I’m returning to this site after nearly a half-year off for a sweet relationship that morphed into what we both hope will be a lasting friendship. My prior online dating experience was much fun and very interesting, and I’m hoping this will be too. I’m touched by the way we keep showing up, keep desiring, keep remaining open. I’m excited to see what comes next.
That is the first paragraph of my online dating profile, which I recently reactivated. Almost instantly, I began receiving commiserations from other denizens of the site who recognized my face or online moniker: “I have to say, I’m kinda sad to see you again,” wrote one thoughtful man with whom I’ve exchanged long philosophical emails. “You were my hero,” wrote another.
Potentially a heavy burden, standard-bearer for online dating success (or failure). But truly, I think the trick is to carry it lightly. It was disappointing for my erstwhile love and I to let go of our hopes for happily ever after. It took will and patience—despite disappointment—to encourage a romance to become an abiding friendship. I’m glad we didn’t try to force what didn’t fit. I’m glad to come out of it with a cherished friend and an open heart, without regret, and with a deeper self-knowledge to guide me in future.
There isn’t anything here that feels like failure, which seems to encapsulate the difference between my experience and that of some friends who hated online dating. If the only way to hold the experience is as a test of one’s worth—well, why sign up for that? But hold it as giving the universe an opportunity, more or less in the spirit of buying a lottery ticket, and it all falls within the outlines of enjoyment.
By now, I have refined my lottery ticket—my online profile—so that it truly expresses my nature and my wishes. I get a lot of literary feedback: “OK, hands down, you get the all-time best profile award ever,” and “Your writing is so clear, it’s refreshing. Your profile could be used as an outline for a class about writing profiles.” Even if it’s just a line, this is very nice; complimenting a writer’s words is bound to be one way to her heart. But of course, it’s not a literary competition. In the end, the good thing about writing this way about oneself is that it eliminates almost all of the drive-by daters, the ones who who can’t be bothered to read.
Not everyone who writes to me seems a likely prospect, of course, but they almost all seem sincere. Rarely, there’s an unpleasant message, or one that’s merely crude. But mostly, the messages are kind and warm. Like me, these seekers want to love and be loved, and are willing to risk for it. The invitation to empathy implicit in our shared experience must explain why some of them sent condolences when I reappeared at the site. There’s a sweetness in that I never would have discovered if I hadn’t tried online dating.
There’s something more, too. I love surprises. At the moment, almost every day brings some. The pace of new possibility may be because I’m new to many of the men who’ve joined in recent months, or who didn’t happen to coincide with me during the earlier few months when I ventured forth. I imagine novelty is a huge factor. But I think it must also be the time of year. December dawns, and people don’t want to usher in the new year solo. It’s poignant, and perhaps also opportune.
In other words, if you’ve been thinking of trying it, seize the time: ’tis the season.
Wish me luck—and let me know if you want help with your profile.
In tribute to my fellow seekers, a delicious blues of lingering sweet sadness. I’ve downloaded a dozen versions of “As The Years Go Passing By” lately. This is a beautiful version by Otis Rush, although the sinuous combination of voice and guitar on this Mighty Joe Young rendition rivals it. If you want to take the musical trip I’ve been traveling lately, click your way down all the versions on YouTube. You won’t regret it.