OK, now we’ve come to the part that really makes me nervous. First, I kind of feel bad telling stories about other people on the internet, even though you almost certainly don’t know Mr.-Whatever-Month. Plus, I’m not only sharing these guys’ bad behavior with you…but I’m confessing that my own behavior is embarrassing at times, too! On that note…I’d like you to meet Mr. February.
I made the decision to give online dating another shot back in January. I reactivated a couple of old profiles, went out-of-town, and kind of forgot about it. When I finally had a moment to begin checking out my responses, I was pretty shocked when I realized one of my matches was a guy I already knew. In REAL LIFE. Wow! Who knew this could be so easy.
online dating experiment search for Mr. Right seemed like it was off to a great start. Mr. February and I were coworkers many years ago, and while we hadn’t seen each other in a few years, we’d kept up on Facebook pretty regularly and I knew he was recently divorced. Since I already knew he wasn’t a serial killer or a stalker, we quickly began communicating “offline” and made plans to meet up for dinner and see if there was any “chemistry” there. After all, even though we always got along really well, the whole time I’d known him he’d been engaged and then married. I’d never considered the possibility of being more than friends. We had a great talk over the phone and we exchanged flirty text messages in the days leading up to our big date. I was really looking forward to it, because I knew he was a great guy and at the very least we’d have plenty to catch up on. It wouldn’t be one of those awkward first dates with a stranger where you really don’t know what to say to each other. At the very least it would allow me to gently ease back into dating, like taking a dip in the kiddie pool rather than diving straight into the deep end.
We did have a dinner free of awkward silences at a Mexican restaurant, followed by a trip to Target so I could buy toilet paper. He very romantically carried my TP to the car for me in the rain. You know, how all true love stories begin. Now, was I ready to plan my wedding after this first date? No. I hadn’t been on a date in
a long time (I would tell you exactly how long, but I don’t know if we are that close yet). Everything just felt weird at first, not to mention the fact that I attended his wedding several years earlier! At first, my brain seemed to have a little trouble flipping the switch that it was OK to like him like that. We hung out once or twice a week, and talked or texted almost every day for about a month. I was still trying to figure out exactly how I felt about him-we always had a great time together, and I always looked forward to hearing from him or seeing him. But I had a few concerns, and after being single for so long I wasn’t ready to rush into anything that I wasn’t sure about. But I was starting to feel that there could be some real potential-after all, he seemed to have the major qualities I was looking for in a guy.
Despite my reluctance to define the relationship (DTR) a few times when it came up, he seemed willing to be patient. (Side note: How soon do you define these things nowadays anyway? Please feel free to give me your opinion.) I knew he must really like me because he even came over and hung out with me when I was super sick (snotty, gross, must-have-box-of-tissues-at-all-times-sick). He texted me one night (while I was still home with the plague) that he was babysitting a coworker’s kid and they were at McDonald’s. God, he was never hotter to me than when I read that (I know, I’m strange…random acts of kindness are a turn-on). I mean, how many guys would spend their evening doing something that selfless? Strangely enough, it felt like a tipping point in my feelings for him…I couldn’t wait to get rid of the sickness so I could see him again! I felt like things were really going to start moving forward. I might just let this guy be my boyfriend, after all.
Which of course meant that our “relationship” (or whatever we were doing, since I hadn’t wanted to label it yet) was about to come to a screeching halt. The next night, he texted me that he missed me (aww)- since I’d been so sick and we hadn’t seen each other all week. And then…crickets. Within less than 24 hours, a definite shift was taking place. It was the craziest thing. He would respond to my texts, but the responses were brief and came more slowly than usual. And, he wasn’t trying to make plans to see me. He claimed to be “busy” at work. I suspected he met someone else (during all that free time he had when I was sick, probably)- that was the only thing that seemed to explain why his feelings changed so quickly. Why else would he go from missing me, to avoiding contact with me and making up lame excuses for it? I sent him this short email since he wasn’t really responding to my texts- “Hi Mr. February, Since I haven’t heard from you lately, I assume you don’t want to go out anymore. Let me know if I’m wrong. Miss July.” I waited about a week, and after no further communication, I sent him a longer email. To sum it up, I politely (because that’s how we do it here in the South) told him he sucked for not having the balls to admit that he’d probably met someone else/just didn’t like me anymore/whatever, that there was no reason why two old friends (ten years!) who dated for a month shouldn’t continue to be friends, he was frankly too old to just pull the disappearing act, and this is no way to treat a friend. That will get to him, right? WRONG. Still no response. At this point, I’m calling all my girlfriends to rant, steaming mad. This “man” is 37 years old. He has a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy (yes, seriously). And he can’t tell a girl he doesn’t want to go out with her anymore? What the hell?!? Shockingly immature.
While I was pretty stunned to get the sudden disappearing act, both because I thought he was really into me and because I expected more mature behavior from him-I obviously dodged a bullet. If you are not comfortable telling me something that is, well, uncomfortable, how will we communicate about more complicated issues on down the line? Life is messy and relationships are tricky. We’re going to have uncomfortable conversations sometimes. Seriously, why are guys so afraid to tell a girl they don’t want to see her anymore? After a month? It’s not like you are breaking up with me after a year or anything- I’m going to be disappointed, but I’m not invested to the point of devastation, either. What are you so afraid of? You really just can’t bear the thought of “hurting my feelings?” Give me a break. Disappearing is a selfish way to end a relationship-the only person’s feelings you are trying to spare are your own.
So, look, guys, there are a variety of totally legit reasons you may not want to date me anymore, which you may realize after two weeks, a month, or maybe even just a couple of dates. Maybe I’m too “intimidating.” Our religious/political beliefs don’t jive. I don’t like beer. My butt’s too big. I listen to too much Taylor Swift. I can’t connect a bat and a baseball to save my life. We all have our deal-breakers. Can’t you just be a grown-up and tell me you don’t feel a connection and wish me luck? It’s not that hard. Be honest, and I will respect you. We won’t have to pretend we don’t see each other or have a super awkward conversation if we run into each other at Starbucks-because this town ain’t that big, and we will run into each other. So, you don’t have to be mean about it, but not telling me anything IS being mean about it, and I think that’s what you were trying to avoid. Loser.