A few days ago I was digging through old photos. I saw this image while I was at it. A screen shot of a message from a man – purportedly a Chinese man named Galen Gilbert Nicholson – who messaged me when I had an account on OK Cupid (still my all-time favourite dating site if you’re looking for a recommendation). Once I recognized what the image was, I succumbed to a wave of relief.
No more. Not again. I am done with these horrible exercises in human interaction forever.
Galen’s message was so awesomely hilarious, I took the screen capture and sent it to my brothers. We tried to translate it and assign meaning, and laughed for days and days. For example, he mentions three times that he is a Chinese Man, which was obvious because Galen Gilbert Nicholson is a Chinese name if I ever heard one. “Galen does not drive atoll,” we joked, must mean that he sometimes speaks in the third person, and puts his foot down about visiting or living on atolls. Only large-sized islands or continents for this Chinese Man. Galen loves Mushos (or Mushosh?) so much he listed it twice, has a foot fetish, and did he say he loves “Bootey?” I’m delighted by the spelling of cute as “cqot.” Anyway… endless entertainment here.
After the screen capture, I deleted the message.
A year ago I was actively dating. I went on so many dates with so many men, trying to find a man to love. I listened to well-meaning friends suggest that perhaps my imagined partner was unrealistic, and I should relax my standards. In some ways it seemed like I dropped my standards quite a bit, because I would entertain a “maybe” with people who seemed like they had little potential.
“Maybe I’m just interpreting their profile wrong,” I thought to myself as I drove to a first date. Then I’d meet them in person and have my “maybe” confirmed. Or even shifted to a “not likely,” or a “hell no.”
But the truth is that I kept my standards high, because within a date or two, I said sayonara to most of them. Some men didn’t have any major problems, but just didn’t interest me at all. I tried harder with them, hoping to develop some interest over time. I hung around until I would dread seeing him again.
A couple of men dumped me after a date or two, which was frustrating because I hadn’t decided if I was interested yet. But then I realized that no, he was right. If I was still trying to decide whether we had potential after two dates, then he was reading the scene more clearly than I was.
It can be very discouraging to go on a dozen dates a year, for years, and never find someone to feel confident about. It’s exhausting to keep up all those performances, for one thing. Best behavior, best manners, best outfit, best stories, best version of my past. I battled self-esteem wrecking demons all the time. Depression is a very real side effect of dating.
I tried so hard because I was lonely. I yearned for the pleasure of sharing an ordinary moment with a trusted someone. I was daydreaming about sharing a cup of coffee and watching the deer together, or laughing about what a diva Racecar is, or being in awe of a spectacular sky. And hugs. I ached for that person, but not so much I was willing to endure someone who annoyed me. So I kept trying, using my high/low standards on each one.
It was my high/low standards that allowed me to entertain the idea of writing back to this guy who had a screen name of “Pedro” who didn’t even write to me on OK Cupid, just clicked the pink heart icon for “Like.” I looked at his profile which was a couple sentences long and didn’t say much. “Oy. Men.” I sighed as I rolled my eyes. I wrote him a short message without entertaining a hope for connection.