Celebrating the Unexpected: You Can Find Love Online

Courtesy of Alaska Dispatch
Courtesy of Alaska Dispatch

How many times do we envision one outcome and end up with another?

Lately, that’s all I’ve got going on.

There are the little things.  My long awaited Memorial Day weekend went wonky when a wildfire made breathing for all of us Alaskan’s a bit more challenging.

Goodbye, rafting plans. Hello, cable television. Fortunately, there were some great films on, and I know I’m fortunate that my home is not in the line of fire.

My heater broke (frankly, what better time in Alaska to have your heater break than in summer?) and one of my daughter’s relationship ended when her boyfriend’s cat pooped in her shoe.

LuLu and Oliver
LuLu and Oliver

Didn’t see any of that coming.

The bigger news. After two solid months of my modest effort on Match.com, I’m happy to shut down my account and return to my quiet life. Quiet, but not entirely solitary.

I had expected I would get out of the house a bit, and I did. I expected I would meet some characters, and I did. I had hoped to hear some great stories, and I definitely did. But I also did make a worthwhile connection worth looking into.

But who knew it was Craigslist that would provide me with nearly instant and unconditional love? A love safe enough that I would throw caution to the wind and share a ride in the same car on our very first meeting?

I now am a true believer: It is possible to find love online. And I definitely did not see that coming.

Zen-ing My Monster/How I Calmed My Nerves and Enjoyed a Date

Am I the only person who becomes a monster when it comes to matters of love and dating?

Ask any of my friends and they’ll tell you: I like people. I love their stories and quirks and cultures. I may not be consistently outgoing, but I always love me a new friend. I really do.

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Until it comes to dating. The planning of it, the executing it, the whole nine yards.  Then my judgements are never-ending.

Is it that I don’t like men? I don’t think so. Is it that I prefer being alone? Not always.

“Why are you so mad at men?” a friend asked me recently when I groused about a man asking me out.  It stopped me in my tracks.

I don’t like to be mad, and certainly at a whole gender, but she was right. Even when I joined Match, I’d look at rows of pleasant faces online and make snarky comments. This guy’s nowhere near this stated age or Good luck with that, Buddy.

After much deliberation, I’ve come up with my top three reasons to avoid first dates.

unnamed*Dating messes with my sense of control, and though I enjoy other types of adventure in life, I could live without first dates.

*Dating forces me to answer everyday questions about myself in which the answers are anything but normal, i.e. Are you close to your parents?  Do your kids see their father much?  If you knew my weird life, complete with a parental child abduction as a toddler, and my daughters’ international abduction later, you’d understand how this could kill early dating pleasantries.

*Dating requires a certain vulnerability to be authentic. I don’t do that well. Instead, I cover my nervousness with humor and hold my date hostage by asking all the questions. I get to be like a stand-up comedian.  Take my children, please! At the end of the date, I’m worn out, and my date has turned into a raisin.

This past Sunday, as I made the mad dash for the coffee shop I arranged to meet an gentleman at, I was a hot mess. My curls even got nervous and I looked like Albert Einstein. I tried to dust my shiny (sweaty) nose with loose powder in my car and spilled it all over me.

I immediately lapsed into negative thinking. This will never work. I’ll bet this guy’s another jerk. He probably won’t even show.

Then I stopped myself and pictured a better outcome for my Two -Hour Date. That he would be there in the coffee shop. That he would be fun to talk to, and that I would be glad we met.

This week, Leo Babauta wrote in Zen Habits :

2012-07-21 21.30.43You worry about how you look, about how you’re perceived, about how you’ll do, about whether you’ll fail, about what you don’t have, about what you’re missing out on, about how you compare to others.

He goes on to say that if you start to build confidence, you can let go of the worries and feel good rather than anxious.

You will walk down the street, relaxed with a smile on your face.

And so I did. I walked in to the cafe with a smile on my face, and was greeted by a handsome and very kind man. I enjoyed a killer cup of coffee and lively conversation. The time was well spent, and I added a new friend into my life. And I never saw the monster-me the whole time.