Logging On to Love

I came across a piece I wrote in 2012 that was never published. So I’m putting it here. Because I like it.

I could do an updated story about swiping. MAYBE I WILL.

I also found a piece I wrote about menstrual cup frustrations so, get excited…that could land here as well.

But for now, MAB on online dating: 

I’m no expert. I don’t claim to be. I don’t want to be. But there are a few things I’ve learned that have really changed the way I look at my love life.

Once upon a time in therapy, my counselor suggested I date more. After a review of past relationships, she concluded I was most comfortable in situations where I knew a guy (from work or through friends), increased the amount of time we spent together, hung out on my couch watching movies or tv, and called it dating. She wasn’t totally off base.

She said the practice of going on actual dates would require me to put effort into learning about people. More importantly, I would learn whether those men were what I wanted in a mate. She had me list qualities I would look for if I ever owned a company and needed to give it to someone else to run. It was an exercise to teach me the characteristics I valued in people, and gave me a blueprint for what I’m looking for in someone I would consider for a long-term relationship. It’s not a checklist, per se, and although she had me mark a few non-negotiables, they’re pretty standard: family-oriented, financially responsible, trustworthy…you get the gist.

It reminded me of something I heard a while ago about how it’s good to date a number of people at the same time (at first), and then hone in on the one who stands out in the crowd. I’ve never been good at that. I’m more of a one-at-a-time girl.

And then I went online. Say what you will, but it really is a good way to get back out there and go on a lot of dates.

I’ve done the online thing twice in my life. The first time was several years ago, and had mildly disastrous results. Nothing horrible happened to me, I just came away feeling not great about the entire situation – and honestly – about myself. In one case, everything was great on paper, but there was no THERE there. In another, the guy was an ultimate d*bag. It happens. I gave up and went back to dating people I knew, because the best – and quickest – way to ruin a friendship is to date a friend.

My more recent foray into online dating came after a lot of hemming and hawing, and with a phrase of advice seemingly whispered on the wind. I have since googled it and found it all over the world wide web, but I can’t for the life of me remember where I heard it first. What’s important is that it changed the way I dated, and made a huge difference.

Here it is: When preparing for a first date, don’t go into it thinking, “I hope he likes me.” Go into it thinking, “I hope *I like *him.” It seems like such a tiny bit of mind alteration, but it really does change the way you prepare and carry yourself into that first meeting. The thing is, people are people. You’re going to like certain people, and in turn, certain people are going to like you. The opposite is just as inevitable. And that’s a huge lesson: you don’t have to like everyone. I mean, I knew I never wanted to settle, but I was often much more concerned with what someone thought about me than what I thought of him.

Armed with my new mantra/philosophy, I started scheduling dates. I somehow ended up with three in my first week. New territory for me, but I rolled with it. I was really excited about one of them, but quickly discovered I wasn’t as into him as I expected to be. In fact, the one who stood out in the crowd that week was the one I least expected. It was kind of refreshing.  I was indeed learning about myself through this whole dating thing.

One of the best compliments I received during the whole experience was how true to myself I was in my profile. I had more than one guy say I was exactly as advertised. I guess it’s true what they say about the older you get the better you know yourself.

The lessons didn’t stop there. As often happens in relationships, things fizzle or don’t feel quite right, and it’s time to move on. I would reach a certain point and just kind of know/feel things weren’t working out. Another benefit of internet dating: the ability to see that it’s true what they say: there are plenty of fish in the sea. And that knowledge gives you confidence and faith offline as well.

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