Archive for the 'Single Shot' Category

Should you buy your date’s kids presents?

Colleague and fellow relationship writer Theo Pauline Nestor contacted me a couple of weeks back, asking if I’d be willing to weigh in on the question of gift giving and the holidays. While there are always tons of stories out this time of year about what and when and if and how you should buy a gift for someone you’re just starting to date, Theo wanted to know what you do about your date’s kids.

Do you put on the old Santa suit and bribe the little darlings with the latest smart phone and Wii games? Or do you play dumb and pretend that your new main squeeze has no children (despite the cookie frosting and pieces of Pirate Booty in their hair).

Along with tapping me for advice, Theo turned to Rachel Sarah, author of Single Mom Seeking, Tina B. Tessina, psychotherapist and author of The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again and others. Here’s how her story, which ran on’s online magazine Happen, starts.

As holiday shopping kicks into full gear, you might be wondering if “naughty or nice” should be the sole criterion for choosing the lucky ones that make up your gift list. Those actively dating single parents may be a bit perplexed about whether they should play Santa to their dates’ kids this holiday season. We’ve talked to dating experts, single parents and those who’ve dated single parents to get their insight on the subject, so read on and see how they’ve weighed in on this tricky question.

If you’re dating a single parent this holiday season, the first question to answer is whether it’s a good idea to buy any gift for this person’s child (or children) at all. Some experts and single parents think the answer to this question lies in the relationship you’ve already cultivated with your date’s child. “I think it all depends on whether you have any kind of relationship with the kids or not. Not every single parent is comfortable introducing a date to their kids — at least, not for awhile,” says Diane Mapes, author of How to Date in a Post-Dating World.

Click here to read the rest.  In the meantime, I’m curious as to who out there does buy gifts for their dates’ kids and if so, how long it took you to get to this point. For that matter, I’m curious about how long it took for your date to introduce you to their child. I’ve dated men who’ve told me they absolutely refuse to introduce a new woman to their little one for “a year or year and a half.” Other singles have told me about meeting the kid and the date at the exact same time.

So what’s been the norm with you? Or is it like everything else with regard to the dating world – there is no norm. As always, thanks for the read and happy dating (and happy holidays), people.

Dating is murder

Jeremy Richards of Seattle’s local NPR radio station, KUOW, was kind enough to ask me onto his show, KUOW Presents, the other day to discuss dating and relationships in some of the current fiction I’d been reading. Ironically, most of my reading these days has been in the literary crime category, so I jokingly suggested a “dating is murder” theme. And wouldn’t you know it, he bit.

Herewith, a link to the show, where we discuss two books by the award-winning Irish author Tana French (In the Woods and its follow-up, The Likeness). Obviously, no one reads books about murder specifically for insights into dating, but I do think you come across as many relationship truths in crime fiction as you do truths about other human behavior. Not to mention some interesting insights into those supposedly “happy” marriages, many of which end with a leaded crystal vase to the side of the head.

One thing I didn’t mention on the show which is sort of interesting is that detectives —  often the narrators in crime fiction — are usually single. They may have occasional flings (sometimes with the wrong people, including suspects) but they always seem to start the book alone and end the book alone and that’s just fine with them. Their true relationship is with the case; finding the killer – as opposed to a soulmate — is what brings them happiness and satisfaction. But it’s not easy. Along the way, they get lied to and manhandled and led down countless blind alleys.

Hmmm, now that I think about it – maybe detective work and dating aren’t that different. What do you think — has your dating life been murder lately? Time to ‘fess up.

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 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 (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’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.  

It’s a family affair

I always feel a little goofy giving interviews to members of the media (I’m usually the one asking questions), but I got an interview request the other day that was actually pretty fun. Phillip Milano, who writes the “Dare to Ask” column for The Florida Times-Union, wanted to know if I would be his “guest expert” for the week and answer a question from a 36-year-old Jacksonville, Florida man. The guy’s predicament?

I’m 36 and just broke up after three months with a very sweet 20-year-old, Michele, who was simply too young for me. … Her mother, Linda, is 37, divorced and as sweet as her daughter. I know Linda is very attracted to me, and though I think we’d make a great couple, we haven’t said anything yet to Michele … Is it wrong for me to pursue Linda now that my relationship with Michele is over?

That’s right, he wanted to know if it was kosher to date (and do) the daughter and then turn around and date (and do) the mom. Call me old-fashioned, but I thought this was a little over the top (here’s a link to the column with my suggestions for Doug, the dating machine). Seriously, who’s next — Grandma?  Great Aunt Ethel? 

The guy’s question did get me wondering, though, as to how many people find themselves in the same situation. I’ve never been attracted to more than one member of a family at a time, but way back in high school, I had a girlfriend who dated two brothers. Of course, in her situation, she did it accidentally, i.e., she thought she was dating the same guy (they looked alike, okay, and, yes, there was some alcohol involved).

How about you? Have you ever fallen for some older guy and then found yourself making goo-goo eyes at his 20-something son? Or started dating a woman and then realized you liked her sister better? If so, what happened? Did you ignore your feelings of lust? Pursue the forbidden fruit?  Personally, it seems better to move on than risk a huge family feud, but maybe there are circumstances where it’s all worked out in the end. Whatever the case, sounds like the makings for a hell of a family reunion.  

Can men and women be ‘just friends’?

when-harry-met-sallyA few years ago, I went to the wedding of a good friend – a good guy friend – and somewhere between the exchange of rings and that first slice of cake realized the family and friends of the bride were giving me the stink eye. 

Why?  Apparently because I didn’t have the good sense to realize I was having an affair with the groom. News to me, of course, since we were strictly buddies (I often referred to him as the “little brother I never wanted”). But to anyone familiar with the movie When Harry Met Sally – which apparently included the entire bridal party — we weren’t friends at all, because men and women can’t be friends, the sex always gets in the way.

The old opposite sex friends thing is a long-standing dilemma and has made for many such scenes and stories. I was even interviewed about it recently by freelance writer Mark Amundsen for an article that just went live on  And I’ve written about the topic myself for

Personally, I’ve always felt that you can be “just friends” with a guy and have a raft of sex-free straight friendships to prove it.  Of course, I’ve also had a handful of friendships with men where there was some kind of spark, a spark that was sometimes allowed to flare up. And other times, tamped back down (because of boyfriends, girlfriends, or because having sex with a friend is just “Ewwww,” as one source puts it). 

But it’s not always about sex.  The real issue with opposite sex friendships – or any friendship, for that matter – is intimacy. I know now that that was what was really bothering the bride and her posse all those years ago. I wasn’t in bed with the groom but I was in sync with him. There was a closeness between us and that closeness was threatening, something that finally hit home when the bride icily handed me a piece of wedding cake (I felt like she’d frosted it with her gaze). Not surprisingly, she served up an ultimatum about the friendship to her husband shortly thereafter.

So what do you think? Have you had opposite sex friendships that stayed spark-free? Or is there always something brewing in the background? And what about the other relationships that come into play – the girlfriends and boyfriends, husbands and wives, the confused family members and friends who don’t quite get it (“So you’re not dating, you’re just spending all of your time with him or her?”) Have your sex-free friendships come under fire by a romantic partner? Have you ever had to give them up?

As always, would love to hear your thoughts.  After all that talk of cake, baked goods gladly accepted, as well.

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 (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.

Do you ever get ‘scared single’?

scared-singleA buddy and I went to see “Psycho” the other night at the Seattle Symphony. It was fabulous seeing the Hitchcock classic in all its gory on the big screen. Ditto for hearing Bernard Herrmann’s brilliant score being performed live.

The only problem was coming home after the movie. Alone. In the dark. In the middle of a slashing rainstorm.

Jumping out of the cab, I flew up the stairs to my apartment, locked the doors, and desperately surfed the channels looking for a mindless comedy. But it was the day before Halloween and the TV was practically squirting blood.

I finally settled on the campy 1958 science fiction thriller, The Blob (starring Steve McQueen!). But even a handful of wacky teenagers trying to defeat a monster that looked like it belonged inside a Hostess cherry pie couldn’t keep me from thinking about Norman Bates careening around a corner with a butcher knife and a bad wig. Such is the power of being “scared single.” 

It’s happened to me before, most recently when I stayed up until 3 in the morning watching some bad Ewan McGregor film about a serial killer who steals women’s eyes (click here for the Single Shot column I wrote about the whole ordeal).

I use a lot of self-talk (and a little bit of closet-checking) to get through my scared single moments. How about you?  Do you keep a baseball bat under the bed, a can of Mace in your makeup bag?  Or have you given up the ghost entirely and gotten “scared married”? 

What’s my story?

I'm a former freelance writer, now gainfully employed at Fred Hutch (views and f-bombs all my own).

I write about health and health care; cancer research and the cancer experience; dating, lifestyle and singles issues and lots of other stuff including humor and fiction and a few songs here and there.

Book info below.

Looking for my breast cancer blog? Go to doublewhammied

Where are 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.

Fifty Shades of Brains
Sex. Zombies. Really annoying present tense narration.

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June 2023