All the movies and all the songs make it seem like meeting someone special just happens. You will bump into them on the street and there will be an instant connection. News flash: This is mostly a lie. Shocking!
Over the years, in my serious conversations about dating, there doesn’t seem to be a good answer to anything. Overlapping interests seems to be a good place to start, but you don’t want too many or you will be dating yourself…
I feel like we learned how to make friends as children and then the training for anything more complex than friendship never happened. My polite or encouraging words were mistaken as flirtation when I was a teenager. I also remember a rather odd conversation with one of my Christian camp counselor peers at the end of the session. A friend of mine from previous retreats was picking up one of the campers and we were chatting for a moment. My friend and the camper left and my counselor peer came up to me afterwards and was all aghast that I knew this person.
It didn’t even occur to me that she was beautiful. I’m not blind, but I wasn’t thinking of her in that way. We had shared a bond from working a powerful Christian retreat together and she lived in a different city than my hometown. I could write a whole book about my two summers as a camp counselor. Oh, to be 18 years old again…just kidding. No. Let’s not do that. *Runs away screaming*
I have been on plenty of fun friend dates with female counterparts, so I am not completely unfamiliar with the idea. My “official dating” experience is limited, but I think I paired up with the wrong person each time. My first attempt was the closest thing to a “fling” that I will probably see. I am thankful for the experience as it really taught me where my line needed to be for the future. That was a lesson in boundaries. In my early days of independent living, I did a complete 180 on the type of person I was dating. For one, I didn’t realize I was “dating” until we were. I didn’t have “the conversation” early enough and it got strange.
From then on, my “radar” was on, but I didn’t force anything into existence. I moved to Illinois almost three years ago and I mostly was working and trying to find a church. I had made some friends and I hoped that with that “comfort blanket” I could venture out into the dating world. I didn’t want to put too much pressure on this future partner to fill all the empty spaces.
Most recently, I moved again, but within driving distance of my previous location. I have embraced my “home-body” attitude during this pandemic. However, this presented a problem with the idea of making new friends and (hopefully) finding someone. My other future plans are starting to come into focus, and I decided it was time to get serious about a future relationship that could become a safe place. A friendship that grew into something stronger. (I absolutely hate the phrase “more than friends”. It sounds so non-committal.)
Everything found above is a very long preamble to inform you that I have created a profile on no less than three dating apps. I have explored, liked, messaged and filtered down my possible future partners. The apps and similar websites include a phenomenal range of levels. They will also show you people outside your distance range, so that is fun…
We start with the simple profiles with a first name and a photo. You tap “yes” or “no” and if you match, you can message each other or meet up in-person. Simple enough. A couple levels up, you will find a profile that requires in-depth answers to common questions. Some of these platforms even offer a multiple-choice personality test that puts you into a matrix of traits. This provides a “match-score” that can used against other user’s traits. These seems very useful, but you have to be careful with your search filters. The “top choice” may smoke, drink, have body piercings, or have a faith belief completely opposite of yours.
I must point out that even the simplest versions of these apps require payment, or you are restricted from features. The worst type of app has banner advertisements. Avoid those. At the very top level of this world, we have the proper matchmakers. No, I’m not kidding. Fill out a very in-depth profile and pay a modest fee. You are now part of a pool of candidates for those looking for their next date. The one I found offers what I would call full-service dating. You are a busy professional. You don’t have time to arrange schedules, plan a date that might work, and then hope for the best. For a “reasonable” fee, you can become a client with your own personal matchmaker. They search this “pool” of existing profiles to find a good match for you. They handle all the scheduling between both people. They arrange the actual date that works well for both people. The two potential partners just show up at the right place and time and get to enjoy each other’s company.
I’m making fun of this a little bit, but after a couple of weeks of waiting for any sort of response from these other dating apps, it starts to make sense. Maybe it doesn’t work out on the first try, but at least it’s not guesswork. I’m afraid if I want to do the full-service version of this, I’ll have to save a bit of money first. How much have I saved from not dating for over 5 years? Probably enough. ^_^
I am sure there will be more stories to tell as I make my way through this new age of dating. Stay tuned!