Dating Lessons from a Cut-Rate Flounder

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I overdid the on-line dating thing and am now in recovery. I have killed off my avatar of amour, my doppelganger of dating. I am no longer on any sites, my phone is quiet in the evenings and I have stopped over-using the emoji library. Since we are mortal and I hate to think it was all a waste of time, here is what I learned from my time as Ladywriter99 on Tinder, Plenty of Fish, J-Date and OK Vapid.
1. My Time is valuable

Ok, I don’t have a real job. But even for an unemployed slacker, on-line dating takes a lot of time. Many guys proposed a first meeting on a day when they said they’d have some free time. They said they’d text me that day to let me know when we could meet up. And on that day, I heard….nothing. You wouldn’t treat a business meeting like that.

On the day of the meeting, I arranged my activities so I wouldn’t be covered in gardening dirt or work out sweat around the time of the alleged meet up. Which then never happened. I didn’t want to insist on a set meet up time because I wanted to seem flexible and chill. Actually, I am rigid and high-strung. Anyway, if you don’t want to meet me, just say so. It’s fine. I’m a writer, I can deal with rejection.

2. I am not a Commodity

Meeting new prospects required serious maintenance. No trashed, dirty nails from gardening. A low-cal diet to remain at my “fighting weight.” No postponing appointments with my (ahem) hair colorist.

One well-meaning, Harley-driving fellow suggested I put up hotter pictures of myself on my dating profile. Perhaps in heels and a tight black dress. He thought I looked too girl-next-door in my existing photos. He was probably right, but it’s hard to think of yourself as merchandise. Although it’s probably realistic.

One of my girlfriends met her soul mate within a few weeks of going on Plenty of Fish. She gloated “I don’t stay on the market for long!” I contemplated my far longer time “on the market,” i.e. Plenty of Fish, and felt like a cut-rate flounder. Maybe I should discount myself.

Enough. No more marketing myself to strangers. I’ve cancelled several of my appearance-related appointments. I haven’t worn eye make up for weeks.. I eat lots of carrot cake. I’m in a happier place.

3. The on-line guys are not my BFFS

Some of the guys who e-mailed me wanted to text or talk before we’d meet up. This could go on for weeks. It was fun texting with these folks, hearing about their days, seeing their photos, or getting links to their favorite music. (The unsolicited nude selfies were something else).

But often, despite fabulous virtual conversations, and creative uses of the emoji library, we’d never actually meet up. Or we would, but there wasn’t any spark. It was fun to pretend I had lots of guy pals to text with in the evenings. But these weren’t real friendships. They didn’t last past the first meet up. Or they’d fizzle when no initial meet up materialized.

I was addicted to having someone to talk to in the evenings, even if it was just a prelude to a meet up that never happened. Someone was texting with me, I felt wanted! Better to put my efforts into making more lasting friendships in the real world.

4. Dating and Regurgitation Do not Mix

After a few first dates with the angrily divorced, or the “not yet emotionally processed” divorced, I started to feel like Miss Lonelyhearts. This is an initial meet up. I won’t tell you about my acid stomach problems. Please don’t discuss your money-grubbing ex-wife, who didn’t appreciate you, and/or had an affair with your exterminator. After a while of listening to this, I start to wonder about YOUR judgment skills. Go on a bit longer, and I really need to hear HER side of the story.

There was the otherwise attractive, charming fellow who insisted in discussing “The Women who Ruined His Life” in detail. Much, much detail. Like to understand him, I needed a precise topological map of his past several relationships. Um…no.

Emotional bulimia. The clichéd drunk girl importuning “ask me anything,” and then confessing whatever it is she wishes her soul mate would ask. But her date is probably not her soul mate. And her judgment is impaired. We long for emotional intimacy, for some one to really “get” us, but indiscriminately puking out our inner secrets won’t get us there.

And yes, I did used go on too much about my late husband. I’m working on that.

5. I’m Good at Meeting Strange Men for Vapid Exchanges

I was with my late husband for thirty-two years. After he died, my plan was to melt into my sofa in a haze of dark chocolate gelato and Nicholas Sparks movies. I would be the woman in the bourbon-stained bathrobe buying the giant, economy-sized Bombay Sapphire gin and twelve Butterfingers at Bevmo.

But I “got out there.” Too much.

Still, I enjoyed the process. Most of the time. I put myself together, presented myself well, had lot’s of fun chats with strangers…and even had a few memorable experiences. Being on four dating sites and sometimes having two or three meet-ups in one day, my multi-taking skills improved. I can text, e-mail, eat pre-made kale soup (fighting weight) and watch “Californication” at the same time!

Maybe this will be decent preparation for job interviews. Probably not. But I did feel socially adept. And adaptable. And resilient. Which is far better than isolated without options. So, I deem my foray into virtual love a qualified success. Good bye for now, Ladywriter99.

Ok, it’s boring writing in a void.  Anyone else out there learn any thing, change their lives and/or get arrested  from real or virtual dating?

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