Know Thyself…Maybe.

Disclaimer: This blog post is memoir. It reflects the author’s present recollections of experiences over time. Names and characteristics have been omitted or changed, some events have been compressed, and some dialogue has been recreated.


“So why didn’t you move things over to text message?” Sam asked about an hour into our first date.

We’d connected on Bumble a couple of weeks earlier and finally gotten the chance to meet for a drink. We sat in oversized chairs in front of an even more oversized fireplace, my left leg growing hot from its proximity to the raging flames. I kept catching myself thinking, ‘Is my skin really that pale?’ as I stared at my bent knee, my foot resting on the giant concrete hearth. I could see my snowy white flesh, nearly translucent, through one of the deliberate tears in my overalls.

I call them my emotional support overalls and wear them whenever I have to talk to single men.

Sam was 54 (to my 40) and, from his photos, a very young 54, skiing, surfing, and smiling in every picture. The Sam who walked through the bar doors was definitely 54, though dressed youthfully and sporting a playful grin. Throughout the first hour, he kept tapping my arm or leg whenever I said something funny and I decided I did not like that, thankyouverymuch.

“Well, I usually don’t give out my number until I’ve met someone in person,” I explained, wondering how on earth this man hadn’t caught on to that Online Dating Standard Operating Procedure.

His question had come out of the blue. I wouldn’t have even remembered that he’d sent his number except that I had just reread our entire (brief) Bumble chat history before meeting up as a refresher. He hadn’t expressed any concern about it at the time and I figured he understood that that was outside of my comfort zone.

“Really?” he pressed. “I always do and I’ve never had anyone say that.”

I furrowed my brows. “My friends and I almost always wait to give out our numbers. Once you meet and see if there’s a connection.”


I almost laughed in disbelief. “Wellllll….have you ever heard that [Margaret Atwood] quote about how men’s greatest fear of women is being laughed at, and women’s greatest fear of men is being murdered?”

“Have you ever had anything scary happen?” he asked skeptically, angling his body farther away from me. “I haven’t.”

“I’ve definitely had some creepy things happen,” I nodded. “Statistically speaking, women are far more likely to be abused and killed by men they know, as in, in a romantic context.” Seriously, dude? Have you seen any Netflix documentary, like, ever?

“I know for a fact none of my friends are murderers.”

I resisted the urge to scoff. Well there you have it, judge and jury. None of the men in this guy’s life are known murderers. They must not exist and I’m just overreacting.

“The men who kill their partners or exes are beloved friends, coworkers, neighbors… Love and unrequited love situations can result in even a ‘nice guy’ doing very bad things.” I didn’t bother telling him about my personal proof. Or about how the leading cause of death in pregnant women in the U.S. was HOMICIDE. He wasn’t listening.

“Well, I don’t think it’s a big deal. Besides, I have better things to do with my time than blow up someone’s phone who’s not interested,” he replied, bristling just slightly.

I nodded, noting that our entire dynamic had shifted. He’d mentioned being liberal and earning a Masters degree from a very prestigious east coast university. Apparently they didn’t cover Obvious Facts and Topics to Debate, Um, How About Never, Let Alone on a First Date with an Internet Stranger.

“Well, I should probably go check on my dog,” I said in a chipper voice a few minutes later, trying not to sound too obvious that I was just trying to get the hell out of there. I was proud of myself for not doing my usual, ‘Let me get the next round’ bit in an effort to be polite and salvage the evening. I had bumped into a few friends at the bar and decided I’d walk out with Sam and double back to hang out with them, beyond caring if he realized that that was my intent.

“Nice to meet you and talk soon,” Sam said briskly, giving me a quick hug outside before taking off towards the back parking lot. The tone in his voice let me know I probably didn’t have to worry that he’d be in touch.

What the actual f$@%, I thought as I walked back into the bar to join my friends. How did that man hit 54 and not learn about Dating Safety 101?

“Ya gotta try younger guys,” I had started to regularly joke with my single girlfriends. “They are so fun and woke and sensitive.”

By and large, any time I’d tried dating older men, especially a decade or more older, it went very poorly. Also, why didn’t this dude just drop it? I thought back to my other date that week, Neil, a 43-year-old father. It had been a second date and the moment he’d walked in to play trivia with me, wide-eyed and easily distracted, I’d known we weren’t a match. When I texted to politely tell him I wasn’t interested in a third date (after he had suggested a plan), he replied,

“I agree we aren’t an obvious match but I felt there was enough there to explore more. […] I’d love one more chance to see if there’s anything there.”

Turning someone down once is awkward enough; now I had to do it twice? And how could two people have had such a different experience of the same night?

The older I get, the more I realize how subjective our individual experiences are. AND IT’S FORKING TERRIFYING. Here’s a palate-cleansing photo to help ease the terror.

Sam’s ignorance about domestic violence and Neil’s persistence were hardly the most unsettling dating experiences this year (…and it’s only March).

“Damn, you still look marvelous.”

When Paul reached out on Hinge two months ago, I rolled my eyes and replied,

“hahaha hey Paul. Say hello to my friend Rachel the next time you two hang out. I’m looking for something serious, but thanks for the compliment!”

Paul and I had gone out a couple of times in late 2021, making out and making plans to see each other a third time. He flaked more than once and I finally wrote him off, my feelings hurt. Fast forward six months later and he matched with my friend, Rachel.

“Go for it,” I said when she showed me his profile. She didn’t realize I knew him and was simply asking if she should go on a date with a younger guy. I told her about our brief history and added, “He’s a nice guy, you’ll be safe. And if you’re looking for something casual, he fits the bill.”

They wound up hanging out a number of times and I realized it was, in fact, kinda awkward. Moving from New Jersey to central Oregon was eye-opening in many ways, especially in terms of small town dating. It was all starting to feel…incestuous. So when Paul again reached out via text a month later, I wasn’t entirely surprised.

“I’m curious to explore things with you,” he texted. “I know previously the timing/availability for me didn’t line up and I’d very much understand if that door is closed for you. If it isn’t fully closed, I’d love to meet up sometime soon to reconnect.”

I wasn’t planning to reply, but when my friends saw the text, they unanimously urged,

“You should give it another try! That’s a great message! You liked him before, right?”

“That was a long time ago,” I said. Sure, he was a nice enough guy, but I’d been through a lot over the past year and a half and had learned much more about who and what worked for me. A sober, quirky, 29-year-old rock climber probably wasn’t going to cut it. “But okay, fine.”

“That depends,” I wrote to Paul. “How many vegan dinners are you prepared to buy me?”

Yes, I can be bought.

We texted quite a bit after that and Paul assured me he was earnest in now wanting something more serious in his life. When we met for dinner a week and a half later, he did indeed pay, but also interrupted me countless times while we talked about our careers for three hours. I wasn’t sure if it was a date or a networking session, but nevertheless, the time did pass quickly.

“The energy between us feels much different this time around,” Paul said. “Much more calm.”

“Huh,” I replied, nodding, trying to remember the specific vibe of our earlier dates. “I guess I was in a much different head space then. Yeah. You’re right.”

“So can I see you again? Can we make a plan right now? How about Friday?” he asked once we were outside saying goodnight.

I was always impressed when men boldly showed their interest through making rock solid plans. I found myself agreeing.

“Sure, yeah, I think I’m free on Friday.”

For our second date, we met at a Thai restaurant and Paul was late. As soon as he sat down, my body had a visceral reaction. Oh hell no. He had a huge, flaky piece of skin on his lower lip and with the natural light flooding through the floor to ceiling windows, I could see his teeth were yellow and plaque-covered.

Dental hygiene. It’s my top thing. Besides wine and not getting murdered.

For the next hour and a half, I let Paul dominate the conversation and finish all of my food, occasionally dropping suggestive comments.

“That skirt is really short. I love it.”

I tried not to grimace and changed the subject.

“So do you think you can get past the fact that I’ve hung out with Rachel?” he asked towards the end of dinner. I stared him dead in the eye.

“I don’t know. Honestly, I’m a little butt hurt that you stuck your tongue down my throat and then ghosted, and went on to hang out with my friend regularly.”

Paul looked embarrassed and tried to deflect. “Yeah, but who sent the last text message [between us back in 2021]?”

“I don’t know! Wait. Okay, so it was you, but you totally blew me off! You kept saying you were busy or sick.”

Paul chuckled sheepishly. “Yeah, okay, that was a weird time for me. I was kind of going through a ho phase.”

He continued to pepper in flirty comments and I knew in my gut it wasn’t just a phase. When the bill arrived, I grabbed it and insisted on paying, my way of closing the door completely to…whatever this was.

“What should we do next?” Paul asked. I had already been rehearsing my reply in my head.

“I’m going to go hang out with my friends,” I said bluntly. He knew they were also downtown at a nearby bar and I couldn’t wait to get to them.

“No problem,” he replied, to his credit, gracefully. “I’m exhausted so I’ll probably just head home.”

“I’d love to do this again soon,” he said when he hugged me goodbye.

“Yeah… Have a good night!” I replied, taking off in the opposite direction.

“WHAT WAS I THINKING,” I blurted as soon as I was surrounded by my beloved gal pals. We were all squished in a cozy corner at an upscale bar and I felt like myself again.

Gal Pals: the only remedy to online dating.

I’d chalked Paul Round #2 up to an ego boost, but later that weekend, I realized it was much deeper than that. I had wanted to believe that I wouldn’t have just made out with, and gotten slightly hung up on, a guy with whom I didn’t have a genuine connection. Meeting Paul in 2023 was an attempt to prove that we clicked and I was pursuing something real, not casual. Anything else -though it can work well for others- would have been in conflict with the vision I held of myself.

But Paul wasn’t a match. Far from it. Nor was Neil. Or Sam. Older, younger, my age, it didn’t really matter; they just weren’t right for me. And that was okay. Maybe soon I wouldn’t agree to second dates, let myself be interrupted, offer my meal, or debate open-and-shut topics with wildly incompatible men.

Maybe in knowing myself just a little bit more with each bad date and heartbreak, I was getting closer to finding the person worth my time and energy.




What Women Want Single Guys to Know

“You’re buying [next time] since you made me put on pants and do my hair, right?” I texted, attaching a selfie.

“Absolutely! You’re so gorgeous,” Jake replied.

I put my phone down and sighed. I’d just spent 90 minutes on my First Date Fabulosity Routine, only to have my date, Jake, bail at the last minute.

Bad move, Jake.

“I had to run my roommate to urgent care. Kidney pain apparently. Doing okay, on meds now but still stuck here. I feel so bad!” he had explained.

I took his word for it, and we rescheduled for the following Tuesday. In the meantime, he texted daily. When Tuesday morning rolled around, Jake wrote,

“Another belt snapped on my car last night.”

“So it sounds like we should postpone,” I replied, not wanting a repeat of last week, where I sat alone on my couch with perfect hair.

I debated throwing in the towel, clicking over to Jake’s Hinge profile. Dammit, he’s really cute.

“So now that your car is back in action, should we try this again?? Third time is the charm?” I texted the next day.

“Yeah! Tomorrow night? I have an orientation tomorrow morning and don’t want to be groggy.”

“Tomorrow works for me!”

In the early afternoon [on the next day], I texted,

“Hi! How did orientation go? Just confirming plan for this evening. …5? At [a food truck lot]?”

“We just finished, 5 might be a bit too early. I’d like to take a shower and all that when I get home.”

“No problem – just let me know what time works for you!”

Since I had the green light, I hopped in the shower around 4pm and began the plucking/curling/poofing/pulling [on tight pants] routine.

“I’m pretty nervous to be honest,” Jake wrote at 4:30pm.

He wasn’t the first guy to admit this and I responded with my usual reassurance.

“Aw really? I’m really chatty and bubbly and have lots of great (terrible) dating stories and I ask lots of (easy) questions if that helps. As long as you don’t show me YouTube clips of you surgically removing your big toenails or say that you have an alien blood type that doesn’t get COVID*, you’ll be golden. *based on true stories.”

“The f*ckkk,” he wrote back.

“See? Nothing to worry about.”

“I’m still nervous.”

“Well then let’s get you a beer, stat.”

“I’ve still gotta shower… Had a little [outdoor ski] fun [after the orientation]. Just got home.”

I looked at the clock. It was 5pm, so I figured I had an hour to kill and poured a small glass of wine. My phone binged again.

“I hate to even ask this but I’d do the same time tomorrow at [the same food truck lot].”

I stared at my phone in disbelief, a series of possible responses flying through my head. What came out was,

“Lol ummm.”

When he didn’t reply right away, I added, “What happened?”

“Just not feeling it right now,” Jake said.

I felt heat rise from my neck to my face. Is. He. F@&%#. Kidding. Me?!?! I immediately started texting my friends. A few minutes later, my phone sounded again.

“Nothing personal, just not feeling like drinks and people,” Jake added. It was now 5:19pm.

I thought of a hundred different responses – all of the things I wanted him to know about how inconsiderate, selfish, and hurtful this was. I wanted to tell him how many times I sucked it up and SHOWED UP -for dates, concerts, work events, birthday parties, bridal showers- when I wasn’t “feeling it.” How many times I was dying on the inside, but smiled, asked questions, and tried to make the other person feel valued. This guy couldn’t put on pants, drive seven minutes away, and spend 90 minutes letting a cute blonde carry the conversation? After already bailing twice? To make matters worse, he’d even had a glimpse into my beautification process after the first time he’d bailed.

At least the crazy ones showed up and bought me a drink, Jake!

As my mind raced with potential replies, I realized the best thing I could do was simply unmatch him on Hinge and archive our text message thread. Any of my emotional responses would just make me look like as much of an asshat as he did.


There’s a reason I love having a blog.

And thus, I give to you:

Thanks to the wonderful women [of all ages and marital statuses] who shared their utterly badass advice. We hope you’ll pay it forward and pass this along (and share your own advice in the comments section)!

Men, please do the following: 1) Be on time. 2) Do what you say you’re going to do. 3) Be kind. 4) Know yourself (as in, don’t string me along if you know we aren’t a match).” -Lora L.

Be honest, be yourself, don’t play it too cool (i.e., three day waiting period on follow up communication). If looking for a relationship, give reasonable time to get to know a person before rushing to judgment, but be upfront about not being into the other person so you don’t waste their time. Oh, and come with your own condoms. (I would tell the woman to always have her own, too.) Get your junk checked between partners. And expect to be asked.” -Anonymous

Advice for men dating women in their forties: Forty-something women generally have their shit together and have low tolerance for men who are not self aware. Bring your best self and we are good to go. :)” Signed, Jen O.

Don’t do any of this.

1. Don’t show up in sweatpant shorts on the first date 2. Don’t cry about your ex on the first date 3. Be funny 4. Ask your date questions 5. Clip your fingernails 6. Dont say offensive things like “trump is a gift from heaven” or “COVID isn’t real” unless you are certain the other person feels the same way 7. Don’t talk about how much you miss living with your mother 8. Learn to play the guitar 9. Be open to new experiences 10. Show kindness to animals and waitstaff 11. No whining or complaining on the first date 12. Don’t flake when you make plans unless there is a bonafide reason 13. Don’t say you’ll call/text when you have no intent to do so 14. View dating as an adventure and have fun with it! 15. Meet in a public place in case she’s a psycho 16. Don’t be clueless, learn to read social cues 18. Do not, under any circumstance, send a Dick pic unless clearly requested.” –Pam @ I Choose This

As some f&@&* questions. Don’t make her carry the conversation. Be more interested than attempting to be interesting.” -Taryn D.

Don’t misrepresent yourself. Don’t paint yourself in the light that you think the woman wants to see, so that you seem perfectly compatible. Be honest about who you are. She’ll find out anyway.” –Donna Rubin Design

Oh. Is that your singing voice?

1) Don’t put photos of your children on your dating profile. They have rights to privacy. 2) Asking questions about your date’s interests, hobbies, skills, family, life, thoughts, etc. is a nice, human thing to do and shows you’re interested. 3) I feel like a bad feminist for saying it, but pay. Pay for the first round. It shows respect. 4) We don’t care how many animals you have killed. We don’t want to see the dead fish pic. 5) Is it time to get sexy? Make sure she comes first. Period. If I just want you to pound out my sadness, I’ll tell you. Otherwise, I prefer real, reciprocal sex.” -Anne K.

1) If you know what you’re looking for, be upfront about it. The worst we can say is no. But, isn’t it better to be on the same page? It’s definitely a dick move to pretend to be looking for something more serious when you really just want to hit it and quit it. There are people out there of all genders looking for anything from one night stands to long term monogamy…find the one that wants what you want! 2) It’s okay not to know what you want. But be honest about it and/or try to practice some impulse control and take things slow until you figure it out. 3) Consent is sexy…informed consent is sexier. Have the conversations about birth control, protection, and STI testing. And (obviously!) be respectful about boundaries there. 4) Don’t be afraid to start the conversation. I don’t remember the last time a man I dated initiated any conversation on the above topics. It’s exhausting to always have to be the one to bring these conversations up! I would hope that -even if we’re just banging one out and going our separate ways- that you would care that I don’t get hurt emotionally or physically. It’s just basic human to human decency and dignity. 5) If someone (doesn’t matter if it’s your wife or one night stands) sends you the gift of a nude, UNLESS SHE EXPLICITLY TELLS YOU TO SHOW THE WORLD, you keep it to yourself! I want you to see my tits – not your weird best friend!” -Allie D.

Don’t lie about your height.” -Anonymous

Be clear about your intentions and feelings. If you intend on just having sex and not getting emotionally involved, say so. A dick such honesty does not make. The dick move is in making us think you’re interested in an emotional connection and over time hurting us by not giving it. Also, be willing to pay. Unless your date is clearly in a better paying job than you (which statistically is unlikely), the person who makes more should be willing to pay more. Since that is likely you, respect our plight with glass ceilings throughout time and plan to pay. Lastly, respond to messages within 24 hours and include a reciprocating question or follow-up item. Stop assuming women will lead every bit of a conversation. It’s exhausting.” -Shawna W.

The first word that came to mind was respect.  I don’t know if I’d say ‘treat your date with the same respect as you would your mom,’ but something like that.
Respect covers a whole lot of things like honesty, being on time, knowing how to listen, and not talking about weird stuff or your ex (at least not at the beginning, unless it’s really funny, then maybe). Hygiene does come in a very close second, though.  Maybe even that comes under respect; respect yourself enough to take care of your body and think about how that will impact your date.” -Babs S.

It all just boils down to: be nice and don’t be a jackass.” -Anonymous

Hear that, Nick?

1.  We don’t need you, so calm down. 2.  Manners go a LONG way. 3.  We don’t want a mental dump of your life, let’s start with your favorite food. 4.  If something turns you off on the first date, we feel it too, so be honest. RED FLAGS: 1.  Mentioning a bad relationship w your family, it is fine if it exists, but let’s not jump to what Christmas w the in laws could turn into on our 1st date. 2.  Disrespectful behavior while out on said date (rude to waitstaff, impatience, etc.). 3.  Odors…. In general….  A shower and scrub is always needed pre-date. 4.  DO NOT BATHE in your cologne. Things that are well received: 1.  Genuine smiles. 2.  Sharing of stories, letting the convo go where it goes. 3.  Showing a picture of your fur baby (if you have one). 4.  Talking about something you have passion for (hiking, outdoors, photography, your work, etc.). -Dorothy Z.

Recurring Themes

Buy (at least) the First Round

Be Upfront About Your Intentions

Help Drive the Conversation

As for my advice, well… here’s what I would have said to Jake [if I’d thought he’d have been receptive to feedback]:

As someone in her late 30s who’s been married and dated a fair bit, perhaps I can impart some wisdom from down the road so you don’t miss another opportunity with another amazing woman: If you’re absolutely forced to cancel on a woman (whether it’s at the last minute or not), do everything in your power to make it up to her. She has likely arranged her entire day around meeting you and put extra effort into looking nice. If you’re lucky enough to have the chance to try again, show up with bells on. In the initial dating stages, don’t ever, EVER tell her you’re ‘just not feeling it’ when you have plans to hang out. She’ll have put her cutest outfit on, done her hair, and been ready to carry the conversation; the least you can do is show up. Canceling last minute, no matter the reason, conveys selfishness and inconsideration – hardly the hallmarks of a stand-up guy. If she has any self-respect whatsoever, you’ll send her running for the hills. Best of luck, [Jake]. I’m sure you’re a great guy and smart enough not to make the same mistake tw- ah, four times.”

Really, though? I think it all boils down to this:

Figure out how to make her feel safe and seen, and she’ll gift you with her whole self.


What’s your advice?



The Gloves are Off: Another First Date Flop

Last week I told you about Mr. Saturday, Kyle: our shining star in the latest round of, “How Much Worse Can It Get? Dating Edition.”

What you couldn’t have known, even if you’d read every word of that post with your jaw quickly migrating south, was that I’d been on the heels of another eyebrow-raising first date, Mr. Friday, Nick.

Nick was also a cute guy in his 30s with whom I’d texted back and forth for a few days before meeting up. He mentioned that he didn’t drink, so we made plans to meet at a local park.

Oh, you don’t drink? ha ha, yeah, I don’t really either. Before noon.

It was fairly chilly in central Oregon, especially by 6pm, and I wondered how to look cute and warm at the same time. I settled on black sneakers, black winter leggings, a black crop top turtleneck, and a puffy jacket that hugged my waist so I (hopefully) didn’t look like a shapeless blob.

I stuck gloves in my pockets and pulled my hair into a low ponytail, anticipating a breeze with bite.

“I’m leaving now,” Nick texted once I was already sitting in the parking lot waiting. (In case you’re curious: out of the past nine first dates, only one has shown up before me.)

When he finally arrived, about 15 minutes late, he gave me a hug hello. He looked like his photos…mostly. A little rougher around the edges, with pockmarked skin, but tall, good hair, and he’d clearly just showered. (Sadly, that last bit is noteworthy.)

“Are we going to box or something?” he said as I pulled on my gloves.

“I think you’d win,” I replied in a chipper voice, my stomach dropping. What the hell kind of joke is that for your opening line? These gloves aren’t even big! “You know, I’ve never punched anyone.”

Will that change tonight, Nick?

“Why are you wearing gloves?” he pressed, his voice laced with sarcasm.

“It’s like 40 degrees!” I laughed, still trying to make light of it. Are we going to keep talking about this?

We walked over a scenic wooden bridge and Nick paused to take photo. He didn’t make eye contact and seemed on edge. My stomach continued to plummet.

“I hate this town. Everyone’s so clique-y,” he snarled as we walked down the sidewalk, heading downtown.

“I’ve heard a couple of people say that,” I replied, making an effort to catch his eye and smile to see if he’d soften. “I got really lucky because I had some friends when I moved here.”

“My friend is a bouncer over at [a bar],” he said as we got closer to town. “Do you know where that is?”

“I think so,” I answered. It was becoming clear that Nick, a California transplant, didn’t know our town very well, underscored by the strong scent of cologne trailing behind him. No one -no one- in central Oregon wore cologne. “I always get the two main streets mixed up, but I think it’s this way.”

Does he want to go to a bar? He said he didn’t drink.

“Nah, he’s not working tonight. Let’s go this way,” he steered us to the left. “Did you hear about the guy who just got shot downtown?”

“What? No!” I exclaimed.

“Yeah, my friend saw the whole thing. Some black guy was beating the sh*t out of this white guy and finally the white guy shot him and now everyone is saying it’s like a black lives matter thing, but the dude had it coming.”

Nick’s voice had gone from sarcastic to chilling and I swallowed, wracking my brain for a reply that wouldn’t trigger him.

“That’s awful,” I breathed. And so are you.

Only 25 minutes into our date, I started trying to figure out how to make a break for it. We were now standing in a brick-lined courtyard near the river, several vendors and a band setting up beneath white tents. Nick started walking towards a coffee shop.

“I didn’t bring a mask,” I said.

“Me either,” he replied, and proceeded to poke his head inside the coffee shop.

“Excuse me, sir,” a sweet-faced security guard cautioned. “You can’t go in without a mask.”

“I’ve got my skin mask on,” Nick growled, but came back outside.

I stared at the security guard with wide eyes.

“Help me,” I mouthed.

Did he just say “skin mask”?

His eyes twinkled as he laughed and mouthed back, “Blind date?” I nodded.

Soon, people filled the courtyard and the band started playing.

“I can’t wait to get out of this town,” Nick moaned. “I sold my house and I’m moving next month.”

“Oh wow,” I replied. “Congratulations. Great time to sell.” Good riddance.

“Yeah, this town is ridiculous,” he went on. “One time I was watching TV at like 4am and I heard this noise. It was a couple of tweakers in my garage, robbing me. So I called the cops and they were like, ‘Well you’re a vet[eran], right? Can’t you take care of it?’ So I’m like, what the f*ck, and all of my guns were upstairs. Eventually they left and the cops came, but they thought I was making it up! Like some PTSD bullshit. So they wanted me to get a psych evaluation and I was like, fine, and then I was stuck in the hospital for four days. And when it all finally went to court, the cops never showed up, so the whole thing got dropped.”

“That is an unbelievable story,” I replied, my mind spinning in circles.

“Do you have any crazy stories?”

“Uhhh, not that crazy,” I said, no longer even trying to make eye contact. “I went out with this guy once who showed me a video of himself surgically removing his toenails. While we were eating dinner.”

Nick’s face was blank in response. I started to panic. How do I get out of here?!

“This band sucks,” Nick snarled. “A bunch of white guys playing reggae. God.”

“I’m gonna take off,” I blurted before I said something I might regret. Not realizing what was to come the following night, I had just ended my quickest date of all time: 40 minutes.

“Okay,” Nick replied, looking surprised. To his credit, he didn’t ask questions. But he did follow me a solid half mile to our cars – because he couldn’t remember where we’d parked them.

I pulled away quickly and beelined for the supermarket to buy a bottle two bottles of wine. With my gloves on, thankyouverymuch.



I Lasted 48 Hours on Tinder

“We met on Tinder!”

“…And now we’re engaged!”

“It’s really not just a hook-up app anymore.”

In recent years, I’d heard testimonials trumpeting Tinder as, “No Longer the One Night Stand Dating App You Used to Love to Hate.” Nevertheless, given that I wasn’t a big fan of dating apps (or, let’s be honest, dating), I’d steered clear.

Two years ago, when I moved to Oregon from New Jersey, I’d been single for two years. Free from marriage, Corporate America, and east coast humidity, I decided it was time to fire up Bumble (a dating app similar to Tinder in its swiping, but where only women have the power to send the first message). Let’s see if the scene is any different now that I live 3,000 miles away from my hometown.

Arguably, it was far worse in my new, small town (as the story linked above will prove). In New Jersey, the most densely populated state in the U.S., you could go weeks without bumping into a familiar face. The likelihood of running into an ex or bad first date in Bend, Oregon, however: 113%. (Give or take.)

I quickly gave up and resumed my usual lifestyle: Friends, food, fur babies.

If only I could date him. Side note: My fur baby is famous now.

There was always the nagging thought that perhaps I’d “given up” versus consciously deciding to bow out of the dating scene.

“You’ve gotta put yourself out there!”

“It takes time to meet the right person.”

“Give him a chance!”

Despite honing my gut instinct over the past 38 years, the din of the masses still got to me. Maybe “they” all knew something I didn’t. Maybe everything I thought was right for me was just a way of protecting myself from getting hurt. Maybe I was going to DIE ALONE OH MY GOD I DON’T WANT TO DIE ALONE.

And that’s how I got sucked in -AGAIN- to downloading a dating app on my phone last week. This time, I bit the bullet and chose the infamous Tinder. I swiped right, I swiped left, and I periodically put down my phone to hide under a blanket.

As matches and messages trickled in, my heart raced. Not in the good way. More in the clammy, “it puts the lotion in the basket,” low-level dread kind of way. Okay, Jules. Maybe you’re just talking yourself out of a good thing. Maybe you need to just get a post-COVID date out of the way. Break the seal.

I fired back a couple of overly clever replies to two men. Ugh. No. I can’t do this! I don’t want to meet any of these people! Who knows who they really are?!

I’d been on enough online dates to know that, no matter how many photos and phone calls you exchange before the first meeting, you’re still going on a blind date. And does anyone really want to go on an endless series of blind dates?

NO. BECAUSE IT’S WORSE THAN SYPHILIS. Or so I’ve heard. From a friend.

Let me put it this way. The best online date pales in comparison to Netflix and pasta. And involves far more prep time.

Do you think this just happens?!

Within 48 hours, and long before I could exchange more than two short messages with anyone, I deleted my Tinder account. I briefly entertained the fantasy that some of my matches fell to their knees, shaking their fists at the heavens, crying, “WHERE DID SHE GO? WHERE?!?!?!”

A few nights later, I shared drinks with a couple of girlfriends, and the conversation turned to our exes.

“I just got this random Facebook message from my ex’s new girlfriend. Look.”

She showed us her phone, which displayed a long string of messages: “I hope you don’t mind me reaching out. I know you dated [him] a while ago and I just have to know… did you experience anything like this? He’s gotten really emotionally and verbally abusive, accusing me of cheating and calling me all of these names and I just don’t know what to do.”

My friend was too afraid to say much in response for fear that this ex had created a fake account and was in fact the one messaging her. “Oh my god he’s been doing that to me!” the new girlfriend wrote. “Creating fake accounts…stalking me…”

“I still fear for my life from one of my exes,” I chimed in. “Everyone knows who to arrest if I go missing.”

Hint: It’s not Uncle Jesse. Even though I know he’s still plotting his revenge after this haircut.

“Yes!” my friend exclaimed. “Every woman I’ve talked to has a story like this!”

A familiar feeling rose in my chest. A mix of nausea, compassion, and curiosity. All of the “scary ex” stories always made me think, “What are we [as a society] doing wrong? This can’t be the result of testosterone overload. If our male counterparts could express hurt, sadness, and fear freely, would any of this happen?”

The very next morning, I woke up to a ‘New Blog Comment’ alert. Someone from, with whom I went on one date six years ago, had commented on a blog post from 2015. I had written a post about our first (and only) date and… apparently it didn’t land well with him.

He also took the time to create a fake email address and website to leave this comment.

I scratched my head. How did he even FIND this? I don’t think I ever mentioned that I had a blog, I always change or omit names, and I try REALLY hard not to say anything seemingly cruel… In fact, I had intentionally framed the post as, “This bizarre thing happened on a first date: what would you do to handle it?” to avoid coming across like I was maligning the man.

(In a nutshell: After our first date, this fella started sending me a cappella karaoke clips he’d recorded on his phone, and some other things I wasn’t quite sure how to react to, like a LinkedIn connection request and an article he’d written many years earlier [which he copied and pasted, in its entirety, into a single text message].)

After rereading the story several times, I definitively concluded that the post was funny – and harmless. Also, half the reason I’ve suffered through dating is for the stories.


Still, I cringed. I’m sure it can’t be fun to stumble on a blog post about you, even if it’s innocuous (…and six years old). More than that, though, I felt that same swirling concern. Why? Why do we exist in a world where hurt and pain (or simply bruised egos) become violence, cruelty, stalking, and aggression?

Here’s a situation where I spent a few hours with someone -a perfect stranger- six years ago, never saw him again, and now I feel unsafe. Perhaps the most disturbing part is that my inner monologue shouts, “Well. You blogged about him. YOU’RE ASKING FOR IT.”

Sigh. If anyone wants a pasta and Season 4 “Breaking Bad” binge, hit me up.

Ah. That’s more like it.


I almost don’t want to ask this, but: Any similar stories or concerns you’d like to share? Or, what do you think we can each do to create a safer, kinder world?