Here's the cold hard truth: Since last week, I've already written two full posts for this blog that I then chose not to share. The stories, you won't be surprised to know, are regarding my dating life of the past year and a half (i.e. since the last time I update Me & Mr. Right Now). But here's why this blog is difficult for me. Sometimes I'm not sure what to share. How much is too much personal information? When does a post cross the line from a relatable story into me gratuitously whining about how "Love done me wrong?" And also, the introspective question: At what point am I really ready to share some things? When does it stop being "too soon?"
Perhaps one day, when I feel more removed from those stories, I will share them, but for now, here's a summary:
Mr. Manipulation & Six Months of Misery: the moral of this one is practically in the title. It's hard to pick up on at first, but be wary of people who use your emotions and compassion to hurt you. It's not being high-maintenance to ask for kindness and understanding, and don't trick yourself into believing that.
Mr. Mess: Alternatively titled, What To Do When Your Knight in Shining Armor is Actually a Little Boy With a Wooden Sword. The alternative title didn't stick because I'm still not actually sure there was a right way to respond to that situation. I dated a really good guy for a few short months. But as good to me as he was, he had a chronic fear of failure that was keeping him from making any real changes in his life (he hated his job). Eventually that fear of failure led him to believe it was better to dump me than to risk us eventually not working out. (Hint: By this logic, no one should ever date. Ever.) So yes, I actually had someone break up with me "for my own good." It was at this point that I very seriously considered the possibility that I needed therapy. I still have not ruled it out. I am not being sarcastic.
So where does that leave us? Me wallowing in misery and vowing to never love again? No, no, no. Don't be ridiculous. I'm dramatic but I'm not absurd. I did give myself a few months to heal. Mr. Mess was tough to get over because, well, he actually made me happy. Novel idea, isn't it? So I didn't pressure myself. I waited until I felt ready, in spite of a number of "I know someone who would be so great for you"s being launched my way every time I was least expecting it.
But eventually, one day, someone reached out with an "I know someone" and I said "You know what? Okay. Let me know if you want to go on a double date sometime." That was when I knew I was ready to start getting myself out there again.
And then my dating app addiction reared its ugly head again. I don't know how to explain it. Every time a date or relationship with someone ends, I say profusely, "Online dating is really great; it's just not right for me." And then I get really bored one day and Tinder makes a horrible encore on my phone. Literally every time I say "I'm just bored. I'm just going to look. I'm not actually going to swipe right on anyone. I'm window shopping." And then a few minutes later, "Well, I'm just going to swipe right to see if I get a match. For a confidence boost. I'm not actually going to talk to anyone." I gain a few matches and then suddenly someone messages me and I'm seized with an internal struggle between not actually wanting to talk to anyone and the desire not to be rude.
And then suddenly I'm messaging with them. Now, one of two things usually happens at this point: Either the guy proves himself to be a pigheaded imbecile after that one thing all our fathers warned us about, OR he's actually nice and suddenly I'm being asked out on a date and crap what am I going to do? The former guy leads to me happily deleting the app and once again saying "Yeah, no more dating apps. Great for some but not for me," (only to fall back down the rabbit hole a few weeks later). The latter, well, this one doesn't happen as often. The guy who actually convinces me that he's worth meeting in person? He's a little bit of a white whale in the online dating world. I've only done it a handful of times since the first time I actually gave online dating a try. There are multiple reasons for this. I'm picky. I'm panicky. And I'm simply not someone who enjoys first dates. I think they are a miserable experience.
So there I was, kids, Christmas Day. Alone. In Chicago while all my family was in South Carolina. My dating app addiction returned in all its sketchy glory. But this time I waved a dismissive hand at Tinder. "No, no, sir," I said, "I'm wise to your skeezy ways. I've heard of a new dating app, one for classy women such as myself." And, for the first time, I downloaded Bumble.
What is Bumble? Well, think Tinder but with a few enhancements. The biggest difference is that once you match with someone, the woman has 24 hours to message them first, or the match disappears. Men absolutely are unable to send the first message. This eliminates a lot of the
TODD: heyy pix????
TODD: REPLY 2 ME B*TCH U THINK UR 2 GOOD OR STHG?
and that sort of thing.
Which is nice. And perfect for Little Miss "I'm just going to swipe right to see if I get a match. For a confidence boost. I'm not actually going to talk to any of them."
BUT THEN THIS HAPPENED. Once a day, a dude on Bumble has the option to "extend" a match that's about to expire (i.e. the woman hasn't sent that elusive first message yet). So Mr. 24 Hrs & He's Gone suddenly becomes "Omg he liked my profile enough to waste that one chance in the hopes I will actually talk to him?????? WHAT DO I DO????"
Panic. E-mail close friends for advice. Panic some more. Hyperventelate. Crap Crap Crap Crap Crap. I don't have to do this. I could still walk away. But now I feel really guilty. There's just so much pressure. [slew of expletives]
ME: Hi! How was your holiday?
Aaaannnnnd so it began. A string of conversations with about five guys (all guys who had chosen to extend the match beyond 24 hours and left me feeling extremely pressured to do something about it). Two fizzled out instantly. One was an arrogant weirdo who came off as extremely condescending and turned me off immediately. He got deleted. Another one made me laugh at least, but didn't get around to actually asking me out. And then there was Mr. Comfortable.
Mr. Comfortable and I had a nice little chat, and after about an hour, all of a sudden he asks whether I would like to get coffee.
No, Mr. Comfortable, I would not like to get coffee. I would like to stay safely hidden behind the anonymity of texting on this app and not actually do anything that requires any real risk on my part.
And so I agreed to meet Mr. Comfortable for coffee, and on the way to the coffee shop I gave myself a little tough love.
"Listen, Self," I says to myself. "Your number one issue with online dating is that you don't give these guys enough of a chance. You've never been the 'love at first sight' type and you know it. It's going to take more than one date to determine if you have chemistry with someone. That's just a matter of fact." So it was decided, between myself and I, before I ever entered the coffee shop, that if this date ranked 5 or higher on a scale of 1 to 10, and he asked me on a second date, then I had to go, no ifs, ands, or buts.
I have to say, I think coffee is a really great idea for a first date. There's no alcohol clouding your judgement. It can be short or you can stay for hours, depending on how it's going. And it's a very inexpensive first date. That said, he did not pay for my coffee. I normally resist using emoticons in formal writing but :/
[As a rehash, my stance on who should pay on a first date is thus: Whoever did the asking should insist on paying. Whoever was asked should offer to cover their share, but the asker should insist. You are both on your best behavior, and if the asker doesn't insist and the askee doesn't offer when they are on their best behavior, well, then neither of them is ever going to do so.]
I chose to let it slide because it was one of those approach-the-counter-and-order places. He'd gotten there first and simply went ahead and ordered something while he waited for me. It would have been weird if he'd jumped up to pay for my coffee when I got there. (Now, an argument could be made about waiting for me before ordering and blah blah blah, but I really don't feel like getting caught up in the finer nuances of the economics of dating today.)
Well, we talked. We sipped coffee. We awkwardly talked some more. I wasn't exactly drooling over him, but I wasn't having a bad time either. Conversation was a little awkward and stilted, but we were meeting for the first time, so that's understandable, and it was clear that we had some things in common.
All in all, the date ranked a very solid 5, smack dab in the middle of the scale.
And yes, a few days later Mr. Comfortable asked me out again. In keeping with my advice for myself, I agreed. And what happened then? Well, you'll have to wait for the next post to find out.