On the mutually exclusive: Deadlines and pretty packages

I blinked and looked at the photo twice, just to be sure my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me. They weren’t. There, on the back of this potential online dating match’s shirt, was a line that read: “I’m not gay. But $20 is $20.”


Needless to say, I swiped left and closed the app.

Many of you have reached out privately to ask about my online dating foray. In a nutshell: I’ve slowed down. Waaayyyyy down. Probably because for every seemingly nice guy, there are about 50 of Mr. Classless. He is usually either wearing an offensive shirt, shirtless to show you his pec work, or smoking a stogie and holding a shot.

Funny, when I graduated from college, I thought I left all of this behind. The men of the world were going to be ambitious, kind, enlightened. Oh, my 22-year-old-self was bright-eyed and perhaps a tad bit naïve on all counts.

I decided, after my last breakup, that I was done making dating a priority. If I’m honest, I’m not your typical gal. This week, I’ve worked until 10 p.m. every night to meet multiple deadlines. I’ve advised CEOs and CTOs, worked with some dynamite journalists and caffeinated at my desk more than usual.  I’m the breadwinner. The mommy. The blogger. The gal pal. I will remain open to meeting someone fantastic but he’ll have to be that and more. I’m busy and I’m—for the most part—happy with the life I’m creating. Solo or joined, it’s a good one.

I am tempted, however, to throw the online Neanderthals a curveball. As they emphasize their physical fitness, youthful appearance and love of all things 20-something-ish, I find the contrarian in me wanting to keep it real in a way they will never understand.

“Forty-something working mom seeks grown-up man. Do not bother to apply unless my morning dog walking outfit will not cause a chasm between us. Must appreciate large purple specs, unmatched hoodie, pants and running shoes, hair a-flyin’. Also, must be a fan of no makeup, which makes me look about 10 years older than I am—that’s a new development but one I think is probably here to stay, from what my older counterparts tell me.

I work long hours and sometimes eat olives for dinner. I realized my shirt was on backwards on the drive to my son’s school the other morning. This is something you can count on happening with regularity. I have enough on the brain that sometimes the details of life get squeezed out to make room for bigger things.

I usually have better cocktail conversation with the men at a party than the stay-at-home moms. I don’t believe I ever did enjoy bitching about diapers or cranky husbands, but if I did—I’ve certainly outgrown that phase. Talk to me of business, of politics, of spirituality, of wine and travel and grand ideas. I won’t fit your ‘bikini-ready at a moment’s notice’ mold. I’m too busy earning a paycheck. I know the dumb blondes (and brunettes and redheads) can get tiresome for you, but hey–you wanted bikini ready. Most women I know who support a family put the treadmill lower down the list than taking a meeting with a potential client.

I won’t bat my eyes and smile prettily when I give you my opinion. My mother raised me better than that. But make no mistake—when I meet a man who is real, a man who is so himself that he oozes strength and solidity, my eyes will sparkle, my giggles will erupt, my loyalty will be true.”

I am painting myself in the worst possible light, of course, to make a point. I know there are men who would applaud my achievements, my ability to keep a family afloat, my lack of time to apply mascara for a morning walk.

I’m done worrying about being a pretty package. As I watched Hillary Clinton debate Donald Trump the other night for the presidency of the United States, I realized that he is still trying to make the old rules apply—rating women’s attractiveness rather than their qualifications for a job, their weight rather than the heft of their achievements.

Online dating seems to create the same vibe. Here’s to the men who resist it. To the women who rise above it. And to all of us who are seeing each other for the worth within, the kindness inherent, the chemistry that goes beyond biceps and boobs.

If my mother was right, that is the only kind of match that lasts. And I’m holding out for it. Not holding my breath, people. There is a difference.

But holding out? Of course I am. As my dad used to say, “You bet.” It was his way of assuring you he was all in on something. I’m all in on real love. Anything else is a poor substitute—much like a pretty, but virtually empty, package.

And in the meantime, there are deadlines to meet.




41 Comments Add yours

  1. Dale says:

    If I (stupidly) try my hand again at dating apps, I am totally stealing some of your text!
    I have to add on that I am 54, rapidly approaching 55 – so ya, no. Bikini shots ain’t gonna be in the picture. Oh, and by the way? Could you NOT take a picture of yourself in your skin tight “serious biker outfit” next to your bike? You get an automatic swipe left. And should we actually move to the cell phone exchange? Do NOT I repeat, do NOT send me a dick pic. Remember my age? That is SO not gonna work on me and let’s face it, not the prettiest part of the male anatomy – even Michaelangelo was smart enough to make David’s “normal-size”…

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, some rich stuff here, Dale:). Really rich stuff. Stuff for that bottle of wine you and I will share some day–and we’ll laugh until we cry.

      1. Dale says:


  2. Kat says:

    I deleted the online app on my phone 3 months ago. Had enough of Mr Classless or Mr Insecurity or worse still, Mr Still-Married-But-Looking-For-Companion. I’m at home on Friday nights and sometimes there are weekends when I don’t even meet friends. I’m staying at home, writing and blogging about my travels. I go for networking events and travel conferences – I’m a travel blogger – I should be able to meet my ideal partner at such meets right? No, majority are in their 20s and still living out of their backpacks 😦 I’m 40 now – flashpacking suits me better than backpacking. Similarly like you, I’m holding out, not holding my breath. I’d rather go for real love and partnership 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, we’re on the same page! I’ve let my subscriptions lapse. I am focusing on kids, work, me:). And I’m happy. It’ll happen for both of us if meant to be. Any man would be lucky to have you!

      1. Kat says:

        Same goes for you too 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you:). Yet one more piece of evidence–as if we needed it–that you are a modern man:).

  3. I just realized: I have no idea what you do for work? if you don’t mind that is

    1. candidkay says:

      I write! Of course:). Was in corporate marketing communication for years but now have gone back to my journalism roots.

  4. Shirt on backward…welcome to the Club! I name you VP.
    And you should post it – or a version of it.

    1. candidkay says:

      I knew we were soul sisters!

  5. LisaDiane says:

    I love this! And I think you should post that as your bio on your profile. That would most certainly attract a grown man, who would appreciate your humor, honesty, and refreshingly deep point of view. Good luck lady!

    1. LisaDiane says:

      P.S. You’re making me consider trying on-line dating, using your mock profile as a model for what I’d want to say. 😉

    2. candidkay says:

      We’ll have to compare notes if you jump into the fray:).

  6. I’m reading a book right now about a woman who goes into the online dating scene as an experiment to see whether she’s more attractive (or looked at / winked at) with her natural gray hair, or dyed brown (via photoshop). In the end, her gray hair wins.
    I guess my point is there seems to still be some good ones left who appreciate the real deal.

    1. candidkay says:

      Ooh, I love that! A colleague of mine let herself go gray after being blond for years–and then met her husband:). Online. There are good guys out there.

  7. That’s a great advert in my opinion – I think you should post it and see if there are any of those guys out there who have just been waiting for such a great woman to come along!

    1. candidkay says:

      You and my friends. I’ve been double-dog dared:).

  8. lmarieallen says:

    “Talk to me of…wine and grand ideas.” Amen! Love it.

    1. candidkay says:

      Is there really anything else worth talking about?!

  9. Kate says:

    As always witty, yet rip the bandaid off honest! Love your perspective!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you:). I appreciate you reading and commenting so regularly!

  10. Aahhh so good. That’s right…hold out for one who is worthy. I used to say that in a somewhat cocky way but in some way true. It took time to find him and in now way was I perfect for sure but we somehow saw each for who we were and are and we’ve made it through. The good ones are worth waiting for that is for sure. In the meantime you are doing it right… being true to yourself and traveling on. Thanks… I always love reading your words.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, Rachel. Perfect, I agree, doesn’t mean perfect in theory. It means perfect fit, flaws and all:). Thanks for reading and, as always, commenting so thoughtfully.

  11. Oh yes. Do it. It might be just the way to find the right man, because he’ll be the only one who’ll respond to those truths. I’m still resisting online dating, despite pressure from my friends, and you’ve just expressed exactly why. I too am happy with the way my life is (deadlines and all!) – a loving, caring, sharing partner would just be a bonus.

    1. candidkay says:

      I think we both want a partner in the same position, right? Someone who wants us but also knows he is his own person with a good life.

  12. Just self worth Kristine, your choices are no longer driven so much by the fears that we used to keep 🙂
    Now that is love…self love…the missing ingredient in our lives, and the one that makes us the most happy 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      Can I get an amen?! 🙂 Self worth, self love, the foundation from which we can love all others.

      1. When I finally saw it…and realised that I had just been stumbling around my fears (and this has purpose), I almost laughed in the understanding of that ‘amen’ (so be it!) part.
        When you finally ‘see’ what has driven your fear, a complete understanding of YOUR journey is presented to you…and you let so much ‘artificiality’ go, those desperate attempts at ‘being’ accepted by you or others…and the real you within comes out, and within that is the desire to never be that ‘artificial’ again, and only stand in your truth, that acceptance of exactly who you are within…and in doing so you are asking the world to accept that truth and treat you accordingly, with a love that you now give to yourself.
        Pec’s, hot cars and stogie smokers can now be seen for what they are, shields of ‘look at me’ to block their fears. You just want someone who HAS gone through their fears and can genuinely treat you with love, as they will treat themselves that way also because of what they have found within themselves too.
        It is in finding you, that you will attract another on that level. Yes, their may still be ‘bits’ to deal with, but you will now see them for what they are.
        So my friend….amen to the release of what no longer serves you, and amen to what is to come…he may be the most incredible man that you have ever met…AND have pec’s too…but more than that, is the love that he has discovered within himself, and will now share with you. The more you love yourself, the more unconditional you become…conditions are only built on fear 🙂

  13. How we live and our thoughts “In the meantime” are what counts. Hold your vision and don’t stray from what you deserve! 🙏🏻💚#trust

    1. candidkay says:

      Trust and vision holding strong! Thank you:)

  14. Anne says:

    Perhaps not quite the way you worded it in your post but yes, you need a new on line intro making it clear that anyone that cannot handle what you 1st listed or anyone that is full of bs need not apply – perhaps then you will get only sincere honest responses & weed out all of the junk

    1. candidkay says:

      I am sure the responses would be interesting, that is for sure:).

  15. suemclaren24 says:

    I’m with you. The next one, if there is one, will have to be special, and take me as I am, including the animals who share space with me. Although my step-daughter met her husband via E-Harmony, when and IF for me, it will probably be at the supermarket or in the swimming pool.

    1. candidkay says:

      Ah, the supermarket. I have often joked that I would much rather meet my soulmate as our carts collide in the produce section and our eyes lock over the spilled oranges :-).

  16. Amy says:

    Somewhere out there, I know there is a true man who’s worthy of you! (That’s right: I said worthy of you. Because just any old run-of-the-mill fellow won’t do. Your someone special is going to have to be a cut above — and he will be!) I happen to adore Real You, and your future someone will, too. May you two find one another soon!

    1. candidkay says:

      As usual, my kind friend, you make me smile. Thank you! If only you lived close enough to take those dog walks with me in the AM. I’m banking on that happening sometime in the future–even if it is sans dog after a lunch together at the bookstore:).

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