I’d hidden my Plenty of Fish profile when Jack asked to be exclusive. When we broke up I wasn’t in a big rush to unhide it again as I had plenty of stuff (aka boys and friends) to keep me occupied. But last week after Ray decided being in different parts of our city was too far for him, I went back to it. I unhid my profile in the hopes of a good first date.
I realized as much as I may say “I’m all done with online dating” or “I’m not going to do what I did before”, it’s at this point less about behavior change (I don’t do as much dumb time-wasting stuff since I’ve been looking for a relationship) and more about mindset.
Yes, I’d like to find someone to date long-term, but if they don’t meet my criteria I don’t waste my time. I have enough casual sex partners to keep my appetite and need for affection somewhat satiated. Sure, I’m open to finding someone new but they would have to be pretty amazing.
I realized last week, after an evening with Lewis, that after my ex-husband he’s my longest “relationship”. We met three years ago this summer. And of course I know it’s not a relationship in the same way, but still. I chose not to mention it to him. Don’t want to mess up a good thing.
As before, I don’t spend much time actively searching. POF has a “wants to meet you” feature which I can see as a paid member. I will usually look through the pictures and profiles and “favorite” anyone who catches my eye. But 99% of the time I don’t proactively reach out.
Like the last time, I got a handful of messages. Most are uninteresting comments from men I don’t see any compatibility with. But they don’t have to be something well worded – I will respond to a “hey how are you” type of message if their profile is appealing to me.
And that’s how I met Bruce.
He was handsome, tall, in construction, had “some college”, and lived outside the city, probably an hour’s drive from me. Not a slam dunk, so I wasn’t expecting much. But I liked what he wrote in his profile about his approach and his interests, and I didn’t have anything to lose by communicating. He had joined the site just a few days prior.
Inquiring as to his willingness to date someone who lives relatively far from him, it turns out he drives into the city every day. Naturally, I thought of Ray and how attitude can make a huge difference. He has two kids similar in age to mine. He’s separated but has been for two years. He has an amicable relationship with his ex.
We had great banter in messaging. I was on a day trip with my parents and stuck in the back seat of an uncomfortable truck, and messaging Bruce kept me busy. He was funny and seemed pretty relaxed.
We moved to text then had a phone call. Every person and experience is different. With Bruce, my overwhelming feeling was comfort – but it wasn’t dull, just easy. We talked about our children and the challenge of dealing with new-found attitude. We talked about work and joked about each other’s (very different) jobs.
Contrary to my assumption that “construction” meant he drove a big machine, he is in home renovations / building. His jobs are usually in the city and his current job is very close to where I work. Once that was established, he suggested we could have lunch one day.
He was in touch regularly but not obsessively. He’d (unprompted) say good morning and then in the middle of the day inquire how my day was going. After his children went to sleep he’d reach out again. We spoke on the phone a couple more times before our first date, an after-work drink at a local pub.
In person, he was as tall and attractive as advertised. And nervous. His forearms distracted me – he works with his hands every day and it shows. They are thick and veiny. As shallow as it may be, there’s something about strong arms that awakens a very primal part of me.
I’m now hyper-aware of someone’s past and how they describe their current state of dating / sex / relationships. After Tony and Jack, I’d really like to meet someone who’s actually ready to date. I also realize closely paying attention to what someone says, and doesn’t say, is super important at this stage. Jack said things that I knew were yellow/red flags but he later contradicted himself when I asked about them. I chose to listen to his protestations.
Knowing how easy it is to fall prey to confirmation bias, I’m trying to pay attention to the things I hear that I don’t like, as much as the things I do.
He also had some casual throw away comments which I made mental note of:
- When I told him I noticed he took down his face pictures on POF, he laughed and said a bunch of things but in the middle of those things was “yeah and I thought I should just focus on the one person I’m meeting from the site and see where that goes”.
- He talked about having a good relationship with his ex-wife and still sometimes doing things together with the children. They took them on an overnight trip to a big water park. He said, “we slept in separate beds of course, I mean, it was no different from our marriage since we slept in separate beds then as well”.
- He said he never knows when women were hitting on him and told a funny story of a 20-something waitress watching him work in a restaurant and flirting really hard. He didn’t notice and then later when his friends asked why he didn’t do anything about it, he commented he wasn’t interested in women that young anyway.
But then there was the statement that made my heart stop. He said he hasn’t really dated and doesn’t know how to ask a woman out. I said he did just fine with me. His response? “Yeah, and this is my first, first date.”
I scoffed and he told me how he’d met his ex-wife through a friend so didn’t even really ask her on a date, they just started hanging out and it went from there. I asked what he’d been doing for the past two years, if not dating. He said “Oh, well… I mean I’ve hung out with women but not really… um…”
And I knew what he meant. He’d hooked up with them (I didn’t ask how) but hadn’t really gone on a dating site or met someone he’d liked and then with the intentions of dating or a relationship, asked them out.
Just like Tony.
I know he’s not Tony. I know he’s not Jack. But it’s sure hard to keep the cynicism at bay. Surely it’s possible that a man really has taken a couple of years to have casual sex and then jump back into dating, find me, and have it be right even if it’s his first “real” date?
He told me he had to leave to get home to his children but wanted me to know he had a great time. He said he was going away for the weekend with them but was free on Monday and could we meet then for a second date? YES.
We had a knock-my-socks-off panty soaking first kiss when we said goodbye. It was hot, and I was the one who pulled him back for a second and third. I really hope my cynicism is proven wrong.