There are no rules for online dating, not really. Most of us make them up as we go along. I’ve added more than a few on nights after a breakup, sitting at home, burying my sorrows in a quart of Ben & Jerry’s Triple Caramel Chunk ice cream.
“NEVER again will I date a man who can’t even SPELL the word monogamy,” I would wail as I shovel
ed frozen sugar and fat in to my mouth.
Not that you can’t find a world of dating advice out there. Even the standard dating sites like Match, JDate, Perfect Match and more have sections of advice that “guarantee” success in finding your soul-mate….RIGHT.
When I started dating online I was totally convinced that I would find my ideal man almost instantaneously because my golden rule was … THE LIST. THE LIST contained every single last quality that I was looking for in my soul-mate, things like dark hair, blue eyes, likes to cook, doesn’t bite his nails, likes scented candles and adventure movies … blah, blah, blah, THE LIST went on for days. With the sea of eligibles online I was sure that I would find this package of perfection within a few weeks.
Fast forward to almost 2 years later. I was still dating online and getting waaay too good at it. By this time, I had honed THE LIST down to it’s essentials: Plays well with others and has opposable thumbs. OK, Fine, it wasn’t quite that desperately short. I wanted a non-smoker who was kind, intelligent, had preferably parented and had a photo posted. The photo was a necessity because I had been contacted by far to many men who had something to hide, like a huge hairy mole on his nose or a wife.
I had been working with The Essential List for about a year when I received an email from Bill55, with no photo posted. Uh-oh, MARRIED MOLE MAN! Normally I would have slammed my index finger down on the delete key but that day I was in a bit of a snotty mood and so decided to look at his profile to see just how married he was. I was then going to send him snotty reply. I logged on to his profile and read. Divorced (OK!), two kids (men who’ve parented were a plus) so far, so good. Then I saw it, he’d read Jonathan Livingston Seagull four times and it was his favorite book. Mine too!! This was not on The Essential List but I was thinking now that it should be. Feeling far less rude and snotty, I sent a reply:
“Hi, I don’t usually answer ads without a pix because I assume that you’re married or have a huge hairy mole on the end of your nose. But I just have to tell you that I love that you’ve read Jonathan Livingston Seagull as it’s one of my favorite books.”
The following morning I found two replies from Bill55 in my in-box. The first had photos of Bill with his kids and a short note to tell me he’s not a “player”, loves his kids, was absolutely divorced and about “Jonathan” he said, “I’ll tell you the message that hits me with each reading of “Jonathan”. “Life is brief and time is a thief.” Wow! I felt an immediate connection to this man. Bill struck me as someone who shared my outlook on life – an adventure to be experienced before it slips away. I had to meet this man! The second email contained a single sentence, “Oh, by the way, I’m having the hairy mole removed on Friday.” I REALLY had to meet Bill, I thought as I was laughing. I sent him my cell phone number and suggested we talk.
Bill called the next evening and we had a long, easy conversation that sent all thoughts of The Essential List, or any List for that matter, flying out of my head. We talked about our lives, our children, our opinions of online dating and we made plans to meet for dinner.
A few days later, as I drove to the restaurant we planned to meet at, I was struck with a case of cold feet. This was all too easy so far. What if we hated each other on sight? What if he smelled bad? What if I smelled bad? I did a quick armpit sniff when I was stopped for a light – I was OK. Whew!! I gave myself a little pep talk. After three years of what was starting to feel like a futile search, I wasn’t expecting fireworks. But Bill and I had connected on so many basic emotional levels through email and the phone that I knew I’d have a pleasant evening.
Bill was at the bar when I arrived. He’d already ordered a Pinot Grigio for me.
“How did you know I liked Pinot,” I asked.
He had a wonderful, warm grin. I tried to remember if a good smile was on The Essential List. What List? I couldn’t remember anything from THE LIST. The List was immaterial. Bill was charming and gracious. Who cared about a List? This guy was the real deal – A gentleman. I really could have cared less whether he liked adventure movies or dramas.
The hostess approached to tell us our table was ready. It was a small table in a corner and on it was a bouquet of fresh roses and irises for me. Flowers. Flowers!! In three years of online dating this was the first time that anyone had brought flowers to a first date.
OK, quick SIDEBAR: How many of you have ever had a date who brought flowers to a first meeting? Am I the only one who was flabbergasted by this?! Guys – do you bring flowers? Ladies – do YOU bring flowers? Candy? Cards? Post-it notes? Prize from the Cracker Jacks box? Anything?
This was not on any List that I’d ever had. What List? I’d had a List? Flowers! I was smitten. We had dinner and talked for a few hours. We’d had similar upbringings and both adored our children. We had so much more than surface things in common…and most of them weren’t even on The List.