Most women have all had that one defining relationship by our mid-twenties, real or imagined. The one that makes us assess dating, relationships, commitment and boundaries. For many of us, dating no longer is the same. The fairy tale we had imagined has suddenly crumbled. We begin to realize that we are not going to get swept off our feet, nor are we going to find some fancy rich man to take care of us, unless we are built like a social media booty model. Let’s face it, that takes too much time and money.
After our worlds come crashing down, we regroup. We re-assess. We block off all emotions because getting hurt was too devastating. We take time to heal. Some of us go on drinking binges every weekend with our equally jaded friends. Others start acting cold and shut off and separate sex and emotion. For me, regrouping was a three year stint in Hawaii, just “doing me” and casually dating. I knew I needed to travel from Upstate NY to the other side of the world to “find myself”. With my parent’s blessing, I sold everything I owned, dropped off my two cats to their house until I could ship them over, and headed to paradise.
Women have begun to throw words around like, “Wanderlust”, “Independent Woman” and “Unicorn” to define ourselves. I needed to find a way to define myself outside of the awful three year relationshit I was in. Yes, that’s spelled accurately. I needed a way to define myself that was different. Somewhere along the way, we have succumbed to being generic. We model ourselves after everything we see on social media and throw a powerful quote underneath it to mask our true feelings. I knew the only way to not be “basic” was to actually go, explore and be uncomfortable in a new environment where I knew no one.
Where does one even start after they feel healed? Where did I start meeting men? Well, like most women that finally feel strong enough again to look for real attention and affection, all of this need for constant defining carries over to online dating. Everything that is under a microscope on a social media platform now becomes intensified by essentially creating an online resume as to why a man should pick you amidst a sea of other women with beautiful selfies. These women also go to the gym and are “independent”. It’s like a pet adoption website, putting your best self forward hoping to be picked. We put our sexiest pictures and most interesting traits on display. No one puts the deep dark nitty-gritty and if they do, you block their crazy messages.
What has started off as another attempt to find my partner in crime, my soulmate, the man who “gets me”, has turned into a series of ridiculous dates that have become so comical that if they weren’t so common by now, my committed friends wouldn’t believe me. Dating, especially online dating, has become a sort of sport. I’m starting to consider myself a gold medalist, but am I really winning? Why do I subject myself to all of this? Well, honestly, because now it’s funny. So, you can either laugh in solidarity or shake your head in disbelief.
Perhaps my favorite date was with The Human Clock. In Hawaii, meeting people was actually pretty tough. My friends convinced me to sign up for one of those pay-for dating websites. They helped me set it up. It was fun to advertise myself at first. I definitely chose my prettiest photos and highlighted my best assets. I ended up going out with a man who had a picture taken with a tiger, but It seemed like every man on this site had a picture with a chained up tiger. Where are these poor chained up tigers and why was it such a tourist trap? I wasn’t sure if I was intrigued or appalled.
He made a reservation at a fancy restaurant that was at a resort. It’s mostly for golfers and people over 50. However, rent was high and I was hoping he would pay because I was ready for a delicious meal. On my salary, I’d been eating 7/11 discount sushi. I showed up, and he tells me I was late (I was 5 minutes early). I go to hug him, he steps back, and he shakes my hand. Awkward.
One would expect a hearty shake from a man that was attempting a tough facade. He was clearly trying to portray a tough manly man the way he carried himself. Maybe it was his insecurity about his short stature that prevented him from wanting to hug a woman who is 5’7”. (Come to find out, when a man says he is 5’9” online, he is typically at least two inches shorter).
He takes a step back, shakes my hand and gives me a limp-wristed awkward dead fish shake. At this point I’m a little thrown off and trying to maintain a poker faced smile. I remember his hands being incredibly soft. At this point, I should have gotten back in the car, but I was really hungry and traffic on Oahu is rough at night. Worst case scenario, I’d splurge myself to pay for something delicious.
Now, I’m old fashioned enough that I’m not opposed to men paying for dinner and opening doors. This man rushed ahead of me and allowed the door to close in my face. I was impressed that his little legs could carry him so quickly.
We sit down, and he instantly recognizes my designer purse and he is audacious enough to ask me if it’s real. I confirm that it is, but I don’t have the heart to tell him it was a, “Sorry I slept with a hooker in Vegas” bribe gift from the relationship that ruined me.
He attempts to order for me. Being a newly independent woman, I order for myself. His entire body goes rigid. I can see what type of man this is. I’m not his type. I’m too strong willed. So now, it becomes a game. I listen to the things he’s telling me and challenge it all. He informs me how wealthy he was growing up. He tells me about his wonderful high paying job. He tells me over and over how he was raised with etiquette and manners. I’m not sure if I rolled my eyes or not, but I was definitely hungry still. I decided to stick it out. Wine please.
He only asked me one question, and one question only the entire date. He holds up his arms like a ticking clock timer and goes, “Tick tick tick?”. I ask him what he’s trying to say. He replies that I’m 28, don’t I think that my uterus is ticking and going to shrivel up soon? My jaw must have hit the table. It felt like an eternity of me just staring at this man with wide eyes. I wasn’t sure if he was kidding.
Reality sets in. Our eyes are deadlocked, his are set hard in judgment and mine in disbelief. He meant every word of it! He wanted me to justify why I was single and childless. Yup, check please! This was my crash course into all that was and are, my online dating experiences.