So let’s get right to it. For the first 3.5 years after my beautiful husband died, the very idea of dating or “someone else”, literally made me sick to my stomach. It made me feel physically ill, and I couldn’t even discuss it without having a slight panic attack. The idea of someone else talking to me, touching me, or being anywhere near me, made me want to vomit. That’s just the way it was, and I didn’t spend much time thinking about it. I was in way too much grief to even come around to THINKING about how freakin’ lonely I was.
Then, around the beginning of year 4, there was a slight shift inside me, for no reason whatsoever, or because it was finally time for that shift to happen, that went from feeling physically ill – to feeling sort of “okay” with the idea, but still not willing to actively pursue anyone. Then, about 10 months ago, someone appeared out of the blue. This person was not pursuing me, and I was not pursuing them. But they appeared in such a way and at such a time that it felt like it was meant to happen. This person was not only a fellow widow(er), but also knew my husband. We started talking, and over time, building a budding and wonderful friendship. We met in person in March, and our connection felt more real, because now I could touch it. I could look into this person’s face, and in it, I saw not only kindness and a beautiful soul, but also being around this person face to face gave me this overwhelming feeling of protection and safety – like Don had specifically chosen this man to protect me, because he could no longer do it himself. The details of why I feel this way don’t matter here, because I want to protect this person’s privacy, but the time we spent together over those few days was meaningful, beautiful, and the perfect mix of familiar and brand new, all in the same moment.
When I returned home, I was very excited about this connection. Several people, even total strangers, told me over and over again that I was glowing, asking me point blank: “Have you met someone?” I thought the answer was yes, because when I left this person, we seemed to be on the same page as far as continuing things at a turtle’s pace – but as it turns out, this person is nowhere near ready for a relationship or commitment of any kind. This person is not in a place, emotionally, to move forward with me. He is very aware of how I feel, and he agrees that there is something between us, but now is not the right time. So, we continue to be wonderful friends, and I have chosen to trust in the outcome, and to have faith in the possibilities and potential of what we might become. I’m kind of a romantic like that. Plus, I really do feel this is coming from my husband Don, and he would never steer me wrong. He has sent me sign after sign after sign, that this is him who sent me this person. And I am listening.
Meanwhile, the act of spending time with this person and going out with them to dinner and breakfast and many other things and places – it gave me just a tiny taste of remembering what it’s like to have that special person in your life again. It reminded me what it’s like to spend time with someone who thinks you are special or pretty or who holds the door open for you or kisses your hand and forehead. (Seriously – who does that??? This amazing guy, that’s who.) When I got back home, I started to think to myself just how much I MISS all of that in my life. Having someone to do things with on weekends. Go to dinner with. See a movie with. Holding hands. All of it. So, in a conversation with my incredibly smart friend, she suggested that while this person that I very much care about can only be my friend right now and nothing more, that perhaps I would be a better friend to HIM, if I were getting my own needs met elsewhere; i.e; going out on a casual date now and then. Perhaps if I could have that back in my life again here and there, I would be more content, and therefore, not be pushing my friend to go places he isn’t ready to go right now. This seemed like the most insane idea in the world to me when she suggested it, but the next day, I got an email from a popular dating site, offering one month free membership. Next thing I knew, I was creating a profile and putting up my pictures. That was about 4 weeks ago.
And let me tell you, the past four weeks have been a complete shit-show. (one of my dead husband’s favorite terms, so I figured it was appropriate here.)
Here is what I have learned in four weeks:
Dating sucks. Dating on dating sites sucks even more. The last time I “dated” was decades ago. As in, the mid 1990’s. NOTHING is anywhere near close to the same anymore. First of all, nobody speaks to one another. Nobody knows how to have a conversation. People no longer talk on the telephone. They text. As in, right away. And if you ask them to speak on the phone, they type back in a little box that they “dont have time for all that.” Really? But you have time to sit here and type back and forth like robots? The way this particular site works is that it shows you pictures and profile info about a member, then you click YES or NO on if you’d like to chat with them further. If the feeling is mutual and you both want to talk, the chat box opens up and you can type back and forth. The purpose of this is to keep everything anonymous and safe at first, so you can chat within the confines of the site without giving out phone numbers or even names until you are more comfortable. (most members use a screenname instead of their actual name.)
At first, only seconds after I joined, I was feeling a bit cocky and good about myself, because I was getting a BOATLOAD of chat requests. “Well this isn’t so bad”, I naively thought to myself. Then I started clicking on them. This is when I quickly realized that this was going to be a train-wreck of epic proportions. Here is just a short sample of a few of my first day chat conversations. And no, I am NOT exagerrating or joking. These are 100% real. Names have been changed, obviously. Everything else, real:
John: Hey gorgeous
Me: Hi there, how are you doing today?
John: I’ll be better when you’re pressing those titties on my face.
DELETE AND BLOCK.
Greg: Hey Darlin … sup???
Me: Doing okay tonight, how about yourself?
Greg: I don’t have time to talk on here. Here’s my digits. Hit me up right now 714-6**-****. Ill be waiting.
END CHAT. (this was 90% of the chats. They DEMAND your number or demand to give you theirs IMMEDIATELY.)
Carlos: Hey baby, I love brunettes. You got nice curves too. Any chance you are kind of bossy and could boss me around and tell me what to do, insult me a little?
Me: WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU MEAN, YOU LOSER!!??? I’M NOT BOSSY!!! NOW LEAVE ME THE HELL ALONE!!!
Carlos: Oh yeah, that’s so hot …..
DELETE AND BLOCK.
Tom: Hey Sweetie. Love your long hair. I hope you don’t have any of that going on below though. I like my women to be nice and clean , totally shaven. Hit me up (phone #)
DELETE AND BLOCK.
That is just a small sample of the moronic crap I’ve been dealing with the past few weeks. Most of these people, as you can see, just want something sexual, with someone they don’t even know at all. Then there is the category of men who chat with you, call you on the phone, have a number of nice conversations with you, and then completely disappear forever with zero explanation. This happened to me with 3 different people I was talking to.I am told by others that all of this is “normal”, and that you have to weed through all the crap in order to get to the good and decent guys that are supposedly on these things. It’s sort of like shopping at Marshall’s or TJ Maxx. You gotta spend 3 hours rummaging through 18 racks of awful clothes to find one pretty good pair of jeans.
There are no manners in today’s dating world. No class. No sense of building a foundation of some kind. No courtship of any kind, which is disappointing, because I really do love romance and courtship. The person I met a couple months ago is such a true gentleman, and I absolutely love that. He doesn’t realize just how rare and special he is, but I do, especially now. Today’s dating world is thoughtless. Just mindless and pointless texting that leads to more nothingness. The whole thing is extremely depressing. And just when you think you MAY have found a decent one, you still haven’t. There was one guy who seemed normal, sweet, and we had a nice long chat online. He gave me his number and I called him, and we had a nice phone call too. Our phone call was not sexual in nature by any means, but after we hung up, he sent me a text telling me how sexy my phone voice is. I said thank you and left it alone. Then, two minutes later, he sent me a long-winded voicemail where he basically “got himself off” while describing all the things he would do to me. I WASN”T EVEN ON THE OTHER END OF THE PHONE!!! Later, he left another one. In this one, he referred to his penis, several times, as “The Champ.” As in, “The Champ is so ready and big for you right now. The Champ is monstrous. The Champ is standing at attention.” Finally, I texted him back and told him that “The Champ” would be getting a call from the police soon, if he didn’t stop leaving me these sick voicemails. He stopped. “The Champ” finally threw in the towel.
And then there was my first date. An actual human male that I met for drinks and dinner in person, a couple of weeks ago. We had talked in the mindless chat box, then on the phone twice, and he lives local-ish, so we agreed to meet up in the city at a Cuban restaurant. The evening was nice, but there was no spark between us. It had a friendship vibe, but we laughed and talked and had a seemingly nice time. I would give it around a B- if I had to rate it. At the end, we hugged each other goodbye, and I got back on the subway to come home. In that moment, all I could think about was how if this was my friend that I met in March, he would have been a gentleman and made sure he put me in a cab home, would have made damn sure I got home safely. This guy held the doors open for me at the restaurant, but it didn’t feel genuine. It felt like he was showing off. By the end of the night, once he realized in his own head that he wasn’t into me or that he wasn’t “getting any” or whatever, all the “gentleman-like” behavior stopped. By the end of the night, he was over it.
The next morning, I woke up, and I decided to leave him a message on the site just thanking him for the date and saying I had a nice time, and maybe we will do it again some time. You know, because that is what a polite person does. A few minutes later, I received this message response:
“I will not be seeing you again. I do not date fat girls. You do not look fat in your pictures on the site, but you are fat in person. And I don’t go out with fat girls. Bye.” When I tried to respond back, he had made his account so that I could no longer reach him. He had disappeared with no explanation, as these men seem to like to do.
I was crushed. Not because I give a shit what he thinks – I didn’t really even like him. I was crushed because this is what is out there for me. Crushed because some men are so shallow and mean. Crushed because I didn’t want to do this in the first place, and it was supposed to be fun, and I was supposed to have a lighthearted and fun time with it. Crushed because talking to these idiots and trying to navigate these stupid conversations and figure out what their agenda is and who is being honest and who is going to disappear after a really nice conversation – is really exhausting and not what I want to be doing with my time. Crushed because I’m 44 years old, and I am so tired of being alone. Crushed because NONE of this would be happening, if my husband wasn’t forever and always DEAD.
On my drive to work that morning, just an hour or so after this had happened, I spoke to my friend on the phone. I had to pull over to talk to him because I was sobbing and felt like I was having a panic-attack. I told him what had happened, and told him about why I’ve been doing the dating site thing, and how none of these clowns even come close to the true gentlemen and beautiful soul that he is – and he listened and he said all the right and supportive and lovely things that a good friend should say. And it was the most real and meaningful conversation I have had in weeks – just sitting there pulled over in the car, talking with my beautiful friend – which is right where I wanted to be in the first place.
Love after loss is not for the weak of heart, folks.
Strap yourselves in. It’s going to get extremely bumpy.
(YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME AND APPRECIATED.)
Slight update: Since that awful first date experience, I have talked with and met one really nice guy through this dating site stuff, and we had a really nice time together and will probably hang out again at some point. I have also been talking with a couple others that are very nice people, and it’s been interesting, to say the least. My friends and family keep saying how “proud” of me they are, for “getting out there again”, for trying this, for daring to open my heart again, and for not waiting around for someone who isn’t ready, and instead, putting myself first and getting this dating thing out of my system.
But the truth is, its extremely exhausting. The truth is, I’d rather be talking to my friend on the phone, than going out with most of these people, or spending time trying to navigate all of this. I’m not sure how much more energy or time I really want to devote to this little project. It was supposed to be fun – a way to just be part of the social dating world again for awhile and feel human again and loved again, because I’m finally ready for that and longing for that. And because the person that I want those things WITH isn’t in a place to be able to do that with me, so I’ve been trying to find pieces of that magic in other places. But the truth is, you can’t re-create magic. What I have with this person, is special between US, and will remain between us. I won’t find pieces of that by looking for it somewhere else. So I’ll just have to hold onto it and keep on keeping the faith that one day this person, who is most likely reading this right now, will realize that I AM FUCKING AWESOME, and he should just be with me already because life is really fucking short and why not help each other through it and have some joy within our pain. In the meantime, this dating stuff is starting to feel like work, and I’m not even getting paid for it. It really is like shopping at a flea market or yard sale, and I always hated yard sales. Too much junk.
All I wanted was to go out now and then on a Saturday night, and have a date and be treated nicely and have that feeling of slight euphoria when you come home, at the thought of something new. It doesn’t have to mean anything or go anywhere, except just two people who are hanging out together, because they are tired of sitting home alone with their cat. Is that really too much to ask for? Apparently, it just might be. I wanted this to be SIMPLE. But nothing about dating in today’s world is simple. It is cruel, dismissive, and thoughtless.
And people wonder why so many people drink. Or eat cake.
I’m gonna need a lot of cake to deal with these clowns.