caught in the net
If all goes as planned, there comes a time when you actually meet someone who you find interesting on a dating site. It’s a rare occurrence, but it has to happen sometime or no one would pay for the privilege. Of course there are free dating sites now, but my attitude on free shit is that if you don't pay upfront, you pay at some point. And when it comes to dating, you need a modicum of exclusivity to weed out some of the riff raff, you know, to set the bar slightly higher than come one come all free. Maybe that's just the main line snob in me. It works with porn too BTW. You can get it for free somewhere online, but it's not really free when you are riddling your computer with spyware, adware and trojans. In that case, you get what you (don't) pay for.
So you know the deal, you've read his profile, and he’s pretended he’s read yours…yes ladies, really, you know those well-crafted clichés you wrote about "having a great family, friends and a full life...but there's something missing...?" Don’t kid yourself, he just looked at your pictures.
But give him credit, he stuck his neck out there, you responded, and the whole game ensued. Suddenly you find yourself emailing back and forth, and after a couple of weeks, without even waiting at least 2 days between each correspondence.
the evolution begins
At this point, one of you gets the bright idea to reveal your full names so the evolution from (insert your dating site here) FS to FB to IM to Voice can begin. You decide he is not a stalker, acquiesce, and he sends the friend request. You accept, and suddenly the pandora's box has swung wide open because now each of you has access to information about each other ad nauseum.
So you go back and forth in those little FB dialogue boxes adorned with little icons of your profile pics, and finally even that starts to feel cumbersome...you know, closing FB so you can get some actual WORK done at work so you can leave early to do a night mountain bike ride...and immediately getting a message in your inbox that he's replied that requires you to click on a link and open up FB again. Mark Zuckerberg is laughing all the way to the bank so you decide to cut him out of the whole negotiation and just go straight to personal email ...then instant messaging....and then....
....he requests to talk on the phone. I rarely give my phone number to anyone, anyone, so if I give you my phone number I must think you are pretty special. It's not simply that I am selective, but I actually hate talking on the phone. However, I realize it is a necessary step along the process because of the time I got to the phone stage with one promising prospect a few years ago to discover he had a really high voice with an obnoxious accent, some kind of mix of South Philly and Brooklyn, so I had saved myself the misery of having to suffer through a whole date listening to something even more annoying than an 8-year old practicing the violin just by offering up my digits.
the first date
Yes the first date is a milestone, but if you have done your research, the first date is nothing more than an interview to see if there will be a second one. I mean I can have fun with just about any stranger...once. You meet, you verify that he looks somewhat like his pictures, and you see how the conversation develops. Hopefully by this point you know enough about his profession, hobbies, interests, lifestyle, geographic proximity, and potential compatibility or else you would not have gotten to this point, right? I mean you would not waste your time actually meeting up with someone until those boxes were checked. Well I wouldn't, I'm happy to spend a Friday night hanging out with Madison and Chloe (kind of like tonight) So the first face to face is really all about....chemistry. Oh yeah, and whether he is a cat 1 or 2, I forgot about that. Do you click together, are you laughing and engaged in the conversation or are you surreptitiously checking your watch when he looks across the bar?
the second third and fourth date
date five six and beyond
At some point on this continuum, the physical contact has developed. You sleep with him, finally.
So suddenly you are "seeing each other". This process unfolds over several months, and you are too busy to think much about dating other people or if he is. But there comes a time when you realize that you need to have this conversation. Perhaps you have finally decided that you need to make a concerted effort not to be an old maid, or perhaps it is a great excuse to get rid of an ex that keeps bothering you, or perhaps you are tired of never having anyone to take to Thanksgiving. Whatever the reason, you decided that it’s time to approach the subject of whether or not you two are "in a relationship," albeit casual or whatever. The only thing you know for sure is that you are sleeping together. And you think you have earned a little more definition than that.
So what do you do? Do you take the risk of telling this still somewhat stranger that you like him enough to want to truncate your other entanglements? Because in having that conversation, you are revealing your own true feelings about this person, risking the possibility that he does not feel the same; that he is unable to commit; that he wants to keep on playing the field. Does he appreciate all that you bring to the table enough to give it a go? Is he still ringing up his ex for late night booty-calls? Enough said, the conversation has to be had. So, do you have this conversation while sitting across from him at dinner? After sex?
Hell no, NOT without doing a little research first.
Here is my checklist, and this is not gender-specific. This is your homework so you can be armed with information before you approach the subject with him.
go back to the site you met him on and see if his profile is still up. This should be a no-brainer. No big deal if you have only been dating a month or so, but if 6 months down the line you are "liking" Vera Wang on FB and he is still cruising fitness-singles it might be a sign that you two have different expectations. He might still be thinking friends with bennies when you are thinking that there might be some destination to the ride. And don’t believe him when he says he has just not gotten around to taking it off. I understand if after 6 months you have not gotten around to taking that Spanish class or painting your bathroom, but it takes five freaking seconds to hide your profile, ten if you forgot your password.
2. check out his friends on FB. Especially his *new* friends of the opposite sex (or same sex if we are not talking straight, like I said, this is a universal list) Luckily most FBers who are not teachers allow most of us to view at least some of their photos, so check out the new chicks from your city that call your potential BF their friend. Most likely harmless, but if he is dating/has dated someone else, most likely they will be among those 300 or so people who call him their friend. Is one of his newer attractive female friends especially frequent about commenting on anything going on with your PBF? Yes it could be just an annoying admirer, but like I said this is just research.
3. is his communication frequency commensurate with yours? that is to say, how many texts, emails, or calls do you send him a week? How many are returned? Does he ever just text or call you for no reason? While I find that most guys prefer voice to text or email, if you are the one always initiating contact, that speaks volumes about his commitment to the idea what you are a potential partner. And let's face it, at this point that is all we are talking about here: potential, because you are still both relative strangers.
4. and lastly, don't rely solely on opinions from your girlfriends. They love you, they support you, but sometimes they tell you what you want to hear, we are ladies after all, and tend to be more diplomatic. Well, I guess I'm more of a guy in this respect because no one could accuse me of sugar-coating anything at this point. So rustle up a few guys that you trust to tell you the real scoop about their species. Trust me, you will thank me.
Let me give you a little example.
You are wondering why this PBF seems to send mixed singles. Often he does not return your texts for half a day, and he doesn't call you very often. After a night together though he is singing your praises, and utters sentences that are sweet and endearing. You think "wow, he has finally seen the light."
So you are with a group of your girls. They are grilling you about your new man. You tell them you really like him, but you are getting mixed signals. You talk about a conversation you had with him lying in bed. PBF held you close and whispered that it had been a "long time since he had been with someone."
"Why would he say that if it weren't true?" you ask them, "I mean why even say anything?" Your girls reply that of course he says that because he is really into you, and he's so sweet and damn fine.
But you are suspicious. So you get real and decide to ask a man to decipher the warrior code. Your male friend, unencumbered by estrogen's softening of the jagged edges of reality, responds quite differently when posed with this same question you asked of your girls.
"I mean why would he say that if it weren't true?" you implore him, "why would he say anything?"
"A lot of guys say that." He looks at you with pity.
"They do? why?"
"Because it explains why they did not last longer." Boy do you want to wipe that smirk off his face. How dumb are you?
But you know, your male friends need you too. To help them navigate their way through the tempest of their fears, insecurities and innate reticence to face the prospect of having to moor their boat onto only one dock for the foreseeable future. They embark on the journey, but really have a hard time staying the course. That's when you, their dear female friend, become their compass.
For example, a friend and I were having dinner recently, and he gone through the process of whittling down his other entanglements to the one lady he was especially interested in. He had always been a bit afraid of commitment in the first place, but he finally realized that he would always be stuck in the same place if he did not try and concentrate on one relationship instead of spreading his seed all over the damn place. So in the middle of the meal, his phone rang. It was his new chick. Having your phone at the table is verboten at 3434, but I nodded that it was OK, so he answered it, and spoke for a minute and then told her he was having dinner with me and he would call her later. He finished the call and looked at me, silent for a moment.
"What is it?" I asked, wondering at his pensive stare.
"Well, I guess we are at that point now" he remarked.
I was not following. "What point is that?"
"Well, I guess we are talking every day now." He looked a little stressed.
"Well yeah, that's the natural order of things," I said, rolling my eyes a bit. "We're women, when we've been sleeping with you we don't want you sleeping with anyone else. And you said yourself you were going to date only her.."
"Yeah yeah it's fine," he looked at me, irritated, as if I were pointing out the obvious. "I'm just remarking on it, that's all." And we resumed our meal.
It's so damn hard for the boys sometimes. They do come in handy when we need the straight story, but you know they ain't always giving it to their GFs.
Happy Thanksgiving. Yeah, sorry, a little late.