My friends all said it was too soon. They warned me about my vulnerable heart condition and raped emotions and waggled fingers in my face with “Give it a little more time” admonitions. My ex and I were separated six months before he made the decision to proceed with a divorce, so it had actually been over a year since I’d considered us together. In my mind, I was healed. I completed a six-week Divorce Care class, and it was very helpful. All of us Divorce Care graduates bonded nicely, had a celebratory potluck at the end and hugged each other good-bye. I was ready to get back out there and spread my healed little wings. The only problem was the shortage of men around here. At least the ones that were not married, ugly, broke or old.
I decided during my Divorce Care lessons to make a list of qualities that I most desire in a potential spouse. I worked on this quite a while. In fact I prayed over it. This is excellent progress for a woman like me. I had determined to be objective, and only date those men that possess the qualities on my list. Perhaps this way, I reasoned, I would not be attracted to idiots.
I am not the best judge of character, I know this about myself. Many women have shared with me that they are confused too, and have ended up in marriages that are awful and they don’t even know how they got there. Well, I do. Stupidity. Can’t see the forest for the trees, and all that. After my last husband, Jackson, turned out to be seriously strange, I determined to never date a man unless he 1) possesses all the qualities on my list and 2) does not exhibit addictive traits and 3) I get to see how he treats his mother and service people in retail stores and restaurants. I think if I’d had my eyes focused on these things and not his cute little grin and tight jeans and the fact that he held five state records for running I could have made a decision that was objective and mature and God-focused when he asked me to marry him after a few months. Okay, well, a few months is not long enough, but how did I know? I know now. I do.
THE FIRST STEP
I am not sure what led me to dating websites. Maybe it was a pop-up I couldn’t resist. Maybe a friend whispered her online success. I eventually cruised a few and stumbled upon that magic, no-strings-attached free trial period.
The free trial period enables hapless millions of singles access to the partner of their dreams, compartmentalized in tiny squares that include photos and personal essays. I could not believe it. A veritable sea of men! Anonymously! Seven days at no charge! I distinctly remember glancing furtively over my right shoulder and then my left in the semi-darkness of the upstairs landing where my computer desk was located; as if someone was going to catch me doing this. It felt like I was viewing porn, even though I was determined to use only Christian dating sites. Okay, it felt like righteous porn.
And so it began. I softly massaged the keys as I put in the information to get this ‘trial’ thing going. My heart was hammering in my chest. I resisted the urge to lock the front door, but I kept glancing downstairs. Who was going to accuse me? My kids were firmly entrenched in college an hour away; and my cat was purring contentedly by my chair. I shook my head, smiled and kept going. I thought to myself ‘must be a generation thing.’ I mean, I am almost 50 and who does this at my age?’ I convinced myself that I was a huge risk-taker and young at heart and kept stroking away, finally reaching the part about highly personal details like age, race; that sort of thing. My hands paused delicately over the keyboard as my thoughts jerked to the reality of my age. Didn’t everyone tell me I looked a good ten years younger than I was? Why should I reveal my advanced years when the photos I would load on the site would be so very small and outrageously flattering. Maybe I would even use that Glamour Shot I had taken a few years, well okay, ten…ago. I was momentarily stumped. I put my hands in my lap and thought about this. On one hand, it was great to present myself well (conveniently forgetting about the THAT IS A LIE part) on the other hand, if an internet buddy-thing off these dating sites actually progressed to a personal meeting…then what? A conundrum. I sighed and decided the truth was always best and cocked a cute look upwards at God who I am sure was very proud of me at that moment. I forged ahead until it said ‘you are now forty percent finished. Congratulations!’ I perked up a little in my chair and smiled. This trial period thing seemed to be going well. Along with personal introspection, I was also being encouraged and complimented at each step. After a long and debilitating divorce, complete with exhaustive counseling, startling discoveries and outright rejection; this exercise made me feel valued. Loved, even. I attacked the personal essays with fresh vigor.
The next directive I encountered felt incredibly intimidating. And this particular little information box was routine fare on each site I would embrace over the years. Every time I had to stop and think really hard.
“Tell us a little about yourself.”
Give me some structure, rein it in, ask me what I do for a living, but do NOT give me open-ended evaluation questions that beg me to regurgitate my deepest desires, hopes, dreams and fears and wad myself up in a little ball that encompasses about 35 lines of type. Being the woman I am, type-A gregarian…I could not condense myself into this box. I tried. I tried valiantly. But it was a debilitating experience. I finally got sleepy after spending a couple hours trying to represent myself as honestly and cunningly as possible, and I needed help downloading my photos, so I quit and went to bed, acres of perfect, special men dancing in my head.
The next day at my office I mentioned to one of my special very-close-only -when-we-are-at-work friends that I had attempted the online dating thing. I spoke in guarded and hushed tones, glancing down the hallway in each direction. She listened attentively, smiling, stirring her coffee and formulating a response. She was about the same age as me, so I figured her response would give me some insight about how under wraps I should keep my new pasttime. I waited with a tiny bit of anguish, still suffering from the immense need to please everyone, even though I have had years of therapy. My brow furrowed and I could not look her in the eye as she chewed on her lower lip thinking about what to say.
“Well, lots of people are doing that nowadays,” she finally responded.
Innocuous and non-committal, I thought. “Yeah.” I smiled, braver now. At least it was not the horrified, ‘YOU ARE SUCH AN IDIOT!’ for which I was completely prepared. “Thought I might give it a whirl. It’s free, anyway. I haven’t paid anything, it’s a seven-day trial period.” As if this would assuage any doubts she might have, right? Anything free must be good and okay and acceptable.
She nodded. “How much does it cost after the trial period?”
I blanched. I hadn’t even noticed the overall cost of the thing, so intent was I on filling out the question-boxes. I thought this truly must be the start of something huge, as the cost of something was always of utmost importance to me. I looked down at my feet and muttered, “I am not sure.”
She shrugged. “Hey, try it and if you like it, cool. Maybe you’ll meet someone. But I have heard horror stories. Haven’t you heard horror stories?” She cocked her head and slitted her eyes and looked at me sideways, sipping her coffee.
I nodded in the affirmative, but I figured I better hightail it back to my desk before I
got infected with her negativity. I kept telling myself before I even started…’It’s just a
tool, it’s just a tool, it’s just a tool…’ but still. There were horror stories. I decided not to respond to her comment. I glanced at my watch and tried to appear distracted, conveniently noting that I was expecting a call at my desk and bid her farewell. I shot back to my desk, shivering a little. Close call. But I was still ‘all in.’
True story or not....just wanted to let you know that I know personally 2 people that have used the on-line dating and one of them met and married; still together after 6 yrs. The other has met a person that has the same interest and they seem to be getting along fine....just getting to know each other. It has not been long enough to develop anything further. I pray (if that is what you really want) God will bring the right partner across your path and when HE does, you will know it. God Bless you in your search.
Interesting. My sister and my brother-in-law met and got married through a Christian site and they are both happily married now, the same with the few couples who gave their testimonies on CBN Asia about how they met on-line through these sites (Christian). Like
Isaac and Rebekkah, God still brings two people together for His purpose. Some sites are also for prayers and encouragement.