Two years ago, I signed up for an online dating service for the first time following my divorce. It had been 25 years since my last date (!), and a ‘matching’ site seemed to be the least scary way to go. The whole idea of online dating was completely foreign to me; from how to write a profile essay to what photos to post, I was pretty lost and overwhelmed.
After a few mismatches, I got a lovely email from ‘Alan’, a widower. It was a Saturday night. He asked if it would be okay if he could call me, simply to hear my voice, and I said yes.
Our first call lasted three hours. We immediately ‘got’ each other; from our shared views on religion, relationships, to taking responsibility for our actions and the similarities in our professions, we had so much in common. I loved the sound of his soothing voice, gently, romantic, loving, and calm.
He was a deep and thoughtful guy, proactive in his life, doing great work. He seemed to be managing his four kids with an ease unlike other men I’d met. We began an intense communication from that moment forth.
By the third email, he sent me this poem:
Come to my garden in spring
There will be wine, flowers and pomegranates
If you do not come, these do not matter
If you do come, these do not matter.
Following that evening’s phone conversation, I wrote him this email:
I am wide awake from our great conversation. I am really enjoying getting to know you. I think it’s a good sign that with each connection, I yearn for more.
I once heard a psychiatrist say that his marriage was like a good book. He couldn’t wait to turn the page each day. I have thought that was a good way to see a great relationship.
So far, I am enjoying turning your pages!
good night….sleep well.
And he responded:
To paraphrase Rumi (last Rumi reference for a while, I promise)
When you are with me, I cannot sleep
When you are away from me, I cannot sleep
Thank Gd for these two insomnias
And the difference between them.
We went back and forth like this, with emails and phone calls, sometimes three of four connections in a day. I was restless, hardly able to sleep in anticipation of our first meeting. We had scheduled the first date for a Monday, and because the connection was so strong, we kept that date, while setting an earlier date for our first meeting. We were positive that the first date would go so well, there would be no need to cancel the second.
We couldn’t wait. We were sure this was it, the relationship that would take us both off of the online dating market for good.
Well, you can imagine by now where this was heading.
When we finally met, Alan was nothing like I imagined him to be. He was hideously unattractive to me, and his very presence repelled me. We were awkward and could hardly even look at each other.I couldn’t wait for the date to end.
It felt like the air being let out of a balloon. Because essentially, that’s what it really was, a bunch of air that we had both fantasized into a relationship.
I now realize that I had been in an unhappy relationship with my husband for so long, I wanted to feel a sense of connection to a man so badly. I built a pseudo relationship with Alan.
Have you had this experience? It doesn’t have to be as extreme as it was for me and Alan.
Perhaps you spent too long on pre-date emails and phone conversations?
Maybe you revealed too much about yourself, excited to connect with someone who finally ‘gets’ you?
Here’s my advice, based on my heartache and many hours of time that could have been better spent:
He’s not your boyfriend until he is.
You don’t know each other until you’ve spent time together.
So, keep the first few phone conversations brief. Get to know him just well enough to decide if you want to go on a first date. And then go on that date.
Keep the date short, an hour and a half maximum. (This from a woman who’s been on 8 hour first dates!)
A pseudo relationship is just that. A fantasy. A projection.
Keep it real. You’ll invest less emotional energy, reserving your heart for someone who IS your boyfriend, a guy who has earned that title through the investment of time, energy, and thought.
Connect in a real way, and your relationship will be wonderful.