over a week.

That is, until he sent me a text message in early November, asking if I was going to the same party I'd seen him at the month before. I was already planning to go with friends, so I responded to his text to tell him so. That was the night of the PDA. And again, PC and his friend bought drinks for my friends and me all night.

Things seemed temporarily promising. PC started calling and texting daily after that. We planned another date. I told him that since he'd flaked twice already, it'd be nice if he came through this time. But that day arrived, and this time, PC texted me at about 4:30 p.m. (we were supposed to have dinner that evening) to tell me that he wouldn't be able to make it.

He didn't offer a reason, just said he had "responsibilities." I told him that three chances for a date was all he'd get with me, so there wouldn't be any more opportunities. He said something lame in response, something to the effect of he understood and maybe we're better off as friends.

Like I said, this dude is married/engaged/otherwise taken. I'm convinced of it.

My friends asked if I was certain I wanted to cut him off, that maybe it's worth it to hang in there, feign interest, just to get more free drinks.

But honestly, the free drinks don't mean as much to me as my pride and self respect. So, PC, thanks for helping to make my birthday a great one. Deuces.

TALK BACK: How many chances do you give a guy before cutting him off for good?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Yes, I'm Still Single. Can You Please Pass the Turkey?

By: Guest Blogger NINA LOVEHALL

When you're fly and fabulous, the holiday season can be a really great time. You can fill your face with your favorite foods without the usual guilt and get an adrenaline rush by jockeying for position with other shopaholics on Black Friday.

And most importantly, you can catch up with family and friends. 

But there's always a series of questions that come up during holiday family functions that anyone single and older than 25 absolutely dreads.

"So, you're not married yet?"
"Are you seeing anyone?"
"No kids?"

I've got older relatives already phoning in these questions. My mother's cousin shamelessly admitted that she's dying for her two sons, ages 33 and 40, to have children-- even if it means it's out of wedlock. She further admitted that her sons had to call her out on her obsession. They assured her that she'd rather have them procreate with good women worthy of actually being their wives, her old age be damned.

Now, the only possible reason I could come up with for a usually moral, sweet woman who is protective of her "boys" to go temporarily nuts and have such madness come out of her mouth was that it had to be attributed to the fact that last year, she had open heart surgery and even had a tumor taken out of said heart. So since she may be struggling with her mortality these days, I'm going to let it slide.

But still, I totally agree with her sons. I also extend kudos to my cousins for helping her grab a hold of reality real quick to squash that silly talk.

Let's be clear. My cousins are 40 and 33, so yeah, they either need to get on finding that wife, or throw in the towel altogether-- especially the 40-year-old. But as I joked with their mom, men can make a kid when they are 50, 60, 70 and 80. But I get it, I get it, she wants to actually live to see it.

So naturally, she turns the question to me, and I tell her that I'm in the sweet spot age of the late 20s, so I'm not trippin. Then, after taking a deep breath, I explained that I am not yet married, and I have no kids, but I absolutely love my life right now, sans the kids and husband. I'm loving my freedom and I'm taking advantage of it while I can. I continued by saying that I totally look forward to being a mom, but finding the right partner to do this with, as her sons pointed out, was no easy task these days. I told her that I do remain hopeful, but right now, my life is just fine, fine, fine, fine, fine, fine. whooo! (Shout out to Mary J!)

TALK BACK: How do you respond when relatives or other well-meaning folks grill you about your marital and/or kid status, especially during the holidays?

Friday, November 20, 2009

5 Online Dating Don'ts for Men

When it comes to online dating, your profile is the sole representation of who you are in a potential mate's eyes. If she doesn't like what she sees, she can ignore you or stop communication altogether.

So for the fellas, here is what NOT to do on your online dating profile:

1. Don't post groupie photos with rappers or celebrities. As a grownup, it's not cool to post a picture of when you met the rapper T.I. I know you're excited, but I don't care, and it makes you look pressed.

2. Don't post a picture of you in front of the Remy Martin graffiti background at the club...especially if you're 36. This is a true story. And this guy's second (and only other photo) was him at the club dancing, throwing his hands up in the air. Enough said.

3. Don't list yourself as a rapper/musician/producer under the category for "profession." I understand if music is your hobby, but do you have a day job? Please list the job that is your primary source of income.

4. Don't post half-naked bathroom mirror cellphone photos. This is not cute. Seriously. Put some clothes on and stop taking pictures in your bathroom. And this applies whether you have a nice body or a whack one. Please leave something to the imagination.

5. Don't only include photos of yourself wearing white T-shirts, wife beaters, sagging pants or hoodies. If I only see pictures of you wearing the aforementioned clothing, I'm inclined to think that you don't own other types of clothes. I'm not saying you have to wear a suit, but what do you wear when you're going someplace casual but nice? If the answer is a white Tee, please grow up.

TALK BACK: What would you add to my list of online dating don'ts for men?

Why I May Hang Up My Online Dating Hat

Nearly a month ago, I decided to give online dating a try. It couldn't hurt, I figured, and it seemed everyone had tried it except me.

And now, nearly a month into my eHarmony subscription, I can say it was worthwhile. But I'm not sure I'm going to renew my membership. I said going into this that I'd give it a shot for a month or two, and I intend to stick to that plan.

In my 3.5 weeks of membership, I had one boring date who deleted me as a friend on Facebook because I wouldn't go to his house, one Weed Smoker who stalked me by text for a few days, and one guy who prefers e-mail over phone conversations (he still hasn't called me).

And last but definitely not least, I had one *great* date that occurred just yesterday, so eHarmony definitely got something right. I was matched with this guy a few days ago, and I thought he was cute, so I sent him an "icebreaker" (a short note that says something like, "Love your smile!") He initiated communication with me when he got my message. We went through the guided communication process within a day or so, and two days ago, we talked on the phone for SEVEN hours. Don't ask me what all we talked about. I don't know. Seems we talked about everything.

Me and this guy, we'll call him Handsome Honey, met up for a late lunch yesterday, and we spent hours together. I was especially impressed early on that when he was running a little bit late, he texted me to let me know. When I didn't reply to his text (I hadn't seen it yet), he called me to make sure I got the message. Why don't other men (*clearing my throat* -- like Super Texter) understand this sort of common courtesy? Handsome Honey has definite potential.

Still, even though I had one good match on eHarmony, I don't know if I want to continue my subscription right now. Quite frankly, online dating is a lot of work. I've heard people say they barely ever get new eHarmony matches, but for some reason, I get five or six new matches every day. I simply don't have the time to thoroughly look at them all. My inbox has 70-plus open matches right now. I think I need an eHarmony break.

TALK BACK: Do you find online dating to be overwhelming at times?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Is It Ever OK to Date Your Ex's Friend?

I used to have a hard and fast rule: If I dated a guy, I'd never date his friend. Never, ever, ever in life. Wasn't going to happen. How dare the friend even try to holla.

But then one day, I found myself in a strange predicament. I dated a guy--we'll call him The Player--who was pretty much a jerk. He tended to talk down to women, and on top of that, he was a whore. He was not my boyfriend--so I use the term, "ex," loosely--but I did date him on and off for less than a year. On two separate occasions during that time period, two of The Player's friends told me that I was too good for him and then they each tried to holla at me. One was his best friend (I shot him down immediately). The other was a guy I'll call Mr. Serious.

I met Mr. Serious while out at a nightclub with a couple of my friends and The Player. At the end of the night, the guys offered to give me a ride to my car so I didn't have to walk by myself.

But here's the thing: The Player disappeared as we were walking to the car, and he wouldn't answer his cellphone. He left me alone with his two friends, who I'd just met that night. I assume that The Player went home with another woman that evening because he would not answer his cellphone when I tried to call to tell him that his friend, Mr. Serious, was trying to holla.

It was quite some time later, perhaps a year or so (when The Player and I were long since over), before Mr. Serious and I started seeing each other. But Mr. Serious is way into his job, like in a working from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. kinda way. He is usually so tired that he's hard to be around at times. So things did not work out for us.

Then I saw him again this weekend, and now he's trying to holla again, in a very direct, no-holds-barred type of way.

He's hitting me with talk of wanting to be with me on a serious tip. He's asking me to give him another chance. Usually, I'd think he's full of it and would dismiss him without hesitation. But this is a guy who took care of me after I had surgery earlier this year (the last time we were dating). And even though he's a workaholic, he took off work to take me to a doctor's appointment that I couldn't drive myself to. Now you know that's saying a lot for a guy who barely leaves the office.

I am hesitant, though, but it's no longer because of The Player. It's because Mr. Serious is an over-the-top workaholic, and I'm not sure I can deal with that. Under most circumstances, I'd be fine with a man who works hard, but if you take your fatigue and stress out on me, it's a different story.

Still, it seems strange to me that the fact that I once dated The Player no longer seems to matter in my eyes when it comes to Mr. Serious. A male friend says that Mr. Serious broke "man code" by trying to talk to me, so he doesn't trust him. But I guess that just isn't a big deal to me. Maybe it's because it's been at least two years since The Player and I were involved. Or perhaps it's because The Player is such a dog that he just has no relevance in my life in a romantic way any longer. We're cool as friends, but that's about it. The question is: Should I give Mr. Serious a real chance? 

TALK BACK: Is it ever OK to date your ex's friend? Please vote in the poll!

Friday, November 13, 2009

A New Pet Peeve: The Guy Who Only E-mails

I think I discovered something worse than the man who texts more often than he calls--a guy who won't text or call. Instead, he prefers e-mail.


This is the first I've encountered this phenomenon, and it came to me courtesy of eHarmony. A guy, we'll call him E-mail Man, wants me to meet him for a date. But here's the thing: I really don't want to meet anyone from eHarmony in person who I haven't had a real, live conversation on the phone with first. So I sent him my phone number over a week ago. And instead of calling, he keeps writing me via eHarmony's in-house e-mail system. Yesterday, he sent me a message giving me his personal e-mail address after I suggested that he call me before we meet in person.

I'm really so over him. Seriously.

What is so hard about picking up the phone? I'm not saying it has to be a long conversation, but I very well might hate him, and I'd like to know that before I put effort into going to meet him in person.  

It would be one thing if I'd actually met this guy in person in the first place. But he comes from the anonymous world of online dating, so I want a phone conversation prior to us meeting in person. But after sending him my phone number over a week ago, and mentioning again that I think we should talk on the phone before going on a date--and then having him ignore me, sending me his e-mail address instead--I'm really just so done.

I think I will probably end up not going on a date with him, simply because we barely communicated via eHarmony, except for him to ask me out. I can only hope he'll get a clue and pick up the phone.

TALK BACK: Would you go on a date with someone you met online but you've never spoken with on the phone?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Watch Out for the Multi-State Man

Men who have women in multiple states seem to like me. It's the reason why I can so easily rattle off a list of signs to look for in men who are cheating on their girlfriends or wives.

Last night, I went to dinner with Fighter Pilot, a guy who I dated for about four or five months last year until he moved to Texas. I knew the move was coming. He was getting out of the military and planned to take a job in Texas. Meanwhile, he started a grad school program that September that took him to Texas about twice a month. That's when things got a little murky.

You see, when Fighter Pilot was in Texas, his phone calls became sporadic, and he was hard to reach. My blunt questions about whether he had a woman in Texas were met with a resounding, "No," numerous times.

But my gut told me he did have a woman in Texas, so by the time he moved, I'd largely distanced myself from him. He called occasionally after he moved and would text to check up on me, too. Then, yesterday, when Fighter Pilot was back in my town for business, he asked me to dinner. I agreed to go.

And all seemed fine. That is, until Fighter Pilot moved over to my booth, put his arm around me, attempted to cozy up to me and tried to kiss me (I wouldn't let him). Somehow, he admitted while sitting next to me that he has a girlfriend in Texas who he met before he moved there (meaning he met her while he was still dating me).

My response? "How would your girlfriend feel about you trying to kiss me?"
Him: "That doesn't matter. You look really good. I missed you." Blah, blah, blah.

I grabbed my jacket and told him I was leaving before the check even arrived. "Thanks for dinner, take care and I wish you well," I said as I walked out without looking back. (But no worries, I did finish my steak dinner and had a couple of drinks before I left.)

Unfortunately, this isn't my first experience with a guy who was dating me in one state and someone else in another. A guy who I dated for four years--we'll call him Biggest Dog Ever (BDE for short)--was dating me here and also had a fiancee--yes I said, fiancee--in Richmond, Va. His fiancee was his high school sweetheart. She had some inkling that I existed and I had the same inkling about her, but it wasn't confirmed until I was in Richmond one day and went to visit her. I told him I was going to see her beforehand, and he said he didn't care.

"Let the chips fall where they may," he said.

And fall they did. BDE's fiancee--who is now his wife--and I had a cordial conversation that confirmed he'd been playing us both. I cut him off afterwards; she didn't. They now have two kids, and they got married when she was pregnant with their second child. It would probably make her sick to know that BDE still contacts me every year on my birthday and usually on Christmas and/or Thanksgiving, too.

BDE also admits to stalking my Facebook and MySpace pages, even though he's not my friend on either site and can only see the main picture. That doesn't matter, he says, because he just wants to see how I look these days and know that I am OK. He claims he's in love with two women. Whatever, dude.

As far as I'm concerned, both BDE and Fighter Pilot can take a hike. I'm so tired of these sorry dudes, who reappear when they feel like it and are never totally honest about anything.

TALK BACK: What is the worst experience you've ever had with a cheater?

Monday, November 9, 2009

How I Gave In to Public Displays of Affection

I usually hate public displays of affection. I don't like to see other people kissing or being overly affectionate in public. And I used to hate it when guys were overly affectionate with me in public.

Notice I said, used to. That changed this weekend when I saw Prince Charming--a guy who I met in early October--for the first time since we initially met. We talked on the phone regularly for a while but never managed to make a date happen. For the last week or so leading up to this past weekend, I hadn't spoken to him at all.

On Saturday morning, Prince Charming texted me to tell me that he was planning to go to a party that night, and it just so happened that I'd already planned to attend the same party with friends. When my friend and I walked into the party, we saw Prince Charming and his friend almost immediately. We sat with them, drank, laughed, danced and just generally had a great time.

And then Prince Charming kissed me. And I swear, for a moment, I forgot where I was--at a crowded party, in a room full of people, sitting right next to our friends. So when he kissed me a few more times, I made no attempt to stop him. Maybe it was the alcohol, or maybe it's just that I think Prince Charming is sexy as hell.

That got me to thinking. Do we have different rules for different men? When I told my cousin about what happened on Saturday, she said, "It takes the right person to bring the freak out in anyone."

And maybe she's right. Perhaps, at age 29, I just hadn't met someone who made me want to be affectionate in public.

Or, maybe it was the alcohol after all.

Or maybe not. Even when I was totally sober the next day, I didn't feel bad at all. And I'd do it again.

TALK BACK: How do you feel about public displays of affection?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Why I Don't Do Sexy Camera Phone Pictures

One of my pet peeves, as you know, is guys who text more often than they call. Here's another: Guys who ask me to send them sexy camera phone pictures but rarely make an effort to see me in person.

I just don't get it. You live close to me, and hardly see me, yet you think I'm going to take pictures of myself--perhaps of my shoes (for the guys with foot fetishes), or worse, my butt -- for your cellphone enjoyment?

You really must be kidding me.

Cutie With Attitude regularly asked me to send him pictures of my butt or whatever shoes I was wearing that day (he had a serious fetish for high heels). And he would cop an attitude when I said no--and I always said no. This guy lived about 20 minutes from me but barely saw me once a month. Yet I was supposed to send him photos whenever he requested them? I don't think so.

For women who might be tempted to take and send revealing photos by cellphone, consider pictures said to be of singer Rihanna--which depict a woman nearly naked, holding a camera phone (WARNING: The previous link includes photos that contain some nudity and are not appropriate for viewing at work) that turned up online a few months ago. I never heard how or from where these photos were leaked, or if it was confirmed to be Rihanna in the pictures. I was disappointed that Diane Sawyer did not ask Rihanna about the leaked pictures in her 20/20 interview about the singer's relationship with Chris Brown (who was also in at least one photo), with whom she was in a two-year relationship until a domestic violence incident earlier this year.

Don't get me wrong. I don't think taking pictures is all bad. I am not at all shy, and I love the camera. I smile and even have a certain pose that I'm teased about because I usually tilt my head slightly to the left in photos. Still, that doesn't mean that I'm willing to send guys who rarely make an effort to see me random cellphone pictures of myself--especially not revealing ones.

I've heard of people in long-distance relationships who exchange sexy photos in order to keep the "spark" alive. If I were in that situation, I probably would be willing to send a camera phone photo every now and then. But it wouldn't be anything that could come back to haunt me, as Rihanna's pictures apparently did.

Call me reserved, but I'm just not into sexy camera phone pictures. So I really wish guys would stop asking.

TALK BACK: How do you feel about sending sexy camera phone pictures to someone you're dating?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

How I Lost a Facebook Friend Because I Won't Go to His House

Southern Gentleman--the first guy I went out with from eHarmony--deleted me as a friend on Facebook yesterday, after I said I wasn't comfortable coming to his house to watch movies because we've only been out on one date.

I guess he wasn't such a gentleman after all.

Now, y'all know how I hate it when guys just want to lay up in the house. Still, I tried to soften the blow. He texted me earlier yesterday saying he'd like to see me again. I said, "That sounds good. What do you have in mind?"

A couple of hours later, he replied to say he was thinking we could have drinks but that he also wanted me to come to his house to watch movies--if I was comfortable with that.

Well, I am not comfortable with going to a guy's house who I (A) met on the Internet, (B) have only known a week (and I say that loosely since I didn't meet him in person until this weekend), and (C) have only gone on one date with, and that was just this past weekend.

So I replied to his message with the following: "That's sweet. I would be more comfortable if we went out again first. I'm not afraid of you or anything. It's just a comfort thing for me."

Notice that I did NOT say, "Look fool, I don't know you like that, and I sure ain't coming to your house!" But you can bet that's kinda what I was thinking.

So imagine my surprise when I noticed a short while later that we were no longer Facebook friends. (Background: Southern Gentleman sent me a request to become Facebook friends last week as the next step after we communicated via eHarmony.) He also hadn't responded to my text message. After an hour passed, I was so shocked that this dude had actually deleted me because of this that I decided to call him to see if he'd fess up.

I ended up getting his voicemail, so I left a nice message, saying that I hoped I hadn't offended him in some way that caused him to delete me as a friend. Now, let me be clear: My feelings were not hurt. I just wanted to see if he'd own up to deleting me because I don't want to lay up in his house. A short time letter, I got a text from him. (Side note: I *hate* it when guys respond to a phone call with a text message. Whack.) His text said: "I'm not offended. I deleted you by mistake. My bad. Sure we can meet out again before you come over." 

I deleted you by mistake? Does that actually happen? As one friend pointed out, it takes quite a bit of effort to delete a friend on Facebook.

TALK BACK: Would you buy it if someone told you that he/she deleted you as a Facebook friend by mistake?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Adventures In Online Dating: Beware of Liars

Public Service Announcement: Be honest on your online dating profiles because your potential matches will eventually discover that you lied. And they probably won't be happy about it.

I'm talking about people who tell big lies about their height or their jobs, for example. And I have a new pet peeve: If you smoke--and I mean if you smoke anything--do not answer "no" or "never" for the question about whether you're a smoker. Smoking weed is smoking, dammit. Please don't waste my time.

One guy who I spoke to on the phone after signing up for online dating--we'll appropriately call him Weed Smoker--is 39 years old and told me that he regularly smokes weed. After getting off the phone with him, I looked at his eHarmony profile again. Under the "Smokes" question, he listed, "Never."

WTF. Why lie?

Probably because he knows that many women don't like smokers and that he would get "closed" immediately when they discovered he still gets high. Or maybe it's because he doesn't think weed smoking qualifies as being a "smoker."

But he's wrong.

He, like most guys I know who smoke weed, says he doesn't do it every day--but he does smoke weekly at least, essentially whenever the mood strikes him. But I've reached the point in the my life where how infrequently someone smokes doesn't matter. I'm asthmatic and have severe allergies and sinus problems, and I don't fool with smokers of any kind -- Period. Plus, I want to have kids eventually and I don't want to worry about whether Daddy is high when he picks them up from daycare.

Weed Smoker was also a little too quick to suggest that I cancel my eHarmony account and stop dating others immediately because he's going to be my man. I laughed the first, second and third times he said it ... like, he really can't be serious. And there's more: He may either be very impatient or obsessive, based on something that happened today. He called my phone this afternoon while I was busy on another call. He then sent a text (in all capital letters) immediately afterwards, which I recieved and intended to reply to when I was free. But then, not even 30 minutes later, he called again (I let it go to voicemail). And that annoyed me.

Fortunately for me, my experience with Weed Smoker has not been the norm in the one week-plus since I signed up for eHarmony. Not even a week after creating my account, I had my first date with a guy I met on the site.

Not bad for just a few days' work.

The date was okay. We met at a restaurant and had drinks and appetizers. It was a tad bit boring, and I'm not sure if there are sparks there. But now that a few days have passed, I think perhaps the guy--we'll call him Southern Gentleman--is just a little shy because he's been texting me since then and he's clearly interested. So I've decided I would go out with him again if he asks.

So, Weed Smoker aside, I'm pleased with the online dating experience so far, having just begun Week 2. But I have to say that it's becoming a bit overwhelming. Every day, eHarmony sends me five or six new matches. And every day I get more requests to communicate from new guys.
I simply can't keep up.

As I type this, I am currently in the "communication" phase with eight different guys, not including the two I described above. I also have 36 matches who I haven't started communicating with but who eHarmony thinks could be potential matches. And those numbers don't count the matches who have been "closed" for various reasons.

Put simply, it's a lot to take in.

Still, I will stick with it, at least through the end of the one-month period that I've paid for.

And hopefully I won't run into any more undercover weed smokers.

TALK BACK: For people who've tried online dating, have you later discovered that potential matches were less than truthful on their profiles? Have you ever lied on your online dating profile?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Domestic Abuse: When Harm Goes Both Ways

Every 15 seconds, a woman is severely assaulted by her male partner, according to research compiled by Yale University. And every 14.6 seconds, a man is assaulted by his female partner.

Does the statistic on assaults on men by women surprise you?

That was the subject of a recent episode of the Tyra show. Two women featured on the show regularly become so hostile that they hit their boyfriends upside the head or even push them down the stairs out of anger.

The men, wisely in my opinion, announced on the show that they could no longer take the abuse. (In one case, the man had long ago exited the relationship, while the other guy just mustered up the courage to leave his child's mother.)

Tyra pointed out that men who are the victims of domestic abuse are not that different from abused women. They stay despite the continuing abuse and make up stories for the inevitable bruises and scars that draw attention from coworkers, family and friends. Some tell the truth about how they were injured; others make up fictional stories about their wounds. ("I broke up a fight between my cousins," one guy said he told coworkers.)

What Tyra said about abused men behaving similarly as abused women rang so true to me. I have seen an episode--thankfully just one episode--of domestic violence firsthand. It wasn't a clear-cut case of female-male abuse or male-female abuse -- Instead, I'd say it involved a bit of both.

At the time, I lived in a condo building and had made friends with a neighbor who lived with her boyfriend in the same building. On the night in question, that girlfriend picked a fight with her boyfriend. It clearly wasn't the first time they'd had a physical fight--after all, she was way too comfortable calling him a bitch and other names that I won't mention here.

And for his part, her boyfriend seemed to snap very quickly into hostile mode, and he knocked her to the ground in our parking lot several times.  I tried (all 5'2 of me) numerous times to get him to stop hitting and rough handling her. But he just pushed me out of the way. And every time she had a chance to get away from him, she just went right back again, cursing, yelling, even hitting him back.

I call this an episode of abuse that went both ways because while her boyfriend, at approximately 6'4, clearly had the upper hand over her petite, slim frame, she was every bit the instigator. I hate to say it, but it was almost like she enjoyed it, cursing at him over and over again, hitting him, knowing that it would fuel his anger. (She would later tell me that the episode I observed was the first time they fought that way. Yeah, right.)

But when it got to the point where he was straddling her on the ground, his fist raised to begin punching her, I yelled at her boyfriend's friend--who up until that point had just been sitting in his car, engine idling, watching as his friend beat my friend up--to please stop him. And he did.

Later that evening, my friend went to stay with family, claiming she was never going back to her boyfriend.

That lasted about a day. Her boyfriend bought her roses, told her he loved her and that he was sorry, and a few months later, she was pregnant with his child.

This all happened about two years ago. My friend and I had only known each other a few months when the beatdown occurred in the parking lot. I kept in touch with her while she was pregnant but have since moved away from the building that she and her boyfriend live in, and honestly, I've distanced myself from her. That situation was just too intense. 

And to be honest, I don't know that I'd put myself out to help if I observed a similar situation again. That night, I knew I wouldn't have felt right about walking away. But in a case where both partners seem to enjoy abusing each other, I have to question whether it's worth it to intervene.

TALK BACK: Would you intervene if a friend and his or her partner were physically fighting in front of you? Why or why not?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

You Love Him But You Hate Him: Houston, We Have A Pattern

By: Guest Blogger NINA LOVEHALL

One of the greatest philosophers of modern time once asked, "Do we date the same man over and over again?"

And damn it, Carrie Bradshaw was correct. We do. (Question her cultural significance if you want to. Her laptop is behind glass at the Smithsonian.)

Seriously, though, for some reason, the things that turn us on about the people we choose to get romantically involved with are probably linked hand-in-hand with the things that we can't stand about them.

I have something that I call, "Nina's Theory of Traits We Love and Hate." For each personality trait, there's two sides to the coin.

For instance, there were some recurring character traits that about 90 percent of the men I've dated and/or actually claimed as my man had. I'm going to give you my top two:

Confidence/Arrogance. Every man I've seriously attached myself to had a ridiculous air of confidence and swagger that either gained the admiration of others, or just turned folks off completely. In some cases, people just misunderstood the man, yet in others, they were dead on.

Some guys I dated were indeed jerks. Period.

Usually the men that I dated had something about them that gave them a reason to feel confident or arrogant. They were all very smart. They were all quick witted, and spoke well but could switch to slang with ease. They traveled, were well-read, had interesting jobs and were attractive. In some cases, maybe it washateration on other people's part, but in other cases, maybe my men were showing off just a little bit.

But when confidence curdles like old milk, it turns to arrogance, and that's usually that's tinged with the self belief that you are indeed better and smarter than everyone else. And that, my friends, is not attractive. But it can lurk on the other side of the confidence coin.

Back to confidence, confident men are happy for you when you are doing well, even if he's not at the moment. Confident men don't have to know where you are and who you are with all the time (but they'd like to know every now and then, only to make sure you got home safely). Confident men don't even mind if other men respectfully admire their women (they kind of think it's cool). 

Creativity. A dear friend once told me, if a man has a talent, I am on him like white on rice. So, OK, yes, I tend to have a thing for writers, painters, musicians (that actually play instruments, not making beats or raps, FYI), and guys with a sharp sense of humor.

Boy are these men passionate, and when you watch them do their thing, it almost makes you want to quit your job and pursue your dreams deferred, like being a dolphin-watching tour guide or something. And when they are flourishing, they are on top of the world. Nothing can stop them, and you both are enjoying the ride.

Unfortunately, these creative types are often broke in pursuit of these dreams, and oftentimes they lose touch with reality (i.e. student loans, steady employment). Sometimes they get so wrapped up in their dream, and the fact that they are so talented that they tend to get particularly moody when others "with far less talent" are all up in what should be their spotlight. Hence, they take their crap out on you. It's even worse if you are successful.

So here are some other examples of when good traits go bad. Let it marinate:

Good: He loves his mamma.
Bad: He's a mamma's boy.

Good: He has drive/goals and works hard.
Bad: He doesn't make time for a personal life, and that includes you. He also thinks the only thing better than having money is having more money.

Good: He is honest.
Bad: He lacks tact (can't tell the difference between being honest and being rude or mean).

Good: He "ain't no punk."
Bad: He picks fights and is unnecessarily confrontational.

TALK BACK: What is on your list of "dimmer" characteristics (things that simultaneously turn you "on" and "off" in the people you date)? What are the good/bad common threads among the people you've dated in the past?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Why I Decided to Try Online Dating

I've been known to say I'd never try online dating. Too many crazies in the world, I said, and if I start finding dates online, I'm bound to run into trouble. Plus, why would I pay a monthly fee to find dates?

But recently I realized that I attract crazy people, jerks, and losers anyway--in real life, just by going about my daily business. I'm not hurting for dates, but crazies and married/engaged/taken men seem to like me. So what do I have to lose by trying online dating?

Probably not much.

And given my track record, I guess I could use a little help.

So on Saturday, I created an eHarmony account. I chose eHarmony because they claim to match you with people who they think you're most likely to be compatible with, based on how you respond to a long list of questions you must answer when you sign up for the site.

eHarmony seems to gradually match you up with people. It matched me with five people the first day, another five or six on Sunday, and another five or six people today. The site allows users to go through each person's profile, view their descriptions, their answers to a pre-set list of questions, and their photos. If you don't like that person's profile, you can "close" the match out--another way of saying, "I'm just not that into you."

But if you are interested, you can opt to send an "icebreaker"--chosen from a list of cute sayings such as, "I like your smile," or "Hey, I enjoyed your profile. Let's chat!" Or, you can choose to start the communication process using either "guided" communication (a tedious process that involves sending two short lists of questions to your potential mate, as well as a list of likes/dislikes), or if you're really feeling the person, you can ask to "fast track" the process, which takes you straight to being able to send "open" messages through eHarmony's in-house e-mail system. That way, you're communicating with the person, but they don't actually have your personal contact information.

And that's as far as I've gotten so far. I am "communicating" with five potential matches--three of those conversations are still in the "guided" process, where we're exchanging information via our answers to each other's pre-selected questions. One conversation has finished the guided process and progressed into "open" communication on eHarmony's website, but that guy is kind of boring me, to be honest. And the fifth guy (who has a very nice smile) sent me a request to "fast track" our conversation today, skipping the guided process altogether. After I accepted his request, he sent me one nice note this morning. I just responded, so I'm awaiting his reply.

I also have 13 other guys with whom I've been matched by eHarmony but who I haven't contacted yet, and they haven't reached out to me yet, either. (And there are a few guys who I "closed" out for various reasons upon seeing their profiles.)

I'm trying to be open during this process. I don't expect a guy to look like LL Cool J, Maxwell, or Tyson Beckford. But he does have to include a photo on his profile in order for me not to "close" communication with him. After all, if you know what I look like, why shouldn't I know what you look like?

One guy in particular appears to be adorable. Tall, handsome--a dog lover who doesn't appear to take himself too seriously. (I have a small toy poodle, and I like being around people who enjoy life, despite its pitfalls.) Of course, now that I said that, he'll probably prove to be disappointing. Ha.

But even if that one doesn't work out, I'll stick with eHarmony for the next month or two to see what happens.  If nothing else, I figure it'll be good fodder for the FabFem blog. I'll keep you posted. 

TALK BACK: Have you ever tried online dating? Why or why not? And if so, did you meet a good match?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Good Hair: 5 Tips for Weave Wearers and Those Who Love Them

I spend roughly $300 every 6-8 weeks on my hair, and I used to think I was paying too much. That is, until I saw Good Hair at the movies this weekend and learned that many normal, everyday women--not celebrities or people making tons of money--are paying $1,000 just to get one weave installed.


But the thing is, I really wasn't all that impressed with how that $1,000 weave looked in the movie. It just looked fake to me, like not even halfway believable. Why would I ever pay $1,000 for that?

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against weaves. Since I was a teenager, I've worn my hair all sorts of ways--in microbraids, lacing (invisible braids), box braids, tree braids, and weaves. In fact, I've tried most things except for wigs. My natural hair is soft, barely holds a curl, and breaks off easily, so wearing these styles protects it and keeps it healthy. And I really just have one requirement: Whatever style I choose has to look as natural as possible. I want people to wonder if it's my hair, not automatically assume it's a weave.

I'm no hair stylist, but I've learned quite a few things from regularly wearing my hair in braids and weaves over the years. Here are 5 pieces of advice for weave wearers and their friends and loved ones:

1. Leave weave maintenance to the professionals. Whether you're getting your hair relaxed using the so-called "creamy crack" or getting it straightened with a pressing comb, the key is to make sure your real hair--even if just a little bit of it is left out--blends well with the weave hair. So schedule follow-up appointments with your hair stylist--and do not get a weave if you do not have time or money to go back to the salon because your hair will start looking a hot mess after a few weeks. Most of us simply don't have the tools (or the necessary skills) at home to get the weave hair to look as good as the stylist can. (A tip: In my opinion, buying a Bed Head TIGI Stick helps out a lot with blending the natural/weave hair at home in between salon appointments.)

2. If you like my hair, thanks, but please keep it classy. It's rude to start a conversation by asking, "Is that your hair?"--as a pharmacist at my local pharmacy did recently, right before telling me how cute she thought my hair was. Instead, try saying, "I like your hair. Where did you get it done?" That's complimentary, simple and to the point.

3. If you see a style you love but know other people who already have it, try to put your own spin on it. If you're like me and like to look different from the crowd, there are plenty of ways to make yourself stand out. So visit the beauty supply store and take a spin through the hair aisle to see what you can do to create a style that fits what you want but also gives you some individuality. 

4. Co-workers and friends, please don't ask how our hair grew so fast. As someone so appropriately noted in Good Hair, our hair does not grow 10 inches overnight. If it appears that way, yes, it's probably a weave or braids with extensions, and no, we don't want to talk about it with you.

5. Brothas, please follow Chris Rock's advice and do NOT touch our hair. We understand you're hip to the game and know that the hair hanging down our backs is probably not ours--and perhaps you even paid to get it done--but that doesn't mean we want you to touch it. And a final word of advice: Never, ever, ever ask your lady if she is wearing a weave. Just be happy that it looks good and keep it moving.

TALK BACK: Do you think Good Hair did a good job of portraying the issues black women face in styling their hair? Was anything missing that you'd like to see covered in a future documentary?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Why You Should Facebook the Guy You Just Met

There is an opinion piece on Black and Married With Kids today about whether you should Facebook a guy you've just recently met. The writer suggests that you should never Facebook on a first date. My response? You absolutely should.

Now, my opinion on this topic comes from personal experience. I've learned the hard way that men--when they're interested in a new woman--aren't always totally honest about their current relationship status. Just recently I met a man who told me that he was single. I believed him--that is, until we became Facebook friends. That's when I saw that his page listed him as "in a relationship" and that he'd posted a photo of himself with his girlfriend.

When I asked him about this, he told me it was a "new" relationship, which made absolutely no difference to me because the end result was the same: He had a girlfriend. We had a date scheduled for the very day that I found this information on Facebook, so it really came just in the nick of time. I immediately canceled the date and informed him that his Facebook page had told on him.

But that's the beauty of Facebook--many people mindlessly post their relationship statuses without giving much thought to how this could affect them in the future. So for the man who is trying to be slick and meet women outside of his relationship or marriage, Facebook can serve as a warning to women to stay far, far away.

And for that, I am truly grateful.

You see, it's hard enough being a single woman and having to weed out the crazies, the jerks, the guys who are just trying to get in your pants. So I'm thankful for any resource that gives me the pertinent information--such as true relationship status--with the click of a mouse.

As for the BMWK writer's concern that Facebook provides too much information for potential dates, the answer is simple: Use Facebook privacy settings. You have total control over how much information people see on your page. Your closest friends might be able to see all of your photos, wall posts, status updates and links, for example, but you can restrict people you don't know that well so that they can't see your wall posts or status updates or even your photos.

And as for tagging a guy you've just met--as the BMWK writer did--in a photo? I'd advise against it. I recently could've done the same--after a birthday party where I met a new guy who I dubbed my Prince Charming for the evening--but I did not tag him in the many photos in which he was captured in the album of 60-plus pictures that I posted on Facebook afterwards. Why? Because I simply don't know him like that. He's aware of the album and can tag himself if he'd like, but I'm not going to do it for him.

While I believe in being Facebook friends with new guys (though I reserve the right to delete them later if things don't work out), I won't send the guy a friend request unless Facebook comes up during conversation and he tells me he has a page. That doesn't mean I won't do a quick search beforehand to see if I can find his page on my own--because some people leave their pages public and you can see their information without having to friend them. But he doesn't have to know that I've searched for him.

Still, not everyone lists a relationship status on Facebook. And in that case, you're just going to have to rely on good, old womanly instincts (and FabFem's list of 7 Ways to Tell if a Man is Married, Engaged or Otherwise Taken).

[For more on the dilemma Facebook poses for budding relationships, please read yesterday's post by Guest Blogger Nina Lovehall.]

TALK BACK:  Do you "friend" people you're dating on Facebook? Why or why not?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

In a Relationship? It's None of Facebook's Business

By: Guest Blogger NINA LOVEHALL

I recently read a great blog from Black and Married With Kids in which the writer talks about how he won't friend his wife on Facebook. I totally agree with his theory.

The blogger said that in the beginning, being on FB with wifey was kind of cute. But it stopped being cute when old classmates from second grade started chiming in on his wife's comments or trying to get in on their inside jokes. He also wasn't a fan when his wife would sometimes hijack his account and change his statuses to stuff like, "My wife is the best."

I've noticed that people who are not even married are having to deal with how to handle their relationship status on Facebook. I actually know people who started off budding relationships on a bad foot because they had arguments about why one person wants to put down he or she is in a relationship, while the other person wants to keep his or her status as single. The offended party took this as the new beau not wanting to acknowledge their relationship publicly, and having something to hide-- not wanting to tell his female friends (one of which included his ex) that he was off the market.

But sometimes, the significant other really doesn't have anything to hide. They'd just rather not deal with hundreds of unimportant people all up in their business, especially when it comes to someone special. I've seen people purposely write ridiculous stuff to folks who are in relationships just to see if they will get a rise out of the new boyfriend or girlfriend. And I've been surprised quite a few times at people I'm not that cool with commenting on random, unimportant stuff anyway because that means that they actually paid attention.

I've also seen people in relationships change their status to single just to piss their loved one off during a private spat, which has now officially become public and ugly. In a matter of seconds, hundreds, maybe even thousands of people have seen the "Nina Lovehall is no longer in a relationship" with that cracked heart icon in the news feed, and now you are getting blown up on your wall with posts like, "girl you didn't need him anyway." Or "Nina, call me, it's Rodney. I will console you girl." This type of game-playing further infuriates your loved one, putting your relationship in very real danger off of something that Jerry Springer guests often say "could have been handled at home." 

I've also seen male friends have to tell female Facebook friends they may have went on one or two dates with to stop harassing them about every comment or photo they had posted involving other women. It's gotten that ugly. One friend even had to tell a girl not to put a photo of them together as her profile pic or actually refer to him as her man, boo or anything else in her statuses. That may be a real extreme case, but you are bound to see just about everything on Facebook.

When it comes to Facebook, I take the Beyonce Carter approach. I don't discuss it. Am I in a relationship? Hmmm. Wouldn't you like to know?

But here's my history with relationship statuses: After a difficult breakup where my ex and I had many mutual and professional friends on Facebook, I was able to slink away unscathed with not so much as a question after removing "in a relationship" to not having a relationship status posted in my profile at all. I was terrified that if I changed it to "single" it would show up on the news feeds, and the questions and condolences would come flying in. At the time, I just wanted the comfort of my solitude with only small doses from my closest, closest friends. Not someone I met during an internship years ago.

Personally, for the sake of argument, IF I am with someone, I wouldn't mind being friends with him, but I don't need to say I'm in a relationship in a status including his name, and I don't need him to shout me out, either. It keeps the riff raff out of our relationship, and it keeps folks from trying to start some mess (i.e. obvious flirtatious wall posts, etc). I wouldn't even wax on and on about how I can't wait to see my boo later either in a status update. You'd be surprised at how petty people are. I've even seen folks get real nasty during a divorce on Facebook too. Just ugly.

My suggestion: As retarded as I think the whole Facebook-change-your-status-if-you-really-love-me fight is, it's a valid concern for some folks in this age of social networking. It's necessary to have the, "Wow, do we do Facebook?" conversation with someone you're seeing, just as if you are asking about their allergies or religion.

People have different theories. Some prefer the Bey/Jay kind of Facebook relationship, where it's no one's business, you don't deny or confirm, but when you see them together in real life, you know what the deal is. Some people like to tell the world and comment on each other's pages ad nauseam and constantly stalk the other person's page to make sure people aren't disrespecting their relationship and maybe even telling offenders to quit it. Some people feel like full public disclosure prevents sneaky behavior and helps them mark their territory.

But whatever you do, you've got to agree on what works for your relationship that makes everyone comfortable and secure. If you go the Heidi and Spencer public route, just be prepared for public comment on almost everything during, and even after, the relationship. (Damn that cracked heart in the news feed!)

As for me, the next time Facebook actually sees my relationship status ever again, it's going to say "married (now mind your business)."

TALK BACK:  Should couples be friends on social networking sites and report their relationship status? And if your significant other doesn't want to announce your relationship online, do you assume that he or she is up to no good and/or unsure about your relationship?