Archive for the 'My latest greatest' Category



Would you outsource your love life?

Anyone who’s spent any time in the online dating world can tell you it’s pretty much a full-time job. Not only do you have to take hours writing your profile (and/or taking tedious questionnaires), you have to sort through an interminable list of hobbies and favorite childhood memories and items you’ll find in various strangers’ bedroom.

And let’s not forget the thousands of goofball photos — most of them featuring cats in hats, big-ass trucks or large potted palms jutting out of the back of your future former spouse’s head.

Well, for those who are tired of all that monotonous work of sifting through piles of dross in order to find dating gold, there’s good news. For a fee, a handful of “virtual dating assistants” will gladly separate the Wheat-Free Girl from the Just Call Me Chaff.

I wrote about these new start-ups and their unconventional services in a recent MSNBC.com story. Not only will the dating consultants create your online dating profile, they’ll surf your choice of online dating sites for potential dates, handle all communication between you and the hotties (or notties) you want to pursue (e-mails are approved beforehand) and even go so far as to plan your first date, down to the clothes you wear and the spot you go for dinner.

For some folks — namely busy executives with tons of cash and simple needs (i.e., naughty nurses) — the service is a dream. For others, it’s the height of deception. As for me, I’m far too high control to outsource my love life. Although considering how bad I’ve gotten about posting updates to this site (sorry, but life’s been insanely busy lately), I might want to consider outsourcing my blog.

No time for a relationship? Try an ‘elationship’

Like most people, I’ve done the internet dating thing. And like most people, I’ve become completely enamored with some witty, charming soulmate I’ve never actually met.

One such character – Sal – lived in San Francisco. I can’t remember exactly why I started corresponding with him (aside from the usual hormonal stuff). Perhaps it was because his introductory note wasn’t rife with the usual misspellings and annoying emoticons. They make me so ; ( .   No, Sal was smart, well-read and incredibly persistent. Not a day went by that I didn’t get an email or IM or, as time went by, a phone call from him. At first, all the attention was flattering. He told me he adored me and couldn’t wait to meet (he even bought tickets for a weekend visit). He told me I was beautiful, sexy, and more important, smart. Sal touched my very soul — for about 10 minutes.

Then, as suddenly as I had become enthralled, I became annoyed. Who did he think he was barging into my life like this? I seethed. The guy was calling me every day, sometimes twice a day. I had no privacy, no life of my own. Sal’s confidence now reeked of arrogance; his constant attention was suffocating. I felt trapped, resentful; god help me, I felt married. The next time he called, I told him to back off (I think I said back, anyway) — which he did immediately. And within three days, I was miserable. Where had my witty charming guy gone? I wondered, staring at my silent phone, my empty inbox.  Eventually, I called him and we began anew – our virtual relationship following the same arc as any normal face-to-face relationship, up to and including the kiss-off three months later (via email, of course).

As I said, though, I’m hardly alone when it comes to these online relationships, or as I call them, “elationships.”  In fact, I just wrote a story for MSNBC.com (here’s the link) about the phenom, which has become more and more rampant with each new social media /online communication tool. Part of it, I think, has to do with our busy lives and the ease with which we can reach out to (or even juggle) hundreds of potential new mates. And part of it lies in the nature of the Internet, this odd place where we can all too comfortably spill our secrets and bare our souls. One woman I interviewed even carried on a year-long elationship (via email, text, tweet, IM, Facebook and phone) — with a man she never actually met.

Incredulous? Don’t be. Intimacy is easy via the Internet. After all, don’t you feel like we’ve grown closer these last few months?  

Love is in the air … and between the covers

It’s finally February, that month when everyone’s thoughts turn to the brutal murder and martyrdom of St. Valentine.  Um, I mean, romance. Seattle is no different, with nearly the entire February issue of Seattle Magazine devoted to the topic of love and relationships.  

And wouldn’t you know it? They’ve asked yours truly to contribute my two cents’ worth.

What do Seattle singles have to say about the dating scene? Is there one? If so, who’s out there in it and how are they going about it? Do people even use the word “dating” anymore? Or do they prefer some euphemism like “hiking the Pacific Crest Trail”? And if that’s the case, are condoms one of the 10 Essentials?

I penetrated the city and asked local singles for answers to these and other burning dating questions (as for that burning sensation, you really should see a doctor). Click here for a decade-by-decade breakdown of the Seattle singleton scene.

And in honor of today’s holiday — Groundhog’s Day – here’s another little ditty.  Ever fallen for somebody who’s crawled out of a romantic stupor, spotted a shadow of a relationship, then fled back into their hidey-hole, leaving you out in the cold?  Sorry to break it to you, but that wasn’t a guy. You were dating a groundhog.

Happy February, folks, and hope to see you between the covers (of Seattle Magazine, of course!).

Have yourself a dysfunctional little Christmas

Stress and holidays go together like overcooked turkey and dry dressing and what’s more stressful than the thought of a new love interest meeting your entire dysfunctional family?

Seriously, what do you do? Bring your new squeeze home to meet your scrapping siblings or come up with a glib excuse to keep them away? Warn them about Uncle Toby’s drinking problem ahead of time or cross your fingers and hope he doesn’t attack them under the mistletoe?  

I’ve certainly been in the unenviable and (awkward!) position of introducing a new date to the dysfunctional family fold — as have many others – and thought it might be a fun topic to explore for Match.com’s Happen Magazine.

According to psychotherapist Tina Tessina, prepping a new love interest for the family dynamic is crucial (i.e., “By the way, honey, if my brother-in-law offers to show you his stomach surgery scar, tell him no or else you won’t be able to eat dinner”). Secret signals can also come in handy, like a finger across the throat when your new girlfriend keeps encouraging Grandpa to discuss his recent teabagging escapades (political and otherwise).

Wondering how you can reconcile a new boyfriend or girlfriend with an alcoholic dad, a hoarding mom and/or a trio of sniping sisters-in-law? Then click here and read on. And as always, feel free to share your own stories of dysfunctional family gatherings (is there any other kind?).  Merry Christmas, friends and readers, and all the best to you — and your families — in 2010.  

Fairy tale romance or fauxmance?

knight-in-shining-armor (2)We’ve all seen the personal ads, heard the familiar phrases. Brainy blonde looking for my knight in shining armor. Investment banker in search of his queen. Prince or Princess Charming, where the hell are you?

From televised tripe like The Bachelor to essays in The New York Times (where a writer recently lamented that she “would love to experience life as a pampered princess, at least once”), you’ll find some single people clinging to dreams of royal romance as desperately as some folks hang onto their bad high-school-hair.

I’ve got a new piece out on Singularcity.com (the same folks who publish the slick, sensational Singular Magazine) that discusses the pyrite-like allure of fairy tale romance and what life was really like for kings, queens, princesses and those handsome knights in shining armor.

According to social historian Stephanie Coontz, most royal unions were nasty, brutish and short – especially on love.

“Princess Diana’s situation is typical as far as the historic tradition goes,” says Coontz, author of Marriage: A History and director of education at the Council on Contemporary Families. “Once they got the woman to give them their heir, the king or prince went back to whomever they really liked.”

Princesses were usually pampered by their sycophantic servants rather than suitors and those dashing knights weren’t exactly handsome heroes (or all that hygienic).

For the full story behind the “happily ever after” stuff we’ve been reared on all these years, click here.  Warning: reading this story may be hazardous to your Disneyesque  ideals of  romance.

Are you a dating ‘dick’?

are-you-a-dating-dickYou stop into your favorite watering hole after a long week at work and what should happen but you meet somebody cute. And not only are they cute, they’re seemingly single, obviously interested and there’s even a bit of a spark.

So what do you do?  Give them your card?  (That’s backfired before.)  Give them a deep wet kiss in the back of the coat closet? (Only to be surprised by “sudden spouse syndrome” three weeks down the line.) Or do you pull out your iPhone and do a quick background check while they’re in the loo so you can find out if they’re a creep or a con man or a convicted pedophile before things get out of hand.

My latest Tech story for MSNBC.com looks at DateCheck, a brand new mobile phone app that (for a fee) lets you plumb a slew of public databases to find out if Mr. or Ms. Seemingly Wonderful is married, a convicted felon or worse, a weekend clog dancer.  

Some singles love having a “private dick” in the palm of their hands; others feel this sort of access to private information — i.e., a person’s address, employer, property tax records, a record of their unpaid parking tickets — is a bit of a slippery slope. Or just plain old unethical.

What do you do think?   Would you want to get the 411 on a complete stranger (and/or have them be able to get it on you?). Or do you prefer to trust your gut when it comes to potential suitors. Discuss among yourselves. I’ll be in the coat closet awaiting your answer.

Yes, there’s an app for that, too

are-you-appnoxiousMy story on “appnoxious” smartphone users went live today on MSNBC.com. In a nutshell, the story’s about people who’ve become so enamored by all their fancy phone applications that they’re driving everyone around them insane. Or as I put it in my reported piece:

Thanks to a wave of popular new apps, our phones are now capable of passing gas, passing judgment, and annoying our friends, family and colleagues in a much more efficient, high-tech manner. They’ve also granted us the power to instantly correct — and/or alienate — anyone around us in a matter of seconds because of Web access at our fingertips. “I was at a restaurant with friends and said something about Ralph Macchio being in a movie and pretty soon somebody’s got IMDb (the Internet Movie Database Web site) out on their phone and they’re looking it up,” says Jonathan Acuff, a 33-year-old copywriter from Alpharetta, Ga. “You can’t casually say, ‘I kind of like that guy in that movie’ anymore unless you’re sure he was in it. Now they look it up and somebody else looks it up and they’re like, ‘You’re wrong.’ ”

I didn’t include info on this in the story, but there are also a slew of new mobile phone dating apps. Speeddate.com, which offers 3-minute online speed dates using instant messaging or live video has just come out with a new free downloadable Android app (apparently there’s an iPhone app already) that allows people to speed date through their smartphone as opposed to their computer.

Other mobile dating apps include BumpChat 1.1, a new “location-aware” mobile dating and chat application for the iPhone, and Are You Interested? an iPhone application for mobile dating that ties in with the AYI? website and Facebook Connect integration. Whatever the hell that means.

Also just released (and you knew this was coming): 140love.com, a new Twitter-based dating service, where you can sign up, peruse members’ online dating profiles and see if anybody’s  140-character communication stream sets your heart “a twitter”.

If it just me or does it seem like we should all save ourselves a lot of time and trouble and just start having sex with our computers? My guess is there’s an app for that, too.


What’s the story?

Meet Diane Mapes, your friendly neighborhood freelance writer. My beats include health (with an emphasis on cancer prevention, treatment and survivorship) and lifestyle and singles issues, but I also love writing about history, natural history, pop culture and TV/film. On this site, you'll find links to stories, praise for my writing (*blush*) and the odd bit of social commentary about the single life. Also here, a few shameless plugs for my books (hint: see links below). Have fun, glad you're here and hope to hear from you soon.

Oh! And if you're looking for my breast cancer blog, go to Double_Whammied

Check out my books!

How to Date in a Post-Dating World A dating manual for the modern, mangled single.

Single State of the Union
Single women speak out on life, love and the pursuit of happiness.

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