To internet date or to just avoid social suicide ….. that is the question


This question raises several other questions, the first being “when is it okay to start dating?”

The logical answer is “any time you are not married or in a relationship with someone else.”

Seems reasonable, can’t argue with that.  But maybe I can.  A little.

I am technically “not” divorced.  I am still married — according to the Government of South Africa.  I realise I am probably opting to step out into the “social” waters too early when in fact I am not quite ready yet.

There was that line from 28 Days, where they are told that they have to nurture a plant for a year, and only if the plant thrives and lives for a year, are they ready to start dating.   Great plan.  But I kill any plant that I have to have contact with.  I can buy the plant, someone else can plant it and tend it and it will grow like a dream.

To involve me at any stage in the plant’s life is the shortest way to the compost heap for the said plant.

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I gave this “time” thing a great deal of thought.

Is two weeks the right number?  Is two months better?  Is two years?  Should I work on a time line that is acceptable to me, or should I consider public opinion, and amend my time line to suit people who will look at me and make a judgement?

Tricky, tricky stuff this.

Anyone who knows me knows how stressed I get in social situations.  I would far rather hide on my couch, curled around a large bottle of Viognier and as much DSTV as I can ingest in one sitting, than put myself into any “strange” or “new” situation.

Meeting new people is about as uncomfortable for me as having a full body wax.

To add to my reluctance to consider dating nor or ever was that I feel that I am undate-able — like there is something fundamentally wrong with me.

I do not have a little black book full of names of previous partners to joyfully dig up and start drunk dialling.

If I had a little black book, I would fill in exactly three lines on the first page, and that would be it.  Besides having no idea how dating works NOW, to be honest I did not have at terribly good knowledge back THEN either.

Daunting does not even hint at it sufficiently.

Add to that that being “divorced from” – which tends to knock your self esteem for a total ball.

What ever low self esteem I had before, was well and truly pushed to an entirely new level of low when I realised I was the one being divorced from.  Lower than snake shit, I like to say.

I am sure who is divorcing from and who does the divorcing is just an issue around semantics.  For me it felt like a key point.  Probably because I was the one being left.

I gave some thought to the thought of me maybe dating again at some point in the far future  — then started to feel violently ill, so I just had another glass of wine and flicked to the Comedy Channel.

I thought of my by-line  “42 year old woman, with three children — and divorced.”  Yep, that blurb is not looking so very alluring right now is it? The only way it could be worse would be  “42 year old woman, with three children from three different fathers — and divorced.”

Really only moderately worse.

With all of this going on.  In my head.  I really really could not see me going on a date with anyone.  Ever.

I started to think that I might be better suited to being crazy cat lady … but that would require the acquisition of more cats.  And that I was even less keen on.

One day I was sitting by my lonesome, and I remembered a friend telling me about a dating site she had been on.

I uh’mmed and ah’ed, and just sat there staring at the screen.  I tried to go and look at the site, but you can’t unless you register.

I started to get this feeling that what if I managed to register on a dating site, and went through all the things you have to go through — and then I got absolutely no response, how the hang would that sit with me?

Surely, surely Shirley that would just add substance to the little voices that keep telling me I am shite.

With a glass of wine in hand, and one already down the hatch for confidence — with no idea what I was doing, I sauntered out into internet dating land, with more courage than I was feeling.

On the other hand Darron, I must say that my years on forums, social media and blogging did assist me in finding my feet.  A little.

Sites like forums have their own culture, their own manner of operating, and everyone seems to know the rules except you. Because you have just arrived, and there is no one to guide you, so generally you go along and make a total arse of yourself, before you start to sense the “mood of the room.”

You being me in this exercise.

It took me a while to figure out how things worked, and to find my feet.

The negative was that I could not see other “female” profiles so I had nothing to base my profile on — writing a profile about yourself for internet dating land is extremely daunting.

I used up all the characters that were afforded me in each section.  Why say less when you can say more? {wink wink}

Then with one final push of  the enter key, I was officially there in internet dating land.

The place that had filled me with dread and fear and anxiety.

It appears dating sites do not do anything for free.  You can put your profile up for free.  But.  And here is the part where they have you by the short and curlies.  To be able to see any responses to your profile you need to “sign up” and some money needs to change hands.

I will confess it is not enough to make you rethink the idea — and at the same time it is just enough to make you think, well shit balls I need to get my monies worth here.

You sit and stare at your profile and wait for someone to toddle past and say “hi” or “wink wink” or “Great picture, you seem to be wearing a wedding ring!”

You know stuff like that.

And then you sit and wait.  For the little “pink pink” of a message in your mail box.

Longest wait ever.  Okay. Not ever.  It does feel not dissimilar from that not being picked for the softball team at school PE class experience.

The exercise was not so much about going on date, than it was about finding out whether I could.  Or whether it might be better to just shut myself up in a convent somewhere.

Going on a dating site was facing my fear of what is out there — and whether I could ever actually go “out there.”  My theory was, no matter how frightening and dreadful as it could be, it can’t be worse than I am imagining it in my head.

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