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I don’t like it when people take me on merely a first impression. People are too complex. Ok, I think I am too complex. I don’t believe you meet me once and understand who I am nor my motivations, desires, values or needs.
Someone told me if you listen very closely at the beginning of a relationship, the other person will tell you who they are. But you have to listen very closely and based on my experience you have to want to hear that truth. Think back, that girlfriend that you could never figure out mentioned quite fleetingly “but I don’t want to just use you, to get through this rough emotional spot… I mean… I really care for you…” How about “I either stay way too long in relationships or leave too early.” Did you pay attention to “I’m commitment phobic so when I feel that pressure… well when I did with Suzie, I ended up naked in a hot tub with someone else.”

For each of our own reasons we hear these things and filter out that red flag. Ok, let’s call it a red flashing light. We take the good qualities we see in someone and we overlay with this flashing red light. We take that piece of information and discard it – when it’s really crucial. The hardest part is balancing the good with the bad, particularly when you want to buy what this person is selling – and trust me, everyone sells.

What I am finding is it’s taking far longer than I had imagined to really get to know people. Even at 40, I didn’t realize this before. I thought as I got older, this would get easier. Naively I thought as others aged around me they would drop the crap and get honest. I have found dating and relationships *seemed* easier in my mid-twenties. I was most likely just younger and not putting as much thought into them.

I’ve also realized people aren’t as into self-improvement as I am. While I look at my patterns and truly want to change, there are those who merely throw up a label as a warning and disclaimer. From that moment on, they claim no responsibility for their actions or reactions. The emotional shrapnel and bodies they leave in their wake are a mere consequence of those who wandered into the path of this poor person who’s been wounded… who has been hurt by others… who carries this cross… and refuses to grow up like the rest of us and get therapy.

And on that note, I realize I am the one that needs to change. When I pay attention the stories have similar plots and the endings are starting to look the same – and I can make some changes on my end about that. Most importantly, I can change what I pick. I can heed those red flashing lights in the very beginning. When I know it’s important that someone is considerate and I say “I’ve had a bad day” and the other person responds via text with “yeah, me too” and seven other messages come in about their bad day… finally signing off with a “Good night baby”… I can listen to that still small voice that says to me, “I want more”. And – it’s okay to want more.

One thing I’m finding as time goes by is my gut is getting better… that still small voice speaks to me a lot – tells me about that cover, and as I get to see more of the story, most of the time, I’m right.

Have I mentioned that I was doing some online dating? I was. My match.com subscription expired. I learned a lot and will likely write a little more about it as time goes on, but for now I just want to write about a dating theory a woman I met on match previously ran by me. I think it’s valid… The Jurassic Park “filling in with the wrong DNA” Theory of Dating.

If you remember the movie Jurassic Park, the whole premise of the movie was taking dinosaur fossil DNA and filling in with frog DNA. The problem was, they filled in with the wrong DNA… and all hell broke loose on the island.

The theory applies to dating in that you meet someone and you see what you like and start to attach all these kinds of attributes to them (the wrong DNA). Later you find it *was* the wrong DNA. In and of itself, that’s not bad… that’s kinda the way love is supposed to go… so by the time you figure out they leave their socks on the floor, or drink out of the milk container, you really love them… and it’s ok.

Bringing this to online dating – it *really* lends itself to filling in with dramatically wrong DNA. First, I tell you the DNA I want you to see… then, you fill in what you want. Sometimes, in my experience, I’ve gotten to know someone that resembled their profile little – if any. In one case it was good and we’re good friends… in another it wasn’t so great.

I’m not so sure what other people’s experience is with online dating and the right or wrong DNA… I’d love to hear…

Like all kids, my dad gave me a lot of advice and passed on many words of
wisdom, which I largely ignored. There are a few gems, however, that have stuck
in my head. Regarding relationships, he said something about not really knowing
someone until you travel with them. Having traveled with a fair number of people
I’ve dated, I’ll give a nod to my dad on that one.

Since I’ve been back in the dating pool for a bit and on an airplane, I
recalled his words not only because of my behavior but because of the behavior
of others. On the way out, I was ok. On the way back, I was pretty much a
jackass and glad I wasn’t in a committed relationship with anyone.

As for the behavior of others… that’s another story…

Given what I do for a living, I assume everyone knows there are three red
Lifesaver’s candies to a roll (and everyone most likely does). On one of the
legs of my trips, I sat next to a couple.  I was in the middle seat next to the
wife; her husband on the other side of the aisle. Feeling like crap, I tried to
sleep, meditate, anything to keep my mind of feeling sick. Then I noticed
something. Very sweetly, he reached across the aisle and placed a red Lifesaver
on her napkin. She squirmed in her seat with joy. Somewhere deep inside I
smiled. A short time later, he did it again, and she had the same response. They
were like two high school kids, passing notes in study hall. On one hand I had
so much hope, so much joy, and at the same time, tears rolled from my eyes.

On the return trip, I sit next to another couple. I on the aisle, they in the
middle and window seats, glued to the window. When we reached cruising altitude,
they broke out a picnic lunch. They had clearly baked muffins for the trip. They
measured out individual servings of almonds and cheese. Again, they shared just
like two school kids, all the while pointing out rock formations and fault
lines.

Just about the time I start thinking romance is hopeless, I see things like
this. I see that people truly can be together and live Happily Ever After (sort
of). If anything it shows me that when two people love each other, the share,
they care considerate and most of all the seem to love the other person the way
they want to be loved.

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