Why Not To Sweep A Girl Off Her Feet…

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Do you remember when Star Wars came out?

And no I don’t mean any of the recent batch, I mean the original Star Wars – the real one – which came out in the 70’s.

I was at Britton Junior High then when word began to filter through the ranks of teenage boys there was a new, amazing sci-fi film coming. I think my brother and I pestered Dad to take us before the film was even out.

And when the thing finally did come to the Century Theater in San Jose you can bet we were there, in line, with what seemed like everyone else in San Jose. And it was amazing – I’d never seen anything like it before. Sure, there was 2001 A Space Odyssey, but with all the apes and symphony music it seemed more like a PBS documentary than anything else.

Star Wars, with its western style shoot outs and it’s clearly demarcated bad guy (Darth Vader wore even more black than Yul Brynner) was a flick us kids could really get into – and so we did. Soon the whole neighborhood was playing out the Millennium Falcon escape scene and Tie Fighter vs. X-wing battles until the street lights came on.

It was a seminal moment in our young lives.

So imagine my delight when the new batch of George Lucas shoot-em-ups came out. That was the late 90’s – by which time I had a couple boys of my own. Charlie was still too young to sit through a movie that didn’t feature a purple dinosaur or talking toys – but his older brother Connor had just started grade school – and I relished the thought of taking him to see the new Star Wars.

I of course thought it’d be just like when I was young. The movie would be awesome, and all his friends would see it, and then they’d go home and re-enact it over and over until the next one came out.

So when opening day arrived I had the theater pre-selected. I went by Connor’s school and, like any good dad, told the attendance lady that he had a dentist appointment – and then took him to see the show.

And it was as amazing as I’d anticipated – well, until the show started. Holy cow was that movie a hot mess. It had no discernible plot or leading man, and the racial stereotypes were so atrocious I spent the movie praying my boy was too young to notice.

Has that ever happened to you – where you were expecting something to be great and it fell flat? I guess it’s what happens when someone over-promises but under-delivers. And it happens in relationships too. Have you ever seen a couple start strong, and then come undone?

It happened recently to a friend of mine. He met a woman that he found himself very attracted to, so they dated a few times and his feelings for her grew – fast. I don’t think a month had passed before he started dropping the L word.

My buddy came on very strong with this woman at first, but I think that was before he knew who she really was – before he knew her quirks. Before he knew that she would probably not fit his life. But we guys do that sometimes – and I know it makes girls a little crazy, and we’re sorry about that, really we are – but we do it anyway.

And that can be a hard thing to explain.

I could tell you it’s because of those Hollywood movies where the guy sweeps the girl off her feet. But that wouldn’t be right, because we don’t go to those movies – but women do. As a result when the guy does come on strong women can be flattered, and go with it. They don’t always use their better judgment and question: “Wait a minute, this guy barely knows me – so how can he know I’m the one for him?” Instead they think their moment in the sun has finally arrived, just like George Clooney and Brad Pitt conveyed it would.

The only trouble is that after coming on so strong we guys often spook ourselves and then slow way down, leaving the woman sort of out ahead on her own, wondering what just happened.

At coffee this morning Loretta and I were discussing that paradox when she reminded me that I didn’t exactly sweep her off her feet. We actually started out as friends who grew very close and fell in love. We started contemplating some of our previous relationships and sort of discovered that the ones which did start strong – both hers and mine – were not the ones that lasted.

We also noticed that those relationships were much earlier in our lives. It’s my belief that at age 40 I was a product of my 30’s – and in my 30’s I thought I had the world by the tail. I thought I knew myself, and just about everything else. So when I reached 40 I was not the enlightened Obi Wan I am now, but pretty much under informed and self-centered – think Han Solo with a motorcycle.

And as such I used to come on pretty strong to women. And you know what? It never worked out – not once. I think that’s because too strong an opening play just can’t be sustained. And now, in retrospect I think my strong opening plays had everything to do with me and probably very little to do with the women. I wanted what I wanted – and I wanted it now.

Loretta confided to me that, as she made her way through her 40’s, if a guy came on too strong that behavior started sending up red flags. I think what she was saying was if a guy took his time, and got to know her, it made her more comfortable with the thought of maybe going the distance with him.

In my own case I think I came to a similar conclusion – if from the other side of the equation. I think I figured out, at some level, that if I got to know the woman to see if she’d fit my life before charging in with my light saber, I’d have a far better experience – as would she.

So it turns out that we’ve worked out, at least in part, because we have entered a stage in life where our concern for another – each other – have ended up making our own life a better place. And that’s a really cool thing.

Looks like there’s an upside to being old enough to remember the real Star Wars.

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A Story Book Ending

ليه-لا

DO YOU KNOW WHAT LEAP DAY IS?

It’s that extra day we get at the end of February about every four years. Because it’s such a rare occurrence, it has some traditions attached to it — one of which is the old Irish custom that says a woman can ask a man to marry her on such a day.

And, being Irish, you’d think I’d have known that. But I didn’t — well, not until it was brought to my attention via text a little over a year ago. That’s when the woman I was seeing at the time messaged me with a very important question.

She wanted to know if I would marry her.

I thought that was both cute and sweet, and I told her as much. And while I didn’t agree to her proposal made in jest, I didn’t say “no,” either.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here — this story doesn’t start in February 2012, it begins in June 2011. That’s when I started writing a column about dating and relationships here in The Herald. And the month after that is when I met the woman who’d one day ask me to marry her.

How are those two events related? I ended up writing my first book about both of them.

Here’s how it happened: After beginning the column in June 2011, I met Loretta in July and we started a fascinating relationship in which we’d discuss the dynamics between men and women — especially as they related to, and played out on, dating sites.

Though not actually dating at the time — well kind-of-sort-of, but not really — we definitely enjoyed each other’s company. We were also sweet on the deep philosophical conversations we had. I probably have been remiss in saying so, but many of the columns I wrote as the Online Dating Coach sprung from those very talks.

And around November of that year — with maybe 25 or so columns written — the idea began to occur to me that they might form the basis for a book.

I don’t know that I’d really given that thought much consideration before the day Loretta asked me what direction I saw myself going with my writing. Suddenly, the word “book” popped out of my mouth.

When she asked me what the book would be like, I said a collection of my columns. I think what I envisioned at first was a year’s worth of columns in chronological order. And when I had a year’s worth, Loretta and I sat down and started to assemble them — but it didn’t go so well.

Wait, I thought, I can’t include the early ones — they’re unpolished. So I left those out. Then Loretta said, “Let’s group them by category!” — thinking, I guess, that we could divide them into chapters themed “Advice to women” and “Advice to men” and so forth — but the categories seemed forced.

What we ended up with after our first few brainstorming sessions was not so much a book as a first attempt by a couple of amateurs trying to approximate a book.

As we continued to work on what the book should truly be, I was campaigning for a straightforward compendium of the columns I’d written, but Loretta had another idea. She suggested I weave our story, of meeting via the dating sites and falling in love, in among the columns. It was an interesting idea — but one I wasn’t fully comfortable with.

Loretta couldn’t understand why I was hesitant to write the story of her and me — but now as I think about it, I may have been leery at the time because I did not yet know where that story was going. She and I were doing great by that point, but we had our times — like any couple I guess — of not doing so great. And I’ve been known to have this weird little fear that to begin a relationship is to also begin its end.

It’s sort of like life — when you are born is when you begin dying, if you want to look at it that way. But you’ve got a lot of living to do before you kick off, and sometimes, relationship-wise, I can lose sight of that.

Does anyone want to take a wild guess as to who got their way about the book’s direction?

And I have to say, I’m so glad she did. By weaving our story in among the columns, the book has become, as they say, more “accessible” — and I’m pretty sure that’s code for not boring.

Those who’ve read it so far say that our story, mine and Loretta’s, gives them something to connect with. And, sometimes, something to become exasperated with — one of the reviewers said it best when he wrote that “I found myself rooting for your relationship the entire book, and every time you (me) screwed it up I wanted to shake my Kindle and yell at you.”

And isn’t that what we want — something to connect with?

I think it’s sort of like songs — you know how you listen to a song’s lyrics and apply them to your life and identify with them, no matter what the singer may actually have meant? Well it’s kind of like that: We want to find things we connect with, that help us understand, or better communicate, our own condition.

And that’s the book that Loretta helped me to see.

And here’s the part that really intrigues me now: Writing the book’s story helped us write our own. We were talking about our own story one day earlier this year when we came upon one of those not-doing-so-great times, where she and I were having trouble seeing our way forward together.

But having written down our story up to that point helped us to see where it needed to go.

And so she told me her fears, and I told her mine, and we came up with a way to let go of both sets — together.

So here’s something I didn’t share with Loretta for quite some time: I’ve told you that she once asked me to marry her, and I told you that I didn’t say “no.” Well, one day, not all that long ago, while sitting on the couch and having an unrelated conversation, I looked at her and I said “yes.”

That “yes” — uttered during a talk about something wholly unrelated — was my answer to the proposal she’d made on Leap Day.

And that’s where we are now — married, with a book that is not only our story, but the story of a year’s worth of advice columns I wrote for The Benicia Herald.

And to bring it full circle, that book is now available at Bookshop Benicia on First Street, just a few doors down from The Herald.

It’s at that book shop where I’ll soon be doing a book signing. And — spoiler alert — when you come I bet you’ll have a pretty good idea who that beautiful woman at my side is …

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It was bound to happen – Bridget Jones is Online Dating…

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Well Bridget Jones is back – and this time she’s dating online.

Which raises the question: Now that dating has been changed by Social Media, has it changed for the better?

As I say in Chapter 8 of my book :  “It was sort of like this automatic behavior pattern I was in, like autopilot, which the online sites fit into – and fed into – perfectly. A new date with a different girl was always just an email away…”

So is dating just easier now?

Or has it become too easy?

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Do Mass Murderers Play Sports?

noguns

Do you play a sport?

I play soccer, and last night, on the way home from my game, I called my sister. When I called she was, coincidently, in the middle of viewing a soccer game on TV. She said she was watching the San Jose Earthquakes and was fascinated with the game because one of the Earthquake’s players was a kid she used to teach in school.

Now there was a time when I would have talked about the Earthquakes with her all night long – but that time was 1978. Back then I was a kid who not only played soccer, but watched other people play it too. I was so taken with the sport I filled my life with it. I’d research the best cleats to wear, and the best soccer balls to use – and that was before Google, when we used to have to go to a place called a “library” and look through things called “books” in order to find answers to our questions. Continue reading

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A Sense of Urgency

Salesman

 

Did you ever pretend to be someone you’re not?

I’ve personally attempted the feat quite a few times, with perhaps the most entertaining episode being when I pretended to be a salesman – for about 20 years.

That began about 1990 when I was working part time in a warehouse and going to college mornings and nights. My major was Political Science, and I had aspirations of working in government. I’d considered the Foreign Service – a part of the State Department that works with Americans overseas – or maybe even the FBI.

Life was pretty good then – though I was super busy, I was busy doing stuff I liked, like going to college. And since even the stuff I wasn’t crazy about, like working in a warehouse, was in support of higher ideals, things were okay.

But then life, as it has a way of doing, changed… Continue reading

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When do you stop looking?

Here’s a great Online Dating question.
And the fascinating part is, the right answer pretty much depends on your gender…

What will I write this week?

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I used to have a phone-phone, but now I have a smart-phone.

And on that smart phone are many apps, widgets and such designed to make life easier. Which is funny, because I pretty much remember life being easier before smart phones. So maybe the phone’s real purpose was not simply to make life easier – but to get life back to as easy as it was before we had smart phones?

No, that can’t be right… Continue reading

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Intoleration

colored waiting roon

I was stationed in Washington DC in the 80’s, and one of the things I really loved there was the nightlife.

For a kid of 18 – just released from small town America – I had wandered into a wonderland.

The bars there were amazing – even the dive joints. If I remember correctly the girl to guy ratio in DC back then was something like seven women to every man. Which I guess is why even the crummy places were great.

The music scene in those days was incredible (which I’m sure it still is, but you always judge the stuff from your youth to be better than the stuff from anyone else’s youth). Continue reading

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Traditional

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Monterey was beautiful last Monday.

I know because I was there with my new wife, Loretta, to throw a bouquet of flowers into the ocean. And while that seems a curious thing to do, it’s actually a tradition. Here’s what I mean: Continue reading

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Sabatino’s Review

The latest book review is in…

Thanks to the amazing Sabatino!

Review (as posted on hotcupoflove.com):

In the fall of 2011 my wife left me.

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Little did I know that around that same time, a man from across the country was struggling with the same demons I was encountering in my own life.  Being men, and naturally wired to view relationships a certain way, we both set out to fix what had now come undone the best way we thought we knew how- online dating, though, this is where our paths deviate.

That man was John P. Gavin, and while I was attempting to tirelessly solve the rubik’s cube that I had hoped would reveal some secret understanding of how women view relationships, he was busy living it, documenting it, and putting it in to practice.  John’s book, Online Dating Sucks…but it’s how I fell in love, chronicles his journey from divorce, to dating, and eventually falling in love all the while serving as a Rosetta Stone for women looking to decode the male psyche.

To say this book challenged the way I view my own pursuit of a partner would be an understatement.  John lays out the differences between men and women, bearing no excuse for the natural progression in which our genders approach love, dating, relationships, and marriage. His in-depth and often inward analysis weaves a delicate web, bridging a chasm left void from centuries of disconnect, and unhinging conventional wisdoms, now outdated.

In Online Dating Sucks…but it’s how I fell in love, John allows his readers to spy on his dating adventures and missteps, allowing access to his personal life as he vulnerably relives the experiences that brought him to this enlightened state of love. Oh, and the woman that could finally reel him in? That’s Loretta, who John now proudly boasts as his girlfriend.

Get an inside look at how the opposite sex thinks and acts when searching for a soul mate. Learn simple rules for dating and how to avoid the pitfalls relationships often fall victim to.  Read one man’s journey from a life shattering divorce, to finding the only one who could capture his heart- and for goodness sakes, be fearless in your search for love.

Online dating sucks, but its how John found Loretta.

(Read more on Sabatino’s site hotcupoflove.com)

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