» Online Dating My Way to Oblivion
  • Online Dating My Way to Oblivion

    Jul 31st • Posted in love, personal

    source: techyville.com

    Hi, my name is Christa Lei and I’ve been online-dating sober for about two weeks now. I used OkCupid on and off for about two years. During that time, I went on a countless amount of dates, hooked up with a number of men, navigated my way through a couple complicated friends-with-benefits situations, found myself in a long-suffering five month relationshit, fell absolutely apeshit in love with a man who couldn’t return my feelings, and traipsed around Europe using the website. After two years of actively putting myself out there, I decided to delete my account. Not just my OkCupid profile– but any and all online dating platforms. As a disclaimer, I am not telling you that you shouldn’t go out and online date. In fact, quite the contrary– online dating is a great way to expand your dating pool, and it’s truly the easiest and laziest way to put yourself out there. But don’t rely on online dating to push you forward. Don’t use it to mindlessly go through the motions of dating when you’re not ready, or to “find the one,” because you won’t enjoy either option. Most of all, don’t use it the way that I did. Do not use online dating to find yourself. When I first moved to Chicago, I poured myself into the world of online dating because: 1) I had an entire month to kill, 2) I wanted to expand my social circle, and I hadn’t started school yet. and 3) Because why the fuck not? How else was I going to meet people? By that point in time, I had finally gotten over the trainwreck that was my first “real adult relationship,” and deemed myself ready to date.

    In my first week, I met an extremely enthusiastic, nerdy guy from the suburbs. He seemed decent enough, and he was eager to meet me. I agreed to meet because we shared a common experience and background in terms of romantic transgressions. When we met, I realised that we did not get along and were not at all compatible. His affections flattered me, but I noticed that the only thing I really liked about him was making out with him. (He was a terrible kisser, so I didn’t even really enjoy that.)  I noticed he was projecting many of his romantic desires onto me because I gave him a chance. However, he had some pretty strong baggage that I just wasn’t willing to deal with. Textbook example of someone who needed to really “find himself” before he could date. His inexperience and anger towards females concerned me, and it turned me off. And at 20, he shared some pretty common Midwestern boy values– he wanted to settle down, get married and be with someone “for life.” I wasn’t ready to give that type of love to anyone– least of all, this guy that I didn’t really like all that much. Unfortunately, I was hesitant to break things off because I had never been in a position in my life where I had the upper hand in a romantic setting. But it wasn’t fair to string someone along when I enjoyed the attention more than I enjoyed him. After a couple of dates, I started to pull away and told him that I just wasn’t interested in dating seriously at the moment. He took it pretty hard, and I feel bad– but I learned a lot from dating him. He’s sort of a joke amongst my friends now– and whenever someone mentions him, I tend to cringe and wince because apparently Chicagoland is small and people are from his suburb and word gets around and by reputation he was fucking weeeeeeiiiird. From that point, I learned that it was easier to be direct, and that I didn’t want to settle for someone who was less than I deserved. While it was admirable that he was willing to cross the street for me, I needed to find someone who was more willing to meet me halfway (and that I could meet there.)

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    Courtesy of Nick Page (flickr)

    Come November, I noticed that the majority of the dates I had gone on either ended up in failed one-night stands, or weird friends-with-benefits relations, or just didn’t come into fruition. I had this terrible tendency to “rain check” on dates because I was (at the time) too insecure and racked with self-doubt to really jump into the dating world. By that point, I generalised the majority of men I had met on OkCupid into a couple categories: 1) Babies, 2) “Damaged”, 3) “Casual” or a combination of the three, probably focused on emotional damage they suffered. To explain further, babies are men who are relatively inexperienced in dating and romance. I hate to say the word “desperate,” since it casts such a harsh light on some of these men and their intentions, but it’s a close adjective to what these men (or boys) are. The ones that I met cast serious expectations on women who showed a slightest amount of interest in them because they were so desperate to get started on their journey into dating. Many of these people are not interested in the woman herself, but the idea of a woman. Many “Nice Guys” that I met fall into this category. As for damaged and casual, I think those are relatively self-explanatory. To be fair to myself, I categorise myself under the damaged category due to the sheer amount of baggage that I carry with me at all times. While it is possible to pursue something meaningful with guys in any of these categories (except for the casual one, but one can make an argument for that eventually,) it’s sort of increasingly difficult. There are extra hoops to jump through and challenges to face with any of these men. But I pulled through because sometimes you could meet a diamond in the rough.

    And that’s when I found someone online that I seemed to get along with. Unfortunately, it was bad timing– I was about to leave for the holiday season– and I decided to cancel/rain check him because I was more eager to hang out with friends and family. We promised to keep in touch over Skype, text, etc and that we’d be able to see each other when we both got back from our respective vacations. While he was really cute and flirtatious, I noticed that he was willing to engage in the dating games that I was so sick of playing. Our correspondence lasted throughout both of our vacations, with him even asking me out on a “Skype date” because we weren’t able to meet in person yet. We ended up chatting for about an hour on our Skype calls, but the initial downfall of our courtship started there. He had a tendency to humblebrag and namedrop famous politicians. What really got me was the fact that he constantly cancelled  and postponed our dates once we both returned to Chicago. He cancelled three times– including on the day of the date, which really pissed me off. To make matters worse, he blew me off with a line about grad school (later found out he lied about it,) and then tried to get me to go out with him and cancelled again before I finally yelled at him and told him that I wasn’t interested in pursuing something with someone who was just stringing me along. Building up two and a half months worth of expectations just to have it end terribly ruined much of online dating for me. After that experience, I learned that it was easier to just meet up and not expect anything– because it could turn out like that guy did with the constant mindgames and rain checks, and just altogether disrespect on his part. …Then I took a break and shut down all my online dating accounts and pledged to “be single for awhile.”

    A picture with my ex that DOESN’T show his face.

     

    The single pledge lasted around a month or so, because before I deleted my accounts, I gave my number to my future sort-of-not-really boyfriend. That entire relationship was a shitshow and a half. I look back on our relationship and wonder why I put up with half of the shit that I did. He is the subject of many a blog post (I can think of a few: here, here, and here) and I think the lessons I learned from that are self-explanatory, though not relegated to just the “online dating” world. (Though our relationshit does contribute to why I no longer find a compulsion to online date.) After the break-up, I threw myself back into online dating– thusly, avoiding many of the requisite break-up behaviours. At the time, I genuinely thought I was over much of the bullshit from this failed relationship, but it turns out, running away from things always comes back to haunt you.

    I received karmic retribution in tenfold from forcing myself back in so suddenly. When I returned to Chicago from being at home after the breakup, I ended up going on a flurry of dates I wasn’t ready for. I found myself shy, broken and insecure about the way things were going on my dates. However, just because it didn’t click with one person– didn’t mean that it wouldn’t click with other men. I stuck to it and went back into dating with a relatively open mind and an arsenal of  knowledge which I applied: I met my dates straight away with limited online correspondence, I allowed myself to have options and focus on various men at once, I invested as much of myself as the other person was investing into me (or at least I tried,) I was open-minded and honest with each of the men, I took things as slowly as my comfort level would allow, and I made sure that I had a voice and say in whatever was going on. For the most part (with the exception of the Doctor, who I’ve also mentioned on this blog countless times,) it worked. While some of the dates were duds, others turned into great friendships, and one had the potential of becoming something stronger– however, it faded quickly because of his personal commitments and miscommunication. While that guy was great and treated me “right,” my gut told me that he didn’t really set my heart on fire and told me to keep my options open. He was nice but the way he ended things told me he was relatively inexperienced in dating. (He broke things off via Facebook message.) By that time, I had met the Doctor and that entire shitshow commenced.

    We already know how that went, so I’m not going to rehash the gory details. After all is said and done, it’s important to remember that my experiences online could be dramatically different from yours. I went into online dating with this wild expectation and set idea of what I wanted– which is fine, but don’t expect too much out of online dating. It’s perfectly acceptable to go into it with the idea that you might meet someone cool and it’ll turn out okay, but anything beyond that, especially pertaining to long-term/marriage potential, is probably cause for concern and might give off a desperate vibe. At the same time, knowing what you want is also integral to the online dating experience. I cannot tell you how many times men have solicited me for sex online (countless.) I don’t reply to most of these messages, but I find it hilarious when men think they are entitled to my body because of what I look like. (For the record: It really sucks being a fat chick on OkCupid for this reason. And these duds are much of the reason I shut down my account.) Why the fuck would you want someone who can say such terrible, misogynistic crap to a woman? Ugh. Gross. Basically, keep an open mind like I did, meet your dates ASAP (well, at least make sure they aren’t axe murderers,) and don’t take it too seriously.

    I don’t want to be stuck in an online dating rut. I’m not interested in becoming someone who is defined by her failed relationships or dates, nor am I interested in becoming the next online dating expert. I’m taking a break from online dating because I spent the past two years invested in others when it could have be spent on myself. I need to learn to fight for who I am and what I want without relying on the ego boost that online dating provides. While I’ve met some wild characters and potential longer-term love interests along the way, nothing really stands out to me right now. (Well, one does– but with the distance, it’s not even realistic, so I’m not even going to go there.) At this point in time, I’m aware of my wants and needs in a relationship, and I’m also aware of what I could give to someone right now. Right now, I’d like to focus on myself and my future. I’m sure I’ll head back to online dating eventually, even if it’s just reactivating the account and passively answering messages– but I’m not sure if I could do the whole actively dating thing again. If the timing and location are right, it’ll all play out eventually. Until then, I’ll keep treading forward. I still have a lot to learn, with plenty of room to fail. I’d just rather be doing it offline.

    • I’ve never tried online dating, and TBH, I’ve never really ‘dated’ as such (I don’t think) but I think it comes back to what you say in your last paragraph: ‘…focus on myself and and my future’. I know it can be difficult to know what you want and to articulate it, but it can be an immensely affirming- and empowering- process to understand what you most definitely don’t want or need in your life and can articulate it. It takes a lot of strength and self-respect, but importantly; self-care (and love) to be able to do that for yourself.
      x

      • Online dating is something I sort of just stumbled into… It seemed to be a natural progression since I’ve ironically met a couple of my exes through other modes of the interweb, but I found it weird that I never really tried it until a couple years ago. It’s mostly been a ‘miss’ for me, but it’s definitely taught me a lot more about myself in the process. I’m inherently someone who defines herself by the relationships she has with people– whether or not that’s healthy, I’m still not sure– but it’s worked for me so far, and I’ve learned loads of myself in the process (which is great.) That being said, I still love being in relationships, but sometimes I think I’m in love with love and I’m not always sure if I’m really in love with the person that I’ve chosen to spend my time with.

        The weirdest part of not having online dating as a “fall back” or actively dating at all, is the fact that I’ll have to be accountable for myself. In the past, I’ve used men and some of my relationships as a scapegoat for my terrible choices. In reality, the “right choice” has been there all along, but it’s taken me some time to realise that the only love in my life is myself :) The rest of the people who come along are partners that I’ll eventually have to learn to compromise with. I’m grateful that relationships have taught me that, but god– I can’t wait to take charge of my own life and my own actions (even though it scares me.)

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