During my first year of graduate school, I developed a crush on a fellow graduate student. I thought he was kind, quiet, serious, smart, and a genuinely decent person. I talked to him about grad school and teaching, but I never told him that I liked him. Recently, I found out he got married.
I wasn't in love with him, but I have to admit that I did feel a little sad. Obviously, the fact that he's married to someone else is the ultimate proof that he isn't the one for me. But I couldn't help wondering what would have happened if I had invited him out for coffee years ago.
I've never been good at making the first move. It took me a long time to even get up enough courage to venture into the dating scene. When I first started dating, I just wanted to see who was out there and go out on dates. Now, several years later, I want more.
The other day I was walking down the street in my neighborhood and I saw a little boy sitting on his father's shoulders. His mother was walking alongside them, holding a baby. They were all laughing about something, and the little boy was singing. Family, I thought. That's what I want.
But now I'm starting to worry that it'll never happen for me. I'm thirty-two years old, and even though I'm still young(ish), seeing the majority of my friends, acquaintances, and relatives who are my age or younger get married and have children makes me feel like I'm falling behind.
I thought that online dating would help me find someone special. After all, several people have met their spouses online. Everyone knows of at least one online dating success story. In fact, one of the guys that I dated on eharmony is now married to someone else that he met on that site. (I'm not really sad about that, since I didn't like him very much. I can't help feeling a little resentful that someone who was a total tool was able to find his future wife and I am still single. But then again, you don't have to be a nice person to get married. Every single bride on that TV show Bridezillas can attest to that.)
I've joined four different online dating sites. And what have I found? Hundreds of guys who only want to date women who are decades younger than them. Guys who write stuff like, "Don't message me if you aren't as thin as you look in your pictures" in their profiles. (I'm seriously not making that one up. I've seen that line several times.) Fake pictures in online dating profiles. (How do I know they're fake? The guys post pictures from ads that I've seen on the Internet, and others post pictures of famous actors, like Daniel Craig and Macaulay Culkin.) A guy who only posted two pictures of himself, and in both pictures, he was wearing a ski mask. (Incidentally, I made a joke on this blog about showing up for a first date in a ski mask. I didn't think anyone would actually post a picture of himself looking like a bank robber in his online dating profile, but I was wrong.)
There were also the disappearing acts. The dates that disappointed me, disgusted me, or freaked me out. The genuinely nice guys who liked me, but who I didn't feel anything for (though I wish I had felt something for at least one of them, who is the only one I regret pushing away.)
Now I'm on match.com a second time, and I'm embarrassed to admit that I still haven't gone on any dates, even though it's been a month now. This has never happened to me in my previous online dating experiences; I was always able to get dates before.
In high school, everyone took a "matching" test for fun, and we were all given a list of other students in the school that we were most compatible with. The matches were based on percentages; that is, the test revealed whether we were one hundred percent compatible, sixty percent compatible, ten percent compatible, etc. Even though I had my own list of matches, they were all revealed to be less than fifty percent compatible with me. A "friend" said that meant I wasn't very compatible with anyone.
I know it was just a silly test that didn't really mean anything. But I can't help thinking that maybe the problem
isn't the online dating sites or the guys. Maybe it's me.
When I was younger, I thought that I would meet the right guy at school, at work, at the gym, or at a party. I thought that maybe we would become friends first, and then it would eventually turn out to be something more. But now I'm starting to think that maybe there isn't someone out there for me. Maybe I'm not meant to get married or have a family. Maybe I'm supposed to do something else with my life.
It's not like anyone hasn't messaged or "winked" at me on match.com, because there have been several guys. But I really DON'T want to date someone who's thirty years older than me or who is missing his front teeth or who wrote in his profile that he's "looking to have some fun" before he leaves the country in a few weeks.
If I stop trying to find someone, maybe the right guy will show up anyway one day. In the meantime, I could focus on the other things that make me happy, like writing, reading, dancing (in classes at my gym), teaching, and fantasizing that Satan's Siblings (also known as my neighbors) have moved away. I could spend more time reading books and articles for my dissertation, and I could finally prove myself as an academic.
But then I think about that grad student I had a crush on, and how I kept waiting and hoping that he would finally notice me as someone who was more than just a classmate. I kept waiting for the right time to tell him how I felt, and I lost my chance. I'm afraid that if I just wait rather than put myself out there, I'll end up losing again.
I've been thinking about joining plentyoffish.com, which is an online dating site I haven't tried before. In fact, one of the reasons I joined okcupid a few years ago was because match.com wasn't working out for me (though I did get to go on dates with guys I met from match.com).
I also thought about joining one of the amateur sports leagues that a lot of twentysomethings and thirtysomethings in Chicago join. But then it would mean I'd have to play sports (I'd also have to learn how to play sports), and I'm not sure the sight of me tripping over myself or running away from the ball, screaming, "Somebody ELSE catch it!" would be very attractive.
But on the other hand, I don't know if I have it in me to keep searching forever. I don't want to still be joining online dating sites and going on first dates years and years from now. Eventually, I might just give up.
I'm sorry. I don't mean to sound self-pitying. But after all my failed
attempts at finding love, it's hard not to feel discouraged. Not to
mention I saw a sign that read "DIVORCED! RING FOR SALE", and it made me
think that I'm not the only one who's less than optimistic about love.
What do you think? Do you think that there's a right person out there for everyone? Do you think it's better to actively look for the right person, or is it better to leave it to fate?
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