Dating, According to MJ, 060911 Edition

I’ve been thinking an awful lot about the last guy I kissed.  Not in a wistful way, in a it’s been so long, I actually don’t remember who it was kind of way.  I like smooching, so this is sad.
 
Not much to report for May.  I didn’t meet a wonderful man at a grocery store.  I didn’t go out on two organic dates as I had previously planned for May whether I documented it here or not. 
 
I did meet a man (organically-ish) who asked me out in May and we went out in June, on Saturday to be exact.  It was not an overwhelming, not an underwhelming, just a whelming okay. 
 
Facebook allowed me to prejudge him as slightly overweight, more so than I remembered from when we’d spent time together at Meetup events (thus the ish) so I staged my house for when he came to pick me up.  If he can handle my living room being strewn with running shoes + a foam roller, my bike and helmet, yoga mat, sports water bottle and a Camelbak without thinking he’s in over his head, I’ll let him try.  Perhaps they’re old pictures anyway and since he’s divorcing, maybe he’s going through one of those fixer up stages, because when I saw him again, I really didn’t see the beer belly from the pics.
 
On Sunday I got a text from a number I don’t know.  Well, I kind of know it…the first three digits are the same as my sister’s and I made that connection when he gave me his number, but I can’t for the life of me remember who it is…obviously someone I’ve deleted since. 
 
And when they’re deleted, it’s for a reason, so when the “hey, it’s been a really long time and I know it’s last minute, but how about dinner tonight?” came in, instead of tempting myself with a response like, “who is this?” that always just comes out wrong to the person on the other end, I just had to delete it, but it’s still driving me crazy! 
 
I searched my phone book for the men who I haven’t seen in a while, but who didn’t have any major red flags, it just kinda fizzled out with but I didn’t delete them because if they grew a pair and asked me out again I’d say yes and they’re all still there, so it’s none of them.  I guess the thing that’s really bugging me is if it’s TGISWOTSD.  I’m only about 10% that it’s him and 70% it’s Bach #5, leaving 20% for someone who’s completely off my radar and I didn’t even consider.
 
Finally, I meet a guy through a friend at a bar early last month, did some sufficient Facebook stalking, which turned out more favorably for him.  A man who poses with a football and a drink wearing flip flops on the beach at sunset?  Yes please!  A man who also poses with a Terrible Towel?  Panty dropper. 
 
This is the man I contemplated adding, then didn’t, and now finally did.  Now I’m cyber-hiding because I feel so exposed waiting for the response, but I guess I figured taking a chance and risking a bit of embarrassment is worth the potential return.  Sometimes you just have to make the first move, even if it is an awkward “would you like to be my Facebook friend?” type move. 
 
I have a second date with the married guy tonight.  Did you like how I just slipped in there earlier that he’s divorcing like it’s no big deal?  It is kind of a big deal to me.  I’m beginning to accept divorced is just a way of the world when dating in your late 20s, but divorcing is different.  Divorcing is still married, thus, he’s the married guy. 
 
I believe his story, even though it’s basically the same story any still-married man would tell when trying to get with someone else, but my walls are up a bit and I’m mostly just not sure how to proceeed. 
 
Anyway, I’m not too sure I’m feeling him, even outside of his married status.  We get along, he’s funny and tells good stories and I enjoyed the whelming first date, but I could pretty much take or leave a second.  He wanted to take, so we’re taking, and I’ll give it another shot.
 
But really, at this point, I know myself and what I’m looking for and while there aren’t words that go with it, I know it when I see it, which is the ONLY reason I’m happy that TGISWOTSD and Nonmush came into my life.  If I don’t see it, I have better things to do with my time and I trust that there is at least one more man out there who possesses the ineffable.
 
“What?! Now I’m not ‘f-able’?!”  Name that show and we’re BFF.  It’s pretty much the only show I reference.  Ever. 

The Meet Market: Community Events

Phew.  That was close.  I know you were quite concerned that The Meet Market was coming to an abrupt halt.  The man who I thought I was pausing for didn’t quite work out, so as of April 8th, I was back on the prowl, probably with a little more gusto because I was burnt out on online dating and meeting a man organically is looking better by the day.

I picked April for community events because it’s prime time for them in Arizona.  The weather is (usually) beautiful and the weekends are packed with events.

I volunteered, I ate and drank, I ran and I watched recreational sports leagues.  All in large groups of strangers, many of them attractive men.

I was told I was smoking hot by drunk old men, but even that helps the swagga, right?  I flirted.  I learned that for flirting to turn into talking and connecting, you need to ask open-ended questions.  I got a phone number of a Jersey Shore wannabe.  I realized it’s hard to meet men when you’re with your mom. 

And finally, in accordance with my NEW new attitude about dating, I remembered how fun it is to get out and do things I enjoy with friends or family and enjoy the gorgeous spring weather.

Meet Market 4, MJ 0.  C’est le vie.

Back in the Trenches

I feel a little silly being upset over the end of a mini-non-relationship with Non-Mush.  BUT, I’m watching a good friend go through the beginning of a new relationship – that started around the same time mine never did, ouch – and I realized if things had continued to swim along, I’d be equally as thrilled about it as I am now bummed about it. 

Plus, it’s okay to FEEL YOUR FEELINGS.

Maybe it’s not the loss of the relationship specifically, because it wasn’t necessarily anything yet, but the loss of what it could have been, what I wanted it to be, what I thought it might be.

I’m making him a guidepost, a reminder of the quality of guy I deserve, the excitement I should feel at the beginning of something. 

I’m taking my lessons – 1. when it feels right, go all in so you’re left with no regrets, 2. trust your intuition and call a guy on his B.S. when he needs it – and moving on.  Maybe, kinda.*

Well, moving on but totally lamenting the fact that I now have to kiss twelve more frogs until the next good one.  I’m not saying this because JWOWW told me so, I’m saying this because I’ve lived it and it’s true. 

TGISWOTSD —> Non-Mush = FIVE months and approximately 12 other men (not all of whom I actually kissed, it’s just a saying people)!

There are A LOT of men out there.  Most are not for me, but there’s only one way to sort through them to find my Prince Charming.  I’ve got to get in the trenches. 

But you know what?  I don’t wanna.  I mean, yes, I will and honestly, I do want to, but with more focus on the Prince Charming part, less on the trenches part. 

For now, I’m completely overwhelmed by the rigmarole of online dating and the sheer volume of idiots / jerks / douches on the sites.  The whole concept is just not sitting well with me right now and I have no clue where to start to meet a man organically.  Okay, well I have some idea, but planning is very different from execution. 

When my desire to get out there again comes back, I’ve got my post-breakup hair and post-breakup bod ready to go.

To quote one of my fav movies…”head up, young person.”

*Maybe, kinda because I’m straddling a fence right now.  Part of me wants to say, “if you don’t want me in your life [romantically], you don’t get me in your life [at all].”

Another part is piecing bits of our last conversation together and thinking this is a bump, a feeling out period and that we actually could be great together.  For that part of me, it still feels right to give it another shot with Non-Mush. 

I realize that if I was paying attention I wouldn’t think that was an option, but this falls in the no regrets category and even though looking into my magic ball, I assume I’ll find a man who makes me wonder why I ever wasted my time, I don’t want to what-if this situation.

The Meet Market: Volunteering

Confession time.  The first time I donated blood I was terrified because my sister (who weighed all of 100 pounds soaking wet but had lied to qualify) passed out the first time she did it.  But, I had been super tired and wanted to see if I had an iron deficiency, so I walked onto one of those blood mobiles thinking I would get sent right off, told to eat spinach and red meat (not an option) and come back. 

I checked out okay, because you know, I HADN’T had sex in exchange for money or drugs and apparently didn’t have low iron levels.  Before I knew it, I had been poked (TWSS) and the blood was draining from my body. 

I struggled a little bit with the karma of doing something that was supposed to be altruistic with selfish motivations.  But, I guess I landed on:  People are naturally self-motivated creatures, but either way, the end result is the same.

Plus it wasn’t awful and I didn’t pass out.  After that first time, I actually started donating regularly because it’s a very small sacrifice of my time and comfort that can save lives.  And yeah, I’ve kinda turned into THAT girl who tries to recruit everyone to do the same.

With that all being said, a few opportunities arose this month, so I changed my original Meet Market schedule and used volunteering as a way to meet men.  For shame!  Of course it wasn’t the only reason I volunteered and – spoiler alert – the happy ending is that I enjoyed it and will continue to volunteer for a variety of reasons.

Donating Blood – I think this counts, but I’m telling you now it’s a horrible place to meet men.  As I said, I do this regularly and earlier this year started donating platelets, something you can do every seven days.  It’s a long and quasi-uncomfortable process, so I go about once a month. 

Basically I’m in the chair for two and a half hours.  Pro – a lot of people come through the donation area in that amount of time.  Con – they’re all old men.  What is it with young people today?

I have asked four men I’ve dated in the last year to donate blood with me (see? I told you I’m THAT girl) and they all give me the same, totally lame excuse.  They “don’t really like needles.”  No one LIKES needles, dude.  Now I think (A) you probably have some nasty STD, (B) you are a wuss and would probably throw up while hiking and/or (C) you hate humanity.

Maybe someday I will find my fresh and clean, manly man who has a heart of gold at the donation center, but it was not this month.

Charity race packet distribution – I like the idea of being involved in charity races, even if I don’t run them, so this month I found a race benefitting a great charity and signed up to hand out packets at the pre-race festival.  I saw a lot of people (and many cute, fit men) and talked to a lot of them, which is good flirting practice, but there were zero connections.

Culinary festival – This month I had the opportunity to volunteer at a culinary festival benefitting a local museum.  I was stationed at the entrance, taking tickets and handing out wine glasses that attendees would take around for samples.  Since I was at the front, I saw literally every person coming in and there were definitely a few cuties, but there were a lot of couples. 

Did I make any connections? No.  But again, good flirting practice! 

So, my mission for the year seems to not be working so well.  I’m using my opportunities to “practice” flirting, but I have no idea what I’m practicing for.  It’s game time NOW!  I guess I consider it “practice” if I flirt with guys I’m not interested in (it’s so much easier!) or, yes, women.  Flirting is all about flattery and engaging someone, which can be done with either gender, but again, flirting with women is easy because the stakes are low since I’m not interested.

I’m resting on my laurels, and by laurels, I mean my looks, assuming I’m so damn cute that men are just going to want to come up to me and talk to me, flirt with me and ask me out.  I think this because it’s happened all of twice in my life.  I’m going to go ahead and admit right now that those are not great odds.

I’ve read recently that men love when women come up and talk to them (makes sense because women – who are trying to date – usually feel the same).  Making a point to talk to at least one man every time I’m out is a lot easier said then done.  I’m still quite shy when it comes down to it.  I recently started hanging out with a great group of girls and many of them are willing and wonderful wingwomen so hopefully it will be easier.

[Insert sound of record scratching to a stop.]

I wrote all that earlier – all three took place before mid-month.  I have some more volunteer events coming up, but I was done for the month, so I wrote my assessment early.  And then…I met a man.  Like last week, so I’m not talking about it, but I’m pushing the pause button on the Meet Market initiative.

[Insert huge smile.]

The Meet Market: Bars

The idea of meeting people to date in bars is quite polarizing.  There are a lot of single people in a small place, but intentions and quality of those people are questionable.

I have met someone who became a boyfriend in a bar and know a handful of people who also have/have had successful relationships with someone they met in a bar, so it really shouldn’t be overlooked.

Attempting to meet someone in a bar this month was a little tricky because I came up with the plan not too long ago plus I have kinda cooled it on the drinking, well, since November, but more so since mid-month, pretty much becoming a teetotaler in the two weeks before my race.

But, I did make it to a few bars and did meet a guy, not much to report on him, but following is my checklist on meeting men in bars:

1.  Go to places that you like to go.  I’m not a club person and the men in clubs are not for me, so I stick to dives and sports bars.  Also, I’m no spring chicken anymore (future MJ will probably kill me for saying that), so to avoid looking around and realizing I’m the cougar at a bar, I have to be a little pickier about where I go.  I live right by a huge college town and like to go out there, but for men, I’ve found other areas that are better.

Maybe I'll meet my (non-cheating) Don Draper.

2.  Okay, this might be awful, but Rebel took me to a swanky resort lounge recently and it was crawling with age-appropriate business men.  Granted, they likely were not locals and I’m not looking for a long distance relationship with a traveling businessman who picks up women at hotel bars, BUT I think it’s good practice and probably would be a flirting confidence booster and I might go back sans date sometime.

3.  This is super cheesy, but I used to give myself a pep talk before I went into a bar.  Something along the lines of, “you’re cute and the men in here would be lucky to talk to you.”  Confidence is sexy and comes from within!  I try to send out a good vibe.

4.  Similarly, I used to go out with my roommate and if a guy didn’t talk to her within a few minutes of walking in, she’d get pissed off and she ended up giving off a very negative vibe and no one wanted to talk to her (or the unfortunate girls she was with – me!) all night.  She’d sit and play with her phone.  Ugh, it was awful.

5.  Move around.  I don’t like sitting at the same table or standing in the same spot all night.  I don’t order drinks from a server, I walk over to the bar by myself (being alone makes a woman much more approachable) and find a spot next to a cute guy to belly up.

6.  I’m not huge on approaching.  I have no good lines, so usually I just rely on placement + eye contact + smiling to get a guy to talk to me.  I have yet to find the happy medium between “hi/what’s up?” and “do you believe in love at first sight or should I walk by again?”

7.  Sad to say that Mystery is right, having an accessory as a conversation piece does make it easier to talk to a guy.  I probably wouldn’t talk to one wearing a large fuzzy hat and goggles, but I’d comment on a sports team shirt or something.  Same goes for women.  “I like your black tank top, jeans and sexy heels that are like every other woman’s here,” is not something you hear often, so I embrace my own style instead of trying to look like everyone else.

8.  The guy I met at the bar this month approached me when I was sitting at the bar by myself waiting for my friends to arrive.  It’s definitely hard to go to a bar by yourself, but knowing you have people meeting you later makes it easier.  I’m a late person, but I might consider changing that to scope out that scene, pick a good spot and maybe chat up a guy before my group arrives.

Overall, I’d give my experiences this month with meeting men in bars a D.  Not good, but like I said, the mission wasn’t given the full attention it deserved.  In general, I’d say meeting men in bars gets a B- and if it works out, it’s nice to be the exception to the “you can’t meet men in bars” rule!

Why the hell am I trying to meet a guy in a bar?  It’s part of my great dating challenge of 2011.  Check it out here. 

Have you met a man at a bar?  Do you have any tips for zeroing in on the good ones, approaching a man or being approachable in a nightlife environment?

The Meet Market

Last week, I wrote a guest post over at The Chick Lit Bee about how we single gals would meet men if we were, indeed, heroines of our own chick lit adventures.  They always seem to run into a handsome, charming and available stranger somewhere in their day-to-day.

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Since I’m being quite the go-getter in 2011 AND because I love the idea of scoping out and flirting with attractive men and calling it research, I am going to explore one organic way to meet a man every month. 

Here’s my subject-to-change schedule:
January – Bar  
February – Gym
March – Driving Range
April – Community Events
May – Grocery Store
June – Sports Game
July –  Man Stores like Sports Authority, Home Depot and Apple
August – Vacation
September – Volunteering
October – Wedding(s)
November – Bookstore
December – Coffee Shop

So, how am I going to play this game?

Stake out these places.  Assess the attractive, single male situation.  Look damn good AND approachable.  If “approachable” is not working, approach (it is 2011 after all).  Flirt.

The ultimate goal is to actually have a date come out of these stake outs.  This isn’t just a social experiment to discover the best places (in the greater Phoenix-area anyway) to meet men, it’s also going to be a bit of a challenge for little, introverted me and great dating practice. (However, I’m a romantic at heart and if I meet someone potentially great, the game pauses indefinitely.)

Anybody else need to up their game and want to join me?  What places have you met men that I might have overlooked?