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The internet is a pest.
When Match.com first told me that someone had written me back, I quickly glanced at her profile, saw the opening line apologizing that it took months to respond, and then I clicked the X to close out. I wasn’t interested.
I’ve had nothing but stupid and disappointing experiences with internet dating and, I thought to myself, this would just be one more.
Besides, things have been pretty chill with me lately. I haven’t been chasing the highs and lows of “Oh she likes me…oh she ghosted me” online dating which, on top of that indignity, also costs about $50 a month. To me, that just adds insult to injury. I was, for what I think might be the first time in my life, pretty content being by myself.
I don’t take that lightly, either. I remember a time in my life where I actually prayed that this might be the case someday. Before I started therapy, I had a serious issue with being comfortable in my own skin. I couldn’t enjoy pretty much anything in life unless I was involved with someone or chasing someone. It took decades to get there.
As I mentioned, though, the internet is a pest. Not only does it keep shoving air fryers in your face, should you have the misfortune of browsing for them one day, it shoves every online decision in your face until you say uncle. So, there it was: a gmail notification from Match.com saying, “You haven’t answered Loreley (not her real name) yet.”
And I would have gone on not responding to her if it wasn’t a lazy Sunday evening where I had just called in sick for the following day. I wasn’t really sick, but I had some administrative crap to take care of in the next town and it needed to get done. So, I read the whole message. It was a bit boring and innocuous. Nothing to see here, I thought.
Then I clicked on her profile, and it dawned on me.
I had written to her when I fell in love with a polyamorous woman, and I wanted to experiment with that life. As I read through her description, I realized that she was just looking for a once-a-week sex partner. That seemed interesting. Well, more than interesting—it seemed like about as much as I wanted to commit to.
So, I did it. I wrote her back. It was short and sweet and offered my email address so we could communicate without the distraction of Match.com trying desperately to shake me down for $50.
She wrote back soon after, and I suggested we have a phone call the next day. I explained that I had the following day off and had to do something out of town but would be free after. She answered that I’d be so close to where she lived, she’d rather meet for coffee. Coffee isn’t too much of a commitment, so I agreed.
We walked through town, and she told me her origin story—what led her to the polyamorous life. (Some details have been changed to protect the innocent.)
She’d married a man a few years back who had issues dealing with his anger. When he was unceremoniously fired from a job, he set the business on fire. It wasn’t too long after that he was caught and eventually sentenced to a year in jail.
Then, quite unexpectedly, he fell in love with his cellmate and when he was released, he decided that he no longer wanted to sleep with his wife. He was still committed to his old cellmate–at least sexually. The thing was, Loreley and he owned a home together and were quite emotionally attached, so although their situation had changed, she had no desire to leave him. After quite a bit of soul searching, she asked his permission to find sexual partners outside of the marriage, and he agreed.
I’ll be honest, it was one of the strangest narratives I’d ever heard on a date, but I have a love for all that is outside of the commonplace, and there was a part of me that felt excited about getting involved with such an eclectic conglomeration of people on the margins of regular society.
I told her my story and we continued to walk around town until it was nearly late afternoon. We spontaneously hugged each other in front of the family court building. Then, we began to make out. I could not believe how things were turning out. We sat down on the bench together and agreed that it was probably about the right time to part ways for the day.
“So,” I asked, “What do you think?”
“Truthfully?” she inquired.
“I don’t know if I want to get involved with someone who struggles with addiction issues. It just seems like it would be too much drama.”
I looked at her as I ran the movie in my head of her ex-con husband who fell in love with another man while serving time for burning down the building where he once worked.
“Okay,” I said.
And when I got home, I blocked all emails from every dating site on Earth.