Since I was no longer on FB, the world around me shrunk. I was single—had been for over ten years. I’d dated on and off, but no one seemed to click with me.
I wondered, what this elusive chemistry was that single men were looking for? Should I be looking for that in a man?
In almost-isolation living in a small Indiana town in which I only knew my neighbors, I questioned if I’d ever find a guy who was compatible with me. The few men I had gone out in my little town ALL LIVED WITH THEIR PARENTS!! WTH!?!? I was 52. These guys were my age. Those living arrangements were a red flag. I was independent and I sought a partner who was the same,
After watering my flowers and checking the garden behind my house, I retreated inside. I turned the TV on for background noise and out of habit, picked up my phone and went to FB. Except it wasn’t there. I laughed at myself as I remembered I’d deleted it because it no longer brought me joy. What to do now. . . ?
I decided to Google “dating sites for women over 50”. To my surprise there were many! Most of them I eliminated because all they wanted to do was help me empty my wallet not help my love life.
Curiosity got the best of me, and I signed up for one. Of course, I’m not telling the world which one it was! I told myself that I’d do this for 2 days. Then I would delete it. The intrigue quickly morphed into terror as I uploaded a picture of half of my face–and filled out only the required information. I listed my city as “Louisville” instead of the small town in Indiana in which I lived. There were over 20 “conversation starter” questions and I could choose any five to answer. I scratched my head as I began scrolling through them. I don’t always streak, but when I do? A shower thought I had recently? I’m weirdly attracted to? Screw that—maybe this wasn’t for me at all! Then I came across some questions I could answer. My simple pleasures? I won’t shut up about? I geek out on?
I began browsing men within thirty miles of Louisville. No long-distance relationship for me. I found myself interested in corresponding with a few guys that evening just to pass the time and be done with the whole business.
I was shocked as I looked through the profiles because I began to get messages. And NOT JUST a few. Within a half-hour, I had twenty men message me on the app! I figured they were just bored, too. The more I read, the more shocked I became. Yes, there were a few nice guy messages, however, the majority of the messages insulted my sense of right and wrong!!!
I weeded out the offenders with a feature called “Block User”. And I did. Over and over. I responded to a few messages but ultimately resolved to be the chooser, not the chosen. I made sure before ever signing up on the site that I was anonymous and safe. Therefore, I was going to be selective. I would be very discrete and, if there was anyone on that site who interested me, I would be the one to make the first move. That decision changed me! I was in control of this destiny, whether fated or not.
Having discovered a well of personal power I did not know that I had, I went back to my original search. A few ostensibly nice guys captivated me. As weird as I thought it had been to choose 5 of their questions to answer, I found some of the guys’ answers intriguing. I was surprised to see most had posted several pictures, and a bit weirdly, a few had pictures of themselves with an ex on their profile! Although I was not a frequenter of dating sites, I had friends who had shared horror stories about people on dating sites using pictures that were decades old. Despite my doubt that this whole on-line dating thing could work, I cautiously messaged 3 men.
The one person who most interested me appeared to be a quagmire of a person. He was bald, a few years older than me, and gainfully employed. He posted several pictures, one of them showed him doing photography as a hobby. He also wrote about having served in the military, but I didn’t understand the jargon and dismissed it. I went on to the section to see his responses to the provided questions.
Two of his answers were short and almost abrupt. Two others made it appear that he was just a normal guy looking for compatibility. The last question and response puzzled me. To this day, it remains seared in my mind. The first conversation starter provided was: “Why should a woman be interested in you?” He answered, “If he is looking for a relationship and wants to meet someone real.”
I went back to his demographics to make sure I was looking at a man’s information. Sure enough, he was male. I asked myself, “Did I include women or bisexual males in my search?” I clicked the search button, and my inquiry appeared. I was only searching for straight males.
I closed the app, put down my phone, and considered my options. I liked this guy, especially considering my first experiences with the site. Should I send him a message? And, if I did, how could I make sure he was a straight male? I pondered the possibilities. My profile was relatively uninformative, and I had no concern that, if he wasn’t the type I was looking for, that he would be an annoyance.
After all, I’d already found the block button.
I picked up my phone even while the lump in my throat grew bigger. His information was still showing on that site. I clicked the message link, as I tried to swallow and clear my throat. I went for nonchalant. And maybe a bit coy. I wrote, “Your profile appears to be that of a straight man, but your answer to the first question said that someone should contact you if HE is looking for a relationship. Which is it? Are you looking for a guy or a gal?”
I clicked the send button before I could think about what I was doing and change my whirling mind. Would this guy be so infuriated by my message that he might blast me with an angry response? Or, he could respond that he is looking for men or women. Or, he might not respond at all. I didn’t care at this point.
During the time spent figuring out whether to engage the bald guy in a conversation, two other men had sent responses. Both were cordial but a bit forward. I got the impression that I might just be on a “hook up” type of site. I sighed.
This might just have been one of the worst impulses I’d ever given in to. But I replied to the two messages and was direct about the fact that I was not looking to meet a stranger with sex as a given at the end of the night. I also wrote that I was insulted at their insinuations and redirected the online conversation to a more generic nice-to-meet-you tone. I sighed and put down my phone–again. I needed a little wine and some distance from cyberspace.
I took out the new bread maker and made me some sun-dried tomato kalamata bread. Next came a new recipe for a gluten-free chocolate tart. As they both were baking, I went back to my La-Z-Boy recliner and resumed the position. After a while and phone in hand, I took a deep breath re-opened the dating app.
The bald guy responded, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to open it. I weighed my options. Delete it. Leave the site and expunge all traces of the app from my phone. Or, I could deal with this decision later. What to do?? What to do??
Curiosity got to me. I double tapped. Opened his message. I skimmed it quickly and slowly reread it.
He admitted he hated dating online and had hurriedly answered the questions—obviously misreading the intent of that one question. He was funny. Educated. Human. At least in print.
I wrote back. He wrote back. We did this back and forth thing for about an hour. He then asked for my phone number.
Still concerned about confidentiality, I asked if I could call him instead. I knew that I could *67 my number and it would show up on his phone as unknown or blocked. I could still be safe. I could talk with him and see if the person I thought I’d found was the person speaking with me on the phone.
I sucked in my breath and thought, “nothing ventured . . .” I chuckled to myself and thought—welcome to the world of cyber-dating, Kim.