Dating Deal Breakers & Big Fat NOPES

Miss Perfect Mess - I Can't Even


Dating Deal Breakers and BIG FAT NOPES

There are some definite pros & cons to being 47 and looking at the dating scene from the perspective of a real “life-experienced” woman.  (aka “Jaded and Over It“).

In the 90’s when I was dating as a 21 year old – things were so different.   Now, a 20-something thinking of meeting someone out in PUBLIC and actually TALKING to them, looking at their REAL face and hearing their voice is the stuff that sci-fi movies are made of. If it doesn’t happen on your phone first… did it really even happen?

Back in the OLD DAYS

Back in the “old days” – people met each other by (brace yourself if you’re younger than 30) walking up to another person and saying something like, “Hi, I’m [blah blah], I saw you over here and wanted to meet you.” or in some cases “OH MY GOD you’re hot! Wanna get out of here?” or even… “Hey- my friend over there thinks you’re cute, can he buy you a drink?” (obviously answered by, “Hell no, but YOU can.”) Anyway…my point is – it wasn’t a wave or wink or ping or buzz – it was real life interaction… oh the horror! Sometimes we met in a club or a bar, sometimes at work and sometimes introduced by friends. But in almost every instance… it happened in real life. Today…not so much & I personally find it weird. Back then, there didn’t seem to be so many dating deal breakers – or maybe we just didn’t know what they were yet.

Dating Deal Breakers

Meeting People Online

When I was dating again in 2004, online dating was just starting to become a popular thing. It was still pretty taboo and I wasn’t very interested in testing the waters. The internet wasn’t new but the stories you heard to that point about “meeting people online” were mostly about guys living in their Mom’s basement with no job and nothing else to do except surf chat rooms for lonely and unsuspecting women  – probably the precursor to cat-fishing. And then of course don’t forget the serial killers and psychopaths…they certainly didn’t let the advantages of the WWW escape them either.

Online Dating Sites

Enter… (Check out this article about the founder of … I have no idea if he lived in his Mom’s basement – but this is definitely the image I had at the time – of what was on the other end of an online chat. LORDY!)

My sister was in town for a visit and she had already set up her own profile on Match. I think she was having some success with it and started pestering me about setting up a profile. NO. WAY. NO. HOW. I had enough problems to deal with and I wasn’t even interested in dating. She had other plans – and created a profile for me. Gotta love sisters.

Over the next few weeks – I “met” some people from my profile and went on lots of first dates. It was fun, I have to admit – and it was better than being in a smoky bar for the most part. (Not gonna lie though…it was kind of fun – in my 20’s when all the gang would meet at Cody’s -the local C&W club for dancing, drinking and hanging out. What ever happened to Rocky Mountain jeans anyway??)


Then, I ended up meeting (on Match) the person that unbeknownst to me at the time – would be my next husband. If I had known then – what I know now, about red flags, boundaries & if I had been a lot more in-tune with my own inner voice.. well lets just say – I wouldn’t have my sweet daughter who was the treasure God gave me for enduring some incredibly hard years of craziness, lies, confusion and lots of other insanity that you’ll have to stay tuned into this blog to read about later. But the other things I gained were experience, knowledge and personal insight to know what will and won’t work for me in a potential romantic interest.


Once you finally figure those things out… dating is very bittersweet. You have the confidence to get out there and meet new people but you are also armed with the knowledge that most people are not a “fit” – and you no longer have the patience or desire to “work with” someone’s quirks, issues or straight up bad behavior, the way your younger self did many years ago. You no longer think you’ll be “the one” to FIX someone because somehow you’re the solution to all their life-long issues that have nothing to do with you. Basically you just “GET REAL” with yourself and everyone else.


Dating Deal Breakers

Nowadays, there are lots of online dating outlets and its pretty much the way things are done in 2018. But, its still weird and I wish that there was some way to “normalize” the way we meet each other today.  The thing that is most different though…is me. I know what I like and don’t like. I know that people are who they are & don’t change. I know that people will TELL you who they are…you just have to listen. And I know that at the first sign of a deal breaker… I better run like someone’s chasing me – and not look back!

Dating Deal Breakers and BIG FAT NOPES

Even the little things…have me ghosting (I learned that trendy little term the other day.)

  • if I give him the option of choosing our dinner destination – and he tell’s me Bush’s Chicken – he’d best bring a buddy or eat alone.
  • if his dating profile has more pics of his truck, boat, motorcycle and dog than himself – NEXT! (If those pics of himself are all shirtless pics in a bathroom mirror – ALSO NEXT!)
  • if he wears socks with sandals ON OUR DATE… I’m out. (If he wears socks with sandals any other time…I’m also out.)

Dating Deal Breakers - NOPE

  • if he spends hours or days telling me all about himself and never asks one question about me….BYE! (it’s likely he won’t make it to “days”)
  • can’t drive a stick….  WHERE are you even FROM?
  • anti-vaxer …NOPE
  • prepper… DOUBLE NOPE
  • newly separated… Hey we ALL need a break sometimes but I’m not a B&B

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  • bad relationship with more than 2 immediate family members … I can’t.
  • talks sh*% about his ex-wife constantly – he’s GOTTA GO….far away.
  • plays video games… HOW OLD ARE YOU??
  • wants to introduce me to his young kids on 2nd date – have a nice life.
  • calls me babe, baby or any other term of endearment prior to meeting me in person… GET OUT with that!
  • offers the silent treatment as an answer to a disagreement… Let me know when you’re over that…or better yet…DON’T.
  • requests more full length pics of me in first (or any) communication – GO F yourself.
  • sends me more full length (or dick) pics of himself … Go DATE YOURSELF
  • chews with mouth open &/or grunts while eating … There’s not enough Xanax in the WORLD.
  • inquires if all my kids are from the same man – GOD HELP ME.
  • Doesn’t drink alcohol of any kind – ever – HOW is THAT going to work?!
  • Picky eater … GO AWAY.
  • Can’t sit still for 5 minutes … NOT havin’ itScreen Shot 2018-10-19 at 6.36.11 PM
  • Won’t get on an airplane – Seriously?
  • Works out EVERY SINGLE DAY… We are definitely not going to get along.
  • Lives 874 miles away … HOW do you see this rolling out…really, I’m curious.
  • explains how it was God watching out for him when his ex was killed in an accident 2 weeks before their divorce was final… <—– HAPPENED!!! (That was the “check please” moment. This one also drove a hooptie sedan to our date & -completely unprompted told me his 4×4  truck was at home in the driveway  – I SWEAR THIS IS TRUE!)

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  • insists on calling me a name OTHER than MY NAME… WHAT??
  • only free to talk or chat after 10PM … he’s married.

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Red flags fly HIGH & MIGHTY these days & I pay attention. If someone pushes against my boundaries… see ya later, no questions asked…no excuses accepted. Dating deal breakers are a real thing in my world. I very well may end up without a partner, but at least I won’t end up with another one who I knew from the beginning was bad news. Notice I didn’t say “I very well may end up lonely” – because I am not alone.  I never felt as lonely in my life as when I was with another human being who didn’t care about me… and I vow to never be in that situation again. At best, I will live a fulfilling 2nd half of my life, happy with my family & friends, satisfied with my hard work in building my businesses and proud of my efforts to help others. Wading through the mud and muck of another person who can’t carry their weight in a healthy relationship is not on my bucket list. If by chance a person comes along, who among other things is fully vaccinated, can drive a stick, is happy to call me by my name, & also inspires me to make room for them in my life, I could possibly be open to that… maybe.

Some great reads & resources if you’re dating again;

Red Flags and Blind Spots in Dating a Narcissist 

How To Date in 2018 Without Using Apps

5 Reasons Singles Should Stop Worrying

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dating deal breakers, single life, online dating, red flags, single life,

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Miss Perfect Mess

Check out the video chat about what Miss Perfect Mess is and how it came to be. (And a little experiment with butter & coffee)

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I am Miss Perfect Mess, like literally.

Miss Perfect Mess - Paula Raymond

Miss Perfect Mess

My name is Paula & this is where I will tell my stories and the stories of other perfectly imperfect women who are brave enough to share.

You will learn more about me in future posts – but in a nutshell;

  • I am a 47 year old divorced Mom of 3 completely incredible kids (5 when I count my beautiful step-daughters) and Nani to 1 precious grand baby.
  • I have been a Realtor for 16 years and recently started an interior design business.
  • I live in Texas but am from a tiny little town in Missouri.
  • I have been in love – deeply & barely & everywhere in between.
  • I am an empath & an ambivert (look them up).
  • At any given time I am 10-60 lbs overweight (according to various “ideal weight charts” probably created by men or at least some poor starving soul in dire need of a cheeseburger).
  • I yell at my kids sometimes (sometimes they yell back).
  • I don’t make my bed (ever).
  • I forget things. ALL.THE.TIME.
  • I have hurt people (rarely on purpose).
  • People have hurt me.
  • I overthink things (I’m doing it right now).
  • I give too many chances (& I probably won’t stop).
  •   I love “people” (although I have said the opposite many times).
  • I am completely imperfect, a work in progress and at times a total mess.
  • I am loyal, strong, honest, caring, beautiful, and worthy of love & respect even when I forget I deserve those things…  and even when I am the only one providing those things.


MPM - Adulthood quote

The 1st truth: I have NO IDEA what I’m doing. Life is MESSY!!

Oh, you weren’t looking for messy? You weren’t looking for real stories that might remind you that you are messy too? You aren’t ready for the lightbulb to buzz bright on top of your head showcasing that you too are just a regular woman, mom, wife, friend, sister, daughter, employee (or some, or all of the aforementioned) who has no clue how you arrived in adulthood without a single real qualification for being here? Or perhaps you are fully and highly qualified as a perfect and responsible adult with all of the mysteries of mom’ing and wife’ing and woman’ing allll figured out.  No worries at all… psssttt….but listen up – you are in the WRONG place here. Don’t panic! Simply click that little “X” at the top of your browser window …we never saw you.

To the rest of you … welcome to life’s messy Hell.

Now, when I say “Hell” – I don’t mean “Hell” like demons, fire & no alcohol. I just mean everyday “Hell” that sometimes sneaks up unexpectedly like running into [insert your least favorite person here] at the grocery. Or, like having your boss stand behind you at your desk and rub his zipper on your shoulder when you have rent due and can’t afford to punch him in the di….(I mean) zipper and quit. (<—happened) Or, when you discover your husband has so many online dating profiles & aliases set up that there is no doubt his favorite super hero wears an Ashley Madison cape. Or even just the simple stuff like a flat tire, getting fired, the roof is leaking, a huge zit on your forehead, your kid’s principle calling (again), too much month left at the end of your money or being so damn tired of trying to “fake it til you make it” that you have no idea what’s real anymore -or even if you are. Sometimes, demons and fire sound like a vacation… but don’t touch my wine – IMA NEE’DAT.

Have you evScreen Shot 2018-10-15 at 12.49.17 PMer wondered how some of your friends do it? Always: Perfectly dressed. Perfect kids. Perfect husband. Perfect house. Perfect parties. Perfect vacations. Perfect yard. Perfect skin. Perfect body. Perfect. Perfect. Perfect. Ummm…yeah… they don’t. And the more perfect they seem…the bigger the mess. Those friends probably need us the most. Maybe you are that friend… hang around & give yourself a break girl. How do I know so much about that? …well, more about that later (I promise).

My stories are going to jump around a little as we move forward. For now, I am choosing to start this journey by explaining how I came to be typing this debut entry on Miss Perfect Mess. 

First, the name: Miss Perfect Mess

A long time ago, someone close to me tagged me with the name “Miss Perfect.” Nice right? …Wrong. It certainly wasn’t a compliment. It came from a place of jealousy or bitterness & definitely ignorance about who I really was. (Of course I now understand it was more a statement about the person saying it than it ever was about me.)  It was always thrown at me as an insult, and it always felt like one.  The name was completely inaccurate, especially as a teenager who – trust me – was the furthest thing from perfect & I was deeply aware of it. Eventually as I got older, the name calling didn’t bother me as much and I think somewhere along the line I found some humor in it… great coping mechanism by the way! When I was brainstorming for a blog name – and a name that would accurately describe me (then & now) and the other women I am aligning myself with these days… the name popped back into my head. “Miss Perfect” … ohhhh yes… it was right as rain… with one simple edit that makes the lie a total truth. All my mistakes, failures, heartaches, pain, loss and fear have been the messes that made me who I am today. The same things that have made all women who they are … good or bad but probably some combination of both.  What I have discovered is that we all have good and bad in our pasts…and in our paths ahead – it cannot be avoided. So here I am – a perfect mess… eehhhmmm… that’s “Miss Perfect Mess” to you.

Second, the blog: Miss Perfect Mess. Real Women. Real Stories. 

About 2 1/2 years ago, I started on a journey of healing… with around 0% knowledge about how to do it. My body ached all the time. My mind was foggy & confused all the time. I was exhausted all the time. Anxiety had taken over my life and in such a covert way – that I didn’t even realize it. I thought there was something seriously wrong with me – I even thought “My God…I think I might be dying.”

Screen Shot 2018-10-15 at 11.32.04 AMOn a certain Tuesday in May 2016 I made a discovery that would change my life and the lives of everyone I loved from that moment forward. (Follow this blog & I will share more about this in future posts.)  There was nothing I could do except suck it up and deal. Two days later, on Thursday, I was sitting in the office of a local therapist telling the story about what had landed me there… and she looked like she needed a glass of vodka in her hand and a bowl of popcorn in her lap. She was almost salivating to hear the next part, and the next part. It was strange to be such a spectacle to someone who was supposed to be trained to hear the things I was saying – but I guess there’s a first time for everything. For about 8 weeks I went back once a week and told a little more of my story and updated her on the latest happenings – and every week she would usher me into her office, sit down and say, “Well… what happened “THIS” week?!” As if I were her favorite form of entertainment and the next episode had finally been released for viewing.

The therapist didn’t offer me much in the way of help but what she did provide me was the opportunity to hear myself say things out loud that I had been excusing, denying and justifying for a really long time. I realized pretty quickly that I played a huge part in my “situation” and although what had been happening was not my fault… remaining in a toxic environment for as long as I did – was 100% on me.

I started reading books, articles and talking through things with my trusted friends – of which I had very few left. I began educating myself on my particular set of circumstances, learning about what I was dealing with, how it was affecting me mentally & physically and how to get myself out of it.  I joined some support groups on social media and unfortunately those groups were just additional sources of anxiety for me. They were mostly commiserating, whining, anger etc… with very little sound advice,  lots of man-hating  and nothing positive to gain. I would leave the groups within hours of joining. I desperately wanted support, positive encouragement, success stories & a safe place to be vulnerable with my thoughts & feelings. I wanted to be surrounded by women who could gently steer me back to thinking about the life ahead of me and away from the path of devastation I was trying to leave behind. I never found one group that offered those things, so I started one.

Slide01The Facebook group “Girl Grit” was formed and quickly grew to over 60 members (currently). I thought I was alone but as it turns out, there are lots of women just like me. Women who are finding their way through hard times and who also want positive support, a safe place to laugh at themselves and tell their stories, hugs and applause for their accomplishments, gentle pushes towards challenges that will help them grow, fellowship with others that aren’t afraid to own their responsibility in how they arrived at their current phase in life. Other women who also thought they were alone, but after only a short time opened their eyes to an entire group who were just like them.

For as long as I can remember, I have put my “perfect self” out there. When social media came along – I realized that the more perfect I could look, the more my business grew. That was a drug I couldn’t resist…and I got completely lost in it.  I think there were times when I actually believed that everything was perfect (we call that “denial” boys & girls). But believing it somehow made me less miserable, less lonely. Behind closed doors I was willing to be mistreated, willing to look the other way, willing to be neglected…as long as I could get my “perfect” fix. It took on a life of its own and it seemed I was no longer in control… although I always was. (<—Big lesson)

After my divorce – “the fog cleared” – that’s how I describe it. The confusion I was living in was gone & I could look back with total clarity and see just how insane things had become. In the Girl Grit group, I didn’t feel a need to be perfect, I felt a need to be honest – but that took strength. Then others found strength and told their stories and before we knew it we all were sitting around in awe of each other – cheering each other on because we were some amazing women who had survived some really unbelievable things. But the most amazing part was that despite what these women had been through, they still had love to offer to others in pain. In fact, giving away our love is the very thing that was saving us all… little by little and day by day…we all were coming alive again. We were filling each other up in ways that no one had in a very very long time.

In getting to know the women in the Girl Grit group – I now understand that EVERY SINGLE WOMAN has a story. EVERY SINGLE WOMAN has been through tough times to get where she is today. The women who are willing to share their stories are shining a light at the end of the tunnel for others who think they are alone, as if to say, “We’re here!! We know its hard but just follow our voices until you can see your way out!! We won’t leave you!” These are “REAL WOMEN” with “REAL STORIES” and those gracious enough to share will find a place to do it right here…with Miss Perfect Mess.

Here are a few things you need to know about Miss Perfect Mess;

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  • Video interviews posted on Miss Perfect Mess will be true stories about the person being interviewed. She will always know the subject matter & questions before the interview. No “baby daddy” reveals or surprise guests for the sake of drama (sorry Springer fans).
  • Interviews given in the form of a text post will sometimes have names changed but the stories will always be real and true. For reasons that probably don’t need to be explained, not everyone will be comfortable having their name or face attached to their story and we are going to respect that in a really big way.
  • Readers are welcome to comment on posts, articles & interviews with the understanding that disrespect will not be tolerated. No hand slap… no warning shot… (we will learn more about boundaries soon enough) Remember, the platform here is positivity, kindness and support. When in doubt, just don’t. Try pausing, thinking & finding something positive to take away. If you find yourself offended or upset about something (here or anywhere in life) – ask yourself why that is.
  • “Girl Grit” is currently a Facebook group for women who are “Single, Divorced, or Widowed – & not in a committed relationship.” A sub-group is being worked on for women outside of those parameters who may be married, in a committed relationship, separated, etc…and wish to join a group founded in positivity and encouragement. (Watch for more on the 2nd group!)
  • To those who know me personally & have decided to follow (or stalk) this blog… These are my personal truths. My feelings. My journey. I have committed to being honest & open here in hopes that others will find inspiration and that I will gain insight about myself and how to become a better person moving forward. If you think something you read is about you – you might be right, even if you’re wrong (think about it). If you don’t like something you read and you think it was about you – maybe you should have been nicer (there’s still time).


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