When I was young, as many others did, I had created a list of “wants” from a significant other. While this seemed to work when I was 14, as I got older I realized this was a really poor way to approach dating. I guess I figured “must have beaten the third stage of the fourth boss in my favorite video game” was a bit too unrealistic.
So what better place to explore the “no expectations” ideal than online dating. Oh the irony. Online dating is starting to look to me more and more like a dating 101 class than actually meeting people to form a real relationship.
I mean between figuring out how to end poor dates without excuses, learning the different sub genres of people and personalities, and actually enjoying yourself, you have to battle through those who are using the tiny semblance of anonymity provided by these sites to boost their egos, recover from breakups, or feel they are not worthy of another counterpart due to a self perceived flaw.. so you start to subconsciously make that list again!
But unlike childhood we aren’t writing these down, making some sort of crayola version of an excel sheet to keep track, we are just experiencing it on every date we go on and either smiling or cringing when it happens.
All the different parts of people, their voices, their personalities, their likes, dislikes, outdoorsy, indoorsy, drug use, animals, kids, social skills, their height, their body size, their smile, lips, sexual compatibility, smell, pheromones, 2d pictures vs 3d in person… That silly list you had as a child starts to become a real thing but this time with dislikes, likes, loves, and deal-breakers. Yes deal-breakers are a thing, that one thing that you can literally breath out and say, “phew I don’t have to talk to 5 people at once and just 4 now that I realized this person has a deal-breaker.”
What I am starting to realize is there is a lot more that needs to match up for a match that can bring me happiness, problem is there is really no way to expedite the process. We have to experience multiple dates with these people in order to get past intuition and actual application in real life scenarios. I didn’t realize someone I liked was extremely racist until we went out for the third time and I almost crawled under the table as she berated the Chinese waitress for not speaking perfect English.
Each person we date or are attracted to usually has one or two of these things we have been adding to this fictitious list, but not all of them, making us feel unsatiated, thus afterwards deciding to move on. Not only the good but we are adding the bad too. So as we date more we are checking things off the list but simultaneously and maybe even subconsciously adding them. Because the difference is night and day when we meet someone with 90% of our indescribable experience list… Even the smallest thing like the sound of someone’s voice can have a huge impact.
Is the massive amount of dates just making us numb to seeing what is right in front of us? Or worse yet are we piling onto a metaphorical list through jaded dates? Are we putting more value on the bad than the good? It is like after each date we are rebounding and the next person who is the opposite of the last date just jumped up the list because we aren’t seeing the things that may be even worse for us.
I guess I am still a romantic at heart though as Because even with this happening when I run across someone who breaks the mold of the categories and sub-genres I have put people into.. Someone whose voice makes me nervous I might stumble my own words but feeling comfortable enough to do so and makes me feel insecure and vulnerable from the chance that they not feel the same way… Well if you can embrace it, it is truly amazing.
I am online for dating because I believe in the idea that technology can help us to skip some of the less desirable parts of “meeting” and truly make great connections. If we don’t invest some time into an honest profile, aren’t we just showing our faces for a physical attraction and then drudging through figuring out what in the profile was real or a boasted version of self? How does this differ than going to a bar? We have so much more control over our “self” on these sites than we admit to and I feel like it is time we start acting on it.
But for now the list grows, changes, gets marked up, folded, bookmarked, highlighted, and the like. I cannot wait for the day that I can tear it to shreds and start actually diving into the real fun: Love.
It is so incredibly complicated getting to the second date these days. The rules of “3 days before a call” have long been muddied, if not completely forgotten. Now you are faced with the dilemma of liking an Instagram photo, responding to a Facebook post, texting an indifferent message once every day or two so not to seem too interested but still interested enough until schedules line up. The balancing act of texts between multiple dates, hoping you don’t message the wrong person the wrong response, timing your texts so not to be assumed you are overbearing.
All these unspoken “rules”, impossible to master without literally not giving a shit, because texts are usually two or three lines of nothing of consequence. So you sit there looking at your time stamps and read recipes wondering if the other person
A is just not interested
B doing the same shit
C has nothing interesting to say
So you question saying hi because saying hi is so damn easy these days. Nothing rings, no running to the phone, just hit a button, tap a screen, flush, and be on your way. The amount of times someone like me who enjoys conversation and interaction gets questioned if I am overzealous is hard to count. If I am in love with you after one date, first you must be amazing beyond words for a text, and secondI woulda sent you flowers.(this is not a dead art dammit!)
(Shit having this blog makes most people assume I am obsessed with love.)
This period between date one and maybe even three or four is confusing, judgmental, and just plain silly. The “I had a good time with you tonight” and if you are feeling generous and not cryptic “would love to see you again” is usually the only sane text after and before date one. It happens somewhere between one and two hours after the first date ends and is usually met with an “I agree” or “me too” but it never defines when you will see the other again. So you are now wondering, should I follow up with a time, or do I wait until tomorrow since I just left. There is no more “distance” because it is so easy to talk immediately after seeing one another. Questioning your own texts perchance they will be taken out of context of trying to get to the next date sucks. Then the time between setting up a time and the date… should you send a few texts here and there to get to know them a bit more?
In my opinion we should use all these communication methods not as a label for “desperate” but a tool to transition smoothly from one date to the next. i understand some people are nuts, but isn’t that what the first date was for? You should probably have a good indication of crazy or not by now. This would allow us some time to talk a little more about our daily life that isn’t considered proper first date etiquette. But nope… We stumble and question and end up looking at a slew of texts over a period of time assuming the other person, if their texts start to amount to something more than a screen’s worth,(mind you this is still probably no more than 10 sentences on 4 inch screen), is a loser, has no other prospects, is obsessed, or likes is more than them. All of this is a false sense of balance and it blows. And remember if you see the “is typing” animation don’t text before it sends or you look too desperate… Growing up in the AIM generation doesn’t help me here haha.
Don’t even get me started on trying to call someone…..
I want to get to know someone, not based on finding the perfect outfit for a first date, and then canceling because you can’t, but on the person they are every day. I mean when they are old and I am sitting by them in a rocking chair yelling at the kids across the street or the fish in the ocean (depends on where we retire) do you think I give a shit what they wore the first time I met them? (although I will remember because I have a weird memory like that)
But it is more than that superficial part I am talking about. The real first impression, having to do with who you are, who you give off, and how your day has influenced your self at that given time.
The more first dates I go on the more I realize it is impossible to be the same “me” everytime. Sometimes I may be introspective, sometimes goofy, at times I may give off sophistication, and sometimes I just don’t want to tell you about my tattoo again. So for the person on the other end of that night, will that first impression be the “go to” moment of who I am or has social media and the “need” to stalk someone’s past after a date instead of the memory of the night just entertained, made it a moot point.
Will I no longer need to worry about that “changing schools” mentality because so much of me is engrained in an online memoir? Do those first moments slip from mind as the overwhelming amount of social media crams its way into the mind of those around you pushing out the present and consuming them with past?
Or will, as time and dates continue, my true self be a shock. As my personality progresses from one dimension to two dimensional with each encounter, does the person I met adapt or hold onto a memory of that first night when I fit the category of that specific mind set and personality associatively put forth by myself?
Someone said to me I was kinda a “smart dork”, the word smart never really registered as a descriptor I would use for self. People smart or worldy perhaps, but book smart… That would be new. But that night I knew so many random facts, I didn’t need google a damn thing haha. My mind flowed information that might make my LASIK surgery seem like a waste of money since I was being pictures with intellectual glasses on anyway.
So my thought is, does that first impression stick, as the personality we bring back into mind when shit goes wrong or things start to “change”. (Change being a poor choice of words, as it is more like the progression of pulling back the layers of someone impossible to summate in a first encounter) But do we want to live in that “first impression” to hear the songs playing or to feel the butterflies in the stomach?
Does each date, essentially boil down the rudimentary idea of changing schools. In one school you had years for people to “assume who you were”. But you change schools and you can, like a movie, reinvent your self. Eventually you, as a person comes out, but are people so used to a certain “first impression” that even that change will still be crowned with it, masking the quirks, the small bits, the layers. Will we be unable to truly see the person in front of us because our mind has, in some small way, subconsciously, fallen for that “first impression”. Yearning for it to be that simple, that complete, and not having to worry about time revealing more than we are willing to put in effort towards. Instant gratification through perception and projected assessments.
I suppose for me, recently finding love and then having it broken quicker than it was built, I can say over time it is beautiful what more impressions can do, how they can make you find the person more attractive, more exciting, more lovable. I think it is important to just put forward the face you can the day you meet, because then, no matter what, you are being who you can, and each day you continue to tell the truth, to your partner and yourself, allowing for the growth to be organic, beautiful, and comforting. To want that “first moment” back, is like asking for your virginity to be restored. Impossible, to say the least, but so much better the second time, or third, or when you truly understand and embrace a connection.
The evening started alone. Sitting at the table wanting to look busier than I was but being comfortable doing nothing all while being uncomfortable thinking I was perceived doing nothing by those around me. Holding the glowing phone up to let the world know I was not waiting alone. But being annoyed by the glow to put it down and just sit in silence. Something I don’t get a chance to do often. Sure I will sit and not speak, but at a table, outside of work, outside of my comfort zone, surrounded by the voices of others. It felt like a droning silence and it was nice. The ladies next to me talking about their day and me not having to worry about their burdens.
I looked through the menu for a little to make sure I made a good choice. The prices made my jaw drop. I can’t afford this, I can afford this, fuck why did I pick this place, knowing damn well I really wanted to eat here. Healthy organic goodness. A perfect meal for the night. But I am a starving artist, this will make a dent. Fuck it, too late now.
Back to silence amongst the murmuring voices. Texting her to take her time, saying I had gotten a table, no rush. Words I would want to hear in the same situation. Easier to comfort others than yourself of course.
Unable to figure out what we would talk about, 2 weeks had gone by since we last met, work I suppose, but how long would that last. I had forgotten what we had talked about prior. Did my attempt at a goodnight kiss make this weird? The night got to a place where I could actually just speak my mind and ask if it was weird. Turns out it was all OK. No need to analyze. My explanation of my need to hear others thoughts giving her an insight to my intense observation to that around me. Understood.
So we did talk about work for a bit, showing her a preview of my recent photos and actually explaining the reasoning was a ton of fun. No one else had seen it yet. She loved the photos I take with the dancers after each shoot, and I made my joke saying someone would probably want those for a gallery versus the ones I put so much work into… but she saw I actually was honestly thinking of including it somehow and had some great suggestions. But she also understood those photos would not exist without the wonderful rapport I built with the dancers throughout the shoot.
These moments in my weeks where I get to go out and turn my phone on silent are captivating. To get away from the glow of a screen, the reminders of an email, the chime of a text. To just use your phone as a random fact check or to remember an example. When turning your phone face down makes you feel proud versus scared you will miss something important. When the important thing is right in front of you. They give my mind a rest but not until recently was I told perhaps I wasn’t actually just enjoying the moment and being myself but putting on an act of sorts. Well turns out when I am just me, it is amazing to be disconnected from the world. “How much further can we get from nothing” where even a cloud isn’t ethereal enough.
I don’t know if it was the lack of being rushed at the restaurant. The food. The lighting. The company. Or the stories I was telling but I had a sense of complete calm that night. In a flurry of both snow and thoughts lately it was a zen calm. I talked as myself. My passion for what I do came out. My voice calmed. I was in my head speaking my heart no fears in the world. Just enjoying the company of the person across from me.
Explaining my tattoo’s meaning without saying a word. Through my stories that night and my life it brought it to fruition, no need for a “story”. It gave it its true meaning. It brought the ink alive and made it meaningful. “The Fool” made more sense than anything I have ever written or said about it. Sometimes when I write something down I have trouble re-hashing it as a story, because I feel like I wrote it better than I could tell it. But my stories that night old or new had a new sense of excitement to them. Of course I started to become nervous that I was telling a story ir-replicable if this failed and had to be retold to another, but being happy it made so much sense and brushing it off as a casualty of happiness. I can’t even write how I explained it, I would have to tell you every story in the exact same order. A once in a moment moment. 🙂
Telling deep moments and being given the chance to recall memories from the past few years that truly brought a smile to my face: directing, my dad, my life. It brought me comfort. It made me legitimately smile.
Being able to explain my life and not be judged on it but accepted for it or just listened to. Not needing to know what was in her head, because she would tell me. No deep analysis needed. No multiple thoughts within a split second as preparation for what might be said next to head off any dragons or ogres. Not having the answers was just as rewarding as having them. I like not having to constantly make eye contact during a story because I know they are listening. I disarmed myself by not feeling the need to analyse emotions, eyes, shifting, body language, I was comfortable with myself.
I left on that cold night warm and content inside and out. As I write the daily life anxieties start to return but for those two hours I had complete calm and a sense of self. It was beautiful. No expectations, no wants, just enjoying being there. It was her partly her childlike approach to dating that calmed me. It made me feel safe. I didn’t have to talk about sex, pop culture, or entertain. I just got to be me. I could stumble my words, say the wrong thing, and pause to form the words or never figure them out. It all felt comforting. That night was a good night. She opened up to me in an extremely vulnerable way and we could still carry on. Her eyes told an amazingly deep story and through the pain a deep love for herself and those around her.
The snow falling outside the windows on this “spring” evening may have contributed slightly to the mood as it was calming and slightly romantic, knowing we wouldn’t have to endure a WINTER again.
I don’t know if it was friendship or more but right then it was nice. It feels calm. And I like calm. I like being me. I like explaining the different aspects of life I have had a part in. Many people ask me so when did you fall in love with Photography. To me this is a very difficult question to answer. I don’t think there was ever a point. I am interested in many many things so even calling myself a photographer is hard for me sometimes even though it takes up 99.9 percent of my day. Ha. I just really enjoy things where I can interact with people and help to achieve things with them. Help them in their lives and mine gets brighter. When a character I direct them to be bleeds into their actual life and contributes positively, I have to call that a good day. But I am not a one trick pony, I can make a mean sauce, salad dressing, dance, sing, photograph, edit, travel, smile, laugh, cry, be sarcastic, and so much more. She seemed to understand the different aspects and enjoyed taking them all in as a first impression for a second time versus a one time “this is how it is”. I like the understanding of my choices versus the judgements. I like the outcome to not matter. I like good food. And I like sitting menus down for a good half hour before ordering.
The problem with “Prince Charming”.. he is the rebound.
He “saves” the woman, the woman is swept off her feet, falling for him and only him.
Sooner or later the Princess learns an important lesson, Prince Charming can’t actually save her from herself.
Either she realizes she needs an understanding of herself first or she will end up falling into, once upon a time again, a deep sleep in which she must once again be awoken by “Prince Charming”.
Not such a charming cycle is it?
I find myself learning more and more about my securities and defenses. I often consider myself someone without walls, which is true to a point, but then I see an act, albeit a very sincere one, being played out in front of me at times. My own mouth the main actor.
For example, if I were to explain to you my ideas of how relationships work and sharing a lot of feelings up front with no reservation, I would give you a scenario about Europe, my childhood, the way of life there, and how I was raised. This gives you context but in a roundabout way of saying my unabated thoughts on the topic. By putting it in this context I have a third degree of separation removed from the idea that you may reject my ideals and the topic at hand. I have placed them into the context of my life instead of me, as a person, in that very moment I am saying it.
On the other hand, I could tell you I think sharing a lot right away is refreshing, a breath of fresh air, and the way I expect to see things; but there is a chance I get rejected from that idea or judged. While that judgement would be an accurate way for me to assess a relationship, in a deal breaker sense, I have created these “explanations” or “stories” that one would tell their boss on a sick day, instead of just saying “I don’t want to come in today, my work is done, I need a day off”. It beats around the truth in the way a Fool jests the truth, making it acceptable to be laughed off or listened to intently. I have found the “formula” for relaying my own beliefs so that the person in front of me can be “impressed” instead of judgemental. I have figured out how to pad myself from rejection or snap judgements. While I still think there is validity in doing it this way, so you don’t get thought of as the “clingy” or “over analytical” person, it doesn’t do much to help me find the person who accepts the things the way I see them in the long run. Later on, the person could dislike the same idea I just told them while we had our first drink as I set off the pyrotechnics with flashy dance numbers. The presentation may have impressed them, but it didn’t help them to assess it for themselves, thus not allowing my own assessment to be accurate.
I get afraid of people jumping to conclusions of who I am, what I like, and how I see the world, because it is true, I do think about shit intensely, I do have a lot to give right away, but I have been privileged to so many people jumping to the conclusion that, “it is too much too soon” or “all I have to give”, that I have searched for the long winded stories that accompany my feelings, thoughts, desires, and self. It is tiring to have to accompany what could be considered a yes or no answer with notation to read chapter 3 and 4 to truly understand the meaning.
I am pressed to write out that explanation right now, to tell anyone reading this that, spending time as a child in Zurich and abroad helped me to see interpersonal relationships in a different light, to feel more connected quickly, to not be disappointed if things didn’t work out, but to be happy to meet new people and form strong bonds, to not find boobs to be shocking but a natural way of life, to sit 1 inch too close because personal space is boring. To tell you about my friends in Denmark and France that I have stronger relationships than I have with anyone here over less time because we accepted one another based off very truthful, raw, moment conversations. To explain how on Sundays every store, gas station, business is shut down, forcing people to interact, go over to friends for dinner, converse, and just focus on the social aspects of life. Giving for one day, interpersonal relationships more importance that our careers and materialistic needs. But it doesn’t help me. It helps you. It helps you to either “accept” my explanation in that moment or it confuses you because you haven’t lived in that world, therefore you accept it as my “quirk” and consider it something you will learn more about overtime. But there is no more explanation overtime, my me, my “who I am” is the same right then, as it will be two months from then, as it will be with a boss, family member, best friend, and girlfriend.
So I am learning, I am growing, and ultimately I am becoming more comfortable being me.