A month ago I posted that I knew it was too soon to try to begin dating again because my foray onto match.com ended with me crying. But healing is a powerful thing and I’ve spent much of the last few weeks feeling more and more sure that I was ready to dip my toe back in the dating pool. So last Monday night, after sufficient liquid courage (red wine) I did it. I logged onto match.com and filled out my profile and uploaded photos and waited. The good news is that I got all kinds of messages and winks and stars but was informed I had to subscribe to the tune of $40 to see who sent them. Blackmail. I was not going to become the dating industrial complexes latest hustle (plus everything I talked about in this post), so I went to okcupid.
Okcupid was where I met my ex. Logging back into my profile (yep, they never go away) took me to our original messages exchanged three and a half years ago. I was reminded of how fun that period is. The getting to know each other phase. I also noticed how many of the men who had messaged me in 2010 were still on there. Grim. But I got to work. It was immediately apparent that this is where the cute men are. I was reassured.
I updated my profile but realized I had no new profile photos to upload (it turns out when you’re in a couple, most of the pictures you have include your partner) so I left the old ones on there. I’m pretty sure I look essentially the same as I did in 2009. After day 2 I began feeling apprehensive. I was noticing that most of the men described themselves with so much sarcasm and irony that you can’t help but feel that you’re reading the class clown’s page in his senior yearbook. For example, “About me: ‘saving babies and old women at night and wearing suit and hipster glasses by day.’ The 5 things I could not live without: ‘coffee, sarcasm, my goldfish, cheese sticks, the Simpsons.’ You should message me if: ‘You have great taste in men!’” And it wasn’t a few here and there. It was the vast majority. I was beginning to feel that I had stumbled into the cyber waiting area for the most acute cases of peter pan syndrome. I also was feeling less confident in my approach.
I swear I told myself I was willing to go out with anyone, to stay open, but the vast majority of the men who emailed me were either creepy or unimpressively curt. Like the guy who just wrote, “Hi.” But there were a few that sounded like they’d be nice, despite their slightly dorky attire and Star Wars pun profile name “obi-want-to-know-me?” But I didn’t. I started to sense something else looming. I began to realize that being back in the cyber dating world was taking me out of my I-just-moved-to-Oakland-and-want-to-get-to-know-it mode, that I had come to really love. I was getting home from work and poring over the catalog of emotionally unavailable rock climbers and Burning Man aficionados and not getting outside and actually meeting people. I remember being able to orient the two seamlessly (or so I thought) but that wasn’t now. So I deactivated my account. Again.
Today my therapist asked me what I was afraid of, just generally in life (you’ll have to take my word that this was in context). And though I feel like society (and some relatives) would expect the first thing out of my 34 year old single mouth to be “that I’ll be alone forever and die in an EZ lounger surrounded by 30 cats,” that wasn’t it. That’s not my worry. I have such firm faith it will work out. I look around me and ask how I could possible conclude otherwise. It’s almost silly to waste time thinking it won’t. It takes away the joy I feel when I’m out exploring and the elation I’ve felt at getting to spend quality time with lovely people and also with myself. Three years in a frequently challenging relationship will teach you things. And without some down-time to let all of that sink in and have space, I risk losing the wisdom of it. And that risk is not one I am willing to take. Even if it means Luke Cybertalker has to wait a while.