After college I floundered a bit, not sure what to do or where to go next. Finally I settled into a job that was just perfect for me, about a half a day’s drive from where I grew up. I was excited. A new city for me to explore, and new people to meet.
Only, the city wasn’t that big, and it didn’t have that many people my age. I met regularly with a young singles group, but wasn’t too excited about what I saw. I was discouraged. Still, I wasn’t one to give up. “I’ll give it two years,” I told myself. Really, I was here for the job.
But in the evenings and on the weekends, what would I do? I made some girl friends, and we did stuff together. I joined the gym. I tried to fill up my life, but it felt like something was missing. A boyfriend (or at least guys to date) is what I was really looking for.
That’s when I decided to try online dating.
At first I dismissed the thought–after all, it was 2002 and while online dating was gaining in popularity, there was still that stigma of, “You’re just giving up if you have to date online.” I ignored it. And if you are hearing those types of messages from people, then maybe you should ignore them, too.
For me, online dating turned out to be the opposite from giving up. When I chose to try it, I was doing something more.
The nice thing about online dating was, I was in charge. I could search for the guys I wanted, in the area I wanted. Nobody in my “real life” knew I had this side thing going. To me, that was appealing. My little secret, as it were. A place to meet new people and try new things.
I was young and thin and brand new on one particular dating site, so I got a lot of flirts and smiles, or whatever else you call them. It was flattering, but really only if the person seemed “normal,” aka their profile picture looked decent, and their description seemed to describe someone with some intelligence and common sense.
That’s one of the downers of online dating–you are exposed to a lot of very odd or “interesting” people. It’s sort of like going to a county fair, or the DMV. Sure, there are normal people there, but you have to wade through the less normal ones first. The ones you really want to talk to seem so hidden.
But I trudged ahead. I found the whole idea of online dating sorta fun. An adventure. At least, more adventurous than my current real life outside of work.
In real life, talking to random guys was not something I did, or at least did well. I had been shy growing up, and I was often tongue tied. I think that was part of the appeal of online dating–I wasn’t actually talking. I was typing. I had a few moments to come up with something to “say” to the other person. You see, I was a working for a publishing company as an editor/writer. Writing words was what I did and loved.
So this online dating thing came pretty naturally to me. As I got to know a bunch of guys and had fun chatting, I gained confidence. Many of them were too far away to meet, although I did become friends with one and even edited a manuscript he wrote.
I did the online dating thing for about six months. In that time, I learned a lot about myself. I learned that I was capable of capturing a guy’s attention, I learned it wasn’t that hard to meet new people, and I became more hopeful that there was someone out there for me.
This emerged in my real life as well. I had more confidence than ever, and finally I wasn’t afraid to talk to new people or even be a little flirty. In the process, I met a guy in real life who didn’t strike my fancy at first, but as I got to know him, we fell in love.
That’s when I quit online dating.
So maybe I didn’t actually go out with or end up with someone directly through online dating … but because of online dating, I developed the skills that would help me meet and fall in love in real life.
What can online dating do for you?