Monthly Archives: June 2013

Dating outside your age bracket

As Brigid mentioned below, I have been on vacation. I took a trip to visit a friend who had moved to the Pacific Northwest andmay to see the sights. My friend is a single man, born the same year my dad was. I had met him through a mutual friend years before and subsequently he became my guitar teacher.

Had we been around the same age, the people we met during our travels would have just assumed we were a couple. As it was, eyebrows were raised and questions were asked about our relationship status. I promise you, the relationship is quite platonic…. but only because I want it to be.

It’s great to have friends of different ages but just because the age difference is large doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t run in to the problem of one person wanting to take things to a romantic level while the other one doesn’t.

I came across an AARP article the other day where some older guy asked for advice about marrying his much younger girlfriend (I think she was 37 and he was in his early 60s). The agony uncle seemed pretty down on the idea; he said that generally, if a much younger person marries a much older person, it’s because they are looking for money and/or stability. True love it ain’t (yes, there are always exceptions, sure).

Older men can be attractive to women because they often have qualities that younger men lack: Status, security, confidence.

Still, whenever I have dated outside my age bracket, the relationship has felt lopsided. Being on different timelines, having little in common, wanting different things out of life, concerns about still being in one’s prime when the other needs a nurse, etc, all of these contribute to why the young balk when it comes down to deciding whether to start a serious relationship or marry someone older.



On the opposite end of the spectrum, dating someone much younger can be fun, and an ego boost, but I suspect there’s always the fear that they will get tired of you and look for someone younger. Also, it’s less likely that much younger men will be at the maturity level you’re looking for, if you’re looking to get married.
Brigid pointed out that it might also be worth noting that sometimes relationships that are way outside the age bracket can come with an imbalance of power, or a disrespect for the younger’s opinions. “Look, when you’re my age you’ll feel like I do.” (Ergo, shut up and do it my way now, because I’ve been where you are and got to where I am, therefore it’s inevitable. I’m right, QED, listen to your elders and betters.)

 As for my friend and me, I’m sure we’ll continue to navigate the sometimes choppy waters of Lake CanSearchingSinglesTrulyBeFriends?*

*An Indian word for “friendzoned”

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What beauty, not since during Glasnost has my heart soared so!


I intend you to bear my children, this request you will not deny!

* * *

Cease your protests, the deal is done!


You are to make a fine wife for uncouth American businessman!

This magic via Я

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In my college days, the big news of the dorm floor or house was when the couple who had been “intentionally hanging out” finally had the DTR: Define The Relationship. Later, I heard this could also be the RDT: Relationship Defining Talk. One or both parties needed to express how they felt the relationship progressing and whether it would continue or cool.

Ah, the days before Facebook. Now the DTR is boiled down to, “Yeah, so are we ‘Facebook’ official?”

Loosely based on my own recent experience and discussions with others, I have come up with a few relationship levels, however, these are based on a few prerequisites:

1. Marriage is a desire you have for some point in your life. We here at Orthogals do not consider co-habitation equivalent to marriage.

2. You are done playing games. None of the Junior High ways of relationship development appeals to you. If someone asks you how you feel about him/her, you can give a semi-coherent answer of, “Yes, I’m favorable towards this relationship”, “I’m not sure,” or “No, this isn’t working for me.”

Here we go:

Stage 1 – “Getting to know one another.” There is a mutually expressed favorable opinion of each other. You are proceeding with talking and sharing life experiences in the hopes that further green lights or massive red lights will appear. “Getting to know” others simultaneously is allowable. Emoting is kept to a minimum, but you might toss a few “I felt…” in conversation to see how emotionally available and stable the person is, which then tells you if he/she can handle more.

Stage 2 – “Dating”  You don’t know if he is “the one,” but you are open to learning more about that possibility. Because you have marriage in the back of your mind, you are opening up a little more emotionally but not quite an open book. You would be hurt if the guy left at this point, but very little has been invested, so hopefully the wounds heal quickly with little to minimal scarring.

Stage 3 – “Serious dating” You have now stepped it up a level – you still might not know if you want to marry this guy, but instead of merely being open to the idea, both of you are intentionally looking at the other person as a potential mate. You have reached the point where if, upon seeing this person with someone else over coffee, you have a twinge of jealousy and freeze. Before you even ascertain whether the unknown individual is a colleague, cousin, or old family friend, you are deciding whether a 1/5 of whiskey or pound of fudge is your analgesic of choice. Exclusivity in searching defines this stage from the previous stage.

Stage 4 -“Engaged” You have intentionally looked and decided that, yes, you want this person. There had better be one big shocking surprise for it to not go through at this point. Premarital counseling defines this realm.

Pre-Facebook Era, things were allowed to be a little more messy. Couples could hang out between stages for a while or get away with not defining their relationship for a lot longer than now. Thanks to this lovely menu on profiles, you can now open yourself up to more gossip potential:


Those in Stage 2 territory can determine whether or not they want to declare “In a relationship” to the world.  But “It’s complicated?” … “In an open relationship?” Why?!?!?!? Don’t even go there!

I made the mistake early on in my Facebook usage of saying I was in a complicated relationship. When that switched to “single” early one Sunday morning, guess who was inundated with questions before and after Sunday School?? Note: this is where communicating with the other person on what he/she wants to announce to the world is a good option. Go with the most conservative option. And NEVER EVER EVER use “It’s complicated.”

In the meantime, if you are “talking with a chap” or “dating” or whatever: be honest with yourself and what you are comfortable saying is going on in a relationship. Don’t say things to appease others. The less you say, the less people have to gossip about and subject you to premature ring guesses when all you’re hoping for is continued conversation. Also, do not ask questions such as “will there be a ring soon?” That’s the fastest way to lose friends.

How to have the DTR/RDT is a completely other post. I will throw out that “We need to talk…” should not be your opening line.

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Doxacon: Where faith and truth meet science fiction and fantasy


“DOXACON is an opportunity for Christian fans of the science-fiction & fantasy genre, to engage in positive exploration of themes held in common between Christianity, Fantasy and Science Fiction… especially in a time in which this genre is seeing a renaissance among popular culture. If you enjoy engaging in meaningful dialogue on subjects concerning Middle Earth, Hogwarts, Narnia, Star Trek, Star Wars or Doctor Who, to name just a few, then this is the conference is for you!”

Doxacon runs July 19th to 21st in Springfield, VA. Registration is $75, or $50 with a clerical discount. You can find more information on Facebook, with registration and details at their website.

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(Un)Common Courtesy

Good manners sometimes means putting up with other people’s bad manners.
H. Jackson Brown

Spring is in the air! Lovebirds are all a-flutter, the weather is waffling dramatically, cute woodland animals are batting eyelashes and getting twitterpated, and humans are muddling along as best we can.

And here at Orthogals, we have manners on our minds. We’ve seen both admirable and facepalm-worthy examples lately, and it got us thinking.

Etiquette is defined by Merriam Webster as “the conduct or procedure required by good breeding or prescribed by authority to be observed in social or official life,” and by Google as “the customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group.”

Courtesy is defined as “behavior marked by polished manners or respect for others” (Merriam Webster) or “the showing of politeness in one’s attitude and behavior toward others” (Google).

But the great Emily Post may have said it best:

Manners are made up of trivialities of deportment which can be easily learned if one does not happen to know them; manner is personality—the outward manifestation of one’s innate character and attitude toward life…. Etiquette must, if it is to be of more than trifling use, include ethics as well as manners. Certainly what one is, is of far greater importance than what one appears to be.

In the dating world, etiquette and courtesy and manners can mean a lot of things, but generally what it boils down to is behaving in a way that’s respectful to others and fits within appropriate cultural boundaries. The nature of the beast here is that some of what I have to say is going to be preaching to the choir. To make up for it I’ve stuck a rather scandalous story in the middle that you’re going to laugh yourself silly over.

Once upon a time there was an entire industry based upon telling people how to be on their best behavior in a variety of different circumstances, based on whether there was dancing or fish forks or mother-in-laws involved. There were a number of etiquette authorities, some of whom are still prolific today. (Sidebar: Miss Manners makes for delightful rainy-day reading, by the way. One of my favorite questions was from a child who’d been snubbed by a friend and wanted to know why she couldn’t go punch the other girl in the nose. The unforgettable reply was that, “…Miss Manners cannot think of a more succinct definition of a lady than ‘someone who wants to punch another person in the nose, but doesn’t.’ You may ask why not. The obvious answer is that blood ruins white gloves.” And of course she went on to give useful advice about how to navigate the situation.)

There are many old-fashioned standards that still apply, like opening doors for women, small children, the elderly, people carrying packages, and quite frankly anyone who gets to the door shortly after you do. There are also old-fashioned standards that don’t apply any more, such as how going out of doors without a hat, stockings, and gloves was nearly the same as being naked.

But in this new and crazy world, there are also a lot of other ways to show or abandon etiquette. Texting, splitting the check, Facebook stalking, Googling photos and resumes before you ever meet–some of today’s conundrums were impossible in 1945, or even 1990. The Emily Post Institute is on Twitter, for fred’s sake.

Because American culture today tends to value casualness, openness, and connection, politeness here means a far different thing than it did in the time of Jane Austen, Downton Abbey, or even the mandatory-girdle days of Pan Am.
And frankly, your etiquette towards others–not just your date–can make you seem irresistible or repulsive in an instant. Your date will notice if you thank or warmly compliment your waiter, text in the middle of a conversation, help a stranger with spilled groceries, act entitled, smile at exuberant children, speak ill of others, etc.

Especially with online dating, how you write sends a strong initial signal. Grammar, spelling, comprehensible sentences, and lack thereof all combine to form a strong impression before you even meet the fella. Don’t get me wrong, mistakes are understandable. Typos and misspellings happen, especially if you’re in a rush or on your phone or typing at warp speed on IM. Frankly, there’s no one guaranteed correct way to write or speak in our language. But making an effort indicates something, regardless of any errors.
I get a lot of messages that say “hi im so-n-so how r u”. That’s it. It comes across lazy, unintelligent, and thoroughly unattractive. I am begging you not to do that to someone you’re interested in. Full sentences, decent grammar/spelling, and appropriate capitalization. Shoot, up the ante and throw in an interesting topic. He or she is worth the effort.

However, it’s worth noting the exceptions. Many intelligent, careful, dateable people have dyslexia, or English is their third or fifth language, or (insert perfectly reasonable thing here). Some people with obnoxious grammar still manage to be perfectly wonderful spouses; what a shock. We at Orthogals are not advocating you dump your funny, reliable, warmhearted boyfriend just because he messes up on the I-before-E rule in a love note he sent from his phone.
You don’t have to marry a descendent of Strunk or White, and you definitely shouldn’t prioritize grammar above other qualities like respectfulness, religious compatibility, and not being a serial killer. We’re mostly just advocating that you capitalize your own sentences and run a spell checker from time to time.

A male friend of mine was recently emailed a four-page, painfully detailed “sexual manifesto” by a rather enthusiastic prospect on a dating site. She came across like a bubbly, wholesome cheerleader who was just a smidge self-centered and open with her fetishes. She dictated every detail of what she would like her paramour to do and how to do it, from specific words to use and avoid to the ideal length of his armpit hair. I’m not kidding.

But here’s the paragraph that wowed me:

Your spelling/grammar/punctuation is your digital first impression. The use of misspelled words, improper use of capitalizations, and the unintelligible abbreviations of text-speak look sloppy, analogous to taking public transportation to meet your date at a Chinese restaurant with a reputation for cockroaches in the rice. You got off work, went to the gym, then threw on your day-old khakis and wrinkled Polo shirt without so much as a refresher of deodorant; you hop on the bus, sit next to a homeless bum who has just soiled himself, then step in a puddle as you’re getting off. You split the bill, ask her for a ride home; she drops you off, and you never hear from her again.

Whereas the general writing and style in this paragraph arrived exactly ontime to pick up their date, wearing freshly laundered and pressed business-casual attire and bearing a small bouquet of irises. He greets her with a kiss on the cheek accompanied by subtly fresh breath. The fleeting feeling of that gloriously smooth, freshly shaved, skin of his cheek against hers leaves her longing to have that same cheek on that smooth and handsome face…

Aaaand there we fade to black for the sake of your sanity. Did you catch the mistakes in that paragraph? Switching tenses, missing conjunction, ontime vs on time, missed hyphen, extra comma, switching from second to third person….

Don’t do that. It’s not just ridiculous, it’s insulting. Though you can and must set healthy boundaries, you do not get to dictate how another person is. You do not get to gerrymander the parameters of your encounters and experiences. That is not how reality works, particularly in intimate relationships.
The emailing sensitive and rather icky information to a total stranger bit is worse than the preachy controlling lecture bit, but both show shockingly poor manners and a lack of common sense.

This segues nicely into noting that there are such things as appropriate topics and tones of conversation–even within normal topics, it helps to remember that he’s not your girlfriend, and she’s not one of the bros.
One of the sweetly respectful things I’ve seen lately was someone switching the topic in order to include her spouse. I don’t remember what it was, but it was definitely a conversation to have with a girlfriend rather than a gent. It’s not that he was incapable of adding to the conversation, it was that he wasn’t going to enjoy it. I’ve been on the other end of that, and I really loved when the group of guys kept their off-color humor or discussions of movies I never wanted to see in check long enough for us all to have fun together, on common ground.
I’m not advocating censoring others or developing Victorian sensibilities about what you’re allowed to discuss in front of the opposite sex. But if you’re going on about your favorite videogame and your bookworm boyfriend’s eyes are glazing over, it may be polite to start talking about mutual hobbies instead.

Politesse has an impact. Miss Manners had a column the other day with a letter from a girl who was rejected for poor manners. She had a lovely time with a gentleman she was very interested in, and she complimented the place and the food, but she did not specifically say thank you. He called her uneducated.
Miss Manners, unsurprisingly, fails to see how the man is such a catch. She replied, “When you said how much you enjoyed yourself, your thanks was implicit, although it is always nice to make them explicit.  But even if you had been rude, it would have been infinitely ruder of your host to scold you.”

So there you have it. Etiquette politely looks the other way. If you see a breech of etiquette in someone other than your offspring, the general rule is to smile and pretend you didn’t just see them burp and scratch their nose with their fork. Of course, you don’t have to eat with the cretin again.

Speaking of that, what if you’re the one who’s not interested?
Be brave and honest. You’re allowed to reject someone (it’s kind of inevitable for most people), and you can do so respectfully. Don’t stand them up, and don’t just go AWOL and stop responding to their calls or messages. It’s absolutely okay to say, “I’ve very much enjoyed getting to know you. But I don’t see this going further. I wish you the best.” If you had a terrible time, you can reject a second date offer by saying something along the lines of, “No thanks, I don’t think we’re a match. Thank you for our time together.” (hat tip to Laura)
And if a person has the courage to say that to you,  especially in the very early stages, have the courtesy and self-respect not to argue with them. I got a message the other day from a guy that I was just not interested in–no shared hobbies, different religion, poor grammar, not my physical type, and a boring profile. I responded with a polite rejection, and he said, “But u dont know that”. He got blocked.

Also, quick aside re online dating: You can block people even if they’re not evil, creepy, or supervillains. You are not obligated to talk to anyone. You are not obligated to reveal anything to anyone. You are not obligated to meet anyone. You owe them nothing.

The last one on the list is especially important: Establish clear consent. This applies at every stage, from sensitive topics of conversation to physical touch. Even handholding can be awkward and intrusive if you don’t bother to check if they’re up for it. “May I?” is a great question, and when said with a wink can be very attractive. Absence of a no ≠ a yes. This is my favorite article on the subject.

So. The world we live in is complicated and wild and a bit like the Wild West but pretty much everywhere. A mad mix of pressure and expectations and a lack of guidelines. It’s enough to drive a person out of his or her or the hive’s collective mind. So I will leave you with this. If you do your best, if you consider others, if you remember that they too are a temple for the Holy Spirit, chances are it will work out fine. It will not always be comfortable. You will discover faux pas you’d never heard of at the least opportune moments you could have imagined. And that’s all right. You’ll survive. You will humiliate yourself and probably at some point others. You’ll blush shades of fuschia to the tips of your toes. You’ll survive that too. So will they.

You get to make mistakes. Etiquette is not an immobile standard to which you compare yourselves and others. Manners aren’t codified in stone and steel. It’s just a language of behavior we humans use to show respect to one another.

Keep on muddling, dear ones. It’s enough.

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Best Movies for a Broken Heart

One of our favorite Orthogals went through a breakup today, so we’ve written a list of our favorite films for when your heart takes a beating.
Brigid goes for classics where the main characters don’t end up together. Laura favors what fairy tales really end up like. Anna’s on vacation and will get back to you on that.

The characters don’t end up together at the end:

Casablanca – The quintessential loved-and-lost film. Of all the gin joints in all the world…

Roman Holiday – Audrey Hepburn. Gregory Peck. Rome. It’s the perfect combination of funny and bittersweet.

Parapluies de Cherbourg – It’s in French and entirely sung.

Chinatown – Fair warning, this is noir. Politics, murder, incest, corruption. There is no happiness in this ending, but Brigid finds the final line oddly comforting.

The Way We Were – Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand love each other but in the end realize they can’t go on.

My Best Friend’s Wedding – Julia Roberts realizes she’s in love with her best friend…as he announces his engagement.

Life is Beautiful – Mostly about a father and his son surviving a Nazi concentration camp. Watch when you need to cry.

There’s hope for romance in the future:

500 Days of Summer – Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love. Girl doesn’t. Very indie and twee, but oddly touching.

Sliding Doors – Follows two timelines in Gwyneth Paltrow’s life, depending on whether or not she catches the train–and catches her boyfriend cheating.

Under the Tuscan Sun – A woman buys a house in Tuscany with high hopes. Her dreams come true, but not in the way she was thinking it would be.

Gone With the Wind  – You just never know with Scarlett O’Hara.

There is romance in the end:

P.S. I Love You – If you need a good cry. Her husband dies and leaves her notes. There is a happy ending. Also Irish accents.

Definitely Maybe – A man tells his daughter the stories of his 3 great loves.

Sleepless in Seattle – The sleepless widower’s descriptions of love will have you sobbing. In a good way.

He’s Just Not That Into You – Follows the relationships and breakups of an entire social circle.

The First Wives Club – Three divorcées help each other through tough times.

Love Actually – There’s a subplot for everyone in this one, not all of them with happy endings. A solid Christmassy choice.

Sense and Sensibility – Sisterhood, love, honor. They go through a lot to get to those happy endings.

And then when you’re ready, go watch the Princess Bride. It’s going to be okay.

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Who says it has to be itsy bitsy?

She was afraid to come out of the locker
She was as nervous as she could be
She was afraid to come out of the locker
She was afraid that somebody would see
One, two, three, four, tell the people what she wore

It was an itsy, bitsy, teenie, weenie, yellow polka-dot bikini
That she wore for the first time today
An itsy, bitsy, teentie, weenie, yellow polka-dot bikini
So in the locker she wanted to stay
Two, three, four, stick around we’ll tell you more

She was afraid to come out in the open
And so a blanket around she wore
She was afraid to come out in the open
And so she sat bundled up on the shore
Two, three, four, tell the people what she wore

It was an itsy, bitsy, teenie, weenie, yellow polka-dot bikini
That she wore for the first time today
An itsy, bitsy, teentie, weenie, yellow polka-dot bikini
So in the blanket she wanted to stay
Two, three, four, stick around we’ll tell you more

Now she is afraid to come out of the water
And I wonder what she’s gonna do
Now she is afraid to come out of the water
And the poor little girl’s turning blue
Two, three, four, tell the people what she wore

It was an itsy, bitsy, teenie, weenie, yellow polka-dot bikini
That she wore for the first time today
An itsy, bitsy, teentie, weenie, yellow polka-dot bikini
So in the water she wanted to stay
(From the locker to the blanket)
(From the blanket to the shore)
(From the shore to the water)
Yes, there isn’t any more

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Original content coming soon. We’re just running on Orthodox time, that’s all. In the mean while, here are a few things to tide you over.


Auntie Seraphic has a really important run-down on the differences between loving, liking, and fancying someone.

MentalFloss posted 11 Dating Tips from Ovid, including such gems as “Never judge a man, or woman, by candlelight.” (Make sure it’s daylight and you’re sober.)

For an emergency compliment, click here. They say things like this:

You’d be the last one standing in a horror movie.
9/10 dentists agree, you’re the BEST.

I got “You are the most charming person in a 50 mile vicinity.” Why, thank you.

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No, there’s no rhyme or reason to when we update Orthogals. Here’s some links.

Can I just say how much I love it when tries to smack young people men on the head with the purpose of getting them to wake up? The article title is a lie; it’s not about your online dating profile it’s about being a decent human being.

Really loved what Carolyn Hax had to say about changing to please a man. She also smacks down the concept of “friendzone”.

Speaking of the friendzone, some amusing snark.

I hope Verily magazine takes off so we can get more like this: How to spot a jerk.

I liked that this blogger explained how to find contentment by using her time as a single person as an example.

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