I have this friend, Sarah, and shortly after PC took a hike we reconnected. In a strange twist of fate, she was literally going through the same thing. PC rode off into the sunset with Trollup in November; Sarah’s husband left for another woman several weeks later. We had both had our day-to-day lives uprooted and our futures became erased. We both have small kids, and we both had to leave our homes and back track to a different financial way of life.
We were both divorcing narcissists. The similarities between these two men are uncanny. The similarities between her and I and how we existed in our lives with these men were nearly identical. Neither of us ever came first in our own lives. Both of us had learned to live with men who were dismissive, controlling, arrogant and unloving. Men who cared of themselves, their image, and money above all else.
We spoke a lot during that bleak winter. At first, I felt she was way worse off than I was. She wanted him back, she wanted to try and work it out, she wasn’t interested in getting a lawyer because he says he will provide for the kids and I. Again, such identical statements. Our parallel lives gave me some comfort…not only did she understand how I felt, she was literally living it at the same time.
As time trudged on, Sarah’s divorce moved faster. She seemed to be doing better than I was. She was even dating which was (is?) something I found unfathomable. How do you go from two decades of being someone’s partner and wife to going out to eat with a stranger? How do you handle physical interactions? How do you even consider letting someone get that close? And then there are the logistics of being a nearly 40 year old woman who’s last “first date” was at age 21.
About a month ago she touched base with me, as we do, and she mentioned that she was dating someone else now. She had nothing but good things to say about her newfound freedom in dating. I asked her where the heck she was meeting all these men and her response was online dating. She insisted that I sign up for it and steered me towards a site that is a bit more legit than the match.coms of the internet world, which are full of creepers and liars and (in a small town) people I actually know who post their high school football picture as their profile picture.
So I decided I had nothing to lose. As my friend pointed out: it was fun, swiping left and right. There was no pressure to follow through and she herself had now gone on dates with 5 different people. Some were eh, one led to a short-lived romance, others to a friend. Her point, however, wasn’t about “dating” or “meeting someone” or “finding true love”. Her point was about the confidence it gave her, to realize she is a catch. That she is in fact, a smart, interesting, fun, and beautiful woman. She promised me I wouldn’t regret it.
So. Online dating, 2018. Its not like craigslist. For the most part, my gut feeling is its a lot of people trying to meet other people in a world where heads are buried in iPhones and you can discover more about people by stalking their Instagram than you can in a conversation. The swiping left and right is also addicting and fun. Its even MORE fun when your married BFF accidently creates her own account and it exists in cyberspace for a few weeks before she, in a horrifyingly hysterical turn of events, realizes she has many, many matches.
But anyhow. Had a couple conversations, one in particular that led to an exchange of numbers for regular texting and then the almighty befriending on Facebook. Which led to some pretty regular texting about the mundane details of the day, some getting-to-know-you, and some real shit too. Which led to making plans to get together, which went from “meeting up” to a “proper date”. On a Saturday night. At a nice restaurant.
So lets review. The last time I was “dating” was in college, so dating involved hooking up a frat party, getting drunk, and bringing random people home with no expectations. Although I believe PC and I had a first date, it came after multiple interactions at parties and bars. Going out to dinner with someone you’ve never met (other than online) is slightly terrifying. There is a good rapport in our conversations but…what if that doesn’t translate?
When my friend Sarah was advising me, she spoke of “Old Sarah” and “New Sarah”. Old Sarah would have been nervous, tentative, and worried about what said date might think of her. New Sarah was confident and true to herself, and knows her worth. She painted a very logical picture and insisted to me that despite the fact that the first date would be bizarre and weird, it would probably be fun and that the second date would be great (or, if events turned that way, the first date with another person would be much less bizarre.)
So, the build up through the week was equal parts fun and terrifying. Plans were made, discussions were had with my friends about what to wear. Sarah coached me extensively, as mentioned above. I made a point to tell pretty much every single one of my girlfriends what was happening, so that if I turned up missing in someone’s freezer, they’d know who to go after. I would say I was 75% excited and maybe 20% nervous and 5% what-the-fuck.
And then. The motherfucker cancelled.
Okay, there was a legit excuse that is probably true. And shit happens. And maybe we will just reschedule like its no big thing or maybe that whole interaction will just fade into dust but the bottom line was: that was a hell of a build up of anticipation, and thus a crushing let-down. See my previous everything’s ruined post.
Because its hard not to feel let down. Its hard to let yourself have a little hope about something or someone and then have it disappear. Its hard for me to not say, “really, universe? I’ve done a hell of a lot of work on myself and my trust issues and my fear of rejection, and this is how you handle it? Thanks.”
So it is what it is and maybe it will be a funny story in the future: my grand (non) debut back into the dating world. Or maybe I will go sour again. Or maybe it was literally just circumstances that could not be helped…or maybe it wasn’t meant to happen. Stay tuned….