I remember the night vividly. It was a weekend in December right before the holiday and my friends, their husbands and I got together for our annual Christmas dinner. We typically celebrate at a local restaurant and this year would be my first time without my husband. I remember being seated and the waiter coming up to me and saying, “Should I wait to take everybody’s order until your husband arrives?” At that very moment I felt defeated. I was fed up being alone everywhere I went; fed up staying at home alone on a Saturday night staring at the walls and wondering if this would be what my life was going to be like forever. I was mad, sad, angry, but most of all, determined. It was at that moment that I looked up and said to the waiter, “You’re going to be waiting a really long time.”
After that night I mustered up the courage to start an account on an online dating site. This stepping stone was a very depressing and overwhelming one for me because I remember how bad I used to feel for my single friends trying to look for love and companionship online. I thought the whole notion of online dating was scary because according to my single friends all you needed to do was swipe right and you could end up in bed with someone. What happened to dating and courtship? Was I that much under a dating rock that I missed something along the way? And the choices were endless: Tinder, Bumble, EHarmony, Match, JDate, Zoosk, Elite Singles, the list just went on and on and on.
I set up my profile on a fairly reputable site that many of my single friends (who were my age) had success in finding good matches. Once I went live the flood gates opened. I was receiving between 10-15 “smiles” a day. Smiles on this particular site are ways that men contact you wanting to know more about you. It sounds fun, but it’s like finding a needle in a haystack. Between the men who were wearing clown noses (I’m not kidding) to those who posted pictures of themselves from 20 years ago, the pickings were slim and discouraging, to say the least.
After scouring through a few I contacted one guy who seemed to be pretty normal. We struck up a great conversation and then it happened. I received an attachment via text and it was a picture of his penis. Later I was told the slang term for this was “Dick Pic.” This is a thing. And apparently in the online world of dating this is somewhat of a routine thing. Call me prude, call me old-fashioned, call me whatever you want, this was not normal to me at all. Not only was it not normal to me, but he neglected to take the date stamp off the picture which read 10-11-15. Not only did I receive a “dick pic” but a recycled one at best. I felt like I needed to take a shower because to me it was worse than stepping in dog poop.
A few days later I received a smile from an incredibly good looking man. I checked out his profile and he seemed to be smart, successful and he showed an interest in me. I agreed to meet him for lunch and we hit it off right away. He was charming, handsome, incredibly intelligent and all of the post-traumatic dick pic visions in my brain suddenly disappeared. I agreed to go out on a second date with him and it was even better than the first. After I got home, I received a text telling me that he felt an innate responsibility to love, cherish and respect me just as much (if not more) than my late husband. I then immediately checked my stove to make sure there weren’t any rabbits boiling in a pot. I couldn’t run fast enough away from this person.
On my third date I went to dinner with a very nice man who seemed to have a good head on his shoulders and was pleasant to talk to. He proceeded to tell me that he doesn’t like to spend money and feels that the less people have the happier they will be. He also felt that vacationing was a waste of money and also proceeded to tell me that his car had close to 350,000 miles on it and he refused to buy another one as long as it kept running. While I was listening all I could envision were all of the fun memories my late husband and I made during our 7 years together: Maui 3 times, Mexico 3 times, Miami twice, New Orleans, New York City, Scottsdale, Nashville, Montana, Tahoe, a cruise to the Bahamas, Las Vegas on a whim and endless, spontaneous road trips and lake trips. Did this guy realize who he was talking to? I couldn’t wait to high-tail it out of there and plan my next vacation.
In all fairness I have met some very nice men through the online dating scene but they just weren’t worth spending quality time with. Maybe it’s still too soon, but I just want to have that companionship back that I miss with the opposite sex. I want someone who can wear his ballcap backwards at a baseball game and in the same breath can clean up nice and enjoy a night at the theater or a wine tasting tour. I want someone who is going to take charge, someone who is going to tell ME where we’re going on a date instead of asking me what I want to do. I want someone who is going to call me out when I’m being difficult and appreciates when I do the same. I want someone who is spontaneous and who isn’t afraid to live. Unfortunately, that person isn’t alive anymore but his spirit is in my heart forever. I may end up being alone for the rest of my life because I have a tall order that needs to be filled, and it’s tough to be damned-near next to perfect. I need to be open to change when it comes to being with someone who I know will never take the place of my husband. I need to appreciate what people have to offer and accept this “new normal” I’ve been thrown into. But you have my word: I’ll never swipe right and I’ll never date someone who sends pics of their genitalia. Call me crazy, but this hopeless romantic will stay true to her values, even if it means being alone for the rest of my life.