ITNOWIT #2: Okay, Cupid?

Operation ITNOWIT #2

  • Peet’s
  • Tuesday 5/8/12
  • 3:00-4:00pm
  • Iced tea
  •  $2.00
  • Brought own cup
  • Met T there (thereby surpassing eye contact goal)

Simultaneously with starting this blog, I decided to join OKCupid. All right, that’s not really true. A friend nudged me to check it out, so I did. And I discovered that in order to explore the site, you have to sign up. Maybe I really am summoning plot points from the universe, or maybe the blog and OKCupid coincided simply because I really do want to try to take fate into my own hands. Either way, I must say it’s been both interesting and entertaining. Time is working in my favor. Over the years, online dating has become more normalized and acceptable and therefore, lots of all kinds of people are giving it a try. And I find that I’m very different at 31 than I was at 21 or 25. I’m obsessing less over it (don’t get me wrong–it’s totally addictive), and it’s more an experiment than an “I must find my soulmate!” situation.

The beauty is, all these guys can get to know a bit about me and see what I look like without my having to leave my house, make eye contact, or form coherent sentences. Excellent. And men have been sending me messages. And I’ve been replying to some of them. I even initiated contact with a fellow English major-introvert, and we’ve been having a pleasant conversation. The other good thing is that I’m limiting this to locals only. No long distance communication for me. I’ve learned how quickly and easily that can become something it isn’t.

Anyway, this guy T contacted me, and we messaged back and forth some. I could tell he must have gotten a notification on his phone whenever a got a message because he would respond right away, usually a single, mostly un-capitalized line. Like texting. I hate texts. His texts, along with his profile and pictures, weren’t all that great. Neither were they horrible. I know that people can be, for better or worse, completely different than the impression they give online, so I was willing to give him a chance. That’s when a Machiavellian thought came into my head: I should meet this guy. This guy that I have mixed feelings about, that I’m not all aflutter over, because maybe then I’ll be less awkward about it all. I would essentially be using him as practice. But that’s what I need, right? To just get out there and give it a try—just give it a try with someone. So I suggested we meet, to see if there was any friend potential. (I didn’t want him to think I had a major crush or mislead him.) And I picked the date and place and time. Fate, meet my hands.

When I got there, he was already there because he’d gotten out of class early. (He’d messaged me his number, but I’d withheld mine, so he couldn’t call.) First impression? Much nicer-looking than his pictures. His hair was messier, he was wearing glasses, and he was smiling. Hint for posting profile pictures, guys? Choose pictures that actually look like you. The best you, sure, but still you. And smile!

We got our drinks and sat outside, and we talked. There were a few longish pauses that were only a tiny bit awkward (and I don’t think he thought they were). He’d had time to observe the way I walk, and although we didn’t talk specifically about my CP, he asked whether I could ride a bike and if I played sports (probably an adapted one, but I don’t want to, and no). We talked about our town and how we both came to live in it, work and school and music and the upcoming Olympics. And it was good. He didn’t say or do anything that made me recoil, and I don’t think I did or said anything that made him recoil, either. I’d planned it so that I had a legitimate reason to wrap things up after an hour. I said, “It was really nice to meet you—we should totally do this again sometime!” (And yes, I do believe I actually said ‘totally.’) Then I wondered if that sounded too enthusiastic.

I don’t remember if we shook hands upon meeting or skipped it. I’m always terrible with saying goodbye to people because if we’re friendly, a hug is often expected. I have an almost non-existent sense of balance, so hugging generally throws me off. When the hugger lets go, I usually feel like I need to grab ahold again to steady myself. I’ve learned to give one-armed hugs, with the free hand holding onto something. In this case we were on the sidewalk, and there was nothing to hold onto. I had that uncomfortable moment of assessing, Are we doing a handshake or a hug? If we hug, how am I going to handle it? I think he was hesitating and leaving it up to me, and I hugged him quickly and let go without falling over. Whew. Awkward. Stressful. He said, “You have my number. Use it if you want to.” And I laughed, said okay, and that was it.

What’s weird is that I’m also messaging back and forth with two other people, whose pictures and profiles I like more. But T really did prove that I can’t judge someone by a picture and profile and single lines of text-y messaging. Perhaps if I ever meet the other two in person, we won’t get along as well.

Leaving our meeting, I felt happy, surprised at how well it went: Hey, he’s nice! It was good! I’m looking forward to doing it again! And by the time I’d gotten home from work that night, all of these doubts and concerns had crept in, and I was back to being in my house with my laptop, the not-great profile pictures, and the single line, text-y messages. And I felt like I already wanted a break from it.

That night he messages, “what are you looking for? friends? more than friends?” I answer (with a bit of a sinking feeling), reiterating what my profile states (“just friends” and “activity partners”). He says he’s looking for friends too, although his profile lists everything (except “casual sex”). We talk about when to meet up again, and I let him know I’m out of town this weekend and all next week, so maybe in a week and a half. T asks me if I’m free during the week, which would have meant within the next three days, and I say I’m not.

I don’t want to start seeing him all the time and give him the wrong idea. Because I don’t want him to be all into me if I’m not going to feel the same way. Or maybe it’s not going to be like that at all, and he really does just want to be friends first, too. Except that he texted me about an hour after I messaged him my number. That does not signal friends—that signals interested. And I don’t know if I’m interested.

It’s impossible to just be friends first, isn’t it? Certainly at this age, there’s an automatic partner-potential vibe. Of course, it doesn’t help that the whole thing began on OKCupid, whether or not I put “just friends.” I wouldn’t specify single men between 25 and 35 if I really just wanted to be friends, now would I? I wish I could meet someone in a situation where there isn’t any pressure or expectation for romance and actually make a great friend. If there is expectation (for instance, meeting via an online dating site), and one side has feelings that the other side can’t reciprocate, then it’s sad and hard on both parties. It’s all so complicated and uncertain. And scary. It’s so much easier not to be a part of any of it.

It seems as though (in fiction at least) one side always falls before the other. It’s hard to say, “I don’t know yet,” when the other person does know, and hopes for a particular answer. Do I want to be the one who falls first? Or the one unsure? Sometimes I wonder how it’s possible that anyone falls in love with someone who actually falls in love right back.

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