Tag Archives: confusion

Just Ctrl C Ctrl V (part 2)

I’ve recently described the phenomenon of the well-crafted generic message that is posted to hundreds of girls at once, equivalent to flyering your neighbourhood with valentine’s cards.

There are many different approaches to constructing these messages, and I would like to highlight some of them.

Speaking to a large group of people yet achieving that everyone in the crowd feels uniquely addressed is a form of art, and a skill honed in expensive management classes and nights down the corner pub. One strategy that I previously discussed, is to keep the message very short and concise. This will intrigue the reader and make them hunger for more.

Today I will share a message with you that followed quite the opposite approach. The writer decided to reveal everything, and draw me in with full, honest disclosure. He discusses his employment details, his goals in life, his hopes for our relationship, and his medical history. He also alludes to sexual preferences. All in all, a self-summary that could not be more open. What else could a girl want?

But read for yourself.

Example B:

I am Egyptian man I work a lawyer and I have 25 years love life simple hope that Atovq through this site to find a Wife is shared by my life in the future and had a children and live in peace and I am open-minded and it is not none other bad, to search for Wife by sites the net and I hope you understand me

I’m good-hearted man looking for love do not look for the shape I’m looking for a good heart and a sense of fulfillment I am sincere and I hope to get to know a lot about you and your love of your life and future .. Surely I do not know what is possible in the future I am, a pair for you.
Obviously, you are so beautiful white heart Ok I’m raring to get to know you.
Do not leave me

I want to marry you, I did not unprotected sex never in my life I really need to get married and wish to marry a foreign girl Do you agree, and I admitted I did not never unprotected sex with any girl in my life

Full message, no edits. Life is that good.

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Be Descriptive

The below post contains personal ramblings about body type, weight, public perception etc. I’m happy and healthy, and not too neurotic about these things apart from when typing them up for my blog, so I think it’s ok to post this. However innocent my intentions, if you have weight/body issues, this post might be a trigger.

Second note: I’m using terms like “fat” and “skinny”, when I talk about people. This doesn’t denote a value judgement.

When filling out an online dating profile, you will almost invariably find a page with a host of dropdown menus that make it able to comparably describe you to others. While your personality gets little empty textboxes you have to fill in yourself, your physical attributes get an array of 9 point Likert scales.

However, while there are very fixed measurements for some attributes such as height, and quasi-objective descriptions for things like eye colour (step away from the qualia issue, please) there are certain dropdown menus that rely on rather more insight and subjective analysis.

I’m specifically talking about the “body type” field. My dating site of choice gives you the choice of:

Rather not Say, Thin, Overweight, Skinny, Average, Fit, Athletic, Jacked, A little extra, Curvy, Full figured and Used up.

So yes, plenty of options to choose from. I initially chose Average, as a cover all term, because  it’s hard to be more specific. There are two different issues at play. The main point is a) How I perceive myself, and which words describes that. Even more tricky though is issue b) How the consensus of site users uses and perceives these terms.

It’s no use if I put Skinny because I totally lost a pound last week, and haven’t had breakfast today, so my stomach looks practically concave. I’m still very firmly not-skinny in the eyes of others.

I thus went with the elimination method: I’m definitely not Skinny (too many things under that skin), Overweight (BMI says not), Thin, or Jacked. I’d also like to believe that at not-even-the-end-of-my-twenties-yet I’m also not Used Up, although my under eye circles tell a different story on Monday mornings.

That leaves me with: Average, Fit, Athletic, A little extra, Curvy and Full figured.

And this is where it becomes difficult. First of all these six seem to fall in three clusters: Fit and Athletic belong together, and so do A little extra, Curvy and Full figured. The former two are for sporty figures, the latter three for various forms of the higher range of the BMI.

A little extra is probably just a euphemism for overweight or obese, where the extra is the bit that goes over the normal weight. So I decided to exclude that. Even though I think there’s plenty of extra on my lower stomach for example. overall it’s probably a misleading term. Again, I’m not actually that big, have a NHS approved healthy weight and wear clothes from the not-plus-size range. I have a similar problem with Fuller figure, which seems even more cryptic. Does it mean fuller than Average people? In a society with rates of 60% overweight and  23%  clinically obese, that puts the bar quite high. Or am I fuller if I’m heavier than my healthprofessionally determined normal/ideal weight (which then seems to hold true for over half of the population)?

Again, this term seems to be euphemism for extra weight, maybe a little, maybe a little more than a little. In my perception fuller figured also correlates with increased height, and brings up a Wagnerian heroine: tall, big and impressive.  Concludingly, I’m not happy to conjure a Rubenesque image, where my creamy, fleshy thighs overspill the dainty red velvet chaiselongue, naughty bits barely covered up by some cleverly draped leaves/waistlength hair.  Any guy hoping for that when reading my description would be surly disappointed upon meeting me.

Ok, we’re down to Average, Fit, Athletic and Curvy.

The problem with the sporty descriptions is that they also suggest a very clear image. If I describe myself as athletic, guys will hope for a tall Swedish triathlete with lithe, toned legs, flat stomach and small, but perfectly perky chest.

Fit probably goes in the same direction, possibly with slightly bigger breasts.

Much as my arms and shoulders are about as defined as you’re allowed while still wearing strapless dresses, and my calves are “proper hiker’s calves” as my granddad approvingly called them, my overall figure is nowhere near lithe. I have the aforementioned extra stomach, a very non-sporty looking bum and breasts that when running require the attention of a maximum security sports bra that costs more than my running shoes and should really come with a valet that helps you putting it on and lock the three (!) different closures. Comparing myself to the Swedish triathlete seems false marketing at best.

This brings us to Curvy.

Ah, Curvy. This is the one description that inspired this rambling post. My friend suggested that’s what I should call myself as it “sounds much sexier than average“. And with aforementioned bum and boobs in relation to my waist he might not be altogether wrong. However, I have two problems with this term.

a) Some people seem to use Curvy as another girl-specific euphemism for overweight. And while the two populations certainly overlap (pun definitely not intended), there are plenty of overweight girls who are not curvy, and still claim this term, as it gradually morphs from “very distinct boob/hip to waist ratio, regardless of actual size of either” to “lots of boobs and bum, we’ll not look too closely at your waist”. The main point of debate seems to be whether curves require a distinct “in-out” movement, or whether say, an apple or barrel with their convex outline can be called curvy.

Again, I have a hard time calling myself fatter than I already am and feel no desire to group myself with lots of big-is-beautiful advocates.

The second point goes rather in the opposite direction.

b) In the eyes of some guys, curvy seems to mean a mix of Betty Boop and J.Lo. I’m neither. Yes, I have boobs, but I can still walk straight and thankfully don’t get a backache from my bra. Likewise, my butt does not shatter baked bean can pyramids in supermarkets when I turn around, and my not so dainty arms and legs are in proportion with my torso.

Between a and b, and the implicit message of “I’m a fat version of Betty Boop”. I’d rather stay clear from the term and be safe.

Which leaves me with AVERAGE.

My fit shoulders, athletic arms and legs, curvy boobs and waist, little-extra belly, full hips and thighs simply average out.

I feel misrepresented.

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There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

This happened ages ago, but apparently I forgot to blog about this, despite it teaching me a very valuable lesson. I guess I was too embarrassed. But hey, I’ve been reprimanded for not updating my blog (by both my readers), so I thought I’d share it after all. I’m much wiser now, obviously.

When I moved house a while ago, I did it with help of several friends, who assisted in going through my wardrobe and sorting clothes into piles of why-do-I-never-wear-this and why-did-I-ever-wear-this, who helped to pack things into boxes and who made the new house a home. The only thing I needed to call a professional for was the transport of my belongings from my old to my new abode. As a moving company seemed a little unnessecary for my three suitcases and two boxes, I settled on a minicab.

This is a long introduction to how I met D., my friendly minicab driver. We chatted on the way across north-east London, and as the drive took nearly an hour, we had plenty of time to get quite well-aquainted, despite our limiting language abilities (his English was creative, my Turkish is pretty much nonexistant). We talked about the weather in London (not good), the weather in Cyprus (much better!), his wife and family (two grown sons, who come home with their girlfriends all the time, because they’re good sons), his nephew (very cute and marriagable) , my fiancé (imaginary) and so forth. It was all perfectly superficial and amicable. I was excited about leaving my old house behind once and for all, and didn’t pay much attention to any subtext – I actually patted myself on the back for catching on to the nephew thing. He told me he’d be off work after bringing me to my destination, and would go home to a beautiful Sunday lunch of homemade kebabs surrounded by his amazing family.
After my expression of approval of kebabs and family life, D. invited me to join him and his family in (stereo?) typical turkish hospitality. I found this a bit weird, and just laughed it off politely and said I’d be quite busy unpacking all my boxes. He seemed to understand that (I mentioned the language troubles), but quickly suggested that I could come by any other time. Again, I took this as an overwhelming display of somehow misplaced hospitality, and tried to shrug it off.
We dropped the subject, arrived at my new place, and he helped carrying all my boxes inside. In the end, he firmly said “Vee do kebab next sunday, yes yes?”, and I might have laughed and said “Haha, so generous, haha, we’ll see.”
Any attentive reader who can now tell me where this is going totally wrong: congratulations- you possess more common sense than me.

I said goodbye completely obliviously to the fact that a guy who had my full address and phone number just invited himself round for a date, happy to have gotten a good deal on my taxi and having found the one friendly cabdriver in London who’ll help to carry boxes. Obviously this sort of naiveté doesn’t go unpunished.
I thus woke up the next Sunday around noon to a phone call from an unknown number.
“Yehs, yehs, is D. – going to be a bit later, but be there with kebab and vie-yun in half hour. yehs?”
Oh, holy fuck.
Half an hour later, I opened the door to my minicab driver, who had truly brought lamb kebabs, salad and a bottle of red. My manners dictated that I ask him in, and I set the table. More, slightly less amicable, slightly more awkward, smalltalk about his family, my family and the weather ensued. We ate the kebab, but didn’t drink the wine cause it was only 12.30 and he still needed to drive his cab. We quickly ran out of things to talk about. I started learning how to count in turkish. D. tried to kiss me.
Oh, holy fuck.
I asked him to leave, he asked for “Jus won keess”. I got him out of the door, double-locked it and put the chain in. My housemate came out of her room and asked what on earth had just happened.
I felt like an utter idiot. I always assume the very best in people, and really try to give everyone a chance. A lot of times this leads to great experiences and making new friends very easily. When opening the door, I genuinely thought “Hey, how nice is this guy for bringing by kebabs! This is so friendly.” Somehow I think that might not be the best strategy in London, where people have a hidden (or not so hidden) agenda. I got off rather lightly this time, but more caution might be advised in the future.

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Sine Qua Non?

Maybe a bit too glum and dry, but a not-too-recent date brought up this musing.

This blog is about dating. However, it’s not about falling in love, having sex or finding a life partner (or debatably all the interesting aspects of dating).  Instead, most of my posts centre on the formalities and mere technicalities of dating. Maybe this is due to my personal predisposition to feel more at ease once I have established a routine, and identified all the rules. In the end, this routine provides the necessary framework for the exciting rest, right?

With this premise, I happily blog about what goes wrong, what feels right, about patterns that I observe and about the little anecdotes my life provides me with that support this presumption.

But once in a while, a date comes along that challenges my framework. Much like any scientist, this leaves me astonished and a bit disgruntled. Acknowledging that my model can’t account for my data,  I either ignore the new data point as an outlier (the easy way out) or I need to change my model.

Some time ago I had a date that reminded me of an important flaw of my model, in that the date itself wasn’t flawed at all – it was simply perfect.

The pre-date communication went well, with several short messages that made me laugh and curious about N. and when we did meet, he proposed a good outing. We had time to talk, we shared sushi and hot chocolate, we walked around a bit, we laughed. As his emails had suggested, N. was attentive, spontaneous and great fun to talk to. He wasn’t rude to anyone. He wasn’t creepy and overly personal. He wasn’t boring or taken either. And you know what? He didn’t mention how drunk he was at university even once!

Instead we spent a few delightful hours doing some of my favourite things, eating my favourite foods, and generally agreeing a lot.

It’s probably worth mentioning that he’s not bad-looking either.

However (you knew there was a catch, right?), we didn’t go out again. Yes, I realised that I’d absolutely love to spend more time with him. He’s clever, kind and we have similar interests. I was almost sure that we’d make great friends. There, I said it. Friends.

I just didn’t feel attracted to him.

I always knew that attraction isn’t easily summarised or defined, but somehow I presumed that missing attraction was usually based on something tangible being wrong with a date –  like the dealbreakers I previously described on this blog. To a certain degree, I thought that if someone came along that “ticked all the boxes”, I’d also be attracted to him.

Yet here came N., handsome and entertaining, with no discernible faults  on a picture-perfect first date. And my visceral response was completely absent.

I therefore think my model needs revision. The above mentioned factors, collectively named “dating skills”, while necessary, are obviously not sufficient. Something else is missing here.

It could be called attraction, chemistry or spark, but for my model, I’m naming it sine qua non, or “the one without which nothing else will be possible”.

Now I’m not sure whether the consequence of this discovery should be to only date people who I initially feel this sine qua non with, or whether I can only discover this magical spark once I’m on an otherwise mediocre date that is lit up by it.

Stay tuned.

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Txtspk

The other day I talked to A. and he asked me whether I’d called back a guy who had given me his number. I told A. that I hadn’t called him yet, and he accused me of playing hard to get. My main motive was slightly less Machiavellian – I simply didn’t have any credit on my phone. On the other hand, I readily admitted that I probably wouldn’t have called straight away anyway out of fear to appear overeager.

I find it difficult to gauge when the right time for contact is. Call too early and you seem desperate, too late and you appear uninterested.

In between those two there is a tiny time window in which it is “cool” to call.

Oh how I wish I could nail this window down to an exact timepoint like “sometime between 10am and 3pm on the second day after you’ve last seen each other”. Alas, at least with me on the receiving end, the acceptable time window moves around depending on how well our first meeting went, what we agreed on, and how much I’m holding out for this call. In general, I’d say anything on the first or second day is good, whereas I’d find more than 72 hours of unexplained silence weird (did you first request a CRB check on me?).

However, while I’d usually raise an eyebrow when someone contacts me the same evening, there have been times when I’ve been thrilled to see my phone light up at 1am, just after returning home.

Time of day is also key – a message at 3am makes me way more suspicious than the same wording at 10am. There’s just no way you can send a casual, breezy message at 3am. Just that you’re still up and thinking about messaging me makes it un-breezy. So if you want to “be cool”, contact me during working hours or in the early evening-but any time works if you want to let me know you really care (just don’t call me in the middle of the night).

This also broaches the next question – how do you contact someone? In our times, multiple channels of communication are open with most people, which brings further confusion. Is it better to call? Or should I send a more casual text? Is a facebook message too nonchalant or an email too formal? The enraging truth is that this decision also has to made on a case-to-case basis. On the receiving end, I certainly prefer written contact. However, this is pretty much only for the fact that I find it much, much easier to react on paper, because I have time to consider and phrase my sentiments. However, if you can deal with me feeling pressured go ahead and call, I’ll probably say yes to a second date simply because I’m caught off guard. Texts can range from being sweet and making me laugh to pointless, full of bad spelling and too short to convey even the most basic message. Emails are nice, if maybe a touch too official – especially when sent from a long-winded work address with 7 line signature. Ok, I get it, you have a job, well done! This is especially endearing (not.) when the actual message is way shorter than the signature.

Personally, I’ll also screen all written contact for telltale typos an disgstin $lang. I use certain abbreviations myself when texting, but couldn’t take anyone seriously who’d write “Yo, want 2 go dancin dis sat? talk 2 u l8r!” etc.

Obviously that in turn makes me really self-conscious when sending texts myself – do I come across as a pedantic stickler just because I spell out “tomorrow” instead of typing 2mro? Or will my email go straight from inbox to trash because of incorrect capitalisation?

All this amounts to my texts being sent all the later the more I like someone, because I fret way too much about how they will be received. Somehow ironic, when their very being so late makes them being received differently.

So altogether, my strategy is:

1) Wait (for daytime for more casual replies)

2) Be brief (unlike with these posts…)

3) Be as niggly/sloppy as I personally like to be. In the end, I neither want a guy who feels intimidated by fully spelt-out dates nor one who rejects me for an occasional slipped punctuation mark.

What’s your strategy?

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The Right Kind of Signal

or: How to Avoid Accidental Dates

After I posted about how I have accidental dates and then have a hard time maneuovering out of a second date,  a friend asked me the valid question how I end up on these accidental first dates. I’m not entirely sure, but I blame it on a mix of culture, personality and general naiveté. This post looks more closely into the details.

Firstly, one has to identify who the accidental date is likely to happen with. Simply put, it depends on the relation of the strength of my attraction to him to the strength of his attraction to me. Because I love visualising data, and can’t get enough of that in my day job, I have compiled this problem in a graph.

The fine line in the middle represents equal levels of attraction. As you can see, the main danger for accidental dates rests in the top left zone – where you reasonably like the person, but they like you quite a bit more. This disparity causes situations where you are quite comfortable having them around  and don’t suspect anything when they suggest outings. As you aren’t that attracted to them it maybe hasn’t even crossed your mind that there might be a subtext.

Secondly, I think that my non-verbal communication skills must be deeply flawed. Part of it might be that I’m foreign, and have different cultural values –  however, this is a feeble excuse seeing that my home country is not really known for its touchy feeliness, so it must be my personality. I’m extremely tactile, and will happily hug even people I have only just met. With my friends this becomes more pronounced, and I like to show my affection by touching their arm in conversation, walking with locked arms and hugging when greeting or saying goodbye. The way I was raised, affective touching is not necessarily sensual but can also be friendly and comforting.

However, I’ve learnt the hard way that especially among British born-and-bred males friendly touches are almost exclusively construed as coming on to them. So once you have identified your vulnerable accidental-date population, stick to the following:

Rule 1) No unnecessary touching.

Walk somewhere?  – Walk on your own!

Meet someone in the street? – Nod your head and say “You alright, mate?”

Have a quiet conversation somewhere? –  Keep your hands to yourself!

The next part is a bit more subtle, but also concerns my personality. I have the tendency to be very enthusiastic about things, and express this enthusiasm quite vocally. When I like something, I’ll probably tell you. And I like a lot of things. I also laugh out loud at jokes that I find funny. Again, I get the feeling that this natural enthusiasm and my way of showing it is not widely spread in England, which leads to my friendly interest looking like I’m way into someone. In reality, I’m just way into people in general.

Rule 2) Be cool.

Don’t squeal “OMG, me too”, at every second utterance of the other person. Don’t fall off your chair laughing. Don’t suggest seeing this absolutely cool band you’re sure the other person would just love.

The last one is crucial, so I’ll make it its own rule.

3) Don’t ever suggest a date-type outing to someone in the accidental date danger zone.

Ever.

Even though it kills you because you know you could have a great time making cookies together, or there’s this vintage café you really want to try out. Don’t expect someone who’s a little too into you to mindread that “Oh hey, let’s spend more time with just the two of us” actually comes with the implied caveat of “…as friends only!”. Sure, you know what you meant- you want to hang out, you think the other person would be fun to hang out with, and it all seems breezy. But from the rose-tinted view of someone with a crush it will almost certainly sound like you’re asking them out.

Date-type outings will include (but aren’t limited to) the following, if just the two of you are present:

Any type of sit-down meal, any type of event that requires tickets (cultural, sporting or other), any activity that takes place in one of your houses (absolutely no DVD nights!), any kind of trip or any nighttime activity outside. Come to think of that, I think any nighttime activity with just the two of you present is a date-type event, so best to avoid evenings altogether.

Grey areas are shared interests such as working out together, any of the aforementioned with another couple present (could be construed as a double date) and meals that are eaten while standing up or moving (only the truly desperate will consider a late-night trip to the kebab shop a date).

Safe events:  talking in your coffee break, time spent in a common group of friends, time spent on public transport.

See how this list is much, much shorter than the first list? This means suggesting events in general is probably a bad idea.

It is not fair to assume that the person with the massive emotional bias will sort out your ambiguous signals, so try to be as clear as possible.

Good luck.


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Nighttime is My Time…

I think time of day is crucially important when making decisions. What seems perfectly reasonable at 2am almost certainly sounds like a daft idea during bright daylight. In the world of dating this may be even more true than during other interactions – nighttime seems very special to any sort of romantic activity (see going to the park or dealbreaker III for specific examples, although virtually all the stories on this blog happened between 8pm and 8am). Especially the wee hours of the morning appear prone to intimate conversations, emotional revelations and rash decision making. This is not a new observation, and someone has even centred an episode of a sitcom around this phenomenon.

But what makes this time so special, so intimate? Is the link between nighttime and romantic activity strictly coincidental, correlational or even causal?

In a recent conversation with a friend we identified the following three factors.

1) If you are talking to someone at 2am, you probably have been talking to them for a while or know them well.

This is an important factor, and strictly correlational. We usually don’t start conversations with strangers at 2am,  so you probably have been talking to the other person for several hours since you started the conversation at a more conventional time that evening. This means it’s the unbroken length of conversation time, not the daytime itself that leads to revelations and sharing of intimate details.

A possible extension to this rule is that if you feel comfortable to start a conversation at 2am with someone you probably are either already familiar with each other, or at a party (and possibly inebriated). Both of these situations again benefit being close to someone.

Even if this is not true for you, and you neither know the other person nor have talked to them for a while, the sheer existence of this social convention creates the illusion of intimacy (“We are talking at a socially unconventional time – we must be able to share intimate details with each other”).

2) It’s dark outside.

Both me and B. agreed that this was somehow important, and probably a causal factor. Maybe it’s the age-old kindergarten trick of “if nobody sees me doing it, then I’m not doing anything wrong”, but regardless of the mechanism, inhibitions definitely drop in the dark.

3) Nobody else is awake.

Being alone with the other person definitely helps to bring intimate moments along. And at 2am you’re much more likely to be left alone than earlier in the day, simply because other (sane) people are sound asleep. Furthermore, not only are you physically alone, you also share the feeling that you’re the only people out of bed. If the two of you are the only ones to do something, then this means there is a special connection between you, right? Again, this creates the bond of  together defying a social convention.

This factor is a mix of correlational(physical aloneness) and causal(perceived aloneness).

So there you have it, the nighttime/intimacy link is neatly analysed and explained. I still don’t think I subscribe to the theory that “nothing good happens after 2am”. Quite to the contrary,  I believe that the wee hours are a time with incredible potential.

However, certain safety measures should be in place to fully benefit from the nighttime phenomenon. During the day it all seems just so clear, so it might not be much use to pretend “Would I act the same if it were 10am right now?” – we have just established that you probably wouldn’t.

Instead, just ask yourself whether your reaction the next morning is likely going to be “Wow, I finally dared to do this/ tell her/kiss him. I can’t believe I had the guts to do so” or “OMG, WTF, please let this not be true/Why  have I ever done this???”.

The fine line between relief and regret can be hard to make out at 2am, but it’s certainly worth trying.

***disclaimer: this post was written in broad daylight***

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