Posts Tagged ‘scaring off men’

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

Scaring Off Men

January 17, 2017

There was no question in my mind that I was scaring off men with my blog. I could only guess that was the case with some, such as the architect. And I knew that I had nearly scared off Ned, which I would not have understood if he hadn’t been so open about it.

Thanks to another open (if not fearless) man, I knew I was scaring off others. The first message from him suggested that we meet. We traded a few messages and set a day and time for a drink at a local restaurant. He gave me his cell phone number; I gave him mine. Then, a couple of days later, he sent me a message canceling the rendezvous.

In a moment of curiosity coupled with the belief that I had nothing to lose, I sent a message saying, “What happened? Are you willing to share?”

His reply invoked Greener’s Law. He was referring to a quote the origins of which have been attributed to many but called Greener’s Law because William Greener had once been quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying, “Never argue with a man who buys ink by the barrel.”

I had to give him credit for being succinct, and there was something downright funny about his communication. I sent another message explaining what I reveal about my blog to men who actually get to the point of meeting me: I don’t write about every man I date and don’t write about any man who doesn’t want to be written about. When I do write about someone, I change their name and identifying information. And the blog is not in real time. I told him I appreciated his position and wished him the best.

I expected to hear nothing more from him, but he replied saying that my profile, coupled with my first message to him and ninety seconds (presumably of online research), told him everything he needed to know the day after is first message to me. He said that my “tells” were right out there. He had not only read some of my blog posts (including some written about my husband’s journey toward death), he had looked up my book online. In fact, he referred to a section in chapter four of my book and commented that he thought the concept I was presenting was an important one. He was touched by some of my writing. And in his final message to me, he referred to me as a good and talented woman.

Yet, he had been scared off.

The reference to Greener’s Law suggested that he feared if we dated and I became annoyed with him, I might lambast him in my blog. But I suspected it was more than that. The man might not have wanted to know about any of my dating experiences before him, let alone those that involved erotic activity, and he might have been put off by the fact that the blog was publically accessible on the internet.

I hadn’t been immediately drawn to him by virtue of his appearance, but I had been drawn by his profile, and after trading messages with him, it was evident that he was both intelligent and inquisitive. I was sorry he’d been scared off.

When I shared the story with my friend Melisa Pearce over lunch, she thought that he might be a man worth going out with and advocated sending him a message saying that I wanted the chance to be scrutinized by him as thoroughly in person as I’d been scrutinized online. His last message to me had sounded pretty final, and I doubted such an appeal would move him off his position, but I had to admit that Melisa’s approach was a brilliant one. Not only was I intrigued by the man, I wanted a chance to probe him a bit about the impact of my online profile and my blog on the men who saw them.

I sent the message; I heard nothing back.

Another man thoroughly scared off.

How many other men had I scared off? And what, if anything, should I do about it?


Note: The name Melisa Pearce is real. She is a valued friend and the founder/owner of Touched by a Horse and creator of the Equine Gestalt Coaching Method.


Copyright 2017 by Melanie Mulhall

The Carrie Bradshaw of Broomfield

January 10, 2017

More than once, my friend Melisa Pearce suggested that I had the Carrie Bradshaw problem: scaring off men with my writing. It prompted me to binge watch (over the course of a week or so) all six seasons of Sex and the City. I didn’t have cable when the show was airing, though I’d seen a number of episodes and later owned entire seasons on DVD. But I hadn’t seen all of the episodes, and it was time to do so.

I have referred to myself as a dating anthropologist, so when Carrie Bradshaw referred to herself using the same language in one of the earliest episodes, I knew the fictional character and I had at least something in common. That wasn’t the only thing. Carrie Bradshaw wrote a newspaper column about sex and dating, and some of those columns were compiled into a book. I’d never written a newspaper column, but I had written magazine columns over the years, though not about dating. Likewise, I’d written a book, but not one that had anything to do with dating, unless you used romancing the next company you want to work for as symbolic of romancing a man. I do, however, have a blog about dating. And I have been encouraged to turn it into a book.

Carrie had a tendency to pose questions about dating and life. Sometimes she did so in question format; at other times in statement format, often beginning with, “I couldn’t help but wonder . . .” I too have a tendency to pose questions about dating and life, though mine are usually rattling around in my head or posed over a glass of wine with a friend instead of ending up in my blog. I tend to write my blog as if I know what I’m talking about, though regular readers can easily see that I am often clueless. So was Carrie.

Granted, Carrie Bradshaw was a whole lot younger than me in that series. But I found it strangely surprising that dating and sex were not all that different for women in their thirties during the Carrie Bradshaw era than women in their sixties in the current era.

Carrie and I also have shoes in common. While not rich enough to own an estimated forty thousand dollars in shoes, as she guessed hers to be worth, and while owning not a single pair of Manolo Blahniks, I do have somewhere over ninety pairs of footwear, which sometimes prompts me to refer to myself as the Imelda Marcos of Broomfield, Colorado.

Apparently, I am also the Carrie Bradshaw of Broomfield, Colorado.

But in watching six seasons of episodes, I could find only two occurrences in which Carrie had scared off men with her writing. Carrie did scare off the politician with whom she had a few dates. But as far as I’m concerned, she was well shed of any man whose career was in politics. Carrie also scared off fellow writer Jack Berger, but not because she wrote about dating and sex. She scared him off because she was a more commercially successful writer than him, which is another problem altogether.

After watching all six seasons, I couldn’t help but wonder (using the Carrieism) how Carrie Bradshaw would fare in the blogging world. The woman had her photo on the side of a bus, accompanied by the statement that she knew about good sex, for god’s sake. If anything could scare off all the right men and attract all the players and perverts, one would think that would do the job. But it hadn’t. Was she charmed? Was I doomed? Had the dating climate changed in the years since the series aired? Was the fact that men these days could find you online in a New York minute a part of the problem?

I wondered what Candace Bushnell would do in my predicament. And I also couldn’t help but wonder what her alter ego, Carrie Bradshaw, would do in my position.


Note: The name Melisa Pearce is real. She’s a friend I count myself lucky to have. Melisa is the founder and owner of Touched by a Horse and the creator of the Equine Gestalt Coaching Method. Carrie Bradshaw is, of course, the famous character created by author Candace Bushnell.


Copyright 2017 by Melanie Mulhall

A Few Good Men, Part 2

September 14, 2016

It was one of the hottest days of the year. Without air conditioning, all I could do was try to pull in cool air at night with my whole house fan and use a small fan in the kitchen, where the heat tended to gather by late afternoon. I hoped John wouldn’t mind, and I thought he wouldn’t. He was an outdoorsman and no wimp. By 7:00 p.m. or so, it would cool down a bit, so eating outdoors would be pleasant. I planned to eat on the lower deck, then retire to the gazebo.

I suspected that John was a multimillionaire, from old money. His mother was related to one of the richest nineteenth century families in America. And while it hadn’t occurred to me, a friend pointed out that his last name was probably attached to one or more businesses that were household names. If any or all of that was true, it did not put him at an advantage with me, but it also did not put him at a disadvantage. I’m comfortable with people at every level of the social strata. I interact well with the rich, the poor, and all levels in between. Income and social standing mean little to me. What matters is what people are made of. That said, I also knew that the old rich have closed ranks. But I was just dating the guy, nothing more. Like many wealthy people, he maintained a low profile. He wasn’t into flashiness. He was into making a difference in the world. I could embrace that.

John was used to being in charge, something obvious in the most casual of interactions with him. I found that humorous when it came to interactions with me because I cannot easily be controlled, managed, or made inferior. During my corporate days, at least one boss had said (with affection) that I was unsupervisable.

If a worthy opponent is someone who, by virtue of who they are, challenges you to be at the top of your game and keep growing, then John and I were likely worthy opponents for one another.

Once the food preparation began, I discovered that John really couldn’t cook, but he was a good student and willing to give up control in the kitchen. He helped prep food, and I had him grill vegies. I grilled the salmon on a plank I’d soaked for the better part of a day. The dinner conversation was easy and pleasant.

When we moved to the gazebo, the conversation continued. He had questions about shamanism and my mystical way of being in the world. I had questions about his work and the nonprofit for which he was planning to raise tens of millions of dollars over the next few years. I also wanted to know something about his family and his life in general. He had brought his sweet, well-behaved dog with him, and the dog quietly sat nearby while we talked.

During a protracted part of the conversation about the ways in which we each move through the world, I moved to sit close in front of him to make a point. Looking him in the eye, I told him that being needs to precede doing. Being a lifelong doer, this is something I understand well. He seemed unconvinced and a bit mystified.

Later, he moved to kneel close in front of me, leaned in, and kissed me. We hadn’t really touched one another in a teasing or affectionate way to this point, so I was not quite ready to get physical with him. And though his kisses were pleasant enough, I avoided anything deep or prolonged. I liked him. I respected him. But he wasn’t Edward Cullen. I doubted I was Bella Swan for him either, though I wondered who would be. He seemed a bit elbows and knees with a woman.

When he left that night, our connection felt a bit like a failed experiment. He was about to leave on an annual fishing trip. I didn’t expect to hear from him before he left, and I rather doubted I would hear from him once he returned.

Another man, equally bright and equally committed to doing important things in the world, also caught my attention. A former university professor, Simon was now consulting around the world using a theory and methodologies he had developed to improve communication and mitigate conflict. We traded messages, switched to e-mail, and scheduled a place and time to meet. Before the meeting, I watched a YouTube video of him discussing his theory. I was fascinated by his approach, and if nothing more, I thought the meeting could produce some interesting conversation.

It did. I was definitely attracted to his mind, if not his physical persona.

I had begun to realize that it was important for me to be open about my blog and reassure any man with whom I met that I didn’t necessarily write about every man I went out with, that I would not write about him if he didn’t want to be written about, that I used fictitious names when I did write about men, and that it would be a mistake to think the latest post represented activities from the last week, or even the last month. I feared I was already scaring off men before we had a chance to meet, and if a man actually made it to the meeting stage with me, I wanted to be transparent about the blog. So we talked about it.

Talking about the blog quite naturally flowed into the subject of dating, and we discussed what might be considered the phenomenology of dating past the age of fifty. We agree that, contrary to popular thinking that we must compromise on our requirements as we get older, we actually narrow the field of what we consider potential partners. He likened it to visually scanning a small movie theater in which a hundred movie goers of the opposite sex are seated.

“At twenty or thirty,” he said, “we might see ninety of the hundred as possible partners. But at sixty, it is more like fifteen or ten.” We’ve had more life experience, know ourselves better, know what we want, have different priorities, and understand that we don’t have unlimited time to sort through endless possibilities.”

I thought it a useful way of describing what I had, myself, experienced. And while I thought I could enjoy his company across numerous meetings, I knew he would not be one of that ten for me.

We parted a bit hastily and awkwardly after two hours or so. A couple of days later, I received a kind and thoughtful e-mail from him. He had enjoyed our conversation, and he liked both my energy and interests. In another place and time, he thought we could be friends, but I wasn’t quite the match he was looking for. He wished me the best.

Though he made no request that I not write about him, I suspected he might have been concerned about that. He surely would not see an appearance on a dating blog as helpful to his work, even if I did disguise him by not using his name or too many details about his life. There was no way of knowing if he actually had that concern because even if I did ask, he might not admit that it was a concern. And I didn’t see myself asking.

That I was finding bright, accomplished men to meet was something of a relief. That they were actually on the dating sites was surprising and even more of a relief. They weren’t simply going to matchmakers, though I was sure that any of the last three men could have afforded to hire a matchmaker. No, they were personally engaged in seeking out a woman within their own generation.

There were at least a few good men out there. If the fates connected me with one, it would be wonderful. And I was willing to wait for the good man who would bewilder and delight me.


Note: The names John and Simon are fictitious and have been used out of respect for the men involved.


Copyright 2016 by Melanie Mulhall