Archive for the ‘Dating multiple men’ category

Advice from sister-surrogate sages

October 29, 2007

Having lunch with two friends, both 16 years my senior, we were discussing relationships. They asked about my love life, always wanting an update on the soap opera of my dating situation. One had been married nearly 50 years, the other was a divorcée from a 30-year marriage. I often bounced my relationship dilemmas off them.

I shared I was torn between two really great guys, one of whom I’d been seeing for 5 weeks, the other for 3. Both were generous, affectionate, communicative, tender, intelligent, and successful. The 5-week one had also shown he was reliable, thoughtful about pleasing me, and emotionally mature, but I wasn’t physically drawn to him. He wasn’t unattractive; it was more his kiss and touch didn’t do it for me. The 3-week man also displayed some of the same positive characteristics, but since we hadn’t spent as much time together, the evidence was less apparent. But I got goose bumps with his touch and kiss. We definitely had chemistry.

I was wondering if it was right to keep seeing the 5-week guy since I didn’t have the same physical reaction to him. Was I being fair to him? Would I grow to get excited by his touch? Should I let him loose and focus on the one who got my blood boiling? Or should I continue to see both a bit longer and see if one emerged as the clear front runner?

wisdomMy two sages offered their input.

The longer-married one began: “After a while, the physical part of a relationship wanes, no matter how hard you try. If you have to choose between a good man and a hot one — at least for the long term — always choose the one who treats you the best. The hottie may be good for a tryst, but sex appeal is not the primary basis on which to build a relationship.”

The other chimed in, “Yes, passion fades, but respect, kindness, and emotional maturity are more likely to stay intact. If you’re looking to stop dating around and settle down, focus on the one who shows more solid character, even if you’re less drawn to him physically.”

“But,” I protested, “if I can’t get excited about him physically, how will that bode for the relationship? In the beginning if one isn’t pulled to a man, can you learn to be passionate toward him?”

“Do you think he’s teachable? Could he learn how you like to be kissed and touched?” asked the 50-year veteran.

“Yes, I believe he would want to learn. He does seem interested in pleasing me.”

The divorcée added, “You can be swept off your feet by passion. It is exhilarating. But it often blinds us to the lack of other important criteria by which to make a long-term decision. Yes, ideally your future mate and you will have passion for many, many years. But the relationship should be grounded on mutual respect, caring, kindness, and wanting to make each other happy — not only in the bedroom, but in general.”

The long-married friend capped the conversation with, “Dear, you’ve only just begun to get to know these men. You don’t have to choose at this juncture. Just enjoy having two great guys in your life, be respectful of their feelings, and when the time is right, it will be clear which one should get your focus. Or maybe neither of these is the right one for you. Have a good time while being mindful of not doing or saying things that make them think you are focused on one exclusively.”

These surrogate big sisters served thoughts to chew on as we nibbled our lunch. Having their 80+ years of relationship wisdom in which to marinate my thoughts was the seasoning I was looking for.

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How long do you hedge your bet?

October 11, 2007

You’ve been seeing someone casually, once a week for a month. You like him, he seems to like you as he keeps asking you to lunch, and ending each encounter with a passionate kiss. He calls you a few times a week and engages in an IM chat at least once a day.

You’re not smitten with him, but you like him. He’s intelligent, funny, attentive, self-aware, doesn’t press himself on you physically beyond the kiss, talks about waiting to get sexual until the time is right. Great, huh?

But meanwhile you continue to accept other invitations. Most are just one-time coffee meetings with nice guys but not any mutual spark.

Then — wham — a new guy comes on the scene that takes you aback. You have one date, then due to scheduling mismatches a week passes. He calls you several times a day and tells you how much he likes you. You like him, too, in a different way than the aforementioned guy.

But you’ve had this happen before. Part of you feels like you should tell the first guy that you’ve met someone new, but you also know that New Guy could go poof any time.

I described a similar circumstance in “The two-suitor conundrum: What would you do?” But that situation was different in that I hadn’t met one of the parties, although he called me every day for three months before deciding to fly to meet me. And as it turned out, the newer guy went poof soon after that was written. And the out-of-towner went poof, it just took another month.

How long can you have your feet in both camps? It’s not like you’re longing for one when you’re with the other. If you were, the decision would be easy. Neither of them knows there are others, as things haven’t heated up enough for that to seem relevant.

My rule of thumb is: when things look like they will heat up, that is the time to decide. Ideally beforehand, not afterward. Then you’ll be thinking with your brain, not other parts of your body. You tell one that you need to let him go, as you don’t want to be intimately involved with two at once — this would not be good for anyone.

Don’t hedge too long, or the second in line will feel used. You know how you’d feel if someone strung you along. As I mentioned in “Dating with integrity” it is sometimes hard to be 100% honest if you want to be sensitive to someone’s feelings. And while most who’ve dated online for long understand there will be others vying for your attention during the initial stages of getting to know each other, after seeing each other a while, it’s important to let someone go who you think isn’t a good match. The hard part is when you are dating two people you think are both a good match. The deciding is difficult.

What are your guidelines for when to let someone go if you’ve been seeing two people concurrently? How long will you see both before forcing yourself to make a decision?

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Care of newbie daters

June 22, 2007

Many midlife daters reenter the dating scene after a long absence. If they aren’t a long-time single, they are available again because of divorce or death of their spouse. FragiieAt this age, many are sensitive to fading looks and possibly squishy bodies, even though others are buffer and more attractive than ever before. Midlifers are more aware of their shortcomings, which can overshadow their pride of accomplishments, both career and personal. And they aren’t sure exactly what is expected of them during the dating process. They are a bit fragile at first.

If you’ve been dating for a while, especially if most of your dates have come from online sites, you’ve learned some of the ropes. You are more savvy now than you were as a neophyte dater.

If you are an experienced dater, I think you have some responsibility — even if it is just for your own karma — to treat newbie daters with kid gloves. Not that you wouldn’t do that with everyone, but I think it’s especially important to help guide new daters through the process, sharing with them what you’ve learned during your dating experiences.

For example, I learned from an experienced online dating gal pal, that it is expected for you to exchange emails after the first date to express if you want to see the other again or not. I would not have known this was considered a common courtesy if she hadn’t enlightened me. I would have assumed I would hear from the man if he was interested in seeing me again. So I made it a habit to always email the guy within 24 hours of our first encounter to thank him and express whether I was interested in doing it again or not. Many times he initiated that email or even called after the date.

Because of your experience, you know that many online daters see multiple people simultaneously, so you can’t assume they are only seeing you. If you are starting to see a fledgling dater, explain that it is common to go out with multiple people, each once or twice before deciding whether to focus on only one, or keep looking. So be upfront if you are dating others. And even if you’re not seeing others, you might drop this information into the conversation so they know to ask a future date outright.

You also know that it is unfortunately prevalent for people to stop responding to calls, emails and IMs when they don’t want to continue dating someone. So even though you are careful to clearly communicate you’re not interested in a man any longer, help him understand this regrettably common practice so he won’t be scratching his head when it happens to him. So if you decide to stop seeing this dating novice, take extra care to communicate you’re done as graciously and gently — yet clearly — as you can.

I’ve found that those who haven’t dated much or in a long time can easily become attached to you if you are just your usual nice self. I think it is because they have not had much (any?) attention or affection in a long while. If they get a single, attractive woman to look them in the eye, smile and carry on a fun conversation for more than a few minutes, they think they’ve found The One.

I once had a coffee date with a man who had just filed for divorce, after a 25-year marriage. I was his first post-marriage date. He was giddy during our coffee, talking about plans for taking me here and doing that together. I knew I was not interested in seeing him again, so encouraged him to take advantage of his new-found freedom and date a number of women to really find out what he wanted and who was a match. So even if you only see him once, you can be a mini-coach to him, sharing any hard-won wisdom you’ve gleaned so he’s not blind sided with what you know are common midlife dating behaviors.

Next week I’m having a second encounter with a widower who lost his wife of 30 years just last year. I know he hasn’t dated much since then — in fact I may be his first dating experience in over 30 years. So I am conscious of making sure I treat his heart with tenderness and care.

What advice would you share with a midlife dating tenderfoot? What have you learned the hard way that is more common than you’d imagined before you started this adventure?

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Are you his spare?

May 11, 2007

For a few weeks a gal pal was exchanging flirty emails multiple times a day with a an online match. He then suggested they have dinner and she countered that she was more comfortable with lunch. They continued their multiple-per-day email flirting a few more weeks, but he never again brought up getting together.

She was flummoxed. What was going on?

Two explanations came to me:

  1. He enjoyed flirting, but not actually meeting women. This happens more than one would think. Some people just want pen pals, which is perfectly fine as long as they are upfront about it. Leading someone on when you have no intention of meeting isn’t right. But he had suggested dinner, so we didn’t think he was just a serial flirter.
  2. He was trolling for a “spare” woman. Not necessarily a woman on the side if he was married or in a relationship. But more likely he was seeing someone already, but not seriously. So he was still hunting, seeing if there was someone “better” out there. He wasn’t unhappy with his current woman, but not so enthralled that he was sure she was “the one.” My friend was intriguing enough to flirt with, but not yet enticing enough to press to meet her. (If he did meet her he’d see how fabulous she is!) He was ensuring his pipeline was full in case his current woman dumped him or he lost interest in her.

How do you know if you are his spare? Mostly it will be in the lack of action he takes to meet with you, not only the first time but in subsequent communications. In “Are you getting prime time from your man?” I outline ways you can tell if you aren’t a top priority for a guy. While one would think most of these signs are obvious, the haze of infatuation affects us all so we miss signals that are otherwise apparent.

What should you do if you suspect he is stringing you along as his spare — or potential backup?

  • Limit the time you are willing to put into communicating before meeting. Many DG readers agree that you should strive to meet after 2 weeks or less of email exchanges. After that, no matter how much he says he likes you, if there is no effort to meet, even if long distance, there is not a lot of interest. Too many women have shared they’ve had extensive email exchanges which turned to naught when they met. You don’t want to waste your time, unless you just want a pen pal.
  • Ask him point blank if he is seeing other women. If he stammers and stutters, “Yes, but no one serious,” then you need to decide if you want to meet — or continue to see — him. If you are multi-dating yourself, then maybe it’s not a problem for you. But if you believe in dating only one man at a time, you need to tell him your criteria, and if you are interested in meeting him in the future when he’s unencumbered, tell him to let you know when he is available.

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Phone number screens dating callers for you

March 2, 2007

GrandCentralMy friend Doug alerted me to a new service he thought would be perfect for daters (no, he’s not representing the company). It’s called GrandCentral.com.

It allows you to have a free phone number in any area code you want. You can give it to guys you meet online or in person and there’s no way to trace the number back to your name or address. Additionally, you set it to forward to the phone(s) you want: cell, home, work. You can even set it to forward to a different phone depending on the time of day so you don’t get dating calls at work.

You can screen your calls or block callers you don’t want to talk to. You can listen in on people leaving voice mail before taking the call. Sounds perfect for avoiding stalkers or those who are obtuse. For guys who don’t really understand “I don’t want to see you anymore,” now you don’t have to change your number.

It lets you have different messages for different callers. “Yes, Steve, my sweet patootie, I’d love to have dinner with you Sunday.” “No, Dash, it’s too little too late, so please don’t call again.” “No Robin, calling me at 10:00 p.m. to ask if you can bring over a DVD screams ‘bootie call’ and I’m not interested.”

Which reminds me of this message, reported to be on someone’s answer machine, forwarded from my friend Paulette Ensign (The Booklet Queen).

“I am not available right now, but thank you for caring enough to call. I am making some changes in my life. Please leave a message after the beep. If I do not return your call, you are one of the changes.”

If you are out of the US (like DG readers Gatti, Cat and ER), you can get a US number if you’re Skypecommunicating with folks in the US, then hear your voice mails from the GrandCentral web site. If you want to talk to the person real time, you can always use Skype for pennies per minute.

If you’re interested, now during the beta period they are offering goodies to try the service. You can have unlimited inbound minutes, unlimited voicemail, and all premium features, including call record. You can check voice mail from a phone or the web site.

I contacted the owners and they said they’d give DG readers a $5 credit on outbound calling.  You can then return calls directly from your voicemail or from the site while displaying your GrandCentral caller ID and keeping your phone number private. But for GrandCentral to know you’re one of my readers and get the $5 credit, you need to use the code “DatingGoddess” in the promotion code field on the sign up page.

If Match.com, Yahoo! Personals, JDate and other sites were savvy, they’d have this service as part of their package. It would eliminate many of those jitters of “Do I trust him enough to give him my number?”

I signed up for the beta. If you do, too, let me know what you think.

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“Date #75 requests permission to land”

February 25, 2007

Passing the airport the other day, my friend Ken noticed the many planes lined up for miles awaiting their turn to approach the runway. He said he immediately thought of my always having an endless stream of potential suitors lined up in various stages of “landing” a date with me.

Plane — let’s playIt’s true that I am never long without someone knocking on my fuselage, I mean email door, wanting to make contact. The value of having guys lined up is I don’t linger over love gone sour. Much the same as when I miss a flight, there is nearly always another one ready to take off within a short period.

Just as some of the planes in queue may have to circle in a holding pattern if the runway is busy, so too a potential paramour may have to wait his turn if I’m besotted with someone else at the moment. Of course, just like an air traffic controller, I can deftly juggle several flights at once.

And similar to when a pilot may have difficulty landing in severe weather or with wind shear, sometimes too, a first date can be shaky. It takes a confident, experienced pilot to safely maneuver in unfamiliar conditions, like a first date with someone he barely knows.

PlaneIf the landing is too rocky and uncomfortable — unnerving even — then I quickly disembark and wish the pilot well as he takes off on his next journey without me. So, too, with rocky dates — I know this man is not for me, so bid him good luck and say bon voyage.

And sometimes I choose to just hang out in the terminal, or no one is in a landing pattern. That’s fine, as I busy myself reading, calling friends, writing my next book or blog entry, viewing a DVD or just people watching. A favorite game is picking out potential boyfriends from the airport crowd, deciding who I’d want to go out with.

Then pretty soon I hear a new pilot saying, “DG’s Date #75 requests permission to land.” And the next adventure begins.

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Beware the duplicity trap

February 4, 2007

Sometimes in dating (and in life) we choose not to reveal the whole truth. We don’t lie, but we omit parts of the picture. The conundrum is whether telling the whole truth is best, including gnarly details we know will be disturbing to the other, or to reveal only what seems prudent.

Last night I was at a dance club I’d heard about from a friend. He occasionally went there with a woman friend who he described having some very distinctive features.

Although my friend wasn’t there, I spotted a woman who looked as he’d described his dancing buddy. I approached her and asked if she knew our mutual friend. Indeed she did. We chatted and she asked how he and I had met. I responded truthfully, “On Match.com.” I went on to say that was several years ago and what a dear friend he has become, and we chatted about other things.

This morning I called and told my pal I’d met his friend. He was surprised since she and I live an hour apart. I told him I had noticed her at the club and figured she might be the gal he’d told me about, so introduced myself. I also told him of her question to me and my response.

“Oh, crap!” (Actually, his response was more profane than that.) “She has no idea I’ve ever been on Match.com, nor that I was ever seeing other women.”

My heart sank as I realized I’d unknowingly exposed my pal’s activities to this woman, whom he’d always referred to as a friend, not someone he dated. He’s a close confidant and I would never want to do anything that would cause him grief. Even though he was upset, he didn’t blame me nor try to make me feel bad.

This event showed keenly how duplicity can bite you. He had his reasons for not telling her he was seeing others — just as I’ve had a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy until a relationship heats up. However, although the unspoken code of online dating is “assume there are others,” they did not meet online. So she’d have no reason to suspect there were other women. Did he have an obligation to tell her he was seeing others? Did she ever ask?

On the upside, my call alerted him so he could be thinking how he would discuss this with her, rather than being blindsided when they next spoke. On the downside, the cat is out of the bag, through not malice, just friendliness. I wouldn’t have offered the Match.com info if she hadn’t asked, and I responded truthfully, as I didn’t see any need to lie since he described her as a friend.

trapWhen you multi-date without telling your dates that you are, you may be setting your own trap. Beware of your own wicked web you weave if you decide to be non-disclosing with someone you’re seeing more than a few times. You never know who might unwittingly spring the trap.

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