The Year of Dating Dangerously

Last night I attended a wedding. As one might expect, a couple of us single women chatted about meeting and dating eligible 40-something men. I wrote the following piece before I moved to Iowa, but it carries relevance today for anyone on Match, Eharmony, Plenty of Fish, OkCupid, or anything else that purports to find a happily ever after for you.

First things first: for my mother’s peace of mind and clarification.  There was never any real danger – physically or otherwise.  And, secondly, it wasn’t really a year, more like seven months, on and off.  Finally, as a point of reference for all readers:  I was not looking for an oath-swearing-jewelry-and-flowers-giving man.  Someone to go to the movies with, have a meal and a good conversation with once in a while, and make out with, if I had actually stated a goal, which I didn’t.

When the ink is dry on divorce papers, there’s something about that finality that can make one think, “Well, shit, let’s party.”  I didn’t think that.  I thought, well, ok.  And left it alone for a while. As summer approached, I decided to look around on several online dating sites.  Friends tell me that the online meeting thing is no longer taboo, but just,again to clarify: I work in a high school, so I meet married fathers of my students, colleagues who are married or involved, and teenagers.  I don’t go to bars, and the whole grocery store cliche is just that. So, what’s a single woman to do?

At different times this year, I used two of the more highly advertised paid sites (an ad at every SINGLE commercial break, if one is watching a “Sex and the City” marathon).  The sites themselves were fine, and the people were just that: human beings.  Vulnerable, heart-broken, happy, frustrated, desperate, proud human beings.  There was nothing “wrong” with any of the men I went out with.  Certainly, there were those with more pronounced quirks, and it is from observing and being on the receiving end of said quirks, that I offer the following for any man engaging in online dating:

  1.  Be honest, but don’t give a list of your bodily imperfections (undescended testicle), your ex’s problems (threatens you physically on a regular basis), or your sexual demands before we even meet.
  1.  It does not entice me to go home with you if you offer to smoke weed with me (I am one of three people in my generation who has never done that) or take Viagra.
  1.  If we proceed out of the site’s blind email system to texting, talking, and private email, do not send me pictures of anything below the waist.  It is not pretty, and no, I will never, under any circumstances – even if I were dying of some dread disease that could only be diagnosed through a photo of “down there” and you were the world’s leading expert on this disease and could cure me by seeing such a picture – reciprocate. I’d rather die.

Now, I have friends who have or are engaged in online dating who are far more humorous than I on this topic.  Other friends are invested and really believe they will meet their soul mates and that Dr. WithThreeNames can help them do just that.  I wish you all the best, but I have signed off.

Still, it hasn’t been for naught.  I have met some pretty interesting people, and they may show up as characters in short stories or spoken word poems in the near future.  And, there are exactly two men whom I met that I like, and ta-da, although we are not dating, we remain friends.  My sister would say that being friends is better any way.

datingSo, in the future, I’ll not be on any dating websites.  I’m thinking about training for a triathlon, continuing to write short stories and poetry, visiting with my friends of 20+ years, trying to survive hot yoga without passing out, participating in writing groups and poetry readings, and hanging out with my sons (best dates ever!).

Still, I have several thoughts about “dating” or meeting men online that keep recurring as I reflect on that year of dating:

  1.  FALSE BUFFET: The concept of a buffet is that there are many dishes to try, and it is better to have a little bit of everything than a lot of one. In dating it goes like this: so many people to try!  They are all here for my sampling!  Well, no.  One may start communicating with someone…perhaps someone with whom one has common ground and attraction…and then, it is easy to get distracted by a new dish that is put out on the buffet.  One may not be as interested in the newer one, but simply because it’s newer, one is intrigued.  This leads to a viscous cycle of never striking out beyond the superficial “sampling” with anyone.  Ultimately, if one stays at the buffet, one meets a lot of people in a shallow way, but still goes home alone, and with a cloying aftertaste on the palate.
  1. THE BOOK STORE FRUSTRATION: A situation articulated by a friend of mine. Being on dating sites is like searching for something new to read. You are looking for a really good book. A book you can enjoy and spend time with, and really savor the depth of narrative and the character development.  Then you walk into Advanced Auto Parts. They may have books there, but those are not the books you are looking for. You are continually disappointed.
  1. THE JAPAN EFFECT: After dating various men (different ages, professions, and interests), I had a friend ask me how things were going. I was at a loss. There are rules and approaches and dos and don’ts. It’s ridiculous that one can’t really be just a human being and interact with human beings. I did not understand the landscape of online dating. So, I responded, “It is like  being in rural Japan.  I neither speak the language nor can I read the signs.”

As I told my friends when I signed off the dating sites,  I will be staying a little closer to home in the foreseeable future.

Married, single, or somewhere in between, I wish everyone love, light, and happiness.

Join me.



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