Dating after divorce, scary concept for some – myself included. I know some people start dating right away, and that is great. In my case, I wasn’t ready to start dating. It took years before I went on a date. I wasn’t over my ex-husband, and the fear of getting to know someone else scared me. I don’t mean just talking to them, but spending time together and eventually being intimate. I was with my ex-husband a total of fifteen years. He was my first. So, I was a little sheltered entering the dating world as an adult. You know the world of online dating – people just want fwb (friends with benefits) and quick hookups. Yeah, that world… I wasn’t ready for it, and it was a culture shock for me.
The first online dating site I tried equaled no dates, sadly. I did chat with a couple of guys. The first guy was a great example of online dating. He had over fifteen sexual partners, and then called me a liar when I disclosed that I had had only one sexual partner. We chatted for a couple of weeks (years later, I cannot remember about what). We decided to meet in person. Ghost. My first experience of being ghosted was hard – not because I had feelings for the guy – because I was being rejected by another man, and I didn’t know why. He was a great life lesson. My first experience of online dating in the books.
I continued my adventure of online dating for a few more months. I also created profiles on other dating sites. Ghosting was common, and it hurt each time. I found I would find one guy, and focus on him. All this time, I was still madly in love with my ex-husband. The next guy I started chatting with, he was my second life lesson, honored me with my first experience of the famous *inappropriate* picture. Remember I said I was sheltered? Well, this was the first picture (other than ex’s) I’d ever seen. Size difference, well… major difference. I was not expecting the picture; so, what happens? I drop my phone in brief disbelief. In the process of trying to catch my phone in midair, I call the guy! I hear the phone ringing and I quickly hang up. A few seconds go by and my phone begins to ring… yes, it was him calling me. I am now utterly embarrassed, but I answer the phone. I explain what happened. We laughed. I continue chatting with this guy for a couple of months. I knew I didn’t want a relationship, but it was wonderful to have a guy to chat with. He was also the first person I sexted with. I started to develop a crush on this guy, which we never met in person. We planned on meeting in person, and … ghost… However, it was another life lesson. I was slowly easing into this insane world of online dating. I wasn’t sure what I wanted – fwb, dating, a relationship – but I continued the adventure.
The third life lesson, this one was the hardest. I started chatting with a local – he lived about twenty-minutes away. We seemed to have a lot in common. We text back and forth all night long. We planned on meeting in person. He bailed at the last minute. When I tried calling him, he would not answer (which we never spoke on the phone, only through texts). He texted me and told me he bailed because of his anxiety. I completely understood – I have anxiety and stress disorder. I also have depression. I was willing to give him time to feel comfortable to meet with me. We continued to chat for a couple of months. During those months we continued to plan on meeting in person, and for whatever excuse we never met. He eventually wrote a long text explaining that he could not continue doing this to me, and that he would not contact me again. Rejected again. It hurt. I cried. I dusted myself off and went back to the online dating sites. I started chatting with a new guy – I will tell more about him later. However, months went by, and life lesson number three returned. He found me on Facebook and explained to me that he had be receiving help and medication, and he was ready to try chatting again. I, of course, agreed to try chatting again. I have a history of giving second, third, fourth chances… We started chatting again. Once again, we talk about meeting in person. Before it is time to meet, he messages me about how he could not meet up with me because I don’t drink or smoke, and that were both habits of his. This time, I didn’t cry. This time, I was annoyed. I blocked him. I continued chatting online with guys, trying to find Mr. Right. Several months later, life lesson number three enters my life again. He had found my profile on a different dating site. As soon as I seen his message I was annoyed once again. The message was short: “FWB?” How dare he?!? He behaved the way he did, and now he thinks I’m just going to jump into bed with him? I gave him my answer. I blocked him afterwards.
My life lesson number four. I needed this guy. We lived over ten hours apart. We knew a relationship – or even a date – was never going to happen. But a friendship was formed. We chatted daily. We chatted about life, music, movies, dating. It was like I had a best friend away. My ex-husband had been my best friend since high school, and with online dating I didn’t have anyone to talk to about my experiences and situations. That was what this guy was for. We talked about people we were chatting with, and dates we went on. He was trying to be a player and date multiple chicks at a time. I would help by quizzing him on each chick before his date. This guy and I chatted for a couple of years. It was great to have a guy’s point of view and to have someone to vent to. Eventually, he found a long-term relationship and disappeared. I cut my losses and deleted him from my social media.
During this time, I did have a couple of dates. Umm, five to be exact. I chatted with guys, but I didn’t find anyone I wanted to date. Psychos pretty much. I had one that about thirty minutes into the date started talking about how rape would be fun. I decided that was all I wanted to do was date and see how things go. I went on a date with one guy, the first date was okay. We decided to go on a second date – the next day. I went to his house and we watched a movie. Afterwards, we started making out. I hadn’t been with anyone since my ex-husband. So, when things started to get too extreme I panicked. I wasn’t ready to have sex with this guy. He was all over me, and I remember him putting his hands around my neck and I know he was getting turned on by this act, but I didn’t know him. I didn’t have that trust. By this time I am thinking I need to get out of here. I get him off of me. I cry. I leave. A few other dates, nothing excited. More losers. More guys that wanted sex or just to contact me when it was convenient for them. By this time, I didn’t give multiple chances. You mess up, you’re gone. I was learning.
Then entered life lesson number five. At the time, and for months afterwards, I hated this life lesson. I regretted this life lesson. I now don’t regret it. I embrace it. I met this guy online. My child was with ex-husband for the weekend. I was bored at home. At the time I wasn’t chatting with anyone really online. I wasn’t trying to date anyone. This guy sends me a message. We talk about tattoos for a few minutes. He asked what I was doing. Told him I really wanted to go to the movies to see this new horror movie, but didn’t want to go alone. He said he would go. Yes, that’s right. I chatted with this guy for maybe ten minutes and then went to the movies with him. Scary. It was scary sitting in the dark movie theater, arms touching, with this complete stranger. We made it through the movie and he invited me to continue the date. We went to the park – a public place where we could talk. We talked for hours. We were both relaxed and it was nice. We had a whirlwind relationship. Yes, relationship. He asked if I would like to be his girlfriend. It was Facebook official. haha. We called, texted, and met up. This whirlwind relationship lasted for two weeks. In those fourteen days, I seen him about ten times. Swimming, movies, just hanging out. I wasn’t in love, but I did like him. I decided he was the one – no, not Mr. Right. The one I wanted to have sex with. I had been waiting for eighteen months to find the right person to have sex with. The sex was fun. Nothing to brag about. I’m pretty sure he was seeing other people, but I didn’t care. We had sex twice. Then…ghost. At first, I was so angry. Angry at myself for letting my “needs” cloud my judgement! Who was going to want me if I slept with random people? It’s been almost two years since life lesson number five. Like I said, I embrace it. I am an adult. I made an adult decision. It helped me get over my ex-husband. I learned men found me attractive. I found I wasn’t forever bound to be miserable and alone.
After him, I stayed with online dating for a couple of months. I started chatting with another guy. Once again, we planned on meeting and ghost. After that, I needed a break. I took a year break from online dating. I took the time to focus on myself and my child. After the year break, I decided I was ready to try online dating again.
Enter life lesson number six. My most recent life lesson. This one still stings. I was back on the dating site for maybe a week or two, when I received a message from this guy. He was attractive. He typed in complete sentences – he was grammatically correct! It was a breath of fresh air. He had a tough personality. I found him interesting. We continued to chat. He wanted to video chat. It was wonderful! We called, texted, and video chatted for three months before meeting in person. We lived in different states, so that was the excuse for the long wait before meeting. He took me on a real date. He was the type that would hold the door open and slap your booty as you walked in. I fell for this guy. I tried not to, but I fell hard. The distance was impossible for a relationship. I forced myself to trust this guy. He was military. Never been married. Had two children. Had a job. I was comfortable with him. I slept with him. It had been another eighteen months since I’d had sex (not sure why eighteen is my magic number). The sex was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!! I never got an answer if we were just FWB or what he was wanting from talking and being with me. But I didn’t care. I was happy. I was like a giddy school girl again. Seven months. Yes, seven months of being with his guy. He wouldn’t say he wanted a relationship. He told me he really liked me, I was a rock star in bed, and great company. I continued to date here and there, and chat online because I figured he was doing the same. Why should I sit around and wait for someone who would not do the same? I finally decide it is time to introduce him to my child. Two days before our date, I had an odd feeling. I couldn’t explain it. I asked him if he’d ever cheated in a relationship. He said “nope.” I left it for a little bit, but this feeling I could not shake. I start looking on social media. He would not add me. Actually, I don’t think he knew I had already found his profile months ago. I was looking around on social media, and I found it. A picture of him and another chick. She is kissing his cheek. The hair was different. His facial hair was different. There was a weight difference. But it was him. I sent him a text asking if he was seeing/dating/in a relationship with anyone else besides me. He said “no, why?” I told him I found a picture. I didn’t tell him where the picture was or what the picture looked like. He said that he hadn’t taken any pictures with any girls in a very long time. Then he added, if that was even him in the picture. I couldn’t let it rest. I had to know. This man was about to meet my child in two days. I messaged the chick in the picture. They were engaged. They had been together for three years. He was a serial cheater. She knew and continued to forgive him. I screenshot the conversation and sent it to him. I told him I had made a friend. I did not ever hear from him again. She blocked me also. I cried for maybe thirty minutes. I don’t think I cried because I had fell for him – I had told him I loved him. I cried because I was hurt that he could go through with all of this, with meeting my child, and behave like nothing was wrong. I had told him when we first started chatting not to play me, because I will show him how the game is played. I cried because he played me. I do think I played the game well though. I know I didn’t make a difference. She will forgive him. He will choose another innocent victim. I don’t miss talking to him. I miss the sex.
I know my experiences sound crazy. Why would anyone want to do online dating? Why would I want to continue with online dating? These life lessons have made me who I am. I am happy with who I am.
I am going to leave you with some advice and tips for online dating. These are things I have learned the hard way. They are signs that I know I ignored for whatever reason:
*meet in a public place. Let someone know where you are going and who you are going to be with. If you need to send a screenshot of their profile picture or a description of them and/or their vehicle, do it!
*if you feel uncomfortable, leave! Make up an excuse or just walk away.
*no means no. It is okay if you give consent, and then take it back. It is your body and your choice.
*research the person. Research name, number, photos. Look on their social media. Figure out everything you can about this person.
*what for red flags. If they will not add you on social media, red flag. If they will not call you on the phone, red flag. If they ignore you for days. Hey, I get it. We all have busy lives, but it has less than five seconds to say “I’m busy. I will text you later.” There are several red flags, pay attention.
*if you are intimate, protect yourself. You don’t know who else they have been with, or when they were with someone last.
*handle ghosting and rejection. Don’t expect closure. You are never going to get an answer for someone ghosting or rejecting you. Brush it off, it is their loss. It is not you. They were not the right person for you.
*have fun. Dating is fun. Yes, it is insane, but I enjoy doing online dating. It might not be for you – maybe have a friend set up a blind date, or walk up to a cutie in the store and ask them out. Whatever works for you.
*reflect and learn. As you can see from my experiences, there has been a lot of refection and learning for me. Do the same. Take each experience as a life lesson. Learn from the lesson and continue on.