The Rules: #8 – How to Date Yourself

The Rules #8 - better than you treat yourself

So about a year and a half ago I was on a “guys suck” kick (after having had it up to here with a guy who didn’t understand why I didn’t want to see him anymore, after he stopped showing up for our dates (literally)), and at that point, 6-months post-divorce, all guys sucked. On the entire planet. I was whining about this to one of my girlfriends.

“Why don’t you just date yourself?” she asked.

Huh? I must have made a Mouse-has-left-the building face, because she went on.

“Why don’t you just take yourself on dates and treat yourself the way you think you want to be treated? That way you’ll know better what you like, and what you want out of a relationship, eventually.”

For about two seconds, I thought about the stupidness of dating myself. And then a light bulb went on. Date myself? My girlfriend was flipping brilliant.

For the next several months I proceeded to treat my free Saturdays (the ones where I didn’t have my kids) as “date night” — with myself. It turned out I was a pretty excellent date. Usually, we’d start the evening with a glass of wine, jamming in the kitchen to our favorite music as we made dinner — usually steak or salmon. Date nights have great food. (Which was always gluten-free and dairy-free, too, because my date had the same food allergies as me.) Then, we’d pop some popcorn, mix up an awesome mojito, curl up on the sofa, and watch a movie. (Which we would always agree on!) We’d allow ourselves to get totally sucked up into the movie’s storyline — laughing, crying, or cheering along with the heroes — and we’d snuggle under a big, plush blanket if we got cold. Sometimes we’d get tipsy, but it all ended well. I would never take advantage of myself without my own permission.

At times I would reflect on the fact that, yes, I was lonely. I would rather be sharing a night like this with someone I felt truly connected-to. But learning to enjoy a quality experience on my own forced me to confront the fact that I didn’t have that connection with anyone else, and I couldn’t wish it up out of thin air. I knew now that I couldn’t settle for dating someone just for the sake of dating, which, I think, is how I’d been operating, previously. Insert available Guy A into Slot B isn’t how life works.

And something else happened, too: I began to develop self-respect.

Now that I knew how well I could be treated by my own self on a date, I began to realize that I didn’t want to put up with being treated less-than-well by other dates. I realized I had standards — and they were pretty decent ones. They made me feel good about myself. In fact, I decided that if a guy didn’t treat me better than I was already able to treat myself, there really wasn’t any reason for me to date him. I’d be better-off by myself! Relationships should build you up, make you a better person. Not bring you down to a lower level. That’s how friendships work, right? I think dating-relationships should work the same way, too.

Unfortunately, finding this in real life is proving to be tricky. (My PTSD and trust issues do NOT help!) Hence, attraction, lifestyle compatibility, and best-friend potential criteria from my RFQ. But I think the overall goal holds merit: to find someone who elevates me, who treats me better than I treat myself. It could happen, right?

And hopefully I do the same for him….


Request For Qualifications (RFQ) for Design-Build Services for Long-Term Relationship

(*updated 3/16/2017)

The Mouse, of The Mouse’s Soapbox (or, the Soapbox), is currently seeking a partner in a Design-Build relationship, of the “soulmate” variety of relationships. This is an RFQ – Request for Qualifications – only. An RFP (Request for Proposals) is not being sought at this time; no definitive date has been set for release of an RFP. The Mouse reserves the right to rescind this RFQ at any time, and there are no guarantees an RFP will ever be released by the Soapbox. However, interested parties are encouraged to respond – all responses that meet qualifying criteria will be given serious consideration.


The Mouse is a 48 year-old single mom in Westminster, Colorado. Previously married for 22 years, divorced in June 2014. Eight children, three of whom are still non-adults (ages 10-15). Stay-at-home mom for fifteen years; re-entered the workforce in January 2014. Currently works for an awesome general contractor in Longmont. (Marketing coordinator — in case you couldn’t tell, from the fact that she’s trying to date, via an RFQ. 😉 ) Nearly impossible to cook for, as she is gluten-free and dairy-free. Enjoys hiking, reading, dancing, and playing trivia games. Practices yoga and Catholicism daily; is very imperfect at both (falls down a lot). Sagittarius, B.A. in Philosophy, aspiring writer — fiction: romantic suspense, thrillers.

Having tried unsuccessfully, through various means, to meet a partner qualified to engage in a Design-Build relationship  (i.e. speed dating, OkCupid, and “by accident” — all of which lack the ability to control intake-metrics), The Mouse has decided to take matters into her own, picky hands. (Schematic Design (SD) follows, at the end of this RFQ.)

Preliminary Qualifying Criteria

  • Male.
  • Between the ages of 48-53. (As adorable as the young guys were, who approached me on OkCupid, the only thing I could think was, Gee, you’re closer to my older kids’ ages than mine. And since I’m now equating you with my kids, the thought of dating you makes me want to throw up. Literally. Sorry.)
  • Single.
  • Lives in Colorado as a primary residence, north of I-70, west of I-25. Ideal range is Arvada to Longmont; Northglenn to Boulder.
  • Non-smoker (occasional cigars okay, outdoors).
  • Pets: dogs okay (maybe better than okay); no cats; fish – meh.

Response Format

Please keep answers brief and succinct. Photos are encouraged, though responses containing inappropriate materials will be automatically disqualified. (No dick-pics. Even though we’re sure yours is lovely.) Please submit one (1) response in .pdf format to There is no deadline on responses; please keep in mind that RFQ may be rescinded at any time, without prior warning.

  1. Executive Statement – Give a brief (2 page, max – can be shorter) cover letter and Statement of Differentiation, highlighting your strengths and greatest assets.
  2. Profile – Statistical (1 page, max)
    a. Legal – Have you ever been convicted of a felony? Have you been involved in any litigation in the past 5 years? (Include divorce in your response, if applicable.) Are you currently involved in any pending litigation? (If yes to any of these questions, please explain.)
    b. Financial – Are you gainfully employed? Please elaborate. (As this is not an RFP, you will not be required to furnish bank statements at this time. However, if shortlisted on this RFQ, you must be prepared during the Interview-stage to provide proof of employment, such as introduction of coworkers, etc.)
    c. Education – What is your highest degree of education and field of study?
    d. Military – Have you ever served in the military? (If yes, please list country of service, branch, dates of service, and highest rank achieved.)
  3. Profile – Relationship(s) – Give your background and relationship history. (No page limit.) Include in your response answers to the following questions:
    a. Have you ever been married? If yes: For how long? Why did that relationship fail? If no: Why not?
    b. Are you currently: in a relationship, separated, legally separated, married, or “it’s complicated?”
    c. Is there currently, or has there ever been, anyone you refer to as “the love of your life?” If yes: Explain/describe.
  4. Q & A – (3 pages, max) Please answer the following:
    a. List up to 20 attributes/qualities you are seeking in a potential mate.
    b. List up to 10 songs that describe or define your ideal relationship.
    c. Briefly describe an ideal first date.
    d. Briefly describe an ideal fifth date.
  5. Background/Personal Assessment – (No page limit.) Explain what you think is most important for the Soapbox panel to know about you that is not covered in your Executive Statement or in Items 2-4.

Scoring Criteria

Please note: All below criteria will eventually hold equal weight. However, since physical chemistry is the most difficult to assess without an in-person meeting, only partial points will be awarded in the Physical Chemistry Potential category, thus giving greater weight to the other two categories.

Friendship potential – 40 pts. The Mouse has many friends, but the person who would ultimately fill this category must be of best-friend-worthy status. This status is difficult to attain, and this category will not be fully scored until shortlist interviews are complete. However, partial points of varying degrees will be awarded on the basis of applicant’s potential to be a Mouse-friend, for the purpose of developing a shortlist. (The best way to do this is to prove you are an open-minded, awesome geek.)

Lifestyle compatibility potential – 40 pts. This category will answer questions such as working hours and how respondent interacts with children/teens/young adults. The Soapbox panel is looking for someone who is not only comfortable in a one-on-one dating situation, but who is also comfortable in a family setting, with the Mouse’s kids. Further, the Mouse is seeking someone who is reasonably geographically nearby, and who keeps similar wake/sleep hours, and who can come over and hold her on rough nights. Like when the wind is scary. (Geography, work-hours, and kid-friendliness aside, what do you do in your spare time? What are your hobbies?)

Physical chemistry potential – 20 pts. This category will be scored based on accompanying photos (minimum of 3), which should be recent (within the past 2 years), and which should demonstrate respondent’s fashion aesthetic and paint a picture of overall lifestyle. (You don’t have to wear Armani, drive an Aston Martin, or be in Thor-shape (*grins* totally okay if you are). As previously stated, “that X factor” of chemistry is hard to assess from photos. What we’re looking for here is potential that wouldn’t deter from the lifestyle compatibility category. In other words, do you care about your appearance?)


Please submit one (1) RFQ response, per respondent, in .pdf format to Please include responses to Response Format questions, plus accompanying photos (minimum of 3), keeping in mind Preliminary Qualifying Criteria and Scoring Criteria. Please include name and email address, at minimum, at front of submission. References may be included with submission.

Schematic Design

Here’s what you will be working with:


At work (my previous job), spring 2015.


On a ride with my monkeys, summer 2015.


Poolside, summer 2015


Howl at the moon - cropped

Dancing at Howl at the Moon, fall 2015

Denver Escape Room

Winning! (Denver Escape Room, with 6 of my monkeys, winter 2016)


Atop Flatiron 2, March 2016.

The Wisdom of the Elderly (RFQ forthcoming)

cloudy skies - b&w

A few months ago I was on the phone, explaining my foray onto OkCupid to my 89 year-old aunt. Back in the day, Auntie had been one of the first female doctors in her neck of the woods. She’d also been married twice, and she’d always been a savvy investor — the woman is a self-made millionaire. Now, she’s in an assisted living facility with a deteriorating hip, her husbands are long-gone, and she’s essentially, if not all-the-way, blind.

But the woman is still sharp as a tack.

So I’m talking to her about my attempt to start dating again. My aunt expressed concern for my safety, that I was meeting strangers online. I reassured her, explaining that I didn’t use my real name online, and prior to meeting anyone I “talked” with them, via the site, enough to learn whether they were a “real” person. And then, of the ones I met with, I always did so in a public place. My aunt was a bit assuaged, but not quite.

“Do they have jobs?” she asked.

I chuckled. “Yes, auntie, the ones I’ve met with all seem to be gainfully employed.”

“Well,” she said, her tone still conveying doubt, “you should ask to see their bank statements.”

I burst out laughing — from delight at her protectiveness over me, combined with the ludicrous idea of actually doing something like that. Could you imagine asking for someone’s bank statements, just to date them? LOL! But even as my giggles subsided, I felt a “click” of truth inside me.

Um, what is it you do for a living, again? I respond to RFPs and RFQs for my construction firm. And how often do you get asked for your firm’s financials from other companies who want to consider hiring you? Um… all the time…? Yes: all the time — and you give it to them, no questions, in the line of professionalism! Meanwhile, have you ever dated a guy who, it turned out, hadn’t actually had a job? Okay…, yeah. Maybe Auntie’s on to something.

I began thinking about how funny it would be to write my own RFQ (Request for Qualifications) for guys who wanted to date me. If I treated dating like a business, I could ask would-be daters to answer the same types of questions that other companies asked of my firm. (Tell us about your legal history. Explain your experience with this type of project.) It was kind of a joke in my head, until I mentioned the story of my aunt and “my dating-RFQ” to my boss, one day at work.

“Ha!” he said. “You should totally do that!”


Was my boss serious? I asked him. He said he thought the idea was fun, but yes, it was not a bad idea. Suddenly the joke took on a bit more substance. I began working on it.

I’m almost done with my RFQ. I’m not 100% sure yet whether or not I’ll publish it (I’m 90% sure that I will), but it’s been an interesting exercise. Due to the volume of RFQs and RFPs I’ve seen, it was actually pretty easy to write — especially the part that excludes the type of person I’m not looking for. The hardest part, though, is coming up with a list of qualities that I am looking for in a potential mate. But I’m getting there.

One day I’ll get this whole dating-thing nailed down correctly. I’ll figure out why I’ve been attracted to the “wrong” type of guy, and I’ll figure out what the right one is. In the meantime, I’ve got a new-found respect for the perspective that comes with age.

Especially when it comes in the form of advice from an aunt who loves me.

cloudy skies - color, cropped