Online dating seems to be the shiz these days. Everybody’s doing it. More couples than ever before meet online. Half a decade ago when I left the Evil Ex, I decided to give online dating a try. I actually did this because my oldest daughter set up the profile for me. I later modified that profile and tried out just about every online dating sight in existence. I could tell you that the creepers stalked Plenty of Fish, that eHarmony was a rip off unless you are into long distance relationships and have a ton of frequent flyer miles saved up. Match.com seemed to have the most professionally employed individuals in my age bracket and, indeed, this is where I met The Gone BF. But, I met The Gone BF just as I had decided to give it all up anyway.
You see, online dating, or constantly meeting up, is downright exhausting. This isn’t to say, that it isn’t fun. I met a ton of fun interesting people, several of whom I remain friends with to this day. The problem with online dating is that you have to have your game on, you have to have this ability to be interested until you know you’re not, and you have to be aware that people are liars. Plus, it just
seems like every date is the first date.
I’ve also noticed that online dating tends to follow a pattern. I personally never make the first contact; my inbox is usually slammed with those seeking to make my acquaintance, or get into my other inbox. I attribute this to several things: I know how to write a profile that gets the guys’ attention, I pick effective and truthful pictures, and I was younger back then. I’m not sure I’d have the same luck today. I’m not sure I have the emotional energy to even try. But, I was talking about the online dating pattern of profile, contact, digital contact, phone contact, F2F (face to face) contact. Most of the time it ends up sizzling out about the third email. If it gets to a meet up, I’m usually disappointed. I’m figuring it won’t be the same game it used to be this time around, and I’m just not sure my fragile self-esteem can bear being passed over for younger gals with enhanced boobs and fewer laugh lines.
Now that The Gone BF is gone, never to return, I have wondered what the future holds for me. I can’t possibly envision another relationship. Not because I wouldn’t like one…eventually. I mean, the idea of rocking away on the porch of the old folks home all alone, doesn’t exactly appeal to me. On the other hand, giving over even one inch of my newly acquired closet or bathroom space is just as distasteful to me. (Yes, I’m going to need therapy just to mitigate my strong tendency right now to become a completely self-absorbed reclusive cat woman.) Getting to know someone takes time, effort, sometimes money, patience, and a whole lot of emotional fortitude…all, of which, I lack these days. Mostly, I just want to be left alone.
On the other hand… it might be fun to just see what’s out there.
Naaaa, I’m not holding my breath. Something about all the good ones being taken comes to mind.
The days and nights are hard right now. No, I would not wish this particular man (the Non BF, now turned the Gone BF) back for anything. Things have transpired, text messages sent from a day’s drive away, that revealed that this man was many things, but never was he in love with me. He was far too immature for that. He was also unable to be honest, about where he was with things, about what was troubling him, about what he wanted or needed. He’s also unable to take responsibility for his part in this, it remains all my fault and he contends that “he never wanted this.” (And yet, he did nothing to prevent it from happening when he easily could have, instead running as far away as he could, not unlike a petulant adolescent.)
As usually, happens, I think, this ending became final, for me anyway, as the result of a small incident: a stupid text message. This man had lived with me for two years. In all that time, I had never been anything but crystal clear about what I would tolerate and what I would not, what I could pay for and could not. He knew that I believed we were working on something lasting. This was not a casual roommate or friends with benefits arrangement for me. He knew this. He also knew that the only reason I was cohabiting with him was the understanding that eventually there would be a public, legal, formal commitment. It turns out, The Gone BF, knew he wasn’t going to marry me, and I’m now beginning to suspect he knew this for quite some time, at least a year. Yet, all this while, he was perfectly content to live a charade of loving me and wanting to spend the rest of his life with me when he had no intention of doing that at all. So, the sad, depressing truth is that this man knowingly used me. The even sadder truth was that I truly cared about him, enjoyed our time together so much, that I unknowingly let him use me. I ignored the thousand of teeny tiny flags that should have indicated a disconnect somewhere. You know what they say about hindsight.
Two days ago, he texted me, angry that I had not given him any hangers, but instead had packed up his clothes in garbage bags without them. (He’d literally gone through every closet in the house, collecting all the white hangers for himself, so that each piece of his clothing hung exactly half an inch apart on white plastic hangers.) And now, the man who lived for a year for free while I paid for everything, is bitching at me because I kept the hangers. Hangers, I might add, that I purchased at the Goodwill when we moved in to this new place last summer. Again, his tone and message implied that this was all my fault. It suddenly became very clear to me how juvenile this man was, and also how very self-centered he was. While we were together, this was hard to detect because he really did a lot to help out…at first. In retrospect, though, he ended things without discussion the minute they no longer worked for him. It was a small, silly text message, but it was the moment I mentally disconnected. No, I truly never want to see this man again.
It doesn’t necessarily make things easier. I was living a fantasy that wasn’t ever what I believed it to be, but I enjoyed my fantasy, for the most part, and didn’t want it to end. Instead, it ended harshly and abruptly. Literally, one week all seemed great; the next he is gone and, after two years of unemployment, he has a job and is living in a city far away. There was no discussion, no haggling over stuff or money, and certainly no good-bye. The angry teenager just ran off.
So, I pass my days slugging through my obligations, trying to maintain composure. I’m experiencing now, for those first few agonizing times alone, all those things we did together, which I enjoyed so much: grocery shopping, meal preparation, morning cups of coffee, bike rides to a favorite lunch spot in a nearby town. I’m doing these things alone now. It’s painful, and my chest feels like it is going to be crushed with the weight of the loneliness. The reality is, that I will very likely be doing these things alone for a long time, possibly the rest of my life.
I miss what I thought we had.
When parents divorce in my county, if there are children involved, the parents are required to take a class that deals with the issue of helping children through divorce. It’s not a horrible class ,but it is required. The judge will not award a decree unless both parents take the class. I signed up and took the class as soon as I could after filing for divorce from The Evil Ex.
I remember the class well. I was there, fighting back tears and doing my level best to appear calm and well-adjusted, in spite of feeling like I might, at any second, dissolve into a liquid mass of human saltwater. I signed in, took my gratuitous paperwork, got some awful coffee, and found a seat near the side of the room toward the front. Shortly, after I sat down, a man entered. He looked like your typical geeky professor type. He strode up to the woman at the sign in desk and announced, “I’m being voted off the island, and I hear I have to take this class, so here I am.”
So much for feeling miserable. I couldn’t stop chuckling about it each time I thought of it for a good year afterward. Humor has a way of numbing the pain sometimes.
This week, I’ve been fortunate. I’ve been able to work. I have a job that allows me a great deal of time off each year. This is not paid time off, but it is still time off. Because my job is so demanding and stressful during the rest of the year, I loathe working during these off times. This year, due to medical expenses from my cancer treatments and the gradual drain of the Non-Boyfriend on my pocketbook, I decided to sign up to work five weeks this summer. This week was week three. It’s been wonderful to have something to go do each day that helps me forget that I am being voted off my own island.
On Tuesday of this week, the Non-Boyfriend and I voted each other off the relational island. Later that day, one of my colleagues began sharing at break, how his wife of 27 years just voted him off the marital island this last May. (I did not start talking about my situation. He brought up the topic all on his own.) He is still reeling from the shock and surprise and grief that comes from being blindsided. I can relate.
I mentioned a few posts back how I changed my status on Facebook to single right after I realized that the Non-BF had been planning a secret escape from our crumbling island. It wasn’t long before I had friends commiserating with me digitally, offering their condolences. Many contacted me privately. Some of these folks are single eligible men. One of them is a person I “met” digitally about four years ago through a blog I was writing at that time. He lives on the other side of the country, and even though I’ve long since stopped writing on that other blog, he’s kept in touch through Facebook. We’ve never met in real life. He, too, was just voted off the island of relational bliss.
Yesterday, he mentioned flying out to see me at the holidays. We will both be sans children and negotiating a “couples” holiday season alone. Neither of us is looking forward to it. Now, I’m fairly certain this will not happen, but I do find it interesting how things in life can conspire to distract me from the pain I am dealing with. Random little interactions like this tend to be like the emotional epidural that completely knocks out the pain of the relational rejection I’m birthing. You can still feel the pressure, but the pain is not there. I’ve been voted off the island by one particularly unhappy individual through no fault of my own, really, unless finally saying no to mistreatment is a fault. Less than 48 hours later, I have people entering my life inviting me to visit their little island for a bit.
No, I’m not going to stay long on any of these islands. I will most certainly not even spend the night. I am not ready for that. But, I ask you what is the harm of stopping by someone’s island for an afternoon of friendship, sun, and maybe even some libations? Can anyone refuse an invitation to spend a day at the beach with fun companions?
I was voted off an island I didn’t realize was crumbling. Maybe it is time for me to realize that there are possibly much bigger, stronger, more enjoyable islands out there.