I am, unfortunately, not one who is plagued with social responsibilities. That’s not to say I’m an introverted, awkward mess – far from it actually; I am as regular a gal as they come. I have friends and family. What I don’t have is romance. I’m rarely even hugged, to tell you the truth. I tell people it’s by choice, thus giving the impression that I am not interested in such endearing entanglements, when in reality this void is brought on by the choices I’ve made in regard to actually placing myself in a position to be approached (or approach) by interested contenders. Until one day, I realized that it’s not exactly a thing of fairy-tales to have a flirting experience, and I set about making fantasy a reality.
Here’s a lesson in how not to jump off the stagnant plateau that your love life may have become.
More Like Dipping A Toe In
Question(s): What’s a way to ‘put oneself out there’? Where is this ‘dating scene’? Do I have to, like, go someplace and be physically vulnerable?
My Answer: online dating.
College Solution: free online dating.
So I made a profile on a dating website (one that had an app, not one that was an app), and was momentarily outraged that they wanted a picture of my face. Honestly, my first reaction was ‘Stranger Danger!’…until my maturity returned from its hiding place behind the sofa and it registered that showing your face is probably super normal for dating- I’m assuming. Long story short, quite a few men looking to spend the ‘big money’ on a ‘sweetie whose beauty needs pampering’, some that are obviously only looking for physical relations, and even more genuine suitors who obviously had to psyche themselves up to message me. The last of the aforementioned three was cute and made me feel good about signing up. Who am I kidding, who doesn’t like hearing about how attractive/desirable they are, even if it’s from a man twice your age or from a website robot. But I digress, back to the lesson of this tale and the crazy two days that resulted in my vow to die alone.
Before Any Success, There Was Clark
There were two guys that I ended up making plans with off of the website chat room. Now, I’m a normal person who isn’t interested in juggling anything just yet so I did the ‘one-at-a-time’ approach. I was talking to this one suitor, we’ll call him Clark, on a Wednesday, and he wanted to make dinner plans for Friday to meet at the restaurant downtown. I commute into the city daily and it takes me almost an hour each way, so while this was not ideal at the moment, the fact that I was currently planning on moving there permanently was enough reason to pursue this. Then I started getting more text messages from Clark and every other message was a change to our plans- whether it be what we did or when or where etc., and then he asked if we could meet in a different city…an entirely different city. As it turns out, Clark lived an hour outside the city in the other direction.
This was all too much; I wasn’t looking to relocate two hours away from my house for a guy. What followed in the next 12 hours (all via text messaging) was horrific enough to write a National Lampoon movie script: he wanted to take me to dinner, dinner and dancing, dinner then dancing then back to his friend’s house where I could spend the night because he wasn’t ready to introduce me to his parents, he wanted to go to McDonalds’ for dinner instead because he likes their chicken, he wanted to bring me a flower, no wait he was only going to come to Toronto if I would let him make out with me in a car, NO WAIT he’d only come if I would spend the night (wink, wink) with him in a hotel. At one point, I told him I was going to the movies with my sister and he still filled my inbox with bursts of “Babe?” and “You there baby?” and “I want you to be my valentine next month, I’ve never had one” and “Helloooooo? You there baby?” and one joke voicemail asking if I ordered a pizza….just kidding it was him.
The lesson from Clark is to shut it down quick once he shows you “the creep”, and don’t be too quick to give out your cell number.
The lesson for those like Clark is to not be like Clark.
Then There Was Kent
It was around noon when Clark, became angry that I didn’t want to meet him and deleted my number. Only to later create a new account on the site and harass me with proclamations of our destiny. That’s where the sites safety features come in handy. Seriously friends, utilize those.
Undeterred, I messaged another interest with whom I had been talking to through the site before and during the Clark adventure. We’ll call this one Kent. Kent was older by a few years, a professional with a demanding job downtown. He was charming, funny, genuine, and truly seemed to be interested in me. So he invited me to meet him the next day (Friday) in a busy mall to get a coffee and walk around and possibly go for dinner if things went well. I agreed, we said our goodbyes with plans for Friday, and I went to talk to my close friends- for safety. I told them who I was meeting, where, and when, and then I started to ponder ‘Stranger Danger’ again. What if he’s driving and wants me to get in his car? You don’t get in cars with strangers! What if he took me to his place? Every episode of Criminal Minds was flashing before me in my inability to eschew the safety lessons you learn as a child in favour for standard dating practices. So I watched a few episodes of other TV shows that demonstrate the joys of dating and being young and calmed down about my first date. If you haven’t been paying attention, this would be my actual first date. Twenty-three and so frail, like a baby bird, and uninformed about society, like a Martian.
The Day Arrived
Kent and I had been flirtatiously texting intermittently earlier in the day, so I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be. Excited, I dress up, spend forever re-doing my makeup in a train station bathroom, get there early to scope out the area, then casually find a seat and begin reading a newspaper (so mature) and wait. And keep waiting. He never showed.
I was stood up, and I wanted answers.
Quick message from me- “I thought we had plans”, quick response from him- “I thought I offended you because your last comment was a little brusque.” Me, brusque? I’m a baby bird going on her first date! Evidently, Kent doesn’t understand that the emoji with its tongue sticking out is used to ensure that the tone of the message is playful and/or sarcastic.
The lesson here is, well, not everything can go smoothly? Lesson for people like Kent, never stand someone up, and ask for clarification if you aren’t clear about something.
While Kent was texting me apologies and trying to set up another date, I was walking around to a different spot to sit down since my shoes were killing me. Seated, I discreetly kick off my heels and called my friend to update her on my non-date. As I was sitting there, I started noticing some interested glances or smiles from people near and passing by, once I had started receiving those interested messages online, I became aware as to how I wasn’t just a blur in the background but that people (and men) were noticing me.
Now I see Myself
It’s only been two days into the world of dating and I have already had three of the weirdest interactions. Discouraged and cursing my attempt at having a dating life, I began to reflect on the lesson I was missing in all of this. As I was doing this, I thought back to my two day foray into society, and finally saw what I should have seen earlier; people see what I show them. If I am open for opportunity, people can see that. Just by becoming self-aware, that I am the type of person that some people want, shows in what I do and how I am. I felt good about myself when I was getting dressed and ready for the non-date with Kent and others could see my confidence. Then, while in deep thought ( it was as if the universe wanted to confirm this idea) I heard someone walking behind me on the escalator. Instinctively I moved to the side so they could pass, inwardly annoyed that someone was trying to pass me on a single-wide escalator, but when he got in front of me he turned around. Holy gorgeous, this was unreal. His eyes were so blue I didn’t care that he knew nothing of escalator etiquette. He was saying something, I wasn’t listening really, but I heard fragments like “buying gym shorts….thought you were cute….drink sometime?” At some point during his chatter we high-fived (your guess is as good as mine) as I stood there in aww when he asked what I was doing later. I must have nodded because he gave me his cell phone to put my number in (which I did and meticulously double checked before handing it back to him) then apologized that he had to run back up the escalator because he wasn’t finished shopping.
Seriously friends; how you feel about yourself is how others see you. I went from avoiding and denying any outward inclination for romance to opening myself up for opportunity and feeling good about myself and within days I had four of the strangest (and now that some time has passed, hilarious) encounters.