My entire life, I only attracted and dated schmucks. Even these instances were few and far between, maybe once every three years.
It wasn’t that I was unattractive at the time. I was fit, tan, and pretty. But I was shy and dealing with a lot of trauma. My insecurities outshone my physical features, and that drove away men more than any of my better qualities could attract them.
When I was in college, I had a particularly bad dating experience that left me feeling broken. During and after the breakup I felt like a shell of a person. I didn’t even feel human. What happened between the two of us made me develop agoraphobia and I feared men the most.
For a while this wasn’t a problem, until I met a certifiably nice guy at my friend’s wedding the summer after I graduated college.
He was tall, handsome, and polite. At the last slow dance of the evening he approached and respectfully asked me if I would like to dance. I said yes. It turned out to be the last song of the reception, and we quickly exchanged names and numbers.
I checked him out with my friend, the bride, and found out he was a close friend of the groom. She was excited for me, enthused with the idea that I had found my future husband at her wedding. Her husband had great things to say about him.
Hopeful, I became electrified when he texted me saying he was coming to my area. He asked me to dinner and I decided to go to a vegan diner relatively close to my house. I really didn’t want to mess things up so I scrubbed my front door which was covered in bird poop (my family and I had a family of swallows that lived above the door that we couldn’t bear to get rid of). To my surprise he pulled up in a brand new red Lexus.
Well, I thought, this is going to be different.
I was dressed in my bridesmaid dress (faux pas, but it wasn’t formal, more like a sundress) and he came to the door in a suit. I think. I don’t remember. He was dressed much nicer and more fashionably than most guys I’d met. My parents met him at the door high school style and I was dying inside, knowing I was falling on my face with this dating thing. It was no wonder I was single and an old crone by Christian standards at age 23.
When we made it to the diner, he expressed he wasn’t expecting something so informal. But he was charmed by the local artwork for sale on the walls, and tried to make eye contact with me. I felt anger turn up in my stomach when he did this, and it wasn’t because I did not like him or find him unattractive. Quite the opposite. My manphobia had reared its ugly head, and I found myself giving him terse and abrupt answers to his polite questions.
I finally had a gentleman, and my brain was on the fritz. This scarred brain, hurt by all the scoundrels it had been with before, did not know what to do with a decent human being.
He proceeded to continue with the date, but I cut it short after I couldn’t bear it anymore. I felt bad about this after a few days because I did like him, who wouldn’t, so I texted him. He told me he didn’t want to be in a long distance relationship, and I understood.
After this I went to therapy for six months, got a big kid job and moved out with a family friend from high school.
Within the first few months of us rooming together, I learned my friend had an evil ex as well that she was trying to put behind her. After I volunteered at a few funerals, she kept nudging me to sign up for Tinder, find a guy, settle down, and have the “wedding of the century” (my exaggerated words in an attempt at a joke, not hers) at our home area to make up for all the funerals.
I like boy talk as much as the next girl, and it seemed to me that in today’s world, the only way anybody went on a date was to go online. My roommate was extremely beautiful, and it seemed odd to me that no one would approach her in person. She explained that nobody approached anyone in person anymore.
The more I heard about her dates, the more a creeping notion grew in my brain. It wasn’t about finding someone to settle down with. It was about healing.
Maybe I could use these dating apps to expose myself to men gradually, screen them for red flags, and heal myself of the fear I was living with.
Although the fear is not completely gone and it bleeds into my current relationship, I have found great healing in going slow and giving it a shot. Along the way I found my fiance.
It is true that I came across some really bad apples. With online dating, it is imperative to use caution and safety guidelines.
Some people are real jerks and can really test your emotional limits. Walk away and let yourself be.
When the time is right, your healing will come. I did not desire healing for years. But when I wanted it I found more than I bargained for.
And now, a recap:
Pocket full of starlight: Online dating can be used for multiple purposes, including overcoming our greatest fears.
Pocket full of darkness: Online dating can be emotionally draining and dangerous, please exercise caution!