I told myself when I started this little online dating experience I was going to do everything possible to keep my ego in check. Both ways. To not let attention go to my head, and to not allow failure bring me down.
I’ve failed very early, very quickly in both arenas.
I believe when ego gets involved, it’s loud enough to shut off all other voices. The voice of reason that might tell you something looks too good to be true. The voice of caution that sends out red warning flags. The voice that tells you, you are good enough.
When ego gets involved it starts to prance around, or worse it gets sullen and tells you ugly things. Instead of thinking in a clear straight line, and following your instincts, you assume.
Of course we’ve all that smartass person who tells us at one point in our life in a nasally know-it-all tone, “When you assume you make an ASS out of U and ME.” My smartass was a boss I had in my early twenties, who I suspect laid in waiting, hoping one of her new fresh up and starters would be stupid enough to come into her office and say, “Well I assumed ….” Just so she could use that line on them.
Initially I went into this armed and prepared for the horror stories. The liars, and fakes. The married men. (Which technically are usually liars and fakes, except for the one who immediately told me he was – hence his own category)
With my imaginary shields and light sabers and whatnot, I was able to “Peeewww!” diffuse that one, and “Kapow!” unarm that one. (Girl gun sounds are never quite what boy guns sounds are. I am convinced of that. Go ahead and try it sometime in a group. The effects can sometimes be hilarious.)
Unless absolutely floored by rudeness shoved my way, I would always be polite. I heard so many wretched stories about how rude women were and how scarred some men were to even make contact after so much shit thrown their way.
I would always try and reply to contact made to me. Let me say that I broke that rule early on, and changed it to something more along the lines of I would reply to intelligent contact made my way.
Armed with my politeness, and checked-in-ego, and girl sounding light sabers, into the big bad forest of online dating I went.
Initially it went well. Being new, I think they must really push the profiles out there. “Freeeesssshhhh newwww meeeaaat!” I picture the site managers calling out in a Pink Floyd-ish way (“How can you have any pudding, if you won’t eat yer meat?!!”) to the profiles that have hungered for something different for daaaays! They all came scrambling about, some with witty rapport, some with basic hello’s and some with a little skeeze factor.
But the ego stayed in check. So did the politeness. I will admit I was really on my game, zanging back the zings, fresh wit, barely even working the slightest intellectual sweat. I connected with someone immediately and thought “Damn, this is easy! I am GOOD at this!” Only to quickly figure out that the profile is NOT equal to the banter which is NOT equal to the reality of who you are talking to.
Yes, men online lie too.
I really thought it was a female thing. I figured that men, being less insecure about looks and age wouldn’t add, subtract or post pictures 5 years old. Plus I am one of those who plays fair, and I (uncorrectly) assume (there is that word again!) that since I’m being fair they should. None of my pictures is less than a year old. I put that my body style “has some extra pounds” or however they politely word “I’m kinda fat, but not so much that I need that extra airline seat.”.
“It’s not fair!” my inner child wanted to scream when time after time I would find that most of the pictures were recent. Maybe not the one that attracted you though.
“Yes, of course,..” I wanted to say. “Knowing how good looking you used to be is a huge boon to me NOW. Because after all, I want to explain to people, oh you should have seen him before we started dating!” Wink, wink.
I also found there was no clear way to tell someone after a day or so of talking (and I’ve figured a day of talking in the online world is sort of like a dog year. It’s like talking for months.) that there was no online connection, so you’re going to have to take this into the friend zone. Which to my knowledge doesn’t really exist. It’s like this door you open, that is really a vortex to a black hole, where you will never speak to one another again. But it sounds nicer than, please don’t bother contacting me. Ever again. Because truly I have enough friends, and there isn’t a compartment in my head that is for people I considered dating for 24 hours, but then truly realized it wouldn’t work.
I had coffee with a nice enough guy. We talked for probably an hour, maybe an hour and a half. I knew nearly immediately this guy wasn’t for me. But he did nothing wrong. He just didn’t have … It … it was like drinking my coffee with cream. I can do it, but I won’t really enjoy it like I would if it were black. Conversation didn’t falter or anything, and when we got up to leave he wasn’t sure if we should hug or shake hands. I put my hand out. He said he’d be in contact, and I smiled weakly or maybe I smiled warmly, but with insincerity, I don’t recall exactly.
I knew if he asked me out, I’d probably go, because he was nice. He was okay. I wasn’t following the rule of if the chemistry isn’t there, don’t fake it. Don’t force it either. I also knew if he never contacted me again, I’d be as equally okay. He did contact me. Two hours later. Politely, and firmly he told me he didn’t see us as a couple, and good luck to me.
Relief swept over me, but no sooner was that gone, then my ego tapped me on the shoulder and wanted to know what the fuck was wrong with me? Why wasn’t I good enough? See initially I didn’t feel rejected, because I wanted to be rejected. No, wait, I didn’t want to be rejected, I just didn’t want to be wanted. Anyway, I told him that I thought the feeling was mutual, and that I wished him the best too. That shut my ego up and I moved on.
I was more selective, and a little more aggressive after that. I learned that not all men will respond to your witty little messages. Sometimes they will and conversation will ensue and you will think everything is great and then … crickets. I also learned I was one who put crickets out there too, when I would come across a conversation I had inadvertently forgot about and just stopped talking.
I figure in cases like these, there might have been some chemistry, but just not enough.
I can’t say where I got sloppy and let the ego in. I just know a couple of weeks in, and I felt like a pro – and when something too good to be true came my way, I ignored the warning signs. I didn’t completely ignore them, but enough. At about the same time was this great conversation with someone for days (remember how much time that is!) and we decided to meet. In fact I blew off Opportunity #1, because it just felt – well, too good to be true. Opportunity #2 – I agreed to meet because that felt real — and it was — a real disaster. Flaming, bailing disaster, that had me feeling relief on one hand, and confusion on the other. Of course my ego hadn’t had enough and I turned back to Opportunity #1, which as the warning bells foretold, was a Hindenburg of its own.
Come Sunday morning, licking my proverbial wounds, I cursed that horrid site. Then I got bored. Then I got real.
I learned this. If you are going to go onto these sites, you really, really, really must check your ego at the door. Do not let a stranger dictate to you how you should feel about yourself. As well, when you start to believe your own publicity, you’re doomed.
I feel jaded a bit. I also feel like I have a few of my own war stories, and have a more equal footing. My rules aren’t so Pollyann-ish anymore. I still believe in politeness, but I get just not wanting to reply to the 17th time someone can only conjure up, “Great smile!” as an opening line.