I admit it. I was an Internet Dating Junkie. Well, okay, I wasn’t that bad. I mean, I have a friend who recounts periods of her life where she spent time at an awful lot of Starbuck’s in our area and sipped numerous expensive coffee drinks in her quest for love or at least her Prince Charming. She told me of days when she’d meet with person after person after person. I never went quite that far with the Internet thing.
Here’s my story.
First some background. You might be interested to know that I obtained my graduate degree online. Now, for some, this is considered a joke. For those of us who have been there, we know that online is not easier or less credible. I am convinced after talking to those who obtained their degrees in face-to-face world that I worked harder and put in more effort online than I ever would have otherwise. It’s a bit like choosing to cook for yourself instead of being spoon fed your meals. There are pro’s and con’s both ways, but cooking your own meals (online learning) is not the easier route. Anyway, it worked for me. As a single mother of four children, there was no way I could leave the kids alone several nights a week to go to classes at the University thirty minutes away. I was able to get my degree and am now enjoying the measly, but nice, increase that my job rewarded me with as a result. Enough said about all this. The point is, I am not averse to meeting people online. Networking in the digital realm was something I became quite used to during my degree program. I met many people from around the world. It was a fascinating and valuable experience to me and put me well ahead of the colleagues I work with day to day. Online dating, at least conceptually, was not a big adjustment for me.
Here’s how it happened for me.
About this time last year, I was awaiting the final hearing for my divorce. My, at that time, soon to be ex (STBX), had completely shut down and gone AWOL. I had not heard from him at all. He’d completely discontinued any discussion or negotiation with me since our preliminary hearing in July when I’d been awarded the house and full custody of our daughter who was then six. Any attempts at communication by my attorney were met with silence. He showed up at the designated parenting times but said nothing to me. But, this was not alarming to me, as this was exactly how he treated me for most of the time we were married. Indeed, it was this very unwillingness to negotiate the differences that ultimately broke the marriage. But, I digress. The Internet Dating thing simply began as a distraction.
I was two weeks out, maybe three, from my divorce trial. Clearly, my STBX was not going to settle out of court and save me court fees and attorney court costs. After all, he was representing himself, what did he care? So, as we waited, my little family and I wondering how our fate would be decided in court just after Thanksgiving, my oldest daughter said, “Mom, you need to put a profile up on Cupid.com and get your mind off all this. Just try it. See what happens.” I simply laughed at her. But as I laughed she wrote my profile and posted my picture. That’s how it all started.
I changed what she originally wrote…after a bit…but not before I checked out what other women and men were writing. Yep, did you catch that? I checked out what other women wrote, which means I went incognito as a man and searched for women in my age range to see what they were writing. Personally, I wasn’t impressed. I had more fun reading what the guys wrote…because they used humor much more effectively…if they used it at all. If a guy used the intellectual approach, he usually did it very well. The rest I didn’t care about.
So, with new profile, decent and recent and accurate picture of me posted I began my Internet Dating journey. A year later, I can tell you, I’ve learned a lot. I haven’t gotten married and I’m not officially in a relationship, though there is one digital beau that has captured my imagination far more than any others, but, he is still in the digital category and that can only take one so far for just so long. Since he’s over 1100 miles away, it’s going to be a bit of a challenge, but that’s not the point of this post, because he could disappear tomorrow for all I know…that is one thing I learned about online dating. It is, until made otherwise, simply online. I’ve learned that over the year.
But I’ve also learned so much more.
Through this online venue, I’ve had the opportunity to meet some really interesting people that I would never have crossed paths with in my daily routine. I’ve met some amazing people from all over this country…and I’ve learned something from all of them. I’m a big believer that every encounter is valuable. I’ve met many wonderful men. They do exist…all the good ones are not taken. Strong men, intelligent men, sensitive men, thoughtful caring men who desire to provide, protect and love a soulmate. Men who have given all to their wife and family and been tossed aside like last week’s People magazine (and women complain about being thrown aside for newer models?). And while none of these wonderful men would be the best match for me, this doesn’t negate the fact that each one of them has taught me something and usually that something enlightens me further so that when my Mr. Perfect (well, perfect in that he fits me and I him) Match comes along, I will recognize him.
In the end, I’ve learned more about me, who I am, what I can tolerate, what I can’t, where I want to head in relationship and where I don’t than I ever would have by just going to work and coming home every day.
One year later, with divorce final, and lots of dates that didn’t work out for a lasting partnership under my belt, I know what I’m about. This is a good thing. It means this: I know what I have to offer a relationship. I know not only what I want out of a long term relationship, but I also know what I have to bring to the table and to offer in relationship. That’s no small thing.
So, for that reason alone I think online dating is a great thing. I mean, it worked for me. No, I didn’t meet Mr. Soul Mate on any of the dating sites and I’ve taken my profile off any site that it was on (except eHarmony…they don’t pull your profile down after you stop your membership…deceptive!). I know what I’m about…I know I’ll know him when I meet him, whether it is in digital or real time and I know that he’ll somehow find me as I go about my business of being the best me I can be…because after all that is what I bring to him: me. I loved the online dating days…and I may return to it…but for now, I am content knowing that I am who I am and the best thing I can do for any relationship I might eventually have is just be the best me I can be…and that means…at least for now…that I must write…I must teach…I must read…I must be a great (though exhausted) mommy and I must live life to the fullest every possible moment. And it means that online dating for me has probably run its course…at least for now. I simply can’t spend my time, like my friend did meeting contact after contact and drinking coffee after coffee. There is simply too much of life to be experienced…and as I’m experiencing it…I know Mr. Soul Mate and I will bump into each other somehow, unsuspectingly, and it will take us both by surprise….
At, least…that is what I hope.