What happened was that he met me at my car, and I immediately knew that it was not a match. How? Why? Something in my psycho-bio-social criteria that I cannot pin down. Yes, I know that in normal circumstances, attractions develop slowly, when people are throw together often, for example, and such snap judgments could be considered unwise. But that’s not the way it can work in online dating. More than anything, from that point forward, all my efforts went toward making sure he felt comfortable and appreciated and yet not send any flirtatious signals that might make the inevitable let-down more painful, in case he still had hope.
We entered the restaurant, found our table and ordered a drink and appetizers. I felt like I was with a colleague or relative, without of course the familiarity. I regretted wearing the slightly form fitting top. I hoped he was sensitive to my perceived flaws. I wanted to be warm but not too warm interested but not to interested. I decided to up my height parameters a little, in case that was it.
This is not about describing him–that would be a breach of privacy even without identifying information. But I do want to explore the reasons for my immediate and final judgment that there would be no “chemistry” between us. And maybe find a way to make a negative first impression less likely; at least to allow a slow development of impressions; at least to learn to wait until the initial inevitable awkwardness at first meeting could wear off. Is anyone themselves in those moments? Not the self that they will be ever thereafter if allowed to continue the relationship, so how could I somehow arm myself to ignore, surmount, or at least allow the possible transformation of those instinctive feelings?
In this case I found myself unconcerned with whether he felt the same. It was irrelevant, although I would have been uncomfortable had he started to send signals of heightened interest or that he wanted to go deeper. That wasn’t his style, fortunately–I mentioned in the last post that I had appreciated his self restraint in messages; he was also somewhat careful in person. I believe he read something that showed in my eyes at our car side meeting, and that the rest was a formality, a casual conversation, respectful and without romantic potential. We talked about his work, lifestyle, literature, and a little about our former spouses.
As the alcohol in his Margarita and my cider helped us relax, the conversation at least flowed better, we laughed a little, and I can say I enjoyed the meeting of minds. The waitress at first checked in way too often, thinking we would want to order a meal. Neither of us made a move there. We mostly discussed him, but that was okay, and might have been a mutual decision. I didn’t think too much about what additional signal I’d give that this would be our last date, but then it just slipped in and was said as if by magic, and I believe in a gentle enough way. During a pause after some humorous agreement, I said, “I think we’re too alike.” He replied, “Maybe. I don’t know how any of this works.” “Me neither,” I smiled, ruefully. Then we chatted a little longer, eventually signaled the waitress, agreed to split the bill, paid, and left.
He walked me to my car, we thanked each other for being willing to meet, agreed that it had been enjoyable, and parted.
I felt both relief and regret. This is what he’d been talking about when he’d written this was so hard, and a little heartbreaking. Still, it was a good introduction for me: a caution to reign in my fantasies, not let this dating thing impact my lifestyle, and not give up, since trial and miss was part of it. Online dating a good, painful massage for the ego, I think, too. It will take courage to persist, but hope and optimism will spur me on.
I’m glad I was careful in messages not to indicate undue hope or interest, or at least show interest only in what I could actually know–what he chose to express in words, and gratitude for giving this a chance. I made mental note to adjust my dress and grooming to portray my real style but emphasize my countenance, and a little about general fitness, rather than my figure. I would not, as some would advise, wear red.
Tomorrow I have a date with a different fellow; let’s call him Match #2. There are red flags already, though not with his personality, which seems great–it’s just that I forgot about my age and height filters before liking his profile and responding to messages. That helps with keeping my expectation bubble from rising. I’ve suggested happy hour at a pub midway between our towns, again with no expectation of a long dinner or walk afterwards. He’s pretty funny, so I feel it will be comfortable, and hope for the best. My daughter thinks this one is the coolest, but I’m not really feeling it that way. Just as well, I suppose, considering the emotional roller coaster I put myself through last time.
The real challenge is corralling my thoughts about a third first Friday with Match #3, someone whose communications and photos I find more intriguing than any so far, and who has expressed the same about mine. I cancelled on someone to meet him. My main concern, if any, is the geographical distance between us. There’s also the fact that he seems to be a go, go, go extremely active guy. While I like that in the sense that in this new stage I’m wanting to explore the trails and get out biking and paddling more than I have in the past, I also know that I am very grounded in my home and garden in spring through fall, so maybe I’m not as active as this kind of guy would go for. I’m kind of testing myself by doing a lot more physical activity outings solo, and it feels great. So we’ll see.
Another reality I’ve been mulling over is that I think we fifty-somethings have in our minds a younger image of our mates than is realistic. I suspect that’s even more the case with men. We last fell in love with someone much younger. Can a fifties to sixties man accept that a woman in his age category will have crow’s feet, worry and frown lines, sags and tags and eye bags at least to some degree? I have as a caution alluded to these in my texts, but he is nonplussed. Will he be able to focus on what there is of beauty of expression, motion, character, spirit?