The Continuing Adventures of Karma’s OnLine Dating: Entry 44: Poly
Jul 26th, 2016 by Dr Karma

Last summer, before I headed to Iceland, I went on a lot of dates with a poly guy. Let’s call him P.

I have many poly friends, and I’ve been curious about it before–most notably, though, when certain important needs aren’t being met with a partner.

When I first went on OKC again, in early 2015, I decided to be open to the possiblity. I had three dates with one guy (not P) pretty early–but his wife didn’t like me–and something kept nagging at me about him. I realized, on that third date, what it was–I had never heard him actually laugh. Instead, he made another sound–that derisive snort about people he didn’t like.

So that wasn’t going to work, but I was still open to poly.

And, thus, I agreed to a date with P last summer. He was charismatic. He explained his situation: after his wife’s successful cancer treatment, her sex drive died. She refused to go to the doctor, and told him to get used to it. He proposed a compromise: that he could have a girlfriend or two. They spent a couple of years building trust that he wouldn’t leave her for one of them.

It was perfectly understandable. It also sounded functional.

It only took another couple of dates, however, for problems to arise. Our conversations were always about these relationships–and I didn’t like what was happening with the other girlfriend–she was younger, only dating him, wanting, desperately, to marry him and have children with him. He knew this. At one point, while he and I were dating (I think this was the catalyst–him trying to have a relationship with me proved he wasn’t going to leave his wife and become monogamous), she decided she wanted something more traditional. So she started an online profile. However, she posed as single while she was still in a relationship with P. And she could thus decide that each guy who messaged her was nothing compared to P. I told P she just wanted him to get jealous–to whisk her away to normality–that he was standing in her way. He agreed, but wouldn’t do what she couldn’t: end it.

The larger problem, though, was the almost immediate pressure to redefine myself.

After about a week, he thought I should change my status from single to “open relationship,” to announce to every other man I was talking to that I had a boyfriend.

I told him to slow down–that even if it were just the two of us, I wouldn’t want to stop everything and commit after a week.

And then I had to keep begging him to slow down, because that pressure never let up.

In additional to pushing me away, it made me think–fast–about what I wanted, and ultimately to decide that poly–at least his kind–isn’t for me, for several reasons.

  1. Time. In my last LTR, I spent three nights a week with my partner. It worked well, giving me a couple of nights a week with friends and a couple of nights a week on my own. If I were to spend two or three nights a week with one partner, when would I find the time for another partner?
  2. All this guy could talk about–after the first date–was his wife, his girlfriend, and the future he wanted with me. It didn’t seem like he had friends or hobbies other than us–and that scared me off.
  3. Relationship talking in general isn’t something I like to do. On our first day in Iceland, Melissa and I sat in a natural hot-tub and discussed whether I was going to stay in a relationship with P. I was explaining how difficult I found it, as he wanted to talk about relationships all the damn time. Melissa leaned in close and said, “Karma, I’ve known you for 15 years, and you don’t even like to talk about relationships with me. You don’t want this.”
  4. I need to be a primary. Most poly relationships seem to be set up in a hierarchy–you have a primary partner and then one or more secondaries (or a primary partner and one-offs). If I entered into a relationship as a secondary–but it was my main relationship–it wouldn’t be what I wanted or needed. Secondaries are–by definition–interchangeable. Most people will fight to maintain a relationship, but, if life goes wrong, the secondary relationship will be sacrificed for the primary one. I want a my person–and, while that’s possible in poly–it’s excessively difficult to find a primary relationship if you’re starting as someone else’s secondary.

The nail in the coffin, though, was a conversation P and I had before I left for Iceland.

Me: What if I meet a guy named Sven, and I want to fuck him?

P: You wouldn’t, would you?

Me: I’m not going to go looking for someone, but say I did.

P: But you can’t!

Me: Why not?

P: Because that’s not how this works–you can have boyfriends, but you can’t just fuck around!

Me: Why not?

[We argue about safety–he wants a “closed system,” which I argue is never really closed, because it counts too much on other people. He had once dated a woman who had 8 boyfriends–did he really think no one in the extended circle had one-offs?]

Me: So I’m supposed to tell a guy that I want to fuck that I’m not allowed to, because I’ve been dating another guy for two weeks? Even though I haven’t made a commitment to him? And even though that guy is probably fucking someone else in that moment?

Him: It has to be closed–that’s the kind of poly I am.

Me: Well, I’m not poly yet. And how do we know what kind of poly I would be?




I don’t get shoes
Jul 24th, 2016 by Dr Karma

I am not a shoe person. I blame this on two things.

  1. I’ve only ever found one pair of comfortable shoes–my FinnThink sandals–I’m currently on my third pair.
  2. My white-trash heritage surely plays a role in my anti-shoe fetish. I grew up on dirt roads out the woods, and I didn’t always keep my shoes on outside. The second I stepped inside, the shoes came off–a habit I continue today.

Because I don’t particularly like them, I hate shopping for them (especially since I know that something that feels okay in the store often will kill my feet the first time I try to wear them to classes).

As I hate shopping for them, I don’t give myself the chance to find comfortable shoes that I won’t hate, and thus the cycle continues.

But there’s also the problem of my shoes simply falling apart.

A few years ago, in London, the heel came off the only pair of shoes I’d packed with me. The cobbler I took them to–while wearing flip flops a size too small that Carmen had lent me–he told me that my cheap Target boots weren’t worth fixing. “But they’re my only pair here!” He glued the heel, and wouldn’t even charge me, preferring to shake his head at me instead.

Last summer, in Iceland, another pair of boots lost a heel while on a tour–we were on an amazing beach, with basalt columns that looked like organ pipes. The sound of the waves coming to the shore was marred by the loud flap my loose heel made with every step. Those boots stayed in Iceland.

A couple of weeks ago, I happened to glance at a pair of sandals–Danskos–that I hadn’t worn in a long time. Later, after entering Target, I heard a noise like I’d dropped something. Part of the shoe had come off. As I grabbed bread and my prescriptions, I left a trail of shoe. Here’s what the bottoms looked like when I got home:



The Continuing Adventures of Karma’s OnLine Dating: Entry 43
Jul 21st, 2016 by Dr Karma

Many of you have probably heard of the Dunning-Kruger effect: this is about the relationship between actual knowledge and one’s perception of their knowledge. What’s striking about this relationship is that those who have the least knowledge often believe they have the most.
In other words, they don’t know what they don’t know.

How does this relate to my dating experience?

This week, a guy wrote to me. Now, many guys have grammar and spelling mistakes. This guy’s were a little worse than usual because they’re the kind that auto correct should have fixed (and yes, OKC does put little squiggles under your words that aren’t words).
Some examples: I like going to theateres and watchong drama; I isually like to travel; a person who is gives and recieves.

You’ve seen worse in this blog. Why am I singling out this guy?

Because his first line describing himself is: I am very articulated.


The Simpsons and Rio
Jul 19th, 2016 by Dr Karma

rio simpsons

Many years ago, I wrote a column for Mental Floss, Four Simpsons Controversies that Didn’t End in Lawsuits. Number 1 on the list was show’s relationship with Rio. In short, after the family visited Rio in “Blame it On Lisa,” the minister of tourism threatened to sue the show, arguing that the show would hurt the tourism industry, with its depiction of slums, roaming monkeys, and crime (while not the sum of Rio, all true). The Simpsons didn’t apologize and in fact continued to make references to Rio, including a line about Mr. Teeny’s uncle being the minister of tourism.


Now, as the Rio Olympics are almost upon us, all of the news about Rio is dire. As this CNN article details, Rio is broke, crime is rampant, the zika virus and super bacteria threaten health, and the infrastructure for the games just isn’t in place.

In “The Wife Aquatic,” Lisa exclaims that a certain place is “the most disgusting place we’ve ever gone.”

Bart: What about Brazil?

Lisa: After Brazil.

Sadly, the police in Rio seem to agree, as they have been welcoming visitors at the airport with this sign: rio

The Continuing Adventures of Karma’s OnLine Dating (Entry 42): Why I’m Hard to Date 3
Jul 16th, 2016 by Dr Karma

I am one of the clumsiest people in the world.

I have no conception of my body in space. This combined with my living completely in my head (instead of in the ‘now’) and my strange occasional muscle spasms make for problems.

The women in my family bruise easily–and I usually have several of them in various stages of healing. Every day sees me hitting my elbow on a Simpsons‘ shelf, hitting my forehead on the counter as I bend down to wipe up a spill, hitting my shoulder with the top of my car door, hitting my thigh on my desk corner, etc.

I keep arnica cream, made from a flower that helps with bruising, in my office, my home, and my car.

Slightly less often come the burns–my hands don’t understand how close an oven part is to them any more than how close the counter is.

Surprising thought it is, I have not yet broken a bone (except perhaps a tailbone a few years ago when I fell down a flight of stairs). I twist ankles and sprain things, but I have not yet had to wear a cast.

I break dishes instead. And wine glasses. And full jars I’m taking out of the cupboard to use for dinner.

Roomba (aka Sisyphus) has a lot to do in my kitchen.

I don’t know what my students think when I routinely smash myself against the lectern or when chalk flies out of my hand.

They, unlike my son, don’t give voice to the thought: but you were just holding that!

Sometimes, I just want to play a certain Simpsons scene with a certain waiter:


All I can hope for is a man like John Frederick Nims, the author of “Love Poem”:

My clumsiest dear, whose hands shipwreck vases,
At whose quick touch all glasses chip and ring,
Whose palms are bulls in china, burs in linen,
And have no cunning with any soft thing

Except all ill-at-ease fidgeting people:
The refugee uncertain at the door
You make at home; deftly you steady
The drunk clambering on his undulant floor.

Unpredictable dear, the taxi drivers’ terror,
Shrinking from far headlights pale as a dime
Yet leaping before apoplectic streetcars—
Misfit in any space. And never on time.

A wrench in clocks and the solar system. Only
With words and people and love you move at ease;
In traffic of wit expertly maneuver
And keep us, all devotion, at your knees.

Forgetting your coffee spreading on our flannel,
Your lipstick grinning on our coat,
So gaily in love’s unbreakable heaven
Our souls on glory of split bourbon float.

Be with me, darling, early and late. Smash glasses—
I will study wry music for your sake.
For should your hands drop white and empty
All the toys of the world would break.

The Continuing Adventures of Karma’s OnLine Dating (Entry 41): Why I’m Hard to Date 2
Jul 9th, 2016 by Dr Karma

Like most geeks, I’m not geeky about everything. (How could one be?)
My geekiness turns off most guys; however, geeky guys are often happy to find a geeky woman on a dating site.
But a lot of them are gamers of one kind or another, and I’m not.

Reason 2: I’m not a gamer.
I didn’t play many games when I was a kid, partly because I didn’t have many people to play with. My younger brother was too much younger, and I didn’t know any of the kids in my neighborhood, really–they went to different schools (private ones), while I was a public school kid.
My great-grandmother taught me how to play solitaire, got me a few decks, and had my great-grandfather build me a lap board, so I could watch shows with them while playing–while they played on their boards.
My mother played pente and chess with me. I found chess boring, overall; it was such a long wait between plays as mom went through the strategy of every piece.
Strategy in games just isn’t my thing.
(It’s not really a strength in real life either. I just try to play it straight and hope others will too; it is probably too easy to outmaneuver me.)
The day I beat my mom in chess was the last day she wanted to play.
Of course, there were some games I played and enjoyed: Trivial Pursuit; the occasional Connect Four. I liked early computer games–including those green screen adventure games where the land was all in your mind. I distinctly remember typing endless directions into Transylvania.

Command: Kiss Werewolf

Command: Kiss Werewolf

When Alexander was a baby, I played The Neverhood–I played it again with him when he was older.
Now, our favorite thing is Boggle–he’s really, really good, and beats me most times now. What we like about it, though, is that it only take a few minutes to play. It’s a nice break, but not something that goes on for too long, as most games tend to do.
Of course, my son definitely has a longer attention span for games than I do–he plays D&D with friends and has many favorite video games that can consume him for hours.

One of my very favorite things is to ask questions while he’s playing:
Why are you shooting those geckos?
What did they ever do to you?
Well, didn’t you come on to their territory? Don’t they have the right to defend it?
What do you mean it’s a job?
Who gave you the job?
You took a job from some guy you don’t know? How do you know you’re not the bad guy here?
You’re probably the bad guy here, right? You did walk onto their territory.
Is this a pro-colonialism game?

A lot of self-identified geeks who message me express a deep love of games–board games, computer games, role playing games, and the like.
But, as I think we all know by now, I’m old and set in my ways. I don’t want to play most games (the only thing I love is Cards Against Humanity with Tiffany and Ben–I’ll never turn that down). And even though many guys tell me that I’ll like playing with them and their friends/family, I just don’t want to.

I’m not sure how to end this piece. By explaining how Monopoly is the worst of all games both because it’s boring and because I’m a believer in old-school Teddy Roosevelt trust-busting? By desperately avoiding the too obvious metaphor of not liking it when people play emotional games? By making a too obvious sex joke (and real statement) about how I like to play in other ways when I’m with a special fella?

Still not sure–I’m just not that good with strategy, apparently.

The Continuing Adventures of Karma’s OnLine Dating (Entry 40): Why I’m Hard to Date 1
Jul 4th, 2016 by Dr Karma

In the 38th Entry, I talked about being picky.
To be fair, though, I’d like to explain that I’m hard to date for many reasons.

Reason 1:
I am obsessed with Weird Al.


I’m not a stalker or anything, but I’ve been a fan for about 35 years.
I was an exceptionally picky eater. In hopes of fixing this, my stepfather brought home a record single–“Eat It.” It didn’t make me a less picky eater. It–and its B side–“That Boy Could Dance”–made me a big fan.

After that came all the albums and Al taking over MTV. And the concerts. I’ve seen him many, many times in concert. I have all the albums, all the books (most of them are signed). I’ve passed on this love to my son, who had Weird Al sign an engineering textbook–just because that’s weird.

Right after he asked Al to sign something weird.

Right after he asked Al to sign something weird.

I’ve written before about how Al and I had a serendipitous moment in Maui several years ago.

Not every guy wants to date a girl who can and does sing along to every Weird Al song.

Not every guy wants to pass a couple of pictures of Weird Al that hang in a house on the way to a bedroom. Nor do they necessarily want to get to a bedroom and see a framed picture of Weird Al holding a birthday card he’d just signed to me, courtesy of Denise.

In other words, Denise needs to be my boyfriend.

That's my BDay card!

That’s my BDay card!

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