Shelley Widhalm

Posts Tagged ‘Dating’

Writing and Dating (or App Dating, cont.)

In Dating, Shelley Widhalm, Uncategorized, Writing on March 9, 2014 at 11:00 am

After years of writing in many different genres and my limited experience in dating, I’ve seen some interesting connections.

The question you might ask is how writing helps you date and dating helps you write. The obvious answer points to having stories to tell, character qualities to describe, bend and reshape, and snippets of dialogue to reconfigure from real life.

What’s not so obvious is that profile you have to put on the dating sites. You describe who you are and what you’re seeking in a relationship, from something as simple as height and hair color to work and personal interests.

Reading the one side of what men are seeking (I’ve yet to sign up), I tend to start with their looks, followed by height and weight (making me realize I’m a bit shallow, but also aware of the need for chemistry). I move through the rest of their qualities list and then their “Her” lists to see what they want in a date or girlfriend and whether or not I “match.”

This is like creating the structure of your novel that still lacks the creativity, imagination and time needed to add three dimensions to that outline (or dating profile).
Planners outline, while plungers write without structure, not knowing the ending or even the middle of the story.

In the case of dating, I planned a few of things I want in a date, and I’ve also plunged into dating the wrong ones just because they were handsome, or I thought we had chemistry but without anything solid underneath.

Expecting that perfect match – or the perfect story to unfold from that perfect first sentence – can result in dating block. I look at the matches and think, oh, he won’t like me, because I don’t fit his range of what he wants, even if I like what he presents.

In other words, I don’t try.

The same goes with writing. If I expect to write something great in my first draft, I don’t allow myself to explore and see what I can discover. It’s in the process that you can find out what you want to say, and then you can go back and fix what doesn’t fit.

Of course, I don’t want to fix the men out there, just my fear of dating them. To get over that, I will have to let my life be creative and just happen like a big what if, or a big whatever.

I can’t expect everything to be just how I want it, because I had planned it that way.

Apps Dating (+ some stuff about writing)

In Dating, Shelley Widhalm, Writing on March 2, 2014 at 11:00 am

Following a recent and very disappointing dating experience, I got an offer from to download the pretty blue App.

I thought the App would be free, but it was an advertisement to get me to sign up for the online dating Website for a monthly fee. I get a daily enticing email telling me, “You have 24 new matches.”

I would like just one match.

Surprising myself (an avid I-can’t-meet-men-through-the-Internet-because-it’s-artificial type), I scroll through my 24, even looking forward to seeing real-life handsome men.

After two weeks of this, I’ve learned that there are men in their late 30s and early 40s who have never married, who are divorced and who want a relationship. I thought these men, especially the never-have-married, didn’t exist – at least that’s what I’ve been telling myself.

In my job as a reporter, I encounter lots of men, most with rings and many of them not my type. Taking the easy, I’m-scared-to-date approach, I tell myself that I’m in a small city of the happily married, so I should be happy with my dog and imaginary 13 cats. I am. Or was, until I bravely asked a man out and got the big rejection.

I started wondering, do matches happen, just like and the other online dating Websites claim?


As I do my daily scroll (not paying, not signing up for the tempting “72 hours free”), I feel like I’m shopping for men. I look at clothing ads the same way, evaluating the colors, shapes and styles of shirts, skirts and pants. Would this or that garment look good on me? Would it cover up my extra flabby bit? Will it last, or fall apart after a few washings?

When I review the man ads, I’m not asking if MrHotty0201 would make me look good, but I do think, “Oh my, he’s cute.” I open up the information window where I learn his marital status, if he has or wants children, his religious beliefs and the age of women he’s seeking.

I’ve checked several of these windows, learning some of the men want younger women, are atheists or are plain cute and perfect, at least according to this initial list of very few questions. Even if I’m slightly interested, I go on with the day, waiting for my next batch to arrive with a ping.

Am I afraid to join? Do I think I’ll get a match that won’t fit because I was shopping based on external looks? Am I hiding away with my dog and imaginary cats afraid of something big and unnamed?

I wonder if this inadvertent window man-shopping is not how to approach dating. It’s about the chemistry, willingness of both to make the relationship work and, lastly, on the actual interior and exterior match.

We can match up, but bad things will happen in life showing our worst sides, and if he or she will stay through that, then we have something.

It’s called love.

That’s what I want. Eventually.

(See next week’s blog on Writing and Dating, or App Dating cont.)

My extra disappointing nano-dating experience (and how it relates to writing)

In Shelley Widhalm, Shyness, Writing on January 26, 2014 at 11:00 am

I don’t ask men out, because I hate the sick stomach and jittery voice I get when I eek out, “Do you want to …”

But I realized (and this took awhile apparently) that if I stay stuck on standby waiting for the galloping hooves indicating the arrival of my future boyfriend, I don’t get to choose.

I am chosen.

By saying “no” to those men I should have given a “yes” to, I ended up dating a type – the bad boys (most), the alcoholics (two) and the emotionally unavailable (all).

I acted insecurely, because I wasn’t confident enough to believe I could go for what I wanted.

I wanted looks and smarts and conversation, but because I kept putting myself on standby, I settled for hidden beer bottles, unreturned phone calls, late arrivals and shortened dates, and the long drawn-out fear of the letter “C,” or commitment.

In a complaint session about this unsettling assortment of men, I told a friend about my fantasy cute guy, a man I met once through work and for some reason found to be intriguing. She informed me that I shouldn’t wait around and let life (and opportunities) slip by, because I was afraid.

I agreed (given that it was approaching the New Year and a perfect time for new goals) and promised her I would call Mr. Fantasy. She said to do it by the end of the weekend. It took me a month.

When I finally called Mr. Fantasy (let’s call him Flint) to ask him out to coffee, he thought I wanted an interview (given that I’m a reporter). “Is this social?” he kept asking. Yes! (Duh!) After 15 minutes of figuring out the logistics of our nano-non-date, Flint said he could give me a half-hour.

The day of the nano matter, I assembled the perfect outfit in my imperfect state of fear and nervousness. Upon our meeting, Flint again asked if this was social, and within five minutes, I learned he had a girlfriend, meaning I had gotten all jittery over something I could have been told on the phone. (I’m not being bitter, just factual.)

After my date, I went home and cried (seriously).

And now with my fabulous ability at hindsight, I believe that the reason for my crying had nothing to do with Mr. Fantasy (because that’s all he was) but more to do with my putting too much hope on my single brave phone call.

I wanted my first try at asking a man out to result in instant success.

The same thing goes with my writing life.

My attempts at getting published should have been successful, because I have talent, right? I cried and worried over my rejections from contests, journals and literary agents, waiting in standby for someone somewhere to pick my writing as the winner. Again, I was giving them the power to choose, so that each time they stamped “No!” I took a jab to my confidence.

But that’s not the way to approach men or writing, waiting in the sidelines (with hand raised, saying, “Yes, please put me on your waiting list!”), letting what they say and do dent your armor.

Make the call, send out the submission, email the query letter.

Keep trying.

You’ll eventually find him or her and you (with your name in print).

The Bad Boy-Bad Dog Connection

In Shyness on August 21, 2011 at 6:10 pm

What do bad boys and bad dogs have in common?

Let’s start with the bad boy dilemma that can be epitomized by James Dean in a leather jacket with a cigarette hanging from his mouth. Give me moody eyes, chiseled cheekbones and ripped muscles with unresolved childhood issues, a penchant for the drink and some mark of rebellion from rule breaking to avoiding 9-to-5 responsibility.

Being with the bad boy is a rollercoaster ride with your arms up and a scream as you plummet into a twisting tunnel that rocks your body along the curve of insecurity. He’s a challenge, a thrill, a mystery until that jarring stop at the end of the ride signaling his rejection.

I read an online article this week exploring why females like bad boys. One of the conclusions the writer had was that women like to fix things. I agree to a point in that the bad boy presents a challenge to get through to his emotional core. But I really don’t have a clue how, even though, embarrassingly enough, I’ve tried.

I’ve dated a few bad boys, because I wanted to be with their good looks, thinking that if this epitome of maleness can like me than I must be worth something. I used to think: What better way to prove your self worth than to get a hot guy with issues to straighten his act and adore you as a result?

But it was all castles in the air.

My dating history boils down to this bad boy chase of dating moody, drink-guzzling, non-communicative, commitment-phobic men. In other words, it was a big waste of time.

But hold on. Now instead of dating bad boys, I’ve got this bad dog to change. My 9-pound miniature dachshund looks sweet and cute, but she’s got issues. It started with her barking from my second-story patio at the big dog passersby. To get her to stop, I snap my finger three times, glare into her eyes and say, “No bark.” But then another dog comes by and she returns to barking.

Or we’ll sit outside at a coffee shop patio table, where Zoey, deciding the circle around our table is her territory, has a penchant for barking at the big dogs. They give her a look like “Are you kidding?” or they bark back with their owners pulling on their leashes.

Zoey’s become more aggressive over the summer months with jaws snapping and paws flying about as I hold her in the air by her harness. The culmination was this weekend when she and Sophie, her “best dog friend” who she hasn’t seen in months, spent a weekend together.

Sophie tried to play with Zoey’s toys and Zoey barked at her. I told her, “NO!” “Bad dog,” and the like and put her in three timeouts. She didn’t stop her bad behavior.

My sweet little puppy who I took through Puppy Kindergarten and Intermediate training and read a half-dozen dog behavior and training books to raise has me doubting my ability to tame the bad boy or bad girl in any creature, whether man or dog.

I feel like I’m at the beginning of my teenage angst but instead of trying to figure out the mysteries of men, I’m trying to figure out my dog.


The Town Cry-er

In Rejection, Shyness, Talking, Vacations on June 26, 2011 at 7:28 am

I took five days off for a friend’s visit but it didn’t turn out so well. It’s the classic case of uneven liking – I like him lots and he thinks I’m more boring than eating pasta shells sans sauce.

During these five (reduced to three because, yep, you got it) days, I realized that besides hating being shy, I hate that I’m sensitive.

Actually, a better way to put it is I have a penchant for crying. You would think I would be dehydrated and ultra skinny from all the energy I burn from letting the water roll. But I have to lift weights and diet and all that crap.

Plus cry.

Add to that the fact I got my hopes up and don’t know where to put them now. In my anticipation of this visit, I jumped out of my comfortable numbness, though I didn’t know that I was numb until, well, now. I’ve been going through the motions of living as I impatiently waited for the weekends when I could sit outside and read or work on my writing.

But hey, I now see that my problem is that I’ve let my shyness keep me in this introverted state where I hang out by myself. My problem is I really do like to talk. It’s just I don’t know how to open my mouth and get words out. Sure I can talk to people who approach my dog to pet her or if I have to interview them or want to make small talk.

But if there is a pause, or silence or discomfort on my part, I don’t know what to do.

Unfortunately, after not reading a book for three weeks because I went on a vacation, tried to finish my novel editing and had this five-day visit coming up, I realized that, unlike what I’ve been telling myself, real life is more fun then books. Now, I just need a how-to book to read to tell me how to live, hence returning me to my comfort of reading instead of living.

For my dog Zoey’s perspective, check out

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