I remember a time when meeting someone who was just as damaged was a bit of a relief. Everyone walking…
While I was writing my dating profile, I told my roommate I would meet up with anyone who asked. Finding someone who is smart, funny, charming, positive, attractive, and has a good sense of humor is extremely difficult so why not take myself outside of my comfort zone, have fun with it, and see what happens? The idea was that I would learn more about myself and help refine, or reDEfine, what it is that I find attractive. Because if what I know hasn’t worked in the past, why not scrap everything in hopes for a better future?
I have read thousands of online profiles and it is always interesting to see what people publicly cast as figurative lures into the online dating pool. There are always the typical pictures like guys showing their abs in the bathroom mirror or women in large clouds of pigment in color runs. I don’t know how much thought people truly put into their profile but I do know that it seems as if people don’t put much thought into how others may interpret their words and pictures. It’s not so much the big things like if you have children or how much money you make as much as it is about how much compassion, understanding, and rational thinking you display. So many people make the mistake that compatibility is based upon a list of shared music tastes and similar religions, and while that might make things a little easier, it bares no indication on how a partner will handle when the drive-thru gets their order wrong at Taco bell or if someone will help you do the dishes after a long day of work. While you might choose Garth Brooks over Led Zepplin or The Goonies over Breakfast At Tiffanys or if they’re Catholic and you are Jewish – none of that matters when you’re waiting for a cab at the airport because someone was too selfish to drag themselves from the couch and pick you up from your vacation.
She was pretty and had good hair. Healthy, blonde, and thick – as if she has just stepped from the salon with loose curls and beachy waves that could hold up even in the middle of a thunderstorm. When I looked at the sidebar of her profile, I noticed we were not even close on our political or religious views. I groaned and sighed the way I do when I remember when year it is and that people still believe in archaic ideology. But that wasn’t the point. The point was to put myself in front of anyone who asked. And she asked.
We sat outside at a table on the patio of a local coffee shop. She was calm and collected. Like she had done this a million times and couldn’t be more at home with making conversation with a stranger she just met a few days ago online. I always like to think I play it cool but who knows. I could have been an over-talking mess like I tend to do when I feel even slightly uncomfortable.
I did my best to stay away from political or religious topics and instead focused on sharing recent dating horror stories. Always a good ice-breaker, these kind of stories foster a compassion between two people who have been on a similar journey. Plus, you get to see what offends a person and what they’re not willing to stand for. It really is telling of a person’s character. As we talked, she mentioned that some guy attempted to kiss her goodnight on a first date and she wasn’t having it. This piqued my curiosity.
“So was it because you weren’t into him or you weren’t attracted to him?” I asked, “So what made it so uncomfortable?”
“I just don’t kiss strangers right away.”
“But didn’t you guys spend your evening together?”
“So that still makes him a stranger?”
“Yes.” She said, “I have to learn a lot more about a person before I get physical with them.”
All of this was perfectly fine. No matter how badly you want to kiss someone, no one has the right to force themselves or shame anyone for not wanting to kiss on the first date. And maybe this comes off as a bit judgmental, I found it repressed and unappealing and it was a mentality I just couldn’t identify with. Again, this was fine but I was pretty sure there was simply no way we could ever work out and as our conversation progressed, I could tell from her verbal and physical cues that she felt the same. I thought about cutting the date short and leaving. There was no reason to sit across from her and continue to waste both of our time if I knew it wouldn’t work out. But part of me just relaxed. The pressure had been lifted and I at one point we agreed that it wouldn’t go any further. There was a distinct and familiar pause. The “oh, look at what time it is” dead air. I looked at the ground and thought about my exit strategy then said, “Let me ask you something. What would make you happy?”
“In what regard?”
“Well you’re on these dating sites to find someone to date, I assume?”
“And I assume that everyone you have been with in the past has not measured up in some regard?”
“I think that’s safe to assume.” She said.
“So be real with me. We know this isn’t going to work so you can be honest. What do you think it would take for you to be happy within a relationship?”
The pressure was gone. She didn’t need to worry about any potential red flags she would cast. There was no need to hold back because she was no longer trying to impress me and I could see her posture relax in her seat and she just went for it. She unloaded and told me about how she just feels so alone and insecure. That she feels guilty going back home to Michigan to visit family and having no one to bring for the holidays. That she feels like she jinxed herself by planning her future wedding ever since she was in 7th grade. While she never allowed herself to cry, I saw her eyes go glassy a couple times. She was strong and prideful, but she was soft and was frustrated that she had so much love to give but never finding the right one no matter how many times she had met people for drinks.
I loved her honesty and I fell in love with her vulnerability. It was what I looked for in every person I have ever wanted to keep close. She was insecure and exposed. Her voice trembled and she sounded desperate. Desperate to love. And it was funny in the way that it was in stark contrast to her stoic and curt profile. She told me that she expected me to be more serious in real life and I told her that I expected her to be confrontational and abrasive – we were both wrong. And it made me rethink the lures I cast out for everyone to read and judge. And it made me want to rush home, erase everything and start again. Not just the online profile, and not just what I thought about dating, but what could truly make me happy.