Dating: AKA Being Too Nice

Not a lot of people know this about me, but this year (well, these past few months) I decided to give online dating a try.  A friend of mine had been doing it for a few months and wasn't seeing much success so decided to pull me in as an objective third-party to see what parts of his profile could use some updating.  After playing around on his profile and learning how and what constitutes a good e-mail (and also being weirded out by the whole "winking" feature), I decided to go for it...what did I have to lose?

Within minutes of posting, my profile, sans photo I might add, started having the success that had alluded my friend.  Evidently this was a small pond and being female made me a big fish.  I updated my profile, adding personal information, pictures, and doing the things numerous coworkers suggested (one met his spouse through the site and the other coworker met her boyfriend of about a year on there).  And I met a lot of people.

The thing about online dating is that it's hard to shut people down.  Sure, I'd receive ridiculous messages from men twice my age and I also received the generic, "Hi, you look cool, check out my profile and let me know what you think" messages.  Those were easy to ignore.  But I also received funny, thoughtful messages from men who didn't exactly fit my preconceived notion of who I was looking for.

A gentleman who was 38 (13 years older than me for those keeping track) quoted the book that I'd mentioned last reading on my profile along with a number of kind, and insightful, questions.  I felt the need to respond because if that guy could take the time to write me, the least I could do was reply.

But when could I stop?  When was I allowed to say, thanks, but no thanks?  A lot of the guys I was messaging back and forth felt more like pen pals than potential dates.  I liked learning about them, but wasn't overly eager to meet them in person.  This was something new though, so I told myself I had to go outside my comfort zone.  So I agreed to dates with guys older than what I'd stated I was interested in, I agreed to dates with nearly every guy who mentioned my dog (because he really is the most important thing in my life), and I agreed to dates to just be nice in general...because it's hard to connect with someone online, so didn't they deserve a chance to make a real-life impression?

I had some great dates.  There were dates where I spent most of the night laughing and the waiter long forgot about us because we spent too much time talking.  There were dates that left me floating for days, imagining the next one, and eagerly waiting for a text message.  And there were also bad dates.  Dates where the guy I was out with finished one drink after another and refused to take a cab home or accept a ride home from me.  There were dates where I was insulted personally.  There were dates that made me call my friends seconds after they ended because "this doesn't just happen to me, right?"

The worst dates in my mind weren't the horrific ones though, because I love having a story to share as much as the next guy.  The worst dates were the ones where the guy was nice, we had a lot in common, but I just wasn't feeling it.

There's something really difficult about not connecting with someone.  After one of these dates, I told myself that maybe it was because it was our first date.  Maybe the next one would be better.  But then the next date would come and I would sit there, having an okay time, talking about our lives and sharing stories, but not caring whether or not he got up and walked out of my life forever.  I thought that when you felt this way it was because you both weren't connecting.  The trouble I learned is that sometimes, okay is all that a guy wants.

So I fielded calls and texts from sweet guys who really did have a lot to offer.  I kept returning text messages because, "it's not like he did anything wrong."  I didn't want to be an adult and say, "hey, thanks for dinner, but I'm just not feeling it."  There's something horribly gross about telling someone that you're not into them, especially when it's just a feeling.

Just a feeling.  As a female, I have to apologize for my feelings all the time.  I have to worry about how everyone else feels, all of the time.  I was raised by my family, and by the state of North Dakota in general, to be nice.  And it's not nice to ignore someone who likes you.  We're taught that we need to give people numerous chances.  We're taught to let people down gently.  We're taught that we need to almost care more about other people's feelings than our own.

I wish I could say that I had an epiphany one day and decided I was going to be accountable for my own feelings and share them with another person no matter how it made them feel...but it wasn't me.  It was those damn coworkers who asked me, point blank, if I was trying to keep this guy on a string for later.  After immediately feeling defensive, I realized that that really is what it seemed like.  I was too nice to let him go so that he could find someone who liked him for him...and that's not very nice at all.

No comments:

Post a Comment