Online Dating (And How I Became Awesome)

I tried that whole online dating thing once upon a time. In real life, it was about 4 years ago.

I’ll never do it again.

But it’s probably not for the reasons you’re thinking. Sure, I discovered my fair share of assholes. I found the men who were just lonely or needed someone to fill a void. The men who were tired of the bar scene. Granted, I also found some people I had chemistry with.

The whole rainbow of online dating personalities, really.

I was fairly lonely myself at the time, so I’m not passing judgement.

I recall a particular time, in the throes of it all, when I was looking for someone who set the world on fire – someone to rub off on my rather vanilla lifestyle of get up, go to work, come home, go to bed routine. After all, I was boring – the only thing that made me interesting were my aspirations. Then again, we all have them – how many of us do nothing with them? I wasn’t.

I decided that this man who set the world on fire – my ideal match – the one that would be the caramel syrup to my vanilla ice cream – did not live within my zip code. Granted, men in other states would never be a dating opportunity, but what did it hurt to see what existed outside my fishbowl?

Plus, I was sick of reading the same profiles month after month. That’s the other thing about dating sites. It’s always the same pool of people in your area. Anyone new that joins is immediately inundated with flirtatious requests and not even worth the ask for about a month.

I found what I was looking for about 600 miles away. Yes, that’s right.

And let me tell you – he was perfection in a profile. A world traveler, a runner, a dog owner and, of course, he was gorgeous.

I totally dug that online persona. But something else struck me – it was just that: a persona. We can be whatever we want to be online. We can be beautiful or popular or funny or wise. But what are we really?

Was HE really?

Probably not.

That’s about the time I realized that I didn’t want to be an online datable persona.

I don’t want to be judged by a photograph. I don’t want to be picked because my hobbies match someone else’s. I want to be awesome. And I want to be someone’s partner not because my online self was up to snuff, but because I was doing awesome things and because I was an awesome person in real life.

If I wasn’t setting the world on fire, I would at least fan a few embers.

This isn’t to say that people don’t find perfectly fulfilling relationships online. I’m aware of a several online relationships that have blossomed.

But it’s not for me.

The funny thing is, that I still consider myself rather vanilla. However, the life that I have built for myself these last four years is anything but. I’ve written four books in one year. Three of them have been published. I’ve built a business from nothing. I’ve adopted not one, but two crazy dogs. I’ve traveled. I AM.

It’s nothing extraordinary, but it’s something – it’s fulfilling dreams instead of just dreaming them.

And I got all that from dating online.

Who’d have guessed?

The Idea Of

I’m unusually fascinated by the idea of relationships today. The marriage culture, without a doubt, is alive and well, especially in the Midwest, where I’ve lived my entire life.

I realize that writing this as an unmarried, near thirty, entrepreneurial woman, may lead some to believe my opinions are skewed. Perhaps they are.

I’m not entirely sure how my path diverged so much from the path of so many of my peers. A psychologist, I’m sure, would be able to unwrap many warning flags that I’ve long since forgotten about.

For instance, I was never popular. I was always a little bit bigger than the other girls my age. Often a little quieter. I didn’t drink or party in high school. I didn’t really participate in those activities in college once I came to discover that I had poor self-control. Wise for a twenty-one year old, I’d thought, even then.

Is that where it started? Should I have cut loose more often? Depended more heavily upon others for my well-being rather than solving everything myself?

There is something to be said for people’s ability to let someone in to their entire life. I’ve never been able to tolerate it much beyond a few months. After all, isn’t the idea of marriage – of forever – hard enough without coming into it with problems?

I wasn’t always like this, of course. There was a time I desperately wanted a relationship. I wanted to feel complete. I wanted to know that there was someone out there who wanted me exactly as I was.

He has never come along. And eventually, it began to sink in, that he might never come along. At first it was hard. Now it’s almost comforting – knowing that if he doesn’t come along, I’m still perfectly capable of living a full life.

In the last few years, I’ve come to understand that relationships – romantic, that is – come in all shapes and sizes. I was so preoccupied in my younger years by the idea of forever that I perhaps forgot or didn’t even know the beauty of the abbreviated love.

Abbreviated love, also known to some as “soul mate” is when you meet a person that you’re only with for a short time, but it changes you in ways that it would take years for another to achieve. Perhaps it is this person’s philosophies or their belief in your abilities. The way they look at you when you’re naked or the way they push you to your brink. In one way or another, they rip you open, the light shines in, and nothing about you is ever the same.

That’s not a way to live, though, some have said to me. Being constantly ripped open, constantly growing and changing. It leaves you breathless, sometimes incapable of living for days, weeks, months at a time, doesn’t it?

On the contrary. I find that I’m forever in and out of these abbreviated loves between which I take months, years to myself before finding the next.

And that’s what got me thinking. Some people find this existence frustrating, painful, and downright illogical. After all, don’t I want to stop being pulled apart only to have to piece myself back together?

Not right now. Maybe not ever.

And just because someone feels it’s wrong, doesn’t make it so.

That’s the beauty of love – its lessons are never complete. And abbreviated love is no less dazzling, no less of an education, than marriage in my opinion.

Perhaps not everything has to be about ending in marriage – in long-term commitment where we are forced to grow and change and love and hurt with the same person day after day. Not that, that way of living is wrong. In fact, it’s beautiful.

It’s just not for everybody.

What do you think?

You Love Who You Love (Who You Love)

Okay, it’s confession time. I have fallen in love with the documentary “Bridegroom.” It’s truly terrible, what happens to this young, vibrant couple. And yet, it’s strangely beautiful to watch what becomes of it. I was raised to believe that we’re all different – and that, that is what makes us alike.

How I could relate (but not really)…

Growing up in a midwestern town, it’s easy to see the prejudices people hold deep inside themselves like a secret – even though it’s written all over their faces. When they see an interracial couple, a gay couple, a couple that is somehow different than what they themselves are. And in some ways, I suppose, I was aware of it, though I never really GOT it.

Being that my parents didn’t care what kind of person I dated as long as they were good to me, I’ve been happy to meet and date white men, black men, asian men and, yes, even men that were gay before admitting as much to me or to anyone else.

There was the occasional whisper – when you’d walk into a restaurant or a bar in a smaller town with someone whose skin is a different color than yours, holding hands with them. However, it never led to anything major: no giant brawls, no splitting of families, no radical changes that swept the planet. Life went on. Haters hated. After all, we can’t change the color of our skin, nor can we decide who to love – in a moment or over a lifetime. The heart is…well. Useless to reason with, for one thing.

And this prejudice? It is the closest I’ve ever been to the deeply rooted hatred that some people carry. I didn’t like it, but it wasn’t earth shattering for me- it didn’t change things because there was never a large enough event that occurred crying out for change. I was never threatened or beat up or screamed at. It all just…was.

Which brings me to…

I’m straight. I didn’t choose to be straight, I just am. Like…I am a dog lover and I am a writer and I am from the midwest.

Being a certain sexuality – it’s not a choice we’re given upon birth. It’s just who we are. It simply guts me to know that there still exists those who feel that being homosexual is a choice. I can’t imagine ever choosing to live through the hatred or the fear or the unfairness. Can you?

My hope is that one day, my grandchild or my great grandchild will be interviewing me for a school project about equality. And, at that time, I’ll have to tell them about when I was young – when a man and a man or a woman and a woman getting married wasn’t legal. And they’ll laugh and tell me how ridiculous that must have been and I’ll whole-heartedly agree.

That’s because it is ridiculous. You love who you love. And love is stronger than hate – it just is. Haven’t witnessed it yet? You will. One day.

Shane Bitney Crone, you are an amazing man. Keep fighting the good fight – I am with you 100%.

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