The Dating Game
I didn’t exactly plan on being a 36 year old divorced single mother, but then again life never really seems to unfold exactly how we plan. It’s a strange new world out there for me in the dating scene, and it’s a bit like being thrown into the twilight zone.
My ex husband and I had gotten together when I was 21, so dating was just a bit different then. For one, online dating was barely a thing. You might go into the AOL chat rooms and find local people to hang out with, but really there wasn’t too much to offer on that platform, nothing like today. I did once sign up for a phone dating service where you made an outgoing message, like an answering machine and had a “box” where people could leave you messages if they liked what they heard and you could talk a bit, maybe exchange numbers, and go from there. I never actually met anyone through the service, it was just kind of fun to listen to the messages at the time. So I can completely understand the allure of looking through online profiles of potentials.
These days there are so many different dating apps, sites and programs that I wouldn’t even know where to start. Nor am I sure I really want to, at least not in the online dating regards. I have gone out on a few dates since becoming single, and actually a couple of those guys came from contacting me on social media, so I guess that’s really the same thing. I’m a big proponent of things happening naturally though. I’d like to think I could just meet someone the “old fashioned” way of going out and doing fun things and striking up a conversation with someone. I like the idea of situations that happen and unfold organically, not contrived and set up on some online dating site. Maybe I just want a better “So how did you meet?” story than saying we met on an online dating site. But then again, it’s hard to meet people these days. I think we are so spoiled to our technological advances that people are so comfortable with texting and messaging that most would rather do that than have a face to face conversation. Not to mention the majority of people these days are so engrossed with their phones and devices, that they probably miss a great deal of opportunities to meet people by not looking up even when they are out and about.
I had a conversation with some girlfriends not too long ago, about an article I read offering the advice of if you want to meet someone who shares your interests, try going out and meeting people doing the things that you love, or that would attract the qualities and characteristics of the partner you are looking for. For example if you are a dog lover looking for a dog lover, start hitting up dog parks. We joked that being women that like handy men, we should start hanging out in the aisles of Home Depot. Looking for an outdoorsman? Bass Pro shops baby. Just get all dressed up and start hanging out at your local stores that the kind of men you would be attracted to frequent in order to snag you a date. Sounds a bit ridiculous, but the idea of that article does make some sense. We decided that these places, Home Depot and Bass Pro Shops, should have a little cocktail bar built into the store somewhere, where singles could mingle and we could find our handy men without trying to weed them out in a regular bar. Someone needs to get on that.
As a live music lover, I suppose going out to live music shows all the time is a good way to meet someone who shares my interests as well. If only it were that easy. Rarely do people just come up and strike up a real conversation. They might ask for your number, and then start sending texts, sporadically, randomly and probably according to some dating handbook I missed out on getting while I was married. Somewhere along the way sending scantily clad selfies, if clothes are there are all, became the new “Hello, nice to meet you”, and asking for them in return before ever making plans to go out in person seems perfectly acceptable. Which by the way, is a bit crazy to me. When did this happen? Oh yeah, during all those long years that I didn’t give the dating scene a second thought. Now I am not a prude in the least bit, but can we go ahead and agree as a society to stop that? Men, this is not a way to start a conversation with someone, have a little bit of class please. Women, if you haven’t been out and about with someone yet, if they haven’t put that much effort into it, don’t send them racy pics. Save those for a little bit later down the road, after you have actually spent some time in each other’s physical company and not just on your phones.
There should be a rule, if you haven’t seen something in person, you shouldn’t get pictures of it sent to you. Even if you are only looking to casually date, even if you are only looking for temporary companionship, this should not be a way to introduce yourself. Seriously. There is nothing wrong with making someone put in a little work and effort to get to know you better. I personally think that this is what separates the men from the boys. Most men actually enjoy the “hunt”, the “chase”, it can be thrilling and make things much more interesting. Even if you aren’t looking for something serious, it should still have a basis of some respect and class. Don’t sell yourself short people.
I’ve noticed that no one seems to want to go out on a “real” date, everyone wants to just “hang out” and “see what happens”. Can’t we do that on a date? Isn’t that the point of going on a date? Why is everyone so scared to call it a date? What am I missing here? It also seems that because there are so many sites of singles just looking to make a match of some kind, everyone is hesitant to make any kind of real effort, or invest any time or energy, because there might be someone prettier, smarter, funnier, or whatever fill-in-the-blank you are looking for, coming along and you don’t want to miss out.
It all just seems like a big game, trading up to something better. Which means no real genuine connections are being made it seems. No one wants to be vulnerable or authentic and actually build anything, they just want to “hang out” with one foot out of the door, or one hand on their phone looking to swipe right with the next person that looks interesting. The thing is, there are always going to be interesting people out there that you could potentially have a great relationship with. But you have to just decide to take a chance on someone and actually stop looking for something better to come along in order to get anywhere. Maybe after you have had a few really good dates with someone, stop looking on your dating sites and apps and just let that one unfold and see if there is potential instead of just being ready to hop onto the next thing. But perhaps there are just too many people that enjoy this kind of dating. Personally it all makes my head spin.
I have a hard time navigating through the games, the superficial people with shallow plans and expectations. Not that I am looking for something serious right off the bat, but I just enjoy authentic and genuine people and interactions. Even if it doesn’t go anywhere, even if after a couple of dates we decide we aren’t all that compatible or interested, as long as it came from a place of authenticity, of people being real and upfront, then it will have been worth the time and effort. But finding people who are genuine and authentic these days seems to be the hard part. Or maybe I’m just cynical already. Maybe I’m just old fashioned and need to get with the times. I seem to be a love letter girl living in a text message world (and I completely stole that from a tweet, I’d give credit but I don’t even know who it came from now). I know, I shouldn’ t really knock online dating because I haven’t tried it. I hear lots of horror stories from those that have, and I follow Tinder Nightmares on Instagram. As amusing as they can be, it’s also a little disturbing to be single knowing that this is the dating pool available out there. But who knows, perhaps I will give in and try one of these dating sites or apps. Maybe it will surprise me, in a good way. Here’s hoping. Although I just may find myself at Home Depot a bit more often too.