One useful thing I learned over my last two rounds of app dating is this: A man who wears sunglasses in his main pic is avoidant 100% of the time. Give it about 10 messages and it’ll be clear. You can also give it a year–the data comes out the same. I don’t have a giant sample size, but big enough. Do with this data what you will.
I’m 48–a middle-aged woman–and by all accounts I should really hate online dating. It should make me feel terrible about myself, less than human, disenchanted with humans. I would have had to feel pretty terrible about myself already for this to be the case. Like all of our social media tools, feeling victimized by them seems a dishonest position. Yes, they’re manipulating our attention. Exercise discernment.
My mother suggested I leave Maine and move back to Philly where the numbers would be better. I told her I only want one and was far more likely to be resonant with someone who loves Maine as much as I do.
This time, I added in my bio, “What’s your attachment style?” I figured some self-awareness around this icebreaker would be a good way to vet. It was. When they didn’t know I offered a link to this NPR quiz. https://www.npr.org/…/whats-your-attachment-style-quiz
No one said no to taking it and sharing their results. This surprised and delighted me. It led to some interesting conversations about the value of such a metric, how it changes, and how we’ve been and how we’d like to be. It was heartening. There were also jokes. It opened the field to vulnerability from the start. And why not? Nothing squashes pleasure like defense. And why not meet each online dating encounter from a place of pleasure?
Also tho, in the app-based stage of a connection, I don’t give anyone the “benefit of the doubt.” What is that anyway? If I have doubt about someone in the space of ten text messages, there is unlikely to be benefit in continuing. There’s mutual curiosity or there’s not. There’s openness and play or there’s not. By the time we’re 20 messages in, there’s a plan to meet. I have lots of wonderful online friends. I’m looking for irl smells.
This has made the whole enterprise feel like an adult round of duck duck goose. Not everyone was up for play. Some people really see online dating as more of a job interview. Some people feel really resigned about the whole thing. Some people really hate their lives. Some people tell jokes about murdering their wives. That was just one guy, but still…
I had just one full yes right up my midline this time. He was way outside my usual preferences. He is an unvaxxed, gun-owning, libertarian who listens with actual interest to Tucker Carlson and has only the vaguest notion of who Beyoncé is. His love language is, “Underpromise and overdeliver.”
Instead of clutching my delicate liberal pearls, I found this polarity irresistibly hot. When he gave me a hands-on archery lesson, I found it even hotter. Preferences! They really do swap surprise for suffering.
He is those seemingly unaligned things. He is also open, present, comfortable in his skin, has a deep secular spiritual life including being expert in human design (?!), plays guitar and sings, has mad skills, and I feel seen and cherished. I’m received how I receive. I’m available for that.
Will it last?
Does it matter?
What is happening?
I only ever ask that question when I mean “What WILL happen?” When I just can’t abide the uncertainty. What IS actually happening in this moment is usually pretty clear. Clarity is received, not grasped at. And even more than that–it’s fun to be surprised by what emerges. Like really fun, if that’s how you’re turned.
Emotional investment is in this moment. Relationship is in this moment. We can agree to have more moments, but everything else is wide open. I welcome this deep play.
So yeah, I’m basically just writing this today to celebrate all the replenishing pleasure in my glorious middle aged white lady life as I hum along between the portals of birth and death and find this spot drenched. Do the swiping! Do the swiping! It’s just people, just like you.
I’m also letting you know I’m holding a Boundaries and Belonging session on Saturday April 23rd which is a half-day where we pick up a whole lot of litter from your field so you can have a clearer view of what belongs there and what does not. It’s fun to be surprised by what emerges there too, even along the wet cave wall.
There’s also a new 3 month F*ck Suffering group starting on 4/26. DM for more…or email email@example.com