Tag Archives: real time 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:

back to Dating After Divorce

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

back to Dating After Divorce

related posts:

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

What A Single Dad Wants In the *Next* Relationship


[Feb 2016 Update: Dating a Divorced Dad – Version 2.0 Updated]

Let’s Hook Up, Wait. I Mean, Let’s Go Out On A Date…

We’ve both got some history under our belt, kids, and some requirements for what’s OK and what we simply won’t ever do again. (Red Flags, we like to call them.) As we navigate “dating” again, we quickly realise the rules are very different. Our experience gives us some distinct advantages in terms of recognising what we don’t want. And perhaps our unfinished wounding might keep us from starting the dating process again.

Don’t miss the exciting conclusion of this single dad’s journey:
A Single Dad In Love, Again

Rules for dating a single dad.

(I’ve got two kids and a full-time job, but I’d still like to find time to be with someone.)

1. Let’s not rush into things.

I will admit that getting back out there, for me, as a man, initially was about sex. Today, I think sex can get in the way of learning if you like the person. And if you’re going to do more than lay around in bed with this person, you’d might want to go easy on the seduction moves at first. Get to know if you like talking to, as well as looking at your potential partner. I don’t have any hard rules on this. But if you slow the drive to the bedroom you might avoid getting mixed up in something purely physical. It can blur your vision when trying to figure out if you want to hang with this person for the long run.

2. I’m Looking for 100% Pure Connection

Half my life is behind me. I have two beautiful kids. And I’m happy with myself, just as I am. (I’d like to keep getting fitter, but my joy is genuine.) In several previous online dates I found myself sitting across the table from very attractive, usually younger, women who had nearly nothing in common with me. I could see myself eyeing their bodies and trying to imagine the sex, but I stopped myself, pretty quickly, even with the fantasizing. It takes a lot to get to a second date with me. Today, I’m even getting pretty stingy with first dates. I don’t want a “date.” I don’t want nice. I want my next relationship to start out with the potential going the long distance. I’ve never been a casual dater.

3. I’m Into Moms

If my date doesn’t have kids, they probably don’t have much in common with me. At our age kids are either a choice you made or one you didn’t. And nothing against the non-parents in the group, but I’m so wrapped up with my kids, that if you don’t have that same passion and joy, we’re probably going to have to look for things to have engaging conversations about. If you have kids, we’ve got an immediate starting point for everything. Trying to talk about your kids with a woman who’s not a mom… Well, they just don’t get it.

4. Let’s Be Clear About This

Games of any kind are an immediate time out. Passive aggressive might have worked in some other decade, but as adults, we should’ve gotten that silliness out-of-the-way. One thing I will tell a first date, “You can ask me anything. In fact, I prefer the hard questions. I’m trying to learn the answers myself. I will always try to answer honestly.” And the one relationship I’ve had since my divorce, went right for it. And while we are no longer a relationship we went through the whole process, getting to know each other >> dating >> breaking up, without any drama. None. We’re still friends. That’s how it needs to be. Let’s do without all the crazy stuff.

5. Brutally Honest

If it’s not a fit on the first date I’m going to try to let you know as gently and as quickly that it wasn’t a fit. I think that initial attraction is something that we can’t really control or completely predict, but I also don’t think we can do without it. I have created a dog metaphor to help me explain what I’m talking about. And I usually share this concept on the first date. (Hmm. Maybe this explains a lack of second dates.) Here it is. Two dogs meet up in a park. Either 1. both tails are wagging; 2. one tail is wagging; or 3. neither tail is wagging. It’s as simple as that. I was born with a Boston Terrier’s body. I can be several different sizes of Boston Terrier, but if you’re into whippets and poodles, we’re probably never going to be a match. And there’s no accounting for taste. I think some of this is hardwired.

6. The Spark Is Only a Start

If the chemistry (tail wag) is ON, there are still a ton of steps along the path before we’re in a relationship. We need to have intellectual compatibility. (If I’m a reader and you’re a reality tv junkie, we might not go the distance.) We need to synchronize our schedules over time. (Kids, work, and all the other stuff we’re just remembering we love to do) have to be the priority. It may take several months to get in our first four dates, but… Like I said earlier, we shouldn’t be in a hurry. And then we’ve got all the negotiations about how and when we want to see each other. (Let’s not start with jumping in bed or looking at vacation calendars for a while. Okay?)

7. Fearless Commitment To Monogamy

At first divorce may seem like we’ve gotten the key to the kingdom of sex again. It’s not that easy. If that IS what you are looking for, go for it. I won’t be in your queue. If we do decide to sleep together I want to know that we’ve just become mutually exclusive. That might be a stretch if you’re playing the field, or not sure about what you want. It’s not difficult for me. By the time we get past 1st-base I’m letting you know that I am into you. And if you want to go further, we’ve got to establish some mutual objectives. (If we’re about to sleep together I can assure you we’ve had this conversation.)

8. Feeling the Feelings

Men are often accused of not feeling their feelings. And, in fact, feelings can be scary for both men and women.  But as we begin navigating our time together we’ve got to be able to talk about whatever we’re feeling. The beauty of that is feelings include the ability to fully love. So when opportunity arrises I look forward to being 100% present with my feelings. There might have been a disconnect on those terms in my previous marriage. But I’m a learning individual. I know that I feel deeply and I enjoy being expressive of those feelings. If feelings scare you, that might be something for you to look at. Feelings are the key to compatibility, in my opinion.


I look forward to having another opportunity to learn about myself “in relationship” at some point. I’m happy and patient right where I am. But I believe by having my priorities clear and articulated I can do a better job of finding and sorting through the process of finding that NEXT RELATIONSHIP. I wait enthusiastically.


UPDATE: Responding to a comment on another site about this post, I’d like to share a few more observations.

Thank you for your comment. Here are several points where I think we need more discussion.

1. Dating younger women. Yes, I selected these potential dates and knew their age, and also that they had not ever had children. My post shows some of my learnings as a result of these mistakes. It’s pretty telling for both men and women when their profile says they are 50 and they want to date partners who are 30 – 40. I’m not that guy. I’m pretty clear about wanting a woman who’s experienced a lot of the world. And in that model they’ve probably had kids, and are generally within 5 years of my age, on either side. My one girlfriend since divorce was a couple years older.

2. Straight to sex. Hmmm. This is one I try to cover in the post in several different ways. If this is the case, we are not a fit. (I can only speak from my perspective, not your’s, or her’s.)

3. Who pays, who is the predator, and who’s demanding sex? I agree with many of the things you say are wrong between the relationships between men and women. I am not an apologist for the cultural norms that have stacked the deck against those of us who are trying to elevate the discussion about it all. And I think our culture’s focus on youth is way off base. But I’m not sure porn is any more the driver then the Miley-Cyrus-type circus of celebrity and mainstream media. Our culture feeds on extremism. And it has an effect on all of us, adults and teenagers.

The discussion I am hoping to facilitate is the antithesis of these issues. That’s why I am trying to come out with my individual perspective that seems to be different from the experiences you’ve had. We learn. We evolve. Or we don’t. I am hoping to get better, clearer, and more honest with each attempt at being in a relationship.

I really do appreciate you taking a chance and voicing your opinion. We (men and women) need to have more frank discussions about desire, sexual preferences, and how we want to relate to each other in and out of the bedroom.


I didn’t “find myself on a date” I realised during the date, with an attractive woman who was within my desired age range who happened to be younger than me and not a mom. It was my realization that we had nothing in common (yes we seemed to have a lot of spark on txt messages and via email) once we were sitting at a table together. It was a moment of finding myself, not discovering that she was younger. I discovered that I wasn’t interested in this attractive, younger, woman for a variety of reasons I tried to articulate. I understand the knee-jerk reaction. There are just as many women in online dating who do the exact same thing. Again, that is not what I am looking for. And sex is way off in the future, for ME. What she might be thinking, her motivations for sitting at the table are for us to discover, hopefully, via clear and honest communication.

Always Love,

John McElhenney

The Dating a Divorced Dad series continues:

New Dating Strategy in 2015:

image: tennis girl smelled so nice, austin, texas, july 2013 – john mcelhenney