A few years ago I found myself in a strange new world of swiping, messaging and ghosting. I went into a relationship in my 30s, when finding a date wasn’t a task. I was a young, feminist activist and involved in a million things where I met people with a similar world view. I went to parties. I went to bars. Then, at 34 I met someone, fell in love and had kids. I went into the relationship a busy, connected, not-so-bad looking feminist with lots of dating options. I came out of the relationship 14 years later a suburban soccer Mom. How did that happen?
Four years later I’ve been dating, exploring options, taking breaks and dating some more. Some of it’s fun, and some more fun than that. Some of it is completely ridiculous, tedious, boring and just plain too time consuming. My learning curve about the dating world has been steep. At the same time, I find I am learning more about myself and my needs than I ever explored through relationship to someone else before. I am deciding what is right for me and swiping my way out of anything that just doesn’t feel good. I no longer worry about being embarrassed, being rejected by someone I hardly know, waiting for someone else to make the move or waiting for someone else to choose me. I choose.
My first venture into the new world of dating was terrifying, embarrassing and thrilling. My ex had moved out a year before, and it had been over 15 years since I had gone on a first date. I had no idea how to go about it, but I knew online was the way to go. So I prepared myself with a glass of wine and a bag of Skinny Pop and got in bed with my cell phone. I took a thousand terrible selfies, finally deciding to take a picture off my Facebook page. I took a chance.
My first glance at the site was both depressing and overwhelming. Is this what’s out there? Then I saw her. I winked. She winked right back. I panicked! I finished my wine, paced around the room, frowned in the mirror at my old T-shirt and flannel pajama bottoms. Looked again at the wink. I wrote, “Oh my god! My first wink wink!”
Why, you ask, didn’t I take a minute and figure out a smooth response? That is probably the biggest plus to online dating – you get to take a minute to override that clumsy response and think about a good one. But that is not what I did. Luckily, she thought it was cute.
The night we had our first date, I had an event planning meeting already scheduled in a beautiful wine bar, so we made plans to meet there 30 minutes after my meeting ended. The major plus of this plan was I’d be there first and already have had a glass of wine. The downside was that the meeting could go long, and it did. As it got closer to my date arriving, I had to confess to the women I was meeting with that I had a date showing up in 5 minutes. Event planning stopped immediately and everyone joined in a lively conversation about dating online! I quickly moved to the next table just as my date arrived, while my committee pretended they didn’t know me. I was warm from my wine and ready for the next phase of my life.
Just like that, I was dating.