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When I started writing this sort of online dating handbook, I thought I would try to dispense advice on how to make it as painless an experience as possible. This brought to writing about dont’s much more often than do’s. The fact is, I hardly have any dont’s this time. Because truth be told, I am very surprised myself of how well it all went. And no, this lesson is not going to be long and hard. I guess against all odds, I’m going to have to abandon the negative perspective and just write about the good things that can happen. But for one bullet, owed from the last post.  So here we go, TS3:

1) Do not, under any circumstance, get carried away by your cybernetic self. I may want to explain this. When I chat or write e-mail to guys online I completely conceal my identity. Of course, any rookie hacker could find out everything about me, but as far as my tech knowledge goes, I leave no clues. No surname, no addresses, no names of companies or places where I spend my time, no facebook, nothing. The realm of vagueness. And still, here I go and give access to my FB public profile to a guy I am going to date (see previous post “Lie to me”). Because this is the point: the bad thing is not that he’s a stranger and shouldn’t know stuff about me, the fact is Facebook is always going to tell people secrets about you that they are not supposed to know. So just don’t. Especially if you have secrets, and we all do, so again, just don’t. I was lucky, he didn’t see it and the trouble-shooter e-mail I sent was more than enough for him, but you may very well end up blowing it and missing out on some great guy. You never know, so don’t risk it.

2) Don’t be too definitive after just one date, not always. This is the opposite anyone would ever tell you to do under normal circumstances, but I have an angle, or rather Maddie does. There are thousands of good reasons not to see a guy ever again, you just know if you don’t want to, but at times it gets strange. The date was great. I wasn’t excessively nervous, we hit it off basically from the start, he is exactly as crazy and smart as he seemed from his e-mails and makes me laugh all the time. But there wasn’t that spark, not like with TS2. At the end of the evening what I thought was that I definitely wanted this person in my life, but just as a friend, and I wanted to tell him straight away. Then I talked to Maddie about it and she told me to wait. And I think she has a point. One date may not be enough. I am not sure about this but I don’t think it’s so common and usual for things to go this well, so I guess there is a very valid point in just leaving things simmer for a while before reaching one of those easy to make but very difficult to unmake decisions. If it feels like it could be one of those things that may come with time, allow yourself some time. Just be sure it’s not just because he is the only meat available in that precise moment. You may end up spending your weekend thinking about him anyway, so it’s worth giving it another shot.

3) Don’t overdo it too soon. Somebody once said: overdressed is never an issue. Not true. Of course consider the place you’re going to – i.e. don’t show up in sneakers at a 200£ restaurant but don’t wear your Jimmy Choo’s to go to the cinema to watch The Hobbit either. My point is absurd, but still: don’t be too stunning. In the end, you don’t know if you’ll like the guy, if it’s a first date, don’t show up dressed as if you already knew he’s the man of your life or if you were trying your absolute best to get laid. If there is going to be a second date, it might be better to leave some room to impress the guy further when you definitely know you want to impress him. Thumb rule: increase the hight of your heels by 1 or 2  centimeters per date in order to reach the highest on the third date. By then, you probably won’t need shoes anymore in order to impress them anyway.

4) It’s ok to pause for a while. If that creates casualties, too bad. I don’t have much time for dating, truth be told. Right now, I’m really devoting most of my free time to training. I can hardly handle two second dates this week. So I won’t go looking for a third. People available on a dating site are not infinite. There’s always the same people around, it may look like it’s raining men at the beginning, but after a while it gets stale. It might be worth pausing for a couple of weeks and allowing some fresh water to flow in. In the mean time, don’t be bothered by the e-mails you will receive in the meantime, just rest. So you won’t be needing tons of make up to conceal bags under your eyes. Ok, this bullet is more to myself than anyone out there…

5) Power is in numbers. I feel extremely lucky because two out of three dates with people met online were actually great. Maybe it’s not just luck, its skimming. If you decide to meet just anyone who chats you up online, you may very well end up with unbearable guys; you need to be extremely selective. With pictures it’s much harder to understand if he looks ok or not, but it’s pretty easy to tell if he looks really bad. Leave those out, even if it’s possible that he is just not photogenic. Read very well his profile, it will give you an idea of who he is; do not accept compromises: if you know he has children and that’s not ok with you, if his level of education is too low, if he lives too far away, if he is too short, if he has dogs and you’re allergic… whatever…  do not waste your time; of course, in real life these can be considered superficial things, but online dating is a bitch and what looks like the perfect guy on-screen, is going to be just normal, not astounding. Of course this means giving up on the vast majority of the subscribers, but one in a hundred is going to be ok for you. I still consider myself lucky, but I have ignored literally hundreds of messages before hitting these two, so maybe it’s more about effective search criteria than good ol’ fashioned fortune.

I’d like to apologise. I didn’t mean to be harsh to you, I didn’t do it on purpose, I actually don’t even realise it when I do it. I still don’t know exactly what it is I told you that you didn’t care for, but it doesn’t matter. You know I didn’t mean it, you said so yourself. I don’t mean to be harsh to anybody, but apparently I do and I guess I can’t really help it.

What you told me the other night was a little awkward though. It’s true I’m going through quite a rough patch, you have no idea how much so. Except, it turns out you do have an idea. What sounds a little weird to me is that you have an idea, you noticed, you know and still you did absolutely nothing about it. Truth be told, it’s not weird: it hurts. All of it hurts, so much I wanted to cry. Maybe you read that too, maybe not.

If you cared enough to look so closely to discover this, you know more about me than you should, more than other people know. I guess I was right after all, I can see through you because in some way we are so similar, apparently you can do the same. But if you have looked this closely, whatever your motives, you must know I am not the person to lay out all of myself in plain sight for anybody to see. You know how much I like to keep things private, you know how I keep my guard up, how I don’t let people in, how I still keep a wall around me, when I want to. You know, because you do too. So did you really not think you were violating me and my secrets by spitting it all out in front of everybody else? I don’t care if they heard, I don’t care if they know, I don’t care about them. I care about you, but you don’t know that. I care about how little you seemed to care about me being happy or unhappy about what you were telling me. You deliberately took a pick and destroyed my wall. You shouldn’t have dared do that, not that way, not to me, not without my consent.

So you claimed the right to expose me, but I don’t see the point in that. Is that the way you talk to a friend? I would have done that in private. Were you drunk? I don’t think so. Were you trying to impress someone else? God I hope not or I swear I’ll kick you so hard you are going to forget your own name. What were you really trying to tell me? That you have been looking out for me? Because really you haven’t. I was so astounded while I was listening to you, I didn’t really put together the pieces. I still haven’t by the way. I picked up single words here and there and tried to organise the kaleidoscope shapes of feelings they caused in me. I guess I should feel happy knowing that you cared enough to see I was in pain, to notice the change in me, even through the ever so little time we normally share. Truth is, it hurts even more. Because through all of my sadness and anger I wanted nothing more than sitting down and talking to you about it. If you knew, if you always saw, why the hell have you never laid out a hand for me? Never once have you asked if something was wrong, if you could do something for me, even just talk about it. Never. So why do you want me to know that you are aware? Please just don’t tell me you wanted to respect my privacy or you would have respected it the other night too and you would have kept your mouth shut.

And then you go and point out that you’re nobody in my life, that you occupy the most marginal of positions. And there I was agape gazing at you with incredulous wide eyes. You know nothing, John Snow, and you will never learn. Because I can’t tell you, I can’t say any of this, I am not even sure I can address any aspect of this matter without revealing clearly to your face everything you mean to me. There is no way I can tell you how, especially when you saw me so sad and desperate, you were the very centre of my world, how you have been the catalyst to the greatest and deepest change in my life I have ever experienced, no way I can let you know what a surprise it was to me to see you cared enough to notice, no way I can show you what a huge impact this simple conversation had on me.

So what, are you trying to tell me you are sorry I am in this situation? Thank you, but that’s not the way. Why did you have to bring it up at any cost? I wasn’t talking about this, you twisted what I was saying into what you wanted to hear. Does it upset you? Sure as hell it upset me listening to it, so out of the blue. Would you prefer to be rid of it so I can do even better, are you making this a professional thing? Don’t you dare… I can’t separate the two, private and professional, because there is no private between us. I am forced to keep it that way and I thought you wanted to keep it that way. Then you go shooting your stray arrows and I just can’t seem to begin to understand the long and the short of it. It’s just like when you complimented me about my eyes. You speak out of turn for mysterious and out-of-nowhere motives. See, I don’t care how many bitches buzz around you, I am not jealous, you can do whatever the fuck you want with them, but you have to learn to navigate around me or we are going to have a problem. “It’s you and me and it’s here and now”.  If this professional thing has to keep working and you bet it does, because I am your best pupil and you know it too, I need to be able to trust you. You pull one of your incomprehensible stunts again, I’m not sure I can keep this up. I don’t even know if I can keep it up now, after this, if I don’t at least try to talk to you about it. And sure it would look like a blacked out FBI file, missing all the sensitive need-to-know details. Did you just want to prove that you are so good with people and even though I keep to myself you win by seeing through the armour? Kudos, you were supposed to enjoy peeping through the hole instead you managed to rip the whole thing apart.

Do you want to let me know you care? Be there for me, for real.

Otherwise, just stay away. Please.

I am seriously considering the possibility to change his pseudonym to Sniper.

Just a couple of weeks after I wrote my lesson no. 1 about online dating: I already managed to break my own rules at least a couple of times. I’ve never been the queen of “practice-what-you-preach-land”. But that’s going to be discussed in lesson 3, which is going to be long and hard, I’m afraid.

The fact is, TS3 has been the catalyst of a very profound couple of days when I got to think and learn a lot about myself. I might say I am not entirely happy with what I learnt, but I guess pointing at the problem is the first necessary step needed to solve it.

I am in a phase where I need to make mistakes in order to learn how to correct the route, so I indulge. Still, I kind of end up hating myself for it.

It all started with some massive BS I pulled, i.e. I realised I gave him access to my public FB profile, where the lifetime event “Wedding” welcomed any passer-by like a flag. And of course I panicked.

I am extremely proud to say that even though panick literally blocked me and my brain for most of the morning hours, I managed to let go and move on on my own. Also because at 11.00 am there’s nobody really you can rely upon. I stepped out of the panic, looked at the facts from the outside and, as dear old Richard used to say, thought of the solution instead of the problem. It’s not as easy as it sounds, when you’re knee-high in shit. Thank Sa for an analytic mind.

Apart from this, what I liked was that I did practice what someone preached indeed, that is, this is a game with rules, but we make up the rules as we see fit in the process. Mine is going to be “just go with your guts”. So what my guts told me to do was to write apologies. Even if unnecessary, even if the wouldn’t be understood or cared for. My dearest analytic mind gave me perspective of all the possible outcomes so I decided to do it. I know 10 other people would have done 10 different things about it, but I chose this road. I decided this is me.

I also realise, that most of my panic didn’t really come from disappointing TS3 but rather from the shame of being caught in my own game and some resentment for not having been smart enough to avoid the mistake. This reminded me of how much I hate lying. Because I think it’s wrong, in principle, and because it takes a heavy toll on me in terms of guilt. What I don’t understand is why I don’t avoid lying in the first place, if I despise it so much.

It feels like high school: I always had a lot of homework but I was rarely bothered enough to finish them. I would indulge in doing something else more interesting instead of sticking to my duty. Then the next day I would panick at the idea of being caught or having a surprise test or something. Still, the dread wouldn’t refrain me from doing the exact same thing the next day.

Self indulgence? Lack of volition? Stupidity?

So I hate lying. Probably because it reminds me that I am not perfect, that compared to the ideal of person I could be I am lacking in some ways. That stain somehow taints all the rest, I think nothing else I have to give has value, if I am ready to deceive someone. It doesn’t matter what the terms of the deceit are. Of course, if put on a scale of seriousness, one could maintain that saying I am separated one week away from my actual separation is not as bad as cheating on someone and denying it afterwards, but I am still not cutting myself any slack.

In this impetus of truth I was convinced to tell TS3 all the truth, nothing but the truth. That was yesterday, as soon as he told me nothing happened and he would meet me anyway, I realised that telling all the truth was suicide. So I made up a mix of reality, lies and points of view, but I still didn’t like it. Then I called Renée and she just illuminated me. I am free to say I don’t want to talk about it. Now, I know it’s still a lie, I know not talking about it doesn’t make it true, but it opened another door in my head.

I want to open up with people and let them see the real me, without holding back. This is great, but I still have to learn the importance of boundaries. Not wanting to lie does not mean I have to strip myself naked in front of a stranger, especially if it feels uncomfortable. I am free to say no, not because I have something to hide, but because I don’t feel ready to discuss something. Being so much open with myself, I have to refrain from overflowing. Because my natural approach would be to just talk about anything, but maybe it shouldn’t be the case.

Beside other motives, this is a perfect excuse if I have something to hide, sure, but it might have a point anyway. I want to get to know people, and maybe bond with them. For this, I need to address deeper issue than what movies I like, but I guess it’s not completely wrong to say that addressing my separation equals hitting a nerve. It is partly true that my refusal to talk about it has to do with the fact that it’s fresh and extremely private. Being excessively open about anything else in this moment, I can hide behind the excuse. Although I realise perfectly that it’s probably all they want to know about me. I guess it’s extremely difficult a concept to grasp if you haven’t been in it. You need to at least have lived with someone to understand what it’s all about. TS3 is way too young to know and I suppose TS2 hasn’t had a chance to do it yet either. In this sense, an older guy could have had the same experience.

There again I’m stuck in the middle. I am attracted to younger guys, who have proven to be interesting enough for me to like them back regardless of their age, but the fact of being separated puts me automatically in another age group in terms of experience. I am pretty sure there are other older separated guys who are stupid enough not to understand my name and younger single guys who could embrace this reality just as well without being judgemental. It depends on the subject, I can’t generalise.

What I would/will answer tonight as to why I didn’t say anything about being separated is not entirely false, just one side of the story. It is true that I have a problem dealing with the idea of being separated. It makes me feel like damaged goods in many ways. First because it’s a constant reminder of a failure. Second because it feels like a cross I have to bear, something every other guy I’ll ever deal with will look upon with suspicion, third because it makes me wonder about my capability of ever loving and committing again. Last but not least because it’s one more reminder of the fact that I am not perfect. I can accept as best as I can that I did it for the right reasons, I still kind of feel like a monster, I still think I should have been able to avoid it. I don’t know whether I’ll ever be able to accept it  fully or if it will always feel like this, I don’t know if it’s just too early to take it any other way.

The timing is one of the things I won’t lie about. De facto separation started at least in my head in November and that’s what I am going to say. This kind of timing I still consider early to start dating again or at least I guess that’s what people might think. In this case, I am more than ready to defend my stand, offering my reasons. This is the ground I won’t cede because this makes me who I am. If they can’t accept it, it just can’t work between us. I won’t lie about a legal separation not being ready yet, just because being a lawyer, TS3 may just check up on my story. I will have to lie, if necessary about living alone. That would be unacceptable from my point of view. There is no chance for either of them to come to my house within the next two weeks anyway.

I am sorry all of this mess happened because I was over the moon to meet this guy. Now I am scared, guilty and embarrassed. Strange thing is, it feels like meeting an old friend rather than a new guy and potential partner. I don’t think it would be good from his point of view, it seems that I have no sexual expectations of sorts, I am just expecting good laughs. I may be wrong, maybe it’s just because he is so young and I can’t think of him that way. Maybe it’s because he knows someone from Campus and it feels like we know each other already.

I’m just sorry I won’t be able to write about it until Monday. Oh what a weekend…

This is completely new territory for me. I admit I am biased by the problems of still having my husband around for another week or so, but it’s not just that. It’s because I haven’t done this in a very long time and even when I did, I didn’t really have a clue of what I was doing. I realise there is a sort of guideline you’re supposed to follow but I feel like I haven’t read the manual. So we met, it wasn’t easy, but I religiously followed all of the instructions and advice I found on the various sites. I even sent an SMS after the date. Now what?

Am I supposed to write him again? When? About what? I’d like to see him again, probably next week, but other than proposing that, should I get in contact with him? Should I wait for him to do it?

I am probably all the more uncertain, because I don’t really know what I want right now. In general and specifically. I mean, it would (maybe) be easier with Coach because I know so well I like him and I’d like a certain type of relationship with him. TS2 is all new. If I have to admit to having expectation regarding this week, I would have pinned them on TS3. Now everything is different.

Is online dating biased? I mean, all I know is that very few of the dates work, because well, it’s obvious, you can’t get along with everybody. But if and when it goes well, do people tend to have the feeling it’s going well because they were expecting less or is it genuine? This stinks of paranoia, I know, but I can’t help wondering.

He is cute. So cute. And talking to him comes easy. Ok, maybe not at first, but once the ice broke it was nice. Considering we had never really chatted per e-mail it came rather natural. Physically he reminds me of Second Fred. Slender, green eyes, nice mouth. It was basically the eyes. Irresistible.

I had a sort of hunch a couple of times that there was electricity. You know, when you look someone in the eyes and there is some magnetism there. I have stared countless times at Coach and while I have started melting more than once for that, I never felt anything coming from him. This time it was different. I was the one driven to lower the gaze and run. I got shivers.

If he had tried to kiss me, it would have been pretty strange, too much too soon, but I don’t think I would have pulled away.

I don’t think I have ever spent this much time analysing a date, more than thinking about the guy himself. But this is what I wanted so I guess I should try to understand anything that I can learn from it.

So far, what I’ve learnt is that I’m good with words even in uncommon or awkward situations. I let go, I talk, a lot. As far as TS2 is concerned I listen too. Of course there was no point in trying to listen to TS1, he just didn’t talk. I like hearing what thy have to say, listening to their reasons. Of course, everything gets much more interesting if you feel some sort of uneasiness at the bottom of your stomach.

It did seem I could open up a bit more. This may be just a sort of GUI syndrome: when you write stuff to people, you’re not looking them straight in the eyes, you don’t care about their reaction and you’re not worried about the impression you’re making. Talking to a stranger is somewhat similar. They don’t really have expectations, you don’t need to be scared about what they might think or tell anybody else, because your worlds do not intertwine. Even more, it could be the exact intention to impress them that makes you pull out some more private things. It would undoubtedly be very interesting to try to understand why it comes easier to me talking to a stranger, rather than a good friend, who is supposed to accept anything I say without judgement of sorts.

I wasn’t ready to talk much about separation, but that was mainly because I just didn’t want to compromise myself too much and because I believe it is early to talk about it. Not early because the separation is fresh, early because I only met TS2 for the first time one hour earlier. It’ll come, eventually, if we keep seeing each other, not now. More than that, letting the next guy understand my current motives is basic. Focus on “the next guy” not just anyone I go out with. But I suppose, when they have no idea what marriage is, they don’t understand what it means to go through a separation.

I still have no way of knowing if this easiness in conversation came from him being him or me being just willing to talk. I liked the fact that he understands, in the most basic of meanings, he is smart, hence he understands any possible angle. He even understands when I use words from my second language, which is so reassuring and natural. I liked the fact that he could overcome the initial freeze quite easily, but that could just be my anxiety from last time. I still don’t quite get why he resorts to online dating, he wouldn’t need it, so I suppose it’s basically a similar case to mine. It seems we really dug in a few topics because there are so many things we haven’t even touched. I guess that’s good, in perspective of a second date. I liked the fact that the flow seemed to be rather natural. I myself didn’t really bring up topics I wanted to address, I just let it go naturally where it was headed, he did ask me a couple of things changing subject, but I guess that’s normal, it wasn’t too soon or too late.

I wonder why some of the things I told him I have never been able to tell my husband, it was as easy as that, but it never came out my mouth in the same way. I wish I knew whether it’s my problem or his. Is it me starting to block out things once I have imprinted a certain image of myself on people or was it him intimidating me somehow with his rationality? Once I get to know someone better, will I still be able to talk silly?

I am not dealing very well with the possibility of keeping it cool. It’s like being in between things again. It’s easy for me and I’ve been there already to hang around a guy you just don’t give a damn about just because you have nothing or no one better to do. I understand being head over heels for a guy, with all the complications this may bring. But keeping it cool and actually being ok with it feels tickling like pins and needles. Maybe it’s just the fun in it. It feels like there’s something missing and you can’t wait to get it back. It’s like an eating curiosity about someone you just need to quench by finding out always more. It’s eagerness. But I do realise that it may even bring to discovering something you may not like or accept. And I guess that’s just the way it goes, it’s part of the game. I wonder if it’s just me feeling the thirst or it’s really how everyone plays.

One thing is certain, up to this point, i.e. after test subject no. 2 (TS2): not all online daters are the same. This may seem rather obvious, but it just means that not all dates are necessarily going to be as catastrophic as my first. This, indeed was good. More than good. I’ll provide a more detailed description in the following post. Lesson no. 2 DO’s and DON’Ts follow:

1) Do believe in your algorithms. At least up to a certain point. I subscribed to two different sites, which differ also because one serves as a mere notice board for “products on the market”, while the other offers a matching system. TS2 came from the latter site, and we basically decided to meet because of a particularly high matching rate. Now, TS1 and I had a rather poor rate and considering how the two dates went, I tend to assume it may not be entirely coincidence. Of course, you do need a substratum: looking at the rate is fine, but I did choose the guy with the highest education in the lot and an appreciable age. And very appreciable pictures, by the way. It may have been luck, one TS is not enough, but still…

2) Do not accept to meet just anybody who asks. This has nothing to do with TS2, but rather with someone else who tried to ask me out. In three sentences he actually managed to say three irritating things. Don’t think it’s ok and try anyway, screen. Because dates have a 100 reasons to go bad even with people you thought you liked, so don’t help bad luck. Unless he is really Christian-Bale-smoking-hot, that is…

3) Do gather and give at least a little information about yourselves. This date with TS2 came even before proper presentations. I knew what he did – which actually did pinpoint the type a little – but 9 out of 10 e-mails we swapped were just organising details for the date. Considering what happened last time, I was ok with it, but I admit it was just too fundamentalist. So much so, that I wasn’t even the tiniest bit excited at the idea of meeting him and almost wanted to call it off. Until I looked at the pictures again…

4) Do not, under any circumstance, assume that “place-name-of-city-here” is so big and no one is going to know if you meet the guy. This was very true for TS1, but it was my fault for bringing him in my sancta sanctorum (boy, I have never been happier to see the Zamboni guy!), but the idea was actually inspired by TS3 (yep, planning ahead!). Of all the places on this Earth where someone living in my region could be born (we’re talking 10 million people here), TS3 was born in the same village of an old Campus mate of mine. They are friends on Facebook. Not good.You might be tempted to contact the common friend and ask a few questions, true, but I like the idea of this guy being completely new to my world. Of course, I still formally have a husband…

5) And, following the previous bullet I’d like to add: if you don’t like the guy, or if you have any reason to lie about that being a date, always have an excuse ready. This goes back to TS1: if my coach had come up to me and asked about the guy, it would have been devastatingly embarrassing to admit he was my date. It’s your conscience, you guilt, you frustration speaking: “how could you date someone like that?”, “Tell me about it, I have no fucking clue, believe me…”. So you need a back-up answer; no, you need two:

  • If your date is within earshot: you stop at the name. That’s it. No more. “This is Stanislaw”. Then it’s not your problem anymore.
  • If your date is not within earshot: let your fantasy run wild: in my case, he was my colleague. He can be your cousin, your neighbour, just a friend, your father’s boss, your little brother’s best buddy, that’s up to you and mostly up to what he looks like, but whatever the case, for your reputation’s sake: be ready.

6) It is a rather good idea to have another telephone number just for online dates. This was an advice I received from Faith and I think it has a point. You write a couple of e-mail, know close to nothing about the guy, yet you’re meeting him somewhere and you are going to need to exchange numbers, even just to recognise each other. If he turns out to be a psycho or just an extremely clingy and needy guy, you may not want to change your proper number because of that. Having a second number is harmless and if you actually establish a healthy relationship with the guy you can give him your proper number then. We girls always have the excuse of safety after all… This is true for e-mails too, but I took that for granted as you’re not supposed to reveal your surname to any of these guys at least until you look them in the eyes.

Bottom line: you shouldn’t wait to care for the guy before you meet him, but do give him a little try before anyway.

They say, when you fall off the horse, the only thing to do is get back on it before your fear stops you. So, after Saturday, I renewed my subscription to online dating sites. I promised to myself though that I am going to approach this with a statistical point of view: I need a batch of subjects greater than 1 to understand if it’s the average or the occasional bad luck. In order to do that, there are a few mistakes to be avoided in the future. Lessons learned from test subject nr. 1:

1) Do not, under any circumstance, exchange more than 6 messages with the guy before having any other kind of contact. If you do, you’re in trouble. Whenever you read an e-mail from someone (with more than 4 words) you do understand something about how they are. But just something. You can understand if they are literate or ignorant, if they are witty or dull, if they are fun or boring, if they are down to Earth or utterly megalomaniac. That’s the best case scenario. The information gathered from text can cover up to 40% of the way they are, the rest, whether consciously or not, will be filled in by your fantasy. You imagine a voice, an attitude, a behaviour, a rate of talkativeness, a way of approaching you, you most probably even imagine a gaze, because really pictures are NOT enough. And let me tell you, reality can be oh so far from it! Whenever you wonder: is it too good to be true? The answer is yes.

2) Do not, under any circumstance, wait more than 1 week before you meet the guy (2 if you write to each other only every 2-3 days – but don’t cheat!). The longer you wait, the longer your brain lingers on photoshopping images of the guy, in terms of appearance and character. And your brain is a bitch. Mine, for instance, somehow turned the picture I saw into Derek Phillips III (Billy Riggins from FNL). Right, like a guy like that would even have time to subscribe to online dating before an armada of women assailed him…

3) If you have stupidly done either one or both the things above and you are not the kind of girl who can fall for the ugliest man on the planet because he has a beautiful soul, do not, under any circumstance, agree to meet the guy before you’ve talked to him on the phone. This is a real wake up call. It’s the moment when you realise he doesn’t sound as sexy as Big Mike, maybe has rhotacism and reminds you of Rajesh Koothrappali when in front of a girl with no alcohol at hand.

4) Do not, under any circumstance, put yourself in the position of having to endure the date for more than 30 minutes, when all you could handle are 30 seconds. At times, when you see the guy, you want to run. But he may still be nice and outgoing and a good talk in front of a coffee. Or, he might make you want to run and still be unbearable. Now, let’s face it, you have to be free to run. Coffee, beer, ice cream: fine. Nothing that requires more than 15 minutes. If you want to stay you’ll always find a good excuse to… Ice skating? BAAAAAAAD idea!! And of course, someone who doesn’t live in your city: not good. Do you really want to ask the guy to drive for 2 hours and send him away after 20 minutes?

5) Do not, under any circumstance, write only to that guy and discard anyone else because he is better. He is better only because your pretty smarty brain cooked him up. Always write to more people. This helps you understand he is only one fish in the sea, not the blue whale, not the Portuguese man-o-war. Plus, this strategy is good to keep your hopes up: ok, it was gruesome, maybe next one will be better! (note to self: after 20 tries it might be time to give up, I’ll follow up on that).

6) Do not, under any circumstance, mislead the guy. Always pretend that you don’t really like him. Do not hint at possible second dates, do not compliment him in ways that expose your interest too much, do not OH GOSH DO NOT do anything even widely resembling flirting with the guy during the date if you don’t like him. Otherwise, at the end of a 21-December-2012-terrible date, you may even risk to be asked out on a second date. BE BRUTAL!

Bottom line is, do not wait until you actually care for the guy before clashing your dreams with reality. N-E-V-E-R!

It really looks like I didn’t do a single thing right. Lesson learnt. Oh Sa help me, lesson learnt!

I’m angry again. This hadn’t happened in a while. When one of my coworkers got shut outside and I had to get up for the hundredth time to open the door, I wanted to spit fire like a dragon. I assume it is to be expected that when you’re born red you can’t just turn blue all of a sudden, purple maybe, but a hint of red will always stay.

I am angry and frustrated and worried, as I always am whenever I realise the change isn’t profound enough, or incomplete.

This time, it has to do with the feelings that a simple delayed message can trigger in me. I refuse to believe that it actually has to do with the absence of the message, because I’ve been there so many times before, it’s my typical response, it doesn’t matter who the sender is, not really. It happened with Second Fred, with Julius, with Coach, somehow with my husband too. I feel abandoned and I hate that.

It might sound perfectly normal, everybody gets mad if the person they’re dealing with disappears, but this feels different to me, this I cannot accept in myself. It probably has a lot to do with what I wrote in my previous post: I tend to get attached too easily. But that’s not all. It moves something deep, it touches nerves that I still can’t control.

Of course, if I could consider things for what they are, it probably wouldn’t happen. I don’t know the guy, he is not a pivotal figure in my life – case in point, we have only exchanged a couple of e-mails – why the hell should I care if all of a sudden he’s not in my life anymore? Yet, it does matter. It stings. Is it because of too grand expectations? Maybe, but then I wonder why my expectations tend to grow su unchained. It doesn’t happen for any other thing, only when I like someone. Not with friends, not for jobs… probably because it’s the only completely irrational thing I do.

I understand this time it may mean something more, because of the status of my life, because whether it’s stupid or not, it feels like it’s gone wrong twice already, with Coach and with Matthew, but I guess this explains more why I care so much rather that why it feels so bad to be left behind. Of course, when Batman disappeared I didn’t care, I hardly care about Matthew anymore, because he is such a jerk. This is different.

And then there are the endless questions: have I done or said something wrong, have I not done something I should have, did he find out something about me he didn’t like, did he make his way to this blog and now thinks I am the psycho? The fact that people disappears makes getting answers difficult, so basically this is what I am always left thinking: that it may be my fault, that I could have prevented it, that I’m not good enough and not knowing the problem, I’m cursed to repeat it every time forever. Of course, sometimes I realise he’s just a prick.

I have been trying to figure out if this has ever happened before First Fred. I haven’t really been able to answer that. I don’t remember, not exactly. With Phillip, no not really, with Micheal definitely not, with Andrew there wasn’t even the circumstance. I have had this crazy idea again, that it might stem from there. It’s troublesome, because I don’t know how to deal with something that happened such a long time ago, that is now buried under thick layers of denial, hardened feelings and scars. It was possibly the first time my expectations went to hell, the first time I didn’t see the blow coming, the first time I had opened up completely only to be stabbed in the back. And the means were exactly the same: he disappeared.

In these circumstances, one sentence always comes to mind: estote parati. Probably this is the real source of the problem. I can’t forgive myself for not being perfect enough to see it coming and I still batter myself for it. So my response now is imagining it’s going to happen every time in the illusion it’s going to hurt a little less. Which it doesn’t, first of all, and second, the only fact that I have to fight against my hope and try to surrender to negative feelings hurts even more. Why is the source of all my problems always the same? Why can’t I just fight the black witch and be who I am? I was supposed to be the girl who can fall for a perfect stranger who just wrote a couple of e-mails and all I was left being is the girl who denied romanticism, who laughed at hopes, who killed dreams and of course didn’t believe in herself. And it doesn’t even matter who I was supposed to be and who I shouldn’t have become, because the truth is I am every single one of those things and the only thing that the ensemble produces is that I am the girl who fights everything she is. Whether good or bad, it doesn’t matter, because there is no good or bad, there are feelings and there are weaknesses and there is happiness, and anything that works for you is what’s right. It doesn’t matter if it’s being naive, rigid, uncompromising or sweet. Fighting is nothing.

How do I get out of this? I perfectly realise that I can’t go on dealing with dating if I can’t overcome this, it would be hell again, just as it’s always been. I have tried to tell myself that reacting the way I react could be positive, that I need to change point of view: others could never have been as happy as I have been for the past week thanks to so little, and I should thank the heavens for such fine days, but if this is the price to pay, I’m not sure it’s such a good deal. I am black and white, I know no grey, and therefore all positive feelings are amplified, true enough, but so do the bad ones. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, not as such, but if mixed with all of my self-esteem issues it can become lethal.

The lure of the placebo effect is very strong. It would be easy to say “check your account again, he may have sent it just 2 minutes after you checked last time”. But that doesn’t work, now I know. This is not about finding a guy who will be so methodical to never disappoint my expectations, it’s about being ok whatever he does, being ok with hurting if he does something wrong but not before he even does it. I just don’t know where to start. I am just trying to find some balance within, before I open my mail again, find it empty and lose it. Or find a new message indeed waiting for me and discard the whole matter, because anxiety stopped gnawing.

In all that, I also need not to get lost and focus on the guy. Now that I have at least partially taken back my freedom of choice, I can’t let myself be at the mercy of feeling and say I am happy just because yay he did actually come back from the dead = he made me happy.

This is just a hunch, but it’s such a good one…

“Everybody’s complicated” sure thing, you just have no idea how complicated I am.

It’s amazing how quickly feelings can change. Only yesterday night I was smiling and giggling as I hadn’t been doing in a long time, now I’m frowning and my stomach feels squeezed like a lemon.

I realise, this is all mainly my fault. My fault for building way too big expectations, for believing I was ready when maybe I was still too weak, for imagining reality before it actually has a chance to unwind.

Still, it doesn’t feel any easier.

I let myself get attached before any circumstance may prove it reasonable and now I’m scared to death.

I have a date. Saturday, with Stephen. I was so damn excited about this… until along came the doubt. I don’t understand whether I’m overreacting or I’m right. I’ve been filled with unreasonable doubt during the weekend too. Nothing is off, not really, it’s just… at times, it sounds too good to be true. He didn’t say or do anything out of the ordinary, so I don’t understand if it’s just my cosmic pessimism trying to rain on my parade. What I’ve always thought is, I’m online dating and I’m a normal girl, probably above average compared to the others and I’m still there. So why can’t it be the same for some nice, interesting and cute guy out there?

The problem is, trusting someone you don’t know for a woman, for me, is hard enough without doubt. With doubt, it’s terrifying. At the back of your head, you always ask yourself “what if…”. The vast majority of online daters are losers, another good portion are married guys who pretend not to be married and some others may actually be ok. But you never know who you’re dealing with. Legends talk about psychos, sociopaths, pedos, serial killers… any little sign out of the ordinary makes you panick.

I still have no reason to believe there is anything bad, as in dangerous, but I guess I would just be terribly disappointed if it’s anything less than perfect. Not perfect, perfect is boring, but the way I expect it, the way I hope it will be. I shouldn’t have done that, but I have created an image in my mind of how he could be, which by the way may be for instance much more real than any projection of coach, and I like it, a lot. Having expectations is the worst thing you could ever do in online dating. It would be disappointing to meet up and realise that he doesn’t look nearly as cute as in the picture, but I guess I could get over it more easily.

I am left imagining things way worse than average and the bad thing is, I can’t even push to have an answer. What’s killing me is that I need to know before I officially decide to go through with this date, yet it seems like something he wouldn’t want to discuss per e-mail.

I wish he would call me already. I gave him my number Saturday, but I guess yesterday being out skiing wasn’t the greatest of chances.

I thought the problem about 3 years ago was possibly his separation, I’m not that sure anymore now. He seems such a nice guy, but I guess that’s not enough. If he is not real, if what he wrote me was only a scheme, the frightening thing is he would be so damn good at it. The fact that I thought the same exact thing about coach though, makes me believe it could all be a projection of my sick mind. Occam’s razor would say, it would be way easier to just be like that rather than saying exactly all the things I would appreciate. You can’t invent a language, you either know it or you don’t. A lot of other things you can learn on Wikipedia, writing smart things you can’t. Or maybe I am just much more predictable than I care to admit.

So I get carried away easily and get my hopes up way too soon. One may wonder whether it is wise or not, probably not, but the question here is rather: this is the way I am, and I’ve always been; should I change that or should I accept it and stop trying to fight it?