So, I talk about wanting to be in love and feeling left behind. I’m certain that my 20-year-old self wouldn’t believe that I would be at this point in my life and haven’t found ‘the one.’ I guess I haven’t been brave. I haven’t put myself out there. I’ve been too shy. Well, that is, until a little over a year ago. That was when I went out looking for love. Intentionally looking for it. Last month, I ended my one-year journey with an online dating service. ‘Why would you cancel now? That seems like the perfect way to meet a guy!’ many people would ask. I joined because I was always curious about it and have had countless conversations with friends and colleagues who said they knew someone who met their boyfriend or husband online. I joined because I wanted to take a risk; I wanted to step out of my comfort zone. I didn’t want to look back later in life and regret not giving it a try. So, I signed up.
It wasn’t an awful experience. It was exciting to meet someone new and see where it might lead, but I honestly learned more about myself than through my connections with my ‘matches.’ This was an unexpected result, for which I am grateful. My experiences saw three categories of guys: those I reached out to, but who didn’t reach back; those who needed an instantaneous connection with me and wanted to hear wedding bells within the first few dates; and those who were so socially awkward, I was embarrassed for them. I will say that with one guy in particular, I caught a glimpse of how I want to be treated in a relationship; how I should be treated. To be the one who’s chased, and not the other way around. It felt good. It made me feel special and wanted.
Even still, I had total peace about clicking the ‘cancel membership’ button. It was without a doubt the right decision for me at this time. I can define the reason why in one word – – authenticity. Online dating lacks the authenticity I desire. It feels so forced. I have no idea who these guys are. We don’t have any mutual friends; we weren’t friends first; we didn’t see each other from across a room or share a smile or conversation that drew us to each other. We are complete strangers who are brought together because a computer thinks we’re compatible. I just don’t think it’s for me.
Maybe I’m analyzing this to death. It really is just a way of meeting new people. I can choose to be as involved as I want to be. I can make it what I want. But, the time I spent trying these guys out was precious time taken away from the already-strong relationships in my life. Do I really want it THAT bad? Do I want to feel like I am consistently on the hunt for that perfect guy? I honestly don’t think I do. I want it to be an authentic experience. I want to be friends with a guy and then fall in love. I want it to feel natural and not feel like a dating service is in control of setting expectations for what it should look like. So, even though I bawled like a baby after clicking the ‘cancel’ button, I felt relief at the same time. I was sad that the journey did not produce the results I was hoping for, but I gained a deeper understanding of who I am and where my priorities lie. For now, I’m done with that time-consuming process, but not done with being open to finding love.
So, this summer, I’m focusing on those in my life who I already love and care for so much. Pool time, bike rides, coffee talk, dinner, movies with my favorite peeps. Giving up online dating is not a forever decision; just a right now decision. For now, I know that being present with my friends and family is what I need. That’s me being authentic, and it feels right.