I changed my Facebook status from ‘Single’ to ‘In a Relationship’ 24 hours ago, and so far I have received 71 reactions – mainly thumbs ups, but a few hearts too. The funny thing is, I didn’t intend it to go public in the newsfeed. As I was updating my ‘Education’ and ‘Employment’, I noticed that my relationship status had expired some time ago. In the spirit of honesty, I updated it. Then I saw it in the feed, and little notifications started popping up and a few comments too. (My favourite comment so far has been “What??? I want mooorrreee.”) The introvert in me is debating taking it down. (This is my relationship. I’m not sharing the juicy details!) But the nerdy me, who once upon a time updated Facebook regularly, has kept the post up. My reasoning, everybody loves love. I’m already sharing my love on Instagram. Why not celebrate my happiness and ‘In a Relationship’ status with the Facebook world?! More love, less fake news.
” As painful as this all is, I know that in the end things will work out how they’re supposed to, and I’ll keep going.”
Lotusgirl80, November 25, 2014
I still remember when I wrote those words. At the time, I’m not sure I whole-heartedly believed them to be true. My heartbreak was fresh, I was taking it day by day, trying to stay positive, but losing interest in those life sustaining activities, like sleeping and eating. My days went by in slow motion, and life seemed to be a chore. I had lost a piece of myself, or at least that’s how it felt. It took time, a long time, to truly believe that things would work out, and that I’d keep going.
It was the time and distance from my heartbreak that gave me a new perspective, and made me realize that all the pieces were already inside me. The love we had was beautiful, but it wasn’t perfect. We both had our faults, and I kept making excuses for him and trying to change who I was. I couldn’t see that when I was with him, and it took me a long time to realize that after we broke up. Now that I have distance, I can admit to myself that he was not the one that got away — it just wasn’t meant to be. Still, he’ll always hold a place in my heart, and the beauty of his faith and integrity will never escape me. He taught me to always be grateful, and to ask for more — not to settle.
And as I keep going, it is with gratefulness and a desire for something more. And this is reflected in all aspects of my life, not just my dating life. (I know my stories here have morphed into a dating blog recently, but there’s been a lot more going on behind the scenes.) In January, I started a post-graduate program, and after many all-nighters and internal questioning, I completed what I had started, and am now looking into new possibilities. In May, I quit a job that filled my need for productivity and belonging to the daily grind, but was ultimately no longer serving me, filling me with confusion and resentment. In June, I began following a dream that stemmed from my elementary school days, a dream to run long distances. After an intense 16-week training program, I ran my first half marathon in October, and now I have plans to run a marathon….eventually. To be honest, I’ve had my doubts along the way, but I have moved through these changes, thankful for the support of others, and my own internal drive that has kept asking for more of myself.
And love. I’ve had my doubts. For a long time, I didn’t believe it was out there and was so reluctant to make another connection, especially an online one. However, I did get back in the game, even created an online dating profile (hovering over ‘delete’ the whole time) before settling for that good-on-paper guy who totally didn’t get me. That didn’t last long, because my inner voice kept speaking out and I decided to listen. And I am so glad I did listen because I was shutting myself off to a real connection.
The real connection. I’ve met someone who gets me. I’ve met someone who makes me believe in love again. I’ve met someone who’s not afraid to share what’s on his mind, and I feel comfortable reciprocating. I’ve met someone who uses the word ‘love’ freely to talk about what matters to him, and notices how guarded I am with that same word. I’ve met someone who makes me laugh to the point of tears. I’ve met someone who appreciates my randomness, or peculiarities, as he calls them. I’ve met someone who wants to explore the world and all the possibilities it holds. I’ve met someone who has woken me up to the possibility of an ‘us’. And if you must know, we met on that feminist app, Bumble.
So, I’m glad I didn’t give up on online dating, and that I kept going, asking for more in all aspects of my life. I truly believe I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.
For all of you following my dating life, this is the long overdue update. The adventures are over, and now I’ve relearned a valuable lesson. It’s one of those lessons that we’re taught at a young age, and revisit through various stages of our lives. It sounds like this….listen to your gut, follow your intuition, trust that voice inside. Spoiler: I don’t always trust that voice inside.
The last time I sat before these keys I was reminiscing about crushes and those butterflies that make new relationships so much fun. Truth be told, I was hoping that those feelings would stir in me again as I was about to embark on a third date. The third date made me think about the possibilities, but then I kept bumping into a wall, the voice inside.
On the second date, I held my introvert card tightly, but on the third date I loosened my grip. I took control of the conversation, talked about my work, my passions, my writing, and we met half way, both sharing and getting to know each other a bit more. As we took in the art show, admiring and analyzing the paintings, I let my guard down, spoke my mind, and discovered that his ex-wife and I have something in common — we blog about him. I told him about my blog, he asked what I wrote about, and then that was it. I’m not sure I would have shared the URL with him, but he didn’t even ask. As we hugged goodbye, I missed that someone who cared about my writing.
I hushed that voice, we spent a week apart, I rationalized the little stuff, and we met again for a concert in the park. The swing music was good, but he was more interested in showing me pictures of his new house, and I didn’t mind that. After the concert, we went for ice cream and reclined in the field next to the petting zoo. As he twirled the blades of grass between his fingers, he asked me, “Where is this going? Do you always take things this slow?” The questions caught me off guard. Was I taking things slow? Why am I still uncertain? I managed, “I’m still getting to know you. I would like to see you again.” Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, that date was sealed with a kiss and a few dancing butterflies.
That was the turning point. We started dating without such long intervals in between. I guess it was unfolding into what could become a relationship, but I still was harbouring some ambivalence. And the butterflies were beginning to clash with the voice inside. Maybe I don’t know how to date anymore? I wonder what he’s doing; is he thinking of me? Why are we still playing “who texted who first” ? We really are different. Maybe I’m not ready to date again. He is the opposite of that someone, and that is……a good thing? You don’t have to agree on everything. We can balance each other out. He’s all about efficiency, I’m about taking my time. He likes numbers, I like words. He wants kids, I don’t. He wants to find his “missing piece” and start that family.
Then that voice inside could no longer be hushed. I’m not that “missing piece.” I’m not going to complete his puzzle, and he’s not going to complete mine. I knew this after our first coffee date in June, but I didn’t trust my voice inside. I let this go on into August. That morning I knew I had to stop fighting with the voice inside, I told the butterflies to settle down, and put my lipstick courage on. I gave myself a hard stare in the bathroom mirror. I remembered being here before. That was when my heart was aching, and mascara was running down my face. That was when I was trying to get over that someone, but just couldn’t. This time was different; my heart wasn’t aching, it wasn’t feeling anything. My voice inside was speaking up. This just isn’t right. I’d rather be alone than with someone that doesn’t get me. I was going to ask the hard questions this time.
“What are we doing? What do you really want? ” His reply was blurry, and I told him this isn’t working. It wasn’t fair to either one of us; we were closing ourselves off to real connections, and someone was going to get hurt. He started half-heartedly back pedaling, making excuses for us to continue dating, but I stopped him. The voice inside had had enough and wasn’t going to be ignored again. This wasn’t what I wanted. That was the bottom line.
It’s been a couple weeks since I trusted that voice inside, and I’m so glad that I did. I’m still single, but that’s okay. I want those butterflies and someone who gets me. I want someone who is a work in progress, just like me. I’m not going to settle for a guy who looks good on paper, or online. I don’t want to play it safe anymore. I’m going to trust that voice inside.
Do you remember that first crush? Maybe you were in high school, and it never amounted to anything more than a flutter in your heart. Maybe he didn’t even know your name, but you wrote your initials beside his in a little heart on the desk, in your notebook, and on the bathroom mirror. You knew the way he walked, and the sound of his laugh. He thought he was cool, and so did you. You imagined what you would say to him, if he asked to borrow your pen, and smiled at him behind his back. And then when your eyes eventually did meet, he was the first to smile before you looked away, blushing. Maybe it became more than that, maybe it didn’t, but you’ll always remember that crush.
And as you got older you still had those crushes to varying degrees. I still remember those butterflies, and how the world would stand still when I was with you. My hand fit in the crook of your arm just so, and you even sat beside me when we ate. You said it was easier to share that way. I remember staying up till 2am and then texting that same morning to tell you I was on cloud nine. Or was it you that told me that? It’s a bit foggy now, but I do remember I forgot to pay my rent. You were the only thing on my mind. And I remember sitting there waiting for you, then the warmth of your hands on my shoulders when you did arrive, and finally that smile. Even though you were late, it was impossible to get mad at you. That was just the beginning –it all started with a crush.
And if you’re still trying to recall those sweet crushes, let the smooth vocals of Yuna and Usher remind you.
I did take down my online dating profile, but I didn’t give up on dating completely. I just decided that I was going to let things unfold naturally. So after a week of exchanging text messages with my Saturday coffee date, we settled on a second date, a Monday dinner date. Although I still felt that we were on different paths, I thought I should give it a second chance.
We agreed to meet downtown at a Szechuan restaurant, but when I arrived I found him standing outside the ‘CLOSED’ sign. This made me smile. He wasn’t as predictable and organized as I thought he was. Still set on spicy food, we found another Szechuan place, a place where he knew the owners, and was given a special menu, which I couldn’t read. We ordered frogs, chicken, and spicy eggplant. When the dishes arrived, he asked if he could serve me, and reached for my bowl before I could answer. For a moment, it felt awkward, and I wondered if it should have been the other way around. Then I flashbacked to my time in Asia, and the only difference was that my date had actually asked, before he started piling rice and chilies in my bowl.
During the course of the meal, our lips turned a deeper shade of red as we discussed dating — online and crossing borders. I told him that I hated online dating, but he thought it was an efficient way to date. I didn’t disagree with him, but told him that I liked meeting the old-fashioned way, in person. He asked why I replied to his online message, and I told him that I recognized him. After he almost choked on a frog, I brought up our mutual friend and her potlucks. Then he also began to recall my name and Thailand in a conversation with our friend many years ago. And in the moments that followed, we felt like we knew each other a little better; we had a context outside of the online dating pool.
And he wanted to know if I dated outside the white pool, if I’d dated Asian men overseas. Yes, to overseas and at ‘home’. I knew he was expecting some profound discoveries, but to be honest, I didn’t have any for him, and I wasn’t ready to open up. I mentioned that I found Asian men more family oriented, and I liked that, and that I found some Thai men had a flexible definition of fidelity, and I didn’t like that. (Now that I am writing this, I have a lot more to say on the topic of dating outside the Western (mainly white) pool, but I will save that for another post.)
As he had asked me about my dating past, I asked about his. He thought Western women were more independent and ambitious. He felt that Asian women were more materialistic. I challenged him on his views, because I felt that they stemmed from his failed marriage, and because I know Asian women who are amazingly ambitious, and Western women who are wrapped up in material wealth. And as we talked, he told me about some of the women he’d met online: the woman who drank wine with every meal, the woman who seemed too good to be true and was — she went to Afghanistan, the woman who was a great badminton partner but nothing more, and the woman he met offline and dated for six months, before she left Canada in search of better job opportunities (she was Asian….sounds ambitious to me?). He concluded that his parents were happy that he was dating again, and that although he is traditional in many ways, he wanted to be the one to find his own mate.
After getting the topic of dating off the table, we talked about home renovations, mainly his. He pulled out his phone, pushed the half-eaten plates out of the way, and handed it to me. As I swiped through before and after pictures of his kitchen and bathroom, I couldn’t help but be impressed. Not only does he have a stable, brainy job, but he is a practical DIY guy! And he also makes his own planes — remote control planes. These planes are his passion, his ‘babies’, and he arranges playdates with fellow flyers. At first I thought I would have to pretend to be interested, but after watching some videos on his phone, and listening to him describe the perfect landing, I didn’t have to pretend.
So, yeah, the second date went well. He’s a well-rounded guy – interesting hobbies, well-traveled, healthy lifestyle, good job, family values. Checks all the boxes for a potential mate, and anyone looking in from the outside would think he’s a great catch. But as he paid the bill, divided up the left-overs, and drove me home, I couldn’t help but feel like something was missing. Later that evening, when I texted my friend about the date, I wrote that I was holding my introvert card too tight. I felt that I didn’t share enough, and that the silences were awkward. There was a missing connection.
Update: We are still texting, and meeting up this weekend for the third time. We’ll see how it goes! Third time a charm, third time you’ll know, that’s my thinking!
My online dating profile wasn’t stellar, but it was honest. My pictures were less than a week old, and I answered everything to the best of my ability.(Wondering what “everything” is? Look here, a site dedicated to the OKCupid profile.) The answers were brief and to the point – no pontificating. I was going for the soft-sell, but it wasn’t working. My friend, a fellow cupid familiar with pitching in other areas of his life, urged me to elaborate in some places and trim down in others. It was wise advice, but I was still torn between editing or deleting my profile. You see, I am still resistant to online dating; I still want to meet someone the organic way, the old-fashioned way. My friend’s quip to this is, “How’s that working for you?” Yeah, not so well these days. Editing had to be done.
With a slightly enhanced profile, I did acquire a ‘like’ from a guy I had exchanged emails with last time I was on OKCupid, over 2 years ago. As we had already done introductions before, I decided to send a quick message, and he responded with a dinner invitation. Normally, I would have taken a step back, but we had exchanged mini essays in the past, so I felt dinner was a logical progression, plus I didn’t want a penpal.
The date was on a Tuesday night. I was early –I usually am. The walk to my favourite Thai restaurant helped me shake off my nerves, and when he showed up, I didn’t hesitate to step outside and flag him down. The Thai chatter in the kitchen put me at ease, and after a long-winded discussion about our day, I broke out my rusty Thai to order dinner. The conversation flowed, the green curry was mild, the cha yen (Thai iced tea) was sweet, and it was a beautiful night. As he walked me home, we chatted about his son, acupuncture, and meeting up again. At my place, we hugged goodbye, and I thought to myself, I’d like to see him again. Against my friend’s advice, I even sent him a ‘thank you’ text the same night.
Maybe that was my faux-pas? Sending a text the same night came off as too eager? I hate dating rules. Anyhow, it’s been over a week since that date with Tuesday guy, and I haven’t heard a peep. I’m not going to second guess myself and run down the list of possible reasons why I haven’t heard from him. In fact, I haven’t been losing sleep or time since that Tuesday.
The same friend, a fellow introvert, is approaching dating as a summer hobby, or so she says. This isn’t typical introvert behaviour, but I thought maybe I could take this approach too. So, when a message from a handsome, well-traveled, multiple-degreed man landed in my inbox on Wednesday, I responded. Our messages went back and forth –hobbies and travel were the hot topics. Anyhow, we ended up meeting on Saturday for coffee.
I had iced tea, and he had what I can only assume was coffee. If you have been reading my blog for some time, you know that I’m not into coffee dates — they’re like interviews. Anyhow, the interview went well for the most part; we were re-hashing our emails, and he was everything that he said he was, plus nice biceps. But somehow, he seemed like too good of a catch. Then the conversation took an interesting turn — marriage. He had ventured down that path for a brief period, and he told me the bad, the good, and the ugly of that experience. (It was mostly ugly.) At the end, I felt guilty because I couldn’t reciprocate –I’ve never been married. However, I did share my feelings about family and my place in it, which is something I don’t often talk about. For him, family was the touchstone in his life, and his parents were currently living with him. I didn’t tell him this, but when I moved back from living overseas, I lived with my mom for less than three weeks before finding a place of my own. And once I had settled in my bachelor, I felt I had taken back part of my life.
After the ‘family talk’, I thought that our date would be sealed with a handshake, and a half-hearted, “Keep in touch.” So, I was surprised that it ended with a handshake, and a dinner invitation for the following Monday, just a couple days away. I politely declined as I wanted to be with a friend going through a breakup, and because I wasn’t sure how I felt about the prospect of another date. With his line of questioning and the discussion on marriage, I got the impression that he’d figured out most of his life, but was just missing the right woman to start a family with. Although we’re the same age, I’m still figuring out my life in the West, and not feeling the ticking of any kind of clock.
Oh, dating! It’s complicated, and to be honest, I don’t think it is the right hobby for me. I’m open to meeting someone, but it’s not my priority right now. And as an introvert, making a connection with one person, whether it be a friend or love interest, is hard enough without throwing more possibilities in the mix. Tonight the online dating profile is coming down.
P.S. I saw ‘what-if’ guy again tonight. After my run, I was walking home through the Village and there he was — not at a different table, but on the other side of the road.
It’s a whole new dating world and I’m thinking about joining it again. After experimenting with dating apps, going out with safe pseudo-dates, and consuming books like Modern Romance and movies like Everything Before Us, I’ve decided to let technology help me and have one last pseudo-date. This is my warm-up.
To be honest, I’m not really sure how to approach dating again, so I ended up creating a profile on OK Stupid aka OKCupid. I know I should give online dating a chance, but after making a connection without technology, I feel like I am taking a step backwards. I feel like something is wrong with me. Yes, this is me being stupid. Studies show that those who partake in online dating are usually university-educated, often with multiple degrees. (Sorry, I cannot find the source to back this up, but I’m going to take my friends word for it, and my own personal research.) When you think about it, it makes perfect sense — look at the data and algorithms that are used to predict matches! Plus candidates are given a space to write a statement of purpose, and to select ideal mates based on personal data, pictures, and good grammar. For brainy folks, that is sexy. So, why doesn’t this online dating excite me? I will save that for another post – this is about my warm-up to adventures in the new dating world!
Before embarking on these adventures, I ended up going out for dinner with pseudo-date #1. As you might recall, this is the platonic friend that drives me nuts, but I still make an effort to impress. This time it was very different. After six weeks in his motherland, he came home with a ring and immigration documents. When he picked me up, he announced right away, “I’m off the market!” I went into over-analyzing mode –does he read my blog?
Over dinner, he shared pictures of his wife and her family, a sexy cabinet minister (not his wife), and a meme insinuating that the only happy men are single. Me being me, I called him out on this. He defended himself right off the bat, and even though I pressed the issue, I knew that he was genuinely happy to not be single anymore. He had been seeking stability and the ‘right’ someone for quite some time, and had finally found her. I was ecstatic for him, and also fascinated by the arrangement process. After my long line of questioning, we decided to share a dessert. I suggested lavender chocolate mousse — the ‘what-if’ guy had recommended it. The guy who had invited me to an open mic, but I had declined due to laundry.
As I dipped my spoon in the mousse, I noticed the ‘what-if’ guy (with a bit more facial hair and the same glasses) sitting by himself at the bar. Really? Yes, really! Our eyes met and we exchanged smiles, once again sitting at different tables. The married man excused himself, and I was alone at the table. It’s no surprise that ‘what-if’ guy did not take this opportunity to approach me — it looked as if I was on a date! And I didn’t have the guts to walk up to him, and say, “I’m not crazy about the mousse, but I would like to get to know you more.” Lesson learned: if you go on pseudo-dates, you eliminate opportunities for real connections.
Yes, that was a bit of a detour from my real adventures in dating, but it was a story worth sharing. It’s the warm-up and why I believe I don’t need a digital cupid. And you know what? OkCupid was not what I remembered. I received barely any messages — 35, fully-clothed (not even a collarbone protruding), bookworm, elusive answers, what did I expect?!
To be continued…..with the real OKCupid dates.