Monday, December 27, 2010

Online Dating Common Sense

If you're new to online or internet dating, the concept might feel odd. A bit like window shopping for a new car, house or electrical appliance. But the fact is, it can be a highly efficient and effective way to screen potential dates and mates by getting a generally idea of who they are and how compatible you might be together, before you ever meet in person.

As someone who has been on no less than five different internet dating sites and have had literally over two hundred first time meetings with guys over the course of three years, I've learned a few things about how to apply common sense to online dating. In the 200+ guys that I've raced go karts, shot pool, played miniature golf and had ice cream cones or lunch with, there were only three times the person was not who I thought or things went badly, and ALL three times I broke my own basic rules.

I believe the majority of people who online date are well intentioned people who are simply not finding love in the conventional ways. I'm sure there are a few psychopaths on the sites as well, but by following a few simple rules you can typically avoid them.

1. Don't talk to anyone who won't reveal basic stats and info about themselves, and doesn't have a picture. NEVER give out your phone number, email address or meet in person anyone who doesn't have or won't post clear, recent, full body pictures of themselves first!

2. Don't talk to anyone who openly admits they're already in a relationship or married, or doesn't want any kind of relationship ever. Unless you'd like to be part of a pointless love triangle.

3. Don't continue to talk to anyone who seems to have issues involving:
healthy self-esteem
drugs/ substance abuse
criminal history
violent tendencies
frequent drama filled breakups/ chronic relationships
emotional or mental instability
unable to keep a job
stuck in high school/ college party mode
wants an "instant" relationship
seems to have an ulterior motive for meeting people off this site

4. Don't talk to anyone who's stories don't add up. Who doesn't have a car, or a cell phone/ home phone, or any income, or any future plans or won't talk about their past.

5. Don't talk to anyone who asks you for money, wants you to fly out of the country to meet them, wants you to pay for their plane ticket to come meet you.

6. Don't talk to anyone who is desperate to become a couple instantly, talks about you two getting married before meeting (or after the first date), move in together right away or who otherwise seems desperate to get into a relationship immediately.

7. Don't meet in person anyone you haven't had at least one decent length, normal, enjoyable conversation with over a phone.

8. Never agree to things you may not be able or willing to do once you've met. This include everything from making out/having sex with them, to allowing them to stay at your house, to being a couple, to going on a trip/vacation together, etc. If after you've met in person and they've lied about who they are, you don't feel comfortable around them or just aren't interested in them romantically, you don't want to have promises and obligations you'll want to bail on.

9. Always meet in a public location you feel comfortable with, where there will be other people, good lighting and a way out if you need one. Never meet at someone's house, or let them know exactly where you live until you've met them and decided they're trustworthy. (That's why I always drive myself so I have my own wheels and if they turn out to be a stalker, they don't know where I live!)

10. If either of you have kids, do NOT bring them to a first time meeting with someone you yourself do not know. (Remember stranger danger?)

11. Be honest and upfront about who you are, what you want and have to offer. Don't stick around if they aren't honest and upfront about those things.

12. Meet everyone with low expectations but high standards. Like a job interview, if it's not going to be a good fit you don't want to force it and you don't want to settle. If you anticipate too much before hand and it doesn't pan out, you (or the other person) are going to be really disappointed. Better to not expect much and possibly be pleasantly surprised.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Without Santa or Christ

What is the real meaning of Christmas?

Some people would say it’s celebrating the Winter Solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year the way ancient pagan cultures used to.

Others would say it’s keeping the legacy going of Saint Nicholas a 4th century bishop who "had a reputation for secret gift giving", particularly coins in shoes left out. (Hanging stockings anyone?)

And there are many would argue that it’s the birth (or at least celebrating the birth in human form) of a god named Jesus Christ who will allegedly redeem the world from sin and wickedness someday.

And if you bring Hanukkah and Kwanzaa into the mix, it can get really confusing.

Throw in commercialization and the push to buy big, extravagant gifts and max out your credit cards and you have quite the hodge podge of expectations to live up to during the (often) most frigid time of the year.

But the fact is, Christmas or the Winter Holidays or whatever you want to call the month of December is for some reason when most people start focusing on generosity towards loved ones and strangers alike and reconnect with those they may only contact once a year.

I suggest that Christmas is not about god, a made-over Catholic bishop, or anything mythical or supernatural. (What is with all the bearded men anyway?)

It’s about rekindling our priorities towards our loved ones near and far, and extending that love to our larger human family. It’s about putting aside human differences, foibles and petty arguments and acknowledging that we are all part of the pleasure and pain that is life. The struggle to self discovery, the search of life’s meaning and the hope for happiness and love.

It’s when much of the earth is forced to take a break from growth and expansion and with temperatures dropping to sometimes freezing temperatures and availability of food and shelter depleted, we humans are reminded in very real, tangible ways that the cycles of existence include death of all living things and we should value and appreciate them while we can.

That is a very worthy thing to celebrate. A highly relatable concept that all of humanity can agree with and embrace.

There is no centerpiece to this celebration. No pine tree to decorate. No special candles to light. No Santa figure to take pictures with at the malls or gilded figurines adorn our mantles with. No nativity scene or crosses to erect and worship.

It’s much more basic than that. Much less fancy and maybe to some less appealing. Because at that point, it’s not just about buying cool electronics, expensive jewelry or gift cards for those nearest and dearest to you. It’s not about singing songs of praise to an invisible god who will hopefully someday accomplish all the impossibly Utopian things that we mortals are incapable of. It’s not about repaying a debt of gratitude to a super natural force so it will allow the sun to restore warmth and food supplies to the planet.

It's about meeting the most basic of human needs. Food. Warmth. Shelter. Purpose. Kindness. Decency. Dignity.

It’s about remembering that all humans are part of one large intertwined family and none of us can survive or be happy, if we are deprived of contact, and purpose within that family.

As pack animals, we all have a role in making this family world function. We come from different continents. We have different languages, different cultural expectations, and different government regulations. I am not placing a case for a “One World” leadership.

I am only saying that this month is an opportunity to celebrate humanity: our goodness, our generosity, our universal craving to be loved, accepted and needed. And that, should be the real meaning of Christmas. We just need a new name for it.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Great vs Small Minds

Which mind have you?

Great minds discuss ideas;
Average minds discuss events;
Small minds discuss people.

Voluntary Simplicity

A radical concept in consumer driven America.

Around Christmas time? It's just about (economically) blasphemous! But I think it's a fantastic idea we should all implement in our lives, to some degree.