Sunday, June 9, 2013

Am I Ready to Date? Snooping Online Dating Sites to Find Out

I’ve been thinking about dating more lately. I don’t think I’m ready for anything serious, but I think I’m ready to go on some dates. I want to practice picking what to wear, making conversation with a stranger, asking date-appropriate questions. I also want to learn how to graciously turn him down and get turned down. I think it all sounds fun and interesting, and potentially some great fodder for my blog! And as we've clearly established, I need to get myself on track to have sex sometime this century.

(Yeah, yeah, I know, living with my ex-husband doesn’t exactly set me up for much dating success. Can’t you picture it? The guy asks where I live, and I say, “In G-town with my ex-husband. That’s not weird for you though, right?”)

Every weekend I have a  brunch date with 1990.
Don't you want to go out with me?
Since it’s 2013 and I have dating on the brain, I ended up checking out some online dating sites this week. Plenty of Fish and OK Cupid are both free, so I started there. (If I were ready to date for real, I’d be willing to pay for a service. But I’m not, so I’m OK with the freebies for now.)

You might be wondering how I was able to do this when I live with Max. Over the past few months I’ve gotten good at sitting next to him on the couch while blogging and tweeting things he would never, ever want to read. I tip the screen and position myself just so that it doesn’t look like I’m hiding anything but I know he can’t see. (By the way, he is fully aware this blog and my Twitter account exist, but he has no desire to read them. You have to hand it to him, he’s got willpower. If I knew he were writing stuff about me I would’ve read it all a long time ago!) So, with my laptop tipped just so, I started poking around OK Cupid.

I looked up guys looking for girls, age range 30-43, within 25 miles. There were thousands of returns.

Thousands!?

I started reading profiles and looking at photos. I was heartened that plenty of guys were attractive and some even had some witty stuff in their profiles. But then some stuff was so generic or lame I felt like I was a contestant on The Bachelor. I mean, seriously, EVERYONE said Family and Friends as two of the six things they can’t live without. Duh, I love my family and friends too and could not function without them, but that doesn’t change that it’s a really boring answer. Or for your taste in music or movies to be “a little bit of everything” actually means that you don’t have an opinion or you are too timid to share it, so you probably should’ve just left that question blank. Curiously, one guy wrote that one of his hobbies is spending a lot of time thinking about peace in the Middle East. Good for you man, but, um, I just wonder if that helps you land dates? But hey, what the hell do I know? I’m 33, divorced, and my hot date these days is battery operated.

Browsing the photos has been an experience in itself. The photos in some ways were very much like what my friends post on Facebook:
  • Guy at a Yankees game. 
  • Guy at the bar on St. Patrick’s Day. 
  • Guy about to run a road race. 
But then there were the ones that aren’t so Facebook-ish:
  • Guy at a wedding but with the ex-girlfriend clearly cropped out. 
  • Selfie taken IN THE BATHROOM where you can see the TOILET in the background (do you really want to associate yourself with crap?). 
  • Guy shirtless (one shirtless photo is appreciated, five seems a little excessive, no?).

As I nosed around looking at these men and judging their grammar or admiring their abs or whatever, I had yet another one of those post-divorce moments where I had polar opposite feelings at the same time: super excited and totally bummed about dating.

As I looked at these men, these strangers, it hit me: Not one of these thousands of men is Max. Not one of them loves me the way Max has. (Fine, none of these men have broken my heart the way Max has, but just go with it for a sec.)

Then I thought, holy shit, I have to start all over. I have to go back to being on my best behavior and remembering to shave my legs and not peeing with the door open. For eight years, he knew everything about me.

Confession: I'm not actually sleeping alone.
Max accepts that I sleep with a Winnie the Pooh, something I kept under wraps for about a year. He knows that The Hunger Games gave me nightmares but that I kind of love The Exorcist. On a road trip, when I tell him I need to use the restroom, he would never ask me if I can wait another 50 miles (because no, I cannot). He respects that I’m a strict vegetarian even though he’s a meat eater. Max started dating me three years after my mom’s stage 4 breast cancer diagnosis and two months after my brother-in-law died of lymphoma, so he knows how cancer haunts me. He hates that every weekend morning, I watch reruns of Beverly Hills 90210 while I have a bagel, eggs, and coffee, but he knows better than to tell me to watch something else. 

Most of all, Max knows just how hard I tried to save our marriage and that I stayed faithful even when he refused to touch me. 

None of those thousands of men staring back at me on OK Cupid know any of these things, those small things came together to create intimacy between Max and me. I closed my laptop and sighed.

Being single again means a clean slate, a fresh chance to present myself in a new way, work on being a better partner, and finding a better romantic match for me. But dating also means being vulnerable all over again and hiding my stuffed animal. Am I ready for that? I'm just not sure yet, so my profiles remain empty.

I cannot decide if dating sounds like a total blast or a total drag. Have you started dating after your divorce? What were those first dates like? Were you able to have fun or did you cry in the bathroom?

Related reading: 10 Tips For Successful Online Dating5 Online Dating Profile Turnoffs.
Super Sunday Sync

19 comments:

  1. Kat I feel like you and I are totally on the same page. My coworkers made me try out "Tinder" - it's an app that matches you based on your facebook profile pics, shared interests and friends. I tried it, and went on a date.


    The date was nice, match was good on paper, but I am so not ready. Not ready at all. The whole experience, the matches, the side conversations, and the date itself, was so overwhelming. If this is what people are doing now, I'm going to have to get a lot more guts. I'm an old fashioned girl who believes in falling in love with someone in person and over time. Sigh.


    I'm glad I tried. At least I know I'm not ready!
    -Mustang Sally.

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  2. Good for you for trying! I think I need to wait a little longer before trying. I mean, if I naturally meet someone sooner, I would probably go for it, but I can't push myself to get out there (yet).

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  3. It took me almost six months to feel ready to date again, and I still don't relish the idea of starting all over. I don't know about online dating, I get bad results. Most profiles seem so generic, and I have a hard time describing myself without feeling like I'm leaving something out or being misleading. I've never tried to put on a face while dating, and I don't like it when I learn the woman I'm dating was hiding stuff. I don't think you should hide your stuffed animal or your 90210 habit, it's who you are and you want a guy who likes who you are.
    Temujin

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  4. Emily (OhBoyMom)June 10, 2013 at 1:40 PM

    Well, I'm not divorced but I was interested in your post because my dad is newly widowed. I'm not sure how old you are and that certainly makes a difference, but I'm worried about my dad because he has to start his life over at the age of 80...not easy, but he's staying strong and trying to move forward. Good luck to you and sounds like you need more time before jumping in, which is perfectly fine. When you're ready, you'll know it!

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  5. Yikes, starting over at 80! I'm 33 years young, so waaaay different from your dad's experience. But wherever you are in life, it's hard and scary to put yourself in a position to be vulnerable again.

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  6. I have thought about what I'd say, in theory, about myself in a dating profile. I told my best friend she would probably have to write it for me. Like how do you strike the balance of putting enough out there for someone to get an idea of who you are, without perhaps accidentally misleading? Ugh, I don't think I'm ready to brave it all quite yet!

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  7. AnotherCleanSlateJune 10, 2013 at 2:58 PM

    I can't believe you guys sit side by side on the couch still! You are dealing with a lot, girl! Be with just you for a while before getting full on in the swing of dating- you deserve some you time!

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  8. Wow Kat, you hit the nail on the head with this post. This is exactly why I fear leaving my husband behind. It's so difficult to realize that you have to find someone else now that can find your weirdness or flaws and be okay with them. It's a very scary move for me, and I fear being alone. I know I am making the right decision getting divorced, I just hope I don't end up somehow regretting it.

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  9. I know, it's certainly not typical. I'm thankful that we can peacefully coexist. (Come on, condo, SELL!)

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  10. I hope you don't regret it either. I am living with my ex (for now) and actually enjoying his company... but I have NO regrets. I'm thankful for that confidence in my decision. I hope you get there.

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  11. I started looking at dating sites after I first filed for divorce, when my ex was trying to get me to get back together with him. I wasn't interested in dating; I wanted to understand that I wasn't divorcing because I thought there was someone better out there, that the only reason I wanted out was so I could be happier alone. And it's the truth - I didn't leave because the grass was greener somewhere else, I left because the grass on my side was brown, dead and my ex ignored it and pretended it was beautiful and therefore he didn't have to do any work to perk it up.

    Now I look at dating sites with a little more interest but I'm still scared and just use fake profiles. I want to meet people, but am not sure I'm ready to put my trust in someone so completely yet. Baby steps.

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  12. I think it's natural to want to take a peek at online dating sites after divorce, if for no other reason than curiosity about what might come next. I love your point about not divorcing for someone else, but rather to prove you can be happier solo.
    Good luck whenever you feel ready to experiment with dating for real!

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  13. I've been separated from my stbx for almost four months, the divorce was not my choice and I tried everything to save my marriage in the two short months I knew he something was wrong and he wanted out.

    I made a profile on POF and OK Cupid a few weeks ago and started talking to a younger guy and actually met him and had dinner the other night. It was fun and interesting being on a date with someone new but I do know that I am not ready for anything serious. I can totally see being friends with this guy but I'm still in love with my stbx sadly.

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  14. If you're still in love with someone else, def too soon to go out into the dating pool. :( Those dudes will be there when you're ready for them! I still love my ex as a person, but my romantic feelings are [pretty much] extinguished. It's more that dating just seems like work I don't care enough to do (yet).

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  15. I can totally relate, i have been with stbx since I was 15, so I also feel like its going to be hard work getting back into it. I think ill just stck to browsing for awhile and save dating for a long time from now.

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  16. Great blog!
    Most of mine were either bad or lame. 1 in 3 women didn't look anything like their profile - heavier and older. Ungh! Probably had a 10-12 dates and only wanted to see one person again. Unfortunately she asked all the bad questions; how long have you been divorced? How old is your son? Do you get along with your Ex? I didn't have good answers.
    Fortunately around my 12th date I met my girlfriend. Guess my answers improved ;)

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  17. Hi Mike -- Nice to have a male reader (other than my brother)! I actually just signed up for OK Cupid and have my first meetings this week. Good to know that you had a lot of BLAH encounters before meeting someone you clicked with. I promise I won't interview the guy. :)
    Of course, I will be sharing tales about these meetings, so keep checking back! I post new entries on Sundays.

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  18. Denyse @ Glitter, Glue & PaintDecember 13, 2013 at 4:18 PM

    Oh this made me laugh! I snooped on those sites and freaked out and signed off. LOL!! Thanks for sharing at Throwback Thursday.


    xoxo
    Denyse

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  19. They can be rather intimidating!

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