I wanted to write about how to successfully online date when you are a divorced single working mother.
This of course would be based on my assumption that I would indeed accomplish this endeavor successfully.
In the beginning of my jotted down thoughts and experiences, my brain jumped backward and forwards and sideways as I contemplated the agony of finding a comfortable spot to reside in while forcing a reality I just haven’t wanted to face before.
The reality that I am alone. I have chosen to raise my family over finding a new partner to share my life with.
There are too many reasons why I didn’t really invest myself into this in the past but here I am now standing before you saying to the world that I am indeed ready now.
The days of friends being able to introduce me to someone which was always the case in my life has now given way to my newfound surrender to the potential online platform.
Looking at endless pictures and profiles in much the same way I look for a pair of shoes on my DSW app. I have plunged myself into this social forum of online dating that is supported mainly by artificial intelligence and algorithms.
I realized shortly into this how unfair it feels that I am in this place at all. That my life has somehow been reduced to algorithms that are intended to find the love of my life.
It has indeed opened up my mind and I have reflected on the person I have been forced to evolve and morph into as I found new identities during my journey post-divorce. I am and have been a single working mother for two decades. A title I never wanted, but one in which I learned to embrace.
And over the past twenty years it has indeed become what I identify with most. I am not sad that I am a single mother. But I am mad that I feel pressure as I age. The pressure that I need to focus on finding a potential “we” to my current “me”.
“Being someone’s first love may be great. But to be someone’s last is beyond perfect.”
As I open the app and shop, I sift through countless pictures of men. I have never seen so many selfie pictures of men behind the wheels of their cars in my life! What makes a guy think this is the best likeness of themselves?
Maybe they think it shows their inner James Dean? Then there are the bathroom mirror shots that look like they hate every minute of the picture they are taking. The pain strewn upon their face to get the right angle and also hold the phone down low enough, so it doesn’t show. Their contortions are unavoidable.
Kneed Deep in Profiles
I have read through profiles that are deep and articulate professing their most sacred thoughts like a Robert Browning poem to those that are one liner’s as deep as Shallow Hal. And with this criterion the algorithms keep on keeping on… to find that true love that fits your style, likes, intelligence, and expectations.
As I continue sifting through the photos and profiles, I see in the bottom of my app there is a highlighted heart and a highlighted envelope icon. The equivalents to “You Got Mail”!
As I open the hearts, I see that there is a list of men who have liked a particular picture, or sentiment in my statements, or just my vibe in general. A nice thing to see and it does feel validating that maybe I filled out the forms on the app correctly.
I smile and move on to the highlighted letter icon. In this, I get brief messages saying things like I really liked your profile and would love to chat sometime, or hey, I think we are neighbors and maybe we can meet.
Or then there were the odd ones who asked things like, would I rather live without the internet or air conditioning and heating. Huh? I swipe that away. I see such names as Snuggle Bear, Just a Simple Man on a Mission, or HeMan for SheWoman and then there’s just… Bob.
On one such endeavor after messaging back and forth via the app and getting a feel for each other’s personalities, we decide to share cell phone numbers and actually speak. A call is arranged. I’m thinking this guy is pretty cool and smart in his messaging so maybe just maybe we have a connection.
As I answer the phone, I hear the sound of a man’s voice that almost knocked me off the chair I was sitting on. Before I had even uttered a few words, he was asking why I was unable to speak to him the night before when I had told him I had a late conference call and unable to chat when he saw I was on the App.
Apparently, he saw that I was actually online on the app by virtue of some kind of denotation that shows a person is live. What he saw was me toggling my cell phone a bit as I was on the call. I can actually chew gum and walk at the same time. But the accusatory tone in which he questioned me, not to mention the creepy stalker style he showed before even saying hello put me right off.
I struggled to interrupt his barrage of words being pelted at me to find a break and insert my excuse for why I needed off the phone. Disappointed? Yes. Defeated? No. I will persevere.
“Online dating is like pushing your tray along in a cafeteria. Nothing looks good but you know you have to pick something by the time you reach the cashier.”
I must admit that I feel very brave as I click on “like” and “pass” on the dating app. One could rule the world with an app like this! But when someone actually responds to me, my courage wanes and I go into a tizzy of doubt.
I quickly review my pictures looking for a shot that is authentic and not over glamorized for fear that he may see the unglamorized me on a potential Zoom call and I imagine him trying to hide his disappointment at what he sees on the screen.
Do I look fat or slim?
Did I sound smart and cool?
Did I sound insecure and wimpy?
Do I sound too bold or too meek?
Just what is it he liked about what he saw in my photos and profile and the bigger question…why?
As I calm myself down, I realize that these are the byproducts of infidelity slamming back at me. The self-doubt that is seemingly still alive and well inside of me and that has resided there ever since my ex-husband left me for another older woman. At least I have that on my side. The only break I get is that she is older than me and always will be!
I take a deep breath and say to myself, “Hey you! You are adorable, smart, successful and a catch! What are you thinking? And stop all that insecure chatter!” So, I listen to myself and move on…
“Looking for integrity, passion, family values, sense of humor and a kind soul….as long as he is over six feet tall with an athletic build and takes home over $200K after taxes.”
Slowing my Roll!
I have decided to slow myself down. I pour myself a cup of tea and I take the time to read every profile of those that strike my interest.
I want to get a full sense of the person in the few lines he describes about himself. What is he looking for? Is he looking for love or friendship? A pal to hang with or the love of his life?
Much can be uncovered in those one or two lines. I have read things like, “looking for someone with inner and outer beauty who likes to look good”. Translation: Hot woman! Enough said…immediate swipe! Then there is one guy who says only one thing about himself. “I am retired and an Uber driver.” Hmmm mot much to go on with that one. Lack of information or articulation = Swipe.
I know… I know, you all are thinking that I am just not that into this and I don’t have the right attitude. You may indeed be right. I haven’t found the online thing to be that fun. I really thought it would be as fun as looking for the perfect pair of shoes on my DSW app. (I actually call these dating apps the DSWM app. The Divorced Single Working Mothers App.)
Sadly, this is not the case. But I’m not a quitter. I have committed to this endeavor for at least 30 days. After such time, I will review my thoughts along with my successes and failures. As one of my friends told me I just need to approach this with some light-heartedness.
So, I will take her advice and do just that. It doesn’t mean that I am not going to still swipe away those who I just can’t see as an option, but I may be slower to do so. Who knows! I may just be reporting back to you all that I found Mr. Perfecto!
“A woman has got to love a bad man once or twice in her life to be thankful for a good one.” Elizabeth Taylor
I agree! And so, I forge on……