A conversation around different dates – ranging from the most handsome guy and the boring date, the date with only 7 teeth, stinky athletes, the doctor date with Dyed Hair and those who lie about their age...
Rona Lewis is all about the playful mind and getting real about her experiences of dating online in the virtual and real world.
About the Guest
Rona is a champion of the inner child! She is a play instigator and creativity coach, and Co-Founder of the Playful Mind Project. She loves to help change individuals as well as corporations, to ignite ideas and explode productivity.
Email or Phone 818-568-5616
Instagram: @playfulmindproject @ronasays
About the Show
Podcast Host: Life & Leadership: A Conscious Journey with Dr. Michelle St Jane
A podcast for Global and Re-Emerging Leadership creating community/tribe, a circle of influence, transcendency of compassionate leadership in the world and wider universe. A unique destination for learning about Leadership + Conscious Stewardship + Legacy.
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Michelle St Jane 00:01
Welcome to Life and Leadership. I believe in creating community and connections and creating space to be curious. This podcast aims to take you on a conscious journey into quality, diverse, innovative content in conversation. My hope is that we create a circle of influence, a transcendency of compassionate leadership in the world and wider universe.
Organic dating, commonly known as making connections with potential partners in the real world. In places like church, community organizations, family, friends, the gym, hobbies, networking events, social introductions. Nowadays, these have all been replaced by online algorithms since 2013. This is the number one strategy humans.
Who knew how the economics of the love market would evolve.
Pew research surveys show 29% of never married baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, have used an online dating platform. Some may even have tried digital romance initiatives like site matching, it's combining sightseeing and batching before the pandemic extensively interrupt travel plans. The grandfather of online dating Sam Yagan, an American entrepreneur is known as the co- founder of Tinder said, “every single person is born single.”
Welcome, today I have with me Rona Lewis. We're going to touch on a little bit of history around dating, and all the exciting things that we as women experience with dating.
If you think about it, organic dating typically happens through your church, your community, family, friends, gym, hobbies, high school, university or your work. Online matchmaking started around 1993 with match.com. It started as a form of classified ads. Then in the 70s, Jeffrey Allman, on Valentine's Day, no less, offered video cassette taping.
Then there's a great book called ‘The Labor of Love’ by Moira Weigel that talks about sex and moments in modern America. She alludes that the love market is tied to the economics.
So Rona, are you enamored or disillusioned with the social media kaleidoscope of dating apps and websites?
Rona Lewis 02:34
That's a big question. It's a combination. I have met some great people, I'm actually dating somebody who I met on the website, on one of the websites. I think there's a big change in what it's been like, they're more scammers than ever. That being said, there are more people because of COVID, because people are tired of just meeting people that are just in their little circle of comfort, so they want to expand their horizons and see who else is out there. I'm disappointed in some sites, but I'm hopeful for others.
Michelle St Jane 03:13
Can you give us an example of what sites you think have been helpful for you to use?
Rona Lewis 03:19
The guy I'm dating now I met on Hinge, which I have found to have better quality people on it. Sites like Tinder have been known for hookups, things like that, and I think they’re ok up to a point. I'm over 50, I am happy to say that I have found that more people are looking for love and are a little bit more serious about it, but it didn't do it for me. So I would say Hinge and Bumble have been the two that I have found the most success with.
Michelle St Jane 03:55
I'll come back to Bumble in a minute. Do you use the dating website or the apps, or both?
Rona Lewis 04:01
The app. I don't think Hinge has an actual website that you can use from the computer, everything is just done from the phone. It's all swiping. The bad thing about online dating is you have nothing to judge except how people look. And when you meet people organically and get to know their personality, people get better looking when they're fun, when they have great personalities and things like that. So to have to judge just by someone looks like it makes it a little bit more difficult and my dog agrees.
Michelle St Jane 04:39
Smart dog. Clearly I interpreted that to “people see better than they think.” I'm going to come back to your dating apps. Bumble has found success by marketing itself as a friendlier platform for women, with features like the fact that women have to make the first move like messaging. And of course the Bumble CEO, she was a former Tinder executive who sued them for sexual harassment in 2014. So yes, I found it quite interesting that Tinder launched the men-provement initiative aimed at minimizing harassment. Has that been your experience at all?
Rona Lewis 05:15
I have found that a lot of men are much more forward in terms of what they want when they don't want something long term or something serious, so that's pretty obvious right away
When I was in my 20s and early 30s, I was married. I got married when I was 36, and that lasted for 11 years all in. Before that, I lived in New York, it was fun. I've met people in person, I had other elements of dating.
I had my fun and my one-night stands, and yada, yada, yada?
Yeah, I did, and it was great fun, it was a great experience.
That's not what I'm looking for now. When I see that, I'm not going to engage, I'm not going to be berated the people.
Why bother having that conversation?
It serves no end, and you're just lengthening the suffering of dealing with this person, so you just end it.
Michelle St Jane 06:17
What was wisewoman. Lots of wisdom right there.
Tell us a little bit about your dating experience?
What was good?
What did you really enjoy and appreciate?
Rona Lewis 06:29
I always loved meeting people. For me, I'm obviously a fairly outgoing, it's always fun meeting people. I've met people who are related to businesses, I've done business with people who I've met. There are so many different segments of sexuality now, there's not just heterosexual and homosexual, there's, I call myself a heterosexual sapiophile because I'm all about brains. A sapiophile alone doesn't care about the sex, it's all about how smart they are and things like that.
I prefer men, I am not attracted to women in a sexual manner. Not that there's nothing wrong with that, I have friends who are lesbians and bisexual, and there's transsexual. There is room for all of us, and it's all about happiness and engaging with someone's heart.
For me, it's being attracted to the person's brain, as well as the person's body, and a lot of levels. So that's what I look for.
Note there are people who misrepresent themselves and there are people who are incredibly smart.
I dated a guy who was probably the handsomest man I have ever seen. We would walk down the street, and women would stop him just to say: Oh, my God, you're the handsomest man I've ever seen. Guy had no game and he admitted it.
I'm all about banter and fun. I have a company called the Playful Mind Project. If you're not going to play with me, I'm going to get bored. And he even said: I never had to develop that side, because women just want him. We are still friends even though it didn't work out because I got a little bored.
Michelle St Jane 08:16
I totally relate. I need engagement. I need someone who can have a conversation, and someone who can appreciate the beauty in the world. Plus I really am a very curious person. I'm not boring, but I also need engagement, someone who's consciously evolving and growing into their best self.
Rona Lewis 08:38
Right. Yes, and that's what attracted me to the guy that I'm dating now. We were both attracted to each other physically. We actually spoke on the phone for a week before we met each other. We were on the phone for at least an hour a day.
I'm like: I love this guy already. It's been a little over two months, we're seeing where it goes.
I don't love the instant relationships where people go in and see each other four or five days a week. Then I find, in my experience, this may not be with everyone, I have found that you're concentrating more on the physical and you're so relieved at finding somebody that you don't give it a chance to develop organically to see what red flags come up. Especially if you sleep together too quickly, you gloss over what the red flags are, and you think: Oh, it's not so bad, when all of a sudden you're in it for four or five weeks. And it's like: Oh, I don't know if I can do this. You could have saved yourself a lot of agita just by getting to know the person, and that's what he and I are doing now.
Michelle St Jane 09:46
Really good points there. My first husband, I was widowed at 27. He always said, "From love, friendship can grow. From lust, you've got nowhere to go."
Rona Lewis 09:58
Amen to that.
Michelle St Jane 10:00
I think sometimes people are driven by their hormones and a ticking clock, and that type of thing, but you have a marriage and a child, you're in for a long haul. Basically someone you can play with, laugh with, cry with.
Rona Lewis 10:12
Yes. I don't care if I get married again, I want to be able to wake up with my best friend. I want to sleep with him, I want to talk to him. I want to play with him.
I think there are so many levels to relationships, and I want to be able to be there for him when he is not at his best, and at the same time, I want to have that vulnerability and trust where I know he will do the same for me.
As much as I'm all about a positive mindset, there is such a thing as toxic positivity. You’re flushing your feelings or dropping them down because you feel like: Oh, my God, I have to feel great all the time.
No, feel your feelings. There are days when I'm a little bit depressed, I start spinning them in my head, and I would like my partner to be able to say: “Okay, what do you need from me? Do you need me to listen? What can I do?” And even if it's, I just need you to leave me alone for a while. Okay. That's both ways.
Michelle St Jane 11:12
You're the woman with the wisdom, you are rocking the space.
I think you make some valid points because what I might have wanted in my 20s, my 30s, my 40s is not what I'm going to want post 50. And then when we look at the advances in health, tech, and quality of life in the longevity economies, the research is telling us we might live to 125 – 130 years of age.
Rona Lewis 11:36
That's my plan.
Michelle St Jane 11:37
If you don't have a person who's going to evolve with you, you've got an anchor. You've got trouble.
Rona Lewis 11:44
There has to be respect and I'm lucky that he and I are in different businesses. But they are similar enough that we can help each other, make suggestions, give feedback, call each other on our crap, that's a big one.
You know that you're doing this, you know that you're being a victim, crap, crap, you're right. Okay. Okay, let's revisit that and talk from a different angle, and it doesn't always feel good, it feels great, once you're over that momentary realization that you're going into a mode which doesn't serve you.
There is a point where the initial passion is going to fade, and you're left with the heart and soul of the other person. You need to know that it can be lasting through that friendship. There's the level of love that is not that lust that is at the beginning of most relationships. So it's just a deeper acceptance of the good, bad and the ugly.
Michelle St Jane 12:53
You make some really valid points. I would just expand on that. I hope I get this right. I think it was Dr. John Gray author of Men Are from Mars, Women are from Venus, I think in his research, he said most women leave because they're bored. They're need, as you rightly put it, someone to play with, engage with. We're also sexual beings through to 100 plus, so if it might fade it can be reengaged and reinvigorated.
Rona Lewis 13:17
Michelle St Jane 13:18
For fun, or play fun, it keeps us healthy. It's part of our well-being to be absolutely active, and for some of us, that's with consciously chosen partners for other purposes, many engagements in different levels in different ways. It is choice driven.
Rona Lewis 13:35
Yes and I think a lot of people, a lot of women that I know of, if they say they get bored it's because they are putting all their eggs in the other person's basket. It's up to you to make yourself happy.
When my guy is feeling crappy, I feel bad that he's feeling bad. I'm not going to lower my emotional state because he's in that emotional state. I will do all I can to help bring him up, or leave him alone, or whatever he wants. It's up to us to make ourselves happy.
That's why we need our own hobbies, our own enjoyments.
I have a lot in common with him, but he has his own things. And it's great.
Have your own friends. Have your own things. If you want to go play golf in the desert for the weekend with your buddies, go. Have fun. Tell me about it.
I think if there's enough differences that you can come together and share stories, that's what keeps the boredom at bay. When you can tell stories and enjoy entertaining each other and make suggestions and have specific dates. This past year has been horrifying in terms of being able to do things because everything's closed, so you have to look for ways to enjoy each other's company. Whether it's cooking together. Whether it's watching movies. Being inventive together. It's something you can figure out together.
Michelle St Jane 15:02
And all the better if it's a man who's willing to be inventive and engaged as well.
Rona Lewis 15:08
You also have to be careful. As an alpha female, I need an alpha male. Make sure that that alpha is not a total narcissist where he makes you all about his life. They have to be able to take a step back and encourage your life as well, and even balance. If they have enough self-respect and self-esteem to say: “Okay, this is your area, I want you to shine, and I can very easily take a step back and say: You go do this, be famous, do your thing.” That's where a lot of magic can come in because we both take turns in being the one who can drive the relationship.
Michelle St Jane 15:52
I think this is a good spot to just bring up. No thanks to Disney, but often us women are looking for Prince Charming, which, by the way, secret thoughts here, I believe he's the man that never grows up, the perpetual adolescent in a man suit. When we really could be looking for a king. The man who is evolving, who is fulfilled in himself, has a robust life and is looking for someone not to run his life, be his mother and baby, but complement his life, a companion.
I don't know how many men are in that category.
Then I'm the princess and the queen of my world. Prince Charming, ladies, heads up, that's often a man, an adolescent disguise in a main suit.
Rona Lewis 16:37
I agree. These men tend to want to date women who are much younger, because they're afraid to be challenged by someone their own age and their own intellectual capacity.
Now, granted, there are exceptions. Look at George Clooney, his wife is awesome. In a way, there are other women like that I'm not. This is a very blanket statement so I'm not saying everyone, but when I was younger and we would date men who were beautiful but not as intellectual, they're just not up to my level of what I'm looking for, we used to call them "Shut up and come here".
Michelle St Jane 17:14
Oh, my gosh.
Rona Lewis 17:15
You’re very pretty shut up and come here. That is not lasting. I haven't connected with a lot of men who have very young children because they often say that on their sites. But I have seen 56-year-old, 62-year-olds, I have a 6-year-old daughter, I have an 8-year-old daughter, because they married women much younger than them who want children, and then there's not enough in common and the relationship breaks up. I'm thrilled that they're happy with their children. I never want to judge them in that way. I think they're going to be hard pressed to find someone who is over 50, who wants to start with a 6-year-old child.
Michelle St Jane 17:54
We know who gets caught with the babysitting and the doctor's visits, and the dentist.
Rona Lewis 17:58
Michelle St Jane 17:59
I've seen another trend: that's where men as young as 30-35 have on their profile they're looking for women, like 50 to 90. I've been approached by a few of those when I was briefly on a dating site. Basically they want to come home from work, have dinner, and then they want to chat on the phone because they're lonely. The women that are over 50 to 90 plus are great conversationalists, they know how to listen. They're not asking for them to buy them bling, or take them places, they're just enjoying the conversation.
I was quite taken back by that; it was not something I saw coming.
Rona, you're off the dating sites now, but I'm going to ask you to tell us a story or two about your dating experiences in terms of the weird or the wacky?
Rona Lewis 18:47
Well, I will say that I have had a lot of 27-year old’s, I did go out with one guy who was 41. I said, Okay, he's over 40, we'll give it a shot. But there were too many differences and I had to hold up the conversation a lot more than I really wanted to. I knew that these 27-year old’s didn't and I couldn't do it. I have a niece who's 27. I’d want to fix them up with her. I don't want to go out with him.
I have a story where I went out with a guy who had pictures on his site where he didn't show any teeth. He was nice looking enough, and a lot of men smile like this, so they don't show teeth. And when I met him, he had seven and I don't know if he was a meth addict, I don't know what it was. I think the date lasts about 15 minutes. So that was just really bizarre, and I didn't like that at all.
I've gone out with guys who:
You don't scream it out, we're in this restaurant. My first thought was if you're going to lie that much, what else are you lying about?
Michelle St Jane 21:00
If he told you he was 10 years older, you've still gone on the date? Like if you'd known that, would you still have dated them?
Rona Lewis 21:05
No, because he was older than I wanted to date. So I think this was back when this was three or four years ago, and he was 65. It was just too big a difference, the people in my family live well into their 90s and I would like someone who was close to my age or a couple of years younger, within a five-year span, one way or the other. I’m more comfortable with that and he was way over there.
Michelle St Jane 21:35
Is there any culture shock coming from the East Coast to the West Coast?
Rona Lewis 21:39
That’s a really good point. Yes. I’m very straightforward.
I can intimidate men, because I do not change who I am.
A lot of men, I think here they're expecting women to be, now I'm all women, I can be very soft and loving and all that.
I think the men here [West Coast] expect the women to think everything they do is wonderful.
I don't suffer fools easily, and if I'm not interested in you, I will say there's just no magic. I'm just not feeling it.
Whereas a lot of women will say: “Oh, yeah, call me” and give them a wrong number, or they'll ghost them or whatever. I just think that is so rude and disrespectful. I don't want that. Why would someone else want that?
It's bravery. Have some courage and just say what you mean. So that's what I have found, the biggest thing is when I tell them, I'm a New Yorker, they get a little scared.
Michelle St Jane 22:35
That's really interesting.
Very briefly, December 2019, I went on a dating site and I ended up finding it was mostly therapy chat. Like a couple of chaps I met for coffee were still talking about a spouse from 12 years earlier.
I very gently said: “You're very terrific and I will not meet you for coffee again. You might actually need a therapist, not a dating site.
One took it well, the other one thought I was off my rocker. Which was fine, because I was just saying this is not for me. He's like: “Why, I think you're fabulous, “and I'm like: “Well, I don't do therapy.”
I had another date, I was actually quite taken with this chap. He was a real gentleman, he opened the door, he treated me like a lady, we had coffee. He was from Europe and we got chatting, and we got onto a topic because I'm very curious and I have a doctorate. There's a wide diverse area of things that I study. I like talking on that level and he was very well educated and interested. Except when I about something I had look at just briefly andwas going to go check back. I'm sorry, I can't think what it was. He told me, you will not be doing that kind of thing because you do not need to be doing that kind of thing.
Then he had gone and got himself a second coffee. I had not refused a second cup of coffee, so I changed the topic and politely kept talking with him until the end of his coffee. Then I said: “Thank you for meeting me, it's been a pleasure to meet you.” And he's like: “When can we see again and why are you leaving? I'm enjoying us.” And I said: “Well, actually I'm not. I've enjoyed this much, and this is as far as I'm going.” He was really shocked and I was like: “Why would I waste your time and more importantly, who do you think you are to tell me what I can think and be curious about?” I was studying a cultural thing and I'm sorry, that kind of control over me is not welcome in my life. Not being able to have conversations and explore areas that are on the edge, or to be curious about things. But no, he was shutting me down. It was like he took ownership and I while was willling to wait politely until he finished his coffee, and then exit. I'm like: “It's been a pleasure to meet you but this is as far as we go.” And he's like: “You can't leave. I'm still enjoying talking to you. “And finally I'm like, “watch me go” got up and out the door. Why would I want to waste his time and more importantly, why would I hand over control?
Rona Lewis 24:52
Michelle St Jane 24:52
That controlling within two cups of coffee?
I'm really curious. Tinder introduced something called Noonlight, a service for when a date goes wrong.You can get hold of emergency services. Do you have any advice or wisdom about what to watch out for, or lessons learned that you might like to share, Rona?
Rona Lewis 25:13
I would say that I think that's always a great thing, to have backup. You always want to meet people in a setting where there are people around. That's the number one thing.
When he asks: “Why don't you come up to my place and we'll have a drink?”
I don't know you. I'm not going to your house. So that's the number one thing, if you're going to meet someone.
It's harder now with COVID, I do coffee dates but it's always outside and we're sitting on a bench at least six feet apart, that sort of thing. Just make sure that you take your time getting to know the person before you jump into bed, go somewhere private because there are stalkers, there are wackos who are fantastic at gaining your trust, and then doing something bad.
Michelle St Jane 26:04
Oh yeah. Jeffrey Dahmer was a pretty boy, wasn't he?
Rona Lewis 26:06
Yes, he was.
Michelle St Jane 26:09
What about the trends in dating? I've noticed there's now digitally mediated tourism encounters like the term site matching. What's the most interesting date you've been on?
Rona Lewis 26:20
I actually haven't done site matching, I'm not familiar with that.
I'm trying to think the most well, obviously, the man I'm dating now is the most interesting man that I've met, I adore him. I don't know if it's going to work out but I am self-aware enough to be able to open my heart and hope it does, and I'm okay if things work out great. If they don't, it's always better to have loved than lost kind of thing. In terms of a site match, there are, what's the?
Michelle St Jane 26:48
It's about sightseeing and meeting up with people where you're sightseeing. It's okay, but nobody else, nobody traveling and you know.
Rona Lewis 26:58
Maybe that's why I haven't..
Michelle St Jane 27:00
Something that was coming out late 2018- 2019.
Rona Lewis 27:05
I'm not familiar with it, it's probably a great thing because, again, you would meet someone who you might not have never met, you certainly have travel in common, and why not? You can always meet new friends. I'm always up for meeting new friends, and I've met some wonderful ones who I'm still friends with. So why not, give it a shot? I've never had someone to say never on something, if you've never tried it, we all have what I call a circle of comfort. In order to make that circle of comfort larger, take a risk.
Michelle St Jane 27:38
Great wisdom. I think a lot of the over 50s, they're really missing their travel and getting out and about.
Yes and of course, the majority of the population, think because you're over 45-50 that you're not dating but seems so wrong.
People are married for a reason, a season and a lifetime.
Sometimes, like me, become a widow at 27, so I know. The gift isn't today, it doesn't necessarily promise you tomorrow, doesn't?
Rona Lewis 28:09
No, and take advantage of every moment you have. Appreciate every moment you have and try to stay present, and I'm guilty of this. I can be in my head and that causes stress. You have replays and imaginings, and no matter what you are thinking might happen, what the other person is thinking, 99.736% of the time, it's not true. So you have to take a step back when you realize that you're stressing about something and saying: This is a thought, and this thought is just a thought, it's not true.
Michelle St Jane 28:45
So Rona, what's your dating tips?
Rona Lewis 28:47
#1. being your authentic self. Never try to be what a man wants. That's being codependent, and you'll never be happy. Women tend to be all gooey- eyed and like I said, everything a man does is fabulous, etc. No, let them know who you are from the get-go. The ones who appreciate you, because of that will be the ones who asked you out again. That's what happened to me.
2. don't play down your intelligence. I can be smart, I can be funny, and I can be feminine. We women are incredibly talented, be everything. Make sure they live up to your standards. As a woman, I know I'm the prize, and that's what a lot of women forget. That, “Oh I hope he likes me, I hope I like them.” Granted, there's compromise in every relationship and you have to be open to changes, and things like that. That's what life is, you have to be open to life's ups and downs and as long as you are authentic and you will be fine.
#3 I already said this one that I'm an alpha female and I want an alpha male who appreciates and is confident enough to allow me to be myself, and to shine. Again, many alpha males are a bit self centered and narcissistic. I have my moments as well, and if you call them on it, and they call you on it, it lets each other know that you can't get away with it, and they'll appreciate it. I call my guy on his stuff all the time and trust me, he does the same thing. 30:23
You're forced to realize a weakness or a bad habit, whatever you want to call it, and it helps you grow. So I think it's a great thing for it to be brought to your attention. If you are truly involved in wanting your other half to shine, you do it for all the right reasons, not to put that person down. Make sense?
And then be playful, banter makes for great flirting. It's one of my standards, to see if I want to be with that person. It shows higher intellect and intelligence, and being present because when you banter, you have to be present to really listen to what the other person is saying. And if I'm playing with you, it means that I like you.
Michelle St Jane 31:03
That is so fabulous. I think play is your middle name. Would you like to share about your work, Rona?
Rona Lewis 31:10
Absolutely. I am the co- founder and CEO of a company called The Playful Mind Project, and it's playfulmindproject.com. We help with stress and overwhelm that comes from, now we're really concentrating on working from home. We work with remote workers on our business to business side, because they're dealing with overwhelm from kids and from taking care of parents and their other half, etc. And we also have a business to consumer side where we work with people who just need a break from being a mom, being that person who everyone depends on, and those are one-on-one.
We concentrate on purposeful and attuned play, and it's theory and science- backed. It can help everyone. We actually have a section that is coming up that will shift your relationships so that you are able to have more resilience and more trust, and vulnerability to listen to your business partner, to your loved ones, it's relationships of all kinds. So we offer so many different things but it's all about shifting your mindset, shifting your life viewpoint because a playful mind is a happy mind. Once you shift your mindset to more of a playful attitude, you see the world in a whole new way and it just makes life much more fun.
Michelle St Jane 32:43
Who doesn't need more fun? It's also, good laughter is the best medicine, so absolutely love what you do in your place and the world. Thank you, Rona.
Rona Lewis 32:52
Dr. Michelle St Jane is a conscious steward in meaningful leadership in the world and the wider cosmos. Tune in every Thursday for real talk around life, leadership and your conscious journey. Be ready to create and cultivate your dreams and soul hearted desires. Your support is valued.
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Co-Founder and CEO Playful Mind Project
As a former C-level advertising sales exec, Rona is a champion of the inner child! She is a play instigator and creativity coach, and Co-Founder of the Playful Mind Project. She loves to help change individuals as well as corporations to ignite ideas and explode productivity, and is a leading expert in employee engagement and improving company culture.
Rona doesn’t believe in work/life balance. Work is part of life! So how do you balance it all? It’s about taking time to make time work for you. And above all, having an attitude of play that makes life an adventure, not a drudgery.
As an expert, she’s been a guest on TV and radio shows from San Francisco to New York. Her articles have been featured in Corporate Wellness Magazine, Town and Country Magazine, New York’s Pierless Magazine and more.