This was my introduction to internet dating:
He: “Do you want to see me naked?”
Me: “Oh wow, thank you for your candor, but I’m afraid you’ve wasted your time chatting with me. I am most definitely not that sort of woman with strangers. But luckily there are an abundance of women here and elsewhere that will love to play along. So best of luck and happy hunting!”
It hearkens to one of my all-time favorite memes: “Dear Fair Godmother, What in the f*ckity f*ck?”
I realize I took a 20 year time-out from this dating process, and times change.
But what the hell did society do with relationships in the two decades I was out of service? Is everyone afraid to ask for more than a hit and run, so this is what they’re willing to accept so they aren’t lonely?
I’m no relationship expert, but I feel compelled to offer that I had a lover for the better part of a year who was also my friend, and no more. We shared an intimacy, a mutual respect, a compelling trust that we were both getting all we needed from the relationship, and we would speak up if we weren’t because we had faith in our arrangement. Entered into nicely and departed easily. But there was depth and mutual concern.
So I’m not a prude, not by any stretch of the imagination.
Anyone who knew me in my youth would be kind to describe me as…liberated. I wanted to taste every want and every experience, music and books and smoky bars and dark theatres and sweet cool drinks and burning hard liquor and a companion here and there along the road.
The world was a room full of brightly colored toys and I wanted to pick up every one and feel it along the skin of my own fingers. And I’ve retained that same mentality through my adult life, if not the more liberated practice.
Was I less? Or were those experiences more?
Maybe I didn’t look for more when I was younger because I had so little of life to offer anyone. I offered all my depths to life at that crisp young age, and what it gave me back in return satisfied me. It was reciprocal and balanced.
But I’m a grown woman now and there is no way I would even consider shedding the abundance of life that I bring to the table, with every scar and wrinkle, every love and mile.
The sexiest things about me are not what you’ll see naked. And, for me, offering so little of myself to someone I’m just getting to know (if I’ve met at all) would be a disservice. If you’ve gotten your foot in the door, you can bet I’m attracted to you. I have zero poker face, if I’m into you, you will know it. So slow down!
Maybe we confuse you men. Maybe you don’t know what it is that you have to offer us that we want or need any longer. After all, we don’t require you as our great Protector and Provider in this day and age. We are educated and financially independent and sexually confident and in control.
We can buy a car and finance a house and climb the corporate ladder and raise our children all by ourselves. So maybe it looks like the only thing left is to know how to deliver the Big O to your lady friend? That’s not a lot of ground for you to claim as your own.
I get it. But offering to show me your junk isn’t the best place to start.
Let’s try seducing my mind. Show me that you are smart and well-read and well-traveled and have impeccable manners. That you can cook and listen to jazz and tell a really stupid joke without shame of ego. Show me that you’re sucking the marrow out of life for every day you walk this earth.
And maybe show me that you’d like to share that with someone because you want them, not because you need to fill a blank space.
Two people can stand independently and yet still be present for one another. Getting close and learning more is to risk being responsible for what you now know. That’s a risk I’m discovering is worth taking. Because there is middle ground between too much and too little.
Historically, in committed relationships, I’ve gravitated toward men who are emotionally unavailable— can I get a show of hands, please, ladies? I think these relationships pulled me in because I don’t risk disappointing them or feeling suffocated by their need for time and affirmation.
They leave just enough space and mystery for me to wonder if I’m left in too much space and not too little. I tend to need to breathe more than I need most other things. But at some point I come to trust that I can breathe enough to want to bridge the gap. And that’s where I find I’ve fallen off the precipice and there was no bridge to walk. I’ve simply fallen.
Needing to break the cycle lead to me finally, after years of encouragement, try internet dating.
Amazing fit for most of the people I know. Profound epic fail for me.
It won’t be for me, which neither makes them wrong nor me right. Not everyone looks good in pink—internet dating isn’t my color.
Some guy is just going to have to walk up and talk to me sitting at that café, face in my laptop, writing away. Most of my successful relationships evolved organically, so I’ve resolved to be content taking my time. “Do you want to see me naked?” after a few messages just isn’t going to cut it.
Author: Cristy Courtney
Editor: Renee Jahnke
Image: Mike Licht-Flickr