About a year or so after my divorce, my kids decided that I had better start dating, or I would turn into a cat lady (which would never have happened because, no offence, I don't like cats). I realized that perhaps dating wasn't the worst idea, but I didn't know where to start. After a quarter century of marriage, how would I talk to men as a single woman, let alone date them? I decided that I needed some training in this area, and maybe online dating was the way to start. My thinking was that I would give myself six months of talking to men who lived on the other end of the world; men who I would never meet, and then slowly move back across the pond. I would then talk to and eventually meet people much closer to home.
It was by accident that I found an obscure singles' website (well, I hadn't heard of it) and decided that it would be a perfect way to dip my toe into the vortex of online dating. I created a profile so bizarre that anyone reading it would know that I had made it up. Just to give you an idea, I didn't use a photo, I made up a name for myself and I said that I had 49 children and my idol was my midwife. With the knowledge that I would be completely anonymous and therefore safe, I clicked the submit button.
Reading profiles proved to be educating and completely fascinating. Coming from the world of pencils and typewriters, I had no patience for men who couldn't or wouldn't take the time to use proper spelling and grammar in their profile blurbs. To me, it was like arriving at a date without showering. I couldn't understand men WHO HAD TO WRITE EVERYTHING IN THEIR PROFILE IN CAPITAL LETTERS. Why, I wondered, were they shouting at me? Of course, there were the men who thought that I would actually be interested in them if they described themselves as 'stubborn' or 'argumentative'. Um, no thank you.
On the plus side, I met a number of wonderful men online and had lovely conversations with them. All along I was completely honest with these non-potential dates; they knew that I was on a learning curve and they were fine with it. We never spoke on the phone; we never met; we just chatted as two strangers.
This method, by the way was by no means foolproof. Half a year or more after abandoning the site, a guy from London with whom I had chatted a number of times emailed me that he was coming to town and invited me out for lunch. The evasive emails that had bugged me months earlier were all pieced together as I stared at his pilling argyle sweater from across the restaurant table. Why, I wondered, would a business man wear an old, cozy sweater on a first date? Something wasn't quite adding up. As he prattled on about his extensive travels, I surmised that he was probably married. When this business man on a business trip paid by cash, all I could do was nod my head in silence. At least my Spidey senses were still intact!
After my six month self-imposed trial period ended and as I promised myself, I did move on to a very well known website and started speaking to local men. I decided not to delete my profile from the other website, but instead created a very different one for this second website; something much more like me.
I finally managed to get up the courage to go on my first date. Truth be told, it was a complete dud of an hour; we both knew it, but that was okay. I had survived my first meeting and went home happy that I had succeeded in accepting a coffee date.
When I got home, I checked my inbox from my obscure website. Lo and behold, there was a message from the guy I had just had coffee with. I knew it was him, because he had posted his photo. He, of course, had no idea who I was because I had no photo posted and claimed to have 49 children.
"We just have to go out together", he gushed. "You sound just like Sarah Silverman. Let's go to a comedy club together!"
I couldn't contain myself. Crying from laughter I wrote back, "Er...um...I believe that you and I just had coffee together...".
It was a wonderful end of a post divorce first date. There were other funny stories, and some pitiful ones, too, but this little lesson I gave myself proved to be very helpful as I entered the dating world anew.
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