Hi there Doc!
Firstly, I know this isn’t as serious or deep as most of your columns, but I need help!
I’m now married to the love of my life, which is AWESOME, but our relationship started out pretty rocky. Which is the crux of the problem.
Before I met “Greg” (husband) I was super overweight and in an abusive relationship, which I feel was based on my weight and that partner’s fetish. I had weight loss surgery around 20 years old, for my health and happiness, then the guy I was with (for three years) and I broke up for a lot of reasons. Some of them were because he fetishized my weight, but honestly just tired of the emotional and sometimes physical abuse. Losing the weight made me feel like I was in top of the world and I kind of spiraled. I worked at a club at the time so opportunity was ripe and I took it. I slept around and went to a bit crazy, often mixing social groups which caused a bit of tension between the people I was with and embarrassment on my part. Eventually I met my now-husband at an unexpected place and I was out of the game completely…
Or so he thought.
For the first two years I still craved attention. And it wasn’t even that Greg didn’t give me that attention, he totally did. He made me feel like a queen and still does. I feel like at that point I thought I missed out on so much that i wanted it ALL. I never crossed the physical line while I was with Greg but I did cross some lines.
I flirted, I gave my number out to ghost the guy on purpose, I sent boob photos just to feel that “power.” I would sneak messages with a guy, “Chris,” who I knew from a previous job, back when I worked with my abusive ex-boyfriend. Chris sided with me after the abuse came out when no one else did.
The thing is, Chris and I would have been perfect for each other of circumstances were different. We started messing around when we still worked together, and he saw what was going on with my abusive ex and really helped me get out. He told me all the things I need to hear but I do believe he meant it. The thing holding me back was that he fucked any girl he could. When I told him we had to stop, it seemed like it did… but that was the same time I met Greg.
The sexting, however, didn’t. They were explicit and I wanted his attention. I wanted to be with him at the time because it was so perfect and with my new-found confidence I could have anything, right? Well, Greg found the texts and flipped out. I wanted this to work out with Greg, so I made the choice to block Chris (and his close friends) on social media and changed my phone number. We worked past the sexting and eventually got married.
I’ve recently discovered through Facebook that Chris is dating “Liz.” Liz is a close friend of Greg’s best friend, so I’m worried that Chris will show up at events and get-togethers with her.
I feel like I’ll be able to act normally. I’m genuinely happy Chris has found a woman he’s (maybe) compatible with, and I am past that whole time in my life. I’m nervous because Chris might not feel the same way and it seems to be just casual with Liz. I know he tried to find me many times times after I blocked him/his friends and changed my number, but that was four years ago. I know that if Greg ever saw Chris in person he’d end up in jail or we’d be getting a divorce on stress alone.
How do I deal if everyone is in the same place at the same time?
-Potential Blast From The Past
Alright there’re a couple of things to deal with here.
First, let’s talk about your ex.
The first rule of dealing with an ex, PBFTP is simple: don’t make assumptions without evidence. Right now, you’re working under the assumption that Chris is a) still sleeping around and b) he still has pantsfeels for you based on… well, the fact that he tried to get back in contact with you for a bit, post Nuclear Option. But that was four plus years ago, and you’ve had no contact with him since. So the information you’re working with is likely out of date.
Because it’s been so long with no contact, your mental image of him is basically a frozen moment in time, a photograph of who he was back then. But consider who you were back then, vs. who you are now. You’ve changed and grown over the years; you’re in a much different place than you were back when you knew him. There’s no reason to believe that he’s not just as capable of change as you are, especially over the span of years.
I mean sure, it’s possible the dude is still carrying a torch (in his pants) for you and is dying for more sexts and dirty Snapchats from you… but it’s also just as possible that he’s gotten over you.
It’s also just as possible that he’s not the same swinging single man about town that he was four years ago. He may discovered the joys of serial monogamy. He may have toned things down and prefers to have a couple dedicated friends with benefits. Or he may be just as into the chase and the thrill of the new as he was four years ago. The thing is that you don’t know. Getting worried about the possibility that he’s still into you and may do things that would potentially make things awkward is just borrowing trouble from the future, trouble that may well never happen. The more you get angsty over the possibility – not the inevitability but the possibility – of running into him at a social event and his making a scene, the less emotional bandwidth you’ll have for actually enjoying life right now. Plus, that’s going to create tension between you and Greg that just doesn’t need to happen.
And honestly, you’ve already got a pretty good indicator of the odds of everyone being in the same place. Liz is evidently a couple of spots removed from Greg’s social circle; she’s literally “the friend of a friend”. So unless you’ve been seeing her regularly at get-togethers before now, I think you can safely assume that the chances of an awkward encounter aren’t so high that you need to start making contingency plans.
But let’s say you do run into Chris at some shindig. Then it’s simple: be polite. You don’t need to be super enthusiastic about seeing him, nor do you need to Solid Snake your way out of the party in hopes that you can make it to the door without him or the host seeing you leave. You can just put on a polite smile, say “wow, it’s been a while” and power through the initial awkward as you two see exactly where things stand. If Chris has either chilled out or given up on his hopes of getting back into either your pants or your DMs, then hey there’s nothing to worry about. If he hasn’t, then you can be polite-but-distant and make the all-purpose exit of “hey, I have to go talk to someone over there.”
What I wouldn’t do is go someplace out of the way or make plans to meet up… or even necessarily unblock him on social media. This doesn’t sound like a friendship you’re hoping to rekindle, and until you’re more sure about exactly where everybody stands vis á vis the whole “yeah I was sexting you when I shouldn’t have been” issue, it’s better to play it safe and keep everything strictly aboveboard.
But then there’s Greg. I’m not sure if you’re being hyperbolic about Greg or if he’s still holding onto that level of anger… but for fuck’s sake, it was four years ago. I don’t deny the dude his right to be hurt. He’s certainly got a right to be skeptical, to not trust him or to just plain not like the guy. But if you’re not exaggerating for effect and Greg is still nursing the kind of grudge that would lead to either violence or a blow-up with you that would end your marriage? Then Greg needs to be talking to somebody about how to learn to let go and let things heal.
If nothing else, he needs to trust you to not make a new mistake with a past mistake.
TL;DR: don’t assume that Chris is still going to try to bang you, or that you’re even going to run into him. If you do see him be polite, if he does hit on you, then be politely, firmly distant and don’t respond.
I’m looking into getting into online dating soon.
I’ve purchased your book on it and have started reading it, but I have a few questions on choosing photos for my dating profile.
For the main photo that people will see when first looking at my profile, you said no mirror selfies, but it is okay to still just use a phone? Or should I ask a friend who has a real camera take some photos?
Second, for the other photos that I should be updating/rotating through semi-regularly of me doing hobbies and being active, how many should I have? And how often should I update them? I’m not one to normally take photos, so the library of potential photos I have is limited.
In addition a lot of my hobbies don’t lend themselves to many photogenic moments. My hobbies and activities include martial arts, doing improv, playing D&D, and dancing. I don’t take photos at martial arts because I’m there to work out. And I don’t take photos during D&D because I don’t play it to post about it on Facebook or social media, and it’s not something I’d likely ever post photos of. Photos occasionally get taken of me when I’m doing improv, so I could use some from there (but they usually aren’t from good angles or have the best lighting for pictures). And when I’m dancing it’s usually too dark in the room for any photos to turn out.
Do you have any tips for how to go about getting more photos for an online dating profile? Do I just need to start getting used to taking more photos? Should I ask my friends to help me take some when I’m doing these activities? I just have a hard time taking photos because I’m generally focused on doing the activity rather than trying to capture it for memories or for social media.
-Pics or it Didn’t Happen
Funny thing about photos, PoiDH: a whole host of factors dictate how we look in pictures. Photos are a rendering of a 3D object in 2D space through a convex lens; this means that distortion is going to occur. If you’ve ever accidentally opened the selfie-camera on your phone instead of the rear camera, you know exactly what I mean; everything looks kinda horrible and warped. That’s because of, among other things, the distance between you and the camera, the size of the lens and the distance between the lens and the photoreceptor on the chip. So, yeah, the type of camera you use is going to make a difference. A DSLR or Micro 4/3rds camera with changeable lenses are going to give you slightly – but not unnoticable – differences than a point-and-shoot or a smartphone. It’s easier to control for focal length, light and depth of field when you can switch out the lenses.
But in this day and age, most of us are using our phones for 90% of our photo-taking. And honestly? The cameras on most current smartphones are pretty damn good. So if all you’ve got to work with is your iPhone, that’s not a bad place to start.
Now the number of photos you should have is a matter that’s up for debate. You’ll want more than one and ideally at least 3 or 4 to give a general idea of who you are and what your story is, and your top limit is going to be dictated by the dating app; some restrict you to a maximum of 6 to 8, while others will let you connect your Instagram account… potentially offering hundreds of photos for anyone who’s curious enough to click through.
How often you’ll want to update them is going to be a little more variable. If you’re doing some A/B testing to see what works best for your profile, then you may want to give it two to three weeks, to see which get you the best responses. If you’re pretty happy with your profile and the results you’re getting, then I’d suggest maybe every couple of months or when you’ve undergone a major change to your appearance. The benefit of rotating in new photos and rotating out old ones is that it triggers the algorithm on most dating apps; the apps prioritize active accounts and keeping the photos fresh means that people are more likely to see your profile.
You definitely want to keep your photos current – within six months or so; there’s nothing more annoying than going through and discovering that somebody’s photos are no longer representative because they were originally taken in 2016 or what-have-you.
As for getting more photos? The easiest thing is simply to start being The Photo Guy and getting pictures with your friends. While ideally you want pics that show you to your best advantage, don’t underestimate the value of having photos that show you and your friends having fun. Even some Tales from the Table photos of you and your buds playing D&D can work… and if you don’t think that this is something people’d find appealing, I would point to the sheer number of women who LOVE D&D thanks to Critical Role, The Adventure Zone and other popular campaigns on Twitch, YouTube and podcasts.
(Also: if you’re good at dancing or martial arts, for fuck’s sake get some pictures… or better yet, video. Tinder and other apps let you upload animated gifs, and a gif of you burning up the dance floor will be like catnip to many, many women.)
Another option is to pay for it. There’re photographers out there now who specialize in photos for dating profiles – not just posed portraits but “candids” too; see what’s available in your area and if they have a portfolio you like, then it may well be worth the investment.
But here’s the thing about getting more photos: it’ll be good for you in general. Not for your dating profile or getting more likes on Facebook or Instagram but because they’re mementos and memories, moments of your life frozen in time. Even if they aren’t good for getting you dates, they’ll be a wonderful reminder of this time in your life.
Trust me: there’s nothing like being able to go back and look over the good times from your past.