Category Archives: Online Dating

Defining Love

I meant to write this post closer on the heels of my previous blog post. Real life has a knack of getting in the way. I also rewrote the post multiple times as I was never quite satisfied with it.

During the conversation with the woman I dated in February, we spoke about connection. In the goal of finding a long term relationship, a connection should evolve into love. Back when I first started dating, I went on numerous first dates for about 2 years. The common refrain was “you are smart, funny, and handsome… but I didn’t feel a connection.” I’ve written before about my early frustration as I never quite understood what having a connection meant. In retrospect, I concluded I mistook attraction for a connection. There were times in fact I began to question myself whether I was even capable of love. Particularly when some women would seem taken aback later on when I’d go on 2nd or third dates and would answer negatively if I watch porn or ever engaged in sexual self-gratification. It is not a matter of shame, just that if I am not stimulated intellectually and emotionally, I just can’t develop physical lust. I wouldn’t say I am asexual but I am probably somewhere on the spectrum.

On to the topic at hand, when does connection become love? How does love feel like? Can you describe it? Is it the same for everyone? The answers are all subjective. I will relate my two experiences and invite any readers to share their own.

My first love was quite intense. I’d say it wasn’t so much an obsession but I was deeply infatuated with her. Every time she would send me a text or message, I’d get excited before even reading it. I would say, it was the among the biggest “highs” in terms of emotional joy I’ve probably ever had. The intellectual and emotional connection was on a level I had never experienced before which perhaps led me to get carried away in the wave of positive emotions and dopamine. We never progressed far physically because of her religious and cultural beliefs. In fact, her previous relationship had lasted three whole years and she was still a virgin. Suffice it to say, my sex drive was fully engaged and I can confidently say I lusted for her. Knowing we couldn’t engage in sex made that feeling stronger. During our first fight, I felt like shit. Like an ulcer had developed itself instantly in the pit of my stomach. It ate at me the entire day until we made up. When she called it off in light of a job offer outside the province, I was devastated emotionally. However, the manner it was done also contributed to it.

The second time was more recent. From an emotional level, I can’t say it was as intense. A more vivid comparison would be between attending a Rammstein concert in all its pyrotechnical glory and the other to cuddling up by a fireplace reading a great book.  Both involve fire and are things I enjoy, but on different levels. I cared for her true, but it hadn’t become a constant distraction. It was definitely more healthy. It’s cliché to say you never forget your first and I can certainly see that now. My feelings for the first were new. I never explored this side of myself. The second wasn’t no less special but I was more mature. From a physical stand point, there was a bit of concern my libido could not match her own as she was liberated sexually. She remains the only woman with whom I felt a deep mutual connection physically as well. After our first time, she said it usually took her approximately 6 months to be able to achieve orgasm with a partner. When it happened the second time we had sex, it became commonplace and I felt a greater satisfaction by bringing her to climax and that led to me “breaking through” myself with her. She was the first person I truly felt comfortable with.

The first love was a raging bonfire; the second a serene sea. Only time will tell if there is a third and what form it takes. I wish anyone who reads this to have found the partner to give them whatever it is they seek, or good luck in finding that person.

 

Maturity in dating

Back in February I went on 2 dates with a woman. Everything seemed to be going very well. However, in the end she explained she was disappointed because while I check all the boxes for what she is looking for in a potential long term relationship, she expected a much stronger connection.

I won’t go into too much detail of what we exchanged. She began the conversation very wishy-washy on her desire to see one another again. Despite seemingly against my best interests, I related to her the law of fuck yes when it comes to relationships. I explained to her the important part is to ask the right question at the right time. We’re both in our mid-30s and as she said, she doesn’t have the luxury to pursue something she isn’t 100% sure. I explained to her that I felt our relationship had a lot of potential but it usually takes me some time before coming to a conclusion whether it will work or not. To me, the question was “Do I like this person? Do I see potential? Am I attracted to her?” and the answer was a definite yes. Questions like “do I see myself getting married to her?” are still premature for me but as a man I have a bit more leeway (we both want children eventually) and I don’t have the same amount of experience as many people my age.

After some further back and forth on the topic, she told me she was surprised at how mature I was throughout the process and resolved that we could go see a movie together as friends at the Fantasia film festival this summer. To which I agreed. It was her surprise at my maturity that inspired the topic of this blog post.

She had several very poor experiences breaking up and refusing to continue to pursue dating men which certainly influences her statement. Again, I won’t comment further on that, but rather than take it as a backhanded compliment I view it as a matter of pride. When I first started dating, I felt frustrated at my lack of establishing this fabled “connection” every woman I met described. It was the realization going into something with a partner who was already having doubts would potentially lead to a less than fulfilling romantic relationship. I told her she didn’t owe me anything but implied she owed it to herself to make the right decision for her. I would rather see her happy than to have to feel the need to make an effort to make me happy. I want to be with a woman who wants to be with me wholeheartedly (of course the feeling has to be mutual).

While I was disappointed things didn’t work out, I made a friend out of the experience and learned several things in our two dates. I’m also disappointed it comes as a surprise to others when myself or a man in general takes rejection with maturity. It speaks volumes of how hard the dating scene can be. My resolution is if the next woman isn’t “Ms Right” to continue to be a positive example for my gender.

Compatibility doesn’t mean chemistry

So over the early Summer I met a woman with whom I shared many interests. She was very much a geek at heart but it never truly clicked the way I had hoped. I saw her several times hoping chemistry would develop further but it never came. As I was contemplating ending the relationship on a romantic level, she seemingly began avoiding me, followed by cancelling dates, not responding to calls or text messages and removing all contacts. The first hint was she wrote she felt she was stringing me along. So perhaps she felt the same way or sensed my own apprehension. I suppose it worked out for both of us to an extent but I do feel bad it ended in that manner; I did want to remain friends.

This experience goes to show common interests doesn’t necessarily translate into chemistry. I’ve written before about attraction at various levels. While I was certainly intellectually stimulated, the other aspects never reached a crescendo. On an emotional level, I didn’t feel like I was falling for her beyond liking her as a person. From a physical level, she wasn’t my ideal body type but it’s the least important of the three for me.

Compatibility is certainly important in maintaining a long term love, but I think it’s fair to say one needs more out of a romantic relationship than just compatibility. There has to be that mutual attraction. Even so, this opens other questions: “What is love?” “Have I ever experienced it?” “How would I describe it?” I think this is a very personal question we all have to ask ourselves. We all have our own specific wants or needs. I tend to view things from the former rather than the latter. I don’t need to be in a romantic relationship. I don’t have any desire to absolutely be with my partner all the time. Instead, I view it more as wants: I want to find someone with whom I can share our lives together. I would like to start a family under the right circumstances. I feel I am someone who has a lot to offer in a relationship. I don’t need to be romantically involved because of loneliness. I view relationships as something that enhances life and experiences.

I’ve never had a truly long last relationship because of several factors, my own failings or faults included I might add. I started dating late because not so much a fear of commitment but rather fear of hurting someone I would grow to care about at a profound level. Along with low self-esteem at the time due to my physical appearance and inability to truly feel lonely, I did not try to connect at that level with others. However, going back to the subject of this post, I had not met a similarly compatible person until this Summer beyond anything platonic. I tend to be attracted to women who are very different from me. It was interesting and fun to meet someone on the other side of the spectrum even if it ultimately led to nothing but some fun memories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 and counting

So I recently started dating again after the end of my last relationship. Things started on the right foot with a couple of first dates here and there. We didn’t establish good enough chemistry to pursue the relationship further but I did feel less anxious about proceedings and being more comfortable in the context. And then a streak-slump hit.

I’ve had 10 first dates in a row cancel at the last minute or plain stood me up. This was then followed by the ghosting treatment from all but a single exception. I’m not quite sure what to make of it. Now, I understand if they didn’t want to see each other again after a first date, but this is just strange behaviour. Nine out of the 10 were women I encountered over Tinder. So I’m curious if this is a “thing” common with the dating community that started sometime in December to February or limited to users of this app. Full disclaimer here, I don’t “DTF” or look for casual sex. The dates were all with women with the expressed mutual intent of finding a potential long term relationship partner.

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand it’s a rejection but doesn’t carry the sting following an actual date. I can rationalize it away in thinking “her loss” or “if she acts like this, I’m better off”. A sentiment others have expressed to me when I answer questions about my romantic life. On the other, this is a trend and a big waste of time on my part and to the women in question.  It’s becoming a running gag of mine to make myself laugh at the situation. To my friends who aren’t dating, it is validation for their “bachelor 4 life” attitude. Those in couples view it as a scare tactic to stay together and not go back to dating. Either way, it’s very demotivating but you got to dust yourself off and try again.

 

How my introversion gets the best of me

My most recent relationship fell through after a little over a month. I caught the flu from her, a teacher with a much better immune system than I, which knocked me on my ass pretty hard. Nevertheless, she was very understanding and came over several times to keep me company. I really appreciated it. It was the first time I was actually able to sleep with someone else sharing the same bed. I’m an extremely light sleeper and wake up quite easily after years of being on pager duty.

When I finally recovered enough to go back to work, I was swamped to catch up and horribly behind on chores and the like. Through this all, I needed as much energy I could muster. As I am inclined to do in these situations, I “shutdown” everything else in order to recharge. Sadly, this included keeping up regular communication with her. While we did message each other twice over the span of a week, she thought I had lost interest in pursuing the relationship. This was not the case. Her doubt grew into something more. She felt she needed space and I agreed to give her all the time she needed over the Holidays except to wish her merry Xmas and happy new year. I won’t share further the why as it isn’t my place to do so. Inevitably, this original doubt led her to profound self-reflection and she regrettably found she no longer felt anything special towards me. We pledged to remain friends and even went out to see the Star Wars movie a few days later.

This isn’t the first time this bad habit of mine surfaced. I have constantly tried to work on it but sadly, this failure is on me. I make no excuses and have to accept the consequences. What troubled me most was when she expressed regret for having these feelings  (doubt and wanting to be alone). I told her she doesn’t have to apologize for her emotions. Not to me nor to anyone. She’s a grown woman. I’m unhappy with myself for having hurt her feelings.

 

Dating détente

It’s been a while since my last blog post about dating. Since that post, I’ve dated three separate women. None simultaneously obviously. I am of the mind if you want a relationship to work, you need to put your full commitment into getting to know a person and developing chemistry. Even from the initial stages. As the title implies, things never worked out as I had hoped.

The first was going very well until she learned I was a Boston Bruins fan. Now, living in Montreal this can certainly be problematic as the rivalry with the home team can be raucous at times. Now, I’d have to be pretty anal to make that a deal breaker. Not to mention short-sighted seeing as I am certainly in the minority in the city. She called it off after the fourth date (when she learned I was a Bruins fan) stating she felt it wouldn’t work long term. Obviously, my rooting interest in hockey wasn’t the only factor but it certainly played a role. Online dating offers subscribers a virtual catalog of potential suitors. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of looking for alternatives as soon as you discover something that doesn’t suit you perfectly. Que sera, sera.

I went on eight dates with the second woman. Unlike the first, this woman was a die hard Habs fan (the previous was more a casual fan). However, she did not have any issues with this and in fact invited me to a pre-season game. Hawks won 5-1! Again, things were progressing well. However, I could sense a certain discomfort from her body language. She explained she was a very nervous person in general and had seen a psychologist about it to no avail. In response, I didn’t want to make her feel pressured or awkward and so I took things slow. Eventually she texted me the day of what was to be our ninth date informing me she didn’t feel enough of a connection after so many dates.

The third was a woman who works in the same field as I and we share some tangential interests. The conversation was pleasant but I called it off after two dates. She had asked if I saw potential long term. I never felt any romantic spark. It usually takes me longer to reach that conclusion as you never quite know someone after two brief dates. Of course, there are the times you know fairly early. So I decided I rather gain a friend than just another “failed” connection.

What spurred the subject of this blog post was the most recent communication I’ve been contacted over. Now, perhaps I have developed a more discerning eye or maybe I’m too picky. In the back and forth exchange over mail I can foresee a strong possibility this won’t work. I’ve asked her in two different ways about her interests or passions and both times she downplayed these or relegated them to the mundane. This doesn’t fan the flames of excitement or generate much interest. I am a very rational person, and often described as “the calm one”. I tend to be attracted to women who tend towards the more creative or passionate side of the spectrum. I am reluctant to write “emotional” as there is a negative connotation to the word which implies the person is moody, mercurial or temperamental. Obviously, I’m not looking to be with someone emotionally unstable, but a woman with emotional strength and confidence in expressing herself.

At this point I’ve decided to spend some time focusing on my personal development and taking a “you call me, instead of I call you” approach. Improv has been an uplifting experience so far. While I was reluctant to move on while the majority of my classmates decided to remain in level three, I want to move forward. My goal in the end of all this is to evolve as an individual and perhaps eventually better partner for whomever I do end up meeting.

Red Flags

It’s been a while since I discussed my dating life. I rather not comment on something in progress, but the topic of red flags did come up. It made me think, as I am prone to do, on some of my failures on the dating scene for failing to pick up on these red flags. In essence, red flags for those who might not know, are just warning signs of behaviour or aspects which are deal breakers for someone in a relationship context.

I indirectly touched on this topic in one of my posts. However, that was just the tip of the shit iceberg. Shitberg if you prefer. So without further ado, here are some of my “learning moments” in dating.

Plan B 

This is a pretty straightforward one and which I encountered earlier this year… with 3 consecutive women. In this case, I was an alternative for the woman who didn’t seem ready to commit to a relationship. I was the “fall black plan” whether it wasn’t working out with their current love interest or “until something better showed up”. Long delays between responses or constant last minute cancellations despite apologies it would not re-occur. The most egregious case was one where after not seeing each other for two months I stupidly agreed to see the woman again. We were to meet at the Old Port near the Science Centre. About a half hour before our date, she sent me an email saying two of her friends would be along with us. Too late to back out, I still went. However, in my defense, I had intended to confront her in person about this before proceeding with the date. I didn’t appreciate being taken for granted and the parameters of the date being changed.

Due to transporation issues with the metro (subway for non-Montrealers), I was 15 minutes late. I was without my cell phone due to having to lend it to a coworker who lost hers. I have a corporate cell phone you see. A situation I had explained to my date. Anyways, I waited about 20 minutes at the agreed meeting area and she was nowhere to be found. There was an office party taking place in a reserved area and I went to the front and asked if the woman in question was an invitee. To which, the organizers confirmed she was. So, the only reason she had invited me was because it was convenient to meet after a social event. The organizers were kind enough to allow me to go into the private area but she wasn’t there either. Mildly irate, I left and met some friends I met at improv for Karaoke. Later that night, the woman sent me an email asking me where I was and so forth. When I explained I arrived, she admonished me for not getting in touch with her. She had waited a whole 20 minutes before leaving. Considering the numerous times she cancelled at the last minute, I did not deign to dignify her admonishment with a response.

The Ultimatum

The ultimatum came from the third woman with whom I had more than 1 date. She was a viola musician studying for her doctorate in music. After a pleasant first date, we agreed to meet again after my next 24/7 emergency pager duty week. Thus it came to my surprise when she called me on the Monday afternoon asking if I could give her a lift to a private concerto she was playing at. One I wouldn’t be allowed to attend. Already, being asked to be a chauffeur after a single date was not exactly polite. At the time I lived on the South Shore and her concerto was scheduled in the middle of rush hour. I ignored the warning sign though and went on to explain to her I couldn’t accommodate her request because I am obligated to respond to any emergencies within 15 minutes for work. If I’m stuck in the middle of traffic, I wouldn’t be able to do so. You see, she had never had a 9 to 5 job in her life despite being 30. Growing up, both her parents were artists as well. She did not understand the concept of a regular routine job. I chalked it up to ignorance and we saw each other twice more.

Nearly all my family members are in Europe and due to my parents eloping from Poland back in the day, I am more an acquaintance than an actual family member to my relatives. So when It was Christmas, I had volunteered to be on pager duty to allow my coworkers to spend time with their families. On the night of the 23rd, the woman called me and asked if I could come with her to her teacher’s Xmas lunch on the 25th. I explained to her once more I couldn’t and why but I would be happy to see her after my pager duty. She then told gave me the ultimatum: “If you want me to be your girlfriend, you have to quit your job.” I have yet to be unemployed.

Sugar daddy

We all have our “types”. For some reason, there’s a mutual attraction with Persian women. Those I have met in a romantic context were always well-educated and we did have good to fantastic chemistry. This woman however was not entirely fluent in English and she had recently been let go from her job. She was very preoccupied with her financial situation, which is understandable. During our first date, she would always steer the conversation back towards finances. It was difficult to maintain a positive conversation to establish rapport. I explained to her I would like to meet her again but perhaps at a time she wasn’t stressed out. She seemed to be genuinely nice person. Her reply was to accuse me of being selfish and calling my integrity in question. When that failed to persuade me, she tried to guilt me into helping support her.

As some people have told me, I am far too nice for my own good. I suggested she apply to my company and even offered a reference if she required. However, I did not want to be in a relationship with a foundation of guilt or where there is a power imbalance or dependency involved. I haven’t heard back from her since, nor do I wish to in a romantic context after the finale of the exchange. I’m hoping this doesn’t blow up in my face if she did apply over the last few months.

What men wish women knew commentary

Facebook recently suggested an interesting article on what men wish women knew [about them]. The author polled fifteen men on this topic. While it is a small sample size, articles like these are great clickbait and certainly provide inspiration for blog posts. I’ll cut out the authors commentary and offer my perspective on the answers and add a few of my own. This was quite a difficult blog post for me to share but if I shy away, this entire exercise would be pointless. So I urge you all to read on and feel free to share or comment.

We’re not always thinking about sex.

“Rule No. 1, it’s not just about the sex.” — Kris, 29

“Women assume men just want to bed them. That isn’t true. Much of the time men want to bed women in order to see whether they might enjoy it enough to continue bedding that woman for years to come.” — Jake, 29

I think age plays a significant factor. I recall sharing a video with a fellow coworker speaking on this topic. It will naturally flow into the next points from the author. Here’s the video:

The video’s demographic covers American university students. While there’s significant evidence indicating, contrary to popular myth, men do not reach their sexual peak until much later, I suspect this is a combination of testosterone and maturity (or rather the lack thereof). As a sidenote, she later punched me for doing so as she felt she couldn’t look at any of her friends the same again. Ignorance might be bliss, but I like to think I did her a service. Many of the men polled were older than the ones from the video which leads to the next answers…

We really do want platonic female friends.

“I don’t befriend women I just want to have sex with. Male-female friendships are way more nuanced than that. I just want to meet new people and make new friends. They help you gain new experiences, new perspectives, but that’s all I want. Nothing more.” — Mike, 23

“Men can befriend women just for the sake of being friends with them. I don’t need to be interested that way. It’s constantly something I think about too. There’s this expectation thrust upon men to have sex with them, but that’s not necessarily true.” — Ezra, 33

In our early 20s (and I’m not just singling out men but including women too), we are still forming our own identities which will more or less persist throughout adulthood. Anecdotal evidence based on my observations mostly confirms this to me and everyone I know. However, women tend to be more emotionally mature and I think this creates a gap in personalities and thus establishing common ground. Besides, if we find we don’t have anything in common outside or an interest outside of sex, well there’s no motivation to pursue a relationship.

Throughout my dating experience, several women have expressed their lack of interest in me as a romantic partner and instead stated they preferred to remain friends. At first, I wasn’t interested. I reasoned: “I already have friends.” At the time, my work schedule was pretty brutal and left little time for a social life. I defined friendship in a manner most people would categorize a “close friend” and everyone else as an acquaintance. All these factors along with my introversion, made me feel it wasn’t a worthwhile relationship to pursue as I wouldn’t be in a position to maintain the relationship at a meaningful level for both parties.

I’ve since realized this was a narrow-minded perspective. The last few times it has happened, I’ve agreed. Now, most don’t expect such an answer and quickly retract the offer or avoid any contact afterwards. The response indicates the woman was being disingenuous or just trying to be polite to spare my feelings. I’d like to think I’m made of sterner stuff. I grew up an anglophone with a clearly foreign name in a francophone community. I’m not a stranger to ethnic slurs so I can accept rejection. I appreciate the effort to act nice though. I’ve also offered friendship but unless it was mutual, it has so far been denied because the woman cited not needing more friends.

While there are plenty of dating horror stories, I’ve made a few friends too as I’ve gotten older and thus wiser. Humans are social creatures no matter how meek or introverted we are individually. Most of us derive some form of pleasure or comfort from companionship. I’ve been exposed to many things outside of my comfort zone or I was simply unaware of through these relationships. I am someone who enjoys helping and contributing to others and this has afforded me additional opportunities to do so.

Where problems arise is when these intentions are blurred or do not align between both the man and woman. Men, be honest in expressing your interest when approaching a woman and vice-versa. If you are the recipient of a stranger’s attention, do try to be open-minded and establish the boundaries of what types of relationships you are willing to pursue with the person in question.

My ideal is to seek companionship first. For any relationship outside of professional ones, enjoyment in each other’s company should be the first priority. My mother once told me it was pointless to try to match me with “bimbos” because I’d be intellectually bored with them very rapidly. Sometimes, mother does know best. I’m usually attracted to outgoing women I admire their social ease, engaging demeanour and outward fascinating personalities. A case of opposites attract I suppose. By getting to know the person will be what incites more intimate desires.

We’re not actually all after one body type.

“There are guys that want every body type, just like there are women who do too. Give us a bit more credit. Different people are attracted to different types of women.” — Damien, 26

“I have friends who are attracted to big girls, small girls — it’s not just one thing. I have friends who aren’t into that pretty bombshell type. Dudes have different tastes.” — Patrick, 29

“There’s pressure on men to have a body type [preference], even if it’s not the same expectation on women. Women seem to be more accepting. There are also guys that love every type of woman. There are guys that prefer every body type.” — Jackson, 27

I concur with the above statements. The misconception arises due to society, fashion or mass media’s attempts to deify or popularize certain aesthetics:

Today, I fail to understand the utter fascination with “big butts”. In the same vein, I never understood why so many men and women find Angelina Jolie to be among the most beautiful women (at least among celebrities). One of my good friends, an artist, has an obsession with women with enormously (almost cartoon-like) large breasts.

At 6’2″, height was certainly a factor once I decided to start dating. I began only approaching women 5’5″ and above until I dated a shorter woman. She listed her height as 5’0″ on her profile but she later admitted she had lied and was 4’11½”. To which I replied I’d allow her the lie of half an inch if she’d allow the same for me. Obviously, dancing would be difficult although not impossible; but it turns out I’m a horrible dancer so I don’t necessarily mind. I’ve since revised my “criteria” to 5’0″. Women, I know you might enjoy wearing heels but in the same vein you might be overlooking a great guy because of something he cannot realistically control when you state you will only date men 6’0″ and above. I say this despite it being against my own interests!

The other factor for body type can be summed up to fitness level. I used to be overweight. I did not like how I looked nor felt during that time. I don’t want to find myself in that situation again. It was a difficult process but my second proudest moment was when I got down to a “healthy” weight. Leading a healthy lifestyle is thus very important to me and it is somewhat of a deal breaker for me. That written, I don’t expect women to be supermodels. Your choices are your own! I also recognize pressuring someone to “get into shape” won’t work. The person has to want to do so of their own volition. I’ve dated overweight women, even those who weighed more than I do. What turned me off towards some physically was a lack of desire to perform any physical activity or effort to lead a healthy lifestyle. Those I did date, I tried to be as supportive as possible, offering advice from my own experiences or participating in activities together.

We’re self-conscious of our looks too.

“Guys care more about their bodies today than they used to. We know girls care about whether we’re in shape or not. Some guys think about what they eat or what they’re wearing. We need to look good now more than ever.” —Patrick, 29

“Not everyone goes as HAM as everyone else, but regardless of who it is, everyone puts some effort into their appearance.” — Ted, 26

I touched upon this in the previous entry but I can’t stress this enough and write that maintaining a healthy lifestyle should be something you do for yourself first, and for everyone else second. We only have 1 life to live (unless you follow a religion which believes in reincarnation), and you should strive to prolong it. I’m not vain in the least bit, but everyone appreciates a compliment on one’s appearance. It’s also a matter of respect. When going out to meet people whether it is on a date or with friends, do try to make an effort to show those around you are important enough to get out of your sweatpants.

We feel judged for our earning potential.

“A lot of women immediately look to what a guy does and how much they make, and it’s all superficial. It’s no better than when a guy says ‘I’ll only date a girl with a certain type of body.’ It’s judging someone based on only one thing.” — Paul, 26

“[I feel like some] women care about how much money you make. Having money makes life easier. It would be smart to want your life to be easier.” — Shawn, 27

I’ve never really felt this way. I disagree with Paul’s statement as earnings are often a reflection of one’s career or job and does indicate many things. Usually, high salary jobs are valued because of prestige or difficulty.

For better or worse, we are defined by our careers as part of a modern society. When we ask “What do you do?” it is implied we’re asking about the job. When we want to query someone on their hobbies or leisure activities we’ll articulate that or add “for fun” as if to devalue these activities. In more primitive times, this was defined as the ability to provide for a woman [and offspring] who often found herself with little sufficiency due to limited rights within society. Obviously, with women among the workforce, this has changed somewhat.

I am not a materialistic person. I view money as a safety net which enables me to pursue my interests, expand my knowledge, and obtain new experiences outside of my career and ambitions therein. Others might choose to derive satisfaction through social status through their belongings. To me, Paul’s statement might be due to his own feelings of inadequacy at pursuing his interests due to lack of finances.

Oh, and for not conforming to masculine gender roles.

“Men are often being judged through the same types of stereotypes women hate to be seen through as well. We’re told to ‘man up’ or stop ‘living that bachelor lifestyle.’ Stereotypes can be just as harmful for men. This ‘man-up’ culture is part of the reason people think men can’t emote.” — Ezra, 33

“If a man is emotional, it can be interpreted as lack of confidence, and that’s not what you want. Women love confidence.” —David, 25

Men have emotions too — especially nerves.

“When I have a date, my day can be ruined. It’d be hard for me to work, always jittery. The past year it’s been less so. I’m going to drink tonight before my date, because it’ll open me up more. It’s a form of being guarded. “ — Paul, 26 

“I get nervous before dates or meeting women. I am concerned about how I appear, or did I say the right thing. It’s completely natural. We have this awful stereotype that showing vulnerability or insecurity is not okay. Just because on the outside I’m stoic doesn’t mean we’re not really nervous on the inside.” — Ezra, 33 

“This week I cooked dinner for my wife [and] I was so anxious for my wife’s approval. Some of the most nervous I’ve ever been has been before our dates.” — Bill, 26 

“When you really like someone, you are nervous about doing something to mess it up or turn them away.” — Jake, 29

I combined both sections as I could not articulate an adequate response for one without responding to the other simultaneously. Ezra hits the nail on the head when he states we have an awful stereotype of the stoic caveman. I’ve documented before how I tend to over think or over-analyze myself or my interactions. I’m somewhat of a perfectionist in that regard. The best relationship I’ve ever had was one where I didn’t feel I was forcing myself to impress. What I wanted, was to be the best person I could be for her. I wanted to improve and mature as an individual not just for my own benefit but to see her smile or look back seductively, etc.

Yes, men do have these feelings. We all do. What matters is whether we can recognize them, what can we do to overcome them, and muster up the courage to act. This blog is my own way of overcoming some of my insecurities or flaws. I went to a karaoke bar and sang in front of a large crowd last weekend. I plan to join an improv group shortly.

We don’t actually care about your “number.”

“Sexually, guys want to know what you want, [not what you did]. Every woman is different, and we want to know what you want.” — Ben, 26

“I’ve had numerous sex partners. Why would I care if the other person did? Personally, I need someone who can handle my moves.” — Ted, 27

The only men who care about your number of previous sexual partners is if they are insecure about their own performance. They fear to come up short (figuratively and literally) in comparison to your previous partners. I waited a long time before becoming intimate with a woman. This actually led to some women feeling uncomfortable about being the “most experienced” in the relationship.

If there’s any advice I have to give to women on this topic, is to better communicate what you find enjoyable during sex. Men aren’t so proud as to spurn your requests unless their selfish pricks. One of the best compliments I’ve received was that I was a “generous lover”. We derive a sense of accomplishment and pride as a man in our ability to pleasure a woman; just as much if not more so than the act itself.

We don’t mind if you try to pay on a date, but know that you don’t have to.

“I’ve been on plenty of dates where women offer to pay. You just don’t want it to be held against you. In fact, it’s great when a girl says, ‘We both have jobs’ or ‘I can’t let you pay for all of this, you’ve already spent so much.'”— Jacob, 24 

“I don’t mind paying at all if we’re having an enjoyable time. There’s no owing for me paying for a date. All I want is to make it comfortable and enjoyable. And just because a girl lets me pay doesn’t mean I expect sex.” — Shawn, 27

I really don’t mind to pay the first dates. However, if you clearly do not want to see the person again for whatever reason, be courteous enough to offer to pay.

And yes, we’re totally down to see superhero movies with female leads.

“As long as it’s good.” — Aaron, 26

So long as Hollywood doesn’t feel compelled to have the heroine wear a chainmail bikini. Sadly, I have little faith a Wonder Woman movie will be any good because they’ll feel compelled to include a terrible romantic plot.

The “Law of Fuck Yes or No” to relationships

In response to my previous article, the woman I mentioned linked me another blogger’s post to further explain her feelings regarding our relationship. We shared a lengthy and insightful discussion and a better understanding of one another.

When I first started dating, I was very active on online dating sites but had very few responses. It became frustrating at times to write 20-30 lengthy and thoughtful messages over the course of a few weeks without getting any replies. However, by sheer volume I did manage to get several first dates but few follow ups. The common refrain was “you’re smart, funny, and handsome but I didn’t feel we had any chemistry” or variations of the same. As is my nature, I analyzed (and often over-analyzed) what went wrong, often laying the blame on myself. Sometimes, the fault was indeed my own (a topic for a future post) and others I should have been more cognizant to realize it was on the other person and move on. A co-worker who was also dating online suggested I read The Game. The sub-title immediately turned me off. I value my integrity and did not want to be involved in a relationship built on a foundation of emotional manipulation. However, I did research help.

The online dating industry, including matchmaking sites but also coaching, is very lucrative. The coaching focuses on attracting matches and first dates as opposed to establishing relationships. Sometimes, they might touch upon how to make sure to get that elusive second date. This is almost natural as the coaches have some financial incentive for people to never truly be successful if they keep coming back for more advice, seminars, whatever. I found Mark Manson’s article both interesting and refreshing (including his additional blog posts) because he doesn’t dwell on “techniques” or “tips” but cuts straight to the point: Do you truly want to pursue this relationship, activity, whatever? Certainly, it takes experience to recognize what you desire out of a relationship (whether romantic, platonic, professional, etc). After a first date, you might not have all this information unless you’re very thorough or really hit it off. In the former case, are you curious enough to find out more? I went through a phase of going on several dates with some women just to see if something would develop when I wasn’t really enthusiastic after the first. I rationalized it as “well, it’s not like there is someone else I am communicating with [through online dating] right now so maybe by learning more we might establish chemistry or common ground.” He refers to this as point 5 in reasons why people remain in bad relationships.

In conclusion, the article helped me better articulate to myself what I already somewhat knew but couldn’t exactly express with certainty. I don’t wholeheartedly agree with everything in the article: I’m personally uninterested in a “friends with benefits” relationship and have refused a few offers when the woman I dated offered it as an alternative. Nor am I interested in one-night stands, so while the body might say “fuck yeah” (I’m a guy after all), I’ll still say no because I value my own personal code of ethics. But one thing is certain, I’m going to sign up to that improv. group I’ve been thinking of.

Why I haven’t given up on dating… yet.

A woman I dated for about a month and change over the holidays shared an interesting article the other day on her Facebook page. The relationship ended amicably. While we were very physically compatible, we were both looking for more in a relationship. She didn’t feel her emotions for me developed further than our initial chemistry. In hindsight, I did have feelings for her but it was more of a slow burn which grew gradually rather than a passionate fire. Que sera, sera.

Analysis

The inspiration of the blog post is the article linked above.The author of the article recounts a story at a party I am all too familiar with. Back in CÉGÉP, I was vice-president of the Anime club before later becoming president; *geek swag*. The club’s early membership was mainly a sausage fest with a few female members who hung out but weren’t into the raison d’être of the club. Until the day when one did.

Immediately, the levels of testosterone in the club spiked to the levels of an aging bull (I did not make a typo there) around a cow in heat. While I was initially attracted to the woman, I quickly noticed the posturing between the other guys. Every single one of them bent over backwards to try to impress her without actually trying to flirt or flat out asking her out. I decided the whole affair would be more trouble than what it was worth. I resolved to befriend her, firmly entrenching myself in “the friend zone” as its mayor. Over the next year, I became somewhat of a mentor or older brother to her. Since her biological younger brother was kind of a douche, I’d like to think I promoted an example that not all men are terrible. Her dad was pretty cool too.

This didn’t stop the other guys from trying to sabotage a relationship they erroneously perceived as a stratagem to seduce her. All the while, I was oblivious to a woman pursuing me while her then-current relationship with her boyfriend was rocky. The competition was quite fierce until she finally succumbed to the more canny guy. I wished them both well, but they broke up over the following Summer. By then, the other guys had wallowed in their defeat and I maintained our friendship. We quickly grew apart once we moved on from CÉGÉP though.

There are some profound insights in the content of the article and the psyche of the author, but in some ways I disagree with one of the conclusions. The author claims “men ruined dating”. I briefly dated another woman last year who actually expressed the opposite. Her argument was along the lines of “why buy the cow when you get the milk for free?”. I.e. why would guys want a serious relationship if there are promiscuous women out there “ruining” dating for those wanting to settle down into a monogamous relationship to start a family.

How then do we resolve the conflicting view points? My take is both are right and wrong. It’s far too simplistic to lay blame to a single factor. There have always been promiscuous men. In fact, western culture (I’m not fluent enough in Eastern cultures to comment but I strongly suspect they do too) idolizes these men. There is a certain prestige to one’s status in male circles based on the number of partners one has had. Think Don Draper in Mad Men. One need but look at the field of marketing for exhibit A. As the male of our species, it is our biological imperative to reproduce. Seeing as we don’t have to deal with the gestation, the best way to pass on our genes is to spread them to as many partners as we can. With the population of the planet over 7 billion and counting, I can conclude we’ve been largely successful in this regard.

However, we also have the benefit of sentience. Our higher orders of thinking allow us to contemplate other thoughts and emotions between one another beyond those of other species other than primates and some other mammals. Some people are compelled to relationships out of loneliness. They feel incomplete and pursue a relationship out of the desire to fill a gaping hole within themselves. Others pursue physical gratification for the same purposes and go from partner to partner largely unfulfilled. With our higher brains, we do not necessarily need to establish a romantic relationship purely to reproduce. In fact, with concerns of overpopulation it might not be such a bad idea not to. Instead, we can find other qualities for which we can admire a partner and form bonds just as strong or greater.

I also find both conclusions to be somewhat offensive. On the first hand, the author blames most men for essentially being “pigs”. The other to certain women for enabling “men being pigs”. While I don’t dismiss there are some men who pursue only sexual conquests it implies there is something inherently “wrong” in this. The second conclusion then shames women for doing the same. I feel both opinions are judgmental. So long as those involved are forthcoming with what each other is looking for, what is the harm? Unfortunately, there are those who are disingenuous and will profess seeking something serious while really only desiring sexual gratification.

Why I’m still dating

I’m not the first to liken dating to a job interview, nor will I be the last. Yet it is also a learning experience. With each new encounter or relationship you learn something new about yourself, what qualities you are looking for in an eventual partner or exposition to a new activity or facet of life you never knew existed. Typical first date questions like “What is your favourite movie?” leads you to think: “What is my favourite movie?” (Jurassic Park for the record).

I am an only child of parents who eloped and later immigrated to a foreign country on the other side of the Iron Curtain. I was never surrounded by a large support structure or social circle. I’ve not only grown accustomed to, but also enjoy the silent moments of contemplation. I do not harbour feelings of loneliness but I do occasionally feel a euphoric high when around those I care about. I feel I have a lot to offer as a person and as a man. So I stubbornly pursue in hopes that I find a travelling partner to continue on the journey of a lifetime (literally).