Hands Free Dating: Thinking Outside the App

I’ve had the absolute joy of meeting some of the most fabulous people in my life through my volunteer experience.

A few days ago I was having lunch with a girlfriend and we were talking about the technologically driven world we live in today, and as a result, how difficult it can be to find love. I initiated the conversation by telling my friend about an ad I saw while leaving the gym introducing a new dating app that allows you to connect with someone after seeing that person in real life. At first glance, I thought it was an ad for a new movie as the concept in relation to the dating world made little, if any, sense to me. So, you’re saying I have to pull out my phone, download an app, create an account, log in and search other members’ profiles all to be able to say hi to someone who I just crossed paths with in real time? This sparked a much longer discussion as we finished our lunch and then moved on to coffee, while we brainstormed all of the other possibilities we have for meeting people “hands free”.

I’m thrilled to report that we came up with a list of ideas (admittedly, we did make the list on our smartphones) which outnumbered the present selection of dating apps available to us. Of the multitude of ideas we discussed, paramount to me is the notion of meeting someone while volunteering. I love to volunteer. I do it as often and as readily as I possibly can. If I could do it and get paid…oh wait. Seriously though, I’ve had the absolute joy of meeting some of the most fabulous people in my life through my volunteer experience. Years ago, I joined an organization in New York that is so large they are able to break down their projects into several different categories so each person can be matched with the volunteer opportunity that she/he is right for. So, if you’re artistically inclined, love animals, or have a niche for health and wellness, you can choose to donate your time appropriately, and you will meet many other like-minded individuals.

My New Year’s Resolution: Real Human Connection

It’s so much more rewarding to say hello and share a laugh with someone than to beat your last level of Candy Crush.

You know when you’re talking with someone and you zone out for 30 seconds and come back only because you’ve realized she’s stopped talking and you have to say something to acknowledge that you’ve been listening (which you haven’t) and now your only option is to nod, say “mm hm” and pray that you didn’t just call your friend fat or tell her to quit her job or get a divorce? Yeah. That’s the worst. It’s called not being present, and we could all use a lot of work on this, especially in this day and age where people snapchat while they’re on a date.

I live in NYC. I take the subway daily. Often, I look around and observe my fellow commuters, hoping to make eye contact with, or smile at, someone. What I’ve noticed more and more in recent years, is how rarely people actually look up when they’re on the train. It seems people would rather focus their attention on their phones than interact with another human being. I find this incredibly unfortunate, as human connection is such a basic need in life. It’s so much more rewarding to say hello and share a laugh with someone than to beat your last level of Candy Crush.

I’m not sure when it became such an endeavor to engage with other people. I want to say it was around the time that smart phones surfaced, but I know they’re not entirely to blame. Truth be told I think not being present is a bigger issue. It’s a choice that we actively make to disconnect in our daily lives. We are all so very busy. We pile more and more “stuff” on our plates because we think we need to fill every minute of the day with something. We don’t. Constantly multitasking, we’ve convinced ourselves that there’s just not enough time. There is. We text while we drive, email while we walk, and scroll Facebook while we eat. The problem with multitasking is that, as with most things, the more we practice it, the easier it becomes.

Group of four friends laughing out loud outdoor sharing good and positive moodWhat would be the worst thing that would happen if we didn’t look at a text message while in the company of a friend? Or check for new emails at a red light or while working out? The text/email would still be there right? It might go unanswered for an hour, but for that hour we would have been in the moment and enjoyed time with a friend, driven safely, or had a great workout! We might have connected with another person, and fulfilled the basic need of human connection that smartphones simply can’t replace.

Have you ever been on a date with someone who checked his/her phone several times during your conversation? Have you been on a date with someone who didn’t? Who would you prefer to date? When we refrain from looking at our phones, we send a message to the person we’re with, that his/her time is more valuable than our screens, and that’s a pretty great feeling. The guy who chooses to make his date feel more important than his incoming email, will 9 times out of 10 get a second date, and that’s the goal, right?

I once read that you should put your phone down for an hour a day. Whether you silence it or turn it off is up to you, but you can’t touch it for an hour. I also suggest leaving your phone in your purse (or pocket) when you’re having dinner with a friend. Whatever you do, just remember that you never know whose day you might be making by simply saying hello. It’s the safe choice to avoid eye contact and go into zombie mode playing Sudoku. The alternative is so much more rewarding. As with everything else we practice, if we really work on staying in the moment, it’ll become second nature, and we’ll be able to truly connect with people and possibly form a lasting connection; and at the very least, we’ll know just how to respond to our friend when her story ends.

Girl Who Doesn’t Go Big On Valentine’s…How About You?

I have nothing against romance, love, or intimacy, in the least; I just enjoy doing things on my terms.

I’ve never been the type of girl who goes big for Valentine’s Day.

Scratch that. When I was a little girl, it was arguably my favorite holiday as I was nothing short of obsessed with those little conversation hearts.  I ate them as if they were about to be discontinued.  Now that I think of it, I’m pretty sure those hearts are majorly to blame for each of my cavities.  Fast forward to adult life, when the fun of exchanging Valentines with classmates (and hopefully your crush) is replaced with the pressure to buy into Hallmark’s idea of the “perfect” Valentine’s Day and you end up where I am, desperate to do anything else other than act romantic on this silly holiday.  Yes, anything.


My lack of anticipation around #Valentine’s Day could also be attributed to the years of #Valentine’s Days I spent as a waitress, mainly existing as a vehicle to ensure that some other couple enjoyed their evening together.  Call me cynical, but I just don’t agree with the notion of being forced to celebrate your relationship along with millions of other couples, on one specific day.

5 Reasons to Have a Summer Fling

Summer lovin’ had me a blast. Summer lovin’ happened so fast.

I know, technically it’s still spring, but let’s be realistic, people are solidifying their Memorial Day Weekend plans and then all of a sudden it’s summer and if we don’t start thinking about it now, we’ll be ill prepared when everyone else is all geared up (and paired up) for those steamier days (and nights!) So back to summer love I go! What’s the appeal of a relationship that only lasts three months? What’s the point? This is how I answered my friend recently when she asked me if I’d ever have a “fling”. Admittedly, I didn’t know people used this term in real life so once I stopped laughing at her and was able to have a serious discussion about it, I was surprised to discover that we both agreed it might not be the worst thing.

Here’s why I changed my whole perspective on the fling thing. The idea of getting involved with someone when there’s a timestamp on the whole experience gave me a bit of pause at first, sure, but when I spun it differently (and there ‘s always more than one way to look at any given situation) it actually sounded kind of exciting to me. I started thinking about not having to wonder where my relationship is headed, or if we both want the same things. The stuff he does that bugs the hell out of me? Who cares? Soon enough those annoying habits will be someone else’s problem! The idea of just being present and focusing on enjoying our time together without worrying about expectations or plans for the future is all too appealing. I can just be myself and feel comfortable and not have to change a single thing about me.

That sounds lovely doesn’t it? Being yourself in a relationship? What a notion! I don’t know about you, but I struggle with this seemingly easy concept more often than not. Speaking my mind, communicating my needs, setting boundaries, all the while being myself and having fun? I’m sorry, what? It can be totally overwhelming trying to find the delicate balance that relationships require. So when I think of taking the thing that overwhelms me the most- the future- off the table, and just focus on the ‘now’ part, then, um, yeah, I think I’ll give this whole summer love thing a shot. When I think of all the fun things associated with summer- beaches, pools, vacations, picnics, outdoor concerts, fireworks, etc, and then having someone to do these things with? Yes please! Why wouldn’t I be open to this?

In case you’re not sold on flinging yet, allow me to really drive my point home with some of the benefits I found to being open-minded to this kind of non-commitment:

  • Being in a less serious relationship helps to take some pressure off and has gotten me in the mindset of enjoying dating (yes, it’s possible!)
  • I have the perfect opportunity to make some mistakes! Look, dating can be super challenging; no one is going to argue that. Here’s a chance for me to do all the things I might not do in a serious relationship.
  • You know all those events we get invited to in the summer? I do, and I dread going to them solo. Barbeques, weekends at the beach, weddings? Having someone to attend with? Someone to satisfy everyone’s constant probe, “are you seeing anyone?” Sign me up!
  • It’ll encourage me to break the pattern of my usual “type”. Who doesn’t have a dating pattern? Mainly attracted to athletes? Ethnic guys? Financiers? I am. I’m going to take a risk and date someone outside the norm for me. Maybe a politician. Who knows? That in and of itself is super exciting and enough to make me want to give this a shot. Even if it ends up being as epic a fail as breakaway track pants, I’ll have learned something from the experience!
  • It’s not easy to do things solely on your terms in relationships. Things get really tricky when considering the feelings of everyone involved. Having a short summer romance might actually help me to find my voice, and gain more confidence when it comes to stating my needs in a future (serious) relationship.

All I’m saying is I’m going to give this a shot. There are way worse things than opening myself to the possibility of happiness. And even if I just discover it’s not for me? Awesome. Now I know. And I’ll also have a really fun “fling” story to share with my friends. My online dating stories are getting old anyway.

Why Speed Dating Is Working for Me Today

About six months ago, I was hired to be a host at a speed dating event. As someone whose prior (and sole) experience involving speed dating was based on the movie Hitch (moment to swoon over the thought of Will Smith please), I was more than a little apprehensive when I agreed to take the job. Call me crazy but I just don’t love getting involved in things I don’t fully believe in. But it was a job and it paid, so I convinced myself to give it a shot. I figured if all else failed, it would make for an interesting story, and that was enough incentive for me.

As the event neared, and I had spoken in great length with the organizer (who lives out of state, hence hiring me to represent her business) I became even more skeptical. Here we had close to 30 participants registered, and then me, slated to run the whole thing, even though Will Smith hadn’t returned my calls and by the looks of it, wasn’t going to attend. Bummer. As prepared as I was to host the evening, I didn’t know what to expect.

A Delightful Dating Surprise

Cut to the event and the delightfully surprise ending it had. In the end, less people attended than had registered (I’m sure the pressure got to them, which I understand!) Yet of the people who were in attendance, these were some of the most interesting people I’ve ever met. Everyone was so open to the idea of meeting someone, which led to some of the most genuine and kind conversations I’ve yet to witness. Also, as all participants were in the same boat as they arrived and no one really knew what to expect, it was really easy to find common ground and connect with each other.

The event turned out to be a pleasant surprise for several reasons. One, it went off without a hitch (see what I did there- Hitch?) and everyone really enjoyed themselves, so from an organizational standpoint, it was a success. Two, as we had more men than women registered, I was happy to chat with the extra man each round and make sure he felt comfortable. In doing so I found myself involved in really interesting conversations with some wonderful men. And three, it helped me to see that I truly had nothing to be skeptical about, and left me with a really great impression of speed dating. I’ve hosted two since, and will continue to host as it fits into my schedule.

Why Speed Dating Is Interesting to Me

Fashionable interracial couple drinking wine during date sitting at restaurant having romantic evening and nice conversation raising glasses to love at first sight. Hipster man proposing toastNow, should I try it myself? Here’s why I think speed dating is a really interesting concept in today’s world. With technology as predominant as it is in every single facet of our lives (I just downloaded a meditation app this morning) we are ultimately trying to make the most of our time, right? I, for one, constantly find myself telling people “there’s an app for that”. Our time is so precious, and we’re all simultaneously trying to hold down a job (or two), maintain a fitness regime, a social life, run errands, prepare meals, etc. We have so much to do that meeting new people can become really daunting. After a day of working two jobs, fitting in a workout and going grocery shopping, I personally, just want to crash on the couch and binge watch Master of None.

Two Months of Dating in One Night

With speed dating, in one night I can realistically do two months worth of dating in one night. I don’t have to feel the guilt of “stacking” or “double booking” dates because the event is literally designed for that purpose. And there’s no pressure of sitting through an entire meal, worrying about who’s going to pay at the end, etc. I could very well go on 15 different dates; even if I connect with 2 of them, that’s great! I can still make it home for the 10 o’clock news! I didn’t have to make a plan, gather a group of girlfriends, research a good bar for singles and then spend a bunch of money only at the end of the night to discover that the night was a total bust.

It’s been a happy accident that I’ve been able to participate in the speed dating events as more than just a host, one that has even resulted in four dates (with three different guys). My experiences have totally changed my opinion on speed dating and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who hasn’t tried it or has been holding out. Even if the “date” is going really poorly, it only lasts 5 minutes. And who knows, maybe the next guy to rotate in will be Will Smith. If you’re lucky!

Redefining Relationships in a Pandemic

Day 98 of COVID-19 quarantine with my boyfriend…and my parents.

I live in an apartment in Manhattan with my boyfriend and our dog. Fourteen weeks ago, as NYC was rapidly rising to become the epicenter of the Coronavirus, we packed an overnight bag and headed upstate to hunker down with my parents in their house in the country. It meant not only more space for the three of us, but way less possible social interactions than we would have had in NYC.

Note to reader: a single overnight bag for two people does not last 3.5 months.

I prefer to think of myself as an optimist; though admittedly I identify more with the word “realist”, (which the more you say aloud and try your damndest to dress up with positivity, you eventually surrender to the fact that you’re really just a pessimist living in disguise).

Optimism is a hard find these days for many of us. Envisioning life post Covid-19 seems like a daunting task. Hell, remembering life pre-pandemic doesn’t really ring a bell for me right now tbh.

I fluctuate daily on my grasp of this whole quarantine situation.

Some days I wake up and do a mental scan while I lie in bed, running through a list of things I’m grateful for in my head before my feet even hit the floor. These are the days I meditate, work out, take a long walk around the neighborhood, call a friend or two, make 3 healthy meals and probably listen to some country music. I’m the best version of myself on these days.

Other days I wake up with a slightly different mentality. My first thought here is AGHHHHHHHHHH ANOTHER DAY OF THIS CRAP? WHAT THE HELL! I tend to speed right past my gratitude list on these mornings, heading instead directly for the mental list of things I hate about quarantine. Wearing masks and gloves, the lack of any kind of structure whatsoever, sleeping in my parents’ guest room with my boyfriend while we pay an arm and a leg for an apartment in Manhattan that we haven’t lived in for three and a half months, and I could continue but I’m having one of the other days so I’ll pause here for your sake. Days like this are a struggle, and I know I’m not alone in experiencing them.

redefining relationships

Relationships of all sorts are being challenged right now.

We’re spending a LOT of time with some people and barely any time with others. The relationships we have with ourselves, our romantic partners, parents, kids, friends, and pets are all being redefined and we’re all simply trying to manage and figure out how to do life under this new normal. I for one, never thought I’d be living with my boyfriend and my parents simultaneously, but here we are. It’s not easy to take four adults and put them under one roof for an extended period of time, you can take my word on that. We’ve all had to make adjustments to our normal routines to make cohabitating work, and for the most part, we’ve adjusted pretty well. There have been some bumps along the way; trying to give each other space can be challenging, add in the fact that we’re all working from home and that’s downright difficult.

Luckily, my parents have a finished basement with two bathrooms, otherwise I’m sure by now we would have all gone totally insane. There have been silver linings to quarantining with my boyfriend and parents, believe it or not. For instance, we all love to play games. There have been many fun game nights over the last few months, and I’ve learned that I get my competitive gene entirely from my mom.

Suddenly we’ve been given all this time and we’re all trying to decide what to do with it.

It’s sort of ironic. If you’re anything like me, you frequently have thoughts like (pre-quarantine at least) “there’s never enough time”. Now that we have more than enough time, we’re at a loss for how to fill our days. Much of this is attributed to the fact that restrictions are in place, so our options are limited, but there are still ways to cope under quarantine. What I’ve found helpful is to create a “bucket” list (a small bucket, more of a jar than anything really) of things I want to do during quarantine. Think less skydiving and more learning a new language, but I think Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson would still dig it.

In making my list (and it’s an ever growing one as restrictions stay in place and getting creative is of the utmost importance) I considered the important relationships in my life. I have things on my list that I want to do for myself: write more, speak spanish and practice yoga. I want to read new books to my 2.5 year old niece (thanks to Zoom, this is very doable). I want to get more creative in the kitchen with my mom. We really enjoy making plant based meals together and I get to expand my recipe repertoire while doing so. I have fun ideas for dates with my boyfriend; we’ve done movie nights with popcorn and wine, we did a wine and paint date where we drank wine, listened to Frank Sinatra, and attempted to draw an orchid. This was equally romantic and hilarious. We also recently did a virtual escape room. Look it up. You’re welcome.

We will get through this.

No it’s not ideal, but we can choose to make the most of this time. There will come a time in the future when we wish we had the time that we have now. We just have to get a little creative, stay positive and pick each other up when we are struggling. I’m trying to remember to find the joy in spending this time with my boyfriend and my parents. It’s making me appreciate the relationships I have with them even more than I used to.