It's hard to write novels and date online at the same time. I know. I did it. There I would be in the middle of a paragraph, in a dense field of possibility and exposition, a crucial bit of character or plot building, and I'd notice a little email notification. One of the dating sites actually has little hearts on its notifications. Love blooming right at the bottom right-hand corner of my computer screen. Should I click? Do I look? Someone wants to meet me?
But what about my story?
But what about my story?
So I'd leave my novel, click into my email and get lost in some man's profile. Unfortunately, I was romantic enough to believe that each and every man who wrote to me could be my potential true love. Yeah, call me stupid, but I would actually read and believe the profiles, thinking that words were honest, true, full of thought. You'd think as a person who'd just clicked into a dating site from writing up lies into a hopefully believable story, I'd have a darker color of glasses on than rose.
But silly me, I believed it all.What I later (much later) learned and came to acknowledge is that dating ads are ads, and there is not a lot of truth in advertising in the online dating world. But more about that later.
The predominate site I used was Match.com. I know it has its issues and concerns, but it ultimately worked for me, so keep that thought in mind. So the first thing I would see was the photo. Because a man doesn't have to worry about makeup, he's already ahead of us women. But there's the balding thing. Me, I'm a big lover of the shaved head, the balding head. I've always thought it was a fabulous route, the way to go--go with nature, I say. Men, god bless them, can bald with societal blessing though maybe not their own. So that's not the issue. It's the other non-baldness routines: the comb over, the toupee. Or the ponytail--long on bottom, none on top.These aren't always easy to see in photos, and truthfully, hair is no marker of a man not my true love, so I tried to overlook all these things.
But once I met a man in the Starbucks in Lafayette, and not only was his hair not his own, his photo was at least twelve years older than he was. I know because he told me the shots were taken before his twelve-year-old son was born. He then proceeded to tell me about all the medications he was on, adding in that he was looking mostly for a mother of his child. Then he excused himself to go to the bathroom because his diuretic had kicked in.I should have paid more attention to the photo, clearly.
The devil might be in the details, but no one says the truth in them. Weight? Forget about it. Most people put in the weight they want to weigh rather than what the scale says. Workout routine? Everyone on the planet seems to work out 5-7 times a day. Most everyone has an athletic build. No one ever says they suffer from depression or trichomilomania or cultural ennui. No one says they have rage, jealousy, or passive aggressive tendencies. There is nothing in the ads that can help you see the problems you will have two weeks after the first date.
What did I lie about? I’ll tell you. I took off five pounds, added a half an inch to round up. I didn’t mention my abandonment issues. I clicked on divorced instead of separated (and now I know the deep differences between the two states. Sure you can say you are divorced after leaving your husband a month ago, but you are lying to yourself and everyone around you). I wrote pretty much that I am carefree and lighthearted, and if you’ve been reading this blog, you probably realizedthose qualities might be on the top layer, if that.
I lied, too, just like the guy with the toupee. Just like my married “boyfriend,” just like the guy who had to meet far from his home town (hmm, let’s see, was he married, too?). Just like the guy who said he worked out 7 days a week and carried a lovely little basketball over his belt. So many lies, but what it all boiled down to was everyone wanted someone to be the one to stay with for a while, a short time or long time or forever. Lying is about need.
But here are things you can look for to avoid meeting, say, half of the liars. If anyone says he or she lives with roommates and you are over, say, the age of thirty-five, click away and go back to writing your novel. Jobs? It’s good to have one. Self-employed is one of those new euphemisms for jobless. How many times has he been married? Or has he not been married? That is something to consider. I actually went on a date with a gay man. God knows what he was doing to us and to himself. I still believe his sister or mother put him on the site and he didn’t have the heart to break it to them that a woman wasn’t his cup of tea. He probably had to give a report because he took my photo with his camera. Photos are best scrutinized carefully, and not for looks but for poses. Is there a naked male torso shot? Pass on by quickly. Are there photos of dogs (his, presumably), trees, mountains? You have to ask yourself why not shots of him. Maybe he doesn’t want you to really know. You have to decide if you are willing to take the risk.
I hate to be superficial, but those first impressions count. I am willing to overlook a myriad of flaws as I have them myself, but things that are obvious and pronounced (maybe a 100 extra pounds) need to be declared. One of the bravest men I met during my dating time was a 400 pound man at a speed dating event. There he was, going from table to table, talking up a storm, laughing, happy. While I did not agree to see him again, I bet someone did. He was nice and nice goes a long way, especially because he was honest and said just by showing up, “Here’s what I look like. Here’s what you get.”
One day, a man wrote to me while I was writing, working hard to meet a deadline. I was extremely busy that month and sort of put him off. I was writing and teaching and traveling, but he kept writing back, despite my one line replies. I’d just gotten over dating a man with about five recognized psychiatric afflictions, and wasn’t too eager to jump back into the dating life.
But he kept writing, and, readers, I married him. Okay, no I didn’t. I stole that line. I’m a liar, I told you. But I am living with him. No lie.
Causes Jessica Inclán Supports
Women for Women International Goodwill Industries Lindsey Wildlife Museum Freecycle.org