Wednesday, December 5, 2007

(His) relationship commitments

Six months into it is the time when couples start examining a relationship and trying to decide if it's time to move forward into a deeper commitment -- or give it up.

I was on the edge of giving up this week, when my partner sent me his list of Relationship Commitments. I was touched, but I have to admit, he failed to live up to a lot of the commitments on this list, which he wrote a year ago. Revisiting them, we realized that the biggest mistake we made was not voicing and clarifying our needs and expectations. Our expectations were based on assumptions -- not clear agreements.

After a blizzard of emails and two weeks of tense, hurt conversations, retreat and withdrawal, he coaxed me back inside with this list.

For many of us, plunging deeper into intimacy and risking the loss of someone you love is a terrifying thought, and it can be easier to not take that risk and simply run away and never go there.

If I live in the moment and stay present, have faith that there are no mistakes in life, that everything is a process and nothing lasts forever, maybe I can go there.

My Relationship Commitments

Take care of all my relationships, don’t begin or continue ones where that isn't possible. (Figure out if it’s possible as soon as I can.)

Communicate fully and honestly.

Don't allow the old pattern of making sexual relationships into love relationships automatically, including by telling people that it's my pattern up front.

Clarify expectations to death and in detail.

Make all agreements as explicit as possible.

Face the difficulties and reactions in the moment rather than putting them off and hoping for a positive outcome later.

Be aware that timeliness and my manner of communicating sensitive stuff is also really important.

Try try try to look at things from the other person's point of view BEFORE taking action.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Men, here's what you need to do when you take your girl to a party

Some men are utterly clueless when it comes to respecting their date or girlfriend when they are out in public. Their innocent flirting with other women can end up creating explosive consequences. And yet, flirting is a natural part of life, and there needs to be space for it when a couple goes out together.

I like to be with a man who is capable of respecting me and who is conscious of my feelings. How can you say you love someone and not protect their feelings?

Things that will make me feel liked, respected, adored and loved when we
are out in public:

- Walk into the event together. For the first ten minutes or so, introduce me to people. Make it clear that I am your guest by putting your arm around me. (Make me feel like I am valued and that you are proud of me.) After these initial introductions, we can start wandering separately, and maybe come back together from time to time to check in.

- Dance with me at least once during the night. Make me feel like you are actually enjoying this -- not doing it grudgingly just because you "have to." I don't want to spend the whole time with you either, but some time feels good and you're so fun to dance with.

- Make me feel as if you are proud to be seen with me in public. It feels fantastic to hold hands when entering a room, or walk hand in hand down the street together. I love that.

- Put your arm around me once in a while. Touch me subtly. Do something romantic or caring once in a while. Doesn't have to be constantly. It's ok to flirt and interact with others. Just remind me that you still like me and find me attractive, too.

- If we are away from each other for a long time, check in with each other once in a while and ask how we're doing. Are we having fun? Is the party boring? Do we want to leave?

- Try spend as time talking to, dancing and being seen with me and not just other women. (At least 25% of the time--doesn't have to be all the time.) Just remind me that we have an attraction and a spark.

- If you are touching, flirting with me a lot, and also paying attention to others, then I still feel attractive and valued. If you are being really flirtatious, touching other women but you are NOT touching me AT ALL at this event, this makes me feel rejected.

- If exes of yours are at the party, let me know who they are, point them out to me in advance so I know who they are and can navigate the minefield. Introduce me to them to help ease the tension. Maybe I will like them and we'll get to be friends.

- If you are talking to a bunch of people, try to include me too. I want to feel included, not excluded. It feels good to be part of the group and to belong.

- Toss me a compliment once in a while. Or just a smile from across the room. A wink. A glance. This feels great.

- Find ways to make these public interactions hot and juicy for us. Why not nibble my ear, whisper a suggestion or caress me subtly but in a very sexy way -- or pull me off into a dark corner for ....hmmmm?

- If you are going to disappear to go off to have a private conversation with an ex girlfriend, please let me know in advance first and explain why you need to have this discussion right now. Ask why are you having this conversation, which might be tense or emotional, or explosive, at a party, publicly, instead of later, privately. What is the outcome you're trying to create? Be honest with me (and her!) about your intentions.

- Why are you even interacting with exes anyway? Move on. Be present. You're with me now.

- Keep things light and playful, flirtatious and friendly in your interactions...not too overtly sexual. Being subtle is always sexier anyway!

- If my parents, a boss, or an influential person is in the room, be very conscious of how your behavior might be interpreted. For example, if my conventional, Catholic East Coast family is at a party, it would be very rude for you to be seen flirting with another woman or cuddling with her. It will be seen as disrespectful to me. Best to project a very conventional appearance if family / coworkers are present.

- When introduced to my family or friends, make an attempt to impress them and be interested in them.

- Introduce me to exes, when we run into them socially, to help clear tension between them and anyone you are now dating (It's harder to dislike someone you know and see as a human being.)

- If we run into o0her friends or ex lovers socially, find a way to create a conversation where we can all be included. This can help ease the tension between everyone and create friendship. It's hard for me to be friends with others if I am not given the chance.

- If you are alone at a party, event or dance, and I'm not there, be conscious of the fact that people who know us might be there and
observing you.
What kind of image are you projecting? What impression are people getting about your relationship with me and your respect for my feelings? We have to take care of each others feelings even when the other is not present. Taking care of your lover's feelings is a deep act of conscious love.

- Live in the present moment, not the past. Meet new people, have fresh new experiences, don't be stuck in old patterns and be open to change.

- Do you really want to be my date at this party -- or would you rather be alone? Be honest with me about your desires and intentions. Don't take me to a party if you're going to ignore me all night. I have better things to do.


Monday, November 19, 2007

When we lie, we destroy relationships

Two weeks ago, I took my first workshop with the Human Awareness Institute, an organization devoted to helping people have more loving and effective relationships. The workshop turned my life upside down. Tucked in the back of our handouts was this essay by the organization's founder, the late Stan Dale, on the effect of truth on our relationships.

"When we lie, we destroy relationships - both the one we have with ourselves and those we have with others," he says. "The only true foundation a relationship can be built on is trust. So many relationships are falling apart because trust - if it was ever there - is being eroded."

After so many experiences where my dishonesty -- or my partner's lack of honesty -- has destroyed my intimate relationships, I now feel that there is only one way to relate, truthfully, and with blunt, radical honesty.

Trusting And Truthing

An honest look at the effects of dishonesty

by Stan Dale

One of the articles in Friends & Lovers (IC#10)
Summer 1985, Page 25

Copyright (c)1985, 1997 by Context Institute

WHETHER WE'RE AWARE of it or not, we human beings communicate 24 hours a day. Even in dreams we communicate. Even when we don't say anything we communicate. Our relationships are built or destroyed by communication - and there's virtually nothing else involved in a personal relationship except one form of communication or another.

Throughout my life as a husband, lover, father, friend and therapist, I have both experienced and observed the destructive power of dishonest communication. When we lie, we destroy relationships - both the one we have with ourselves and those we have with others. Lying is counter communication. It erodes the very foundation of a relationship. It is a time bomb that will eventually destroy the relationship.

To tell a lie weakens the already weak esteem of the lie-teller. The person to whom the lie is told, whether that person finds out the truth or not, feels the lie's effects. Why? Because lies are negative communications. They take away what is attempting to be built. The only true foundation a relationship can be built on is trust. So many relationships are falling apart because trust - if it was ever there - is being eroded. One more lie; one more time bomb.

Then one day, ka-BOOM! Why? Because communication finally broke down beyond the point of no return. If relationships are communication with trust as their foundations, then honesty is the cornerstone. Dishonesty is a protective device. Lies are protective devices. Lies are told because the person telling them believes that he/she has no other choice.

However, we're being two-faced if we tell someone that we love them - and then also lie to them. There can be no real love without trust. We'd be protecting ourselves from the very person we need never fear. If we don't trust the person we say we love, how can we ever be intimate? How can we ever be vulnerable? And if we can't be intimate and vulnerable, what do we have but a lie?

Lies are protective devices. We think we are protecting the other person when we lie, but in reality we are protecting ourselves. When we lie, we set the time bomb ticking, and the explosion will rip through the delicate fabric we attempt to weave between ourselves and someone else.

There are two basic lies - the overt and the covert. The overt lie is usually spoken. It's a falsehood. Even a little white one.

The covert lie is more subtle, and the most often used. Its telltale signs are usually seen in body language - such as darting eyes, downcast eyes, side-glancing eyes, twitching of some part of our extremities, falre smiles, a deadpan face and so on. In other words, it's something that needs to be said, but isn't. The covert lie is usually more damaging than the bald-faced lie because the other person may never perceive that something is wrong. Reading body language takes quite a bit of experience. If covert lying can be detected, however, we can defuse the time bombs before they explode.

Envision a gorge. The only thing connecting the two land masses is a bridge built by the hands of those who dare to risk. Isn't that the process two people take when they try to establish a friendship? Here are two entities wishing to connect. They put out furtive feelers at first. Then they get slightly bolder the more they feel they can trust.

Each communication, no matter how conveyed, is one more plank in that bridge. The more honestly we communicate, the more we get to know one another, and the stronger the bridge gets. The more we get to know each other, the sooner we can lower the barriers of self protection. We almost always approach the others like knights in armor. Slowly we shake their hand, "checking for weapons" as in the days of old. Then slower yet, we raise the visor to get to "see" the other person.

Why are we so armored? Probably because intimacy is so frightening to us. In reality, it is probably the single most frightening thing we face. The effect of being totally intimate is being totally naked - emotionally, psychically, and possibly even physically. It is to let every part of me connect or touch with every part of you.

It is total vulnerability. Now I am totally defenseless. When we are defenseless, we fear that "now you will walk all over my unprotected guts with your cleats. You will hurt me in ways no other person could."

It seems that what we cherish most, we chase away in so many creative, fearful ways. For every time we lie, hiding our "nakedness," we are telling the other person, "I don't trust you!" Not in so many words, of course, and that's another contributing cause to the downfall of that painstakingly built bridge between two people. After all, who trusts a bridge with loose or missing planks?

We are so afraid of hurting others and of being hurt that we do the very thing that is guaranteed to destroy what we cherish. Every time we lie, overtly or covertly, we drive another nail into the coffin that will hold our dead relationship.

The paradox of being totally naked, vulnerable and intimate is that we are also totally potent. In reality, we cannot hurt or be hurt unless we choose it. Being naked, vulnerable and intimate with someone else is first to say that we are totally naked, vulnerable and intimate with ourselves.

That's the ultimate question: Do we trust ourselves or not? Do we trust that we can handle whatever comes up; or will we run scared, hiding in the tunnel of darkness that is laden with ignorance and fear?

The decision, of course, is up to each one of us. How long are we willing to live the lie? Or will we defuse the time bomb that would otherwise destroy us and those we love?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The sinking relation dinghy

Dear ____,

Why are you so armored? Probably because intimacy is so frightening to you. It is probably the single most frightening thing you face.

Why do you lie, constantly to yourself and other people? Because the truth is so frightening to you. Telling the truth means facing the truth of who and what you are.

There can be no real love without trust. We'd be protecting ourselves from the very person we need never fear.

Truth = reality.

Lie = untruth.

False reality. Illusion. Building an Impression. Spin control. Artifice. Creating a story that pleases other people. Making yourself look good in another's eyes.

Our relationship started with untruth. And I just went deeper into denial in order to accept you.

Lying to others ultimately shows that you are not being honest with yourself.
I'm untruthing to myself all the time in order to be with you. You are untruthing to me all the time in order to convince me to go deeper.

We are building a relationship (it' s more of a relation dingy or an inflatable raft with a leak in it than a ship) on this really weak foundation of continual deceit.

You untruth to yourself as you create this illusion. Because every time you pretend, to other people, that you and I are less, you are making us less. You are creating that reality -- less intimacy, less closeness -- with your words and your actions.

Why do you lie? You think it is to protect me, but it is really to protect yourself. The truth, you fear, might make me like you less. The untruth, on the other hand, might trick me into liking you more, supporting you, standing up for you--even loving you.

But is that relation-dingy floating on spin control and platitudes seaworthy-- or just an illusion built on a shaky foundation of illusion?

I trusted you. This was the impression I had--the untruth. The spin. I put that spin in our relation dingy and denied it.

And now the relation dingy has another leak in it, and it's sinking.

This story was created by Brain Dancer in her mind, with the very limited facts that you revealed to me, to make her happy so she would be tricked into going deeper into intimacy with you.

I was totally in denial when I created this story to please myself, instead of looking at the truth. I lied to myself and looked the other way. I created a fantasy that enabled me to continue with the illusion that makes me happy and put that fantasy in my little relation dingy.

"Right now, I'm only sometimes happy with ____, because he is constantly abandoning me for other women/people/priorities/experiences, but he is going to surrender to me, take care of me, and nurture me, and make me happy someday. So I will tolerate all kinds of behaviors that hurt me and make me feel unworthy and abandoned as I wait for him to change and start to give me what I want."

Is there anything you can do for me that will heal this and enable us to get closer again? Or is it time for me to put an end to this painful ride and jump off the "love dingy" and go find a real Love Boat?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The CEO of a dating site writes back

Hi Brain Dancer,

Just wanted to drop you a quick note to let you know how much I
enjoyed reading your alternately hilarious and sobering blog.

I founded __________ about five years ago because I had a wonderful
experience with online dating and thought I could put together an
easier to use system. I think I've made progress, but there's still
a lot of work to do.

People regularly send me cute and heartwarming notes about getting
married to someone who met on _________, so for some people, it works.

Being able to see things from the inside also makes me aware that
there are a lot of people who find it impersonal, exasperating, and
ultimately shallow.

Ultimately, I am sanguine. This thing is still in it's infancy and
people are still struggling to figure out how to do it. This is true
for both service providers and users.

Your observations surprised me though. Is it really that difficult
for an intelligent, articulate, successful (terminally 39) woman to
find a great man? Or are you exercising your prodigious writing
talent to tap into the groundswell of frustration and anger about the
state of dating and relationships today?

With the current ratio of men to women online, and the apparent
dearth of people who can string a couple of coherent sentences
together, it would seem that yot are in the catbird's seat.



Dear Chris,

Thank you for your well written and articulate post and your compliments. I love to see the reaction of others out there to my observations. I am usually an optimist, but I really do think that online dating has changed our relationships for the worse.

I can't believe that my failure to JUST FIND A BOYFRIEND (let alone a life partner or someone to marry) after two years of dating, after at least 100 dates (to men I met both out there in the real world and on here in the fantasy cyber world) ... I can't believe it's because I'm not desirable. Or that I'm "too picky." Or that I'm "too old." I really think the Internet is to blame. (By the way, a year after I started this blog, and stopped Internet dating, I did meet a lot of really great men, and have been dating someone amazing, who I met slowly, over time, the old fashioned way, while dancing in a community of friends.)

Back in the "old days" I always had a boyfriend. A boyfriend. I wasn't expecting the world -- just someone to do things with on the weekend. Someone to walk with. Go to parties with. Go to concerts with. Hang out with.

Back then, a 45 year old man didn't dream of trying to date a 25 year old. (Now, with online dating offering so many choices, it's de my age won't even think of dating a woman their own age. They all first lie about their age, and then they dial down their age requirement to 10-15 years younger.)

Back then, a man that much older than me probably never would have crossed my path -- not at a party or a social event. But the Internet gives these guys access to younger women, beautiful women, blondes, brunettes, redheads, rubenesques, BBWs and petites -- and they think they can just order up what they want. Online dating reduces us all to a product offering. Choose your size, hair color, eye color, age, height! It's just like Costco!

It seems that now unless you are 100% PERFECT and meet a laundry list of requirements a date won't "waste their time" with you, even just to date casually. It seems that back when there weren't so many options, when dates were rare and precious, we took them seriously. And we expected less.

This HOLY GRAIL, Hefty Bag, Costco wholesale approach to dating makes us all ultimately lonelier.

Do I sound bitter and disillusioned? Yes. And yet I keep submitting myself to the ongoing process of mutual rejection. I kept believing that it would happen, and when I abandoned online dating and spent more time doing what I love in the real world, it did start to happen.

If I just click one more time...

I agree that there is a groundswell of frustration and anger ... and when I started Braindancing, I thought I was the only one who noticed it. I have since discovered dozens of blogs about dating and its discontents. In a way this makes me feel better -- at least I'm not alone. But what can we all do to change the situation and make it better?


Saturday, June 16, 2007

Yet another class action lawsuit against an online dating site

Most online dating services deliberately make it darn near impossible to resign -- finally consumers are fighting back against this unethical and sneaky practice. If they have to work so hard to keep members -- one has to wonder about the real value any of these sites provide.

A lawsuit has been filed against TrueBeginnings, LLC, the owner and operator of the online dating website. The lawsuit seeks certification of a class action on behalf of TRUE customers who were charged service fees by TRUE after cancelling their subscriptions.

Allegedly TRUE bills its former subscribers service fees after they have attempted to cancel their subscriptions over the phone. TRUE charges fees in excess of $50 per month and advertises on its website that memberships can be cancelled at any time. However, only over the phone. The lawsuit also seeks an injunction prohibiting the enforcement of a provision in TRUE's terms granting it a perpetual, world-wide license to use, distribute or display all information - including photographs - submitted by subscribers. Wong v. True Beginnings, LLC, has been filed in the District Court of Dallas County, Texas and the Plaintiff is represented by Tycko & Zavareei LLP and Crews, Shepherd & McCarty LLP. Contact: Jonathan Tycko, 202-973-0900. FULL ARTICLE @ EARTHTIMES

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Hey, you look familiar. We met in Reality.

Well, in the interest of more material for this blog, I thought about putting myself back on the market. The online dating market.

I get a lot of offers for dates out here in the "real world" and my utter disgust with Internet dating has reached the point where I've pretty much given up on it, but in the interest of blogging, and the eternal hope that someone on the Web might be better than whomever I've been meeting here in Reality, I freshened up my profile again.

It's been at least a year. But as I browsed around, I discovered at least half the guys I met in the last round were still hanging out, profiles a little frayed and dusty, still single, still hunting for woman who are prettier, younger and hotter than they probably deserve.

And then I saw him.

_____________! A man I've been seeing kind of on and off again, who I've known for years now. I guess you'd call it one of those mythical "friendships with benefits" -- a convenient, low profile "thing" where we see each other and hang out between stints of dating other people. Something safe because it's not too challenging. Something easy because there's not much at stake. Something comfortable, but always naggingly deficient.

He says he's not in love with me and that's not his role with me. I say he's too superficial and shallow.

He's always trying to get me to eat at Burger King and thinks Organic food is a ripoff. I'm a vegetarian and health food fanatic.

I think his house is barren and cold. He thinks I have too much clutter.

He thinks I'm too old. I think his trendy friends are shallow and inmature.

He's a skeptic. I'm a believer.

Hey, but as Woody Allen said in Annie Hall: We do it for the eggs. It's there and it's safe and we always kind of sheepishly retreat to each other when nothing else pans out.

But sometimes, he rocks my world. We like to ski, we go to the beach, we almost never fight, we cook dinner together, we encourage each other. He's supportive and grounded, he fixes my bicycle and brings my computer up after a crash. We enjoy the simple things, and over the years, our shallow relationship has acquired a patina of depth that comes with familiarity.

And here he is, on "Wow!" I thought. "He's really cute." Not just that, but his profile was...surprisingly interesting. Intriguing. Sincere. He grew up Catholic? I had no idea. He's an atheist? We never talked about it before. He used to have a ponytail and was clean shaven? I've only known him short haired with a beard.

How many years did I have to know someone in the "real world" before I learn these things than any stranger with a modem has total access to?

He wants meet a girl within biking distance of his house? Who likes to have deep philosophical discussions? Well, actually, I fit the bill perfectly.

We met in the real world the natural way, dancing. The chemistry was instantaneous and raging. But here I stumble on him on the web and think, well, actually, he looks pretty hot here too. Would I have passed on this one, I wonder? Or would I have clicked for more? Would he have responded? Or would I be outside his age range?

Do we actually have a better chance of meeting "out here" where chemistry can overcome the laundry list -- or on the web where we can get all those things out of the way before the hormones take over?

So it all makes me wonder, you know... does the very existence of this global online candy store of unlimited options make us overlook something pretty good within biking distance? Would we have progressed into something deeper if it was harder to meet new people and there weren't so many perceived options? Or is the real promise of the Internet the ability to find our absolute soulmate - not just someone "comfortable". Not just someone "nice to be with" and "good enough"?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Will we ever actually see each other?

Well, here I am, alone with my notebook PC on a rainy day, thinking what a lovely time this would be to curl up by the fire and listen to the water pound the roof with someone special. But it takes so long, so very very long to meet anyone anymore.

I'm not the only impatient one. I found this post today on Craigslist::

i am not the type of guy to spend time online

i love to go out and meet new women in PERSON
not online

If that does not work for you
there are 10,000 more ads you can look at

i am specifically looking for women who are brave enough to risk a date in person

i cant feel a vibe online--only in person can i feel if i like them or not--and even then i am a patient man

it may take 3 or 4 date s for me to feel the right vibe or not

i cant always tell right away whos gonna be right

so all you women who can relate please ....lets have coffee or a beer


Friday, February 16, 2007

Nominated for best ad from a shameless golddigger

I found this on Craigslist today and it was so clever and so poetically written, I just had to give this ad some attention. If I was a guy, I'd write to her just to find out what her black lace looks like.

Captains of Industry (Financial District)

Modest genius with the potential to be a famous millionaire craves your skill in mixing business with pleasure. What makes your heart race faster--pulling off a killing in the market place or getting tangled up in black lace? Shhhh. Don't answer that yet. First tell me if you're addicted to peer pressure. Personally, I don't need to be hip and cool because I'm cute and smart. You, I hope, don't need to break the rules because you make the rules. We're both far from perfect, and that's the way we like it. Our vices are more useful than most people's virtues. Baby, let's rule the world together. I lust for your attention to detail. I await your fax.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Hackers attempt to destroy Valentine's Day with Virtural VD

Hackers have now stooped so low that they're sending viruses disguised as Valentine's Day love note emails. Yes, it's a form of electronic "VD" for Valentines Day.

The sneaky messages simulate a always come from a woman's name such as Sandra, Willa, Wendy or Vicky. In these days of being virtual "friends" and lovers with thousands of people you barely know, it's easy to see why we're susceptible to computer-borne social network disease.

Panda Labs has detected the new Nurech.B worm, which arrives in emails with subject lines such as: Happy Valentine's Day," "Valentines Day Dance," "The Valentines Angel." The email attachment simulates an e-greeting card using file names like "Greeting Postcard.exe," "Greeting card.exe," or "Postcard.exe. The worm disables certain antivirus, antispyware, andsecurity applications installed on the system.

In real world dating or online dating, always use protection.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Shocking scientific research verifies online dating dishonesty

Shocking new scientific evidence revealed in this month's Scientific American that a staggering 90% of online daters lie in their personal ads.

According to the article, (and a funnier one in the Inquirer) survey research conducted by media researcher Jeana Frost of Boston University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggests that about 20 percent of online daters admit to deception. If you ask them how many other people are lying, however--an interviewing tactic that probably gets closer to the truth--that number jumps to 90 percent.

The research verifies the obvious:

- On average, online profiles shave off about five pounds and add perhaps an inch in height.

- For men, the major areas of deception are educational level, income, height, age and marital status; at least 13 percent of online male suitors are thought to be married.

- For women, the major areas of deception are weight, physical appearance and age.only 1 percent of online daters listed their appearance as "less than average."

The researchers also found that the dating services themselves lie about the number of users--saying that 50 million Americans use Internet personal ads. But recent independent studies suggest that only 16 million Americans were using online dating services by late 2005 and that satisfaction levels were low.

Jupiter Research reports that "barely one quarter of users reported being very satisfied or satisfied with online personals sites." Another survey conducted by Pew Internet & American Life Projects suggests that 66 percent of Internet users even think that online dating is a "dangerous activity."

The writer concludes: "Long-term relationships take patience, skill and effort. In cyberspace, unfortunately, the bar is so long and the action so quick that few people are willing to put up with even the slightest imperfection in a potential mate. If someone is the wrong height or wears the wrong shoes or makes the wrong kind of joke, he or she is often dismissed instantly. After all, it is a simple matter to go back and click, with tens of thousands of potential mates ready to fill the void."

Friday, February 9, 2007

Casual Encounters - coming to a PC near you

I hate to be the first one to break this shocking news to you, but people everywhere have turned the Internet — mankind's greatest achievement in technology — into nothing more than a massive game of spin the bottle. Proof positive is right here, in this Internet video mockumentary that follows the libidinous misadventures of painfully unattractive people in search of the ever-elusive "friend with benefits".

I thought this film was kind of lame, but it does show that the "NSA" or Casual Encounter in Craigslist or Adult Friendfinder has become such a phenemenon that it's now parodied in an Internet TV series. Are NSAs here to stay? Do they ever accidentally lead to LTRs? Or just STDs? Stay tuned as this series continues.

I'm trying to keep an open mind about this, but personally, it feels like a sad and pathetic degradation of our relationships into the lowest common denominator -- find someone, anyone, willing to have sex, get it over with as fast as possible, wash our hands clean, pretend it never happened, go home alone to our web cam, and search for the next willing participant. Is this what mass global communication has delivered in our in box?

Thursday, February 8, 2007

I hate Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and there are painful reminders everywhere you look. You can't turn on the radio or walk into the grocery store without being bombarded with red candles, chocolates, heart shaped fuzzy furry things or teddy bears. Ugh.

It's blatantly commercial, consumerist and has absolutely nothing to do with real passion, which is a rare, fleeting moment we feel in those times of absolute timelessness, absolute immersion in the now. In honor of Valentine's Day, here is a serenade from the 70s band Nazareth, crooning: "Love Hurts."

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Cooking up chocolate passion

Photo by Chuck Stevens.
Ugh. The dreaded Valentine's Day is coming soon. If you're lucky enough to find someone in the Personals who you'd actually even consider licking chocolate off of, here are Brain Dancer's own heart-melting recipes to set the perfect stage for a romantic evening that is guaranteed to entice your special date into the kitchen—-and the bedroom.

If you’ve seen the movie Chocolat with Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp, you experienced a "taste" of a culinary aphrodisiac at work. It was a slow, lush movie showing plenty of sexy shots -- close-ups and action shots -- of one of the world's most well-known and glamorous aphrodisiacs: chocolate. The second main character Viane (Binoche) opens a chocolate shop in a provincial, abstemious French village. From the minute she sets to work making the chocolate, we witness languid ribbons of chocolate cascading from well-crafted pots into delicate china, and countless other sensual scenarios: wet lips smacking, tongues licking, people guiltily touching their fingertips in chocolate and licking them clean.

With chocolate as its sexy centerfold, the film (besides being one big chocolate commercial) accented the connection between food and sensuality. A decadent dinner could be the secret romance weapon that will bring a potential lover closer to your heart.

Date by date, nibble by nibble, there are many elements in cooking up a passionate meal:

Sensuality. In Chocolat, the food was prepared deliberately, deliciously, with care and attention, and not a little sensuality (ooh, smack, lick, aaah-h-h).

Sharing. Sometimes the characters shared conversation; sometimes they shared the little "guilty" pleasures with looks askance as if they were being quite naughty together. Food brings people together.

Caring. Most people read a partner's act of cooking for them as "caring." If your partner has a favorite meal, a favorite flavor; make the effort to produce it at home yourself. Guys cook for your ladies, ladies cook for your guys; or you can both share a bottle of wine, get a little tipsy, cook for each other and lick the cream sauce or the chocolate mousse off each other’s fingers. You might get impatient and never get around to eating!

Memories. The scent and texture of food is a powerful memory maker. You probably know this if you've passed by a bakery or restaurant and found your mind suddenly snapping back to another time in your life. If you create a meal or a dessert for an evening on which sparks fly, those food scents will be indelibly planted in your lover's mind for all time. In the future, you'll need only have that meal simmering on the stove and your partner will be getting aroused as they walk in the door.

Smooth, creamy textures. In the food world, they talk about “mouth feel.” A romantic meal has textures that are rich, smooth, creamy and buttery. Coconut milk, creamy cheeses, raw seafood, custards, sauces, whipped cream and of course, chocolate are like velvet on the tongue.

Light on the stomach (and nose!). A romantic dinner should be light and energizing – not heavy and rich. Stay away from foods that are hard to digest, pungent or just plain smelly. Avoid brie, sauerkraut, garlic, blue cheese, raw onions, curry and (for the obvious reasons) hard to digest foods like cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and beans!

Aphrodisiacial. Some foods can increase energy, get the blood flowing, heat up the body. Legendary aphrodisiac foods include asparagus, wild mushrooms, raw oysters, ginger, vanilla beans, tropical fruits, red wine and of course, chocolate.

Serving your lover with sensual style:

Whatever it is you create, the next thing to consider is how to serve it. After all, this is lust we're talking about.

Lights, candles, action! Dim the lights low, or drape lampshades with scarves to soften the light, scatter the room with inexpensive tea candles and spin some exotic trance-like Buddah Bar beats, Billie Holliday or passionate piano music on the stereo.

A change of scene:<.span> Eat on cushions around the coffee table in the living room…on a flotaki rug, in a bean bag chair, in the tub, in the garden…in front of the fire.

A little dessert before dinner? Ask your partner to cover their eyes with their hands and serve it to him or her yourself. Hold it just under their nose and ask them to inhale the scent first. Make them eat slowly, make them lick and suck your fingers. Ad lib from here.

For couples only: Serve it on your naked body or on his naked body. Desert is optional and perhaps unnecessary!

A passionate spring menu:

Chilled Champagne
Raw oysters on the half shell with fresh lemon
Spring Salad with Baked Goat Cheese
Shrimp in Pastis with Fresh Fennel
Sensual Saffron Rice
Coconut Gelato With Fresh Mangos and Whole Strawberries
Gingered Chocolate Sauce

Spring Salad With Warm Goat Cheese

2 large handfuls of mixed baby greens, rinsed, dried and chilled.
One log of creamy goat cheese or two small goat cheese rounds (crottins)
Herbes de Provence (a dried mixture of marjoram, sage, savory and rosemary)
Olive Oil for drizzling cheese
3 tbsp. Hazelnut or virgin olive Oil
1 tsp. Shallot, finely minced
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
Freshly ground pepper
Sea salt
A handful of toasted pinenuts

1. Slice the goat cheese into 1 inch thick circles. Toss each round in olive oil, sprinkle with the herb mixture and a grating of fresh pepper. The cheese should be quite thoroughly coated with herbs.
2. Heat the broiler until very hot. Place cheeses on a pan and grill under the broiler until lightly browned on top.
3. Place nut or oilive oil, shallot, vinegar, pepper and salt into a salad bowl and whisk until creamy. Toss ligntly with the greens.
4. Arrange half of the greens on a plate, top with warm cheese and nuts, and a grating of pepper. Serve while still warm.

Flaming Shrimp in Pastis with Fresh Fennel

1-1/4 lbs. Tiger prawns or jumbo shrimp, peeled & deveined – leave the shells on the tails.
3 Tablespoons Pastis liqeur (Pernod or Ricard)
3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 tablespooons olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 fennel bulb, sliced as thinly as possible
1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
1 Tablespoon minced fennel greens
Sea salt & freshly ground pepper

1. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Add the shrimp and cook about 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until just barely pink. Remove from pan.
2. Add the fennel and shallot, sauté gently until soft. Return the shrimp to the pan. Pour in the pastis; remove from the heat and flambé. (That means throw a lit match into the pan and shake the pan until the flames die down and the alcohol burns off.)
3. When the flames die, add the lemon juice, parsley, fennel greens and chives and season with salt and pepper.

Serve with good French bread or saffron rice to soak up the fantastic sauce.

Sensual Saffron Rice

Jasmine rice and saffron perfume your kitchen with a light and delightful incense and the color of saffron rice is a vivid contrast with the pink shrimp and green herbs.

2 cups jasmine rice
4 cups of water, soak a pinch of saffron in the water
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 tbsp. minced parsley

1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed, one-quart saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Add garlic, stir briefly until translucent. Do not burn! If you burn the garlic, wash the pan and start over again – burnt food is the opposite of aphrodisiacal!
2. Add rice and stir in the oil until rice is translucent and grains are coated with oil.
3. Add water, increase heat, bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes until water is absorbed.
4. Fluff rice with a fork. Toss with minced parsley before serving.

Creamy Coconut Sorbet

The rich creamy cool texture of this very simple tropical fruit sorbet will soothe your lover’s tongue. The bananas should be completely covered with black spots so they are very sweet before freezing.

1 8 oz can coconut milk, chilled
2 tbsp. maple syrup or other sweetener of choice
3 very ripe bananas, frozen.
1 tsp. Real vanilla

1. Mix all of the ingredients in a blender rapidly until smooth.
2. Eat immediately or chill before serving.
3. Serve a scoop of sorbet on a plate, with a few fresh mango slices, a berry, and drizzle the plate with warm gingered chocolate sauce. Dip whole strawberries into the sauce and feed them to your lover.

Spicy Gingered Chocolate Sauce

The best part about making this sauce is licking it off each other’s fingers!

1 six-ounce semisweet chocolate bar
1 tbsp. olive oil
honey to taste
2 tsp. Finely grated fresh ginger root
1 tsp. Real vanilla extract
3 tbsp. water
pinch of sea salt

1. In a double boiler, break up the chocolate bar into small pieces, add water, olive oil and honey to taste.
2. Stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until smooth. Do not overheat.
3. Squeeze the ginger juice through a fine cloth (a clean handkerchief or cheesecloth) into the sauce. Add vanilla. Taste for sweetness and adjust the flavorings as needed. Add a very small pinch of sea salt to taste. (The salt makes the sauce seem buttery.)

All recipes are originals by BrainDancer. Please refer back to this blog url and give me credit if you republish them.

Monday, February 5, 2007

The disastrous effects of

"The Disastrous Effects of and What Women Can Do About It" is an essay that appeared last week in the Washington Post sending shockwaves through the internet dating industry.

It's about time that someone in the mainstream media had the guts to admit what dozens of bloggers have been observing for years now -- online dating has drastically changed the ways we relate offline by giving everyone a false sense of unlimited opportunities. (Or why "Online Dating Sucks" returns more than 2,000 hits in Google including a multitude of blogs devoted to the subject.)

While the anonymous writer of this essay is pretty much in alignment with what I've been bitching and moaning about for months now, I do have to say she unfairly excluded the male side of this story. (Men complain that women are all out to find a venture capitalist, millionaire or a guy who looks like Brad Pitt.) Here's an excerpt from the essay:

Jennifer Aniston. Christie Brinkley. Sheryl Crow. Teri Hatcher. Either dumped or cheated on in a most humiliating and public way.

Every woman in the dating world has thought, "If it can happen to her, it can happen to me." While he's snoring away, we think quietly at night about what we can do to make sure it doesn't happen to us.

We respond by trying to make our stomachs flatter, our boobs bigger, our faces prettier, and our clothes tighter and more revealing. We do everything possible to please our man. You prefer French cooking? Mais oui, mon cher! You want my hair long? No problem, I'll get a hair extension. Spending part of your vacation with buddies? Go have a good time. You don't want to be with my family on Christmas? I'll see you on New Year's Eve. Is that OK or would you prefer some other time? Do you like my mani-pedi'd, spray on tanned, liposuctioned, Pilates body? Can't commit? Oh, that's right. You're just not that into me. Or her. Or her. Or her.

What the hell has happened? Three words. Match dot com. and other online dating services have given men access to thousands and thousands of women in every city who look just as great in jeans and a little black dress (the requirement in every man's profile), a smorgasbord of women each one more delicious to devour than the next...


Friday, February 2, 2007

If you can get over your ovaries, I'll discipline my testicles

This personal ad in "Men Seeking Women" on Craiglist is outrageous. I love the headline. Will men ever discipline their testicles? Will we ever stop being ruled by our baser, biological instincts and rise above them to a new level of conscious relating? Or is that just too new age woo-woo for this guy?


I'm looking for a SF city woman that can enjoy the relationship in the present, without too much of agenda and trading the futures. If you care if we fcuk or don't fcuk on the first date, if you are looking for a potential husband or if you care about my tax bracket I am not interested in you. Also, to be stimulated, I need extremely clever, eloquent, literate and educated, sexy and sex loving, fit woman, not fucked up with new age/mysticism/religion, without TV and with identity independent from consumer items, pop culture or class (and if you can differentiate between your yours, you'res and youres, that makes me mad with passion.)

Obviously, the intersection of the above specs among SF female population is near-zero. Maybe 6-7, but they are all taken, with a long waiting list.

So what we need here is a freak accident, a probabilistic singularity, a counter-intuitive event against all odds, something less probable than politician uttering the truth, that one of those is reading this stuff.

I am degreed, wide interests, non-mainstream, tall & fit, good looking, big ick, and addicted to improbable outcomes.

Please use a few caps in the reply.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Gwyneth's dating disasters and "Dealbreakers"

Click here for Gwyneth Paltrow's charming and sometimes hilarious new short film about dating disasters, "Dealbreaker."

The lesson is here that no man is perfect. What can we live with? Are women just too picky? As Janis Joplin said: "Everyone is messed up when you get inside their head. It's just a matter of degree!"

What's interesting to me is that Paltrow both <` href="">directed and wrote the script for this film, so we might assume it's at least somewhat based on her own real life dating experiences with men. When you consider that she's dated Ben Afleck, Luke Wilson and Brad Pitt among others, you have to wonder which characters in this film might be reflections of the dating blunders of her leading men.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Perfect Date Movie (for guys)

One of my guy friends thinks that horror movies are the perfect date flick. His strategy? "She gets so grossed out or scared that she cuddles up to you and begs you to turn the movie off. Then you have your way with her!"

Men can be so devious!

Friday, January 26, 2007

When looks can kill a date

Once I was three hours late for a date--but my potential suitor was more miffed that I don't look like my photograph than the fact that he stood outside all afternoon shivering in the fog.

Face it, looks matter in the online dating scene. A lot. Too much, I think. (Did I mention that you were a lot smaller and shorter than I expected? That your hairstyle was kind of conservative for my taste? Did that make me disappointed? No, but your crestfallen facial expression sure did. It was obvious that SOMETHING WAS WRONG.) Ooops, I guess I should have postponed this one until the my acne facial peel recovered. Ooops, I guess I should have blowdried my hair instead of appearing with it in its natural curly state.

But ooops-- dont' you think that you're idea, arriving just after running the Bay to Breakers race was a bad idea. (You did warn me you'd be "a little bit sweaty.")

Being thought of as a good looking woman most of my adult life, it's difficult for me to accept the idea that I get rejected on the basis of my looks so often when I meet someone in the personals. (I'm quite attractive. An online date fell flat...but the very next day a man asked me for my number in Whole Foods Market while I was standing next to the bananas.)

No, I think there's just something warped about meeting someone online. It warps the expectation meter.

There was one man who hit on me constantly at a dance event. A few months later we stumbled on each other in the personals so we went out, and it fell flat.

He said: "I'm not feeling any chemistry." What? You were trying to put your hands all over me when you met me "out there". But then we do the standard, uptight internet date and it just whithers and dies. There's just something downright toxic about Internet dates.

The expectation level is ridiculous. Why does every man think he "deserves" a 10? Why do they all think they "deserve" a woman ten years younger? One man met me in a date and the first said: "Your hair isn't red! You lied!"

Looking good in a photograph is not the same thing as looking good in real life. As an image-creator, as a person who meets and mingles with and works with people in the public eye, we know this is true. At first, when I saw some celebrities I've met...oh my God. Some of them looked so shockingly, horrifyingly different than their glam airbrushed photographs. But over time, as their wit and personality and verve and life emerged...those frumpy middle aged women with the cavernous wrinkles and those middle aged paunchy men with the bags under their eyes became sexy and vital and attractive. Because beauty and vitality really come from within...from our confidence and our personality. And that vitality can vary greatly from day to day, depending on our moods, the weather, what we're doing, where we are and who we're with.

I've met some stunningly attractive men from these ads...but that didn't make the sparks fly. It all comes from within. It's ineffable. Indefinable. You can't put your finger on it but you know it's there...when it's there.

Unfortunately, I happen to be photogenic--but variably attractive (that is, sometimes I look great, sometimes horrible. I'm not consistently gorgeous from day to day and I know it). I have great photographs...all taken during those peak moments when I was in love, my hair was having a good day, on the beach, on vacation. Well of course I look better in that light than I will when I've been sitting in traffic for two hours rushing to get to a date, or I've been working all day, or we're feeling lonely and rejected. Rush hour isn't usually a Kodak moment.

Is that too much to ask? Do I have to be THE LOVE OF THIS GUYS LIFE to spend some time hiking and driving to the country and having some fun? Do we have to be lonely just because we're not perfect? If we all lowered our standards we'd be a lot happier -- and these websites would be out of business.

So I have a new dating rule -- no coffee dates. No sweaty hikes. I am only going to meet men in situations where I can dress nicely, where the room is intimate, where it's appropriate for me to wear a miniskirt and heels, where the mood is relaxed, where chemistry might have a chance to spark. The only successful Internet dates I've had (success being measured by the first date leading to a second and then a third) were drinks in a quiet bar, or intimate dinners, at night, wine served. The hit and run 25 minute job interview style coffee date has a dismal track record.