Yesterday’s WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge, “Love in the 21st Century” has taken me on a little trip down memory lane. My mother died six years ago. That night several of my friends and I sat around my dining room table, drinking, snacking and sharing stories about my mother. They all had their own relationships with her. She loved each and every one of them; and considered them to be her friends, as well as mine.
At some point, we started talking about other things. We were all single and I guess my mother’s death had made us wonder who’d be there for us, when it was our time.
That was when one of my friends announced, casually, that she was online dating. The rest of us sat there, stunned. Our mouths hanging open. Eyes bugged. Staring at her. It was a relatively new phenomenon back then. And it was mostly guys and gals in their very late teens and twenties who were daring enough to try it.
Women our age didn’t date online.
“Wrong”, she insisted. The sites were crawling with men and women our ages; and even older. She’d already been on several dates.
Once our initial shock wore off, which took a while, we peppered her with questions. It was early days, remember. Our first reaction was concern. “How did she know she wasn’t going off to meet some creep, who’d rape her, kill her and then stuff her body into the trunk of his car?” “What if he turned out to be married, just looking for some fun on the side?” “What if he turned out to be a con artist, who bilked her out of all her money?” “What if he was just some bastard and never showed up or, after checking her out from a safe distance, just took off?”
We had dozens and dozens of “What ifs”. And she’d obviously heard all of them before, because she had answers ready.
She ‘talked’ to them online, and eventually over the phone, until she was confident they were legit. That she’d be safe. That they were single or divorced or widowers. That they knew about each other well enough, had exchanged photos and were ready to take the next step. They wanted to meet each other. She always picked the place for the first ‘meet’. It was never late at night. It was always in a very public place, with a well lit parking lot. She always parked right under a light, close to the door of the cafe they’d be going to. It was always a coffee date. She always controlled how much time they spent together. She always made sure they were nowhere around when she left.
Then she asked us a question: “How do you know none of those things would happen if it was a guy you were fixed up with? Or met at a bar, or on vacation, or at the gym or the take-out counter at the grocery store?
That gave us pause, because we all knew it was possible. I met a guy at a bar years and years ago, through another guy I thought was a friend, who turned out to be married. He ‘forgot’ to mention it the first time we met for drinks. He also ‘forgot’ to mention it the first time we had dinner. He only remembered the third time we saw each other. When he asked me to meet him at his office after work. When he grabbed me, as soon as I walked in the door. When he wanted us to have sex on the couch in his showroom (he was in the fashion industry).
Talk about stupid! You’d think he would have waited until after we’d had sex. Not that I’m complaining. He did me a favour. All I can think is, his ‘big reveal’ had never stopped him from getting lucky.
Not that I’m passing judgement on anyone.
In case you’re wondering, online dating worked out very well for my friend. She met a wonderful man and, after living together for a while, they got married. She is blissfully happy. Her daughter met her husband online, as well.
I’ve still not taken the plunge. Well, that’s not quite true. I did sign up. Cruised around. Didn’t see anyone that particularly interested me. I’m not referring to ‘looks’. Their interests and mine didn’t seem to mesh at all. Then I saw a profile for someone I knew and, for some reason, it spooked me. He was single, a nice guy, had every reason to be there. But I got spooked. So I abandoned my search and closed down my account.
Will I ever try again? I don’t know.
But I have had two long distance romances. The first was great, while it lasted. About 8 years. He lived in New York and I lived in Montreal at the time. He was a director/cameraman. I met him at a fashion show. He was one of the cameramen. I arrived a bit late and all the chairs were occupied. As I walked around the runway, looking for somewhere to sit, he suddenly put his hand out and offered me his seat.
One thing led to another. If our relationship hadn’t been long distance, it would never have lasted as long as it did. He was a pain in the ass, actually. Very high maintenance. As it was, it was perfect. When we did see each other, we were really excited to be together.
And yes, I’m hear to tell you absence did make the heart grow fonder. Or at least the libido. Because we didn’t see each other all that frequently, the sex was always great. But by the time he got back on the plane, or I did, I couldn’t wait to say “Goodbye”.
Second time was different. I was in love. I moved away for work and we ended up living in different cities for a while. Funny thing is, the relationship endured. What ultimately put an end to it wasn’t the physical distance between us. It was that he lied. By then we were both in the same city again. Wasn’t even a big lie, not that it matters. A lie is a lie. You’d think if someone was going to lie, they’d make it a doozy. I seem to have a propensity for stupid men.
Could it be all the smart ones are online??