Friday, January 16, 2009

How I Met My Husband, or Annoying Dating Advice for Single Women

“You’ll meet a man as soon as you stop looking.” Were more frustrating words ever uttered to single women? The advice implies that single men abound, if you only look for them out of the corner of your eye. Dating may have been easy in our twenties, when we were fresh out of school with our weekends dedicated to barhopping with friends. But as girlfriends settle down and men extend their dating age ranges lower but not higher, what’s a single woman in her 30s, 40s, or 50s to do?
You could ask your now married girlfriends to set you up, thus exposing yourself to unsolicited dating advice. “Do what you love and you’ll meet the man for you.” Well, I still haven’t met a man at my quilting group/book club/jewelry making class. Do you think that means I’m a lesbian? If friends do set you up and their matchmaking fails, expect to hear, “You’re too picky – you can’t have it all.” Why not? Did you settle for less when you married your husband?  You did?  I'm so sorry to hear that!  You didn't?  Then why should I?
You can refuse your friends’ help (although this doesn’t mean they’ll stop offering advice) and go it alone, trying to engage men you meet in gyms or, say, grocery stores (some have a reputation for being where the single men shop – ask around). I almost met a man in an art supply store once. I was looking at a display of decorative envelopes when a tall, dark-haired guy strolled in from the street. We had a moment of eye contact, my cheeks flushed red, and he headed my way. I looked down at my envelopes, wishing I were shopping for something more intellectual, like, say, linseed oil. When he was a foot away, he crouched down to examine the drawing pads that sat on a lower shelf.
Recognizing the golden opportunity at my feet, I tried to remember if I’d shaved my legs recently. My brain scrolled through a list of one-liners. I thought of and dismissed, “Hot enough for you?” and “I like your shoes,” finally seizing on dropping my keys, so that he could hand them back to me. I got a firm grip on my keys, took a deep breath, and…suddenly I felt something wet and cold on my calf muscle. A tongue. The man was on the floor, licking my leg. I dropped my keys and screamed. The man on the floor beside me leapt backward. Too late, I saw that the storeowner’s miniature collie was also on the floor behind me. The owner and other customers stared at me in alarm. “Sorry,” I stammered. “The dog licked me.” How could I explain that I thought the man had licked me? I turned to go. The man on the floor handed me my keys.
“Not a dog person?” he asked as he stroked the collie.
I love dogs. I thought you were licking my leg. I left the store without answering him.
Clearly, man-on-the-street dating is not for everyone. Another option is to go online. In fact, Internet dating may be the best way to meet men, depending on your city. I live in a small, midwestern city. I had a nice photo, a funny profile and I got 70 emails from men in my first two weeks, with an average of 2-5 a week after that. My girlfriend lives in Brooklyn. She had a nice photo and a funny profile and got two emails, total. One was from a guy in her office who’d been asking her out for months.
If you are considering Internet dating, and I think you should, put some work into your profile. Better yet, have a friend who loves you write it for you, because she’ll be able to convey how wonderful you are without any fear of immodesty. Post your best picture. It doesn’t matter if you don’t always look that good as long as the potential is there (the potential to blow-dry your hair and put on lipstick, not the potential to lose 50 lbs).
Prepare for this reality: even guys who are articulate and funny online can be duds in person. I didn’t find a lot of men exaggerating their looks but I did find that profiles, emails, and phone calls didn’t measure chemistry. Face-to-face was the only way I knew whether I liked someone.
I met my husband the hard way, through a blind date. I was writing a novel about my online dating experiences and I lent an early draft to an acquaintance to read. She didn’t know me that well then, but my personality shone through the book. Reading it made her think of a single man she knew and the rest is history. By the way, I was still looking when I met my husband. And he did have it all. Call that picky if you like. (His friends and family had accused him of pickiness, too). And although I didn’t find my husband online, in a long story kind of way, Internet dating is still how I met my husband.

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