Continued from Accomplishments
Online dating is just as murky and full of lemons as finding a used car in the classifieds. Once you learn the lingo, it’s easier to spot the models with high mileage and no warranty. ~ Laurie Perry
In the twenty-eight months after discovery day, I graduated from college, I settled an estate, prepared Sara for college and managed to start dating a little again. After fifteen tumultuous years with Hubby, I had sworn off ever – EVER – falling in love again. I was finished with men and was not shy about announcing it for the first year after I first saw all of his emails. By the end of that first year, my resolve began to soften as I realized that my celibacy left me feeling lonely and in need of adult companionship. I had wonderful friends who included me in most every activity and yet, I lived in a world of couples. Even walking through the mall on a Friday night had me lonely for that whole ‘family’ thing that no longer existed.
I lived in suburbia, a rural area surrounded by soccer fields and subdivisions of four bedroom homes. There weren’t any single men, at least none that I knew of. I wasn’t into the bar scene, nor were any of my girlfriends and so meeting someone that might offer a sense of camaraderie seemed impossible, or at the very least, improbable. I decided to try an online dating service. I registered on Match.com, it seemed to be the most popular at that time and I had hoped that paying a fee meant that people there would be serious. I spent countless hours perusing profiles of wanton men who couldn’t spell and or thought that watching football was, by itself, a sport. There were others, professional men who were seeking female counterparts but I soon realized that most of the people in my age group were seeking younger women.
I reached out to a few people with a ‘wink’ and received a few in return. I had a brief conversation with one of the fellows through email but didn’t have the nerve to take it any further. Online dating can be excruciatingly detrimental to one’s ego, perhaps more so than face to face dating as even an electronic ‘wink’ goes ignored. There is no way to produce a multi-dimensional description of yourself that embodies a relative snapshot of who you are. As such, we all take a chance that the person reading the profile information will be left wanting more information but too often, we turn away because there just isn’t enough there to be enticing. I wasn’t looking to fall in love, just hang out with someone who was also divorced.
At the time, a friend of a friend who had been widowed was also doing some online dating and we had an opportunity to exchange stories. She told me about running across a profile of someone in the community whom she knew – someone who was married. She told me as a measure of caution so that I would be sure to ask the right questions and exercise prudence. It made me wonder if Hubby ever had an online portfolio while we were married… she went on to describe a few deplorable dates from her personal experience, one where a guy showed up, handed her a list of characteristics he was looking for and asked if she was open to complying. She said she stood up and walked out and I sat there with my mouth open, listening to the stories, not sure that I wanted to pursue this much further.
Another friend had tried a personal dating service, It’s Just Lunch – where someone interviews you in person, takes photos, and then calls you with a scheduled blind date lunch. It seemed harmless enough but it was grossly expensive. At least, I told myself, that the people there were probably more financially independent than perhaps those who were on the internet. In the spirit of YOLO, I decided to give it a try.
I actually went on a couple of those dates. The only thing that I had to do was show up and have a conversation. The first guy was nice and tall but super thin. He explained that he was a marathon runner and asked if I was athletic. I’m pretty sure he could tell just by looking at me that I wasn’t athletic, each one of my thighs was the size of his waist. If he stood in front of me, I would have spilled over on each side. I instantly felt insecure and all of those old mental thoughts about not being good enough because of my body shape came flooding over me. I knew right away that I wasn’t willing to face that challenge every day and so, I said goodbye to number one.
The second date was almost as strange. We met for lunch and had a really nice time. He was seated when I arrived and didn’t stand. I thought that was odd… I recognized immediately that I expected a certain level of courtesy, of manners. I was taught to stand when being introduced. Strike one. I recall having a nice lunch, building hope that this may turn into a second date and then we stood to leave… um. No wonder he didn’t stand – he was at least two inches shorter than me – which was weird because it was one of the major deal-breakers that my interviewer knew – I wanted a man taller than my 5’10” frame. I was instantly disappointed but tried not to show it. He walked me to my car – very gentlemanly of him – and then tried to kiss me; on the lips. Ugh! First date buddy! Strike two. You should have asked – strike three, I thought.
My interviewer explained that she didn’t have many people to choose from in my geographical area and so she had to compromise on a few of the ‘items from my desired list’. We agreed not to ignore my top three… tall, professional, and younger than 50. I didn’t think that was too much to ask.
Date three… really nice guy handsome, tall, 46, and within an hour’s drive. I was instantly attracted until we began talking about family. It seems that he didn’t marry until he was 40 and had been widowed when his wife passed away during a complicated childbirth. Well, we had widowhood in common. And then, the dropped the bomb – he had 4-year-old triplets. YIKES!! So sad really, but no way… I was absolutely not, raising someone else’s kids; not for twelve more years. Holy cow, I would be almost sixty before I had any freedom – that was a deal breaker that I hadn’t thought I had to specify.
I took a break, letting my interviewer know that we just weren’t on the same page. I wasn’t necessarily looking for love but I was looking for a good match of compatibility. It was a couple o f weeks later when IJL called and scheduled another date… “This one”, she said, “met all of my criteria”. Ok, now I was excited. I met Jay for lunch and while he wasn’t the most handsome man I had seen, he had all of the other qualities that were important to me. He was tall, charming, smart, professional, the right age, the right demeanor… it was all off to a really nice start and we agreed to have dinner next.
I drove home like a giddy teenager. I amazed me that no matter your age, meeting someone new had the same impetus that it had at any other time in life. I was anxious to call my girlfriend and share the experience with her. Sherry had been a friend for a number of years, she knew Hubby and me professionally and somewhere along the line, our business dinners morphed into pleasure as we enjoyed getting to know she and her husband personally. About two years prior, I had connected with her because of business but somehow connected – woman to woman – and we became personal friends. Since then, she had been one of the most supportive people in my life, always there. Together, we imagined all kinds of possibilities that more dates with Jay might offer.