[or, why online dating doesn’t work for me]
Disclaimer: Online dating is completely legitimate; I am not judging anyone for using it, and I’m actually a bit jealous of those of you who can.
Some time after I separated from my ex-husband, I naturally wanted to try dating again. Working second shift (and weekends to boot,) it is, shall we say, “difficult” to meet people organically. A mad scramble to enjoy an hour and a half at a bar after work doesn’t lend itself to getting to know people there, and not many acquaintances are going to be up for doing something after midnight on a “school night.”
What the heck, I thought; I’ll give this online thing a go.
I signed up for the least offensive online dating site I could find, meticulously and thoroughly filled out my profile (because words are my addiction,) took a photo of myself I could stand to have online, and published the whole kit and kaboodle.
As is the case with any female profile, the men pounced quickly, and relentlessly. It wasn’t long before I was matched up with, as far as I could tell, every living being with a pulse within a 50-mile radius. Most of them were not very compelling, more than a few worked with me (awkward,) some were outright NOPE, and a very few piqued my interest. Like maybe two. My hopes plummeted rapidly.
Some of those who messaged me seemed genuine, others were clearly nothing I wanted anything to do with, but the sheer volume knocked me back. A lot. I tried to answer each one with something personal to the original message, but quickly realized that would be a full-time job unto itself. Clenching my teeth against my own rude behavior, I started deleting those who were clearly just non-starters without replying.
I did end up meeting someone from that site, and he was great. His introduction was essentially, “are you a real person?” He was actually what I would consider wayyyy out of my league – a true Grown-Up; a lawyer, a father with kids out of the house, obviously very intelligent, well-informed, politically and recreationally compatible, attractive – all the things. We went on a few dates over the course of a month or so, and despite enjoying his company, I just couldn’t get comfortable; there was something huge and oppressive holding me back, and I couldn’t put my finger on it. I loved conversing with him over email, but in person felt a little … the first word which comes to mind is “caged,” as if there were all these inherent expectations I wasn’t sure I wanted anything to do with just yet.
How does one navigate these online dating situations, in terms of etiquette? I have no idea.
I’m reasonably certain that caged feeling was a product of my own insecurities and neuroticism, and that what I perceived as a fraught environment was anything but. Still, it was there, and I couldn’t ignore it (neither could he; he noticed.)
As unfair as it may be, it was having met online. The only reason we met was because we were both looking for someone to date: That’s not something I’d dealt with previously. As much in common as we actually did have, all of that was (in my mind) overridden by the fact we didn’t meet through natural happenstance. This is irrational, I know; get over it, edar.
Typically, and I suspect this is true of most of us, I have dated people I met through shared interests (pool, motorcycles, guns, writing, anything,) mutual friends, or at work. Given my schedule, I have limited time for hobbies during normal waking hours, and my friends these days consist almost entirely of co-workers.
Dating people at work is largely out of the question, because I am a supervisor, and most of the people who share anything close to my schedule are not (not to mention, it’s not generally a good idea to date from the work pool, right?)
To go back a moment, I have fallen in love with people I’ve met online – sometimes even before having met them in person – but not through dating sites. These are people I met through email lists, games, and other venues which were very much not about dating.
Evidently, for me, I need to have that shared common experience, that foundation which has been laid without the overtones put forth by having met through online dating. While I’m not always a “friends first” kind of person at all, it apparently does make things easier by orders of magnitude.
Too, I enjoy my solitude immensely; more often than not, I am content being alone. The last person I dated ran into that obstacle time and again – he wanted to spend more time together, and I….. didn’t. Ideally, I’ll find someone who makes me want to spend time together, but in my head, I can’t even imagine what that would feel like anymore.
To get back to the already belabored point, barely a month after having signed up for the free dating service, I nuked my profile and fled, never looking back.
I know people who have married someone they met through online dating, and many more who have had wonderful, fun experiences. It’s been a year now since I tried it, and I still can’t bring myself to go back, despite being cautiously interested in maybe sort of dating someone, and having precisely zero appropriate prospects at hand.
Finding someone who not only has a compatible schedule, but who can put up with my nonsense is likely going to be a long, rough road. I suspect blood will spill from some of the bumps. Maybe it’ll be fun?
(Maybe I’m an Albanian jet pilot)