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fun with statistics

Actually, this is not fun, and I rather suspect that most people would never think to put “fun” and “statistics” in the same sentence to begin with, but: here is what I have been occupying myself with this weekend.

Let’s say I’d like to find someone as smart, nice and open-minded as myself.

My IQ is 3 standard deviations from the mean, so that’s 1/750, just about.

I’m in the first centile for niceness and second for open-mindedness. So that’s:

1/750 x 1/100 x 1/50 = 0.00000027, or 1/3,750,000.

According to these very helpful statistics, there is one person in the local metropolitan area who is as intelligent (according to IQ), agreeable and open as I am, and it’s me.

I would like to stress that this is not or do I consider it to be any kind of measure of virtue or worthwhileness, just a few basic intelligence and personality measures that are correlated with relationship satisfaction. If you’d rather look at it differently you could easily claim that I’m just very hard to please. Or I could be, if I’d ever applied this in reality.

Let’s add in the other stuff I’ve been looking for, just for maximum torture effect:

Taller than me (1/2), male (1/2), between my age and about ten years older (1/7), reasonably attractive (1/3), fairly conscientious (1/3): 1/2 x 1/2 x 1/7 x 1/3 = 1/84 on its own, which is not so bad. But let’s add this to the above equation:

1/750 x 1/100 x 1/50 x 1/2 x 1/2 x 1/7 x 1/3 = 1/315,000,000

So there would be about 1.5 guys on this continent who would have all of these qualities.

1.5. What do you think the odds are that they live near Beyond Bob? Not so good? That’s what I’m guessing. Hell, the chances he lives in this country are pretty fucking slim. Notice that I haven’t stipulated he must be single, mostly because I haven’t looked up the statistics for that.

Before you all jump on my case–even silently–let me point out that I very obviously haven’t been using all of these as screening criteria or I wouldn’t have gone on any dates with anyone since leaving the Ex. I knew that the person I would really, really like to be with was likely not to be nearby and/or single so I should be practical and not expect to get the whole list in one package. But frankly, at one in three hundred and fifteen million, how much exactly am I going to have to bend to get down to the one in fifteen thousand range that would make it reasonably likely he might live within a ten minute drive of my house?

1/15 x 1/4 x 1/4 x 1/2 x 1/2 x 1/4 x 1/3 = 1/11,520, or: if I look for someone smart, reasonably nice and open-minded, male, taller than me, within 20 years of my age and reasonably conscientious, there is a chance that he might exist within my community and there might be as many as 217 such individuals within the local metropolitan area. Some of whom are bound to be single, and a few of whom might be interested in me in turn.

Those are better odds than “there might be somebody somewhere but I’ll never find him” but still not particularly good, and in order to get to that, chances are high that I will need to get used to the idea of being a better partner for him than he will be for me, in most respects. As in: I will probably be some combination of nicer, smarter, more emotionally stable, etc. than whoever I’m with. So then I start thinking about trade-offs and what someone else could have to offer that would bring me satisfaction beyond what I could provide for myself, outside of money (which I don’t particularly value) and help with the housework (which I have purchased).

I have no idea what to do with this.

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When the vacation ends, you have to go back to work.

Bah. But I’m here, and caught up, which is good.

And I have Plans! To read, sew, run, hike, get out of the house, go to poetry group, and possibly go on a couple of dates, while PP is away. Psych has vanished into the ether–pretty well literally, as I keep getting emails from him, but farther and farther apart, and all saying the same thing: “Wow, it’s been a horrible week! I’ll write more soon!” Then a few days pass and I get another message just like it. The last one came through on the 23rd. So my guess is that things will not be panning out with him.

That’s ok. I had a date yesterday with, mmm, Jokester. An auditor by day, a stand-up-comic by night. I know. He’s not GQ material but he seems very decent, clever, and (guess!) very funny. He’s a bit more conventional than I am and I’m not sure if there’s enough common ground there for a relationship, but I enjoyed myself enough to meet up with him again and see. And I have a date on Wednesday with the guy who seems great except for the face like a totaled car. It will either go very well or disastrously. (Very well=face does not matter and we hit it off swimmingly–emails have all gone very well so far. Disastrously=cannot be attracted to him and feel terribly awkward the entire time. We shall see.) Nickname shall be … Tuba, because he plays one in his spare time.

Both are single dads with low-drama relationships with their exes, regular jobs, and who live reasonably nearby. There’s another single dad with no nickname yet who’s asked me out but we haven’t yet set anything. He seems a bit desperate; I’m iffy on the first date. We’ll see. There’s, oh gosh, probably another 3 or 4 who haven’t yet asked me out but probably will and if they did I’d probably say yes to a first meeting. So as you can see I am not overly distraught by the disappearance of Psych.

There’s another one who has recently asked to meet up–nothing set yet but it should be soon–and it will either be fabulous or a total disaster. Single dad, a bit farther away, financially self-sufficient from what I can tell but not a regular job (freelance stuff), and the guitarist for one of my favourite bands in my early twenties. Nope, no expectations, no pressure, not at all. I’ll give him a nickname when/if we set a date.

AND. You won’t believe this. Remember the rich guy a bunch of years back who tried to tell me that we could have a long-distance relationship because he could buy a second house here and everything would work out just fine? Yeah. He’s back, and trying to tell me that we could have a long-distance relationship (possibly leading to a long-distance marriage) because he could buy a second house here and everything would work out just fine. We are very compatible; it’s not often one gets a chance to correct a mistake and I should be careful not to make that mistake again.

Ummm.

makes a couple of million a year<->doesn’t much care about money
thinks nothing of a relationship founded on air travel<-> has a moral and ethical objection to unnecessary air travel
loves shopping<->hates shopping
do not have citizenship in the same country

Yep. Totally compatible. What am I thinking to throw this guy over again?

Oh! AND AND.

Hike is now on another dating site I’m on (making me wonder if eH booted him) and he was checking my profile out there (maybe pissed because I used a picture of me he’d taken as my profile shot?). Ick. I blocked him. You should have seen his photo: he looked like someone had just asked him a question he didn’t understand, much less know the answer to.

I can think of a few that might fit.

The vacation was fabulous, and thank you for asking, and oh my god I wish we were still there. Every day was wonderful. Each had its share of less-than-wonderful minutes (“I AM TIRED OF WALKING! I CANNOT WALK FOR EVEN ONE MORE STEP! I AM GOING TO SIT DOWN AND REST RIGHT! HERE! Oh, Mummy, look, there’s a squirrel!” and off she runs) but on the whole we had such great fun, and I’m so glad we spent the ungodly amount of money that we did on this big Mummy-and-daughter vacation.

Now I will spend a slightly-less-than-ungodly amount of money printing out photographs. Some of them even have skies in them. As opposed to that wonderful white glare that I interpret as an angry Digital Camera God wreaking his vengeance.

Anyway.

I would like to say a moment of thanks for the many wonderful gentlemen who unintentionally parody themselves on dating websites.

For GoofyGuy, whose profile shot shows him looking as if he’s watching his beloved dog of 20 years be euthanized for a brain tumour.

For HappyGoLucky2010, whose profile photo looks like a mug shot.

For SalInParadise, about 2000 miles away from me and over 10 years  younger, who nonetheless added me to his favourites list. And for HandsomeDude99, 1000 miles away from me, who would like to know if I’m interested in a date.

For ImSane!, who sent me exactly five messages, each one a glowing tribute to his own many charms, the wonders of his photographs, his impressive hobbies, and his fascinating goals and dreams.

For CrushedByLife, who told me that he came home from work one day last week, staring into the abyss of his failed marriage and was roused to life again by a timely drink, and by the way, would I be up for a movie? (I feel badly about this one as I do not want to make him feel rejected, but was so badly alarmed by his message that I couldn’t come up with something suitable to say in reply–and now it’s been much too long.)

For the guy whose name I can’t remember, who posted so many flattering photographs of himself in various poses in his bathroom, open medicine cabinet plainly visible behind him. He has a nice shower curtain.

For SunnyScotsman, who lives in another country but sends me multiple messages whenever I log on.

Oh, yes, lots of sane and normal guys who I am talking to like a sane and normal girl … but if it weren’t for the nuts, how much fun could it be?

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fish & bicycles

I need a new nickname, Dear Readers. One for a guy who is irish, smart, bookish, and a psychologist. It’s not lending itself to anything really obvious for me so for now I’ll go with Psych. So: coffee date with Psych today at a local cafe. Went very well; he’s personable, friendly, very smart, we talked for a couple of hours about tons of things and enjoyed it greatly, and who should walk in just as we were thinking about heading out but two of my coworkers, who then took up a table on the opposite side of the cafe and smirked at us (nicely). And then we all struck up a conversation, so score one for Psych who was also able to chat with my very nice colleagues. There will be a date #2 later this week, before PP comes back. Tomorrow I’m meeting up withe FriendBoy and looking forward to it greatly. Plans with GameBoy fell through (he needed to take the kids this weekend). Tomorrow evening I’m meeting up with a local hiking group for the first time, and really looking forward to that too–local hiking friends! I need that badly.

This mini social update brought you to you by PPlessness. I miss her like stink already. Today I will cook, sew, write, read, run, and pretend to be productive instead of lonely and miserable.

~~~~~

So as I began thinking of this post, I dropped my near-full can of Diet Coke and spilled it all over the floor–appropriate, I think, for writing about a non-goal-oriented, serendipitous, grace-under-fire approach to success.

For all of the progress women have made over the last several decades, certain attitudes remain distressingly common and difficult to eradicate: to be successful as a female, one must be youthful, attractive, desirable to men, and in long-lasting and heterosexual relationship. It doesn’t matter what else you have, do or are in the rest of your life. If you can’t master these four, expect to be pitied. A man who ages well, remains single, and has other accomplishments is admired and envied; a woman is pitied, as if nothing else matters if she can’t get a man and keep him happy.

If this doesn’t describe why women continue to buy and devour relationship self-help books, I don’t know what does. Arguably, women need men far less than men need women. So how else to make sure that women chase men around trying to service and satisfy them, other than to convince them that they are pathetic failures, desperate, sad and lonely caricatures of women?

Women’s magazines–chick flicks–chicklit–and those god-damned relationship self-help books–the happy endings are all a kiss with the handsome prince, however defined. Men are not sold this bill of goods, though as anyone who has ever lived with a man could tell you, men are really the ones who need the presence of the opposite sex in order to function on a daily basis. But I keep coming back to a few things, including one (just ONE) of the relationship self-help books, which pertinently noted that in order for girls to grow into women seeing singledom as a positive option, women who are single need to see it so themselves, and act like they’re not just in a holding pattern waiting for a man to show up and complete them. The rest of the book I can no longer recall (though clearly I should go back and reread it).

And I keep thinking–you know, I want to be in a relationship. Very much. I want my happily ever after, too, and for real this time, not a pretty mask on an empty horror. I would like to live with someone I love and who loves me and PP and makes our lives better. But that’s the key–it has to make our lives better. I have to believe going in that this isn’t an even trade, but an improvement. I’ve been in a bad marriage before. Being single, even being single when you really don’t want to be single, is a hell of a lot better than being in a bad marriage.

Still, I get caught up in the feelings of inadequacy, as if there is something wrong with me and I have failed because I’m not in a relationship. Or because it’s been four years since the separation and The One has yet to appear. So it’s headshake time.

Here they are: Maeve’s Reasons Why Single Moms are Already Successful:

1. Biological: Your genes don’t care if you’re married or common-law or a prostitute. They just want to get passed on. Single moms, by definition, have done this already. My genes give me an A+.

2. Autonomy: Single moms don’t have to get anyone’s permission to paint the living room, put flowered curtains in the bathroom, sleep on whatever side of the bed they damned well please, make what they like for dinner, or spend an extra $50 on a frill. The downside of running the house by yourself is a total downer, meaning exhaustion and over-extension and too many bills, but the upside is truly beautiful. No televised sports games. No arguments over discipline or schoolwork. No cable bill. No snoring. No pile of stinky underwear beside the bed. No lidless toothpaste tube leaking toothpaste all over the sink. No in-laws. No doing 50% more housework, no pressure to take a paycut and work part-time since we don’t “need” my income. No choice between nagging someone to do a little bit of housework vs. just giving up and doing it all yourself.

3. Financial: We bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and give exactly zero thought to whether or not it wounds some fragile male ego to say so.

4. Variety: You know what cures the middle-aged female labido? Singledom. Boredom is death to desire, Dear Readers. No fears there, so long as I’m not committed to anyone. When I was with the Ex, thanks to boredom and the Ick factor of sex with someone who was trying to have sex with the entire female half of the western hemisphere, we did not have a whole lot of (ahem) intimate time (and when we did, I was a bundle of resentment, which also is no fun for either party). That hasn’t been an issue for a while now.

5. Career: The Married Me was trapped in a boring, stultifying, dead-end (yet comfortable and secure) job largely because it met my ex-husband’s needs. Thanks to autonomy (see #2), I now have a job I like in a career I love and live somewhere I’m crazy about. I write in my spare time. I read oodles of books, and complete my craft projects.

6. Authenticity: I am building a life that matches who I am and who I want to be.

7. Happiness: I practically ooze all of that gratitude-happiness-meaning stuff the Positive Psychology gurus go on and on about.

No wonder I am being picky and demanding in relationships. Marriage has not been good to me, and as I write this I realize that I feel I’d be giving up an awful lot for something of dubious value. I still want that partnership, but it has to be a good partnership, one in which I’d gain more than I’d lose–meaning that the above needs to remain intanct. I need to know I can still live my environmental and social values, still do work that is meaningful, not sacrifice my personal life to meeting the needs of the household and my partner, not cede my equality. I’m still going to date, not just because I do want a relationship that can lead to a real partnership someday and I won’t find it at home in my pajamas, more’s the shame, but also because celibacy isn’t a lifestyle I can appreciate for more than a few weeks.

In the meantime, thankyouverymuch, Western Culture, but women haven’t needed men to be successful for a very long time now. Feel free to catch up with reality whenever you’d like.

new lesson learned

I should not ignore what a guy tells me about himself in the first few weeks of dating.

Rather, I should expect the direct opposite.

The Ex spent his time talking up the importance of monogamy when we first met. The Trader, how happy he was, how optimistic, and much he wanted a drama-free and boring relationship. The Starving Artist, how much he wanted to be responsible and stable. And now Hike, who told me so convincingly about what a nice guy he was, and how he treated others with respect and consideration.

I’ve decided that this is the way to a person’s blind spot: they blind themselves, whether consciously or not, with all the talk about how much they are not this thing that they so badly do not want to be.

Which makes me wonder about what it is about myself that I cover up with too much talk. I don’t think I actually talk about myself at all when I first meet someone. I figure I’m better off just talking about what I care about, and acting like myself, and then the other person can come to their own likely accurate conclusions about who I am. But I’ll have to pay attention over the next little while to the things I do say, and what I say too often.

And: listen to the guys, listen to what they talk up. Gandhi spent a lot of time in his last emails telling me how suffering is optional, pain is optional, it’s important to choose happiness over fear–all fine, really, but it tells me he probably is suffering and in pain. Otherwise I don’t think I’ve heard too much concerning from the other guys I’m talking to.

Meanwhile, the new PM has been telling me how important it is to have good communication skills and let people take responsibility for their own work, not control too much, and not encourage them to be dependent on the PM. Hmmm.

(Speaking of which: it’s not just me she’s alienated. She has cut off contact with one of her clients, angered local government offices by being pushy with inappropriate questions, and completely frustrated our field workers. I shouldn’t be happy about this, but I am. How long do you think it will take the higher-ups to realize that she’s a disaster?)

venting & processing.

1. the idea was to draft the email and let it sit for 12 hours so I could tone it down, make it less angry. Instead I reread it, turned up the heat, and hit send. Man I was pissed. I did, however, communicate very clearly that I did not want to hear from him again, that I considered his behaviour harassment, and that if it continues from this point on I will contact the authorities.

So, of course, HE WROTE BACK. Promising to never contact me again on account of how I am an evil, corrupt, dishonest, scheming woman he doesn’t want in his life who by the way is single because she doesn’t want to communicate. Fucking hell. What a goddamned asshole. (Incidentally, that is the gist of yesterday’s password-protected post.)

I’m surprised by how much this unsettled me. I found myself avoiding my run Saturday in case he decided to track me down again to “say hello.”

Oh, did I mention that in one of his emails over the weekend, he told me that he had looked up my blogs and articles (the ones with my real name) and had been reading them while we were dating? And hadn’t mentioned that to me, until a week after we broke up. Is it just me, or is that creepy?

2. GameBoy date went ok, but just ok. He’s a nice guy and seems like a good Dad–good friend material but I could see things there that, if we were dating, would drive me nuts inside of six months. (“The Man is not out to get you! I’m sorry, but there are much more important people he’s focused on.”)

3. PP’s dance recital was brilliant. Oh, the dancing and twirling and grinning and bopping there was to be seen! She was fabulous and it was so adorable. When my parents send me their pictures I’ll post them on FB.

4. I’ve decided to let Gandhi drop. For obvious reasons. He’s decided not to let me drop. I keep getting new emails. At least he doesn’t know where I live and I’ve set up an anonymous email address to communicate with matches, so he doesn’t know my last name either.

5. There’s a couple other people I’ve been talking to, including FriendBoy, who I’ve got tentative plans with for Sunday. This is good. And a long list of other things to do to keep myself occupied the first week PP is at her Dad’s. And I plan to work overtime and get some more hikes and runs in. Do I sound like I’m dreading it? I am.

I think I’m going to have a few dates this weekend, actually, and a couple of them are going to be friend-dates, including with GameBoy who has decided NOT to b a creepy stalker after finding out that I don’t want a relationship with him. I am happy about this.

It’s strange how much that date and the email afterwards helped, actually, after the way Hike behaved–it’s hard not to wonder if I somehow didn’t communicate directly or clearly enough with him and encouraged him to harass and follow me about. But no. GameBoy got it pretty straight and without going off the rails, and I wasn’t more less clear with him. Hike really is just deranged.