My new dating pre-screening questionnaire

You don’t get to be 38 and single without a few good (or not so good) dating stories, am I right? I’ve had my share of Jerry Springer episode moments and it’s just about led me to quitting altogether. But I do happen to have a few friends/family members with excellent spouses and good marriages so all hope is not lost quite yet. After a particularly eye opening experience recently I went for a good hard run and my creative juices got flowing and this little nugget was born.

This is really just a mental checklist as I’m getting to know someone, not an actual conversation specifically, but who knows, maybe one day it will come to that. It might seem blunt, but here’s to keeping it real.

Connection: How did we meet? Mutual friends? Hobbies? Employer?

Red flags include online/dating apps, no mutual friends or hobbies, co-worker status.

Background:

Employment: Are you employed? How long have you been employed? Have you ever been terminated? Do you have large gaps in your employment?

Red flags include prolonged lack of employment, termination for cause.

Education: Have you completed a post-high-school program? How long did it take you? Did you attend multiple colleges?

Red flags include failure to complete programs started, mid-program switching.

Family: Living relatives? Parents divorced? Previous marriage? Children? Want to marry and/or have children?

Red flags include weak/non-existent family relationships, divorce for adultery or physical violence, no custody/visitation rights, not keen on marriage.

Friends: Do you have them? Can I meet them? Are they married/single/dating?

Red flags for none, secret, all single.

Spirituality – Were you raised in church? Do you attend church regularly? What type/style/brand?

Red flags for lack of moral compass, acceptance, forgiveness, joy, family values.

Finances – Do you have a plan? An advisor?  Have you ever declared bankruptcy? Do you pay taxes? Do you give money to others (charities, not your mooching friends)? Do you talk about money a lot? Do you expect women owe you something because you bought them [fill in the blank]?

Red flags for stability, intelligence, misaligned priorities, chivalry or lack thereof, manipulation, generosity.

Other:

Were/are you in the military or law enforcement? For how long? If left, why? Serve overseas? Active combat?

Red flags for oh so many things.

Have you ever been in a fight – knife, gun, hand to hand combat? Have you been wounded or inflicted wounds requiring medical treatment.

Red flags for violence, PTSD, anger management.

Do you own guns? Conceal carry? Hunt? Maintain gun skills regularly?

Red flags for extreme views, mental instability, unsafe practices.

Hobbies:

Travel – Do you have a passport? Have you left the country? Other than to tropical islands?

Red flags for lack of cultural perspective/world view.

Sports – Team or individual? Competitive or recreational? Obsessed or easy going? Extreme or mainstream? Financial commitment within your means?

Red flags for egomania, inappropriate spending, adultery, strava obsessing, or cross-fitting (sorry friends, personal preference).

Social habits – Do you drink, frequent bars, use recreational or performance enhancing drugs? Are you a foodie? Do you stay home all the time?

Red flags for alcoholism, drugs (obvi), excessive instagram posts, possible hermit/loner.

Living arrangement – Have you ever owned a home? Do you currently? Is it on wheels/water? Is there a housemate? Pets? Is it clean? Does it smell?

Red flags for commitment, responsibility, independence, hygiene.

 

Bonus categories:

Do you have any interesting or unique talents, interests, hobbies?

Extra points for travel, boating, cycling, vegan cooking, foreign languages.

 

End note:

Some of these may seem obvious, some extreme, some not your style. That’s okay. Like I said, it’s born from my experience and my expectations. If you’re reading this and you’ve dated me, don’t try to find yourself in there, or do, personal development is good. Lord knows I need it too! And of course some of my comments are tongue in cheek, no hate mail please.

Day 2

I felt better after posting last night and rolled over to try and sleep. Then my phone dinged and it was a friend reaching out with virtual hugs. I quickly realized that by tweeting a link I also posted it to Facebook and my west coast friends were still in prime time and started responding pretty quickly. After a brief panic I decided to leave it up. I mean whoever is going to take the time to read it probably knows me well enough to respect my emotions. I coughed and tossed and turned for several hours till I finally got some sleep and awoke to a few more surprising messages from my east coast friends. It was exactly what I needed as I wade through this decision making process. I spent many more hours staring at the computer, writing a cover letter, emailing potential landlords, calling RV storage places. But by the time we sat down for dinner, I had pretty much decided that returning to cubicle life, even just for a few months, was not a good option for so many reasons. It felt like a retreat, a loss, a failure. The encouragement of friends, and some time spent filling my “gratitude” jar, brought me to a place of compromise. It’s a work in progress but I’m hopeful that we’ll continue to communicate and create space for one another to be our best selves.

It’s funny how I can feel like I’m so in touch with myself and at the same time be completely unaware of why I’m deteriorating at a perilous rate. All of a sudden I’m reminded of an extended exercise from a grad school coaching class. We organized into groups of 3 and identified one person in the group to be our sandpaper and one to be our blanket. Obviously the sandpaper was there to ask the tough questions and rub you a little raw, exposing some issues that might need some attention. The blanket was the safe nurturing cozy supporter. I haven’t had any sandpaper in my life for a while but I need it. It’s time to get serious, so I can escape this holding pattern and make some progress. It’s time I make some adjustments to be a better partner, a better person, a better me. It’s time I apply some of the discipline I use in academics and sports to refining my heart and attitude. Maybe then I’ll have some clarity of purpose.

don’t think, just write

A New Year is a cliche time for reflection and goal setting. I’ve found myself with an overwhelming amount of things to reflect on and absolutely no concrete plans for the future. It’s basically paralyzing me. And I vacillate between making lots of detailed plans and making none whatsoever. In this instance freedom feels like shackles. Too many options is dizzying. My eyes literally hurt from scanning websites for job opportunities, house sitting gigs, and rental units. We’ve been in a holding pattern for about 6 weeks. My family kicked off the holiday season with a funeral which set a strange tone for me. It’s hard to explain but celebrating my grandfather’s life leaves me wondering what the hell I’m doing with my own. I mean, I wonder that a lot, I always have. I’ve felt an uneasy unsettled unsuccessful blah thing for as long as I can remember. I’ve gone in so many different directions, started down a variety of paths, but I never seem to get very far down them before I take another oddball turn. I get the impression some people think it’s irresponsible, others find it adventuresome, still others probably assume I’m lost, or a lost cause. I read books about women who take chances and chase their dreams and make bold statements and love deeply and find success in often unconventional ways. And I feel kind of desperate to be like them, since I’ve so clearly not followed any traditional or expected path. But the thing that keeps tripping me up is I don’t have this deep seated desire to do or be anything. I don’t have a hidden talent. People don’t reach out and tell me – hey, that thing you do for fun from time to time – you’d be really good at that like as a business. I’m well-educated, I’m intelligent, I like to read, I like to write, I love puzzles, I love nature, I am reasonably athletic, I have an eye for beauty and color and shapes, I am agreeable and relatively comfortable with people. But there are no blatant talents, no outstanding achievements, a lot of anxiety and insecurity, no drive to be successful, no entrepreneurial spirit, no desire for attention. I just want to find a rhythm. Some way to contribute to society. To be productive and useful in a way that is somewhat unique to me. I just feel so plain and boring. That might sound strange coming from a girl who quit her job not once but twice in the last two years to go out into the world and explore and try to find herself and this THING that she’s supposed to do or be. And how phenomenally depressing to even utter the words that after almost two years of adventuring and putting myself out there, that maybe I’m just not that interesting and don’t have some incredible thing to offer. Please dear God don’t let that be the answer. Come ON already! What do I need to do to find some direction? You’d think after all the hours I’ve spent running, hiking, and biking in nature, in addition to the hours and hours of driving back and forth across America, that maybe I’d get some little signs or feelings or nudging. But as I resign myself to work another tax season I feel a piece of me dying. Cubicle life is suffocating for me. It doesn’t lead anywhere. If I was meant to succeed in an office environment surely one of the many many jobs I’ve had would have gone somewhere rather than left me physically ill and emotionally drained. I put on weight just thinking about it. Looking back on the photos in my closet from middle school, high school, college, and my 20s it is obvious that I’ve been coping with these issues for a long long time by sneaking junk food. I can’t even think about how different my life might have been if I’d spent some of my teenage years figuring out who I really was and where I belonged in the world. I weep at the thought of the life I could have been living these past 20 years. But since I can’t do anything to change the past I’m left with the big what now? How do I really start my life NOW?