Our Story Begins:
Dating in the Digital Age
I did one of the scariest things I’ve ever attempted in the last four years.
I’ve started dating.
I’ve heard all the critics: “you had a “soul-mate” what more do you need?”; “are you ready to do this? It’s only been (insert number of) years since Andrea died!”; “you’re just looking to hook-up” (if they really knew me that wouldn’t cross their minds).
Then there are those whose advice overpowered the nay-sayers:
“You have experience, life, love, caring and tenderness to give.” Sounds like a Hallmark card but it’s really true.
I crave adult company, particularly that of a woman.
Ultimately, after the prodding of good friends, a series of in-person rejections, and the realization that I live off my phone and computer…I figured I should try the online thing.
That, my friends, is its own overwhelming ball of stressful craziness.
First, there’s the whole issue of trying to set up your own profile. After you’ve paid your money, you find photos of yourself. I’ve never been one to think I had sex appeal. After going through this I really wonder.
I used this photo for my cover, I always kind of liked it:
Then came the messages from the online service.
”Let a professional put your profile together!”
Okay…sounds good…I’m new to this!
“For a small fee…”
Wait…didn’t I already pay for the premium service?
“Want to make the top of the matches page?”
“For a small fee…” Really?! This is getting to be an expensive prospect.
I made my way through it all: the emails, the SPAM from the companies, the “offshoot” companies that help the companies.
Then came the “matches.”
It’s a bit voyeuristic, this online thing. It certainly makes the idea of reaching out to someone a bit less stressful. If they weren’t looking, they wouldn’t be here, right?
Yet I started to feel like I was trying to be a “player” somehow.
I looked at the photos first.
Then I’d see women deriding men for looking at the pictures.
“You should just go by personality.” But then…do we really do that when in public? How do I get personality from just a few words?
I saw profile after profile filled with impatience:
”Don’t message me first, take your time, let me look at your profile…”
That’s followed by . . . ”Don’t ‘wink’, ‘like’ or ‘ice-break’ with me send me a message. I don’t have time to waste!”
In the first week I was inundated with duck-lips photos (what the hell is with that, by the way, who thinks that’s attractive?).
Some women showed pictures of their cars – expensive cars.
I had a plethora of women who had photos of themselves shooting semi-automatic rifles. I can’t come up with a pithy comment about that. I’m still trying to absorb the visual.
Then there were the boobs.
I’m not trying to sound vulgar here, but seriously, boobs in abundance. Not “she’s in a tight shirt” or “in my evening gown” or “well endowed”. No, many women took photos of just their chests. That was their profile photo. Others took photos from very high up so 3/4 of the screen was cleavage with a face in a corner. I’m a red-blooded American man, I’m not going to lie, the pictures certainly got my attention. After awhile, though, you start to get numb…it gets overwhelming.
I started to get women reaching out to me and I felt completely awful for having no interest in them whatsoever. I know this shouldn’t bother me, but it did. Rejection doesn’t sting like it did when I was young…but I don’t like giving it out, either.
Some people started saying “you’re just looking for some cute, young thing”. That’s the stereotype, of course…older men chasing younger women. It’s often a warranted criticism – but I started to panic. I have grey hair and a few pounds left to lose. Was I being chauvinistic? Am I facing a mid-life crisis? I wasn’t looking for 22-year-old women. But…I am a musician. I still talk like Bullwinkle Moose to the kids and sing Christmas songs when I cook in July. If I just wanted a young hook-up I’d have lingered longer on the boob pictures.
Ultimately I decided to broaden scope…take things outside the 60 mile radius default setting. Within a week the computer servers had started to catch on, I think. The “matches” were starting to feel more like…matches.
I don’t know if I’m doing it wrong. I’m not chasing every date I can get. I will do this one person at a time. It sounds like a cop-out, but I don’t know who I’m looking for…I just know I’ll know them when I see them. Even more when I see them in-person.
Some people might very well go out for coffee, drinks, and dinner lots of times a week. Doing that requires a ton of juggling and – no offense – I juggle enough each day already.
Nobody likes rejection, it really does sting – though I don’t feel the sting near as keenly. After everything I’ve been through in the past few years nothing really hurts that badly any more.
That comes with the next step…telling my kids when I go out on that date.