Going offline: dating and connecting

It’s no secret; I’ve spent time floating around OKCupid and swimming through Plenty of Fish. I’ve gone on decaffeinated coffee dates and endured meager dinners that have always left me wanting more. It wasn’t their fault. No one was to blame — we just weren’t on the same page.

A couple months ago, I decided I was done with the online dating world. I was getting tired of going through messages, and searching for some kind of connection. And it felt so liberating to delete my profiles. I was giving technology the finger. I was saying goodbye to those algorithms and telling those cupids to take a hike. I was taking my dating life back into my own hands. I felt so empowered — I was going to find love the old fashioned way! No, I don’t think that’s what I was doing — I was just disconnecting.

*****

Sometimes you need to disconnect so that you can reconnect. I was taking the long way home on a pleasantly warm day, just soaking up the lovely ocean and mountains in the distance, appreciating the touch of the sun, and looking forward to a Friday night of dancing, when I saw him. I didn’t want to interrupt his conversation, but when our eyes met and he flashed his smile, and those familiar butterflies began to stir, I was happy that he welcomed my interruption. It had been almost a year; he thought I’d be in Thailand, and I thought he’d still be with his girlfriend. We were both wrong. So, after a couple hours of catching up we decided we would do it again — we’d connect on Facebook. After all, we were Facebook friends, whatever that meant. So much for giving technology the finger!

As I walked home after our chance meeting, I decided it was in his ball park to initiate the next time. Honestly, I wasn’t sure how I felt — I just knew that it was nice to reconnect. Almost a week went by before his Facebook message arrived:

Hi Amy. We should hang out after you finish work. What do you say?

Hmmm…..I began to analyze his simple message. Was this a friendly hang out or was there some underlying interest? After all, he was surprised by my age and that I was still single. Okay, let me clarify. He thought I looked younger, and was too cute to be single (my own interpretation). Either way, I was looking forward to getting together, so I agreed to a replay.

This time we met at a coffee shop first, and I was late, running on Thai time. He was waiting patiently, and when I approached he put his phone down and gave me a smile that melted any guilt I had about not showing up on time. After we talked about our week, he grabbed a hot cocoa and the crutch from his car, then we made our way down to the water. This time we had our backs to the ocean and began to peel away the surface layers, flirting playfully, and  enjoying one another’s company. When it was time to part, we agreed — same place, same time, next week.

Even though I felt some sparks, I kept my feelings in check. Whatever was taking place, I was just going to soak it in, like the touch of the sun. When the third Friday came around, I was only five minutes late, and greeted with a hug that seemed to fit just so. As we ordered our drinks, he casually disclosed that he used to have a crush on me. A crush? I thought those had ended in high school. Although I remembered the first time we met and how he’d made me nervous with his beauty, and then how I’d just spend time at the office to hear his stories (even if they were about his girlfriend), I kept this to myself until I could see the mountains in the distance. This time as we sat on the bench and looked out to the sea, we were contemplating a real date and navigating the grey areas. 

Date night rolled around sooner that our Friday coffee outings, and I spent more time primping than usual. I was looking good, smelling good, and feeling good, when he showed up right on the dot. Driving the wrong way down a one-way, fumbling with chopsticks over sashimi, making fun of our overly eager waiter, and losing my heel on the way to the comedy show were all part of a wonderful night that was just getting started. I’m not sure I would have been able to enjoy all that with an online date, but this was someone I knew, we shared a context. And this was a guy that wasn’t afraid to tell a woman he had a crush on her. This was a guy that made a point to take me out on a real date and asked me to wear a dress for it, too. This was a guy who noticed the effort I put into getting ready, and held the door open for me, and paid the bill without even fidgeting.  It didn’t matter that the comedians weren’t very funny, and some of them were downright offensive, because we were there together, sipping on our water.

When all the laughs stopped, we didn’t want the night to end, but we didn’t want to play pool either.  How about going for hot cocoa? It was odd being at our coffee shop right before closing. It was a perfect night for stargazing with a warm drink. So, we drove up to a scenic viewpoint, opened the sunroof, and breathed in the fresh air. We shared stories about our homes and families, our insecurities, our passions, and when my mind would wander, he would bring me back to the present. Then he asked me. I usually don’t like to be asked, but this time it was sweet.

My date: Can I kiss you?

Me: Aw, you shouldn’t ask. (I can’t believe he’s asking me. The last time a guy asked I was 16. Wow, I kinda feel like a teenager again. Can’t remember feeling this nervous or excited about a kiss!) Well, are you going to take off your hat?

My date: No, I was thinking I would just poke you with it. 

We laughed, and then he took off his hat. He leaned across the passenger’s seat, we met half-way, and our lips touched. It was one of those kisses that makes your whole body tingle. It was a kiss with no hesitation behind it –a kiss that says I want you, but I’m going to settle for this hot lip-locking session for right now. It was the kind of kiss that you don’t want to end, and even though you keep trying to leave, you just can’t part.

*****

Our first date ended at 2am, and we’ve managed to break that record since. I’m not sure where we are heading, but it has been magical. There is this connection that I haven’t felt in a long, long time. For me, it took disconnecting to find this, whatever it is.  I found it without an internet connection, and have to say there is something beautiful about the organic approach to dating. And the best part is that this guy reads my blog posts.  Tomorrow is going to be an interesting day!

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6 thoughts on “Going offline: dating and connecting

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