Partly, it’s my best friend Arianna’s fault. She was the one back in 2000 who signed me up for Match.com. Ari was one of my best friends from college. She is now a balls-to-the-wall entertainment lawyer. We are getting older but her boyfriends keep getting younger. Her concern was that I might become some dried up prune of a cat lady. Maybe she regrets it now.
It could also be the fault of the inventors of the Internet, though it’s a little unclear who that is (according to snopes, Al Gore didn’t make the claim). It might even be argued that, without the Internet, I’d be on date number 30 or 40 instead of over 250.
What I know for sure is what my mom said when I first told her about my online dating those many years ago.
“I hear you’re going to do some dates on the computer.” I could hear her smiling.
Nothing goes uncommunicated in my family--well nothing like that. If I were to fall and break my leg, I could expect the entire web of my family to be notified within seventeen seconds—cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents--the whole kit and caboodle. Then I could expect a complicated system of visitations and casseroles to be arranged for the next two weeks. So I wasn’t surprised that she was already in the loop about my dating, even though no dates had even taken place.
“Yes,” I said hesitantly not knowing how she was going to react to this. “I’m thinking about it.”
“Well, here’s what I think. You were married to a man who treated you pretty darn bad for a long time. You have been living for Leah these past two years and doing a good job of it. But there’s a reason on airplanes that they tell you to put on the oxygen mask first ‘fore you put it on your child if it drops down. It’s so you can save both of you. So go ahead and put that oxygen mask on!”
I have had an awful lot of dates, it’s true. Not all of them have been great. In fact, some have been really horrid. I’m thankful, though, for each and every one because they all taught me important lessons that I needed to learn for myself and for my daughter.
It taught me:
+to be more assertive
+that I deserved to be picky
+to stand up for myself when accusations were wrong (I was faced with pornography charges after a stalker-date posted naked pictures on the Internet and almost lost my job)
+that being intelligent was not the same thing as having common sense
+if you don’t feel a connection within three hours of a first date, you’ll never feel it
+people lie on the Internet; verify
+sometimes all you can do is just keep getting off the couch (and try again)
+that being a single means you never get a break; just deal with it
+religion is a very touchy business and it’s run by people who are flawed (I was fired from a Christian school for premarital sex)
+my family may be a little nuts, but they’re the only one I have—men will come and go
+my daughter and I do a surprisingly good job all by ourselves
Internet dating destroyed me in many ways, but it also saved my life.
Today, as I remember my mom (she died two years ago) who never got to see me truly happy, I am thankful that I no longer need an oxygen mask. I hope wherever she is that oxygen masks, figurative or literal, are not required.
copyright © 2009 Tiia Jones