Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My First Foray Into the Dating Jungle


Every day I open up my MSN and invariably there is an article on dating and relationships. What to do, what not do, when to sleep with him/her, when not to sleep with him/her, when to run, when to stay and the list goes on. Needless to say this can all be very overwhelming and not just a tiny bit confusing.

I’ve been divorced for 4 years now and honestly dating sucks. It can also be fun, exciting, and adventurous and sometimes a little bit on the scary side. I was married right out of high school as was married 20 years before getting a divorce so I didn’t have much experience with dating. Since my divorce I’ve done a lot of dating, almost embarrassingly so.

One of the things I’ve discovered about dating is that one of the easiest ways to meet people is through various online dating sites, especially in the area I live in. There is and abundance of dating sites or services! You have Match.com, EHarmony, American Singles, Christian Singles, Interracial dating, GoCougar.com, and the list goes on and on and on. Dating has become big business. Some of these dating sites/services are free and others charge you a monthly fee or can you cost you thousands of dollars. This, of course, is all in the name of finding Mr. or Ms. Perfect.

After exploring all options, you pick a service or a couple of them to increase your odds. You create an account, which by the way is pure torture. This includes filling out the basic information such as hair/eye color, you body build, your ethnicity, etc. After this mild form of torture, the real torture begins. Writing something about yourself that will attract someone to your profile. This is the point where you want to hire a ghost writer. After all how does one make yourself sound like you walk on water without sounding like you walk on water?

Last but not least let’s not forget the picture. This is very important as honestly this is the first thing a prospective date looks at. He/she doesn’t really care that you may have spent the past 5 years helping poor people in Uganda, you’ve won a Pulitzer, or you’re in line to win the Nobel Peace Prize. What he/she really cares about is that when they are walking by your side they are not going to be embarrassed. So, with the final piece of the puzzle in place, you finish your profile, publish it, cross your fingers, and pray to the dating gods.

Now begins the waiting. I found myself checking my e-mail 100 times a day compared to the once or twice a day that I was used to. Thinking please god let someone like my profile just enough to say hi. Wondering, did I say too much about myself, did I say too little? Could I have picked a better picture? And then, there it was, I got a wink. Wait several winks and a couple of e-mails! Hallelujah somebody likes me!!!

The first hurdle in online dating is how do you respond to a wink? Do you e-mail them? Do you wink back? Does it mean he’s only slightly interested so a wink is too see how much of a response he gets from you? Or is he shy and unsure what to say? What to do, what to do? Since that first foray into the dating jungle I have solved the winking problem by just not replying in any fashion. My theory is if you can’t sit down and formulate at least one sentence to say hello, you’re probably not all that interested. But, since it was my first expedition into the dating world, depending on the picture and profile I winked back, ignored or sent a brief e-mail in reply to their wink.

I responded those first few e-mails and winks and again waited by my computer for a response, any response. Let me mention now that since those initial e-mails I have received many emails that have run the gambit of a mini novella to “hey baby let’s do it”. I couldn’t tell you what those initials e-mails entailed but I can tell you that I eventually picked someone as my “first” date as a divorced woman.

I will call my first date “Mike” one to protect the innocent and two because it was so long ago I can’t remember what his name was anyway. By the way if his name really was Mike, so sorry. We decide to meet for drinks at Mike’s American Grill. Someplace I’d never been to but was close to home. I remember trying to figure out what to wear. I mean really what do you wear on a first date? Do you wear a dress, is jeans ok, a little cleavage, too much cleavage, after all I hadn’t been on a date in over 20 years!

Day of date arrives and by this time I’m a nervous wreck. I still haven’t figured out what I’m wearing and I’m thinking what the hell was I thinking doing this? After finally deciding on my outfit, I head out and arrive at the restaurant and there he is sitting at the bar already. Damn, I thought to myself, I wanted to be early so I could scope him out. So there’s my date sitting at the bar sipping on a drink and definitely not looking like Prince Charming, not to say that he was an ogre just not my “type”. Of course I had seen a picture of him before meeting him, but sometimes a picture doesn’t do a person justice but in this case well…… need I say more? I go up to him introduce myself, order a drink and see that my hands are shaking so badly I can barely get the drink to my mouth without spilling it everywhere. Nice, I’m thinking to myself, now my date is going to think I’m terrified of him that should bring his ego up a notch or two.

I eventually calmed down and we spent a couple of pleasant hours at the bar. Unfortunately I talk way too much so the poor guy probably learned more about me than he ever wanted to know but hey that’s me. As first dates go it was very pleasant. Mike was very nice and considerate knowing that he was my “first” date after 20 years of marriage and totally on unfamiliar ground. We did have a couple of dates after that but obviously it didn’t go anywhere as its now years later and I’m still single.

In retrospect I believe that my first date after my divorce was more an exercise of proving to myself that I can get out there and date rather than finding a boyfriend or my next husband. Taking that first dating step is hard after so many years of being with the same person. Was I ready to date at that time? I don’t think so but I did that first experience need to prove to myself and that was I am dateable and I could do it. Since then I’ve been on many dates and all of them have been a learning experience.

I’m still confused about dating, but I can say that for the most part of I’ve enjoyed most of my experiences and if there hasn’t been a steady boyfriend or a future husband I’m ok with that. But boy what a ride it has been!


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