Getting Back Out There
There is something quite scary about dating as an older adult with adult children. I never thought that I would be in a situation where my nineteen-year-old son would be pushing me to try online dating. It was a surreal moment in time that made me feel vulnerable as a woman and bewildered as a parent.
My son had had some success on dating sites so he was more than insistent that I give it a try. At first, I just said no. Then, I had to tell him that I wasn’t ready. Then, I thought that I would play along to a point in order to placate him. He carefully instructed me to build a hidden profile in order to learn more about myself. This kid is good I thought. He knows my love of self-discovery and is using it to persuade, so hats off to him. I must admit that I enjoyed that part of the process. I took my time to create an authentic profile that I believed was reflective of where I was in my life and what I wanted for my future. Then it came time to pick a profile picture and like most women I know, I panicked. Do I get my hair done? Do I buy a new outfit? Do I take it outside? Should I be holding a glass of wine or a cup of coffee? Should I include my dog in the picture? I finally decided to match the picture to the authentic profile and stop trying to over think it. So, I put on a pair of jeans, a well-worn blouse, and my favorite pair of Panda sunglasses. Afterall, this was me, and I never went anywhere without my favorite sunnies. I loved the look and feel of the bamboo frames. Chic and environmentally responsible to boot. Wearing them was more than fashion to me, it was a statement of what mattered. They completed me.
So, feeling like my best self, I took the picture outside on my balcony and added it to the profile before I had time to change my mind. There, I was happy with it, even if it was hidden. I showed it to my son and he says, “Well, mom, you know, you can fill out the next step that defines what you are looking for in guy. It will help you understand a little bit more about what dating could like for you. It will still be invisible to anyone else unless you start a conversation with someone.” I took a deep breath and delved right in. As long as I was invisible, it was just harmless fun. A list of thirty or so choices appeared on the screen with a not so subtle warning to pick less than four if one had any hope of having someone meet one’s criteria. This was my chance. My chance to participate in a way that I was sure would close the door on online dating and get my son to give it a rest. I knew exactly what to do; I chose something for every category. All thirty of them. I smiled. It was done, and admittedly, it was accurate. Everything I chose was exactly what I was looking for, even if I was sure to never find it. I took a deep breath, smiled, and announced to my son that I had completed it. He responded, “Did you spin the wheel?”
“Spin the wheel?” I asked.
“Yes! Remember no one can see your profile or your choices until you start talking to them. You can spin the wheel to see who your matches are based on the criteria you selected.” I giggled. Okay. I would spin the wheel with him standing right there watching me. I knew no one would appear as the warning was surely accurate when it stated as much. Click the button, and there! Shockingly, a single person appeared in the wheel’s window. That was not supposed to happen! My son smiled and walked away.
I sat there somewhat bewildered. Then slowly, I decided to click on his profile and read about him. He was funny. What he wrote made me laugh. I contemplated what might happen if I sent him one of the preformed text responses. After a few minutes, I hit the line that simply stated, “We have a lot in common.” I sat there for a few minutes just smiling. I could hardly believe that I did it. Then my computer made a sound and a response appeared on the screen. I felt a wave of panic followed by butterflies in my stomach that gradually subsided as I typed each new response. I was chatting with a man I did not know and I was smiling. I had to tell myself to put aside all of the what if’s and to relax into what was a pretty fun experience. It stayed that way for a few weeks while we chatted back and forth throughout the evenings. It finally came time to meet him and I was a nervous wreck again.
Dating. Me dating. The reality of it all was overwhelming and at the same time I wanted to meet this person that I come to know so well online. We agreed to meet at a coffee shop near my house, and my son agreed to spy on me from the parking lot. After all, this was his fault. I never would have been in this position otherwise. As I approached the coffee shop I spotted a group of people sitting outside. One of the men was looking around and he rose to greet me with an extended hand. I recognized him right away from his profile picture. “You are beautiful and I love your sunglasses!” He said. It was a perfect match 😊