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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!

 

What’s new in the world of romance?

Incredibly, it’s February 14 today, otherwise known as International Quirkyalone Day. And oh, yeah, Valentine’s Day. To celebrate the holiday, I thought I’d throw out a few of the (hundreds) of fun stats and news items that have been stacking up in my email box since, oh I don’t know, Christmas.

Our survey says …
Pure Romance, a direct sales company specializing in relationship enhancement products and “intimacy education,” conducted some type of survey (although, they failed to provide any information as to who — or how many people — they talked with). Whatever the case, here are some of the tidbits they dug up about love, sex, V-Day, etc.

 Regarding Valentine’s Day …

  • 27% of men said their romantic resolution this Valentine’s Day is to have sex with the lights on
  • 38% of people would buy themselves a sex toy because they’re single on Valentine’s Day
  • 80% of people believe they will be getting lucky this Valentine’s Day; less than 50% of people had good luck last year
  • 40% of women want to try something new and kinky this Valentine’s Day

 Hmmm … am wondering if  “new and kinky” might include “leaving the lights on.”

Regarding sex and relationships in general …

  • 85% of women surveyed own a sex toy
  • More than 40% of people in a long-term relationship (3+ years) have sex at least twice a week
  • 57% of people in a new relationship (less than one year) talk about sex every day
  • For better sex in 2012, 37% of men would be willing to gain 10 pounds but only 10% of women are willing to pack on the pounds for better sex

Wait, you can have better sex by gaining 10 pounds? Bring on the chocolate!

Missed connections … 
A PR representative from www.bestpr.net took the time to compile and send along the “Best Missed Connections Posts of 2012” from everybody’s favorite freak fest, Craigslist. Looks like the ads are from all over the country and some of them are pretty fun. Not to mention romantic, particularly this first one.

So … fess up. Are you the woman in the minotaur mask and underpants?

  • I felt like I was attacked by locusts: m4w (Burning Man): You: beautiful person in the tail end of a Snuffleupagus outfit on the playa. Me: Stilted clown hobo next to camp earth mad max 2046. We met in a sandstorm, and you poked your head out of the costume. It looked like the miracle of birth. I think you had rainbow hair, but couldn’t tell in the alkaline flats. Maybe 2 septum piercings? Maybe it’s the mescaline talking, but it would be nice to meet again. We never talked, but I think you saw me and the earth shook. Then I threw up in front of you next to the naked bicyclist orgy. Coffee???
  • Midnight girl in PJ bottoms and slippers at Walgreens – m4w – 24 (lower Haight) You had blond hair and a turtleneck sweater. I had just woken up and was trying to remember what I had come in for. You were playing with the singing kung fu hamsters at the register waiting to buy your items. I was watching you from over by the Cheetos. I made some rustling noises with the bags to get your attention and we had a brief moment of eye contact before the woman started ringing you up. I made some more rustling noises with the chips but you didn’t look over, I started really going at it with a couple of Doritos bags hoping maybe you’d come investigate but you still didn’t look and walked out. I was going to follow you but I was unfortunately and unlawfully detained by a Walgreens employee before I could get out. Maybe we could meet at the High Tide some time?
  • Minotaur, Halloween, downtown – m4w – 22 (Santa Cruz) You were a tall blonde girl wearing a creepy minotaur mask, walking down Pacific Avenue with the sexiest strut I’ve ever seen. It’s nice to see a girl that can actually walk in high heels. Given, you were in your underpants, but I think even if you’d been dressed more modestly it would have had the same impact. Just….damn.

Yes, this really is a new online dating site
Apparently, the current glut of online dating sites aren’t cutting it when it comes to “serious” relationship people. So now we have MarryMeAlready.com, a dating site “solely for people seeking marriage long-term relationships.”

According to the press release I received from this mom-and-pop dating operation, “when it comes to conventional online dating, separating recreational daters from those sincerely looking for love and meaningful relationships can be tricky.” People jump from person to person (literally and figuratively, I’m assuming) and “too many online daters are also looking specifically for one-night stands or casual relationships, which can be frustrating for someone looking for a real relationship and not wanting to waste time.”

Aside from being a 100% free dating site (albeit one that aspires to become a paid site one day), MarryMeAlready.com includes member spotlights (and no, we’re not talking about the type of member spotlights you might find on Grindr), video links, and personal blogs where you can include your laundry list of must-have qualifications for your future spouse and/or post pictures of your wedding dress/groom suit and china. (I’m assuming members have already planned the date and purchased the basics and are just looking to fill in a gap here or there).  

That’s it for me, folks. As always, thanks for stopping by for the read. Have a great Valentine’s Day everybody. You’re all sweethearts in my book!

My Q&A on dating with breast cancer

While I’ve been trying to keep most of my breast cancer stuff over at http://doublewhammied.com/, I was recently asked to do a Q&A for TalkAboutHealth.com, a website “where patients and caregivers get personalized, helpful, and accurate answers from experts, survivors, and partner organizations.” Since some of the questions they tossed my way had to do with dating and breast cancer — and living with breast cancer as a single woman — I thought it might be appropriate to post about it here. 

For those who might be curious, I’m all done with treatment now and am spending the next few months writing, recuperating and researching the next phase of my exciting cancer adventure: reconstruction. I’m also trying to figure out what to do with my new hair (it’s growing in much darker and curlier than it was before). And — who knew? — starting to realize there’s a whole segment of men who like really, really short hair. ; )

As always, thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read my thoughts on the single life and that crazy thing we all call dating.

How did you get started dating after breast cancer? What was the most difficult aspect?
Oddly enough, I never really stopped dating through my whole breast cancer ordeal. I had just started seeing someone when I was diagnosed and that relationship (which was rather tenuous anyway) bowed and finally broke under the pressure of the cancer and a host of other things. After that, I went out with a couple of other guys (and even reconnected with my ex for a bit) but most of my time and energy was spent on doctors’ appointments and tests and of course freaking out about my upcoming double mastectomy. I thought losing my breasts would mean the end of my dating life, my sex life, etc. But as it turned out, I recovered from surgery much faster than I expected (both emotionally and physically) and ended up going out on a date just two weeks after losing my girls. To read more, click here.

What advice would you give to other survivors about dating after cancer?
Dating after cancer isn’t really all that scary. Seriously, after being pumped full of poison and having our bodies blasted with radiation, I think most of us can fake our way through an hour or two of coffee and conversation with a potential love interest. Sex after cancer, on the other hand, can be a bit daunting. Especially if you’re missing some essential body parts. And all of your hair. And the feeling in what used to be your chest.

What worked for me was to try to “rebuild” myself (paging the bionic woman!), to put myself back together using a wig and fake boobs and makeup. That helped me feel like myself so I felt more confident going out there meeting and interacting with men. But everybody’s different so trying to “pass” may not work for everybody. And dating so quickly after treatment (or even amid treatment) may not work for people, either. I was lucky in that I only had four infusions of chemo and I seemed to endure it pretty well (as long as I took my meds, anyway). Same goes for radiation. To read more, click here.

As a single woman, where did you get the support you needed while going through cancer treatment?
I’ve been single for most of my adult life and have even developed a bit of a writing platform regarding the single life with a book (How to Date in a Post-Dating World), an anthology of essays (Single State of the Union) and a humor column (Single Shot), published by the now-defunct Seattle P-I.

For me, singledom is a natural state. Instead of being cloistered away as one half of a couple, I have a huge circle of friends — people I’ve worked with, people I’ve gone to school with, fellow writers, gal pals, neighborhood buddies, drinking buddies, old boyfriends, sources that turned into friends, the list goes on and on. I also have four sisters, all of whom I’m close with. I had so many people I needed to tell about the breast cancer, in fact, I eventually started an email newsletter (the Cancertown Gazette). And then a blog (http://doublewhammied.com/).

My sisters probably did most of the heavy lifting when it came to day-to-day support during my breast cancer treatment. They were there for me before and after surgery, even helping me with drain duty (and an apartment makeover). They also went to some of the early doctors’ appointments, when things were still very dark and raw and scary, talked with me daily via phone, sat through a couple of sessions of chemo (and chemo recovery) with me and prepared a ton of meals for my freezer. My friends were equally supportive, doing everything from bringing me food (pie! lasagna! homemade soup!) to giving me lifts to radiation to sending flowers and other gifts to taking me on weekend getaways. Friends and family both chipped in financially to help me pay for a wig made from my own hair (and those are not cheap). They also stayed in contact with me regularly, took me for walks when the chemo knocked the legs out from under me, and in general, made me feel loved and appreciated and cared for at all times. To read more, click here.

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.

Moving the party over to doublewhammied.com

Now that I’m done with radiation (finished up this last Tuesday, November 8 — woo hoo!) and have a bit more time on my hands, I decided to go ahead and start up a “proper” breast cancer blog (if you’ve been reading any of my recent posts here, you know that I can be a bit improper at times).  

Anyway, from now on I’ll be writing about my breast cancer experiences, thoughts on “treatment” (I’m still convinced breast cancer treatment is about three steps from those grueling ordeals they used to put  so-called witches through), tidbits regarding new cancer research, and whatever else over at www.doublewhammied.com

Hope you’ll come join the party there. In the meantime, take care, thanks so much for reading and hope to hear from you soon.


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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