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. 

Why I Don’t Say I Have Herpes On My Dating Profile

When I talk about my difficulties in dating one of the things I mention is having herpes. People have asked me why I don’t say I have herpes on my dating profile. This is an excellent question and whether to list a positive status is something that those with herpes often ponder. After all, if I eliminate the people who aren’t okay with this fact up front then my chances of finding a match should be better.

Everyone is going to have their own approach but here is why I do not state that I have herpes on my dating profile and why it works for me.

The first reason is that of all the things I want people to evaluate me by it’s not that I have herpes. Obviously, I’m not shy or I wouldn’t be talking about it now. Still, I want someone to know my qualities first and not the fact that I have a virus.

I believe there are good people who would rule me out if they read about herpes in my profile. I get it, herpes can be a complication that some may just simply choose to avoid entirely. So when they see it in a profile they think “well that person is a good fit but I don’t know what to do with that whole herpes thing so I’ll pass.” If I don’t list having herpes then I can disclose after a couple of dates. In essence, I’m banking on my personality and I feel much better with those odds. Now the same person may think “this is a really nice guy and we do seem to click so I’ll give him a chance.”

One of the things people ask is, “wouldn’t listing your herpes status connect you to other folks with herpes?” I think the answer to that is yes, and while I will gladly date folks with herpes, it brings me to my second reason which was a bit of an unexpected discovery for me.

I don’t want to attract extremely broken people. If that sounds harsh it probably is but here’s my reasoning. I recently joined four private Facebook groups for people with herpes. I was hoping that I might find some sort of kinship there. Instead, what I found were a bunch of sad sacks with a serious case of the poor me’s. I couldn’t handle all the negativity from these people who obviously felt like herpes made them irreparably damaged. Their anger and lack of self-worth spilled over into every conversation and what should have been simple posts became arguments and just another chance to put someone down.

Now I get it, herpes isn’t something most people choose but here we are so let’s just rock it. People generally spend so much time comparing themselves to others that they never take the time to figure out who they are. They think they have established a sense of self, but they’re far from it.

Humans have played this mental game with themselves for thousands of years and it goes something like this; these people are X and X is wrong/bad. Since I’m Y, I’m not an X, and therefore I’m right/good. If it’s not obvious the problem with this is that if someone only ever determines their worth as a product of how they deem someone else then it doesn’t take much to topple that house of cards. It’s not real self worth.

For example, if Jane thinks Ben is a dirty person because he has herpes then what will Jane think about herself when she ends up with herpes? The only thing that made her dislike Ben was a virus which she now has. Jane is going to feel like crap because her ideas of self worth were based on complete and utter bullshit.

Having contracted herpes these people have become the other (ie: the person they used to make fun of or think of as dirty) and it consumes them. They can’t get beyond how others may view them knowing what they used to think.

These folks are so beat down and fearful that many of them only want to date other folks with herpes. I really don’t want to attract someone who is scared of putting their self out there; someone who is just settling for another with the same virus.

If I date someone with herpes I want them to know they are still awesome. Keeping my status unlisted seems the best way to accomplish this. Someone will have to be bold enough to put themselves out there knowing their status and not knowing mine. I want that bravery for myself and from a partner.

Another reason I don’t give my status on my profile is that I don’t view the effort spent on someone else as a waste of time. Anyone who has ever uttered the phrase “you wasted my time” after dating someone when it didn’t work out is probably a piece of shit parading around as a human being and I put probably in there just to make me sound nicer.

Dating, hell life itself, is about taking chances and being vulnerable. If I date someone for a couple of dates (or months) and they drop some facts on me I can’t handle (like they watch the television show The Bachelor) I don’t view it as a waste of time. I took a chance and now I know we aren’t compatible. That’s good information to have. I consider information gained as a win. We didn’t work and I can look elsewhere.

The final reason I don’t list my status is that I’m perfectly comfortable talking about the fact that I have herpes so it’s not necessary for my profile to do that. I envision that dating me is a bit like blunt force trauma; someone is going to get all my truths in a very short period of time. As a result, I reveal my positive status fairly quickly so someone will know within three dates or less. By then, they have had the opportunity to briefly size me up (as I mentioned previously) and see if they view me as a potential partner.

Those are my reasons. Ultimately, I’m just a person looking for my person. In doing so, I hope to find someone who has done as much developmental work on them self as possible. Keeping my positive status off of my dating profile seems to be the best way to find a good match.

An Alternative View of Labels

Like one of the authors of the articles below I have always wondered if labels concerning human sexuality do us more harm than good. I think there are arguments for both sides and I find the interplay of ideas particularly interesting.

Here are two stories of people who though they were stalwart adherents to a particular way of being until someone special helped them discover an unexpected truth about love.

I Came Out as A Lesbian – Then Fell In Love With A Man

How My Sexuality Changed When My Husband Became My Wife

As you can see by the titles, the first story follows a traditional view of relationships while the latter has a more non-traditional story arch. I hope you enjoy them and whoever you love now or come to love in your life, I wish you the greatest happiness.

Are You Heading Towards A Sexless Relationship?

I think this is one of the things that, at least in America, doesn’t get talked about enough. Tons of people have struggled with the frequency of sex in a relationship and many of those have gone on to feel like they are merely a roommate to their significant other.

I can say that I was one of those people and while it was occurring I didn’t really speak to anyone about it. Like one of the scenarios mentioned in this article I eventually didn’t have any desire to have sex at all; my body just wasn’t producing those hormones anymore. While it wasn’t the biggest reason for the end of that relationship it was certainly a factor.

So know that others have been through this as well. You’re not alone and if your relationship hasn’t ended maybe there’s something you can do about it.

7 Signs You’re On Your Way To A Sexless Marriage

Teaching Moments: Why you shouldn’t tell someone to Google it

Dating (and defining ourselves in general) can be a frustrating experience and often times when people don’t do the research into your identity terms it can be frustrating. However, don’t tell them to look it up. For one that makes you look like a giant dick so leave that shit off your dating profile, plus you don’t know what site they will use. If they go to the urban dictionary, which is complete shit, then they might come away with a pretty toxic view of who you are. Let them ask you if they want and look at it as a teaching moment for them to learn about you in your voice. They want to know about you from you. That’s pretty flattering.

http://www.blackgirldangerous.org/2016/01/why-telling-each-other-to-google-it-hurts-our-movements/

The link above has some other good reasons to stop you from telling people to just look it up. Take care and happy dating.

Identify Bots on Grindr and Beyond

Since I dissed on Grindr yesterday I’ll leave you with a helpful article to navigate it safely should you decide to stay with the app.

http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2015/08/11/warning-these-grindr-profiles-are-actually-robots-trying-to-steal-your-info

I find it’s actually really easy to weed out the robots on here. Some clues are the height listed as the article mentions, an amazingly chiseled photo of some dude, poor English, or the fact that the conversation immediately jumps from hello to sharing pictures.

Always make your first question something that another person (or robot) can’t answer with yes, or cool, or just hanging out. So if they say “what’s up?” Reply with “Well, I just finished listening to my favorite band. What type of music do you listen to?” When the reply is “Good, I’ve just been working out and I’m horny” then you know you’re talking to a computer program or a total fucking moron. Either way you can ghost them and move on.

Because Sometimes I’m a Jerk

When I was dating I had this problem with most guys which is that they pretty much treated me as a holder for my cock or a resting place for theirs. I didn’t take kindly to this ever. Just because they would have sex with anything that moves doesn’t mean I would. “Yes, I know we’re both on Grindr but that’s not the bar you need to clear in order to meet me in person schmuck.” So when I got tired of ignoring mouth breathers I would occasionally engage them like this. I wish I had kept more of these.

Notice the over 6 hour silence between his question of “What’s your dick like” and his pondering my lack of reply. Duh! (nobody says duh anymore, it’s kind of a shame)

I actually met this guy a couple of months later because I didn’t realize it was him. He was just as big a knob as his message makes him seem.

Deleting Grindr from my phone was one of the most liberating feelings. If you’re tired of the crap I highly recommend it.

dick_like

Does Polyamory Make Sense for Me?

I wondered what to do with this writing. It provides a snapshot into one particular time of my polyamorous relationship. I figure that there might be other people going through this same situation and maybe they can glean something from it. I can’t say whether that will be a positive thing or a negative, but then maybe that is precisely the value of this story; it’s interpretation can be left to you the reader.

I used to find a lot of stories from the polyamorous trenches, but they always touted the value of being poly. Rarely did I encounter one that laid bare the doubts someone was experiencing as they experienced them. There was always an undercurrent in the culture that made it feel like if someone was expressing doubts then they hadn’t conquered enough of their demons yet. Those people were doing poly wrong. I call bullshit on that.

What I do know is that if this helps you in your poly relationship then run with it my non-conventional brothers and sisters. If it makes you decide that polyamory isn’t for you then so be it. I really don’t care which way it moves you, just that you do whatever is right for you.

I wrote this seven months into our polyamorous arrangement and two months before my wife and I decided to get a divorce. While my marriage didn’t work, keep in mind this is not a necessary blueprint for every couple deciding to venture down the same path. Your results will vary.

In retrospect, I was right to have my doubts, but I had placed too much faith in my wife’s proclamation of polyamorous happiness. In reality, she was happy because she had found someone else she liked better. As it turns out, she’s now in a monogamous relationship with the guy she was seeing while we were married. Her thoughts on this are that she thinks she wanted a polyamorous relationship because something was missing. It’s hard to argue otherwise given the results.

I don’t hold any ill will for those involved. In fact, I wish her and her partner the best of luck. I hope she’s found the one this time. My entire relationship with her was a grand experiment and we knew that from the start. I would do it all again (maybe sans marriage) because it was one of the most beautiful times in my life. I was able to spend three glorious years with someone I loved dearly and I learned so much about myself in the process. That’s a definite win in my book.

So given all of that, here is what I wrote one night on my phone when I couldn’t sleep:

Polyamory makes so much sense and gives a viable alternative to the dominant culture out there. I love polyamory on an intellectual level, practically speaking I’m not so sure.

Truth be told I’m in a polyamorous relationship even though I’m only seeing one person. The thing is my wife has another partner which I have been intellectually supportive of and yet I’m having some emotional trouble with simultaneously.

My conundrum lies with the fact that I’m not sure if this is what I want. It’s possible that I could meet somebody and fall in love with them at the same time that I love my wife. It sounds great except that it hasn’t happened for me yet. Plus, I don’t know if I really want this to happen with my partner and yet it has.

My finding someone isn’t for a lack of trying. I’ve been on dates with men and women but either I haven’t wanted to continue or they haven’t. In the situations where they ended it I was hurt and yes I cried. I didn’t shed tears over the person, I wasn’t super into any of them anyway, but rather the idea that I won’t be able to find someone at all. Moreover that I will always be caught out in a situation where my wife is happily partnered with another, but I won’t be. Right now my present and seeming future with polyamory has been to be the one sacrificing while receiving none of the positive things that I was hopeful would come with it.

Is there something that makes me undateable aside from the fact that I’m a middle age man who is married?

What if I can’t connect to someone because I’m not wired that way? What if I only want to love one person and for that person to be devoted to me? I don’t know if these are really statements of how things are. I can say that they are legitimate fears of mine because if these concerns are true then I have no reason to doubt that I would be happiest in a monogamous relationship.

Meanwhile, my wife says she’s never been happier and while I know that means it’s because she’s getting to express an aspect of her personality through polyamory that had long been silent, it’s still hurtful. It signifies that for everything great and wonderful we had, that it wasn’t as good as having her other partner as well. It makes me wonder if I’m not enough and if I ever was.

We always used to say that if we had to stop dating tomorrow that we could go back to having just each other and be perfectly happy. We didn’t know it then but that was a lie. Certain things have become clearer as we’ve moved along.

The first is that you can’t just stop loving another person. I can’t ask my wife to stop seeing her other partner, it wouldn’t be fair to him or to her. Her relationship with him happened under all of our watches and I knew going into this that there was no going back. My wife loves without abandon and she falls hard and fast for someone. It’s one of the reasons that polyamory suits her so well. On top of that she’s wonderfully intelligent, emotionally aware and a truly beautiful person inside and out. It was only a short matter of time before she found someone who would want to be with her and share in that. I also knew that they would both be in love in very short order. That’s how it happened to me after all.

We don’t practice hierarchical polyamory. So we try and keep everyone’s relationship on the same level as much as possible. Just as her partner couldn’t rightfully ask her to stop loving me, I can’t ask her to stop loving or seeing him. The genie is already out of the bottle, consequences be damned.

The second thing is that she couldn’t be happy with just me. Not really, not anymore. I can tell something has changed. It would be like a gay person trying to go back in the closet after feeling the liberation of being out. She is polyamorous and that’s that. Even if I could stop her, presuming I wanted to, she would always harbor a resentment for me and a longing for that aspect of her life back. I would be the reason for her misery and I love her too much for that.

No, polyamory is here to stay. That much I have to accept.

This brings me around again to my central thesis which is what am I? Polyamorous? Monogamous?

Sometimes I catch myself wanting to pull away. I have thoughts about how it might occur that I can’t take it anymore. Sometimes those thoughts culminate in me leaving. Other times, I just imagine how I will break down and wonder if I can ever recover again. Is this purely an emotional response or a way of my mind telling me that it can’t operate this way? Culture certainly hasn’t groomed me to accept polyamory. Does knowing that my partner has another person keep me from loving her as much as I could?

I don’t have any clue. For now all I have are haunting questions that I’m not sure I really want answered just yet.