When Online Dating Goes Poorly

If you date long enough you are bound to have a succession of encounters that don’t go as planned. Romantic interests disappear, don’t show up, blow up over something small or just generally seem like train wrecks. Occasionally, when these occurrences stack up it can start to weigh on you. The question then becomes, what to think about these situations and how do you process what happened?

Trust me when I say that this happens to everyone. In fact, that’s what inspired this piece. I was watching my friends go through the same types of occurrences I was and it made me realize what a universal experience we were having. This was despite the fact that we were searching for vastly different types of people. Allow me to share a less than ideal week from my dating past so you can have a few examples. 

I met someone for a date that didn’t go well. Sadly, it was some of the most shallow conversations I have had on a date (I guess someone had to win that title). The one important thing we touched on was that the other people she had been out with didn’t feel as if she liked them so they quit asking her out. I also came to the conclusion that her repeated claims of independence served as a cover for her apathy and distance from others. However, since I generally give people the benefit of the doubt on first dates I decided to see her one more time. After all, maybe she was just nervous and we would have a better time the second go round. 

Despite saying she would like to go out again, she would take 24 hours to return each of my messages. This meant that every day our conversation would progress one additional text. This is far from ideal and doesn’t exactly scream “I’m interested” so I decided to make an inquiry. 

I asked if she had any interest in continuing our connection. I mentioned that the infrequent communication made me feel as if she wasn’t interested and I wanted to check in to see what she was thinking. I let her know that if she wasn’t interested in meeting up again that I would understand and there would be no hard feelings on my end. She replied quickly this time; I must be needy she said and she is no longer interested. I didn’t spend any effort trying to convince her otherwise. I thanked her for her time and wished her well. 

The second scenario involved a person who didn’t want to text except to set up a time and place of my choosing in which to meet. When I suggested we get together for a drink so we can get to know one another they ripped into me saying, “Would you approach someone you liked in public and ask to meet for a conversation?”

Since walking up to total strangers and asking for their hand in marriage has historically been fraught with problems for me, I tend to take a more cautious approach over a drink or dinner. Finding out who someone is and what they believe is important. It beats waking up one day after 20 years and saying wait, “you’re actually 30 years older than me, don’t speak any English and are running a fanzine for white supremacists?” Humph! Fool me once . . .

I tried to ascertain what this person meant as their text while full of emotion wasn’t exactly clear as to the meaning. They never messaged back. 

The final incident was with someone I enjoyed messaging. We were trading jokes and they had a sharp wit about them. Everything was going well and on day two when I went to ask them out they had removed our match and were gone. It felt unfortunate for me because I was looking forward to meeting. 

Situations such as these can be frustrating. It can be challenging to match with others and if those matches end up being the types of experiences I mentioned then it can be especially demoralizing.

So what was going on with these people and in similar situations how should you handle it? In truth, I don’t know what made them act as they did, and I don’t intend this to be dismissive, but I don’t need to know either. I also don’t think you should pay it any mind because if done properly you’re probably better off without their company. Here’s the first thing you should know. 

Be the best version of you

This is so vitally important. You should always be as kind, compassionate and understanding as you can. I’m operating under the premise that you want to be these things. If you’re one of those folks who wants to be a jerk all the time then be that, people will appreciate knowing to avoid you from the very start; just know the rest of this article is more about you than for you. So, if you aren’t rude, shallow, sexist, off putting, or exhibiting any other horrible traits then there’s a huge upside. 

You see, it’s worse to try and tailor yourself, however slight, to another person’s interests and then have things not work out. You will wonder “what if I was actually being true to who I am, would this still have happened?” If you’re honest and forthcoming and things go south there’s nothing to second guess. You were the good you and if they didn’t like that then it’s okay. After all, you want someone who will appreciate you for you. In situations like this, it was probably a simple mismatch in personality and not only is this common, but it’s nothing to worry about either. 

So once you’ve done some introspection and checked yourself then you’re good to implement these next ways of viewing your situation. 

It’s most likely not about you

I alluded to this above. Our personalities come out through any type of contact so you shouldn’t worry about a simple personality mismatch because statistically that’s going to happen most of the time. 

The other thing that happens is a lot of folks seem to get triggered nowadays and I think it’s partially because we have put dating at our fingertips. There’s nothing wrong with dating apps (in fact I think they’re great) but it does mean that more people are dating before they are ready. 

Think about the difference between dating now and 20 years ago. Back then, you had to tend to your appearance, go outside of your home, and work up the nerve to approach someone in person. This took a lot more resolve than it does now. Today you can put yourself online while laying in bed wearing your favorite crossdressing outfit (Ah come on, I know it isn’t just me). So it makes perfect sense that once folks begin messaging on dating sites/apps that they might decide they aren’t quite ready to be out there just yet. That’s perfectly understandable. 

The other thing is that it’s hard to know what’s going on in someone’s life. Everyone has their own demons and triggers and it’s not your responsibility to be accountable for them. I know that sounds harsh so allow me to expand upon that idea. Just like before, I’m not saying you can be a jerk but if you unknowingly hit on something that is upsetting someone then you aren’t to blame. 

You may text someone about a dog laying at your feet and make them realize they are too heartbroken over recently losing their pet and they aren’t in a position to be open to someone else yet. They may never respond to you again after this realization and that is their choice but it’s not your responsibility that a regular conversation triggered them. 

That was a fairy innocuous example (one which actually happened to me) but the point is, maybe they have had a horrible day, have commitment issues, an abusive relationship in their past, or any number of things. There is certainly a reason but you’ll likely never know what it is. It would be great if everyone who was triggered could have a discussion when it happens. That’s not how being triggered usually works; people tend to retreat, not open up. 

Just operate in good faith and don’t let it get under your skin. 

Assume the best and keep on rolling

I can hear you saying, “why do I assume the best?” It’s a good question and the answer is simple. You have two ways of thinking about this. You can internalize it and make it about you. This is a mindset that will eventually bring you down wondering if you’re good enough. This way of thinking can eventually become a form of self harm. Or you can say, “they must have had something going on in their life for them to act like that, I hope they find what they want.” This approach is a forgiving way to view someone who may be having a difficult time and it leaves you relatively unencumbered to venture on to someone else. 

Also keep in mind that if you date long enough then you will eventually become someone else’s mystery. Think of a time when you messed up by being triggered, didn’t text or call someone, or otherwise just dropped the ball. It’s alright. It happens, but you probably wanted the benefit of doubt in those situations so extend a few good vibes their way as well.

Ultimately, it is on them

Whether you know it or not, folks who respond poorly, negatively, or not at all, on a consistent basis are creating problems for themselves more than they are for you in that moment. 

For instance, remember the infrequent communicator I mentioned earlier? She said her past dates didn’t think she liked them. Given my experience, I’m pretty sure I know why. I could tell by her tone that this was causing her pain. It was much more painful for her than her seeming lack of interest was to me. 

It always sucks to have these types of things happen, but don’t let it keep you down for too long. Remember, you’re rolling on to other experiences and to find someone else. Some of these folks are likely to repeat their patterns again and again. You don’t need to be a part of that. 

Really. Count your blessings 

First off, the people I mentioned above don’t really seem like those you would want to date do they? A person who ghosts someone without a word, someone who thinks so little of another they can’t be bothered to respond for 24 hours at a time, and another person who feels it necessary to chide someone during their first interaction for following their instructions. 

If you were dating folks who react like this then things probably don’t look up from there. They are giving you their best foot forward and it badly needs some fungicide and a pedicure (because everyone looks better in nail polish). I know in my life letting these folks go has felt like stepping off the tracks in front of a screaming locomotive that is bound to derail. It’s one of those situations where I scratch my head as it passes and ask out loud, “what the heck was that all about?”

So take solace in what is probably a fact, and is certainly the main takeaway from this writing, they weren’t in the same mental space as you anyway. That’s okay. Thank your lucky talisman that you found out in the very beginning. Now you can free up that time and space for someone who can thrive with you. 

It’s okay to be upset

I don’t want you to think for a minute that you can’t grieve or be upset about some of the lost opportunities you’ll have while dating. Some folks you are going to become attached to quickly and your thoughts will drift to the what-if’s. When those connections sour it can make you feel as if you missed out and that can be even harder. Very few people would fault you for feeling that way. 

So by all means take some time to recover if you need. Cry if you feel it necessary as it is wonderfully restorative. Taking time to heal is what will keep you centered in the long run. 

All of this fades in time

There will be a moment when you won’t even remember most of these folks anymore. I know I wouldn’t have remembered the people I spoke of if I hadn’t started this article soon after meeting them. Don’t let the experience stick with you when the faces aren’t likely to. This is one blip in your life that you aren’t likely to remember any more than who sat behind you in second grade. So keep in mind that what bothers you today isn’t likely to do so tomorrow. 

Dating isn’t always easy and there are folks out there who seem to make it their duty to be difficult. Remember though, that things don’t always go according to plan and that’s to be expected. Know that it isn’t about you and that sooner or later you will be back to meet someone else. You’ll keep doing that until one day you’ve found someone special with whom to spend your time. Be kind, be self-aware, and keep your head up; the trains here run around the clock. 

Changing Your Last Impression

I’m not sure the reason but people often talk to me about relationship problems they’re having. Maybe it’s because I seem to be open and accepting, that I readily share my experiences with them or that I rock jean shorts.

Regardless, one of the problems I’ve been hearing from people as of late deals with their concern over the last impression that a former partner has. Usually this is expressed as something along the lines of “I can’t make my ex believe the reason that I left them. How can I get  them to understand?”

Usually I inquire about the nature of their relationship, the reason for them leaving and what their former partner thinks about the situation. While this can be useful information and I may be able to offer my suggestion for approaching the situation differently I always put emphasis on this one huge fact; you probably can’t.

I can hear you saying, “Wait isn’t he supposed to offer a solution?” The answer is yes, I am supposed to give you something to help you along, though it may not technically be a solution. Also, quit judging me already for fucks sake!

There are two big reasons that immediately come to mind that may cause someone not to believe you.

The first one is going to be a toughy because let’s be honest; you could be lying. I know you didn’t come here to get berated, but we’ve all had that person whose breakup reason was just a line of bullshit. For instance, the woman who told me that a 20 minute drive to see me was an obstacle was a bullshit reason. On the other hand, the girl that broke up with me in grade school because I threw rocks at her and her friend was completely legitimate (to be fair they started it – I think). So lies happen in relationships and let’s face it you could be that person. Are you really being honest about your motivations?

For the record, a break up is the perfect time to be completely honest. Just make sure to be kind in the process. Honesty is not an excuse to be mean. If you want the person to believe you though be as transparent and honest as possible. Forget about saving face and be prepared to admit a few things you did wrong (or that they felt you did wrong). Say you’re sorry for what was a mistake, but don’t apologize for your emotions or make them apologize for the way they feel.

Admitting these things and fessing up may be what it takes to earn your former partners trust. I’ve found that honesty is an amazing thing.

So assuming you have already been completely honest and your ex doesn’t believe you it’s important to remember another thing. The person you are petitioning may have their own reasons for not believing you.

They may be protecting their ego, guarding against more hurt or dealing with a myriad of insecurities. You can’t help them (or you as the case may be) on this front. You’re just going to have to lay out your case as truthfully as possible, hope for the best, and then go your own way.

They may eventually put some weight behind what you’ve said and believe you. Sometimes, people need time to process everything and gain some distance before they can even start to consider the merits of another person’s reasoning.

On the other hand, they might always feel like you lied to them. There’s not much you can do. Just as you want them to accept what you say, you may have to accept their explanation and move on. It’s shitty, but true.

Well, that’s pretty much all I can think to say on the subject (abrupt ending anyone). It’s not rocket science of course, but I never promised you the world cupcake. Sometimes though, it’s nice to read someone else’s thoughts just to get the wheels turning. To that end: I hope you enjoyed.

Getting Dumped, Kind Of: A story of honesty

For those of you who don’t know I’m currently choosing to date non- monogamously. For some of you this probably sounds great because I can have multiple partners. This is technically true, but it hasn’t really worked out that way for more than a week or two at a time. This brings me to the other part of being non-monogamous, that you may not have considered, which is that I end up getting dumped more often.

This just happened to me ten minutes ago (at least at the time of this writing). Here’s the skinny: I met someone online and reading her profile was like reading my own in many ways so I reached out to her and we clicked. On our date it was awesome. We met with a long hug. We laughed and shared intimate moments of our existence with one another such as how she doesn’t share her phone number with people until she can trust them. When I moved closer to her just for the sake of it she closed the gap, kissed me and then told me how great it was. Later upon kissing her neck she moaned. The night was over in a flash, but we had talked for 6 hours. When I walked her to her car we held hands and kissed goodbye.

I sent her a message later that night with my phone number. I told her that she didn’t have to use it until she was ready and that we could use the dating app until that moment arrived. She replied with a text telling me that I had beat her to it.

I was in, or so I thought. The day before our next date she sent me a text to say that our distance was an issue (20 miles) and that a relationship she had with a guy in the same town as me hadn’t worked for that reason. I called bullshit (in my head) on both fronts and decided to remove that excuse. I knew she wanted out and that I wasn’t going to change her mind; so be it, but I wanted to know the truth. I told her if that was all there is to it I could be the one to come see her each time. Of course, such a one-sided solution is not a tenable situation for any relationship, but I was just gambling and cutting through her fake answer.

It worked. “To be honest,” she said, (for the second time) “I was trying to make it easier by saying that. I’m just not feeling it.”

I told her I accepted that and thanked her for being honest. Just knowing the real reason helped me to put most of the situation behind me immediately. I don’t know what to make of everything else that happened, but now that I have the truth, somehow I don’t have to.

Do You Love An Idea Or A Person?

http://elitedaily.com/dating/someone-loves-idea-you/1321834/

I can add another sign to tell if someone was in love with the idea of you or the actual you. If they use one of the reasons for their initial attraction as a reason to break up then it’s likely you were idealized to some extent.

I’m pretty sure this happened to me. I had a beautiful relationship, or I think it was, with a pretty dynamic individual for almost three years. Shortly before we started dating she told me that she had always wanted to date a bisexual man. I knew I was being fetishized to some extent and that her urge was built upon what she believed a bisexual guy would be like, but it is important to me that my partner accept my sexuality and on that front this seemed like solid ground.

Fast forward to the end and it was the primary reason given for our breakup. She accepted me being pansexual intellectually, but had a negative visceral reaction to me liking men. Identity issues are a big deal for me so for the person I cared the most about to reject me on a very fundamental level was deeply hurtful to say the least.

I struggled with this for awhile, until I read the article below and it started me thinking that maybe this is what had happened to us. The idea of dating a bisexual guy was a romanticized one. The actual experience was apparently drastically different for her and it was too much to handle.

I want to leave you with a slightly different approach to handling the reality of who a person is. For me learning the ways someone violates my expectations is one of the exciting things about getting to know them. In the television series Firefly there is a line that has always resonated with me, “It’s my estimation that every man ever got a statue made of him was one kind of sommbitch or another.” It’s about nuance and the juxtaposition of the ideal verses reality. It’s what I love about people and eventually it will be one of those things that someone loves about me.

So what about you? Has this ever happened to you and which side of the relationship were you on?

Why I Don’t Care About Your Myers-Briggs Result

If you’re unaware, the online dating world is fraught with people clamoring to fill their profiles with information about their personality type. This makes perfect sense except that this information is almost invariably provided by the results from taking the Myers-Briggs personality test.

I’ve had a decent handle on who I am since I was about 18 years old, at least as it pertains to my personality traits, and very early on I learned that tests like Myers-Briggs don’t amount to a steaming pile of, well . . . beans. The results never really matched me and I would get different results based on when I took them. I pretty much always ranked personality tests into the same mental category as astrology; they’re both fun to tinker with for 15 minutes or so, but woefully worthless in the grand scheme of things.

Apparently, I’m not alone and the psychiatric community has long disavowed any usefulness for these tests. So instead of using that vital space on your profile to tell me about your personality test you can use it to mention which sports team you root for or that you swipe right for dogs or beards. I can’t get enough of that.

http://www.vox.com/2014/7/15/5881947/myers-briggs-personality-test-meaningless

A Letter to the Catfish Who Hurt Me: The one that didn’t get away (video)

A Catfish in the online world is a person who pretends to be someone else. The term was popularized by the MTV Documentary called Catfish, which you really should watch because it’s pretty good. Plus, you’ll never understand where the name comes from if you don’t. That’s right; I’m not going to tell you. You’re just going to have to get off your ass and sit down and watch this movie. Essentially though, a Catfish is someone who has created a fake online profile, usually for dating, in order to lead others on.

Recently, I matched with a woman on Tinder. Let’s call her Heather. Primarily because that was her name, but also because I’m sure it was a fake. Her pictures showed a very short but also very attractive woman. Upon contacting, I relayed my relationship desires to her and she fit perfectly. I realize now that she was just mirroring my sentiment in order to hook me. We sent texts for a couple of days, talked on the phone and agreed to meet for a wonderful physical encounter leading into a friendship.

She wasn’t perfect of course; her main flaw was that her responses were so short. In return I write fairly extensive and in depth messages. However, this is nothing new because even though women chastise guys for messaging them with “Hey” I’ve found that 75% of women suck at conversations too (don’t get cocky guys you’re probably closer to a 90% suck rate). I usually end any conversation with this dynamic, but I was in a particularly vulnerable state that caused me to overlook it.

Aside from conversational dynamics she seemed perfect in so many ways and I began to wonder if maybe way down the road this might not be the foundation for something more.

The day of our date came and I left work early to maximize our time together. She responded to a message of mine to say she was running late. Tardiness is a huge annoyance of mine because it makes me think that people don’t care enough about me to be on time. How bad did she really want to meet if she was late for a first date? I started to get a sinking feeling that I was going to get stood-up. Still, maybe she really was just running late.

Alas, that was the last I heard from her. I sent a text that went unanswered and when I called, her phone was off. My suspicion had become a reality, I was someone’s amusement and I was crushed. My desires, my emotions and my life are not a fucking game. Yet the results told a different story. I retreated to a corner of my apartment to cry profusely, for the first time ever my tears formed an appropriately sized puddle of sorrow on the bathroom floor. With blurred vision I opened the text messaging on my phone and began composing this:

Continue reading “A Letter to the Catfish Who Hurt Me: The one that didn’t get away (video)”