Single? What? I haven’t been single since I was a teen. Four long-term relationships have filled the better part of the last 30 years. Now, recently divorced after 14 years, I am dipping my toe into unfamiliar waters.These waters my toe is dangling in are deep and scary. Even as I ease into the pool, I am clinging tightly to the edge not wanting to venture out. Who are these people? Why are they attractive to me, or not? Wait, online dating? What is this? I am not meeting you in real life? Ummm…
That is not to say I haven’t had periods of time where I was single, but they were brief. Maybe I glommed onto the first person that came along. Maybe fate always kept a partner in my life. Maybe I was just lucky. I can’t explain why my life happened the way it did, but none-the-less, here I am. And now…turning 45 and facing the dating scene for really the first time in my life. On top of being single for the first time in what seems like forever, I am also single as the first time as a Trans Woman. Ummm…
One thing I can say is that I have certainly learned some valuable lessons as I have ventured into the dating pool.
Lesson one: Not everyone is honest, the scammers are looking for me.
I read about people being scammed on dating sites from various sources and I have often thought to myself, how does anyone fall for that? Until it happened to me! Yes, I am a victim of a scammer. Mr. Charming wrote me the message of my dreams, promising me everything. Did it sound fishy? Of course. But, I don’t do alone well and desperation pushed my intelligence aside and said, trust this guy. Money, power and fame, what more could a girl ask for? He offered it all: Sugar Daddy. What did he want? To pay off my debts and be a kind soul. Too good to be true? Yeah, of course it was, but the brain was turned off and reason flew out the window. Even as the scam unfolded, and my brain knocked on the door saying, hey chicky, you know this isn’t real, I continued to follow along. In the end, it could have been a lot worse as it only cost me $60 in bounced check fees, but…stupid, stupid, stupid!
What did come from this encounter was life experience. I had waded away from the edge of the dating pool and started to drown, but it taught me to swim, even if just treading water to stay afloat. When the next scammer came around, I was ready. It was the same lines, the same moves and potentially even the same person. My brain took over and said, no way buddy! The interaction with him lasted less than half a day. He figured out quick that I wasn’t having any of it and moved on. Maybe the water isn’t so deep when you know how to navigate it?
Lesson two: People can be flaky
So many people, so many personalities. I have had conversations that in the end we both decided that it wasn’t right. I am still having conversations where the future of any relationship is still open. Then I have had conversations that go so well and then…they just stop talking. The last exchange was positive, so what happened? Did I do something wrong? We bonded for hours and all I said was I need to go to a meeting and I’ll be back in 30 minutes. Geez, how is that a deal breaker?
I have to keep reminding myself that not everyone reacts to situations the same way I do. We all use our life’s experiences to guide our actions as we interact with others. They are no exception. Three hours of texting does not give me their entire story. I don’t know what their past holds. Maybe the thought of it ‘going right’ scares them? Maybe they don’t really want what they think they want? Maybe they just change their minds? All cool, but why be rude?
I am sure this is where my naiveite of online dating comes into play. When I lose interest, I personally just say, “no thank you”. Or if we have had an ongoing dialogue, I say, “I’m sorry, but…” I guess that is just me and the way I have dated in the past…well as much as I can remember from 30 years ago. Sigh.
Lesson three: Very few people take the time to read my profile
I swear, there are times I think I could write the rudest thing possible on my profile and I would still get responses. I’m sorry, I took the time to write my profile, you take the time to read it. It is a good window into who I am. Is it a complete picture? No. Website limitations prevent that. And, that is what we can talk about; that is our conversation starters. But the one thing that drives me crazy is if I have put it in my profile and the questions I start getting are all about things I already took the time to explain. I am not talking about clarification, I am talking about questions like, “Where do you live?” Ummm….
The same holds true in reverse. I do read your profile. If I am responding to you or writing you first, I promise it has nothing to do with your profile picture. I saw something on your profile that caught my attention. It could be something as simple as where you live, but we have to start somewhere. Please don’t repeat your profile to me as we correspond. If I need a refresher, I know how to pull up your profile and look it over again. Tell me something new.
Lesson four: Learning to swim is a process and not something I do automatically
Drown and resurface, drown and resurface. This seems to be the way this process works. Every time I think I have it figured out, I go under again. Do you like to be the one to initiate contact? Do you prefer if I reach out to you first? Are you just here to troll? (Hey look, I used an internet term not from my generation…go me!) How am I supposed to know?
It was so simple back before online dating. You went to a place or an event, you saw someone you might be interested in and asked if you could get to know each other. The answer was either yes, no or maybe. Two out of three in the odds of at least having a conversation; not bad. In the online world, not so much. Yes, can mean yes, until I get bored in five minutes or yes, how about we talk next week or yes, but not really. What??? Is my head above water here? I don’t understand. Can we just be precise with what we want and what we are looking for? Drown and resurface, drown and resurface.
I think that being Trans adds more depth to the water I am treading. This added complication limits where I can go to date. I tried may times using dating sites that are geared towards more ‘conventional’ relationships, straight and gay. That is the point where lesson three comes back into play. It never matters if the first word on my profile is “Transgender” because they aren’t reading it. I learned to always ask while setting up a date if they are really okay with me being Trans. Nine times out of ten, I get,
“What do you mean you are Trans? ” Cue the curse words and slurs Ummm…
It is all enough to make me want to give up hope. Maybe I should join a nunnery. Oh wait…religion, trans…guess that one is out too. Am I doomed to be alone? How long do I have to swim these dark murky waters? Where is Mr. Right? I do not know the answers to any of these questions and don’t even know where to look for them. What I do know is that it is scary to be in the dating pool and not knowing how to swim. For now, I will tread to keep my head above water and hope that someone will take me by the hand and show me the way back out the deep abyss.