Science Connection Member Polylogue, part 7
First impressions We include three compelling comments lamenting the tendency to rule out people too quickly by trying to make an immediate assessment of them as potential mates.
Long-distance relationships Many members have remarked that they find a long-distance relationship too difficult to maintain or develop. We have included a sample of comments from members who are very happy with the long-distance relationship that they started and who urge other members not to rule out distant members. In the middle ground, one member points out that whether long distance relationships are a reasonable option depends on people's priorities and how important a serious relationship is in relation to other important aspects of their lives. One member recounts how much she enjoyed meeting fellow members during her travels.
Separated marital status A few members have questioned whether it is appropriate to allow separated people to join Science Connection, feeling that their marriage is not over until divorced or that recently separated members are not yet ready to develop a serious relationship. However, we consider lesser goals than developing a serious relationship a valid basis for membership. And various members have pointed out that people with separated marital status may have ended their marital relationship years earlier, yet for valid reasons, postponed divorce. One member explains why it may be justified to be wary of recently separated people.
Career vs. relationship Members sometimes comment that other members seem too wrapped up in their career to alott the necessary time to develop a relationship. Others respond that being very busy is often an unavoidable fact of life these days, but that it is still possible to work things out to allow time to get to know someone. One member questions whether there is a gender bias in attitudes toward the career of a potential spouse, in which the woman's career is viewed as expendable or less important.
Relationship among equals? A very interesting discussion started when a female
commented that "a few Science Connection members and many intellectually inclined men" are more
having "a woman who listens while he pontificates" on various subjects rather than one who
discussions. A male member responded that this is because people want their spouse to be
supportive rather than
argumentative. We include two counter-arguments to that, one clarifying and supporting the original
one that extolls and analyzes the benefits of an intellectual partnership within a supportive
First date suggestions
- Tips on a first date: I always go to my favourite coffee shop to meet (because the coffee's good and they know me there) and then tentatively plan another event following such as miniature golf, a museum, etc. This way if the meeting is not what you expected you can always say you can't follow through on the following activity because you've got too much to do, etc. I also think it's good to have a shared activity together (but not a movie since you can't talk about it during the movie) so that you will both have some common ground to initiate discussion. You can also see how they react to things. It helps with the pressure of thinking what to say.
- I would generally pick something other than the standard "dinner and a movie", just
because that doesn't show much imagination. I'd rather pick something like a lecture or a concert.
but, plan to meet beforehand to talk for a bit (an hour or so). I find museums somewhat
because you are expected to be looking at a bunch of things even if you have no interest. But ... it
could be good if there is a super-exciting special exhibit in town.
Also, I'd pick something that is cheap to moderately priced. I don't think most people consider the first meeting to be a full fledged date (though call it what you will), so spending a lot, even if you split the cost, is probably inappropriate.
- Definitely not touring a gallery (where you can't converse) or a show (where you must stay
mute). Two people not knowing each other need a space to talk. Therefore I prefer a coffee shop or a
restaurant (some men complain it's expensive - you can always pay "Dutch", although this may not
make as good an impression). However, if the two are experts in art, then touring a gallery is the
most appropriate thing to start with. For an inexpensive date, I propose a walk in a safe place (a
park?), where one can stop for an ice cream or soda.
The place we choose is revealing. I prefer a place to talk because I know communication is crucial for my private life, more than a gallery (which I can tour by myself). I won't be able to have a life partner with whom I can't communicate on the first meeting.
Finally: nobody can get to know the other under one particular circumstance, say a talk at a coffee shop. If you are interested in opera and see your partner falling asleep during an opera then it was worthwhile to go to the opera as well. Therefore, I suggest getting together under as many circumstances as you can before progressing to inviting each other home.
- Nix on the movie. If I am the one to make contact, I take it upon myself to travel to her
I like to travel so much, if a woman contacts me I frequently will offer to travel to her location because
I love to
explore along the way.
I do like a nice quiet restaurant conducive to talking. That can be too romantic, however, so a toned down locale might be best. A museum is a good idea. For instance, most large museums have a cafe (e.g. the ice cream parlor in the Smithsonian Museum of American History) where one can meet for food and a chat, then go on to the exhibits, which works well.
- First date faux pas A general thing I've noticed in virtually l00% all my dates, regardless of who I'm with: I wish guys wouldn't talk about their "ex" on the first date. No matter what someone says about an ex, positive or negative, and regardless of who ended their last relationship and how long it lasted, it tends to raise many more uncomfortable questions than it answers about one's date, and of course I can't know a guy well enough so early on to know whether he or his "ex" was the one responsible for the relationship's troubles or ending. After all, whether someone is still very cosy with their ex (which raises questions about whether they might be still carrying a torch for them), or their ex hates them (which raises questions about whether their ex might be right to feel that way!), or their ex "done them wrong" (which makes them sound blaming), and whether they were the dumper or the dumpee, this is a no-win situation to discuss before one has had a chance to form an opinion of one's date's character. I suppose the only "safe" thing one can say about an ex early on, if one must say anything at all, is that one is at peace with what happened and not harboring any resentments (assuming that's true), and has learned a lot from one's past relationships. If I were President, I'd declare a moratorium on discussing exes on a first date! Once someone starts talking about their ex, it gets hard for me resist the temptation to join in, and it's never a good idea.
The perils of first impressions
- [This comment was received from a member who is not renewing as she has started a serious relationship with another member:] I thought I should tell you that the first time I saw this person I was not attracted to him at all and wondered if I had made a big mistake by meeting him. However, I decided to give him a chance. If I had made my decision strictly on the basis of whether or not there was some kind of instant "chemistry" between us, I would have made a major mistake. One of the reasons that some of the SC members have such trouble finding companions is that they spend all their time screening people out instead of thinking of ways to screen people in. Having a realistic attitude about how people really look and how people normally really are will go a long way to open up a lot of possibilities for people. It's obvious to me why some of them are still single -- what they're looking for doesn't exist. I could have sat back and waited for all my little criteria to be fulfilled in another person, but I'm glad I didn't.
- As a member of SC for two years, I was contacted by probably 50 or so male members. I exchanged letters & email with a dozen, met several and dated one for 3 months. However, I'm now very happily attached to a man I met through a mutual friend. On reflection, I recognize that all SC contacts were "high stakes" situations, immediately evaluated to see - "Is he a potential life-long partner?" With high expectations and close scrutiny, many guys were rejected for overall minor things. SC guys had one chance and only one chance. By contrast, I met (X) at a skating party. Low pressure, no expectations. I was more relaxed & less judgemental. Initially, I didn't think we were highly compatible, but I gave him - us - a chance to get to know each other. I wish I'd done that with several of the guys who contacted me through SC. I encourage SC to give other SC members a real chance to get to know each other & avoid making snap rejections. If I'd been operating in "quick evaluation" mode when I met (X), I would have called it quits as soon as I learned he played hockey 3x a week. But I gave him a chance & things are working out really well. Good luck to all SC members.
- Personally, I believe in giving relationships a chance to develop and not make a grand decision on the destiny of the relationship by the end of a single phone call or date. The lack of a "spark" at the beginning of a relationship does not preclude a fire from developing at a later date.
- I have met a wonderful guy through Science Connection (although over 1000 miles away). We started e-mailing last March, progressed to phoning over the summer, and finally met in November. (Over the spring and summer we had both pursued other options, but our e-mail friendship remained a constant till we were ready to meet.) Slow start, but rapid progression. This has taught me to never rule out a long-distance relationship de facto, even if you can't imagine doing it -- when you meet the right guy, it just seems to work out and defy all odds.
- I would never have met my current partner if I had not browsed the full list of men in my age range -- he's on the opposite coast from me, and I was emphatically not looking for long-distance contacts. But I was entertained and intrigued by his profile, and so I made an exception, and now I'm very glad I did. The power of a database is the ability to select, but it's limited by your ability to define what you're looking for, which in this case is not great. You should try to help people avoid the temptation to over-select.
- When I first joined Science connection, I had no intention of "dating" someone outside of my geographic region. I remember having a conversation with one of you from the office there as to how many members you had in Southern California. As it turned out, there are few in this metro area, and I was "forced" to consider members from anywhere in the country. I am now very glad that I read over all the profiles in the listing, and considered everyone regardless of location. I've conversed with a number of very nice people as a result. "Meeting" people from all over was fun and socially educational (for me at least). So I'm actually glad I didn't have your upcoming tool which might have eliminated many of those interesting people from my experience! I don't mean to imply that having some search criteria is a completely bad thing - I would just caution others to perhaps be a bit more open minded than they might have been inclined to be! (The wonderful sci-con woman I'm dating has said that she might not have contacted me had I hailed from NJ instead of CA!)
- The bottom line on long distance relationships depends on people's priorities. If a relationship with a soulmate/companion/lover is very high on people's list of priorities, they'll manage to get together one way or another because it is important to them. If they are seeking a lifetime companion with whom to enjoy the second half of their lives, nothing will stand in the way of their getting together -- no matter how far apart they are to begin with. If having a soulmate to enjoy during the best part of their lives is not a priority, and other things are more important (to either of the pair), then a long distance relationship will be a very difficult matter since one or both of the couple have other matters that they value more.
- I will not be renewing my membership right now as I have had the unexpected
development of a reconciliation with my
ex-husband of 3 years ago. I'm sure members know how uncommon that is and I suspect the success
rate is also very low. But wish me
I wanted to thank the people in Science Connection for being so great. I made 2 long trips - a cross-country trip trip to Victoria and a drive to Florida - and arranged to meet some Science Connection men along the way (couldn't contact women as I didn't have data then). It was all in all a very pleasant experience and I would recommend it to others. My special thanks to Karl, Craig, John and Gordon for their hospitality. I also belong to a singles travel network (Connecting) and made contacts through it (ending up in Hawaii from Victoria!)
Thanks again and keep up the good work! - Dawn
- Too high expectations when travelling long-distance to meet Most of the members I have contact with do not live in my area. Usually the man I am corresponding with offers to come see me. One problem that seems to come up is a feeling I get from some of my guests that "I owe them something for coming so far" or "you took advantage of me". These have not been verbalized complaints but I can sense their feelings from what they say afterwards. I am an excellent host whether I am attracted to them or not. How can I handle this without being rude or unfeeling? Should I say something beforehand? I don't insist that they come visit, nor do I ask that they spend a great deal of money while visiting. It would be nice to convey to them that even if we don't "hit it off" that we can still have a good time. I don't like to hurt anyone's feelings but I need to be clear about expectations. I would appreciate any response or advice.
- Co-migration A
member made a
reference to the benefits of a "snowbird" relationship, especially for retirees. When asked to expand,
he replied as
Snowbirds are folks (singles, couples, families, gangs of bank robbers) who spend the winter together down south and the warm months together in the North. As far as SciConnect clients are concerned, we would be talking about possibilities lots of them may not have considered. Say Mary Belle Sutthen has a nice condo on Mobile Bay, and Nanook von Norden has similar digs in bucolic Door County overlooking Green Bay (the bay on western Lake Michigan, not the city full of obnoxious cheesehead football fans). Ordinarily they might find each other GU in the extreme, but this attitude is shortsighted and unimaginative. They should consider that they are both retired and already have the requisite real estate and the requisite schedule (a.k.a. whatever, whenever). They should be delighted to discover that they can be in each other's clutches in Mary Belle's Mobile boudoir when Green Bay is doing the minus 60 wind chill bit and the Grumpy Old Idiots are shattering the calm between blizzards with obnoxious snowmobiles. Then, when Mobile is about to become a steam bath crawling with bugs and blasted by hurricanes, Mary Belle and Nanook head off to the cool north woods at N's pad, to nibble fresh-picked cherries, raspberries, blueberries, and whatever else needs nibbling, while spending much time discussing intellectual concepts at extremely close range. Neither of them must buy any new real estate, but they have just become a wealthy couple with a winter home and a summer home. Variation: Both live in the South/North, sell one place and buy another in the North/South OR use the proceeds of the sale to rent a different such place each year. But always together. If they can stand it.
Separated marital status
- It is troubling to see the members who list themselves as separated. After all, the other term for separated is still married. Shouldn't these individuals see their previous relationships, bad or not, to their conclusions before attempting to begin another? One needs healing time once a divorce is finalized (ideally, a full year), even after a long separation. No one wants to be a "bandage" for someone else by being their "transitional" relationship. I have been divorced 12 years; I speak from experience.
- Separated does not necessarily mean that the relationship has not reached an emotional "conclusion". While I would not dispute your experience, you should not generalize to others who may have quite different situations. In my case, I have offered to extend the separation until my spouse can secure a job or health insurance. Emotionally, I was divorced long ago. However, as a human being, I felt it fair to ensure that the legalization of the end of our relationship should not unduly harm my spouse. By the same token, I should not be penalized from beginning my own life because of my compassion.
- I want to respond to the person who wrote that people who are separated but not yet divorced should not be dating through SC. Everyone's situation is different. Not everyone is scarred by a separation. Many of us feel relief, freedom and new hope for life's possibilities. For many of us, separation is the culmination of years of counselling and years of an already non-existent relationship. So there's no need to be scared off by that "X", "separated" designation. It's often equivalent to a "D".
- Some time during the past year I was informed by someone I contacted that being separated was a problem for her and that is why she did not initiate the connection with me. How many other women did not contact me or respond to me because of my situation? I have been separated for six years. I am retired/disabled due to a genetic spinal condition since 1995. In that time I have gone back to school and obtained my Bachelor's degree in science majoring in biology. I have just applied for graduate school in cell and molecular biology. I did not divorce because I needed her medical benefits. Soon I will have my own benefits package and the big "D"ivorce. It's too bad someone couldn't take the time to see what I was really about. (By the way, I exercise six days a week and enjoy East Coast and West Coast swing dancing.)
- I have noticed a lot of commentary regarding whether to contact those with "X marked the
who are not yet divorced. The males, especially, feel they are stigmatized by having this designation.
Having had a
younger sibling who experienced an unnecessarily lengthy divorce in a state without "no fault" laws I
as a bit more "open minded" on the issue and tend to take "separated" on a case by case basis. That
these are a sampling of why many of us feel uneasy about contacting separated Science Connection
If we are the first contact after a marriage split up, we are concerned that we will be the test case or rebound relationship.
Many individuals who are separated are still preoccupied with the details of their divorce: child custody, alimony, etc. We often become the sounding boards for these issues.
If the separated person is not well grounded, we are often the recipients of emotional fallout, bitterness, etc. resulting from the divorce process.
Sometimes the separated "connection" contacts us with negative presuppositions, e.g. " I suppose you will not wish to correspond with me because I am separated..."
If you, as "X-files" are looking to make contacts in the Science Connection, please be aware that your behavior and attitudes, and not necessarily your marital status, can be problematic.
Book recommendation seconded
- [Last month a member recommended] the Barbara DeAngelis Book, Are you the one for me?. I read the book four months ago. I had hesitated in buying it because of her photo looking all tarted up on the cover, and because it seemed to contain a lot of possibly rigid categories and lists. But I found it was a big help in seeing for myself what was incurably wrong in a relationship, and ending it without too much upset. I think quite a few of us are apt to fool ourselves about the potential of a relationship, and we might have soft hearts (or soft heads?), so we get into or persist in a doomed relationship. I think her aids to thinking through a situation help in distinguishing between normal adjustment problems and insuperable problems, relationships which plead for an early and merciful coup de grace.
Priorities: career vs. relationship
- As a member of SC for two years, I have decided not to renew for a third year.
My overall experience of SC was mostly positive, but I also noticed disappointing patterns
emerging in the many
interesting women I met. On a positive note, most were friendly, well-educated, articulate and
themselves well in their biographical profiles. That is, those who replied and made contact with me.
downside, I found that most of the women I met were already so busy with their careers,
responsibilities and other
engagements, that there was practically no time left to spend with a partner to develop a relationship
of depth and
From my perspective, having a warm, loving, and caring relationship where both people spend the time and effort sharing and supporting each other supersedes my other wordly concerns. Perhaps I am an anachronism?
The modern age we live in is so demanding and draining in its efforts to hurl us forward in technology and wealth and success that it is small wonder that we succeed in most everything we set out to do save being happy. For now I will strike out anew, seeking uncharted veins of different ore, being a miner not of "success" or "PhD's", but of those rare individuals who want to share and care with others.
- I want to mention something about men who think that women are too busy to have a relationship. I have two recent experiences when men sadly regretted my being too busy and decided to quit before really trying to get into a relationship. But they never were interested enough to inquire about my real life, my job and responsibilities, my feelings about it, and to propose something which would allow me to give them more time. I wish I did not have to work and to face the many challenges, obligations and life demands that modern life inflicts upon a single woman. If some gentleman comes up with a better solution, I will gladly resign from my present situation and ride with him into the sunset. Until he comes along, I will be like Cinderella for lack of other choices.
- With respect to the members who have expressed disappointment when parting from a woman whose career has, they say, negatively affected their relationship, I would advise that perhaps it is time they examined their underlying assumptions with a bit more scientific rigor! If one values a person, it is crucial to honor what is important to that person as much as he/she does - or as much as you are able. Otherwise it isn't the other person's priorities that aren't straight; it's yours. The reverse also is true. Both must yield and find a true balance. If you cannot treat the other person as you wish the other person to treat you, it's better to part. The underlying assumption I see in this particular instance is: She should give up her current career. What about this as an alternate approach: Maybe we should both look at what we are doing and where we are going; maybe I should give up my career, or at least take a leave of absence to be with her. Maybe together we can find something new to do together. But walk away?? Grow up. It isn't "feminism," it's life.
- Over the last several months, I've read comments from people about failed relationships
due to the busy
careers, obligations, etc, of one of the partners who was unable to compromise. I don't understand
why people sign
up on a service like SciConn if they're unable to put the necessary time and effort into a serious
relationship, as it
isn't fair to the person who is willing and able to do so. Now, I have nothing against someone wanting
career as we only live once, and I'm not one to get in the way of that special someone living their life
to its fullest; but all too often, I've noticed that people can become obsessed and controlled by their
other obligations) and ultimately turn into workaholics. So, "that's life"?... not much of a way to live a
How will that career compare to a caring and loving relationship? It's all about balance. Personally, I
full-time job as a scientist (which I love), a part-time job, am active in three clubs, and help people
around me with
various projects, and I can still put aside at least one day/evening a week for that special person; so it
is possible to
be weighed down by the demands and obligations of life and still be able to have a relationship. I
someone through SciConn that I found to be a very kind and competent person, but turned out to be a
who was unable to compromise... a shame since I felt this person had a lot to offer in a possible
always believe that a strong love and a commitment to compromise will overcome any obstacle that a
Now, if you've noticed, there's no mention of gender in this letter as I believe these are problems on both sides. I would hope that people, especially in a forum like this where we're supposed to be bright and professional, could think about both sides of an issue before pointing fingers!
- Relationships, careers and gender I have just rejoined SC and would like to throw out a comment/idea to the members in the newsletter. There has been much discussion about people (mostly men) looking for younger partners and looks. My question is whether members perceive a gender bias in attitudes toward career drive of a potential partner. I am very busy managing a career, single motherhood, and a house. I think that many men that I have met were either intimidated by my career success or having to schedule a relationship. In traditional values the ambitious man has the supportive wife. Even though there are claims that this is changing, when I look at the married people at work this is mostly the case. I am a strong proponent of being supportive of one's partner. However the jobs or careers of those wives that work outside the house are generally second to the career of the male spouse. One can always point to exceptions. In fact, I can count on one hand the couples that I know in which home life and career ambitions are shared pretty evenly. I have heard many men claim that they would like an intelligent woman. But my encounters have been with men who like an intelligent attractive woman to decorate their arm and to be available when he has free time. How does the SC membership feel about this?
Relationship among equals?
- I would like to bring up an issue I have dealt with, regarding a few Science Connection members and many intellectually inclined men. As a female interested in many intellectual and "serious" pursuits, I love to meet men similarly inclined. However, I have often found, to my disappointment, that when a man says he's seeking a woman who has XYZ interests, what he really means is that he's seeking a woman who will listen while he pontificates on XYZ. Once I contribute my thoughts on the matter, he often gets defensive and threatened. I would also like to add that I am a very non-combative person, petite with a soft high voice and not at all intimidating!
- Response (male, 37) This is because in one's intimate relationships, one
looking for support, not for an intellectual sparring partner. One can easily find some brainiac to
argue with at work
or lab. Remember, scientists tend to identify very personally with their theories and scientific
challenges to these by other professionals are difficult enough to deal with. Challenges to them by
whom one looks for emotional support can really hurt, even when they are not meant to be hurtful.
What you are
seeing as a simple exchange of information or stimulating discussion, your dates are seeing as a
disappointing) sign that you are not supportive of them. Neither of you is "wrong" here, but you each
conflicting expectations and interpretations of the conversation. My grandfather told me that people
how much you know until they know how much you care. It's generally best to build a personal
someone -- that is, find out what things you do agree upon and can support each other on, and then
supportive of each other -- before you disagree with his or her closely held ideas. You might also
consider that if
you do disagree with someone over this kind of stuff, and the topic is really important to either or
both of you, you
probably have a deal-breaker anyway. A medical researcher and an anti-vivisectionist, for example,
might not ever
have enough congruence of values to support each other and be happy with each other.
Further response: Intellectual partnership/honesty vs. supportive role
- I believe that the male member who responded to the female writer of "Relationship among equals?" may well have missed the most important point of the commentary. To me, the issue is not so much whether two people who have differing points of view can support each other in spite of their differences, but rather that one pontificates while another listens. I can't begin to count the number of dates I have spent listening to a man pontificate on numerous subjects while he clearly displays a total lack of curiosity or interest in any of my opinions or life experiences. In fact, most men seem to have little to no interest in genuinely getting to know a woman: who she is, what her life experience has been, what she values, what she thinks about. Most men, regardless of how intellectually agile and enlightened they are, and in spite of eloquent words to the contrary, want simply the companionship of an attractive female who listens well. The give and take of genuinely mutual and explorative friendship is often an entirely foreign concept to them. Meanwhile, while I search for the man who truly wants to know me, I will continue to expect genuine friendship from my women friends.
- My biggest question to the man who wrote this is: why would you, or people who think like
Science Connection in the first place? The whole idea of Science Connection is to bring together
intellectual interests; what is the point of that, if you would see any discussion of your mutual
interests and any
expression of a new idea as "being unsupportive", or if you approach people with the attitude of "I
don't care how
much you know"?
Yes, it is very easy to find "some brainiac to argue with", if that means someone with whom to engage in name-calling and mocking of each other's views. But those who are interested in actually learning and exploring new ideas, listening to different views with mutual respect in a non-combative atmosphere, and understanding the differences and the reasons for them, find it very difficult to find others who can engage in this type of discussion. For those who actually care about thinking and learning, the willingness to engage in this type of discussion is the most important kind of support, much more important than agreement with their specific ideas.
If two people are genuinely interested in an intellectual subject, it is highly unlikely that they will independently come to all of the same conclusions; they will almost certainly disagree on some things when they first meet. If they regard such disagreements as a source of mutual stimulation and an opportunity for learning, then maybe as they explore their differences, they will eventually come to agree. Or perhaps they will never come to agree, but will end up with a much richer understanding of the reasons why they hold their ideas and a better appreciation of different views.
There are two main goals people have in their intellectual interests: there are those who want to be on the side of the truth, and there are those who want the truth to be on their side. This process of mutual learning will only work if both people are of the former type. People of the latter type are the ones who "identify very personally with their theories" and are hurt and threatened by any disagreement; and they will find the "support" they need only from a partner with no intellectual interests and no original thoughts. But with so many other places to find such partners, why look in Science Connection?
I certainly understand the disappointment of the woman who wrote about men who just want to pontificate and who feel threatened when she expresses her ideas. I have had exactly the same experience with many women I met through Science Connection, so obviously the problem exists in both sexes. The only thing to do is to keep looking, and hope to eventually find someone to whom "intellectual interests" mean an actual interest in thinking and learning.
Science Connection Copyright ©