The Truth is Stranger Than Fiction - An Introduction

Truth is Stranger Than Fiction - An Introduction

My first foray into the Social Networking world was some years ago, in 2005 I believe, with Yahoo. They had a site called Yahoo 360° that was their own attempt at MySpace, which, at the time, was all the rage. I hadn't been bitten by the MySpace bug yet, but I was already an active member of Yahoo, so to get my feet wet, I set up a Yahoo 360° profile.

Blogging was an extremely attractive prospect to me. I love to write, I love to give myself that type of "outlet" to my problems, fears, joys, and experiences. I've kept diaries and journals off and on over the years and they've always been therapeutic when I took the time to keep them up. But this... a public diary? How do I approach such a thing? How much do I divulge? And what, praytel, do I write about that would actually entice people to read it?

Browsing thru existing blogs, one thing was an absolute MUST: I could not, would not, write about mundane things that no one but myself would care about. I needed an angle-- Something that I could write passionately about. Something that people, in general, have an interest in. Something that would grab the attention of the public. And something that had a "theme." I found that, to me personally, a blog that jumped around all over the place was difficult to read. A theme would keep me in check, and allow me to focus, rather than a stream of conscious that I was sure would bore to death anyone who came across my page.

The idea came to me fairly quickly. I was newly divorced and discovering the delights and annoyances of being single and dating in my 30's. It was perfect!
Love, sex, relationships, dating... The overall general interaction between men and women has always been a fascination and a sure-fire hit to our society, if not our entire species! I had my topic, I was ready to roll...

Yahoo has since shut down their 360° forum, and the experience I had there was both rewarding and therapeutic. So I am going to retell my adventures in a retro-active tale here, and see if I can gather the same, if not bigger, audience I did there. Maybe I can even get inspired enough to bring the whole thing up to date and wrap it all up into a happy ending? We shall see...

So, here we go! Hello, my name is Jennifer. I am 37 years old and I've been divorced just over 6 years now. Fasten your seat belts, boys and girls, it's gonna be one hell of a ride!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Chapter 3: Internet Dating?

I attended a couple more Square Hatter’s events, and ran into my two new girlfriends. That was fun, but I didn’t meet any more “Jacques’.” And it was becoming obvious that attending Square Hatter’s events were going to become costly and time-consuming. It had been suggested to me that I try eHarmony.com. This was, of course, going against everything I believed when it came to meeting people online, but I decided to do a little research and see what it was about.

The eHarmony.com service is not like most dating websites. You do not “browse” through available profiles, and you don’t just start talking to people out of the blue. They have a very intense screening process that they put every member through before you are even allowed to sign up. Based on a personality profile, they match you up with people that they feel you would be most compatible with, based on your answers during this profile test. And, should you decide to communicate with a match, there is a 5-step process you go through before you can start openly communicating and exchanging contact information. I took the forty-five minute personality test and then waited patiently for eHarmony.com to show me who out there was my perfect match.

I got three hits. I had not yet paid any money to eHarmony.com. I looked over the three profiles they gave me, and still wasn’t convinced that this was something I needed to spend money on. I knew that I needed to purchase a membership if I was going to attempt to communicate with any of these individuals. There were no pictures available for me to look at, either. I read through the statistics of these men, and decided right off the bat that one of them wasn’t for me. The second one was a possibility, but certainly didn’t make me want to read more. The third one, however, “Timothy”, looked intriguing. I was still hesitant about paying for a membership. Maybe I’d think on it for a day or two.

The very next morning, I arrived at work to find an email from eHarmony.com, telling me that “Timothy” wanted to communicate with me. Wow, that didn’t take long. Out of the three matches they’d given me, “Timothy” was the one I liked, and he obviously liked what he saw, as well. To start talking to him, though, I had to put up some money. So I caved. I signed up and agreed to the 5-step communication process with “Timothy”. It was rather intimidating, to be honest. First you select five closed questions, with multiple choice answers for your match to answer, as does he. Then you select ten “Must Have” criteria, and ten “Can’t Stand” criteria that you require from a mate. If you both feel that you meet most, if not all, of these standards, you move on to the next step, which is choosing three open-ended questions that your match can answer in their own words. After all this, if you still want to talk, you are allowed to communicate openly through the eHarmony.com service with emails, maintaining anonymity.

You can also choose at what stage your match can see your pictures. I had mine visible from the get-go, but “Timothy” chose to wait until we were at the open communication stage to reveal his. And, HALLELUJAH! He was HOT! We exchanged phone numbers and finally managed to sync up on the phone on a Sunday night in Mid-March. Our first phone conversation was about two hours long. We were so much alike, it was almost creepy. By the end of the two hours, we were practically finishing each other’s sentences. Needless to say, I was excited! We discovered that our offices were only about two miles away from each other, so when he asked me to lunch on Tuesday, I couldn’t say “yes” fast enough.

He invited me to his favorite sushi place that he frequented for lunch. We bade each other good night and I immediately started mentally filtering through my closet to decide exactly the perfect outfit to wear. It couldn’t be too glamorous or revealing, as I would be at work. But I didn’t want it to be too casual, either, even though we all dressed rather casually at my office. I settled on a scoop necked top, a basic skirt, and my trusty boots.

Lunch was great. Great conversation, great food, and a great date! I will admit that he was not as tall as I’d thought he’d be, and he was a bit on the scrawny side, even for me. While I am a rather voluptuous woman, I tend to gravitate toward the tall, lanky men, but “Timothy” had an extremely slender build that his pictures had belied. However, we got along so well, I was truly looking forward to possibly exploring something more.

When lunch was over, and we both had to return to our jobs, we walked to our cars and did the end-of-date “shuffle,” trying to wrap it up in an acceptable way. He gave me a hug and little peck on my cheek. I guess I didn’t really expect a kiss, considering it was a lunch date, but it would have been nice. I had a feeling he’d be a good kisser. He said he wanted to see me again, and I mentioned that I was going to a party that Friday night, did he want to accompany me? He said he was interested and we’d be talking soon. I went back to work on a bit of a natural high. This might turn out to be something! As much as I hated to play the game, I knew I had to wait for him to call me. Friday was only three days away. I could wait.

Wednesday came and went with no word from “Timothy”. Was this normal? Should I be worried? What had I done wrong? What hadn’t I done right? Easy, now, don’t over-analyze, and don’t obsess. It’s not like he was required to call me the next day. But all day at work on Thursday, and still no word. I knew that I wasn’t about to make every man I dated spellbound, but what could I have possibly said or done that led “Timothy” not to even pick up a phone? Or send an email? I thought I had played this one perfectly. We had talked, flirted, and in general kept up a connection that I thought deserved a bit of exploration.

As I drove home from work, I decided to stop into my favorite little bar and have a drink or two. It was St. Patrick’s Day and there were several people there that I knew, celebrating the Irish holiday. So I posed the question to my acquaintances at the bar: What should I do? The girls all, of course, said to walk away. If he wanted to see me again, he’d have called by now. The guys, surprisingly, all said I should give him a call. This wasn’t the 1950’s, and guys like to know that a woman is interested before they give chase. This debate did NOTHING to help me figure out where “Timothy’s” head was, though, and I went home still analyzing what might have happened.

To my delight, I came home to a voice mail message from “Timothy”. He said he was just checking in, see how my week had been going, and, if it wasn’t too late when I got the message, to give him a call. I looked at the clock: it wasn’t yet 11:00. I dialed quickly, but got his voice mail. Well, okay, maybe he’d already gone to bed. I left a message and told him I would call him in the morning to see if he still wanted to accompany me to the party that night. My fears were waylaid. I felt a wave of relief wash over me. I was so glad I hadn’t called! I had over-reacted and obsessed prematurely. If I was going to do this dating thing, I needed to get a handle on my emotions.

In the morning, I called, just like I’d said I would, and got “Timothy’s” voice mail again. I left another message. After I got back from my lunch break, and not having heard from him yet, I started thinking. If he was going with me to a party that night, we needed to make some plans. I tried again, with no answer. Since I was calling from my office phone, I knew he wouldn’t recognize the number and I chose not to leave a message. Okay, now I was getting irritated. I was getting stood up, wasn’t I? I know he hadn’t said that he WOULD go with me, but he could have at least touched base with me by now to tell me that he didn’t want to go. Hell, at this point, he could have made up some cheesy excuse as to why he couldn’t make it. I could have asked someone else to come with me if I’d known he wasn’t going to go. But now, with only a few hours left before I had to be there, there was no time to consider another date, or even just to bring a friend. I gave him one last opportunity and called him on my drive home. Again, no answer, and I left one last message. I ended up going alone and had a decent time. The hardest part was the drive there and back alone. I poured over the details once again. What had gone wrong? How could he have been so rude as to completely ignore me today? My emotions flipped from anger to rejection, and back again. So how would I react if I ever heard from him again? My first reaction was to let him have it. However, I knew that was not the appropriate way to handle it. Maybe I should just not answer the phone? Who was I kidding? I wasn’t going to hear from him again. Write him off and move on.

The next day, much to my surprise, he called. I played it cool, and felt cold. However, I so badly wanted to hear his excuse. He proceeded to tell me that didn’t get a chance to discuss this with me at lunch, but he generally makes it quite clear from the start that he dates other women. Well, I had no problem with this, but what did it have to do with his actions last night? Here it was, his excuse: He went on to explain that he has now decided to get serious and exclusive about one of the women he was dating. Oh, I see. Then, to make sure his ego was fully pumped, he added that I was just one of three phone calls he had to make that day with the same speech.

Hey, don’t get me wrong. I know I was new to this dating thing, and I had every intention of dating around. Hopefully I would one day be in a position to have to tell a man or two that I had decided to become exclusive with someone else. But I considered “Timothy’s” position. We initially talked less than a week ago, and he seemed to do all the normal pursuing techniques one might expect to get a date. If he was considering becoming exclusive with this woman, you’d think it was something he’d been thinking about for more than a week, wouldn’t you? And when you are already dating three women, and you pursue a fourth, I can’t imagine that exclusivity is the utmost thing on your mind!

I’m not completely na├»ve, however. I realize that this was, more than likely, a brilliant line that he uses for any woman that he’s just not that jazzed about. And think about it: It IS brilliant! I vowed to remember to use this line in the future. Deciding to become exclusive with someone you are already seeing lets everyone walk away with no debating, no questions, and everyone’s ego stays intact. We vowed to keep in touch, and wished each other luck. Unsurprisingly, I never heard from “Timothy” again. At least I only wasted a week on him.

Lesson Number Two: Don’t invest too much emotional stock in one person too quickly. It takes up a lot of your time and energy, and closes you off to other opportunities that might arise.

Status: Still to be learned.