online dating

In ALL, LIFE OBSERVATIONS by Stephanie Klein16 Comments

The last time I entered a chat room, I was fourteen years old (save for today when I was deciding what to write), in my childhood bedroom, on a telephone I won in an acne product sweepstakes.  Back then, chat rooms were “party lines,” and I was a glutton for attention from strangers with deep voices.  If I found a seductive voice, I’d have to call out to the moderator asking to connect us to a “private room.”  Then we’d exchange real phone numbers and begin to… begin to nothing.  Nothing ever came of it.

Except once.

There was an older man—at least, he sounded older—who lived in Far Rockaway.  I’m still not *exactly* sure where that is.  We talked dirty to one another on the phone at night.  It was the perfect seexual relationship for this fourteen-year-old girl until he mentioned he owned a “special swing chair for me to sit in next time.”  Next time?  He was saving telling me about this swing seex chair for our next conversation.  And, he owned it.  I never returned any of his calls after that; the mere mention of the chair was all I needed to be repulsed.  Certainly he had a rubber ball and a collar, too.  No, merci.

The next week, I was back on the party line.  Once he heard my voice, he announced to “the room” I was a prude.  I was branded, what, a prudish dirty talker?  How oxymoronic.  He asked for a private line, and when we spoke, he said he was hurt I was back on the party line.  He thought we had something.

There are a lot of disillusioned people out there.  I encounter many of them through this blog.  They think we share something special because I have a blog, and they have an email account…or two… or three.  They think they know me.

I’ve been disillusioned more than a handful of times myself.  For starters, a long long time ago, long enough to repeat a word, I made the mistake of chatting over the phone for extended periods of time prior to an actual meeting.  The problem here is people gain an unrealistic vision of expectation.  They conjure images and begin to swoon and hope over someone they’ve never even met.  It’s just unnatural.

There’s more disillusionment where that came from.  I met an ex of mine on match.com over a year ago.  Once we had “the talk” indicating neither of us wanted to date other people, I checked, you know, just to make sure, to see if his profile was still up.  Indeed it was.  From there, things got gummy.

The woman is the brakes; the man is the gas.  If a man isn’t hitting the gas pedal hard enough, you won’t go anywhere.  It’s up to the woman to put on the brakes.  The woman, argue if you’d like, sets the pace of any relationship.  Too many of us forget that.  As women, we let things happen fast because it feels good… but in the end, sometimes, he just ends up bored… and she ends up wondering how she can slow things down.  What can she take back?  You can’t fix that; you’re basically screwed at that point.  It’s the equivalent of pulling down your online profile prematurely… just to reactivate it while you’re still dating.  It’s a no-no.

I witness a lot of this.  I’ve got friends on facebook, match, nerve, eharmony, and jdate.  With the excitement of a budding mini-relationship, they hide profiles, change their status to “looking for friends,” or make the boldest move of all: they give it up, cold turkey.  If you do it prematurely, and then put it back up, you’re asking to sever any relationship you have with the other person.  Alternatively, if things seem to be good, and you leave your profile up, people get depressed.  I’ve done it all.  I’ve obsessed, and I’ve not cared enough.

Bottom line: you shouldn’t have to ask.  People will always find a way to cheat or get their needs met.  There’s nothing you can do to stop it, and any reassurances you might get are just words.  There will be other chat rooms, other party lines, other bars, other nights, other promises.  You have to learn to let go of control, exhale, and trust.  Trust… I’m surprised it’s not a four letter word.

Comments

  1. The appeal of on-line anything is its informal intimacy. What most people don't get is that it's an illusion. It's why, actually, I don't allow comments on my blog. If it's important, they'll email me, the same way if it's important they'll call back. There are a lot of lonely people out there, I'm one of them, but my blog is my outlet, not theirs. Oh and Stephanie, YOU'RE PRETTY ENOUGH. YOU'RE ENOUGH. I'd like to see that in your writing.

  2. the only issue i see with online dating, is that sometimes people get much deeper much more quickly than they would if they followed traditional dating processes (i.e. in person, on the phone, etc.) The issue arises when you finally meet the person, because they may feel at that point that they know you on a much more intimate level, when in actuality, you need to work to get to that same level in the physical world. also, some people (not you steph) are much better in writing, and have a difficult time communicating in person. consequently, a person who seemed like a fit online, might not be in person.

    just my 2 cents, but i have a girl friend who just had this very issue happen to her. within 2 weeks of being in an online relationship, they knew each others deepest darkest secrets. consequently, when they started their physical relationship, he felt they were at a much different stage, and it ended miserably.

    good luck steph!

  3. Creepy, but in a good way. That is how I felt reading this last post. A few months ago, I happily stumbled across your blog. I don't always have the time to read, but when I have some spare time I like to sit and read until my eyes hurt. Its like not having time to read your favorite book…when you have the time its addicting and you can't put it down. Anyway…Ive been arm wrestling with some trust issues myself this week and of all days to be able to sit down and get my fix of greek tragedy….it was creepy, but in a good way….thanks. I needed a virtual slap in the face to get out of my funk.

  4. the "illusion of informal intimacy" cuts both ways… one thinks they have gotten to know you based on a profile, a blog an email and a few im's, but the truth is that people are deeper than what their writing conveys.

    yet the power of the written word can't be underestimated. web based sensory deprivation forces one to rely solely on what is conveyed in writing. ultimately a reader infers personality in an writer and this creates a fantasy/illusion of intimacy between a reader and a writer.

    so while i hear your frustration at those who think they know you because of an online interaction (having had that happen often enough to myself), i am not sure i can totally sympathize… the fact of the matter is that your putting you thoughts and emotions out there for people to read, and weather it is your intention or not, some people will begin to associate your openness online as a high level of intimacy. just like knowing that you can’t be in a relationship before loving yourself, one needs to understand the double edge nature of using the web as a means to date and expression.

    but i am inclined to agree with trisha ann, you are a strong, independent, beautiful woman, let that shine in your writing.

  5. I know you already know this, but it needs reiterating. If you put yourself out there, some are going to assume they "understand" or know you because they believe what you write. You're writing is credible and that's a compliment! They can empathize with something about you, because as humans we all have a few commonalities we can connect with, and that causes a mini bond to occur. It's like meeting someone who comments here frequently for the first time, they may think they already know everything about you because they've read about it, but they really just have a preconceived notion and don't know you at all.

    Many find the courage to write their deepest, darkest thoughts and desires to complete strangers on the internet than if they were to have a face to face conversation with the same strangers. It's the same for those who flame. No one sees your face or what you're wearing. We're all anonymous. You don't get deep with someone you've just been introduced to or have known for a short time. While internet dating may have a happy ending for a few people, it fails for the majority.

    My $.02 for what it's worth.

  6. I'm going to have a disagree a tad (constructively I hope)-

    assuming you write details about your feelings and life, and you don't spare anything for embarassment's sake. Then someone who has been reading your site religiously every day since you launched it might know you as well as anyone can know another person. All the things you write here are often not the kind of things people say out loud.

    So what makes your friends' (assuming they don't read the site) view of you deeper than someone's who has been reading your private thoughts daily for over a year? It's never a complete view, online or in real life- it's always a snapshot of a moment in time. A partial glimpse of who you are at one particular moment. We the readers are just seeing your life from a different angle. Seems like more and more lately you bash people who 'think they know you' – because a few retards have written inane comments here that hurt your feelings. Are you in backlash mode?

    Just judging by your pictures,it looks like you give people who know you in person a more shiny, happy, sweet version of yourself than what they'd find if they read here. The online you seems a little deeper and a little grittier. More self-conscious, more real. Just a thought.

    I'm assuming a lot – just because, personally I wouldn't have a conversation with my friends about 'anger fucking' myself. Yet, I knew exactly what you meant by it and probably would write about it in my private journal. But, then maybe I am just a prude because I don't talk about smell fingers either. :)

  7. "They THINK they know me?" You need to go back and re-read all of your posts if you think people, even strangers, can't start to know you by reading your blog. You can't write some of these uber-honest posts about almost every facet of your life and then say "how could these nuts think they know me?"

    You shouldn't be surprised that people who have read some of the thoughts you had during your abortion, or a post like "Anger Fucking" may start to feel invited into some inner sanctum. Even if they're not, which I don't think they are.

    It's related to what you wrote about yourself in pictures a few posts back – if you maul EVERYBODY at the party, is it fair to be surprised if one poor schlub starts to think "Good God, I must be The One!" When you write this way, somebody's bound to think they know you because it's the type of stuff you only know about the people you know.

    That being said, I don't presume to know you. But I do like to read what you write.

  8. wow KrisTSip- that's weird – ever feel like you've never had an original thought in your life? I just had that feeling, upon posting my comment and reading yours.

  9. And when I refer to real life friends I am not talking about people who have known you in many different life stages. Especially those that knew you when you were chubby and are still good friends today. Those people are in their own special category and are irreplaceable.

    Like, I can say to my friend Margot who no longer shaves her legs and spends her time protesting globalization (& everything else) – "Hey, remember when you wore Gap perfume and esprit mini-skirts EVERY DAY?!"

    Priceless.

  10. this blog goes beyond just knowing "things". don't use the word "oprah" to imply something bad about our culture. she's done more good with her money and status and show than any of us ever could.

  11. "Trust… I’m surprised it’s not a four letter word."

    I just quoted you on my blog. Hope you don't mind. It's very catchy and I can't seem to get it out of my head. Now I resort to writing it down as my method of purging it from my brain. Peace.
    Ricky D

  12. I met my current boyfriend on match.com and we had "the talk" after two weeks of already exclusive dating. (I know this because we saw each other EVERY night. He would have had to skip work to date anyone else.) I came to trust him quickly. The first date, really. I let him refill my Sierra Mist while not in my presence. Usually a big no-no. I could hear my mom's voice: "Don't ever leave your drink! If you do, don't go back to it! Don't take drinks from strangers!!"

    Trust IS a four-letter word. Eventually we come to accept it. Or not.

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