Monday, May 17, 2021 01:12

Remaining Single: Dating Websites – Combining the Old and New

Yes, I use dating websites.  This is not new to me.  I believe dating websites to be just as viable a vehicle for finding a romantic relationship as any other venue.  How many times do I hear people say they met in a bar?  Where there’s alcohol involved?  And where perceptions might be impaired by said alcohol?  And many of those relationships lead to lasting positive partnerships, even though there is quite the risk considering the possible obstacles.  So what’s the difference between something like that turning into true love vs. any other romantic possibility delivery system?  Hence, the dating websites.

My most recent romantic relationships was the best of my entire dating history.  It lasted 5.5 years and I met him by chance on a group trip in Europe.  Just before I met him, I had been doing the dating website thing for quite a while, at least a year continuously.  I was on a few sites and met a number of men, but nothing had clicked into a long term romance.  About a month before I met my ex-boyfriend, I had “hit a wall’ so to speak with the whole dating thing and had decided to stop using the dating websites.  And then, just like that, a month later just about to the day from my last dating website date, along came true love and at the moment when I was not actively looking for it any more at all.

Does that mean I can’t find the next right romance through a dating website, or through any other mechanism that seems like I’m actively looking vs. letting fate or destiny do the deciding?  I have always said there is no difference between using a dating website and any other type of website to gather information before deciding whether or not to proceed further with something.  I’ve used websites to find office space, buy a home, choose a plumber, research vacation spots, write reviews for restaurants and hotels, and thousands of other things.  It’s all about information exchange and knowing what choices/options are available.  So why then would I not take advantage of that same information gathering type of site to do the same kind of deciding?  Seems like a no brainer to me.

Of course there are numerous horrible dating stories told about people met through internet dating sites.  I have a number of them myself from prior experiences with online dating.  I also have an equal number of horrible dating stories from experiences NOT found through internet dating sites.  Don’t even get me started on fix-ups, for example.  Thankfully I haven’t been fixed up in a very long time.  When I fix people up, I do it based on a feeling, or an instinct, and I don’t do it unless I have a really strong sense that the two people I’m fixing up will hit it off.  Twice I’ve been right about that.  Once was about 20 years ago, and that couple got engaged nine months later.  More recently I had an opportunity to fix up two people, again based on that instinct or feeling, and again it went well, and they are romantically happily together.  On the other hand, when folks have fixed me up, they seem to have used what I call the “Noah’s Ark” approach to fix-ups.  It goes something like I’m a woman, he’s a man, we’re both heterosexual and single so therefore…….!  Good gracious, what were those people thinking?

For every horrible dating experience anyone can share – again, including myself – from dating websites, there are just as many good stories of romantic lasting love found through those sites.  So I’m not going to rule anything out and that includes the dating sites.  And this time I’m thinking I’ll stick and stay instead of walking away, because I have learned it’s important to have patience and persistence with most things in life.  Here’s an example.  I learned to ski at 37 years old.  It’s harder to learn a sport as a grownup, fear factor being what it is, and skiing is not an easy sport to pick up.  But from the very first time I ever went, terrified as I was, the whole experience was thrilling for me at the same time.  I think I mostly fell down throughout the first four years of my ski career but I didn’t give up.  I kept coming back for more, and now 15 years later, I’m a good skier and I still love it.  I teach other people to ski who wind up loving it too.  And it’s just as thrilling for me now as it was in the beginning, only now it’s even better because I actually know what I’m doing and I have a blast doing it.

It’s the same thing with dating, in my opinion.  I can allow fate or destiny to drive the bus, or I can give it a little push and get out there and do some driving on my own, or at least ride shotgun.  And that’s where I see the combination of the old and new.  Dating websites are all about communication between two people, at first by email.  How is this any different from letters written by potential romantic partners in centuries gone by?  Jane Austen uses letter writing as a device in many of her novels, to drive the fate of the potential lovers forward.  One of my favorites is at the end of “Persuasion” when Captain Wentworth leaves a letter for Ann to find.  In this letter he declares his feelings for her and gives her instructions about what the next step would be if she should return his affections.  Sigh……so romantic.

Long before the internet I was a letter writer.  I kept in touch with friendships I made at summer camps, friendships I knew in college, and friendships with people I met on vacation or elsewhere.  I had some ex-boyfriends and some potential romantic partners who were great letter writers.  One time years ago, I got a letter written by a fellow who was crushing on me, all written in rhyme.  It was beautiful.  We never did quite get into a romance, but I still remember how clever that letter was.  I’ve always enjoyed sending and receiving letters.  And now with email, I am able to stay in touch with different people from all over the world, and with much quicker response time.  That’s a treat for sure.  So there’s the combination of the old and the new.  We’re still writing ‘letters’ as an exercise in getting to know someone better.  I appreciate the eloquence of so many emails I’ve received.  Some of them have inspired me to be eloquent as well.  Sometimes I save these email exchanges as reminders for myself of the stories I tell, and of the responses those stories receive.  There is something wonderful and exciting about receiving an email from a potential romantic partner, or receiving a reply from an email I’ve put out there.       These days it’s not important who makes the first contact.  It’s the use of the old in that we’re using the power of the written words to make contact.  The new speaks not only to the technology but also to the modern thought that no longer are women ‘forced’ to wait for a man to come to them.  I have found that many men are just as indifferent to who initiates the contact as I am.  A refreshing blend of old and new for sure.

Back to the idea of choosing once the options are better known. This dating website method allows us to conduct a correspondence before making a commitment to meet face to face.  It also allows us to be in contact with folks who might not live right around the corner, but who’s to say they might not be a right fit?  In the best of the scenario outcomes, the emails lead to phone calls, the phone calls lead to face to face meetings, the face to face meetings at any moment might lead to the next right romance.  I’ve certainly heard enough of the positive outcome stories to help my hopeful romantic side continue to believe in the power of the possible.

How can one not be hopeful from what seems like a foolproof method?  Well, here’s where some of the horrible stories come in.  There are people who lie.  I know, big surprise, right?  There are people who want nothing more than the correspondence online without the phone calls or face to face contact.  There are some folks who can do the email and the phone thing, but face to face freaks them out and they run or disappear.  I have had some ‘meet and greet’ first dates that were lovely and then I never saw or heard from them again.  I realize dating can be difficult and even scary, not because of who is out there, but because of their lack of emotional readiness and willingness to be vulnerable with someone else.  And that’s okay because if someone isn’t willing or open and vanishes early on, he’s doing me a favor because he’s getting out of the way of the better potential romantic partner I’ve yet to meet.  .

As I said, for every negative outcome story there can be just as many on the positive side of the aisle.  I look at all of these adventures with a great deal of gratitude, because with each encounter I learn something about myself.  I learn what I do want and what I don’t want.  I learn that I have just as much right to say no thanks as a man does.  I learn that I have the capacity to be open and willing.   I can trust myself.  I can trust that I’m sent what I’m meant to receive.  And if something doesn’t work out, that means something better might be in the next email I send or receive.  I didn’t give up on skiing and it was so worth it.  I don’t choose to give up on dating websites.  And a side benefit is I have a collection of interesting stories, always a plus!

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