Going on dates is like going on auditions. I run around my apartment like Jojo the Circus Clown looking for the perfect outfit. I meticulously paint my face to the point where I feel I’m qualified to star in a Lancome commercial.
I run out the door early (which is unheard of for me). On my last pass by the mirror, I tell myself, “You should make yourself look this good every day.” Then of course, I go back to getting ready in forty minutes, because who is taking two hours every time? Come on.
On my way to the audition, I practice my lines and promise to react and ask questions. Sometimes when I get there, I fumble my words. Other times, the date is so easy, I don’t feel like I’m thinking at all. Sometimes the casting director seems impatient, or a phone alarm goes off at the table, and my date says he has to go pick up his dog.
Occasionally, I leave the audition walking on air. I am sure my most authentic self shined through. Other times, I feel insecure about my performance. I call my friends/agent to debrief. They reassure me. They also tell me to be patient, and wait for the call back that will most certainly come. I hate waiting for that call back. In my experience, it comes on the dates/auditions I think I bombed and doesn’t come on a lot of the ones I’m sure I nailed.
As my quest to find true love continues, I have two updates to share. The first is dedicated to my friend Shannon who found a website a very eligible San Francisco bachelor established in hopes of finding true love. The premise of the site is this hip, 41-year old advertising executive, who we shall call Chester, asks that people submit their single best girl friends to him as potential soul mates. So Shannon emailed a wonderful description of me that practically made me cry, and Chester bit. He emailed me, and we met at a pub in San Francisco.
Chester was tall, smart, and the most professional “dater” I have ever met. He asked all the right questions, remained totally engaged, and never checked his phone. He also admitted that over the course of the last year he’d received thousands of submissions and went on dozens (maybe even hundreds) of dates. I wondered as I sat there getting to know Chester if the process had become like some sort of a machine for him. I enjoyed his company, but didn’t know where the routine stopped, and he began.
As Chester walked me to my train, I wondered if he would suggest another meeting. The second my foot neared the platform, he gave me a half hug and said he had a great time. Chester then pivoted and walked away into the night. I wasn’t feeling a love connection, but had a good time. He never called, and I didn’t care because I had another date lined up the following Sunday.
Sheldon approached me through EHarmony. Brawny and deep voiced, the actor moved to Los Angeles from the Midwest fifteen years ago. We emailed several times, talked on a Monday and agreed to meet the following Sunday. Sheldon said he would call by the end of the week to finalize the details of our date. That call never came. When Sunday rolled around, I figured he’d changed his mind, forgot, or broke his larynx falling down a cliff.
On Sunday night, as I enjoyed Italian food at a friend’s birthday dinner, I noticed a new voicemail on my phone. The voicemail said, “Hi Michelle, it’s Sheldon. I’m just checking in to see if you still wanted to maybe meet next week some time. Give me a call.” My summation is he either lives on Mars, or is juggling so many different women he didn’t remember? I know I am making assumptions, but come on. You forgot our first date? Really?
Here is what I continue to learn:
Expect nothing. I think it is realistic to understand that especially with online dating, you never know what you are going to get. You can email back and forth for weeks, and think he is going to be the man of your dreams, and then he disappears. You have to hope for the best, and assume that the worst could happen too. This realization is not me being jaded; it is me basing myself in reality and not some fantasy world where everything goes exactly as I think it should.
Find the right balance. A friend of mine wrote an analogy on my Facebook wall about mining for gold and all the time we spend mining (looking for love) that could be spent simply enjoying our lives. While I understand her point, I don’t see it that way. I think it’s possible to find a balance between living our lives and dating. I think we can enjoy dating and getting to know different people, without letting the process consume us.
Be proud. Upon posting my last blog on MariaShriver.com, I received so many emails from people thanking me for starting a dialog about online dating. For some reason, there is still a whole lot of shame associated with it. I don’t think there should be. There is a difference between loving yourself enough to open your heart, and crying every night because you are looking for someone to fill your voids. I think it is important to fill those voids with self-love and a full life. When a loving partner will finally be a beautiful compliment to your life, why not tell the world that you want to find that person? There is such a difference between searching for a partner to make your life, and searching for a partner to make it more wonderful. I think when we truly understand the distinction between the two, we should be proud to admit it.
Obviously, I haven’t struck gold yet, but I’m hopeful, and at least both of my feet are finally in the water.