My dating war stories #1
Just for a laugh, and so you understand that I have been there, and understand what you are going through, here are my writings from trying dating for the first time after my separation- circa 2011.
“The best way to get over heartbreak is to get on the wagon again. Apparently. Dating the second time around is a hell of a lot more complicated. In your early twenties, it involves lots of drinking and dancing at bars and nightclubs, with an entourage of friends. It is after all the decade that most young girls need a team to go to the loo with.
By your late twenties, a whole bunch of your friends have already been married off, and going to clubs is beginning to look a little desperate. So you hang out with work pals on a Friday night, picking out each other’s ‘types’ over a schooner.
Somewhere in the last decade, online dating became normal. In my early twenties I was involved in the development of Bigpond’s first online dating chat groups. Well, my friends were, and I just came along for the ride. We hosted online chat sessions, and I got to interview Mimi Macpherson who was a real sweetheart. She chatted to me about love and life whilst hosting an impromptu dinner party. Then we took the online community offline and held the first Virtual Chemistry Ball in Sydney. It was a blast.
However, since then, I’ve not exactly monitored the development of online dating. I’m kind of relieved not to have to go back to the bad old days, but I am still daunted by the prospect of online dating. However, I’m not exactly going to meet anyone at the kids school, and hanging a bunch of bananas in my shopping trolley is very 1990.
The first question to set up my account stumps me. What will my ScreenName be? I certainly don’t want to use my real name so I open another screen and take a look at the kinds of names people use. I come across names like ‘Hopingtofindu, ‘Notjustanotherguy’ and ‘Funandcaring’. I decide on my blog name.
I upload a profile pic to RSVP and a blurb about myself, which makes me feel like I am placing an ad on the back of a cornflakes box. It’s incredibly difficult to self promote yourself. I write some crap but feel like the subtext is ‘used and discarded thirty something looking for a bloke to treat her better than the last one did’.
My in box is inundated with a ‘kiss’ from every bloke that I could possibly not find anything in common with or be attracted to. Some days I am so blown away by this that I laugh. I tighten my ‘filters’ and become more specific about the criterion that my potential dates must meet.
This brings my account to a grinding halt. It seems the only blokes I am interested in, haven’t seen my profile yet. I probably should stop looking at the ‘Top 100 men’. They’re clearly busy responding to messages. It seems dating is a competition after all.
Acquiring the new label ‘separated’ comes with its own connotations, most of them subliminal and oozing out of the skin of potential dates.
Are you ‘finished’ with your last relationship?
This question puts me off, until I realise that there is actually a category for people who supposedly are just “looking for friendship”. Some people are listed as separated, yet when you read their profile, they are still living with their ex. Clearly someone’s being deceived.
My mind grapples with the etiquette of online dating. In order to indicate your interest in a person you “send a kiss”. I briefly wonder if it is ok for a woman to send a ‘kiss’, or are we supposed to sit on the shelf and hang around looking beautiful, pretending to be disinterested but secretly checking our accounts hoping someone likes us?
Oh hang on it bloody well costs money. You can’t just buy one kiss. You have to buy “stamps” which entitle you to send a certain number of kisses. Depending upon the package you buy, they either have a shelf life and expire, or not. Naturally, the smallest number of stamps costs the most. No wondering some guys have “genuine women only- don’t waste my stamps” written on their profile.
The first time I send a ‘kiss’ the guy agrees to chat and I cough up for the email token. My fingers rush to type on a message that sounds both intelligent and intriguing enough for him to want more.
He messages me, we exchange emails, and then we moved to text messages. The texts continue until late in the night, and suddenly the phone rings. Every sensory nerve in my body is on fire. We arrange a real live meeting, wait for it, at McDonalds, because I have to bring the kids.
We pretend that we are friends from uni. He’s lovely looking, and seems interesting, and then right at the most inconvenient time my son needs to go to the toilet to do a poo. He won’t be swayed. It has to happen now.
I have to wait directly outside the door until he finishes, because he’s a whole four, and no one leaves little kids alone in public toilets, even in McDonalds. We’re gone fifteen minutes, while my new buddy makes small talk with my two year old. When we finally get back, he tells me it’s been great, however, he has to go.
The next few days are a flurry of texts, where I discover things like the fact that he can’t come to Maleny for a coffee, because his car is broken down and he doesn’t have the money to repair it. He is however, studying urban planning or something at uni, so the situation is only temporary.
However, not exactly excited by the prospects of dating someone like me, he pulls out of the second date, at the last moment. The problem with the online dating world is that it exposes you to a smorgasbord of options, and most people lead several people on at the same time. I lose round one, to an unidentified woman. Tears flow.
Spirits sufficiently rallied, I reply to a new kiss. Talking on the phone, this one comments on how he likes the sound of my voice. I’d never considered the sexual qualities of my voice before…
He lives about a kilometre from me! How convenient. My mind races ahead about how easy that would make life. We both have a background in Marketing, so that’s good because we understand each other’s careers and we can talk about the same stuff.
Because he lives so close, and because I have the kids, I arrange to pick him up and together we all drive half an hour to the Crystal Waters markets. Crystal Waters Eco Village is set in 650 acres of bushland along the Mary River, half an hour’s drive from Witta. It is one of the original hippy settlements in the area, although they call it a “permaculture community”.
I figure that if you’re going to do something weird like online dating you may as well push the concept to its limits.
The kids behave well, it’s warm sunny day and the markets are totally non-confronting, and even relaxing. We eat freshly baked bread with avocado and chunks of cucumber in the sunlight, listening to local singers, whilst the kids jump on the sunken trampoline. The boys purchase wigs to dress up in. Hamish’s is fluro green with pigtails and Angus’s is blonde.
Valentines Day is the same week. I tell myself that it’s way too early to expect anything. We just met right? At about 8pm that night a text beeps.
‘Happy Valentines Kat’.
‘Yep you too’.
I’m swept off my feet by the romanticism.
I ignore that little voice in my head. After all he is a fantastic bloke, but I just can’t put my finger on what is missing, apart from the fact that he smokes. He’s a little cocky and seems to love the party life that only a man with adult children can afford to indulge in. A warning bell goes off silently inside me. I’ve lived with a Peter Pan before and it’s not something that I’m interested in again. Despite this, he invites himself over and cooks a sensational home made Italian sausage pasta dinner for me.
Then he lets me down by standing me up. We were literally only going around the corner to meet up at the Witta markets. I get a text the night before:
‘Hey Kat- I’ve got to go help a friend move some cows in the morning, so I’ll call you when I’m done. Shouldn’t take long.’
Nine am. No text. Hmm. The markets are only good in the morning. Hope he doesn’t take too long.
Midday. Still nothing. Starting to get frustrated. I ditch the idea of the markets and take the kids out to do jobs.
Three pm. Still nothing. Ok I’ve got the shits. Officially.
Six pm. Really mad. What a wanker. I organise the boys dinner and bath.
‘Hey Kat. What are you up to?’
The fires of anger are now burning with rage within me.
I fire off a series of short sharp angry texts.
I’m drinking wine, sitting on the floor in my kitchen, and now I’m not only mad, I’m sad.
I don’t care that it took longer than expected to round up the cows or whatever animal it was.
I don’t care that there was no phone service at the farm at Conondale.
Has he ever heard of a house phone? Could he not have borrowed his mate’s phone to call and let me know?
I tell him to take a hike.
I delete my profile and fill out the 300-question survey to join eHarmony. Maybe I’ll have better luck on this site. The computer processes my application and a message appears on my screen,
‘We are sorry however; you have indicated that your marital status is ‘separated’. We cannot process your application until you are legally free to enter a new relationship. Please come back when your divorce has been processed.’