An Imagined Meeting of Online Daters Anonymous

blox pix support

“I really don’t want to go,” I said to my friend Bonnie.

“You’ve got to go,” she said. “You need support from other online daters. I can listen to you and advise you up the wazoo but I’m not dating anymore.” (I swear she quietly muttered Thank God.) “I think it would help you to share your experiences with other people who are going through the same stuff.”

“Okay,” I sighed. Since Bonnie, a long-time friend and fellow retiree, had remarried 6 months ago, she’d been trying to nudge me into attending this support group. I knew she was right. The stress of online dating was warping my perspective on romance—at least that’s what I told my jaded self.

Two days later I found myself in a small meeting room at the local library. Enjoy some oven steamed mussels while I share what happened.

There were six women and four men of various ages and ethnicities already sitting in a circle in the simple but functional room. It was 7 pm and some of my fellow daters looked liked they had come straight from work.

“Welcome,” said a striking blond woman who motioned me to an empty chair. “We’re just about to do introductions. I’m Janet. I’m a social worker. I started this meet-up group in hopes of creating an ongoing system of support for those who are starting over after divorce and struggling with online dating. I’ve been divorced 4 years and started dating 3 years ago.”

Janet went on to explain that she wanted each meeting to focus on a particular question related to dating. Every person was to answer the question, followed by an open discussion. The question for this first meeting was “what have you learned about the process of online dating?” Janet asked us to go around the room, say our name and a few basic facts and then try to answer the question.

The first person to speak was Rob, a 50-something man who said he’d been divorced 5 years. “I’ve learned that women who are online don’t seem to want to meet. They’re stuck emailing and they keep asking me questions. I feel like I’m being interrogated.”

There was general nodding of heads and smiling. “I feel that men are the same way,” said Irma, a 40ish woman. “But they don’t ask good questions. It’s ‘how’d you get so beautiful?’ and ‘how long have you been on this site?’ No one seems to read my profile. I could say I was a mass murderer and the men wouldn’t notice.”

“My problem is when we meet,” said Rachel, a woman who could have been anywhere from 55 to 65. “I’ve learned that no matter how well you connect on the phone or in email, it’s what happens in person that matters. I don’t get too excited in advance any more because most of the time, the guys look much worse and much older than their pictures.”

A 30ish man who introduced himself as Hank said, “I’ve learned that I don’t like online dating. I actually came here to see if I could meet women,” he said with a grin. “I don’t have time for the dating sites but I use Tinder and just started using Bumble because there’s less work. Sometimes I hook up with someone but I think a lot of the profiles are fake.”

Helen, a woman in her 70s (go Helen), laughed. “I almost don’t believe it when someone is not a fake. I’ve never had anyone ask me for money but stolen pictures are everywhere. They must think women are idiots. Google image search is my friend.”

Then Janet turned to me. “Nadia, what have you learned?” She asked.

I sipped my water and took a few seconds to gather my thoughts. After listening to the mostly negative comments, I realized I might be jaded but I still have hope. I explained that I had learned to expect the unexpected. To suffer through long dry spells followed by an out-of-the-blue increase in romantic possibilities…only to have them fall apart right away or over the course of a few weeks. Rinse and repeat. I told the group that, just as all types of problems have suddenly appeared in my life, I hold on to the hope that good things will also spontaneously occur. It just seems to be the way things work. The law of nothing is static.

Janet thanked me for my comment and we continued around the room. My attention drifted away as a text from a first date appeared on my phone. It looks like this latest dry spell might be over.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

 

 

Post-Valentine’s Day Blues

meeting-men-dating-in-a-coffee-shop

Are you feeling the post-Valentine’s Day blues? I am and perhaps it’s because I didn’t follow through on all of my Valentine’s Day Resolutions to meet men in real life.

Let’s enjoy a blues-appropriate lunch of Southwestern black bean quinoa mango medley. Keeping it light for the approaching bikini season.

Oh, yes, those resolutions. I’m afraid I didn’t attempt all of them…and in one case, I tried to game the system by combining three in one day.

Among my resolutions were plans to write in a coffee shop, have dinner at a bar, and go to a “social” grocery store in the evening. As mentioned above, I mistakenly tried to cram all three actions into a single afternoon/early evening.

Here’s how the day went: One Wednesday afternoon, I decided to try writing at a local Starbucks. I arrived about 3:45 p.m. Although there were a couple of solo men working on laptops, the venue was sparsely populated. I selected a table where I could see one of the guys but it was too far away for conversation. Had it been more crowded, it might have been less awkward to sit fairly close to one of the laptop guys. However, it wasn’t a great loss since neither man was age appropriate or particularly attractive.

Since not much was happening in the possible romance department, I decided to focus on writing. This became a challenge in concentration as a man and a woman sat next to me and carried on an annoying conversation. I should have followed the advice of one of my teachers who suggested taking notes on the conversation of strangers in order to improve one’s dialogue writing skills.

Lesson learned: Late afternoon may not be the best time to meet men in a coffee shop—though this could vary depending on the venue.

Continuing my experiment, I walked over to a nearby restaurant/bar with the intention of having a happy hour “dinner.” Although some happy hours are lively at 5 pm, this popular restaurant’s bar area was practically empty when I arrived. A couple of people sat in one of the nearby booths but virtually no one was sitting at the bar. I ordered a drink and appetizer in hopes the venue would fill up but only a small group of work colleagues sat down. I decided to cut my losses and head to the Whole Foods across the way.

Lesson learned: Some bars ARE busy at 5 pm so it makes sense to try different venues at different times and on different days of the week.

It was about 6 pm when I arrived at the Whole Foods. I was a little too buzzed from the afternoon’s competing libations – a Starbucks cappuccino followed by a generously poured glass of wine. Needless to say, I wasn’t in prime flirting form. I failed to go to the produce aisle where imaginary men could ask for my help in selecting vegetables or to the prepared foods counter where more imaginary men could ask if I have ever tried the General Tso’s Vegan Chicken.  Instead, I shopped for things I actually needed or wanted to try (e.g., Halo Top ice cream).

Lesson learned: Don’t do a grocery run when you’re tired or tipsy. Do stroll to the best meeting locations within the store (after you select whatever you really need).

Aside from the 3-in-1 disaster, I made progress on some of the other resolutions: I signed up for a free introduction to improv class to be held this weekend, registered for more meet-up events, and made a resolution action schedule (promptly ignored).

It’s always worth celebrating the small victories. Without my list of resolutions, I might not have done any of these things. Plus the benefits extend beyond possible romance –  friendship opportunities in the meet-ups and improv class and pennies saved via a produce sale at Whole Foods.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia