The Dating Game

I have had a cumulative online dating experience of roughly 11 years, which is nothing to brag about. It’s the equivalent of being a grizzled veteran. You might say I’m jaded, or you could say I have a healthy skepticism, depending on how well-versed you are with “the scene.”

I have enough experience to know, to feel, to intuit the bad and keep it at bay, but I’m not so confident that I think I am infallible. Because of that, I am a bit cautious. I move slowly and I don’t get my hopes up. That sounds bad, right? If I am not hopeful, why am I trying to date?, you might ask. I put myself out there because at heart I am an optimist. I think anything is possible. But I’m also a realist, and experience has taught me that a really good phone call following a series of upbeat digital communications is not enough to give you a sense of whether it could work out. In fact, even if you’ve chatted or spoken or even video chatted with someone for months, you can’t be sure.

Now you’re thinking, “Well duh!” But when you’re single, and outgoing, as I am, you might send a greeting to 100 people to get a reply from 5. Of the 5, 3 are dreadful and after one exchange, neither of you replies back again (like the guy whose headline was “Trump supporters only”). 2 exchange a few, friendly, maybe flirty messages, show signs of intelligence, have jobs, cars and someplace to live. Honestly, you start to get your hopes up. For me it’s automatic, and I have to catch myself feeling that and stop it in its tracks. You can’t get twitterpated over someone you haven’t met.

I know there are people out there who fell in love over the internet from afar. I know there are people who just know, love at first chat or text or whatever. Not this chick. And wouldn’t you know, 1 of the 5 people who reply to me… 1 of the 3 who are bad news right off the bat, seems to fall madly in love with me immediately. And there is NO. WAY. In response, I have developed a special talent for turning off people that I don’t want in pursuit of me. Really, it’s a super power. It’s the amazing power of awkwardness… the ability to say the honest, direct thing, and the thing you know they don’t want to hear. They want me to complement them or to flirt or to somehow act interested. And I am a tactful person, so I try not to be mean to anyone. But sometimes…

I am really honest in my profiles about myself and what I am, and am not, looking for. Some of my specifications include a leftist political persuasion and higher education. Invariably, I am contacted by, what I am sure is a very nice guy, who is not attractive to me visually, and he is neither educated nor liberal. The messages are overly complementary, and borderline pushy regarding getting together for a date. That is, if I can make out the mangled messages.

My first response would be, “Have you read my profile?” If they have not, they usually will not write back again, or they will write back to tell me off in reaction to something they find offensive in the profile (like, that I support Black Lives Matter), and they will block me before I can reply. The rest will say yes, they read it, and they don’t mind. As if I need their permission to be who I am. They completely miss that they are nothing like the person I am looking for.

I will then point out that I am looking for someone with this or that quality and ask if they think they meet those criteria. It’s particularly easy when it comes to education level because that is usually an item on your profile that you complete when you set it up. I already know they do not have any college under their belts. So I ask if they have any higher education. The last guy who did this said, “No, but I’m smart.” Uh… no. I just didn’t answer.

So approximately 3-4 times a year someone gets through all of the preliminaries, chats with me successfully, moves to phone conversation, and even to a face-to-face date! Well, still it’s too soon to get hopes up. Unfortunately something is really, really broken in society and men (probably women too, but I don’t date them) don’t know how to conduct themselves.

Best case scenario, the date goes well, good conversation, good rapport, a certain level of attraction, and as the date concludes, you both say it was great, let’s do it again. 90% of them won’t ever see you again. Either they just never contact you to get together again, or they do but they fizzle out before you arrange a second date. The few that do make it to a second date will tend to either also say date #2 was great but fail to make date #3, or they will be inappropriate in some way during the second date. These are the best case scenarios, where you would even entertain a second date. Honestly, there were many I thought would be wonderful, but date #2 never materialized.

Then there are the ones you never want to see again or who do things that raise red flags on date #1 that don’t make you run away, but make you think about walking. One thing I hate passionately is when a guy shushes me. Sometimes they will say something like “You talk a lot.” Or they will cut me off in the middle of telling them something by trying to kiss me. Who do you think you are, James Bond? This is not 1962! I’m trying to tell you about myself and asking you to tell me about yourself so we can get to know each other better, and all you want to do is suck face? *eye roll* It’s childish. To even get this far, one has to know and at least feign an appreciation for the fact that I am a thinker, and a talker. If either of those 2 qualities rub you the wrong way, don’t even bother setting up a date, because I’m not going to sit there and play dumb or mute.

I’m also not going to have sex with you on the first date. Or the second. Probably not the third either. And if you apply pressure to try to change my mind, you’re never going to have sex with me. The idea that a man in his mid-to-late 40s or early 50s is expecting a BJ on a first date really shows the level of moral decay one faces in dating in 2017. I’m not even talking about religion. I am not of the mind that sex is bad. But I am of the mind that exposing yourself to lots of people, and therefore all the people they have exposed themselves to, is a bad thing. I have been in a feisty mood at times and had someone online start a debate with me about whether it is ok to not have sex right off the bat, and instead of ending the conversation, I chose to educate them about HPV. More than one told me he never wanted to have sex again afterward. Mission accomplished. Maybe he’ll think twice before he lays down with any toothless Sally who is looking for attention in the future.

I have conflicting feelings about free love and women’s lib and the impact of birth control on female sexuality in the 20th and now 21st Centuries. I am all on board the anti-slut-shaming bus. The double standards for women and men when it comes to sexual practices are just stupid and serve nobody. A healthy sexuality is a big part of being a healthy whole person. On the other hand, if you aren’t 100% comfortable with someone and they want you to be, it’s not right. And even with all the birth control available (and who knows for how long, the way 45 is going), something like HPV is still transmitted. There are still serious consequences to potentially face. And for what? Maybe a few hours of pleasure? Like the song says, “Well I should know by now that it’s just a spasm…” All the hype and drama around a spasm, really boggles the mind.

And maybe it seems ridiculous to me because that’s the LEAST important thing about having an “intimate partner.” The most important is the contact and togetherness. I mean, you could be fully dressed, and a gentle touch on the cheek could be more intimate than some of what is happening in people’s bedrooms today. People are too wrapped up in themselves, how they feel, what they want to do, how they imagine it. It can never be great until you get out of yourself. But people don’t care about that anymore. Like anything else, it’s all about what they can get, and how fast. So this is where the ones who make it past the initial meeting seem to hit the wall the most – their expectations of sexual behavior too soon and without any kind of emotional bond. I’m just not into it. It’s too risky, and that takes the fun out of it for me. I guess I’m just not made that way.

So there’s the disconnect – I’m trying to learn you, get used to the physicality of you, see if we have basic personality and lifestyle compatibility, and you’re thinking about putting the moves on me. I was actually told recently, when I expressed how important I thought it was to know each other better, and to see if there is compatibility, that being attracted was enough. Nope. Not for me. You made it far enough to get a meeting, but certainly not past the point where I would feel comfortable having sex of any kind. The response I get to this is almost universally that there’s something wrong with me. That I am not normal. Au contraire, I think it’s completely abnormal to expect anything upon meeting except to be treated with respect.

This tells me that either all men are wired wrong, or women are giving them whatever they want without having to work for it at all. By work, I mean work with you to start to build something. Even if it’s not a forever arrangement, you have to have trust and respect, even to have a FWB situation, or a hook-up. That requires some work, and willingness to be candid, which requires TALKING. And we come back to my #1 peeve. Do not shush me. The way to my heart and mind is not through my vagina. And for sure the way to get into my heart and/or vagina IS through my mind. If you can’t appreciate my intelligence or at least understand I have a team of hyperactive gerbils in there running on a wheel 24/7, we’re going nowhere fast.

And so it is, I am into year 11. I have certainly tried to find candidates to date offline – at the local college, through volunteer organizations, church, etc. I’m still single. I look at the second half of my 40s and wonder if this will ever change. I’m ok single, but I really prefer to be in a relationship. Not at the cost of signing up for another bad one! I have certainly been single long enough to recover from my last one. No danger of a rebound here. And I am not getting younger, slimmer or more attractive. It’s depressing to think of. Somewhere out there is a person who would love and appreciate me fully. When he and I cross paths, will I even catch his eye?

And with that I shall bid you adieu. Thanks for reading.