Posts Tagged ‘dating experience’

That’s All She Wrote

February 5, 2017

Life is full of stories, and I’m a storyteller. Perhaps it comes from my Irish ancestry. Perhaps it comes from my delight in hearing my father’s stories on the rare occasions he could be nudged into telling them. Writing is in my blood, and storytelling tends to be the expression.

When I began posting about my dating experience, it was largely at the prompting of a friend who wanted to hear the stories of my travels with an open heart. I took up the challenge because there seemed to be so many misconceptions about what it means to be over the age of sixty, let alone over the age of sixty and dating. Not all of us have put ourselves out to pasture at that age. Many of us view life as an ongoing adventure that we don’t want to waste, and many of us still consider love and a sex life as part of that adventure.

So I began blogging about my dating experience. I did so more than two months into that experience and after having my first bruised heart under my belt. I have tried to be kind on the page to the men I’ve dated, but I have done that while also being honest about my experience and my feelings. I have sometimes been philosophical and sometimes been more frank about sensuality and sexuality than some readers might have preferred. Hopefully, I have done both with at least a bit of appreciation for the humor in being human.

When I began the blog, I did so knowing that it might scare off a few men. My attitude was that any man scared off by the blog probably did not have the maturity, open-mindedness, and self-confidence for me anyway. I am not a wallflower, nor am I very guarded. But I did not anticipate where the writing would take me, nor did I anticipate just how the writing would be taken by the men who read it. I also did not anticipate how many men would put effort into vetting potential dates.

I told men I dated about the blog at the first meeting. It seemed only fair. I also changed my profile, stripping out information that might identify me, to improve my chances of actually having that first date. I didn’t like doing that, but I began to understand that many–or even most–people are not as open as me. A little less information might be helpful.

Now, more than eight months into it, I have decided to cease blogging about my dating experience. A big part of that is the result of being weary of scaring men off. But it is more than that. When I did an internal scan for the energy around continuing to do this writing, I found that I could feel no energy around it. And for me, that says it all. If I experience an internal sense of energy around something, I know that it is the right thing for me to do. If what I feel instead is a kind of energy black hole, I know that it is not the right thing for me to do.

Will I give up the online dating process? No. Not at this point anyway. I’m just taking my experience of it off-line. And it is the experience that is primary.

Will I have something else to say on this blog? Probably. Eventually. Over the years, the subject matter about which I have written has changed depending on what is going on in my life and what I have the juice to write about. I have to say, though, I’ve had more fun writing about my dating experience than anything else I’ve written about in some time. To that extent, it has returned to me more than I have given it.

If you are single and dating, all the best to you. If you are over the age of fifty and using online dating as a vehicle for it, I bow to you. You have guts, trust, and at least some sense of romance in your makeup. I’m with you.

If you want an ear, you can e-mail me at mmulhall@earthlink.net or just comment on this post.

Thank you for following these posts.

Blowing kisses at you,

Melanie

Copyright 2017 by Melanie Mulhall

Changing My Profile

January 24, 2017

I had four choices when it came to dealing with the problem of scaring off men: do nothing, be even more transparent in my profile than I already was, strip remaining identifying information out of my profile, stop writing about my dating experience in my blog, or, the most extreme choice, give up on online dating.

Albert Einstein’s admonition came to mind: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. I abandoned the notion of doing nothing.

Becoming even more transparent in my profile by fessing up to my blog was appealing because it fit with my commitment to directness, authenticity, and transparency. Before I began writing about my dating experience, I had joked that to write about it might weed out the boys from the men. It had probably done that, but it seemed to be scaring off otherwise perfectly good men too.

The third possibility was stripping identifying information from my profile. I had already made a change to my profile by changing my online moniker. It had been connected with my business name, thereby making it almost effortless to find me quickly. I gave myself a moniker that could not identify me. I had also stripped out some of the references to shamanism because it obfuscated things. The primary identifying words remaining in my profile were writer and editor. It seemed easy enough to eliminate those words, and I reminded myself that close female friends had been urging me to give less information about myself on my profile for some time.

The fourth possibility was to just stop writing about my dating experiences in my blog. Of course, the blog posts I’d already written could still be found unless I took more drastic action, but anyone finding the blog would at least be able to tell, from the date of the latest post about dating, that I had stopped writing about it. I wasn’t ready to give up blogging about dating.

The last possibility was to just abandon the online dating world altogether. It seemed a defeatist approach, but I did want to consider it. I was a member of two paid online dating services. I received endless views and contacts through one of them, but some of those views and contacts were from men out of state and few of the rest were from men I would choose to date. And when I did a search using geographical and age parameters, there was almost no one I found appealing. The other site had a much larger pool of possible partners, but I had less views and contacts from men on that site, and I had enough experience with my messages to men being ignored to tell me that even when I reached out, I wasn’t getting much response. Of course, I had to admit that the problem of my transparency might be impacting that. I wasn’t ready to give up on the idea of online dating, though I was ready to look at what other sites might be better for me when my paid memberships were up.

It seemed that the most sensible approach was to revise my profile, stripping out any identifying information. There were a couple of others things I could do too. When asked my name, I had been telling men that I reserve giving my name until I have a phone or face-to-face meeting with a man. Instead of saying that, I could just as easily give them my middle name. I couldn’t be easily identified from it, and it is a real part of my full name. The other thing I could do was to avoid giving out my cell phone number. A reverse search made me quickly identifiable from that number. I had attempted using a Google number at one point, but that hadn’t worked well. Just holding the phone number in reserve until a meeting seemed the best route. Alternatively, I could give my land line number because, thanks to a quirky issue with how it is listed, I was hard to track down from it. But I would need to screen a man before doing that.

I went to both online sites and not only stripped out identifying information, but also refined my profiles. Then I sat back to see what would happen.

Just changing a profile or adding photos tends to bump a profile up in the page listings on these sites, so I had to take that into account. And I had read the first part of the year always brought an upsurge in online dating activity, so I also had to take that into account. But I not only received a bit of a burst in views, I received new requests for back-and-forth communication and, ultimately, meetings.

One thing I hadn’t changed, though, was my commitment to being up front about my blog once I met a man. When I had done that in the past, few men seemed to be put off by it. Would that still be the case? Or would the sheer number of posts, coupled with the erotic quality of a few of them, scare off any man who left a first meeting with me and did a little blog reading?

There were many unknowns, and I was back to being a dating anthropologist.

 

Copyright 2017 by Melanie Mulhall

Return to Blog Land

August 16, 2016

The e-mail seemed to come out of thin air, and it was like being given clean, fresh air after breathing smog for days. It was five days after the breakup e-mail from Derek. But this e-mail was from someone I didn’t know, a person who was thanking me for my blog.

I had abandoned my blog more than two years earlier on the grounds that I felt it was becoming too didactic. The blog still had a fair number of visitors, mostly because of my 2010 posts on Peru, but I hadn’t even bothered to look at the statistics for a long time.

“I have read your beautiful prose on Living the Dream. What is so astonishing is how tightly my own marriage resembles yours with Howard.

“To the point that just reading your name brings grateful tears to my eyes.

“I only want to say thank you for putting a few stepping stones in front of me when I didn’t know how I could go on.

“Whether you agree or not, I see you as an angel, or at least a kindred spirit, and wish you all the best life has to offer for sharing so unselfishly your wisdom and courage.”

It was signed “Nancy.”

She might have been astonished by what she read in my blog, but my own astonishment in reading her message probably matched it. I had to know who she was and which post or posts she was referring to, so I hit reply and told her I wanted to know more about her and her journey. There was poignancy in her message, and I wanted to know the woman behind it.

In her next message, she revealed that her husband was dying of throat cancer. Home hospice was involved. She said that my story about my experience with Howard’s long illness and death had given her strength. My heart lurched out of my chest and joined her, wherever she was.

This felt very personal to me, and I planned to keep it to myself. But I found myself thinking about something my close friend Sally McDonald had said to me, years earlier. She had told me to write without worrying about who it touched or in what way. My job was to get the words out. I might never know if or how it had affected anyone.

“Years after you are dead,” she said, “someone may refer to something you wrote and say how much it has impacted their life. And you will be gone. You won’t know. And you don’t need to know. Your job is to write. Don’t worry about the rest.”

I also thought about something Marilyn Youngbird had said. Standing very close to me and employing that soft but penetrating look of hers, she said with force, “Your words have power.”

I didn’t recall what had prompted Marilyn’s pronouncement, but these many years later, I did understand that she had not just suggested that my words had power, but that everyone’s words have power, and we should remember that before opening our mouths to speak because their impact can help or hurt other beings. She had been talking about being conscious of the words I used.

I thought about all the people I knew and especially about all the writers I knew. I needed to share the e-mails that had just come to me. So I posted something on Facebook about my e-mail exchange with Nancy and said, “Those of you who write–and there are many of you I count as friends–this post is for you. I want to support you in writing from your heart, from your true self . . . because you never know who you might touch.”

One of my writerly friends, Helena Mariposa, commented on the post saying that she was waiting for me to write on my travels with an open heart. I had used the term “travels with an open heart” in a conversation with her as a way of describing what my online dating experience was all about.

“The travels with an open heart series, if I ever write that, will be very personal and very self-revealing,” I replied on Facebook. “The latest destination is pretty fresh on my heart. New ones unfold even now. I’m not sure I’m ready for it, and it didn’t even occur to me until your comment, but it’s a thought, my friend.”

“Like your grief memoirs weren’t very personal and self-revealing? Hmm . . .” she wrote back.

She had me there. All of my blog posts had been personal and self-revealing, but none more than those on my husband’s illness and death. And I had to admit that there was at least humor in the full contact sport of my dating experiences. My heart was open, but that didn’t preclude unexpected antics and the humor endemic in human experience.

Helena and I took the discussion off Facebook. She argued that there were a lot of baby boomers who were now single and would benefit from my experience, and she didn’t think many people were writing about dating over the age of sixty. And even if they were, she argued that my writing was somewhat unique because it was an extension of my shamanic work. She thought it woke people up to the possibilities.

I had no idea who was writing what about dating because I had not checked into it. And I didn’t know if my writing ever had the potential of waking anyone up. Who was I to do that anyway? I was just a pilgrim going down the same road as everyone else. What I did know I had to offer was a willingness to be real and transparent. But there were risks. Some of the men I dated might not like the idea of going out with a woman who blogged about her dating experiences, even if I promised to leave them out of it. And some men might drop the idea of dating me before it ever had a chance to blossom into an actual date because it would take only a little online research to find my blog. In essence, I thought blogging about my dating experience might scare men off.

But then, it might just weed out the men who didn’t have the kahunas (as opposed to the kahonas) to hang with me.

Derek had opened up one kind of Pandora’s Box for me; Helena was opening another–or at least, she was serving as muse. The more I thought about the idea of blogging about my dating experience, the more I felt pulled to do it.

So thirteen days after the breakup with Derek, I went back into blog land with my first post on dating, a post titled “Travels with an Open Heart.” I was on record with my journey. I felt naked, but strangely, it was a liberating kind of nakedness.

Whatever happened, I was pretty sure that I was meant to blog on this subject, though I really didn’t have a clue why. It didn’t matter. That first post was effortless and fun to write. Maybe I was on to something.

 

Note: The name Derek is fictitious and has been used out of respect for the man involved. Nancy and Helena Mariposa are real names attached to real people I am blessed to know.

 

Copyright 2016 by Melanie Mulhall