Online dating isn’t for everyone, but it works for me. Words and how someone uses them play a big role in my life. Before I spend time in the real world meeting someone, I want to see how they communicate. I want to see that they are willing to put the energy into a well-written profile. I want to exchange quite a few messages with the person over several days or a week to see what they like to talk about and gauge how interesting they are. I rarely agree to meet someone unless they enthusiastically participate in this process. I’m not saying that makes the date more likely to be successful; I’ve had as much hit or miss as anyone else. It’s just my style.
Upon declaring myself a single person on February 2 this year, I thought all men were gross. The thought of even looking at or talking to a man sickened me. I couldn’t imagine ever getting close to one again. And then, suddenly, I changed my mind. Nothing in particular did it for me. It just happened. Well, almost. I opened a Bumble account and then closed it five minutes later. The next day, I opened a Tinder account and closed it five minutes later. A few days later, I built an OK Cupid profile and then immediately disabled it for a week. And then I reactivated it and actually started talking to people. And just like last time I was single, I realized it was fun. Everyone has a story to tell and I enjoy uncovering those stories and learning about lives that aren’t mine. And, let’s be honest, the attention and flirting helps the healing process.
So, in early March, having received enough engaging communication from several attractive men, I decided it was time to date. And boy did I! Four dates in one week, to be exact, including one who captivated me and held on tight.
The Restaurant Manager: No. Just no. This date reinforced my belief that I need to communicate a lot with someone before I agree to meet in person. I broke my own rule and exchanged only a few brief messages with this person before we met and I knew from the second we met that it was going nowhere. But I had a good reason to agree to this date; I had date #2 coming up two days later and was nervous about it and didn’t want it to be my first date after my relationship. This was essentially a practice date to ease back into the game. What went wrong? He was chewing (smacking, really) gum the whole time; he asked me almost no questions about myself and the few times he did, he didn’t really listen and went back to talking about himself as soon as I finished talking, rather than asking for more information or clarification; he had way too many good ol’ boy stories about his youth and glorious college days, even though he was in his mid 40s; and, to top it off, he had some sketchy story about why his age was listed wrong on OK Cupid that had something to do about getting banned from Tinder. And…I’m out.
The Software Salesman: This man was my ex, only 12 years older. He had the same kind of job, gray hair, traveled a lot for work, owned a nice house, was the same height, and his name began with the same letter. What was I thinking? That I could step right back into what I had, only with someone more mature and caring? I don’t know. I didn’t know a lot of those details when I started talking to him, so I’d like to think there wasn’t some subconscious workings in my brain that made me want to meet him only out of a desire to recapture what I lost. We had a lot of great messages back and forth, and I was excited and nervous to meet him. But like the first guy, I knew as soon as I saw him that it wasn’t going to happen. He seemed, well, he seemed too much his age. I date within a wide range of ages because calendar age isn’t always behavioral age, but this guy was firmly in his late forties and not coming back to anything youthful. There were also some things he did and said on the date that reminded me of what I don’t like about my ex. Too many similarities in personality traits, actions, and circumstances that made me wary. I felt bad, because he was earnest and sweet and we had good conversation, but I unhesitatingly told him no at the end of date.
The Writer: For a time, he was a passionate, playful, attentive, sensual, and invigorating interlude that my soul desperately needed. Ultimately, the way we began wasn’t sustainable, but I couldn’t end the fantasy and rejoin reality by transitioning into a more normalized relationship with him, so we ended things. I didn’t think I’d have to make such a hard choice in my life twice in three months.
The Software Engineer: I wanted to like this guy. I really, really wanted to be attracted to him. We had a lot in common and I know we would get along well. He was sweet, intelligent, inventive, hard-working, open to new experiences, curious, emotionally open, well-traveled, and, bonus points for him, he was the only guy to suggest the place for the date. And when we mutually determined his suggestion wasn’t such a good idea, he came up with something else right away. The other three guys told me to plan the first date. Maybe that’s being chivalrous/flexible, but I don’t like it. It feels like a lack of effort. Most unfortunately, there was no spark. None. The chemistry was not there and I don’t think that’s because I had already had one date with The Writer and was so eagerly anticipating the next one. I simply wasn’t attracted to him and nothing can change that. It’s a strange thing when people do look like their photos – there was no deception – but there’s something different somehow in person. Something you can’t quite put your finger on. That’s happened to me before and that was definitely the case here.
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I am no longer in the emotional tornado The Writer and I whipped up, but I’m not back on solid ground yet. I need a little time to mourn the choice being a self-aware adult led me to make. It was the right choice. Had I decided otherwise, it would have meant that I learned nothing from my last relationship. But regret doesn’t always come from making the wrong choice. Knowing you did the right thing and having regrets about what you did aren’t mutually exclusive. So, I need to breathe for a little bit before I engage Cupid’s services again.