I started online dating approximately four months ago (please see Vulnerability Hangover for my launch into online dating). Thrusting a recovering perfectionist into the dating world comes with its share of unique challenges. Currently, I feel like playing it safe and holing up in my apartment with my sweet, splendidly imperfect dog. However, I am not a quitter. I hold tight to my desire to be the most imperfect online dater possible.
The scene from Vulnerability Hangover continues when the elevator doors open and I walk up and meet Scott* (*all names changed to protect the men who provided me with so many beautiful F*&$ing Opportunity for Growth moments). Looking back on my short, but seemingly, painfully long, four month online dating history, I feel grateful that Scott was my first online failure—a total kind-hearted gentleman with an endearing east coast accent. Given I dove feet first into the online dating ocean, the waves tossed and pulled me under. Hence, surfacing to a kind soul like Scott provided the sweet relief I sought. I grabbed on and felt safe. Great guy, light, adventurous and fun . . . I thought, “I can totally do this online dating thing.” I declined dates from other men . . . too complicated . . . I liked Scott. Then, I lovingly opened-my-mouth-and-inserted-my-foot. . . While on a double-date his friend asked me about my online dating experience, and I replied, “all-in-all my experience with online dating has been fairly positive except for the men clearly on a wife hunt.” Usually, overly sensitive me would have asked Scott what brought him to online dating. (First learning curve in online dating, quickly discern if you two are on the same page in regards to what you seek in a relationship!) Yep, I officially earned my place in the scum bucket; and Scott may have appropriately tossed me there. However, in an extremely classy and kind way he initiated a conversation about his desire for a serious relationship and aptly stated that “I was not ready yet.” I truly hope good things are happening for him. Genuinely a remarkable catch, temporarily snagged by an imperfect red-head trying to re-learn her casting skills after an incredibly, heart-breaking divorce.
After this failure, I let the last couple weeks of my three month online subscription run out. However, I recognize that I need to go on a “date-o-rama.” I have to build my confidence, put myself out there and be uncomfortable. I go (with dread and a supportive girlfriend who shows up late) to a “meet up” event and connect with a nice man from the mid-west. My confidence climbs. Hence, I take a leap a few weeks later and sign up for a year-long online dating subscription. Yikes! Honestly, I receive some of the most outlandish matches I can think of . . . seriously, Plano, TX is WAY out of my SoCal geographic region! No, I will not date someone who takes his picture with a tiger, or Hooters waitresses or no shirt. Yes, I will make peace with the fact that I may spend more Saturday nights on the couch in my PJ’s with Frankie (my splendidly imperfect dog).
The moment I embrace datelessness, dates start coming. No sparks or fireworks but some really nice wine and appetizers and exposure to cool wine bars. After a phone call with a seemingly nice man I met online, I take a risk and accept his invitation to dinner (I usually keep a first date to drinks). My expectations remain cautious. However, my date turns out be witty, funny, intelligent, open-minded, handsome . . .my luck is turning . . .I am looking forward to future dates with this guy who may be Mr. Right. It all looks promising. I review all the signs that a guy is into you . . . check, check, check . . .it was so much fun . . . who knows where this will go . . .until three dates later he drops off the face off the earth! Terribly confused, disappointed and anxious, I call my go-to online dating expert, my friend Sara, who met her husband online after several grueling years of online dating.
Me: Sara, Mr. Right disappeared. He was so communicative and took me out on three dates within the span of a little over a week. All the “signs” were there that let me know he was enjoying my company. What did I do wrong? All I did was send a text after our third date, “Thanks for another fantastic evening. Have a great week!” Why has he not communicated in several days? Isn’t that weird? What’s wrong with me? I’m going to be dateless forever!!!!
Sara: He’s not Mr. Right . . . for you.
Me: How do you know that? I mean he met all the qualities on my list – kind, hard-working, intelligent, witty, open-minded, affectionate, handsome, chemistry, etc . . . he even got the “bonus” of enjoys dancing. I am SoCal’s next Ginger Rogers!
Sara: What you listed should be the bare minimum. Mr. Right stays in communication with you, because he is super excited to spend time with you. He would not think of ignoring a text from you, because you are worth staying connected to.
Me: Why would he go out of his way to spend so much time and money on me in a short period of time and then nothing???
Sara: Who knows. All I know is he got a bargain for the pleasure of your company and you should think the same way too.
Me: Hot damn! I need to add good communication skills and consistency to my list. Can I officially wad up his profile and dump it in the scum bucket?
Sara: This is a good “test” for you . . . you know that right?
Me: I know that, but it still stings. When you get hurt, it’s because something brushed up against an area that is already hurting. . . ugh FOG moment!!!!!
Sara: I know it’s hard. Go ahead move this one to the scum bucket, so you have plenty of space for Mr. Right to come into your life.
Honestly, I wish I could approach my online dating with a bit more of a Buddhist mentality such as I wish Mr. Scum Bucket* peace, happiness and ease of being. However, in the interest of protecting my tender-heart at the moment, he is relinquished to the scum bucket.
Although I cannot embrace loving kindness towards Mr. Scum Bucket right now. I do find comfort in welcoming a positive psychology perspective to my experience. For all the difficult, lonely, painful and challenging online dating moments here are several sweet, wonderful moments no one can take from me:
- Dining at many fabulous restaurants which were novel to me.
- Learning how to bake pasta from an Italian chef in a cooking class.
- The sweetest first (post-divorce) kiss I could have asked for.
- Several hand-in-hand walks along the beach.
- Golf lesson.
- Learning about finance and accounting (all my dates happened to be in the industry). I can tell you all about the Sabanes-Oaxley Act. (You say “SOX accounting” if you want to sound in-the-know).
- Wearing my favorite outfit multiple times, because date #2 does not know I wore it when I met date number #1.
- Kisses under the moonlight.
- Rock climbing.
- Feeling attractive to someone.
- Recognizing most of us dating online experienced some tough shit and bad dates.
- Gaining discernment between a sweetheart and a scum bucket.
- How many amazing people I have in my life to pick me up when I experience dating setbacks.
In fact, I am planning to visit some of the aforementioned amazing people in Texas shortly to celebrate my birthday. Hillary Clinton once said it takes a village to raise a child. It also takes a village to support an imperfect online dater. I hope to stumble upon the future love of my life when our shopping carts accidentally collide in a grocery isle . . . or we get stuck on an elevator together . . .or we find each other with a click of a mouse . . .or we happen to sit next to each other on a plane . . . or (universe please feel free to insert an option I did not consider.)
For all you amazingly, imperfect, wonderful online daters, please know you are not alone and should not settle out of fear . . . I would love your comments.
Yes, I do have heart print pajamas, and a splendidly imperfect dog.