Archive for the 'Single Shot' Category



The doomsdating machine

Maybe it’s just me, but there’s nothing I like more than a niche dating site, especially one that caters to a particularly obscure slice of singles.

In the past, I’ve written about green dating sites like GreenSingles.com, which caters to the eco-friendly crowd, and DarwinDating.com, devoted exclusively to the beautiful people of the world. (Just checked the link to this one and it no longer works — so much for their motto about “only the hottest surviving.”)

I’ve covered dating sites designed for older singles, dating sites made for single parents and dating sites built just for booklovers and brainiacs.

Thanks to a recent story on CNN.com, though, I may have stumbled onto the weirdest niche yet: survivalist singles sites. Check it out.

For people who spend every day preparing for disaster — whether it’s a 2012 apocalypse, a nuclear meltdown, an economic collapse, a hurricane or a tsunami — it can be hard to find a compatible partner.

Canning venison, shooting firearms, living off the grid and creating manure from human waste just aren’t traditional interests many people look for when browsing mainstream dating sites like eHarmony or Match.com.

That’s why a site called Survivalist Singles has entered the online dating scene, catering specifically to this niche community of “preppers,” “survivalists” and “doomsdayers.”

As it turns out, SurvivalistSingles.com (which has the cheery motto “Don’t Face the Future Alone”) isn’t the only site for those who are waiting with bated breath (not to mention Spam-packed bunkers) for the end of the world as we know it. PrepperDating.com and Kwink.com also cater to “doomsday preppers” and “doomsdayers.”

According to the CNN story, the average age on SurvivalistSingles.com is over 50 and men outnumber women two to one (shocking, I know).  Although the site is currently free, the woman who runs it is thinking about charging a $5 a month membership fee in days to come (should there be any days to come).

She even has a slogan picked out: “Find love for less than the price of a box of bullets.” (You have to admit it’s catchy. I mean, how often do you find the words love and bullet in the same sentence? Outside of the local crime headlines, that is.)

Now I know things can get a little scary out there at times, especially in an election year. Not to mention a year where a dystopian survival-fest like The Hunger Games is the biggest box office draw since, I don’t know, Apocalypse Now.

But no matter how bad things get (or how close we get to the Mayan calendar’s looming deadline), I know I’m not quite ready to head for the hills with a gun-toting, deer-slaying, bean-eating Doomsdating Machine. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, that would be the end of the world.

So what say you? What’s the weirdest niche site you’ve signed up for — and did you find a mate there? Would love to hear your thoughts, people. You know, while there’s still time. ; )

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Dating with disease

Dating is no picnic. And dating with a disease —  for instance, breast cancer, which took both my hair and my boobs — is practically impossible.  But I’m hardly the only single out there trying to find a bit of romance while saddled with a disease or disability. 

Yesterday, Salon published a great essay by Meghan Holohan on the trials and tribulations of dating with narcolepsy, a condition that causes her to pass out whenever she experiences an intense emotion, like, say, an attraction for the opposite sex. Something she discovered in sixth grade, when she passed out on top of the cutest boy in class.  Check it out:

I was in sixth grade in Catholic school when I began fainting. I was a lanky, clumsy 12-year-old with a mouthful of braces and big plastic glasses, enamored with an Irish boy named Liam Brady. All the girls had a secret crush on him — brown hair, bright blue eyes and milky skin.

As we stood in line for Communion, inching forward, hands folded, I heard a ringing and my limbs became heavy; it took a Herculean effort to move. A blush flooded my face, and then I couldn’t see. Everything turned black and bright lights shot at me like I was going warp speed on the Starship Enterprise. The next thing I knew I was lying in the lap of Mrs. Tupper, an eighth grade teacher who lived a block away from me. I smelled the hideous burning sulfur of smelling salts.

“What happened?” I asked.

“You fainted right onto Liam Brady.”

I burned with confusion and embarrassment. I fainted? On the cutest boy in class? This was grade-school death. No boy would ever look at me the same. Every girl would relish my humiliation. Lucky for me, it was the last time I fainted on Liam Brady. But it set the stage for a lifetime of strange romance.

Meghan goes on to talk about the difficulties of dating with her disease. And how (much like me), she just wants to be like other women, “women who can date men casually without having to explain their mysterious spells.”

I don’t have spells. I have missing body parts, body parts that will eventually be methodically reconstructed, thanks to the wonders of plastic surgery. But until they’re back, I have to field questions from the guys I date about my missing breasts and when they’ll return (and occasionally, how large those returning breasts will be — sigh). Much as Meghan has had to explain to her dates why she sometimes passes out in alleys or galleries or the kitchen floor of her apartment “like a person who has blacked out without drinking seven cocktails.”

Some people have questioned my decision to date during cancer treatment and recovery, gently suggesting that I might be better off “just staying home and healing” than slapping on a wig and war paint and a tucking a couple of gummi boobs (or “sandbags” as one suitor called them) into my bra and heading out the door. I’m all for healing, but when it comes to cancer, I’m also all for distraction. Seriously, I can only sit around my apartment taking cleansing breaths for so long before I go a little bonkers.

So like Meghan, I date, even though I have a disease (despite treatment, the docs won’t tell me I’m disease-free for a few years). And like Meghan, I fill in the blanks for men when I absolutely have to.  And like Meghan, I occasionally write about the whole bloody mess, which may just be the most healing thing of all.

Dating with a disease may not be the smartest thing in the world. It may or may not be the healthiest. But it helps me feel normal and keeps me supplied with a slew of entertaining stories for my friends and family. Besides, if everyone with a little something wrong with them were to climb out of the dating pool, that sucker would be mighty empty. 

As always, thanks for the read. And for you singles with narcolepsy, cancer or some other disease or condition, I’d love to hear how the dating world’s been treating you.

Single women: it’s okay to look before you leap

Can’t believe I almost let Leap Day go by without making some mention of the only holiday that actively encourages women to proposition men. Oh wait, that’s propose to men. Gosh, I need to get those two straight one of these days. ; )

I actually wrote a column about this venerable holiday back in 2008 when I was doing the Single Shot column for the dearly-departed Seattle Post-Intelligencer.  The holiday (and the column) both came out on the heels of an infamous story in The Atlantic by Lori Gottlieb, entitled “Marry Him! The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough.” Here’s how it starts:

Happy Leap Day, everyone, especially all you single women.

Whether you know it or not, Feb. 29 is your special holiday, the one day every four years when you’re “allowed” to propose to a man.

And, no, I’m not kidding.

The whole thing actually started as a joke, back in the fifth century. As legend has it, St. Bridget asked St. Patrick if there could be one day out of the year when women could legitimately propose to men and he chose Leap Day. From then on, it has become what you might call a backhanded holiday, proffering a bit of independence for women but mainly poking fun at their predilection for wedlock.

Leap Day postcards from the early 20th century are rife with images of nervous bachelors being pursued by wart-nosed old maids and portly matrons, each with a hungry bridal gleam in her eye. “Help, they’re after me!” shouts a man being chased by a desperate female with one grossly oversized hand. “Rope him now or never!” reads another featuring a lasso-wielding bride on horseback.

Although they’re pretty horrible, these musty old stereotypes are also kind of a hoot. Except when you stumble across one in a current publication, such as The Atlantic, which is where I read Lori Gottlieb’s retrolicious “Marry Him! The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough.”

As you can imagine, reading Gottlieb’s arguments for marrying the overlooked “alcoholic who doesn’t always go to his meeting” just so you can have somebody in your bed (and bank account) every day and night didn’t sit too well with this happy singleton.

Would love to hear your thoughts on the matter if you’d care to share. If not, simply feel free to peruse this oldie but goodie (and yes, I’m talking about the column, not me) as you enjoy your extra day of fun and freedom. Take care and have a great Leap Day, people!

 

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 Match.com’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 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?  


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.

Follow me on Twitter!

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