Monday, 30 July 2012

First Date

Hopeful  7    Hopeless  2

I had my first date on Friday.  It was not just my first Plenty of Fish date, it was my first date in almost seven years.  It was also my first date with someone who has almost a decade on me.

How does one prepare for such an occasion?  I hardly know.  I suppose I had kind of been psyching myself for a few days.  But most of the day I felt indifferent, almost numb.

Usually, when I say I am "psyching myself for something", I mean it in a positive way.  On Friday, it was not positive.  I was telling myself to not have any expectations (which in itself is not a bad thing).  But by expecting nothing this time, I kept thinking that nothing would come of this date.  I was bordering on negative expectations, which is unlike me.  I was convinced, however, that by the end of an hour or so, one or both of us would find the other a deal breaker.  The reason that came most readily to mind was that either he would find me too young or I would find him too old.  I would thereby have discharged my duty of having given him the benefit of the doubt and the matter would be settled.

I did my homework until about 4:00, then began to get ready.  I still hadn't done my day's exercise, so I did a fifteen minute swim.  Then I jumped into the shower to wash off all the sunscreen and chlorine.  I shampooed my hair and shaved my legs in order to be presentable.  The only thing I couldn't seem to do anything about was this huge zit right in the middle of my cheek.  I then packed my purse, had supper with Mom and caught my bus.

On my way, I began to think that I wasn't really giving Brian the benefit of the doubt or a fair chance with my lack of expectations which were turning into negative expectations.  I began to see all of these thoughts unravel and realized that I needed an attitude adjustment in order to be fair to him.  Anything less, I decided, would be unkind.  I don't know how much I was able to adjust in such a small space of time, but as much as possible, I tried to stop the negative thoughts.

We had planned a neutral meeting place: the Mont Royal metro station.  I arrived late.  You can never plan enough fudge time when taking public transit!  I felt nervous, but finally I was only five minutes late, so not too bad on the whole.  When I got to the top of the escalator, I saw Brian nearly instantly.  I wanted to be sure, so I used his name to verify.  Before I knew what was happening, he was exchanging the polite French kiss-on-each-cheek greeting.  My Mom had suggested that I prevent this with a handshake when I said that I hoped he wouldn't do that.  He beat me to it.  It's really not my thing...

As planned, we walked from the metro to find a spot to sit and have coffee.  Naturally, we ended up on Saint-Denis.  He checked as to whether or not I mightn't prefer a beer, but I re-expressed my preference for coffee, er tea.  So we walked into a place called Aux deux Marie.  I ordered an Irish breakfast tea: my favourite!  Brian had coffee because he said he needed a caffeine boost.  It was pretty quiet, which really suited me.  The waitress asked if we were taking separate bills or just one.  Obviously my brain was operating on slow, because I only had time to open my mouth before Brian was saying "ensemble!"  Normally I would argue and insist on paying for mine.  But my mouth simply closed and I didn't push for it.  All things considered, by the end of the evening, I didn't feel too bad about it.  Brian found out over the course of the evening that where he is employed, I am not, so that I'm sure helped.  I also had to listen to him for an hour and a half, so that was compensation enough!

Before we had even selected a place to have coffee and settle in, he had already started a lively conversation.  I say lively because that is the politest word to describe it.  He spoke quite constantly and with a fair amount of rapidity.  He had already fired off several questions to me before we had even sat down.  On the way there, he had already ascertained things like what program I was in, how long I had until I finished my degree, whether or not I had a summer job and a few other things.  By talking about such things, we had already touched on the subject of my illness, so since he kept asking me about it, when we sat down, that is what I opened with.  It is not the first thing I want to talk about usually, but that's how it turned out.  Unlike most other people, though, Brian wasn't delicate about how he asked; he didn't say anything like "if you don't mind my asking" or something like that.  In any case, I explained to him that my problem is neurological, so it affects pretty much all aspects of my life.  After all, everything in the body is controlled by the brain.  I explained that it mainly affects my energy levels, my heart rate and that I experience a variety of symptoms, such as dizziness, migraines, trembling, etc.  His reaction was that he is lucky that he has nothing to complain about like that.  Essentially, he meant that he counts his blessings and feels lucky not to have any health problems.  However, I noticed the "me" focus in how he expressed it.  I filed that for later.

Then we flit across a wide variety of subjects, all brought up by him.  We talked about everything from work to video games.  He was apparently tired.  I can't imagine what he's like when he's NOT tired!  For someone who was tired, he spoke energetically and a lot.  It was good for me in a way, because it took the pressure off of me.  I just had to listen.  However, I began to hear some of the most random things ever.  Don't get me wrong, Brian is a nice enough guy, but he says some strange things sometimes.  I'll give you an example of one of his running monologues.  He ended up on the subject of actors and began discussing how Christian Bale has a temper and that you can apparently tell this "just by looking at him".  He said that you can still like the actor anyways because of the work they produce; in other words, their defects of character are unimportant because they are actors.  Then he started talking about Mel Gibson and how many people think badly of him for his Anti-Semitic comments.  Brian then went on to say that he didn't give a ****.  He began to say, "Why are the Jews so important?  Why do we make such a big deal about it?"  I had been monitoring my body language earlier in the evening, making sure not to cross my arms so as to appear as open as possible.  But I am sure I leaned back in my chair at that point.  I couldn't believe what I was hearing.  His perception is that Jews were not the only ones who died during WWII, so they should not receive any special treatment.  He is obviously forgetting the part where the Nazis tried to systematically exterminate the Jews...  That did not happen to the other victims of the war he talked about (who we do make a big deal of and pay homage to every November for Remembrance Day!).  I didn't get much of a word in edgewise, but I did manage to say that it was understandable that the Jews would still feel bad about what happened (because Brian thought that everyone should just "move on").  I also pointed out that our ties with the Islamic world continue to be strained because of something that the Catholic Church stupidly did hundreds of years ago: the Crusades.  I explained that Muslims still feel uncomfortable about it and we have not managed to earn their trust back yet.  I think it's understandable, but he certainly does not.  He thinks that people should be able to make comments about other ethnicities or religious groups without there being consequences, because after all, such observations are "true".

So here, I saw a clear conflict of values.  I realized that this was a deal breaker for me.  I had thought perhaps that the quick speech might've been because he was nervous.  I had even thought that perhaps some of the randomness could be explained by that.  But the entire conversation was full of such reflections (oh, and also full of swear words, he who seemed to think he didn't swear...).  He was clearly too high energy and had too many fixed ideas for me.  The most accurate word to describe him is opinionated.  The most uncomfortable moment, however, was when he asked me whether or not I could perform sexually in light of my illness.  I was not prepared for that kind of question period, let alone on the first date.  I have to come up with a better response for that one.  Perhaps Mom's suggestion "Is that a deal breaker for you?" is the best one.  But really, how forward can you get?  I managed to remain calm, miraculously and not make too big a deal out of it.  I could leave being incensed for later.  I thanked him a couple of times for taking me out.  We both ended up heading back in the same direction by metro; it was good for me to have someone to walk back with at night.  When I got off at my stop, he asked about the possibility of seeing me again.  I didn't know how to handle that, so I didn't reject him to his face.  We kind of both mumbled something about Plenty of Fish.  I mean, really, he does know how to reach me.  He is most emphatically not second date material.  Now I understand why he is 32 and single: the "charm" in his username is certainly absent.  Just for Brian, in keeping with how he feels about making such observations: He's Italian.  Enough said?

I am glad I had set myself a time limit for the date in case it didn't go all that well.  I was grateful to extricate with the excuse that I was meeting a friend for the fireworks.  I knew this was also okay because Brian had a show to see at the Just For Laughs Festival around 10:00.  I finally didn't have a friend who could make it to the fireworks, but I went.  It was my reward for going out on a first date.  They were simply glorious!  It was Italy who was presenting and I loved it.  When I got home, I had some dark chocolate ice cream and went to bed.

Before the date, I was probably at 5 for both the Hopeful and Hopeless scales.  After the date, though, I was at Hopeful 6, Hopeless 3.  I felt much better, because I had survived my first date!  I felt empowered.  I can do it.  The date, as I told everyone, was okay.  It was not horrible.  The toughest part was over. 

To quote Rodgers: "The dearest love in all the world is waiting somewhere for me..."  And I'm going to find it.


Hopeful  6    Hopeless  2

I have touched in my previous entries on the difficulties of making decisions when it comes to answering people back on Plenty of Fish.  Answering someone back is being open to an opportunity and giving someone a fair chance.  Not answering someone back is stopping an opportunity before it even has a chance to start.  Both answering and not answering are decisions, even though the second one seems rather passive.  Both require a fair amount of thought.

By Monday last week, I had concluded that I simply could not continue with the amount of messages that I was receiving.  The amount of time it was taking me was not only jeopardizing my health (it was exhausting and frankly I had skipped my exercise on several days including that Monday because I was answering messages!), but also my school term (because naturally I wasn't getting any homework done through all of this either!).  I didn't want to quit and give up on my project, but I had had enough of the Plenty of Fish messages!  I thought I should just shut my account and continue to correspond with the few nice people I had enjoyed talking with.  It would require more decisions, naturally, as I would choose who to keep in touch with and transfer them to my pseudonym e-mail like Amin.  Once I had sent these messages with my address, I would get rid of my Plenty of Fish profile.

So I read up on deactivating my account.  It turns out that it is not like facebook where you can deactivate your account and then reopen it at a later time and you get all of your information and messages back.  The Help section said that an alternative to deactivating your account is to hide your profile.  This allows you to retain your information and not have to re-enter it at another point.  The advantage is that no one can find you on searches.  You are no longer visible period!  So the only people you can exchange messages with are the ones you already have in your inbox.  GENIUS!  It would finally stop the constant influx of new messages.   

I didn't end up hiding my profile last Monday.  I should've, but I was so stuck on my previous idea, which consisted of deciding who to write to before taking any terminal action for my account.  So on that day, to facilitate my decision process, I opened up a couple of word documents.  In the first one, I pasted the messages from Plenty of Fish that I wanted to keep.  That was the easy part.  I was sure of ten people, which I know can seem like a lot.  It is certainly a lot for me.  But all of these guys were nice, polite and had taken an interest in me and had been able to sustain an intelligent and civilized conversation.  Besides, I realized that it was entirely possible that it could not work out with all ten of them!  So in that way, ten was keeping my options open.  In the second word document, I pasted the people that I was on the fence about and needed to figure out what to do with.  I pasted the content of their profile and any message they sent me or messages that we exchanged.  This kept me from being on the Plenty of Fish site while I was deciding to minimize my exposure and put all of the information in one place, so it was easier to deal with.  It was a bit intimidating, I have to say; they totalled about thirty pages per document.  I was only working on one of them, however.  

I spent most of the day with that Word document.  I scrolled through it over and over.  I read and reread the self-descriptions and the messages.  I thought about the ages and the personalities.  I wondered who was compatible with me and who deserved a chance to get to know me.  Decisions, decisions!  I couldn't decide for the life of me!  This is my Libran side: sometimes I can be so indecisive.  So finally I called Mom in to look at my document and help talk me through it.  I ask my Mom a lot when I feel the need to bounce ideas off of someone.  She didn't seem particularly impressed with any of the people on that document.  When I was no longer considering someone, I simply deleted them from the document.  It began shrinking at last.  I had originally wanted to retain perhaps one or two from that list, with a maximum of five, which was half.  I finally had it whittled down to three people, but again I was staring at my document completly clueless as to what to do.  But so many hours had gone by then that I left it at that.

I had three people left on my document by that time.  One was from a guy whose username was JoiedeVivre, who seemed very nice in general.  He had only sent me one message and I had not replied as of yet.  The next one was a guy who I had exchanged some messages with.  He came from a place I had never heard of; I had to google it!  He comes from a group of islands off of Madagascar called Mauritius.  The last one was named Brian and his username was CharmSchool; I never quite knew what to think of that.  Brian, however, definitely required an answer.  He had asked me out for coffee and it was for an as of yet undetermined time later in the week.  The trouble was that I couldn't figure out whether to say yes or no.  There is a wonderful quote from Emma that says: "If a woman doubts as to whether she should accept a man or not, she certainly ought to refuse him.  If she can hesitate as to say "Yes," she ought to say "No," directly."  Of course, she is talking about marriage and you don't have to marry a guy who asks you out on a date.  I truly wondered, though, whether or not I should go if I felt so uncertain.

That was the next set of decisions I had to make last week.  I had received three requests to go out on a date.  The first, as I said in another entry, was from Siavash.  I had already said yes to him, so that was settled.  I had misgivings about Brian that I couldn't really explain other than the fact that he is 32, which is a bit out of my age range.  Otherwise, he seemed fine to me; his messages had been nice and we shared a common taste in movies.  The other request came from a guy named Patrick, the 27 year old kinesthesiologist.  He gave off pretty good vibes; the only thing I could think there was that we are not quite in the same place in our lives because he already has his career set up and is looking to get a condo (aka settling down) while I haven't even obtained my first University degree yet!  In the end, I decided to accept both offers, because the point of doing this project was to be open minded.  I also have very limited dating experience, so I knew that it would show me what it is like to go on a date with someone who was older or someone whose life was ahead of mine and see if that was compatible or not.

Here's hoping I've made good decisions and will continue to make them moving forward!

Thursday, 26 July 2012


Hopeful 7   Hopeless 2

I have officially survived my first week on Plenty of Fish.  There have been ups and downs, but I have not gotten eaten by any large fish.  There are more ups and downs yet to come, I'm sure, but for now I'm sticking with it.

It's occurred to me that there have been a few firsts over the past couple of days besides its being my first week on the project.  I don't usually like to put the negative part first, but I am trying to stay in chronological order.  Last Friday, I got a message from one of the guys who had messaged me.  I never got his real name, so we shall call him Freedom based on his user name.  I had explained to him as I had to many other people that I was not answering my messages very quickly because I was feeling very overwhelmed by how many I was getting.  He had been one of the impatient people and that continued despite my message meant to pacify him and get him off my case.  Freedom made some comment about how if I only would stop wasting my time with the guys who just wanted to sleep with me, I would have more time for him.  I had sensed his arrogance from the very first message and had had misgivings.  I wanted to give him a fair chance like everyone else, though.  Here, though, he had clearly blown it.  So I told people, "I've met my first jerk."  I rather expected I would've encountered one a lot earlier, but there we have it.  When I had received other strange or silly messages, I had simply ignored and deleted them.  This one was different, though; I felt he really needed someone to tell him that he needed an attitude adjustment.  I wanted to knock him off his golden pedestal a bit.  So I sent a one line reply that was not too sharp (I had vented earlier on paper and checked with Mom to make sure I wasn't going to send him something rather nasty or descend to his level) basically saying that it was rather writing him that was a waste of my time.  I held my breath and hoped there would be no reply.  There was.  I was right.  He is a jerk.  Freedom wrote to say: Ah oui, puis en passant, va dont de faire foutre salle conne :).  I was in shock because everyone else I had encountered on Plenty of Fish had been polite, even when rejected.  I couldn't believe it; this was the first time in my life anyone had told me to f off.  I told my friend Stella and she got right and indignant on my behalf: "What, is he five?" she exclaimed.  Thanks, Stella, you made me feel a lot better for getting angry for me.  This goes to show that you should always trust instincts, because I knew there was something not quite right from the very first message.

This next first I thought was going to be awhile in coming.  I thought I was not going to reveal to anyone that I have health issues for some time, but I ended up telling Alex this past Saturday (Alex is the History student I mentioned who is also a guitarist and a writer).  I told him first because of the question he asked me about how active I am.  It turns out that he has more of a tendency to being quiet like me, rather than high-energy "get up and go" as I had thought when I saw his question.  I explained to him that to maintain my health, I needed to have a fair amount of physical activity, but that paradoxically my condition often prevents me from being active.  Then he asked more specifically what I have, so on Sunday I wrote to give him a short description without being too dramatic I hope!  I know my health will be a deal breaker for some people, but Alex says he's okay with it.

Another first which I was also surprised at myself for was giving out my e-mail address.  I wanted to hold on to my address with an iron fist, even though it is only my pseudonym e-mail.  I made an exception for Amin, though.  I mentioned that he made a good first impression; evidently this was mutual.  He sent me a message on Saturday to re-relay a message he'd already sent "in case it got lost".  I could tell that he was beginning to worry that I was not writing him back.  I sent him a message reassuring him that I was not losing interest and gave him my e-mail address so that I could reply more readily.  When I told him that he was the only one I'd transferred to e-mails, that also made him feel special (which he is; he is a very nice guy :).

Sooner or later, I knew that the first date would come.  I had thought it would arrive a lot sooner, actually, but it was certainly soon enough for me!  I was being lulled into a false sense of security since all of these guys were making pretty conversation online.  I would forget sometimes that at some point there would be the business of meeting in real life.  Though I had thought more than once about not going out with any of them, I said yes to Siavash.  Although his user name is BlueGuy, he is very positive and I get good vibes from him.  He may not be my first date after all, but he is the first to ask me (that is, in a direct way, not in a nebulous non-committal "perhaps we could meet up" sort of way).

The first I was most definitely not expecting was the first rose!  Yet there it was on Monday morning in my Plenty of Fish inbox.  The site enables you apparently to send two roses every thirty days.  So you do have to be choosy about who you send it to.  I did not intend to use this feature, but it seems that Huiqi did (he is the History student who was very enthusiastic).  This was slightly uncomfortable, because I don't know Huiqi all that well and here he is sending me a red rose, ultimate symbol of romance (albeit electronic, but still a rose).  He apologized for the "cheesy online rose", so that made me wonder what exactly that was all about.  I never do this, but I felt like messing with him just a little bit.  I asked him why he should send a rose and then apologize for it.  I asked if he really did mean to send it.  He answered my test well, by saying that a pretty girl like me deserves a rose and that he was simply apologizing because it was not a real one and that perhaps one day he would have occasion to give me a real one.  Nicely done, Huiqi.

This rose really reminded me of the whole Bachelorette phenomenon.  Anyone who has ever watched either the Bachelor or Bachelorette on ABC knows that it is absolutely crazy for one person to date 25 other people.  And what greater torture is there than a rose ceremony, where people are singled out like that?  I had been thinking about how Plenty of Fish gives you way too many people to date very much like the television show and receiving the rose from Huiqi was just a fresh reminder.  I felt I really needed to put a stop to it before I ended up like the Bachelorette!

This is what the Plenty of Fish rose looks like!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

It's a Jungle Out There!

Hopeful 7        Hopeless 3

So many times over the past few days, the phrase "It's crazy!" or something similar has been running through my mind.  Online dating is a rather strange experience.  It made me think of the theme song for the television show Monk: It's a Jungle Out There.  I find this really describes the feeling very well and I decided to put it as my facebook status.

I have just been trying to keep up with the messages that people have been sending me.  It is going much better now that I have developed some strategies, which I discussed in my Getting the Hang of It post.  Since I have been so inundated, though, I have not had a chance to do my own browsing and send messages to guys I think are interesting.  I have a good 40 matches based on the Plenty of Fish 73 question Personality Relationship Chemistry Predictor Test I took the day I created my profile.  My e-mails tell me that I apparently even get new matches every few days, which I suppose come from newcomers to the site.  I had taken some time on the first day to browse through some of my matches and there was one in particular I had thought to message because he was a writer for a living, something I really admire.  The first day, though, I was just observing and not sending any messages.  After that, I was simply swamped with my own messages and never got around to creating my own.  I am irked by this, because I am an independent lady.  I do not like to wait around passively for life to happen or to be "rescued".  I like to take an active role in my own destiny, which includes keeping an eye out for a potential partner.  This site is not allowing me to do that at the moment and it is frustrating!

The other thing I have discovered in the last couple of days by checking my e-mails is that there are a couple of functions I have not yet explored on Plenty of Fish.  I have been receiving e-mails about people who "would like to meet me".  There is a section on the site called "Meet you", where a random picture pops up and you can click the button "Meet XPerson".  I never had any particular use for it and Étienne had said that he never used it himself.  He would simply find it flattering if someone had liked him based on his picture.  It would seem that there are a few people who have done that for me.  I was also shocked to find out that there is a Favourites section and that 16 people have added me to their favourites list!  I am reportedly more popular than I thought.  This is uncomfortable.  This potentially means that some people could be offended if there is no feedback.  I have not messaged these people who "want to meet me" or have favourited me.  I have not favourited them in return.  I wonder what that says or if it even matters.  I simply don't know what to do about it, so I am doing nothing at present.  Meantime, I hope I am not offending anyone!  At least you are all on equal footing: I haven't clicked these buttons for anyone!

I have had moments in this process where I experienced full rejection.  I rejected the experience and wanted desperately to stop it.  I thought it was just too crazy and I could not possibly do it.  I thought about potentially dating people that I am corresponding with and I had strong feelings of not wanting to date anyone and shut my account.  I have this kind of reaction sometimes when I am having a hard time or when I am trying something new.  So I know not to listen to these feelings.  The fact remains, though, that I don't feel great until the moment passes.  I think it must be an anxiety based reaction.  So far I have truly been doing the easy part: having little conversations with these guys and learning about their interests.  Doing that is pretty safe, but it can't go on forever.  At some point, there will be dates and that is where things get scarier.  So I expect this "rejecting the experience" feeling will resurface.  As you can guess, I got most of these feelings on Thursday.

Meantime, I am still convinced that this is all a little nuts and that Plenty of Fish is more like a jungle than an ocean... 

Equal Opportunity

Hopeful  7    Hopeless  3

Today I wanted to make a post to illustrate just the sort of dilemma you can face on Plenty of Fish.  Here I was looking to create more opportunities to meet people with the site, but finding that the huge side-effect is moral issues.  I ended up with questions that I had never really asked myself, things perhaps I had vaguely thought of before, but that I had never been faced with.

What makes this particularly difficult is that you are faced with these questions directly and at the same time you are not.  Plenty of Fish is a strange virtual world where things seem real and unreal at the same time.  This is what contributed to the confusion that I wrote about in an earlier post.  I was kind of "in the situation", yet I was not at the same time.  The question I kept being faced with was: "Would I really date a person who...?"

This is what made me conflicted.  I had always thought of myself as an open and unprejudiced person for the most part.  I always professed to be a person who didn't notice someone's size, shape, colour, style, etc., but someone who noticed their personality instead.  I said that for me, their physical appearance kind of gets blurred and what comes into sharp focus is the person.  I still believe that is quite true in person.  But on Plenty of Fish, I found myself feeling rather influenced by the listed ethnicity on someone's profile or their picture.  I actually am embarrassed that I asked myself, "Would I date a person who is Asian?" or, "Would I date a person who is Latino?"  It was making me feel incredibly shallow.  It made me feel like I was discriminating when I was just going through my messages and trying to figure out which to respond to and which to delete.  I began to be unsure what my answer was.  If I had asked myself this question a week ago, I would've said that none of those things mattered and that of course I would date someone of a different nationality if they had a great personality.  The sort of dialogue running in my head on Thursday was darker.

Ethnicity was not the only thing I was wondering about.  I asked myself about religion too.  I have always prided myself on being religiously tolerant, a trait I developed as a young girl when a school teacher tried to convert me to Protestantism.  I began to ask myself about whether or not I was willing to date a Muslim (I have received messages from a few).  For shame!  That is a question I hope never runs through my mind ever again.  It is possible to date someone who doesn't share your religious beliefs.  It is not always possible to work things out in the long run, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try.  My cousin and her husband are not of the same faith and they are happily married with a beautiful baby boy.  Then I got a message from a guy in a wheelchair.  He sent me a polite message and his profile made his personality sound fabulous.  He said point blank on his profile, though, that if you were not prepared to handle his being in a wheelchair, then you should move to the next profile.  So I asked myself whether or not I could live with it.  I felt incredibly selfish to have the thought occur to me that I should be with someone who is very healthy, because I am not.  I felt like a terrible person.

The one that particularly hit a nerve, though, pertained to age.  I've mentioned that this is a sore spot for me.  Since I was a very young girl, I have gotten along with adults and attracted their admiration and attention.  In high school, sometimes I was convinced that I got along better with people more than twice my age than my peers.  This is a continuing pattern for me: men outside my age range are ones I connect with and that connect with me.  It makes me sad because it makes me feel like I was born in the wrong decade or that I'm not compatible with guys my age.  It makes me wonder whether or not "they make any like that anymore" as the expression goes.  Rejecting every man over a certain age is also a form of discrimination, so I felt strange about not wanting to talk to the 35 year old or the 43 year old.  That was not allowing me the chance to ascertain their personality and see if they were a potential match.  Many people have told me (including a psychologist) that age is just a number and that it doesn't necessarily mean you are incompatible.  I also couldn't help thinking about my beloved Giles.  I began to admire him when I didn't know his age.  I estimated 30, but he was truly 41.  He always made me feel comfortable and good about myself.  He is still one of the most positive people I have ever met.  Here I am trying to be more realistic and find someone to have a crush on that is closer to my own age, but Plenty of Fish is showing me all of these older men interested in me.  I felt like I was going berserk.

I talked to my friends Natalie and Stella about these sorts of tortured reflections I was having.  Natalie was very practical about it.  She said that people never like to think of themselves as prejudiced, but that everyone has a certain amount of prejudice.  It was not pretty, but it was the truth, she said.  She added that it was an important part of being honest with yourself and knowing what you want to be aware of your preferences.  Stella put things into a perspective that I could relate to readily.  She said that everyone has deal breakers, that it is normal and it is perfectly okay.  She reminded me that it was very important not to go back on them, because it will just make you unhappy in the long run.  This is a concept I have understood for a long time and have practiced.

It was good to remember that I couldn't possibly date all of these people who messaged me.  I am feeling less guilty and more at ease about the process now.  I had been so focused on creating a fair and equal opportunity for everyone that I forgot about what was best for me.  It is not possible to be 100% equitable towards everyone.  I was afraid of missing out on opportunities, but that is par for the course, I have realized.  There are casualties of online dating and everyone knows it.  It is unfortunate, but there is nothing to be done.  Your best effort is to be as fair and open as you can.

You can't possibly date them all... 

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Getting the Hang of It

Hopeful 6     Hopeless 3

This is meant to be today's post.  I really wanted to post Responding to First Messages yesterday, but I wasn't able to finish it.  So anyone reading me should just keep that in mind.  Today (July 21st), these are my correct Hopeful/Hopeless numbers.  In Responding to First Messages, then, any reference to "today" was meant to be Friday (July 20th) and thus "yesterday" is in reference to Thursday.

As you see, today I am beginning to feel better physically and emotionally.  I feel slightly less overwhelmed, because I have discovered some tricks to facilitate the Plenty of Fish process.  This is what I wanted to share in this post, how I am gaining better control over the service, or generally "getting the hang of it".

Mainly my problem before was about being too visible.  I know that I mentioned in a previous post how if you are online often, people see your profile more readily.  That is how they know you exist and they message you.  That is how, just when I cut back my messages from 30 to 19 or something, here I get back up to about 28 again.  My first solution was to avoid what I called "high traffic times", that is, times when EVERYONE and his dog are on Plenty of Fish.  I discovered that one of my main problems on the first day was just that: I was finishing up my profile right during a high traffic time.  That is why I got so many messages and chat requests in just the first few minutes I was on the website.  So I began avoiding being on the site between 12 and 1.  It's like everyone goes on their lunch break at work and Immediately jumps on to Plenty of Fish!  The next high traffic time I became aware of was the evening.  It didn't really matter what time of the evening, the site was busy.  So I began trying to stay off of it as much as possible from 4 onwards (although between 4 and 6 doesn't seem too bad, I suppose because people are headed home from work at that time).  In case anyone was wondering, late in the evening is also no good.  The sheer amount of people on Plenty of Fish around the midnight hour is downright frightening!  Thinking about it, that makes sense, because when single people are most lonely tends to be at night (in fact, it keeps some people up at night!).  I don't know about you, but I certainly don't like to have total strangers trying to have a conversation with me at such a late hour; I find it creepy!

Avoiding high traffic times has reduced the number of messages I receive.  However, I was still getting new messages every day.  Couple those with the people I have already begun to talk to and it starts adding up fast.  I figured out that leaving the web page was not sufficient, because I would be timed out only after a certain period of time, not just by simply closing the page.  I had thus figured out the necessity of signing out.  The other apparent advantage to doing this is that you accumulate "sign in" points.  I don't know how useful these are, but it seems you can send electronic gifts such as flowers and teddy bears with messages.  I have not done this yet because I'm not playing favourites; I'm just trying to get to know people.  I don't know if these points are useful in any other way yet.  It occurred to me today that there was a sure way to further reduce the amount of times I sign in.  I remembered that I didn't need to check Plenty of Fish to know if I had new messages because this information is delivered to my inbox.  I just hadn't checked my pseudonym hotmail.  Boy did I ever get the shock of my life this afternoon when I opened it up to find nearly 200 Plenty of Fish e-mails!  Other than a couple of stray ones, that gives you a pretty good idea of the number of messages I have received since Tuesday.  It is completely insane!

The final trick I have developed is not composing messages on Plenty of Fish.  I have instead started copying my unanswered messages into Word.  It makes for a massive and daunting document, but I can simply type my answer below the person's message (like I would if I were answering an e-mail or Plenty of Fish message) and then paste it into Plenty of Fish the next time I sign in.  When I told my friend Natalie about this, she reminded me that I can't copy/paste on their site.  It would seem that this only applies to first messages.  When I look at a message I've received and hit the reply button, it lets me paste in my answer from Word with no problems.  I can thus fire off several messages in a matter of a couple of minutes and then immediately sign out.

These are tips that I would highly recommend to anyone attempting Plenty of Fish.  I hope that this helps at least one person out there :)

Stay Hopeful, readers,


Responding to First Messages

Hopeful 5 Hopeless 7

I had hoped to update yesterday, but I was unwell for the better part of the day. Some days are good for me and some are not so good. I don't have much room to touch on my health in this entry, but I promise to elaborate another time. Suffice it to say that I wasn't feeling well physically and that it also affected my mood. As you can see, I'm not feeling as hopeful still today.

As you can imagine, it was a huge job slogging through about 30 messages, deciding firstly which ones to reply to and then actually thinking of something to say and sending it. In general, I didn't answer the ones that just said "Hi" or "How are you?". I understand these messages better now; they are from people who are looking for what is called a QuickReply. They want to instant chat. I am still not instant chatting yet, because I am drowning in these messages. I have had to explain that politely to a couple of people who, not receiving a response quickly enough, messaged me again and sounded vaguely irritated. Any sarcastic or "joke" messages I have not replied to with one exception. This guy said, "Can we skip coffee and just rob a bank?" I just couldn't resist firing up this answer: "I think you'll need to find another partner in crime." He obviously thought he was funny. Then he sounded a bit annoyed when he said it was "just a joke". Well, perhaps he should've thought of that before sending me such a ridiculous message! I can't imagine how anyone is going to take him seriously.

That is probably the briefest response I wrote. The rest were modest (about 3-5 lines) or medium length (10-15 lines). It often depended on the length of the original message; the more the person wrote, the more I was able to respond to. Otherwise, I would find something in their profile to talk about or ask about. One guy who called himself "J" said in his profile that he had been travelling for 2 years, so I asked him what places he'd seen. I couldn't help thinking that that would've impressed my friend Stella. One guy that impressed me right away was Jacob, who asked me what kind of tea I liked. So I told him that tea has always been part of my culture, but that my interest has recently exploded thanks to David's Tea. He was one who expected to chat with me and quickly asked if I should like to meet up with him sometime, then followed up with a message supplying his number so I could text him if I felt like it. He had no idea he was talking to one of the only young people still left in North America who does not own a cell phone! This read a bit desperate for me. This is the only guy I got a vibe from and it really made me feel like not answering him.

I am getting ahead of myself, though! Today I just wanted to talk about how people compose their messages on Plenty of Fish and how I answered them. Another early good first-impression was from a guy who still has not given me a name. This is what he wrote me: "Sounds nice your profile. And if it sounds like für Elise, I already have an idea of your crystal sphere. The picture in the background makes me think of Anaïs Nin age.So many classic elements....even the tea cups..." It was one of the nicest messages I had received in the first day. It interested me because he made a cultural reference that I was not familiar with. Wikipedia explained to me that Anaïs Nin was a woman who loved to keep a diary and wrote in one from an early age right up until the day she died. So here he made reference to literature, which suggested that he was well-read or at the very least interested in reading/culture. The part about my "crystal sphere" is what really fascinated me. I was thinking, "What religion/spiritual path do you come from?" Eager to know more, I wrote to ask him. The only catch was that this was from someone who was 35, definitely had at least one kid and didn't seem too clear on what he was looking for from his Plenty of Fish experience. I had four other messages that impressed me. One was from a History student with a particular interest in Antiquity and the Middle Ages (my favourite period of history!) who plays guitar and is also ... a writer! His message was about music and writing :) Then I got quite a lengthy one from a foreign exchange student named Amin. He connected with pretty much my entire profile and he wrote me the nicest message to date. Interestingly, everything he said I also related to and one of the best things he said was: "Hope to find someone who understands that if I don't like clubbing, it doesn't mean that I am not social." I say Amen to that! Another one was from a guy named Seb, who asked about my studying languages. Other people who were more or less interesting had also responded to this, but what distinguished Seb is that he not only wanted to know which languages I was studying, he also began having a discussion about linguistics. Not too many people can have a conversation about linguistics and it is not a particularly popular subject (but I like it!). The other one I liked was a History student who asked me what "Hopeful Romantic", my tag line, meant. He was the only one who asked and to date still is!

Then there were the messages I had absolutely no idea what to do with. I deleted a few and did respond to at least two because I was unsure what else to do. One was from the very History student I just mentioned. Although he complimented me and he asked about the term Hopeful Romantic, he sounded extremely enthusiastic and high energy. Here is an excerpt: "WOW by the way YOU ARE FREAKING AWESOME!!!! i think some people would think you are boring since you like classical music and enjoy history. But i think you are really amazing since i do share the same interest. I am currently doing my bach
in history. I find it fascinating. I also do share your passion for languages cultures and classical music." I really wasn't sure what to do with that, but I wanted to respond more than not. So I was careful to keep my tone as relaxed as possible to off-set his over-exuberance and wrote him about History and being a Hopeful Romantic. The other one I was unsure of was from Thomas whose comment on my profile was about being Catholic. He also sounded a bit too enthusiastic and it made me wonder if he was ultra religious. Judge it for yourself: "Let me just say up front that I think it's great that you're so open and honest about being Catholic. I am too, and find a lot of people tend to hide it about themselves. Nice to see some people don't hide it :)" I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, though, so I just very kindly asked in my reply what role religion played in his life. It would seem that I completely turned the tables on him, because when I was not responding quickly to his message, he seemed to be afraid that I was a big Bible thumper and that his honest answer to my question was not the one I was looking for. Sorry Thomas; I didn't do that on purpose!

Other than the later message from Jacob, I have only received one more concrete request to meet. In his first message to me, Paul asked me if I would like to go for coffee or "cold tea" (I suppose he didn't know "iced tea"). I politely explained that for the time being, I was simply responding to messages, not doing any instant chatting or any meeting. I told him I wanted to get myself oriented first and that I preferred talking to people first to get to know them before meeting them. That was something he understood. In fact, most everyone on Plenty of Fish seems to understand this concept and feel the same way, that it would be better to chat online before meeting in person. That was a big relief for me.

So far in the messages I have retained, I have a few PhD students (this seems to be a recurring pattern), a kinesthesiologist and a couple of engineers.  In general, these candidates are pretty positive.  I have had yet a few more that were not quite right, though.  It really annoys me, for example, when a guy sends me a message and encloses his picture.  I understand it for people who don't have pictures posted on their Plenty of Fish profile; putting a picture with their message is fine (and I have had a few like that).  But if they already have pictures, I don't see why they should have to attach those same pictures to their message.  One guy even gave me like a 360 view of himself, a picture from practically every angle, including shirt and no shirt shots.  I have no use for it.  The other thing that has made me feel less hopeful is the amount of 30 + year olds that have messaged me.  The oldest I've had so far is 45 (and at least he had a concept of his perhaps being out of my age range).  I wonder why I constantly attract men that are so much older than me and sometimes almost twice my age!  This has been a recurring theme for me since I was quite young, so it is a sore spot of mine.  I have only replied to a couple of older men, but only when they wrote me a non-creepy very nice sort of message.  So I kindly explained to them that I am looking for someone closer to my age.  Anyone who I thus in essence "formally" rejected (though very nicely), was great about it.  One asked me to elaborate a little on why I didn't think I was the girl for him and was glad to hear what I had to say.  Another asked me if I could set him up with a friend (to which I lied and said that all my friends already had boyfriends to spare them being messaged by a 35 year old).  So in general, people were quite polite and civilized, which I was also relieved to find.

Even though this experience hasn't been too negative so far, it has really thrown me for a loop.  Some of these messages are very sweet and sincere and make me feel kind of good.  Most of the time, though, I feel overwhelmed by their sheer abundance.  If I had been writing this message yesterday, I wouldn't even have been able to write a Hopeful & Hopeless scale count, because it would've been more like: mood = ???  This experience is making me feel dazed and confused.  There are many times this week in fact where I just wanted to chicken and shut this whole project down.  I am not a quitter, though, so I've stuck it out so far.  I think mostly I am hearing my fear talking, because finally here is the real possibility of dating, not an idea or a distant future eventuality.  Here I was proving everything I told you readers and myself wrong and I hadn't even been at it a week.  Right now, I chock it up mostly to not feeling well.  When I get tired, sometimes it really makes me discouraged easily and makes me feel sad.  I know to get a more objective viewpoint, I have to wait it out a few days for this spell to pass.  Then I will be able to make more informed observations and decisions. 

And so it continues...  

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Information Overload

Hopeful 7 Hopeless 2

Well, I survived my first day on Plenty of Fish. In some ways it was a lot more arduous than I thought and in other ways much easier. I thought I would take some time to digest the experience before writing about here.

So my friend Étienne prepared me well in some ways for what I was getting into. However, he didn't tell me anything useful about the Profile Creation part. He just had a word of advice: "Don't try too hard." Well, I think in his book I probably did! I spent pretty much the entire morning making my blog entry here and then creating my profile. The first page of information is brief and is just basic account information: what do you want your password to be? what is your e-mail address? etc. That was fine. On to the second page, I noticed a little red asterisk that says "required field". So I figured I had a glitch on my page because I didn't see any of those asterisks anywhere. I thought, "How could everything be optional?" That's when I realized: Nothing was optional! Everything was obligatory. Oh darn.

Filling out the form was thus more or less problematic. Sadly, they didn't leave the "prefer not to say" option in most boxes. Some of the boxes had rather inflexible answers too, especially when it came to "what you're looking for". Well what if I'm looking to date and hopefully a relationship and best case scenario a long term relationship? They wouldn’t take three answers, only one, so I picked "a relationship" because I figured it was the best one. It might weed out the people who weren't all that serious about dating. I had no problem filling out other boxes like Pet: cat. Entering my postal code was another matter. I am slightly paranoid about the information that I post on the Internet. So I finally decided that to feel a bit safer, I would enter my old postal code. I also chose to create the profile under my pseudonym. I have decided that I will tell any keepers my real name later. (This is the same policy I have in this blog for my friends: I am using alternate names to protect their privacy).

Then after all these little nit-picky details about yourself, you have to write a self-description. I would like to think I know myself pretty well, but it’s still not the easiest task to describe oneself. It is tricky to be brief, yet representative and not come off like a creep or a snob or something. I detest bragging about myself, so the idea of "selling myself" as my friend Natalie put it, was uncomfortable. This is where I took the most time (possibly too much time according to Étienne). But yes, Étienne, I did have to think about it. It did have to be somewhat strategic. I strove, however, to make it honest and give people a good idea of what I'm like and what makes me me. Then I checked what I came up with by asking Mom. When she came out will all the same points to describe me, I thought I did all right.

To anyone reading me, to give you a good idea of how I appear to others on the Plenty of Fish world or simply to let you know me a bit better (after all, I am supposed to be opening up in this blog!), I'm going to include my self-description from my profile: I am an undergraduate student in languages. Being a student is an important part of who I am because I love to learn. I am most interested in history, culture and languages. I was named after Beethoven’s F
ür Elise and grew up with an appreciation for classical music, though my taste now includes a variety of styles. I play the piano and violin and enjoy singing. I have a creative personality which comes through most when I write. I have retained some of my childhood imagination and ability to see magic in the world. In relationships, I am loyal, respectful, supportive, thoughtful and a good listener. Although in my profile it says I am Catholic, I am open to meeting people from different religious backgrounds. 

I had one last stop before the big Create my Profile button. First date. First date? What on earth do they mean by this? "Optional". OH YAY! Something I don't actually have to fill in! Wait, they say I get a better response if I fill this out. Damn. So what would I like to do on a first date? The answer came quite quickly: coffee. It’s safe. It’s low-pressure. It’s casual. I do coffee. Well, tea rather, but I don't think it's cool yet to "go for tea" with the amount of coffee addicts in this world. That's the other great thing about going for coffee. They can get their coffee or their mocha or whatever it is they drink and I can have my tea (or hot chocolate if I'm having a craving). People don't judge you too much on what you drink and they can't judge you on etiquette because there is no cutlery or chewing involved!

I clicked on the Create my Profile button. It wouldn't let me continue. "You forgot to indicate"... your height. Not fair. It was such a big help to be online and chatting with Natalie through this process. I have no idea why they require me to tell them that I'm short. I've been teased my entire life about being short. Here I had to put it in writing. I grumbled. It stopped me a second time for something else I'd forgotten to fill out. So this time, I checked that all the fields were filled out before I submitted it again. Natalie said, "Take a deep breath!"

Then I wrote, "Mais ce n'est pas fini!" This was never-ending! They wanted a photo. I balked. I said, "No way." I mean, what on earth was the point of describing yourself, saying what your hair colour and eye colour are if they are going to tell you "You must upload a picture"! In fact, they are very specific about this photo: it has to be one of you (unlike my facebook picture 99% of the time), one that shows a full view of your face (no profile shots or such). Then they encourage you to "add up to 8 photos". I don't even want to upload one! That's when you read that it isn't actually obligatory. However, under the guise of being helpful, they explain the same breath that you are really very unlikely to get anyone on your profile or contacting you if you do NOT upload a photo. I nearly gave up. This was pushing beyond my comfort zone for sure. The rest of the profile process may have been somewhat uncomfortable, but I was a good sport about it. This was a sticking point. If I stopped, though, my entire project would stop. I wasn't ready to give that up. I figured that with the pseudonym and the wrong postal code, I should be safe enough to post an actual picture. So I took a deep breath and I submitted it.

I got put through to the next step. Yes, next step. It was not over yet. It was a 73 question questionnaire, their Personality Relationship Chemistry Predictor test. I groaned. Natalie said, "That sounds very scientific!" She has such a great sense of humour; it really cheered me up. I was painstakingly answering these questions with answers like "disagree, somewhat disagree, somewhat agree and agree" (which is so specific, by the way) and all of a sudden there was a small window popping up in my face. It was a chat request. I hadn't even officially completed my profile yet and I was getting a chat request. The little window wants to you say Yes or No. That was a question I wasn't answering! I just ignored it. So I muddled through everything from, "Do you get angry easily?" to "Would your ideal vacation be on a tropical island?" (usefulness?). Finally, I was done.

It took me a few minutes to orient myself on the site. In fact, I did that the rest of the day too. I found where my profile was and made sure everything was right. They give pretty much name, rank and serial number at the top. That is, username, non-smoker, undisclosed body type (YAY! one I didn't have to fill out!), 23 year old Catholic, Caucasian Libra with brown hair, completed some university & etc. The "Caucasian Libra" still makes me laugh. What a strange combination: ethnicity with astrological sign. Anyhow, then there's your picture or pictures. Afterwards it's all the other small questions, like whether or not you own a car, have kids, etc. Then your self-description and ideal first date appear at the bottom.

By this time, though, I noticed I already had 5 new messages. I had scarce been on there 2 minutes and I was already being bombarded with messages and chat requests! I was on serious information overload; I felt rather overwhelmed, a feeling that persisted most of the day. I read the first message, from the creator of Plenty of Fish. He gave a couple of "helpful hints". Meanwhile, these people seem to have it down to a science. He claimed that on average, it's the 7th date that is "your match". It's incredible how they try to bring mathematic precision to almost all aspects of the site. So the first legitimate message said, "Pick me" and enclosed a picture. This was not particularly impressive. The next one, however, was creepy: "Hello, How are you Today? I believe your the most beautiful girl in the world .You looks like my dream girl to me what else should i say to ask you out on our first date? I really like you so much and i am interested in you and i would love to date you. would you like to go for dinner drinks and play pool. Thanks......" I began to understand that though Plenty of Fish supposedly blocks the copy-paste function to avoid this kind of thing, people manage to send out generic messages to any profile they like anyways. How could I possibly be the most interesting girl, his "dream girl" when he has only read my profile? Next was "Hey, hru?" Learn to spell! Okay, so I'm not that harsh. I like that it was non-invasive. Yet it doesn't help me be super interested in writing back. So you have to check out their profile and see if you might possibly have something in common and write them back or not. Fifth message was more personal. It could have been generic, because, though he claimed to have seen my profile, he didn't comment on anything specific. He introduced himself, though, explaining that he was new to Montreal and exactly what he was looking for. That was an improvement.

I received three more messages before I decided to take a break and go have lunch. When I came back, I read what Plenty of Fish had to say about my personality. I was not particularly impressed. The messages continued pouring in all day. If you keep that tab open on your internet and you go on and sift through profiles, yours is more readily seen by others. It was too much at once for me, so I decided simply to observe for the day. I wanted to figure out how the system works and settle in before doing anything. By the end of the day, I had 30 messages. You really get all kinds: one-liners, sarcastic remarks/jokes, generic messages, overenthusiastic messages, ambiguous messages, slightly creepy messages, one-night stand requests (that is the polite way of putting it; I found the box to tick to block those messages), etc. You have to be prepared for anything. I was more or less prepared, but I adapted well. I was also intrigued at the amount of French messages I got, given that it is an English service. I did make my profile bilingual to be francophone-friendly and was amazed at how many I got back in French! 

The experience left me a bit flustered. I am not used to receiving attention from guys. A few of these messages were rather sincere and sweet. Apparently I did something right when I wrote my profile, because some people really responded to it. They were interested in my playing a musical instrument or they liked my openness... It was kind of flattering. I can see how this site could become vastly addictive. I am going to have to be careful not to get hooked (no pun intended). I have only dipped my toe in today. I feel like the actual terrifying part is yet to come! I have to sift through those messages and decide which ones to answer today.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Creating a Profile

Here the day has arrived where I dip my toe into the ocean called Plenty of Fish.  I am feeling apprehensive because it is a new experience for me, something completely unknown.  It is certainly out of my comfort zone.  I am a creature of habit and don't like to have to step outside of my box.  Usually life challenges you to grow and do different things and I rise to challenge because I find it better to do so when something is thrust upon you.  This is a different scenario, however.  I am pushing myself this time and trying to keep my momentum going.

It occurs to me that I am kind of "coming out" if you will.  I am very openly declaring over the Internet that I am looking to date.  Before this project, my mindset was about not looking.  I was just working on getting my own life and goals where I wanted them to be.  In the meanwhile, if I met someone interesting, I would explore any potential there.  So I was open to dating, but not actively seeking someone.  In fact, for awhile, I was very good at blending into the walls of my various classrooms and becoming almost nearly invisible.  This and perhaps what you would call bad luck or circumstance have made it such that I have not been on a single date in just shy of 7 years.  Now you can understand why I am a little nervous!

In the past few months, I have noticed an improvement in that direction, however.  Just going about my business and accomplishing my own goals, it would seem I began to be visible.  In the shortest semester I have ever had (due to student strikes), I was noticed.  There were a couple of guys in one of my language classes that talked to me and showed an interest in me.  I was stunned; they clearly knew I existed.  To make this story short, however, nothing came of it because the one, it turns out, couldn't possibly have asked me out on a lunch date the one time since has a girlfriend in France and the other let his politics and strong views on the student strikes interfere with common courtesy and respect.  I had an open mind when it came to these two, not knowing quite where things would go, but these opportunities didn't pan out.  This was what appealed to me about Plenty of Fish: creating more opportunities.  I am open to taking opportunities as they come, but don't find myself with many such opportunities.  If I could increase their number, my chances at success would be better. 

I will post an update later on my progress, possibly today or tomorrow.

 ~ Elise

P.S. In future posts, I will indicate on a scale of 1 to 10 how Hopeful or Hopeless I am feeling that day.  That is taking the adverbs at their face value: am I full of hope or am I depleted of hope?  Today is probably something like Hopeful 7  Hopeless 1, so overall quite positive :)

Monday, 16 July 2012

The Project

I thought to have a project to structure my blog.  Otherwise, I would end up simply expressing my views or feelings and I might wonder to what purpose I was publishing this.  Having a project with specific goals will give me the proper framework for my writing.

If you happened to have clicked on my only other listed blog, you will see it was also a project.  Quickly, you will also notice that it is incomplete.  I encountered certain snags in my posting, so I actually did do a bit more than I wrote about.  Hopefully I will be able to resume that one at some point.  I knew when I started that project, though, that it was ambitious and that I probably would not finish it.  68 metros in 41 days was an intense schedule.  My current project will be more flexible and attainable. 

I am up for another challenge.  This one was partially inspired by a conversation I was having with my friend Étienne the other day.  He was talking to me about online dating.  That is something I have never been interested in, but listening to him talk about it, the idea grew on me.  Slowly I began considering making a profile on Plenty of Fish based on his recommendations.  He gave me a very pragmatic guide to what to expect and how things work when making such attempts.  I didn't sound half as bad as I'd thought before.  It even sounded manageable and feasible.

I figure you have to be pretty hopeful to try online dating.  Most anyone I've ever heard talk about it say that it's pathetic and only for people who are desperate.  I haven't talked to many people who have actually tried it, but what I have heard is that you need to be patient and also prepared to have "duds".  We'll have to see how Hopeful I still feel after going on Plenty of Fish.

I am ready to try something new.  So many people say that they start dating online because they don't have time to meet people.  I suppose I can count myself in that category, though it's a bit more complicated than that and I will explain further in another post.  Plenty of Fish just might be the solution for me; I'll have to see.  I feel ready to begin dating again.  I think it is time to let my best imaginings about a guy and a relationship manifest so I can prove to myself that these ideas are not just in my head, but that they can be real.  That is my very hopeful side talking; I also know it will take time, patience and hard work on this project.  I am ready to make that effort.

Still Hopeful ~ Elise

Friday, 13 July 2012

What is a Hopeful Romantic?

This is something that I have thought about before, but it only crystallized for me last week.  Since I am a student of languages, I tend to ask myself all sorts of questions about why we say things the way we do.  One of the very first times I remember reflecting on one such question was when my Mom's friend, an English professor at the university level, asked me why I said something was "awfully good".  She wanted to know if I understood why I could put those two seemingly contradictory words together in that way.  Was it good, or was it awful?  Interestingly enough, the answer to this question is directly pertinent to the one I was wondering about last week.

I was going about my everyday business and found myself suddenly wondering why people use the term "hopeless romantic".  I thought that sounded very negative and wondered why anyone would want to refer to themselves in that way.  When I had this conversation later with my mother, I realized that I had fundamentally misunderstood this expression my entire life.  In anycase, I was thinking that I had never heard anyone call someone a hopeless romantic without it being some sort of criticism.  I understood the part about a hopeless romantic being someone who is "in love with love" and not having a very realistic view of love and relationships, seeing everything through rose-coloured glasses.  So this is where I thought the "hopeless" part entered into it: that by having unrealistic views or expectations, a person puts themselves in a hopeless situation, that is, sets themselves up for perpetual disappointment since they were wishing for something that was unattainable.  My Mom actually burst out laughing when she heard my off-beat definition.  It took me awhile to get why it was so funny.  Finally, I burst out, "OH, it's because "hopeless" is the intensifier, is that it?"  She said yes and I told her that she should've said so much sooner.  Mom and I have a common language: grammar.  We often have long conversations on various grammar points because I study languages and she is a brilliant English teacher.  So all these years, I had thought that "hopeless" was a regular adverb in this expression, only to realize just recently that it is a special adverb called an intensifier.  Intensifiers don't have meaning of their own; they simply put emphasis on the word they are associated with.  That is why "awfully good" works: it doesn't mean "awful", it means "really really good".  In the same way, I learned that a "hopeless romantic" is someone who is very romantic.

Well, this blew my whole theory out of the water.  Before I had spoken to my mother, my reflections had continued with my erroneous idea of what a hopeless romantic was.  I had then thought to myself, "So why doesn't anyone call themselves a hopeful romantic?"  I find myself occasionally in love with love, but I like to think that generally I have a pretty realistic viewpoint on the subject of love.  Certainly I think of myself as a positive person in general, so much more hopeful than hopeless.  Here I thought I was a genius and that I had created a revolutionary concept.  I was inspired.  However, there were two problems as I later discovered.  Firstly, my Hopeful romantic was based on a misinterpretation of hopeless romantic.  Secondly, it was not an original thought.  I was very disappointed.  The urban dictionary beat me to it:

I don't know how many people know this term or use it.  Just because it is on the urban dictionary doesn't mean that it's necessarily popular.  I was also dismayed to find that google produced a blog for a Hopeful Romantic.  I had been inspired earlier, though, and had had this funny idea about creating a blog based on my concept.  I decided to wait a bit and see if I still thought it was a good idea.  Finally, I decided to create this blog because I knew mine would be different from the one that already exists and because my idea of a Hopeful romantic still felt original and meaningful to me.

To summarize, a Hopeful romantic is a person who is looking for romance, but is grounded in reality at the same time.  They feel hopeful about finding a special person and that romance exists.  This is my starting definition and one that I will use throughout the blog when I refer to a Hopeful romantic.  I suppose it will evolve a little as I go.

Signed a Hopeful Romantic named Elise