Diving in…

About a year ago, I decided to try my hand at online dating. Some of my friends had (quietly) tried meeting people through the magic of the internet – some successfully, others not so much. But since it was not Raining Men – despite the promises of The Weather Girls, circa 1982 – I figured it was time to be a bit more proactive. I was a little apprehensive at first but figured the worst that could happen was that I’d maybe have a few bad dates and end up with some funny stories. OK. That’s not entirely true. I figured the worst that could happen was I could end up stuffed in someone’s trunk (or cooler). Or, more likely, I could end up emotionally steamrolled. I was just coming off of a whirlwind of a summer “romance” – the culmination of a four-year flirtation fueled by intellectual synergy and unbelievable chemistry, all of which ended abruptly, like the flipping of a light switch. I wanted not to repeat that experience.

So, I invited a few girlfriends over, opened up a couple of bottles of wine, and we started to tackle the daunting task of drafting my online dating profile. There was a lot I wanted to convey – about my hobbies, interests and passions (running, travel, eating), but, more importantly, about who I am (independent, loyal, driven) and what I was looking for. It was this last part that was in some ways harder to write about. Divorced at 25 and having navigated 2 5-year+ and 1 shorter-term relationship since then, I knew a lot about what didn’t work for me. But articulating what I wanted… that was tough. And it led to some interesting conversations with my girlfriends that night – including how I felt about dating a guy with kids and my thoughts about dating someone who is separated but not officially divorced. Somehow the glossy brochure that advertised adulthood to my teenage self didn’t convey how complicated it is to be a grown-up.

I am a pragmatist at heart. I recognized that, at this point in my life (age 38 – when did that happen?!), many of the men I might meet would likely have been married at some point. Ultimately, the thought of dating someone in his late-30s to mid-40s who had never been married (or in an otherwise seriously committed relationship) seemed like a bigger red flag. It also seemed reasonably likely that a lot of men in this age range would have kids. And if they had kids and were involved as Dads, it was likely that they were maintaining some semblance of a relationship with their kids’ Mom. I felt like I was at a point in my life where I felt comfortable with that. It didn’t feel threatening in anyway. Scary, yes (the responsibility involved with raising little humans into big humans is a big deal). But not threatening. As for the issue of separated-but-not-officially-divorced… Well, that’s complicated. People navigate the end of relationships in very different ways. For me, when I separated from my then-husband, I was mentally and emotionally disengaged from the relationship. I wasn’t holding out hope that things would resolve and we would all live happily ever after. For me, the finalization of our divorce was a technicality. But not everyone has that experience. I also live in an area where state law requires that couples be legally separated for at least 12 months before a divorce can be finalized. Not knowing how wide or deep the online dating pool might be, I didn’t want to automatically eliminate otherwise great guys on the basis of state law. What was more important to me was not the legal status of their relationship but, rather, where they were in the process of traversing the emotional waters of the end of a major relationship.

The next day, on a 10-mile run, I continued thinking about the things I had talked about with my girlfriends. By the end of the run, I had mentally drafted most of my profile. Would self-identifying as “fiercely independent” scare them off? Maybe. But they should know what they’re getting into. And if he’s not OK with my independent streak, then he’s not the right guy for me. I’m a runner. I love to travel. Eating is something to be experienced. Check. Check. Check. As for what I’m looking for…

Someone who is smart and witty and sarcastic – who doesn’t take himself too seriously and can joke around but also knows when to be real. Someone who is passionate about what he does – work, hobbies, whatever. Someone who knows who he is and what he is looking for in life and is aware of how his way of being in the world can affect others. Someone with emotional development in line with (or perhaps beyond) the current state of human evolution. Someone who enjoys trying new things and going new places. Someone who is comfortable enough in his own skin to be in a real relationship with a strong, confident woman – and knows that, beyond strong and confident, she can also be open and honest and vulnerable.

I pulled the trigger and posted it…

One thought on “Diving in…

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