on and off in 36 hours – an autobiographical short story

For Janssen, who stated that she likes long posts better. And for Cass, who watches my life at a distance and thinks it so very glamorous.

A friend of mine recently decided to get back into the online dating scene. I encouraged her because, well, why not? Anyway, somehow, I ended up back online myself (and somehow involved some encouragement from said friend) after over a year and swearing up and down, right and left, backwards and forwards that I would never do it again. Ever. Period. No matter what. But, I guess we are all entitled to change our minds. I mean, isn’t that what makes us human? Isn’t that how we progress?

After going out Friday night, I got home and back online. I reactivated my profile on my site of choice, changed my pictures, changed my greeting, removed a lot of the information I had previously shared, and voila. I was in business. Considering I am writing a post about it today, Sunday, it should be no surprise to you that I have decided that this was a bad idea.

Now, I’m not going to knock online dating in general. I know there are people out there who have met their spouses this way. I don’t have any kind of fundamental problem with it. Hell, I was engaged to someone I met online…although, perhaps that isn’t the best proof that I’m not going to rip a hole in it. Whatever. But, I am going to say that, for me, right now in my life, I have no desire to do it.

I think part of my willingness to get back online was that I am seriously so busy that I just don’t have time to meet new people, unless we happen to cross paths through work (not likely since most all of the men with whom I work are married) or school (being that it’s Provo, most of the guys that I would consider old enough to date are also married). I’m sure some of you are thinking, “but you make time to post to your blog everyday”, which is true, but posting here is part of my sanity, along with my running. I really don’t have time to make the effort, you know, to go out of my way to be flirtatious, etc. And the truth is that, while there are guys I am interested in now and again, guys that I would like to date should they ask me out, I don’t feel like I’m missing anything right now. And I’ve finally stopped worrying about whether or not I will ever get married. Nothing breeds regrets of the past like worries of the future, so I’ve stopped.

Well, after my friend decided to get back online, I started thinking. Maybe not caring is not super healthy. Maybe I should care. Maybe I should be actively seeking a relationship. So back online I went. I was hopeful, because, even though I may not appear this way on the surface, deep down (way, way down, hidden in the depths of my soul) I am chronically and painfully optimistic. The problem with optimism is it doesn’t leave much room for sarcasm, and well, I love sarcasm, so I often appear a little cynical. Whatever. A post for another day.

Fast forward 36 hours. I’m done. I cannot do it. Sure, it was a good ego boost for the 36 hours. But it was also a reminder of how many weird guys are out there. Now, I know that there are lots of guys who online date who are not weird, they just aren’t the ones that want to chat with me. Or, maybe they do, but they, like me, are a little slower, a little more conservative, so they aren’t quite so bold and forward as the crazies. Not only that, but it is like this timeless black hole that sucks away the hours of my life.

For those of you unfamiliar with the ongoings of the Internet as a meat market, I present to you a case study in online dating (and for those of you who are all too familiar with it…you can just enjoy knowing that, no, you aren’t the only one):

Introducing: Bachelor #1***; we’ll call him George*. George invites me to chat. I accept the invitation. Sure, why not, right? At this point, my new pictures have yet to appear and the old ones have been removed. In other words, I was sans picture. So, we’re chatting. I don’t remember most of the boring, get to know you, beginning (another thing I don’t love about online dating, or any setup type dating, for that matter), but I decide to ask him why he decided to IM me, because I’m curious considering that, at this point I have no picture up, and guys are generally fans of pictures and my “greeting” basically consists of a quote and two lines stating that I a) prefer profiles with pictures and b) am not interested in dating someone over 36. There are a lot of 40+ single men out there looking to get hitched.

In answer to my question, George basically says, in many more words than this, that it was the hypocrisy of my greeting. Well, that makes sense. I mean, I basically wrote that others should post pictures because “it’s only fair”.

But then he adds, “and you sound cute.” Really? First of all, I don’t “sound” anything. It’s words on a page, that you are reading. But, that’s just semantics. We all say things like that…no big deal. Moving on…I find it interesting that from a quote and two sentences he deduces that I am “cute”. I’m intrigued at this point. Not interested, but intrigued. And then he does it. He makes me hate him. But a little explanation first. On this particular site, in your profile, there’s a place where you have to enter your “body type”. Well, I’ve played this game before and there is no way that I’m going to sugar coat anything, nor am I going to avoid the topic. Sure, you can put, “I’ll tell you later”, but I have no desire for that to be a question that needs to be discussed, so I opt for the “I could maybe lose a few”. Their nice option for, “I’m chubby”.

Back to the story. What was I saying (see, semantics…I wasn’t ‘saying’ anything, I was writing)? Oh yes, that George makes me hate him.

George: And you sound cute…well, except for the “I should maybe lose a few” thing.

Yes. Seriously. Not exaggerating. Not lying. Not making it up. Absolutely true. Well, I have a pretty healthy sense of self these days…and, in case you haven’t figured this out from reading my blog, I can get a little feisty when I’m fired up. And it’s not that I really care that he has issues with weight, but why IM me if you have issues with it, when it’s there, stated in black and white, totally obvious?

So, a conversation ensues about whether or not a girl can be cute and need to lose weight, or if it is only at the exception of needing to lose weight. Blah, blah, blah, 30 minutes of my life wasted. Although, it does feel good to know that, immediately following his asinine comment, I know this will not go anywhere. I don’t allow George to justify himself. I just close the door to any possibility.

Now, this might seem a little extreme on my part, but had you been through what I went through last year, you would have done the same. A trial, I might add, that could have been easily avoided had I just closed the door when my Internet caller basically said, “I looked at your pictures more closely and, I feel awful about it, because you are amazing, but I’m having secondary emotions.” Translation: “I really like you and I think you are amazing, but I am having a hard time getting past your weight.” Well, that’s fine that he felt that way, but I don’t want to be with someone who a) has issues with my body and b) feels that it’s okay to say that to me, in the name of being honest. I mean, if that’s how you feel, fine. Just don’t date me. And, lest you think my interpretation a bit excessive, just know that this was a much discussed topic over the subsequent six months of our “dating” and engagement**. (I’m still single, so you do the math).

Moving on…Bachelor #2; Ted* from Sandy. Ted starts the conversation by telling me I’m hot (my pictures are up at this point) which is one of my most favorite things for a guy to say to me. I’m sorry, but “You’re hot”? Really? I mean, I’d liked to be flattered, but “hot”? And then he asks what I am doing that evening…this is now Saturday.

Me: Actually, I’m going to a comedy club and then out for gelato.
Ted: That sounds fun, but then you’re coming over to go hot tubbing with me…naked.
Me: Buh bye.

No need to respond to that one. Honestly, let’s consider the alternatives. Scenario 1: Ted is serious. Okay, nothing to consider there. Gross. Scenario 2: Ted is joking. What on earth is funny about that? Scenario 3: Ted is testing the waters. If I’m game, he’s serious. If I’m offended, he’s joking. Unfortunately for Ted, not one of the three alternatives appeals to me in the slightest.

Bachelor #3 of the experience is Hugo*. Hugo is actually pretty nice, and funny, and quite enjoyable. The “conversation” flows and he asks me interesting questions…creative “get to know you” questions. Then comes his two divorces. Now, for fear that you think me terribly judgmental, let me say this. First of all, a divorce is not a deal breaker. Second of all, I realize that there are a lot of divorced men and women out there and that many of them are good people, people I would date, or set up on dates. However, twice divorced at 29, both marriages lasting one year…red flag. And, I being the way I am, am just honest about it. Not to mention the fact that he lives in Boise, ID which is about 5 hours from me…and a few other issues. Anyway, that chat ends amicably enough. But I am still not encouraged.

And Bachelor #4…the one who turned the key in the lock on the door I call Internet dating…is Duff*. Duff is 40 and lives in Salt Lake. While, it clearly states in my greeting that “I have nothing against older men, but 36 is about my limit, so if you are over that, I am not interested”, he apparently has not read that far when he invites me to chat, as evidenced by the fact that two minutes into our conversation, he says, “Oops, it looks like I’m over your age limit.” Right now, I’m bugged because, while I definitely enjoy it when men find me attractive, I hate feeling like someone chose to chat with me based only on my pictures. I realize that is a little unfair, considering how very little I have written about myself, but still. I have written so little that he should have read it.

Well, Duff is nice enough, so I say, “Well, there are exceptions, but yes, you are over the age limit.” As evidenced by the next 30 minutes of my wasted time, this is the wrong thing to say. What follows is a virtual monologue about how I am just scared that he is the one, that I should just go out with him and accept that he is meant for me, that there is obviously a reason we had “met” since he is planning on canceling his membership on Monday. Please. Fate? Seriously? At one point he even says, “So, why don’t you just accept it and marry me?”

Wow…that is a first. While this is not the first time someone has asked me to marry him, it is the first time I am asked via instant message, where the suitor is someone who knows next to nothing about me. Perhaps the quote I put at the beginning of my greeting (I like quotes rather than descriptions for whatever reason) is a little too encouraging:

It is not time or opportunity that is to determine intimacy; it is disposition alone. Seven years would be insufficient to make some people acquainted with each other, and seven days are more than enough for others. -Sense and Sensibility-

I still think that this is a fantastic quote, but perhaps I needed to temper it by saying, “And should seven days be enough, I still have every intention of dating for at least a year before I even think about getting married”. Maybe that would have staved off Duff’s desires.

In any case, I proceed to explain to him that part of my reasoning in not dating men over 36 is that most of those men (at least the Mormon ones) are all hot to get married and settle down. I, on the other had, am not. Especially not right now. I tell him that “I’m sure eventually I will be there, when the time is right and the right person comes along.”

Duff: Well, how do you know that the time isn’t right now and that I’m not the right person?
Me: I don’t, but our conversation thus far is a pretty good indication that this is going nowhere.
Duff: Why don’t you just go out with me?
Me: What?
Duff: Let’s go out. Right now. (It is currently about 2:30 in the am). Where do you want to meet?

At this point, I should just leave the conversation, but I have this inherent need for people to like me, even when I don’t like them, so I don’t. This is a big part of the reason that Internet dating is not for me. Anyway, another 30 minutes later and I finally say goodbye.

And that is when I know it’s over. My relationship with online dating has come to an end. I wasted (yes, I consider the entire time a waste) over four hours of my life during a 36 hour period. Four hours! That’s enough time for me to take a practice GMAT, run a good portion of a marathon (I wish it was enough for me to run the entire thing, but it’s not), fold my laundry (which, incidentally, did not happen yesterday) or myriad other things.

So, I am done. I cannot do it. There are so many things about it that just don’t work for me. First, there’s the fact that people can be anyone they want to be online. Second, there’s the fact that the majority of guys who are interested enough in me to initiate a conversation have serious issues…or live in some foreign country and, I’m pretty sure, are just looking for a green card. Third, no matter how attractive someone is, you are always somewhat thrown when you first meet them. No matter what. You have only seen a picture, but once you start chatting or talking on the phone, you start to imagine what they “look” like…hand gestures, facial expressions, etc. And it doesn’t matter who it is, you will never imagine it correctly.Something that can be overcome quite easily when the attraction is there, but…still a pain to deal with.

There are a plethora of reasons that I will no longer date online, but I will just mention one more: the logistics of the online date. If you meet someone who’s local, it’s no big deal. You can go out once and be done with it, except that you have to worry about whether or not they have stalker potential (which is sometimes hard to discern) because they are local. But, if there’s any kind of distance, there’s going to be an investment. I mean, unless the person is conveniently located in a location where you would normally travel for other purposes, you are going to have to decide that this person has enough potential that you would travel for several hours, find somewhere to stay, and then have the desire to spend enough time with them to make the expense worth it. I speak this from much experience; a trip to Washington, and another to North Carolina. It becomes an investment before you even know the person. And sometimes the investment makes you do crazy things…like trying to make something work that just won’t.

I do want to reiterate that I do not think online dating is wrong, or bad, or anything of that nature. I’ve met some really quality men through online dating…with some of whom I am still in contact. I even think that, if I were willing to get online and weed through all of the “winners”, I could probably find someone I actually wanted to date. But, I’m just not willing to do that. And I’m not saying that I wouldn’t date someone I’d met online…but I don’t want to online date. Yes, there’s a difference. Think about it.

So finally, here’s to the end of my relationship with Internet dating, to the end of waiting and hoping that “so and so” will invite me to chat, to the end of checking my email an infinite number of times per day, in the hope that a particular someone emailed me, and to the end of anxiously anticipating dates that end in disaster after hours have been invested in a relationship that was not to be.

I once was blind, but now I see
that Internet dating is not for me.

*Names have been changed to protect the guilty, the clueless and the otherwise socially inept.
**I’m really not bitter towards guys who know what they are and are not attracted to. There are definitely things that I don’t find attractive, however, I don’t ever say anything. If a guy is so great that I stop noticing whatever it is, well there you go. If not, that’s okay, too. But there’s absolutely no point in taking any sense of self-worth away from someone by stating what you don’t like about their physical appearance, when a) it just doesn’t matter that much and b) if not me, someday, someone else will love him for exactly who he is. Am I being unrealistic? Should I be okay with someone telling me that he likes everything about me, except my body?
***In the original version of this post, I had written “Guy”, but then Cindy left a comment using “Bachelor” and it sounded better, so I edited.

16 thoughts on “on and off in 36 hours – an autobiographical short story

  1. I have gotten the biggest kick out of this post! Wow Chloe! I can definitely see why after 36 hours you’re done for good…. I mean, I would be for sure.

  2. I originally planned on having linkup friends only be people I know in real life, but I got friend requests from internet people and I caved.

  3. What a great post! I’ve never done the online dating thing and after reading your post I AM VERY VERY GLAD. (OK, so I got married before the internet and never had a chance to try out this “swell” social device.)(Yup, I can just drip with sarcasm sometimes.)My sister is single and has done the online dating thing. After many online sessions that sounded just like yours, she met a truly wonderful guy that she has been dating for over a year. I wonder how often that actually happens??

  4. Oh, and I still have my profile up on linkup- I’m a moderator of the politics board there but I’ve never really thought of the place as a dating site (though I suppose a lot of people use it that way)

  5. bo internet dating!I had a profile at ldsmingle ages ago (I logged in after reading your post and my profile is still there sans pictures)A long time ago I paid for a lifetime membership when they had a promo going to get that for the price of two months membership- but when I didn’t log in for over a month it apparently expired (I should have read the fine print) I suppose it doesn’t matter since I decided long ago I didn’t really want to use it- though it would be nice to someday have the option to change my mind.

  6. amen sister. i’m glad internet dating works for some folks but as for me and my house, we’d like to meet a boy nearby. in real life.

  7. hey! thanks for coming by my blog! i love yours. πŸ™‚ this is a fantastic post- i can totally relate though my experiences were awhile ago. i married a guy i met online, but it was safely 3 years after we met and i think he’s an exception. i met a lot of strange people via internet dating, but it gives you awesome stories. πŸ™‚

  8. I pick bachelor #2. Naked hot tubbing, woot! woot! I’m on linkup but I never use the chat thing. Sounds scary! Can’t wait to test the waters in Salt Lake.

  9. You could have been Mrs. Chloe Duff or something like that… it would have been an awesome story to tell your kids how their daddy, Duff, proposed online without ever meeting you. Good post, made me appreciate not being on an internet dating site.

  10. Ha! Great post (and even better dedication :). And the majority of guys online do seem to be very very odd. Some random guy emailed me once and, in an IM conversation, told me that “when I’m in a relationship and we decide to go all the way, I have a rule that we have to wait at least two days before we do anything, so we both are sure we want to.” Yes, because it’s YOUR rule to break at will. I never talked to him again, except he did email me one time a few months later to say he was single and still interested in meeting me, but he was never single very long, so I’d better act quickly. I agree that if things bother you, either move on or deal with them on your own. My sister told her husband that it bugged her that he wasn’t taller (he’s about 5’10). I still can’t understand why she told him that, since it’s clearly something he can’t do anything about and now he’s probably just self-conscious about it. Is this the longest comment ever? Why yes. .. how embarassing.

  11. Great post, Chloe. I agree with a lot of your sentiments. I travelled to Georgia and Oregon, and contemplated a trip to St. Louis, all in the name of internet dating, and this was all 10+ years ago… All this, only to meet and marry a girl that lived 2 blocks away.And no, we did not meet online.

bueller?... bueller?... bueller?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s