When I finished writing my OKCupid profile, I posted it to one of those “review my profile!” sites. I got a few pieces of useful feedback – a few of my answers were clichéd, one in particular made me seem like a lot of work, and I should change which of my photos I was using as a profile picture.
However, the only piece of advice I really remember was the guy who told me that as a religious single mom, online dating was a bad fit for me, and I should be trying to get out more to meet people in the real world. Since I was within thirty miles of a big city, he said, this should be easy and would probably work better.
I don’t know what kind of magical world he lives in, but in my world, when you have three kids ricocheting around you, it’s kind of hard to have real conversations with people. And when you have three kids with bedtimes from 7:30-8:30, it’s not easy to just jump out for a night on the town, or sign up for classes, or pick up a sport.
My ex has the kids some weekend days, but I never know how to go about meeting people. Advice-givers tell you, “Coffee shops are great places to meet people!” or “You can meet great guys at the supermarket!” Seriously? Where are all of these supermarkets where shoppers strike up conversations and trade phone numbers in the produce section? In my supermarkets, everyone’s busy trying not to get killed by other shoppers, and glaring at anyone who dares to comment on their purchases.
I am also not a very physical person. I don’t think I’ve ever just looked at a man and thought, “That is an attractive person who I would like to get to know better.” It’s always something that comes out in conversation. I like nice people. I like people who care about things, whether it’s politics, charity, or the criminally tragic way Fox mishandled Firefly. I can never just look at a guy in a grocery store and picture those things.
Out in the real world, people don’t have profiles telling what drives them. I survey a landscape of rocks, knowing that under some are $100 bills, but I will have to dig for them. Without knowing how to find the good ones, do I want to spend the effort on the digging? (Especially when the kids are waiting in the car whining?)
On the other hand, maybe this is all just an excuse for the fact that I’m bad at meeting people. It feels like a risk and an expensive expenditure of emotional energy every time I say hello to a stranger, and the only way to meet people, really, is to say hello.
What would happen, I wonder, if I just told myself: “Today, you will have five conversations with strangers?” They don’t have to be men. Mothers out on their own, old men, teenaged girls, neighbors I haven’t spoken with before – the point is the initiation. Maybe I don’t need to meet men. Maybe I just need to open up to the possibility of human connections.
There is a world of interesting people out there. What am I missing? And do I have the courage to find out?
Probably not. That’s a little sad.