Tag Archives: real life dating

Action Not Intention Will Determine How Long I’m Single



Single moms are sexy. And if they play tennis… Well… I’m getting the picture.

Relationships are a force of nature. When we don’t have them we suffer from loneliness, boredom, ennui. When we do have them we suffer from feeling smothered, codependent, and overwhelmed. And of course, there’s the up-side. When your single the options are limitless. You’ve got online dating sites, apps like Tinder, and all the potential dates you could possibly imagine. And a lot of free time to spend searching, buffing yourself up, and putting your best foot forward.

I was in a cardio workout yesterday with two very attractive women. I was noticing my own joy at just being around them.

As I begin the conscious move away from online dating and into real-time dating, I’m aware that it takes a lot more energy to actually go out. In truth, we get lazy. We think that browsing online profiles is kind of like dating. We tell ourselves we’re upping the odds by adding our own hopes and wishes to the online pool of potential partners. But mostly, for me, I’m understanding that I’m lazy. The effort is 100% up to me. And some nights, even when there’s a known woman at a known event, I skip it.

I’m understanding more about what’s going on when I opt-out in the real world.

  • Online dating (the browsing and contacting part) is easy. There’s very little risk. It takes very little energy. And, in theory, you are browsing hundreds of available women in your area.
  • Online profiles cannot translate any of the feeling part that you get when you’re in proximity with another person. When there’s a spark, you can feel it, before anyone has spoken. Without it, well… you’ve just wasted an evening and several dollars trying to find out.
  • Even great pictures AND great txt/emails don’t equal a match. I’m learning to reel it back in a few notches. I used to engage in long romantic chats with potential women only to be sadly disappointed when we finally met.
  • The lack of energy required to “date” online is equal to the energy you are going to get back. Feeling lazy, too lazy to go out? No problem whip up OK Cupid and cruise the internet a bit.

So what are some of the things that make putting yourself out there in the real world more challenging? What are the things that keep me at home on a Sunday morning, when I know there’s a spiritual service nearby that is likely to include several attractive single women?

  • I’m not feeling too great about myself. This can be energetic, spiritual, or physical.
  • I just don’t have the energy to put my a-game together.
  • I’d rather do something else.
  • I’m afraid of rejection or looking like a fool.
  • I’m just a little bit comfortable in my aloneness.

But in two years of seeking, I can tell you that a love poem is never going to get the girl. It might get someone interested. It might even illicit an email when it’s published online. But it’s only the intention without the action. It’s the romantic longing for romance without the risk. It’s not easy to get excited by someone and be let down by their lack of resonance. I was just looking back over a near miss post from a few years back. (See: Met My Match)

The women in question has popped up on OK Cupid again. She still looks as delicious as she did. Well, she’s using the same profile and the same pictures, so of course, she looks good. And she reminds me of how I can imagine everything is ON when it’s not. What she showed me, for the first time since my divorce, was dating and finding the right combo of looks, intelligence, and joy, is tough. It’s not as easy as flipping through some profiles, having a nice hello and … even after two hours of inspired conversation… it’s still a NO?

Okay, so what’s different for me now? What needs to be different in 2015 for me to find my next relationship, not date. I’ve had two dates since my divorce. I’m interested in moving out past the three-month mark, making a statement with someone. (Probably not adding them to my Facebook profile picture, but that’s a different story.)

I know what I have to do.

  • Focus on myself.
  • Be radiant and potent in my walk through the world.
  • Get fit because I deserve to be stronger, healthier, and more energetic.
  • Go out even when I don’t feel like it.

I was in a cardio workout yesterday with two very attractive women. I was noticing my own joy at just being around them. I did not have any designs on them. I did not proposition either one of them. And the banter during the workout was hilarious and untethered to any idea of “dating” or romance. Oh, I guess I should mention, they were both married. BUT… two weeks ago, when the same two women were in the cardio class with me, I’m certain that the “friend” was not wearing her ring. A certain antennae perked up in my brain and I noticed how I took her in with slightly different eyes, imagining that she was a single mom.

Single moms are sexy. And if they play tennis… Well… I’m getting the picture.

Dating Goal: I will take specific actions to meet single women who play tennis.

Parenting is a life journey that I’ve committed myself to. My partner should have the same orientation. And tennis, being my favorite sport, is a passion that if shared, can unlock a lot of positive feelings and shared time together.

New direction. I must find a parter for the mixed doubles league. And yesterday I took a step in that direction. I asked one of the two women if she knew of anyone who would be interested in joining a mixed ladder as a team.

She smiled and asked, “Would you prefer a single woman?” The banter between us was rich.

“Well, that would be a double win, but not necessary.” Then she delivered the kicker.

“I’d do it, if I didn’t already have so many commitments. But I’ll give it some thought.”

Just those two little ideas generated a nice warm fuzzy inside of me. She would… She’ll think about it on my behalf. And because I know we already get along (this woman has been coming to the cardio class for months) I can imagine that she will. And of course, she does have a lot of women friends who also happen to play tennis. And maybe that happen to be single. Who knows. It’s not about her or her friends, it’s about the intention, the idea, and the action.

NEW 2015 Dating Goal: I will take specific actions to meet single women who play tennis. WIN WIN.

Always Love,

John McElhenney

This post really began with these two ideas:

And this earlier run at online dating:

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image: it’s a bit frosty on court 6 this morning, cc 2014 john mcelhenney, creative commons usage

Offline Dating: Setting Intentions and Actions in Real Life


Let’s start with an assumption: you are looking for the next real relationship of your life.

Now let’s look at what’s wrong with online dating.

  • Primarily based on photos.
  • Photos can be retouched, enhanced, and from much earlier times.
  • Most profiles begin to sound the same (long walks on foreign beaches, red wine, and having fun).
  • Most of what you see in someone’s profile is what you want to see.
  • Many people are just playing on dating sites, just like Facebook, they’re killing time.
  • The “matches” are usually so far off, sites like eHarmony are actually depressing.
  • Age is just a number.
  • A lot of men and women lie about their age.
  • There’s no way to sense chemistry via an online profile, email, phone call or text. (Phone calls do get close, but it’s 2-dimensional rather than 3-dimensional.)

And there are some myths about online dating that might be more marketing than reality.

  • It ups your odds of finding the right person by making a lot more people available for dating.
  • Many people have found the love of their lives using online dating sites.
  • It’s better than the bar scene.
  • There are 1,202 women who match your search criteria.

Um, yeah, if there were that many women, that were attractive, charming, smart, and had a creative passion in their lives, I’d already be married again. As it is, I’m not even dating. And the one person I dated from an online dating site, WAS super, but she’s one out of at least 45 dates and perhaps 1,000+ out reach requests I’ve put into the system.

So what are the alternatives to online dating? If I’m not going to browse and click my way into a new relationship, what’s it going to take?

Here’s what I think.

For me, chemistry is part sexual attraction and part magic. There is no way to get a hit of either of these things online. But when you experience them in real-time you know it immediately. With that understanding, I think there are a several real world criteria that might help me find a relationship in 2015.

Spiritual But Not Religious. What this means to me is the person may or may not go to church, but their spiritual belief system is strong and vibrant in their lives. With that essential element to my perfect mate, I can assume that she probably attends some of the following places. Alternative churches in my city. Yoga studios all over town.

Health Conscious. I’m more likely to meet my next mate in a Whole Foods than in a McDonald’s. I’m not sure how you go about meeting someone while shopping, but I guess if people are putting out the “hello” vibe you can sense it. I need to be more observant, more conversational, more open to nuance and fresh produce.

Active Lifestyle. (Tennis and trail walking are my two favorite pass times.) She’s got a fitness program of her own, for sure, but wouldn’t it be amazing if she also played tennis? What if I started there? What if I actually worked at networking through some of my tennis friends to find a mixed doubles partner? The one woman who I dated since divorce, who played tennis, was a total turn-on when she smacked a top-spin forehand. Why wouldn’t I want to do my favorite sport *with* someone? Okay, note to self: tennis networking – priority number 1.

Creative Living. I went out on a couple dates with a woman who kept repeating, “You’re so creative.” At first I thought it was a complement, and I’m sure she meant it as a complement. But what I started realizing, is she was saying, “Wow, you are *so* creative. I am not very creative. I’m amazed by creative people.” Oh. So, I think I need to be with another creative person. Because this writing and songwriting isn’t going to happen unless I preserve some alone time. My perfect mate has to desire alone time as well, and when we come back together, has to be able to bring some of her creative energy.

Mind Over Body. I’m probably not going to get my six-pack abs back. I’m probably always going to have love handles. So I’m not looking for a body-builder girlfriend to admire and worship. What I know is my mate has to be happy in her own skin. If everything is about fitness and diet and beauty, then I’m going to be left behind. And probably a bit bored. We all need to work on our health and fitness, for life. We all need to live with as much vitality as possible. If fitness and working out gives you that jolt, go for it. (I know tennis does it for me.) But let’s hook up in our mental space as well. We’ve got to spend a lot more time talking than lovemaking.

In Joy. Happiness is not something you can buy or learn. (Though you can work on it.) Happiness is the feeling you get when you are around someone positive and hopeful. If I learned anything from my last marriage, it’s that I am very hopeful and very positive, sometimes to a fault. But that’s also who I’m looking for. Someone who smiles more than frowns. Someone who wakes up each morning with wonderment and a stretch towards what’s possible.

Intense and Low-Key As Needed. I am most jazzed when I’m performing. I do have type-a driven characteristics and when I’m ON I push hard for what I want. But I also have a quiet repose, where I recharge and relax. I do want someone who can jolt up with me and climb the mountain. And then the next day uncoil on a beach for a day without any objectives or requirements. In contrast comes my power and pleasure. Let’s spark one another and massage one another as needed, in the moment.

I cannot catch a glimpse of the above characteristics from an online dating profile. And sure, over time, over the course of a few dates, I could get there, but what if we just started in reality? What if we knew what we wanted and showed up at those places in those ways to be seen and to seek? That’s the real world method of communicating and that’s what I’m planning for 2015. This year, every time I get the inclination to open Match.com I’m going to make a concrete plan to do something in the real world that will put me in contact with real women.

I’ll let you know how it goes. (grin)

Always Love,

John McElhenney

This post really began here:  Why Online Dating is a Distraction and Not a Solution and continues here: Action Not Intention Will Determine How Long I’m Single

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image: yoga girl and boy, cc 2014 john mcelhenney, creative commons usage

Why Online Dating is a Distraction and Not a Solution


Yes, I know the statistics. All the happily married couples from online dating sites. Well, I don’t buy it. All online dating sites, regardless of the flavor or method, are more like Facebook than real life.

Here are a few examples of where online profiles don’t tell the truth.

  • Pictures lie. Even recent pictures, when taken with the right light, can make a NOT look like a HOT.
  • Words are made up ideas. Yadda yadda, we all like beaches and wine. Music maybe.
  • Chemistry is impossible online. You can’t imagine how that person will feel when you are together.
  • The mind is wonderful, but even eloquent emails and text messages can add up to zero when you meet.
  • Some people are on dating sites for the entertainment of the idea and not to date.

Yes, it is true, online dating sites up your odds of meeting people you might not otherwise ever come in contact with. But why is that? Because you come in contact with people when you are out and about and doing the things that are important and fun to you. There’s a reason that an extroverted creative type like me isn’t going to naturally run across an introverted mathematician. It’s because we have so little in common, virtually zero over lap. And while the idea of “getting to know someone” is intriguing, you’ve got to start with some common ground to establish a relationship.

I was feeling the miss on a deeper level, but I was trying to make it all right. I wanted “her” to work.

So I’m bored on a week night and we have some unscheduled time. I can choose between a lot of different activities.  I could go out and get some exercise, that would be good. But barring the self-improvement regimen for a minute, I could

a. spend time on Facebook chatting about nothing,
b. spend time on Match.com browsing faces for a hit, or
c. do something creative.

What I’ve come around to lately is that c. is the only good answer. Let me explain.

Facebook seems like community. We call it social media, but it’s becoming more just media media. They’re showing you approximately 8% of your friend’s status updates and messages. The rest… is Facebook. Pabulum. Media. Consumerism. Today Facebook is a lot more like TV than it used to be. After taking a 99 day break from my FB habit, I’m happier and more productive. I’ve dipped back in a little, but no more hours socializing.

Online dating may also seem like a beneficial and worthy activity. But because of the illusion of social media, we might think we have a pretty good idea of who these “potentials” say they are, and what they look like today, but we don’t. It’s simply not true. Profiles on Facebook or OK Cupid are very similar. You put your best pictures up, your best accomplishments, and your little quirks. Except on dating sites you don’t get to see the quirks. (Well, OK Cupid’s questions sections are full of quirks, and kinks, but that’s a different conversation all together.)

Creative process is where I grow as a person and as an artist (writer, musician, poet, whatever). And as I am growing myself up, and growing into my creative energy I am also putting out more energy and more joy. You see, I think this dating thing is all about joy. It’s a little bit about looks. And it’s a little bit about thoughts. But the chemistry thing, I think, is all about mutual joy. Do you feel it when you are with someone or not? If you feel joy at the sight of someone, there’s a hit. If you feel nothing or something less than nothing (negative) that’s also an indicator of where things might go.

I spent a good part of a week getting to know a new woman recently, and I could see the potential. I could admire her good looks, dark eyes, and flashing wit. And yet there was something that was not coming across. I couldn’t decipher it right away. I was hopeful and encouraged by our initial and mutual glow. And her persistence in getting back together again the next day. “Spontaneously.” I loved that. “Yes, yes, yes,” it said to my brain.


In my joyous engagement I was missing something from her that I couldn’t identify. I thought I was listening well, responding well, and behaving well. I thought we were moving things along nicely. But I could only make those assumptions about myself and my own thinking. While she was sharing a lot about life and asking a lot of questions about me, she wasn’t really lighting up. She was reserved. She admitted to being an introvert. I initially thought, “Oh, that’ll be interesting, to see how I am in relationship to an introvert.”

First, I must become the lover I hope to meet, by becoming large enough to call her in, without the help of a dating site.

And even in the real-world, with all of our faculties between us, the miss between us was something deeper. And after three “dates” and the promise of an actual “date” for the weekend ahead, I was feeling good and yet still mixed. I walked away from our meeting wondering, “Am I’m pushing this one along? Am I making this one happen? Am I trying to construct my lover?”

I think I was. She pinged me the next morning saying she’d considered our time together and felt it wasn’t going to be a match for her. She was canceling the date. And would catch up with me spontaneously as the occasion might arise in the future.


I was feeling the miss on a deeper level, but I was trying to make it all right. I wanted “her” to work. And that’s when I understood it was time to kill my online dating profiles. I WANT a relationship too much. My focus has gotten lost in all this browsing, assessing, and pursuit. What I really need to pursue is my dream and my creative output.

I have time for a relationship. I have the will and the energy. I need to put myself and my life in the places where “she” already is. In real life, not online.

Sure, I will have another great love. First, I must become the lover I hope to meet, by becoming large enough to call her in, without the help of a dating site.

Always Love,

John McElhenney

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image: dining alone, john mcelhenney, cc 2014