Tagged: marriage

Richer

I haven’t been shy in lamenting some recent marriage and family woes to you.

Today, I want to counter this and slightly elevate the conversation.

Back in 2019, as I took my step-son under my wing, you might say I went a bit overboard in used book buying.

eBay and I were quick friends and used book sets were my specialty. I bought the Children’s Book of Knowledge set, and all 10 annuals. (That’s thirty books.) I bought the Journey’s Through Bookland 10 volume set. And I even found a three volume Family Treasury of Children’s Classics set.

(That’s 43 books—he was 10.)

Anyhow, as my daughter, A-, who is now 2.5 yrs old, arrived, I began doing what I do, which is reading aloud from these classics.

The first volume of the Family Treasury opens with all—and I mean it is the actual collection—of classic nursery rhymes that we all struggle to find in Barnes and Noble’s.

A- is at the age when she is starting to talk and use multi-word phrases. Because I have a knack for these things, I began to test her the other day.

“Mary had a little-”

“AM” she concluded.

“Its fleece was white as-”

“NOOO!” she roared laughing.

Most of you have done similar and we should rightly be applauded.

The other day I came in from a long day of driving. My wife and step-son who, generally speaking, are opposed to learning are sneaking a quick movie since I wasn’t around to stop them.

Mission Impossible III is on the screen. One of my favorites.

I head to bed. I’m tired and not in the mood to point out that my step-son is still not ready for such a film.

The next day, my wife says to me out of the blue, “I didn’t ever know that’s why he said Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.”

To your ears, you probably would’ve heard her thick accent, and it’s very likely she didn’t even say what I wrote. But that’s what she meant.

Despite my having understanding of her meaning—regardless her actual words—I still had no clue what she was talking about.

“Huh?” I asked.

“What?” she asked.

“You said something about him saying Humpty Dumpty?”

Now at this moment in recent conversations, she will look at me and using all her feminine intuition do her best to determine whether I’m in earnest or whether I’m mocking her and usually conclude the latter by saying, “Never mind.”

But this time she said it again.

I still honestly had no idea what she was talking about. Like the Bible, she was not giving me to the antecedents I needed. Who was “he”, I wondered?

She finally said something that made me realize she was talking about the movie and then I recalled the scene was TC drops off the wall as a priest.

“Oh, you’re telling me that in the movie last night you finally understood why he said the Humpty Dumpty line, because A- says it all the time in our reading. Is that what you meant?”

“Yes.”

Keep in mind the relationship is still on edge.

I then say, “That’s what happens to everyone the more we read, Mistiye (or “Mee-stee-yay” which is the phonetic spelling of the Amharic (one Ethiopian language’s) word for “my wife”). Every new book adds to every other book. Reading makes everything better. That’s why I am always telling you to do it.”

A normal husband would stop there, probably acknowledging he had gone too far already.

“That’s what school did to the Bible for me. When I hear Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus, which has the infamous ‘For God so loved the world’ line, I can no longer NOT hear the book of Numbers. I can’t even see how it means anything unless it is involved in what Numbers says.”

****

The question for you, dear reader, is what precisely happened to my wife in the Humpty Dumpty MI:3 moment? She didn’t get wiser. She didn’t get smarter. It wasn’t an increase in her knowledge. What was it?

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Hack Life Out of the Wilderness; In a Word—Work Hard

I married a woman from Ethiopia.

For the purposes of this post, the single cultural trait in focus is polygamy. Ethiopians are only generations away from the practice of polygamy. The mooslims still do practice it.

This manifests itself in the fact that they currently live in multi-family homes. I don’t mean apartments, I mean one larger home wherein many family members are supported by a few family members. My wife might tell me, “There aren’t enough jobs, so only my brother works,” to describe this particular living arrangement.

In our family, my wife and I’s current blended family here in the good ol’ US of A, it has become clear that she does not want to work hard. The way this has appeared is that she has chosen to take a minimal wage, part-time, night shift job rather than be a stay-at-home mom with her two babies.

Don’t mis-hear me. I’m admitting, confessing, and asserting that being a stay-at-home mom with two babies is hard work—far harder than any minimal wage part-time work. I’m knocking my own wife, to support the archetypical stay-at-home wife.

She hasn’t quite said the following, but indirectly she has indicated that if we lived in Ethiopia, then our two babies would be passed around all day, every day. “Okay, I need a break, you watch them. Okay, I need a break, you watch them. Okay, I need a break, you watch them.” Then rinse and repeat until they find themselves passing around their own babies.

As the dad, as the father, as the patriarch of my family, I want my children to be the strongest adults possible. Warrior poets. Scholar athletes. I want fearless giants. To be sure, I want pilots. (Forgive me, I couldn’t resist.)

I’m here to tell you that fearless giants are not possible if raised like an Ethiopian, fearless giants are not possible if raised by polygamists.

In the passing around of the children, something else gets passed around—responsibility. And accountability. The lack of responsibility and accountability is the direct manifestation of laziness.

“He did what?! That’s not how I taught him when I had him for two minutes of every morning,” the third cousin, twice removed on the mother’s side says, feigning to be indignant.

I didn’t see it coming when I proposed this marriage, but nearly every day of my life, I see more and more why American culture is the dominant one on Planet Earth. Today, I see it in terms of monogamy as the one and only producer of giants. Polygamy went away, not because of the New Testament or because of some other philosophy. Polygamy dropped off the earth because its offspring were weak and incapable of hard work. Polygamy is not practiced by Americans because the children raised by only two people, by only one man and one woman are more capable adults. Where did Americans learn to work hard? The wilderness. Americans hacked life out of the wilderness. And that took hard work. You should thank your national ancestors.

Children need to see—from their first breaths—that hard work is good, hard work is rewarding, and hard work is rewarded. And children cannot see that if they don’t see their fathers and mothers working hard to raise them—all day, every day.

As for this fearless giant, this pilot, as for this American? I’m a man who believes in hard work. So I married a woman from Ethiopia.

Life Doesn’t Have To Be Hard, It Turns Out

I think I enjoy the competition. I enjoy challenges. I like to prove myself. I like to prove that I am better than you expected.

Yes, I think that is why I have lived life in a way that I (and others) might sometimes define as “hard”.

Wearing a boy scout uniform was hard. Witnessing to non-christians as a pre-teen was hard. Being a diver on the swim team was hard. Going to a college where I knew no one was hard. Entering bodybuilding competitions as a teenager was hard. Getting good grades was hard. Becoming an Air Force officer and pilot was hard. Arguing with every living person has always been hard.

These activities have also been fun, but that doesn’t mean they were less hard.

But I have recently spent an inordinate amount of time with people from a different culture and I have come to realize that life doesn’t have to be hard.

The trick to this type of life, so far as I can tell, is to not understand anything.

My goal—if this post has one—is to distinguish “ignorance is bliss” from what I’m talking about.

“Ignorance is bliss”, to me, has always been said by those who are not ignorant. It has always lived in the same semantic domain as “the thing I like about high school is, as I get older, the girls stay the same age”.

I’m not claiming to have rediscovered that concept.

I’m talking about hard vs. easy. Like the “work smarter, not harder” realm.

And I’m saying here I have been living a hard life and enjoying it because I thought that over time I am working smarter and smarter which means more and more work being done, but it turns out, I’m still living a hard life.

And I’m admitting that I just came to the realization that life doesn’t have to be hard.

Let me put it this way.

In the “work smarter not harder” proverb, there is implied that if you’re dumb, life is hard.

There’s another proverb I’ve heard, “being dumb doesn’t kill ya, it just makes you sweat.”

With me yet?

I think I’m saying that these aren’t true.

If you actually don’t understand life, then life is easy. Lillies of the field easy. Birds of the air easy. You know, easy.

Just be and in most cases food makes it to the table.

Just be and in most cases the Nike outlet will have a marked down pair of shoes in your size and on the very day that you went shopping there!

Just be and your kid can’t possibly turn out with low character because he is also only a receiver of life.

Maybe I’ve misunderstood the “just makes you sweat” part and it has always meant “working hard is dumb” to the wise.

Or maybe, just maybe, I have been working my tail off to provide a good life for my new family and the only actual reward is the knowledge that they prefer their old, easy life back.

And to think that for all these years I thought life had to be hard.

Found: A Tale of Unexpected Reunion

“Yeah, housekeepers don’t really keep anything like that. Most people wouldn’t drive back for a sock,” I heard the receptionist reply to me, damningly, over the phone.

“But I’m a regular. It’d be no trouble for me,” I retorted unthinkingly.

“Well, they wouldn’t know that,” she continued, unmoved. Then, to be nice, “So don’t forget your underwear next time either, cause they’ll pitch that too, haha!”

“Haha. That’s a deal,” I replied in kind, though maliciously pouting on the inside. See, I knew all about dirty necrophiliac hotel housekeepers. Throw forgotten socks and underwear away? Right. Sure. If by “throw away” she meant, “sniffed every ounce of man scent out of them while dreaming of someday being friends with George Clooney,” then I could believe they “threw them away.”

I wasn’t about to cry, but I did hold back a torrent of emotion. Frustration and disbelief being the order of the day. How could I—I, Pete Deakon!—forget one of the greatest socks ever assembled on this side of heaven in my hotel room? Phone chargers and loose change, that’s my calling card. Not one of the best socks ever.

Its warmth was unmatched. Its thickness, divine. And when my foot first entered it, I don’t mean each time, I mean I remember the first time I put it on, I swear I saw the face of Jesus.

But now it was gone.

How many times could I look in all the places it could’ve run off to? I triple checked the drawer. I checked both the washer and the dryer at least four times—nothing. I checked my t-shirts. Sometimes, as you know, a sock has been known to get *inside* the garment and I’m not just talking polyester gym wear. Even cotton shirts have been known to swallow a sock or two.

Still nothing.

Days went by.

Every time I passed my suitcase—the offending article—I’d nonchalantly open the lid and double-check what was inside. I mean, surely I wasn’t expecting to find anything, especially after so many days and so much effort.

Late last night, however, a novel angle came to mind. I remembered that my wife, at random, scoops up my clothes from the foot of the bed and unthinkingly—I won’t say with evil intent—puts them in her laundry basket.

“Eureka!” I told myself. “That’s got to be it.”

And rather than get out of bed and look right then and there, I savored the thought like only I know how, and slept peaceably until the morning.

“Fart,” I said, hands mingling with bras and who knows what other odd kinds of accoutrements the woman punishes the Maytag man with.

Was there no end to my pain?!

The hour had become late; if I didn’t get going now, I wouldn’t be able to capitalize on a quiet morning that spontaneously bestowed itself on this overworked—an apparently victim of spiritual warfare—father of three, going on four.

I opened the sock drawer to pick out my underwear and socks. There it was—the evidence that I was without. One sock—unmated.

I thought, “I will never again find a sock to replace these.” I was now talking aloud to myself, “These were the best socks Cabelas ever sold. They don’t even have them anymore. Fuck Bass Pro.”

I reached for a pair of underwear.

What is shorter than “instantly”, dear reader?

Seriously. A second is shorter than a minute. A moment is shorter than a second—some lovey-dovey movie taught me that. And I have to believe an instant is shorter than a second. But what I need to describe is an even shorter amount of time.

A spark.

I mean that in the time it takes to feel a spark, I knew something was different about the pair of underwear I was trying to pull up. It had undue thickness and, again, as quick as a spark, I knew it was heavy—too heavy. I mean, I wasn’t grabbing one of my “off-the-hangar-at-Macy’s-one-pair-only-Tommy-Hilfiger-I-think-they-count-as-MAGA-colors” pairs of 100% cotton underwear. I was touching a newer—and nearly ethereal—pair of Hanes—out of a 5 pack.

As gravity worked against me, all in this single spark of time, I squeezed all the harder and noticed that my fingers were kept separate by some material, some seemingly hidden, spongey, like the thickest of wools-

“My sock!!!”

Picture the blur that is the Guatemalan daycare kids’ hands as they open the Christmas gifts that your high school social studies class got them, picture that and amplify it by every color in the rainbow and every shade of glitter.

Then pause.

These moments don’t happen very often, and at my age, they won’t likely happen very many more times. So I thought to myself, “Let’s not rush things, baby. I know you’re in there. Let me just get my camera quick.”

Long story short, I took four pictures, in sequence, as a time capsule, and sent them to my wife. My final text taunted her to try harder next time, if she really wants to hide my sock from me.

As I’ve been writing this, I know she texted me back, but I won’t check yet—not just yet. These moments—bliss—do not last much longer than a spark, so I’m gonna hold onto this one just a little bit longer.

You’re Afraid of Women? Me Too!

Especially after my last two posts full of heroic bravado, I know my female faithful are longing to know what it’s really like to be my bride. Well, as luck would have it, I feel like pulling back the curtain a bit. The following back and forth occurred on the drive to see some houses. As expected, I lead. Enjoy!

****

“I’m just saying that I don’t think ‘how old a house is’ should automatically disqualify it.”

“All I think about is how much everything is going to break and any money that we save we will spend on fixing it.”

“Every house needs repairs. To me, and this may just be me, the key is having money for those repairs. Sure we could probably afford a slightly newer house, but we’d be signing on to not having that extra few hundred dollars every single month for the next 30 years.”

“I just want a nice house.”

“I know you do, Honey. Me, too. I just feel like you’re not seeing things the best way. So I’m going to keep trying to paint the picture I see.”

“I just would like a nice house.”

“I’m not saying we’re not getting a nice house. I’m mostly just saying we need to stick to a budget. That’s a good idea, right?”

“If we buy a house that’s one hundred years old, and then we need to sell it fast, who’s going to buy it?”

“We don’t know the future no matter what. We didn’t think we’d be moving again just three months ago. I don’t think the future should weigh so heavily in the decision.”

“You’re not understanding me.”

“That may be. But I am asking you to try harder to explain yourself then. (breath) The way I see it, even if you’re right–and we buy an old house and are stuck with it–it’s better to be stuck with a small mortgage payment, than a big one, no?”

“That kitchen was very small.”

“And I feel like I can imagine how knocking out one part of one of the walls would make it feel bigger.”

“But-”

“-And, sorry, I have a philosophy that small is better anyhow. In the future, there will be more people crowding together in that kitchen than in a big kitchen, I promise. I can’t explain it, but I have seen it. In my last house, it was small and I could fill it with people. Other houses I’ve been in weren’t like that. I can see the full, noisy kitchen now. There’ll be twenty of you in that little area chatting away and interrupting each other, saying, ‘Excuse me!’ ‘Pardon me!’ ‘Ha, where’d the … go?’ Everyone will love it.”

(Here, reader, I think it’s better to spend your time imagining the look I felt being cast upon me, than read any feeble description of it.)

“No? Well, I’m right. But I’ll try another way. How’s this? When you say you want a nice and big kitchen, what I hear is that you’d rather spend three hundred dollars per month to look at a kitchen, than on anything else. Is that what you’re saying? Would you say it like that? ‘I’d rather spend money to be in a kitchen than on shoes or clothes or A-‘s education or vacations?’ Is that what you’re telling me? If so, that’s easy. I agree. Let’s do it. But then you can’t complain in the future.”

“Did you just say that to me?”

“(Here see laughter coming out of my big, beautiful smile as I shake my head.) That’s not wrong to say. It’s helpful to say. It helps us communicate because as of this moment I still can’t figure out what the problem is. The way I see it, we have to pay a certain amount of money to live in a building. And anything above that is not smart. Why pay more than the minimum? I’m talking about flexibility. Sure, if we get an old house, it may have more problems. But as they come, we have options. We can fix them immediately. Or maybe never. Or sometime in between. But all the while, we can choose and rank how important every other thing is.”

“The bathtub was very short.”

“Let me put it this way. Would you rather have $300 a month or no money a month?”

“$300.”

“Then I win. I’m telling you that if we stick to the budget and get an older house, which perhaps will need more repairs, we will have $300 a month extra to spend on whatever we want.”

(Silence)

“What if I put it this way? What I’m saying is, if we get an old house, within budget, then every month you can go to the store and buy anything you want.”

****

Here, careful reader, the flaw in husbands and wives trying to talk to make decisions together manifests itself fully. The following questions remain:

Did my heroic, strong, brave, and incredibly intelligent self just get worn down to promising a blank check to my wife?

Was this her aim the entire time?

Did I, in fact, promise it? Follow-up: And, if so, am I bound to keep that promise?

These questions and more are now staring me in the face as I proceed down the path only found by those seeking marital bliss.

Coincidence or Calling?

In an ideal world managing a strip club is unlikely to occur along the path to Glory–the key word being “ideal”.

Here’s something I wrote late December 2014 (certainly just a coincidence–I turned 34 last July): “33 is a big year for me. Laughing, I told George the other day that only after having finished this book did I remember that I predicted back in church camp years ago that 33 was when I’d start my calling. Ha. Everyone else always acted like it was in/around college that they would begin their calling. Well, at 18 I said that I felt mine would begin at 33 because that’s how old Jesus was (give or take) when they killed him. Immature, misguided, morbid, delusional, but true [I said it] nonetheless. And you can bet I never imagined my calling would be a book centered on divorce. Suffice it to say, I can’t wait to hit 34 and laugh at my prophetic abilities. Either way, I’m certain that no matter what it is going to be a helluva lot of fun.”

That was about two months before my first day (on the job) at the club.

Five-ish months later I was sweating whether or not I’d get my application to a master’s program at a seminary in on time. (New passenger? Welcome aboard. Now read this.)

When I visited campus they had a movable-type board with my first and last name on it welcoming me. Imagine me staring in disbelief at the board. It had my name and the name of the woman who I went to church with (after skipping for a decade) and whose pastor introduced me to N.T. Wright’s New Testament and the People of God books back in 2013–the reading of which subsequently led me to return to church Dec. 2014. Naturally, the name on the board wasn’t representative of my friend, it was just that there is more than one woman with that first and last name and apparently one of the other ones was visiting campus that day. Coincidence–that one’s easy.

Hoping to move onto campus asap, and with my current lease running out in October, I discovered there was no room at the inn. At least until December, but even then it would be iffy. May for sure, they said. Setback.

Then in late September as I was trying to make arrangements with my apartment office, I stopped into the campus housing office and they actually had a family moving out mid-semester due to finding a ministry position that wanted him before the semester was up. My lease was up in October and so I moved onto campus in October. Ehhh. That one could go either way, coincidence/calling. Let’s stick with coincidence.

December 11th rolls around; it’s the last day of class. I completed four of five finals on that day alone. And I was alive. Full time work and 15 hours of masters courses passed. My folks were scheduled to visit us over Christmas and then I’d catch up on some Greek before the spring semester started.

December 14th I’m fired from the club. Despite having been promoted to manager in record time and receiving a healthy raise only a month earlier, “Poor performance” and “making employees and entertainers alike uncomfortable” the reasons given. Uncomfortable? God doesn’t exist, right? Masters in theology shouldn’t be any different than a masters in literature. Whatever.

H- and I were therefore able to visit my folks and siblings etc. and when we returned I headed to a pizza place to inquire about a job as a delivery dude. When I was applying (my first time in the store) I saw a familiar face in the back and soon discovered he’s familiar because he’s the vendor that also delivered to the club. His high praise added to the moment and I got the job. I’m sure his being there was a coincidence.

So this semester I’m paying the bills, and have plenty of time to dedicate to my studies, which may or may not be my calling.

Random Observation Regarding Divorced Men and Conspiracy Theories

Perhaps it’s because I plain and simple talk too much, but ever since my divorce I’ve noticed that divorced men are huge conspiracy theorists. Have you noticed this? Now that I’ve mentioned it, do your observations support my claim? Or no?

Last night at work a gentlemen was trying to explain to me all about the Illuminati and Freemasons and some letter written in 1871 that successfully predicted the first two world wars and also looks to predict a still-to-come third world war. What gives?

All I said to provoke all of it was that I was attending school where I am attending school. I think I was just musing about how awesome it is to work at a pizza place again at night while doing school during the day. Then boom. Can you imagine it? It was three on one. Three fellas citing this, that, and the other about the most outrageous claims about the nature of human life on planet earth, and all the while I just said, “I don’t see any hope in those beliefs, in believing what you believe. All I see is that it takes all responsibility for proper living out of your hands if you believe some secret societies are controlling everything anyhow.”

The point is, this isn’t my first encounter with these type of divorcees. There’s something about the breakup that causes men (I’ve never noticed this in divorced women) to just latch onto conspiracy theories. Maybe it’s because they return to drinking fluoride-laced tap water (you know what that does, right?) out of the sink instead of bottled water. I don’t know. I guess it’s just an observation I wanted to get onto this blog for the record.

Simplifying Freud With The Intent Of Erasing His Dastard Influence On My Life (And Yours)

If I understand him correctly, Sigmund Freud preached a radical idea that quickly and firmly rooted itself in its mortal hearers. The idea? “If you want to be happy, blame your parents.” He didn’t want us to blame our parents for the trivial things like the shelter they provided or the food and water, but rather for the really important things or questions like, “Why do I hate myself?” and “Why can’t I keep my marriage together?” and “Why do I only like sex when it’s with strangers?”–you know, the really earth-shattering questions that must be solved if we’re to advance as a species.

Maybe it’s because I’m an honorary member (no voting rights) of MENSA, but I for one didn’t need Freud’s teaching to know that all of my problems were somebody else’s fault. But some of you might not be so smart, and so I want to start a movement. I want to be a movement initiator, the same title Marcus Borg used for Jesus of Nazareth. Unlike Jesus, my movement is to rid history of Freud’s influence. Too much of my time (and yours I’m guessing) is spent trying to figure out just how large a role my parents had in causing my life’s negative circumstances. (Oh, Dad, sorry, here’s the belated *.) Because I just don’t give a fuck anymore. I dream, I fantasize about what life must have been like before Freud. To just deal with problems as they come and quit imagining that happiness is possible if I only pinpoint exactly which spanking (all of them undeserved, as I remember it) led to me marrying my ex-wife.

Give me a break.

(The one after church on Sunday, August 30th, 1992 is my conclusion, btw).

Instead of Freud, I’d ask that we turn to Martin Heidegger, and eventually Him. Heidegger, a human, suggested that even as late as in the 20th century, philosophers were not asking the right question. The right question being, “Why do we wish to escape life?” Freud offers the idea that life can be better if we affix blame correctly; Heidegger, that life cannot be better as long as we keep trying to escape it.

Life is not in the past, it is not in the future. Life is right now.

Fuck Freud.

Dating Status Update

It’s official. I’ve fallen in love. I’ve fallen in love with myself. You read that right. I’m officially announcing my new dating status: confirmed bachelor.

Now, I don’t exactly know what this means, but I feel like some very attractive men have made this claim in the past and that makes me want to be a part of that group. God’s honest truth, though, is I hope it means that I don’t ever have to break up with another woman. Breaking up is no fun, and I like fun. Fun is good; no fun is not good. It’s that simple. So I’m a bachelor for life. Neato burrito.

One lady in the medical profession, who fell in love with my blog personality back in the beginning of the year, emailed me. I emailed her back. Steamy words were exchanged. Then she felt guilty and asked if I was running a “predator site”. Wow. I was shocked and angry. But I took note. Was/am I running a predator site? Was my blog and my expression of myself some indirect way of luring unsuspecting women into giving themselves to me, albeit in digital form? Obviously the answer was no. But I have been thinking a lot about the whole scenario and realized that me expressing my problems on this blog is really not the way to go. I don’t need any help. I’m not weak. I don’t have PTSD. I don’t have women problems. I’m not looking for pity. Sometimes I’m pretty angry at how life is unfolding, but in reality I’m good.

Recently I haven’t been writing because I feel like all that I want to say falls under the I-can-help-this-man-if-he’d-only-give-me-the-chance predator-ish category. Today, however, I had this confirmed bachelor epiphany, so I’m running with it.

Yet, I still am a man and fantasize about meeting the perfect woman. I’m going to share these fantasies in an effort to help demonstrate why I am declaring my confirmed bachelorhood. The newest one came to me while at the gym. I noticed a few female members giving it their all and realized that while their bodies and energy and focus and dedication were extremely attractive, the truth was that I don’t want a woman who has to put effort in to maintain a desirable figure. Nope. I want a woman who looks great in workout attire as she waves around the rubber coated two-pound weights that literally accomplish nothing. That’s my dream woman. If it takes effort to keep her figure, then that scares me. What happens if she gets lazy? Seriously. No one wants that.

Anyhow. Just a random thought that leads me to conclude single-hood is the way to go and rightly so. Happy Monday, as they say.

How To Online Date — It’s Not Difficult, But It’s Not Obvious

(If you’re short on time, skip to the bottom for numbered instructions.)

Whether you reside under a rock or not, you’ve heard of online dating. It seems so easy, so natural, so smart. Just post a few pictures of yourself, answer a few personality questions and that’s it. Wedding bells will be ringing soon enough. The problem is that it isn’t that easy. Lucky for us, I’ve finally figured it out. No, that doesn’t mean wedding bells are in my future, it just means that after nearly two years of online dating in some form or fashion I’ve finally developed a “how to” guide.

The number one difficulty with online dating is pushing the idea out of your head that someone can be captured by a photograph or a profile. They can’t. It’d be nice if they could, but it is not possible. Just like cameras don’t steal people’s souls, pictures don’t contain them. Neither do words. Bodies do, however. Real human bodies. So that’s the starting point, that’s where we’ll begin. We’ll begin with human bodies.

No matter what site or app you’re on, the most important question you need to ask yourself is, “Do I want to have sex with this picture?” It sounds base, it sounds dirty, it sounds disreputable, but it absolutely must lead the way. If it doesn’t, then you’re being dishonest with yourself and the other person who may or may not be sitting with you some day. By starting here we also cut right through idealizing the person behind the profile. Who cares if you read the same books or love the same lord? What gal doesn’t write that she prefers jeans and a t-shirt, but dolls up really nice too? And what guy doesn’t like sports or movies or video games or hunting or reading? Is anyone not passionate about their job? Seriously, there’s not that many options in life. Again, look at the pictures and ask, “Do I want to have sex with this picture?”

Next, skip everything to do with pen pals and make time to meet the other person. Then from the moment they arrive, stick with the sex question in its new, modified form, “Do I want to have sex with this person?” Not “would I?” or “what would their personality have to be like in order for me to want to?” but a chemistry/spark type unquantifiable feeling of attraction. If you don’t, if the attraction that was there isn’t there anymore for whatever reason, then politely thank them for meeting with you, but explain that it is in everyone’s best interest to not waste any time pretending. If on the off-chance you do desire them sexually in that moment, keep the moment going for as long as you can. Minutes to hours, hours to days, days to weeks, etc. Or whatever. I have no idea how to maintain a relationship. This post is about how to online date, not how to be in a relationship.

My point here is to simplify all the bullshyat that confuses online dating into something it can never be. We’re people first. People who are attracted to other people. In everyday life the physical attraction comes before the date. In online life it seems like there are other factors to consider. But that’s a lie. Physical and sexual attraction must be there. So trust in it and run with it.

Instructions for How To Online Date

Step 1 — ASK yourself, “Do I want to have sex with this picture?”

Step 2 — If the answer to Step 1 is “Yes”, then MAKE time for a date. If the answer is “No”, then MOVE on.

Step 3 —  SCHEDULE a date.

Step 4 — At the date ASK yourself, “Do I want to have sex with this person?”

Step 5 If the answer to Step 4 is “No”, then immediately–though politely–END the date.

Step 6 — If the answer to Step 4 is “Yes”, then I guess you at least know what you want to do, so DO it.

What’s fascinating about eHarmony’s take on online dating is how NOT according to these steps it is. Take for instance this pop-up that appeared when I took “white” off the list of races I was interested in dating.

Really

Really, eHarmony? Really? After you’ve taken my money upfront and not given me any women with whom I seem remotely compatible, now you’re going to tell me that if I don’t feel like seeing anymore pics of white women’s dogs (is the dog interested in a date?), now you’re going to tell me if I don’t feel like seeing anymore ridiculous pics of white women being photographed while surrounded by non-white, third-world, presumably just converted heathen children, then I should stop and reconsider my tactic? Really? And what’s with the save button being grey’d out like it’s not even clickable? It’s like you are doing everything in your power to keep the races pure. That makes you my enemy, I think. And I thought you were supposed to be helping. Oh well. Just under two more months of fun. I can’t wait.