Love Lessons: My Quest to Find Mr. Right Goes Online
I wish so badly that I could meet my husband in the cantaloupe aisle at the grocery store. I would drop a melon by his foot, and we would knock heads trying to pick it up. I would also like to meet him on a romantic run on the beach. Mesmerized by the sunset, I wouldn't see him, and we would bump shoulders as we passed each other. “Oh, I’m so sorry,” I would say. And as the sun glistens on my teeth, he would fall in love.
I also want to re-enact the scene from Sex and the City where Charlotte stumbles in the street and Trey picks her up. But at age thirty-five, I’m beginning to realize none of these scenarios are likely to happen. I’ve accepted that my one and only will not knock on my door and shout, “I’m here!”
So I’ve decided to try online dating.
I know I am not alone in wishing that I didn’t have to post pictures of myself online boasting of my education and love for foreign films. I also know I am ready for a relationship, and I need to make more of an effort to put myself out there. I want to open myself up to meeting as many commitment-ready men as possible.
My last relationship changed my life. He treated me badly. We yelled a lot. I turned into a shell of my former self, and then he moved to another country. Over the past four years, I found self-love for the first time, got my graduate degree, traveled the world, changed careers, wrote a book, and moved from San Francisco to Santa Monica. I have never felt so full and happy with my life, and I know I will be a better partner because of this.
The first date is always the worst. I don’t know what to wear. I don’t know if I should pull my hair back or leave it down straight. I was already nervous when he (we will call him Poindexter) called and asked if I wanted to go to coffee. We met on eHarmony, and after answering dozens of questions back and forth, I felt like I knew quite a bit about him. Poindexter is the nerdy, but sexy guy. He came across as kind, creative, and well-adjusted. The thought of meeting him felt good.
Poindexter suggested we meet at this café in Beverly Hills, and I Googled the directions. I still don’t really know the area, so I figured seven miles would take maybe fifteen minutes? Eighteen stop lights later, I realized my new city was already in the process of eating me alive. I texted Poindexter, apologized, and told him I would be a few minutes late. He wrote back and said he found a table at the back of the café.
When I got there (about 8 minutes late), I apologized again and sat down. We sipped coffee and talked about our lives and careers. He seemed nice and interesting, just like online. I wasn’t dying to kiss his face off, but I’m not looking for that crazy adrenaline rush anymore. I want the real thing, and I realize now that the real thing takes time to grow. I did find Poindexter attractive, and I thought our exchange flowed naturally, until the alarm on his phone started ringing.
We had literally been sitting there for 25 minutes when he said, “Oh, I set that alarm to remind myself that my parking meter is about to be up.” Naturally, I thought he would get up to go fill the meter again, but he didn’t. After a couple of minutes, I asked if he needed to go put more quarters in, and he said no. “I have to go pick up my dog,” he told me. So I sucked down my coffee, walked out with him, and said goodbye. I thought he would apologize for the speed date and ask me out for real, but he didn’t. He said, “Well I am going to be crazy busy over the next couple of weeks, but lets keep in touch.”
I felt so puzzled walking away. I even ducked into an Anthropologie clothing store to look in the mirror and make sure I didn’t have a milk mustache or something. I didn’t. I thought I looked great. I sat in a gigantic fluffy chair in the middle of the store and wondered if I did something wrong. Did I say something stupid? How could I have done anything in 25 minutes? Maybe he has a rule about punctuality?
Here's what I learned:
It isn’t about me. I felt mad for about three minutes and then remembered that the world doesn’t revolve around me. I will never know why he left so quickly, and I can’t let it get me down. I asked questions, and really listened to what Poindexter had to say. I took the time to go and meet him, and that is all I can do. Sometimes it’s really difficult not to look in the mirror and search for that milk mustache. We think if we can figure out what we did wrong, then the situation will make more sense to us. In reality, it doesn’t matter. If he didn’t like that I prefer Star Trek: The Next Generation to the original series, then so be it. If my roots need to be dyed more than I thought, then so be that too. I can’t control how he perceived me. So I let it go, and spent 285-dollars on vintage blouses and coats.
What do I want? Hours later, it occurred to me that I never asked myself how I felt about Poindexter. I put all of my energy into trying to guess what he thought of me and never considered my own feelings. Did I even like Poindexter, or did I just want the satisfaction of hearing him ask me out again? When I got honest with myself, I realized Poindexter’s spark didn’t shine very bright. A layer of sadness actually seemed to float around him like fog. I think I am best suited for someone who feels the joy that I do, so I guess I didn’t really lose anything after all. Plus, let's face it: him leaving like that and spending less time with me than it took for me to drive there, was kind of rude. What kind of time would I get for dinner -- a 40-minute block maybe?
Next! When I got home, I found five more guys requesting to communicate with me online. The emails felt like a sweet reminder to keep trying. My friend Shannon always says, “NEXT!” When I hear that in my head, I smile and trust that the right person for me is out there. I haven’t found him yet, because I haven’t been ready. I am ready now, and whether it is in that cantaloupe aisle, volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club, or through online dating, I have faith that I will find the right person for me eventually.
Michelle Kennedy is a writer and lecturer in the Multimedia Communications Department at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. She lives in Santa Monica and commutes to San Francisco once a week.