Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Five Lessons to Learn from Online Dating

One saying I like to use is "Live and learn."  Sure, you are going to make mistakes along the way, and some will be horrific and some are the ones that no one really ever needs to know about.  Like the time that two people (who shall go unidentified) paid a woman who was probably a prostitute $5 to cough in her dog's face to see if the one person had imbibed too much.  Or the person who thought it would be a great idea to enter a bar-top dancing contest and carried the nickname of "Mustang Sally" for the remainder of her college days.  But if you can take a lesson away from the living, even a negative situation can yield a positive element.

As the online dating series draws to a close ( I know, boooo), I've lived and learned a few things and I'd like to share a few with you.

1.  People are better (and worse) than you think they are.  The lesson here is to not judge a book by its cover,  but don't jump into buying a book without at least first reading the back.  A wonderful, beautiful-living and acting woman I know who serves a multitude of people is sleeved up with tattoos.  Conversely, a person I vaguely know beyond his custom shirts and designer suits openly mocked a disabled person.  People are people-y, which just means that they are fallible and flawed but can also have incredibly wonderful moments.  Of course, if a person is consistently worse than you think he or she is, then it's time to have some healthy relationship boundaries.  However, if a person is consistently better than you expect, then you either need to make that your best friend or put a ring on it, depending upon the situation is.  ANNNNDDDDD then keep giving back like this person gives to you or even better.

2.  Don't judge people by their selfies.  Looking at the phone, not the camera.  Putting a finger in the shot.  Weird angles that are not complimentary.  If a pic is terrible, the photographer just takes terrible selfies.  Keep in mind that people over 40ish did not spend their formative years plastering every moment of life on social media.  We had these things called disc cameras; after taking the pic, you had to hoof it up to Eckerd's or the drive-thru FotoMat (neither of which exist anymore)  and drop the disc off, go home, wait 4-7 days, and then and only then could you pick up your pics and see how they turned out.  So it's not in a Gen Xers nature to be all about taking pictures of themselves, and thus may not have perfected the selfie pic.   On the flip side, if it's too great, there are likely 50+ pics that did not make the cut.  Or more.  (I blame this on media and magazines and the fashion industry.)  But don't only publish perfect pictures, because that perpetuates the idea that there is only one strict standard of beauty and her name is Barbie.  Be unperfect in a selfie and hashtag it #BeRealFriday or something like that.

So, when you are swiping left and right on dating sites, if a person just looks sketch (or is shirtless or is in front of a sports car or took a bathroom selfie), that may be a red flag.  But if the picture is just poorly taken, give 'em a chance.

3.  Accept that people are different than you are.  In my family, it would be weird to not celebrate birthdays all together at a birthday dinner.  In fact, Happy Birthday to my amazing sister Gigi, aka Sheila Saffold!  But there are families that don't celebrate birthdays.  We are also huggers, and there are families that are not huggers.  Our family is vastly different in some respects, but we love each other and accept viva la difference because we feel like if you don't have family, you don't have much.  So if you meet a great person that you would like to get to know better and his or her life does not embrace the same emotions set that yours does, don't let that scare you off or decide that this is not a thing.  Accept that a person who has had a completely different upbringing and life could have a different outlook on life and maybe not use the same kind of Christmas lights  you have always used.

4.  Trust your head, not your heart.  I am here to say that your heart will lead you astray.  Sure, if you like googly butterfly feelings and writing your first name with his last, have fun.  But if you can wade past all those doodled hearts with his name in them, you may see that oh, he is unemployed and has no desire to get a job but will happily move in with you.

NEGATORY.  Houston, we have a problem.  Absolutely not.  And it will not matter how attractive he or she is when you get left with rejection and heartbreak that you inadvertently created by ignoring red flags.  I know, that sounds harsh, but did you really think that for example, dating a tennis pro/bass player/supermodel/sanitation engineer 20 years your senior (not me, this was a friend of a friend) was going to lead to a long term, monogamous relationship?

Use your head and don't make rash decisions with the idea that it's all so romantic, because when your spouse forgot to get toilet paper on the way home and you now have to fish around for the Kleenex box, those romantic feelings will not be present and accounted for.  Trust me on this.

5.  Have some interests and hobbies.  One of the most awk things about a dating website is the part where you write about yourself and what type of hobbies you have.  If you portrayed your real life and wrote, "I like to come home after work, take a nap and then eat last night's microwaved doggie bag over the sink before putting in a load of laundry because I have no clean clothes" in this section, you may have cause to reconsider your lack of outside interests.  You will have to consciously make an effort to develop interests and hobbies, and the perks of that is you may actually meet someone interesting who you would like to get to know better.  For example, a croquet club meets down the road from my house and I would like to check that out.  So I am going to go Sunday and make myself acquainted with croquet.  What can you do?  Start looking in your area for bulletin boards that list events and activities, then go to something.  Take a friend so you can either make fun of it or have a great time together.  One of the funniest friend stories I have with my friend Melissa is when we went to the Serbian festival near her house, because I have a certain weak spot for Eastern European accents.  I am here to say that although it was advertised to the public, our reception was chilly at best unless we were buying something.  However, that was the funniest day and we still talk about it every now and then.

So should you get on a dating website?  I know of at least two people that are trying it thanks to the Flying Pants.  Just be smart, hold on tight to your values and standards, and you'll do great!  And if you make a mistake along the way, chalk it up to experience and learn from it, i.e., don't do it again.

Get out there and date!  I've got your back.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

So Good News and Bad News.

Gentle reader, welcome to the 2017 Online Dating Diary.

This almost didn't happen.  I was seriously considering letting  Date Guy make me a one-man woman (see last post)  and that went down horrifically in flames because I am, quote, "a terrible person who doesn't regard other people's feelings."  (I probably should not have used quotes because that is not the actual verbiage.  But you get the idea.) We would have been going in two different directions on a very important topic and so after a fiery text message exchange, Date Guy is out of the picture.

So let me bring you up to speed.

I am already talking to Gorgeous, who is just that, and has a cute accent.  I am a little amazed that we are matched because he is just that gorgeous.  I have yet to do a Google image search on him because we talk frequently.  Another consideration is Ladies Love Country Boys, who is a business owner who has a veritable redneck paradise on the Westside -- he lives on a few acres and raises hogs for a hobby.  Also has a stable of cool toys like four-wheelers and big trucks.

Also gone from the picture recently is Green Beret, an actual Green Beret with a Bronze Heart and a passel of other cool awards who was super nice.  We seemed to enjoy talking to each other and even set a date, but he cancelled on the day of and I have yet to hear from him since.  So one of us dodged a bullet--recently.  LOL

So Gorgeous is still in the picture.  He had to go to Dubai (or so he says) for a business thing.  I'm trying hard to hang on to the fantasy that he is a real person, but like sands through the hourglass, these are the days of our lives.  I mean, I know I am not a person acquainted with global business and travel, but that just seems to be a little too made up.  But then again he keeps sending me pics and it appears to be the same person,

Interesting update:  So I do a google picture search and his pics that he has sent me don't come up as being from somewhere else on the internet, but he is a dead ringer for a Lebanese celebrity.  Since the likelihood of a Lebanese celebrity and philanthropist picking me out of a thousand women to contact on a dating website is slim to none, I'm going with this is a fake.  If I could get an email from him then I could check his email header and get the IP address and establish his location (which I am going to say IS NOT Dubai), but that hasn't happened yet.

Then there are the two men with the same name but different locations, so one will be known as Cleveland and the other, Orlando.  Orlando is pretty convinced I could be the answer to his problems,  that I could complete him, but he is in between contracts and has some loan shark issues.  TOO MUCH INFORMATION  for a 20-minute messaging blitz.  But he seems sweet, so he stays.  Cleveland is an architect from a Caribbean island-country and is a little hard to understand.  But again, nothing too weird yet and he seems nice enough. Update: Have not heard from Cleveland again, but not a huge loss considering I don't even own a real coat and definitely don't want to live in a cold place.

A self-professed Prince (that's his screen name) has a pic with a dog in sunglasses.  What's not cute about that?  Originally from Texas, he is now on a peace-keeping mission in Afghanistan.  Uh huh.  Like I haven't heard this one before.  I'm so so so so sorry if I sound jaded, but I am.  I've seen almost all of the scams that occur online; "Deployed and Destitute" is a popular scam: one of our country's finest is fighting overseas and he either: 1) had his wallet stolen and can't buy any necessities, OR  2) has a relative back home that really just needs a little help OR  3) would I mind to pay his housekeeper for the very last time she cleaned, after he left...or one of a bunch of other stories.  With all the scams out there, I feel very fortunate this time around to have at least met Date Guy, even if he did not work out.

Mr. Newark had a cute profile pic, great smile.  We started messaging and he immediately wanted to email (going off site quickly is a classic scammer move, btw).  So I give him my online dating email and sure enough, he sends me almost instantly a lengthy email all about his hopes, desires, wants, and dreams as well as a pic of his 12 year old son.  As I read through the email, red flags were going off left and right.  Colloquialisms and spellings that are distinctly British, not New Joisey.  The part that sealed the deal was his description of how he is an international petroleum broker and traveled the globe frequently.  I just can't even because of how amateur this scammer is.  Here's a little excerpt:

".I dealing  on crude Oils and building of oil platform..My work is so demanding and have made me traveled all over the USA, Saudi Arabia, Japan, the UK,China, Germany, and most frequently to United Kingdom..."

So I just responded with, "You're not even a good scammer.  Take some lessons."  And needless to say, I have not heard back from him.

Update:  Put on your surprise face.  Gorgeous' son had a birthday this last week and would I please send the son a Walmart Gift card.

UMMMMMM

NO.

I tell Gorgeous that I don't mix money and online dating. Then there is only. The sound. Of crickets......

Until the next day when he berated me for not being willing to help him to which I responded why didn't you plan ahead?  And why are you putting so much pressure on me?  OHHHHH

Orlando is absolutely the sweetest talker Betty Crocker that I have ever met and not in a skeezy way.  Like sweet for real.  He seems to really want to talk to me and he's a believer and everything.  (Or so it seems.)  But he seems really anxious to nail down that we are a thing.  And that is definitely not on my agenda for the online dating diary.

This brings us to the bad news.  But before that, I have to tell you that I have had to get on  four different dating sites to find some really random people that will be funny for the blog.  So apparently there is a glut of sincere men on dating sites now.  Who'da thunk?

I am starting to see that I am conflicted with this diary because I'm meeting men that genuinely want to have relationships.  I cannot in good conscience basically lie to them, which I feel like I am doing.  The conflict is that, completely independent of any dating website, I have developed a friendship over the last several weeks with a godly, gentlemanly, really cute guy (also not on facebook) who I'm hoping is going to want to see if we can be more than friends.  So far, so good, but I cannot in good faith do this diary when my heart is just not in it.

So you may be like Date Guy and think I am a terrible person who doesn't care about people's feelings, but this is just not for me at this time.  So here's an idea... Do this yourself!  Write your own dating diary and you'll either have fun living it or maybe meet some amazing sincere person who wants a relationship.

Live the adventure, dream the dream.  Get out there and date -- I've got your back.








Wednesday, March 22, 2017

I'm Sure Stranger Things Have Happened - Dating Advice for the Definitely Not Dead

If you have been a follower of the Flying Pants for a length of time, then you know I am not exactly  a supporter of online dating.  I just have personally had a pretty terrible experience.  But last year, about this time, after posting a blog entitled 10 Ways to Know Your Online Date is a Scam, I had a hailstorm of people writing and telling me that their brother's friend's mailman knew someone that had found LOVE on the internet.

So, as a response to this hailstorm, I set out to prove how hard it is to meet someone online with the Online Dating Diary posts (see a featured post to the right of this column).  I spent a month genuinely trying to contact men to make a dating connection and reported it back to you, the Flying Pants reader.

Those posts absolutely wrote themselves because I met so many weird/"interesting" men.  I still hear about Mr. Talks A Lot and the blind guy that liked to go to strip clubs.  In fact, I still hear about those posts and get requests to "do it again."

So, as we come upon the first anniversary of the dating diaries, I decided that I would take one for the team AGAIN and do another month-long dating diary.

I have to carefully choose a dating site, because I want it to be one that is reputable and gives me a reasonable chance of meeting someone while being obscure enough to not be discovered during the month.  So obvi choices like Match and Christian Mingle are out.  I did settle upon one and actually started about two weeks ago, so I could get the posts written ahead of time.

Well, the inevitable happened.

I met online and conversed with a number of men,  but there were actually FOUR men that were great and employed and normal and didn't use the word "cuddle."  So I was actually in a quandary; did I just write about them and not let them know about the blog?  Did I try to date them all?  Or do I just keep meeting people and not pursue them at all?

Well, fortunately, one rose to the top and emerged as the frontrunner.  So guess what?  I went on a date.  And I like him.

He doesn't love Trump but he's not a Democrat.  He is a little ornery but he thinks I'm pretty great; he's a talker but not super extroverted like me.  He's just the right height, is willing to try my cooking, and he loves Kentucky football and basketball.  He does not have a Facebook account, in case you wanted to try to stalk him. We're in the "so far, so good" phase and we have two other dates scheduled.

As much as I did not want to admit this, a person can find a date via online dating.  So I guess I take back everything I ever said.

So get out there and date!  I've got your back.  (By the way, I used a site called Zoosk this time.  I like it because you have to take a video to prove your pictures are really you. Give it a try if you're looking.)


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

What A Girl (and a Guy) Wants - Dating Advice for the Definitely Not Dead #7

Thanks, Christina.  It's easy to say what a girl wants, but then how do you find what you're looking for, whether you're a man or a woman?  They say that there's an app for everything -- wouldn't it be great to have an app where you can make your perfect person?  Go through all your options and pick out what you like and have your person delivered to you in 30 minutes or less?

Alas, dating readers, it's a inevitable truth that finding your person is nothing like that.  In fact, it's more like you pick a few things and then you have to check an option called "Surprise Me" that delivers some hidden personality quirks or baggage later on in the relationship.

But thankfully we can arrive at a consensus of physical and personality traits that are generally considered desirable.  And thanks to roughly 138 of my single friends, we can get a general idea of what a girl (or a guy) wants.

The question I posed was, "What are the top three things you are attracted to in a potential date?"

Oh my, the responses.

I'll just jump right in, and, as is my general practice, I'll give people nicknames rather than use their actual names.  So maybe it's you, maybe it's not.  If you "out" yourself, then it's all on you.

"Ladies Love a Country Boy" was probably the most prolific in his description.  The first trait was just, "physical attraction," which is highly subjective.  But he went on to add approachable, i.e., no "elitist, condescending, cold, ill-mannered, rude with claws exposed, etc., blaming every man for the he$$ someone else put her through."  And last but not least, a genuine pleasant smile and an encouraging heart, someone who is giving and sacrificial.  I happen to know several women that fit the bill!  In fact, this is also a great description for a man.  I'd date that.

Note: Ladies (and Men), we have to do better when it comes to expectations for a new relationship.  Just because you dated a jerk or jerkette does NOT mean that the next person will be the same. IF you believe that every guy is a jerk or that every woman is out to stomp your heart, you are transferring your old boyfriend or girlfriend onto the next (and may I say) unsuspecting date.  So approach each person as a brand new person.

With that said, if you are dating the same kind of person and you keep getting your heart smashed:  NEWS FLASH.  DATE A DIFFERENT KIND OF PERSON. Guys, I've seen it so many times it's almost a textbook move -- really hot girls can be totally all about themselves (refer to the crazy/hot scale from last week)..  Girls -- the best he is going to treat you is in the first few dates.  If he is not respecting you, that is unlikely to change.  How many times do you have to put your hand on a hot stove before you figure out you get burned?

"Short and Sweet" responded like I though most men would:  Honesty, Morals, Chemistry.

"Next Hemingway" wants his girl to have an active, growing faith. "Not like, 'I went to church once as a baby and have vague spiritual interest,' but real devotion to Jesus."  He also wants a sense of humor, and the ability to appreciate the simple things in life, like hanging out at a book store for the afternoon.  I just happen to know that this is a truly great guy, so he is going to end up with a really amazing wife.

This survey question did yield some drunk messaging to me, and I got to hear how wonderful I am while this man was under the influence of adult drink.  Since we have been friends for sometime, I am pretty sure I am almost as wonderful when he is sober.

General Survey Responses:  I tried to express the idea that there was no judgment for any answers, and those that felt like they could respond honestly generally put physical attraction first.

Not-So-Scientific Results:

What A Girl Wants
Spiritual Life/Loves Jesus
Kindness
Sense of Humor
Can Talk with Me
(In no particular order): Has a Job, Adult Priorities, Smile, Good Laugh, An Accent, Fit

Guys:  Please note that although a woman our age knows what good-looking is, it may not be the most important thing to her.  Having someone you really enjoy spending time with is very valuable.  And, the way that emotions are hardwired into our being, that quality of fun/ kind/ easy to talk to is going to make you irresistible!

What A Guy Wants
Sense of Humor
Personality
Be Non-Religious/ Be Spiritual (I guess you have to figure this one out on a guy-to-guy basis)
Confidence
Honesty
Courage
Kind Personality
(In no particular order):  Beautiful Eyes, Likes Animals, Pretty Face, Nice Butt, Pretty Smile, Nice Curves

Ladies:  HARSH ALERT....Just like we are hardwired to be emotional, men are always going to be attracted to what they see with their eyes.  This is fact.  So, while this may make us view  them as shallow and unappreciative of real character qualities, a man is attracted to what he sees.  So hit the gym, lose the carbs, and maybe spruce up your wardrobe with some pieces that accentuate your positive (without being skanky, of course) if you are really interested in attracting that special guy.

I would have loved to make up some names for women I talked to and I would have loved to written here what they wanted, but usually the conversation drifted to another topic and I didn't get to make notes on the conversation.  But we're generally all fabulous and want the same things.

Get out there and date!  I've got your back.

P.S. There is a pretty exciting thing about to return to the Flying Pants... stay posted for the big March 22nd reveal!






Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Dating Advice for the Definitely Not Dead, #6 -- What It Means, and What You're Looking For

So glad to be back at  my keyboard this week!  Last week was a terrible upper respiratory infection that was the bane of my existence, subsiding just now.  I hope you enjoyed the post from the online dating diary and I have exciting news about that coming soon!

But today's question comes from an inquiring female mind:
Q.  "You use that phrase 'accessible and friendly' pretty regularly (in reference to how women should act).  What exactly does that mean and how would I know what that looks like?"

A.  This is a great question!  But let's start by looking at the way things go down, as I see it: Women are either ambivalent toward dating at this age (been there, done that) or maybe a little too aggressive.  And it's not completely their fault, either.  Women who have to compete in the world of commerce have to stand up or get run over.  So it's an occupational hazard to become a go-getter, which is not a bad thing at all!

However, when it comes to dating, a woman has to reconsider her position and her approach to things.  Men are hardwired to be pursuers, hunters; anything that's too easy must not be very worthy and they only want the best.  So what's a woman to do?  Be accessible and friendly.

Note:  this video is not completely family friendly.
Accessible means that you are within their reach.  Of course, thanks to the infamous hot/crazy scale video, men are generally looking for a 7-9 on the hot scale and a 6 or less on the crazy scale.  So be where men are that you want to get to know and strategically place yourself to be in the right place at the right time.

Friendly is just that.  Be nice, think of others, talk to people.  Seriously, no one you want to date is going to be attracted to a woman who is cold and unfriendly.

Okay, short post today, but I am working on a thing that will make you glad you check your computer on a Wednesday!  By the way, don't miss a single Flying Pants by putting your email in that little box to the right.

Get out there and date!  I've got your back.


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Dating Advice for the Definitely Not Dead, #5 -- Your Pre-Valentine's Day Advice

In case you haven't been inside a store recently or since Christmas, it's time to buy stuff for Valentine's Day, or as some call it, Singles Awareness Day.

In my humble opinion, Valentine's Day should be a drop-kick for men.  Flowers, dinner, jewelry gift of appropriate seriousness.  What is appropriate seriousness?  Because I just like men and think they are cute and generally fun to be with, here's a chart:

Dating 4 months or less:   Buy stud earrings in her birthstone or some other not-diamond stone
Dating 4 - 8 months:  pearl earrings that are a style that she would wear frequently (notice what she wears, find pearl earrings that copy that general style)
Dating 8 - 12 months:  short pearl necklace or other everyday necklace made out of something real
Dating a year or more:  it's time to fish or cut bait.  Get a ring or move on.

This gift will communicate the level of seriousness of the relationship -- from your perspective, anyway.

Women, since we, The Definitely Not Dead, are pursued and do not pursue men other than to be accessible and friendly, if we find ourselves single on February 14th, it is fortunately NOT the end of the world.  Do you have a date?  Yes, February 14th.  And your date after that will be February 15th.

Don't let one day make or break your whole essence of being.  Don't have a date or are not dating?  That means you can do whatever you want! Have your girls over and eat pizza out of the box while watching Hallmark Channel!  Splurge on a mani/pedi! Babysit for married friends that want to go out!   If you want to buy chocolate, DO IT.  And eat it and DON'T feel guilty, or for that matter, get weepy mid-box because some guy didn't plop down his $12.95 to buy some cheesy, fake velvet, heart-shaped box of chocolate.  You are so much better than that!

Men that find themselves dateless on this holiday:  My experience has taught me that the ends of the Valentine's Day Awareness Spectrum are:  either 1) He only remembers it's Valentine's Day because he finally sees the aisle of chocolate at Walgreen's, or 2)  He spends the night listening to Hall & Oates "Sarah Smile" or some equally terrible romantic/nostalgic song on repeat and drinking something that will end up in a pretty heinous hangover the next morning.

Although there are plenty of guy responses in between, my advice is the same:  Don't let one day bum you out or ruin your whole outlook or make you question how dateworthy you are:  Out of the 16 million hours in your life time, a measly twenty-four is a literal drop in the bucket.

But I leave MEN with this advice:  If you don't like spending this holiday alone, what are you going to do about it?  TRUST ME, there are a bunch of great women that are out there and waiting for you to ask them out.

Make a coffee date!  It's one of the safest and most transitional dating experiences you can have.  If it is not working out, well, it was just for coffee, so thanks and have a great day.  But if you would like to transition it into a meal, the invitation is all that you have to make.  Voila!  Instant date.

Is it too late to ask someone out for Valentine's Day?  No.  However, it will not carry as much romantic fervor as if you have already dated for months, but ask that woman out that you've had your eye on, guys.  However, you are going to have to have flowers or something meaningful to give to your date.

Speaking of meaningful, on one particular Valentine's Day, I had a box of chocolate-covered strawberries delivered to my office.  It was definitely appreciated and made me think about him pretty much ALL DAY LONG.  So how much is it worth to have a woman thinking nice things about you all day if you have a date that night?  Without any disrespect to women, GUYS -- this is like shooting fish in a barrel.  (Not that we are fish or live in a barrel, even though we may like that reclaimed wood look.)

My parting words to WOMEN:  Love yourself and be fabulous!  Don't waste time thinking about someone who is not making you his priority.  You know the saying, if he isn't contacting you, he's just not that into you?  It's true.  Figuratively, why spray a can of hairspray that you know is empty?  Don't look for something to happen when it's just not there. Most single guys just need some assurance they won't get shot down if they ask you to coffee.  Be accessible and friendly, but never easy and definitely not free.

My parting words to MEN:  Love yourself and be amazing!  Not all girls are out to smash your heart.  Get back in the game, swing for the fences, and you'll probably hit a homerun!  Just get out there!

Every single reader that sends me an email to 7terribrown@gmail.com will be entered into a drawing for a box of amazing chocolate covered strawberries!  Drawing is Friday, Feb. 10th.  In your email, list the three top things you look for in a potential date for next week's blog post.  No list, no entry.  You can do it!  And thanks. (Note:  emails for contest purpose only and will be incinerated at 4000 degrees after drawing.)

Get out there and date!  I've got your back.



Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Dating Advice for the Definitely Not Dead #4: Keeping It on the Down Low/When To Go

Hello, all you people out in Blog World!  I would like to take a few words to thank those readers in countries outside the US, namely Israel, Russia, China, Ireland, Ukraine, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Germany, and Vietnam.  Thanks y'all!  I hope that you enjoy it.

Dating Advice for the Definitely Not Dead is, as a reminder, written for those who are 40+ and find themselves navigating the dating world; some after a long time of not dating, some who date regularly.  Things have changed since you were 20, and some things are exactly the same.  So thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy.

Q:  "I have been dating this guy for awhile and he wants to put our relationship on Facebook, but I would like to keep my private life just that -- private.  How should I tell him I like my privacy without making him feel like I don't want people to know we're dating?"

A:  This is a relationship minefield, because this is super important to some and not so much to others.  Feelings are involved, so you have to tread carefully, keeping in mind how you would feel if you were the other person, without losing yourself.
To begin with, it's likely some very close friends that already know that you are dating, just as a part of friend conversation.  What is more close to your heart than dating? So the relationship is probably not a complete unknown, unless you are sneaking around on the low-down and using fake names.  If this is the case, then maybe you should not even be dating at all!  (Side note:  If you discover that the "perfect" person you are dating is already married, this person is NOT going to leave his or her spouse for you and if he/she is "going to get a divorce," then wait for that event to occur.  I mean, you're dealing with someone that is already deceitful, why would he (or she) be honest with you?  Walk away from this.)

But I digress.  If you want to guard your privacy and NOT tell the world you're dating, you may need to consider that people will want to share in your joy.  It may not be a bad idea to let them!  Here's the thing to do:  Start posting with this person tagged.  Then post some pics of you two together.  People that see your posts in their feed will figure it out without the giant "In A Relationship" status that occurs when you change your relationship status on Facebook.  This is also a good way to placate the person you are dating.

If you are the one wanting to shout it to the world that you have found the one person who makes your life happy:  We celebrate with you, but it's key to respect your person and keep their needs and wants in mind.  Reach an agreement as a couple as to how much social media  you will have in  your lives.  Maybe you will have an Instagram account that documents all your amazing dates and times together, and you can even give it a cute name like "Made4EachOther" or "JoanieLuvsChachi."  As always, communicate and respect.  And if you are the reserved one, give it up a little and let people share in your joy, because relationships are about compromise.

Q:  "How do you know when it's okay to go to each other's homes?"

A:  Great question that is actually multi-faceted.
If you have already known this person as a friend or acquaintance prior to dating, then it's probably pretty safe to enter his or her home alone after you have had time to feel comfortable with them.  Is  that a month?  two days?  It's a tough call. Go with your gut instinct.  If you have no gut instinct, wait and have him or her to your place first.

If you have just met this person, it's probably a good idea to plan or attend a group function in his or her home so you can check it out without compromising your safety. When you go to his or her home, does it look like a normal home with normal home stuff?  Or is there bizarre art hanging in the living room, books about weird topics laying around, and two forks in the silverware drawer?  Are there too many knives in the kitchen for even a professional chef?  Does the bathroom have normal bathroom stuff in it, like shampoo, soap, etc.?  And yes, open up the medicine cabinet.  I know I am going to get flack on this, but you need to know if he or she is taking 14 different meds to control psychotic tendencies!  (And don't act like you have never, ever looked at someone's personal stuff in their bathroom.)

On another level, if you feel comfortable being alone with this person and feel like you can be together and alone without too much physical temptation, then go to this person's house.  But be forewarned that this is not a situation that encourages chastity and purity.   It actually leaves lots of opportunity for exactly the opposite.

Now, if you go to his or her house and you get a surprise, like "Oh, you have a child," or "Oh, I didn't know you cared for your aging parent," or "Oh, I didn't know you had a portrait gallery of Elvis painted on black velvet," then be as cool as possible and take time later to assess the situation and see how this will affect your relationship, if at all.

Get out there and date!  I've got your back.

Love me, hate me, but send me your questions at 7terribrown@gmail.com.