She seems to like me.
It’s weird, because that never happens. (Yes, that’s hyperbole.)
But it’s also not weird because when it DOES happen, there’s always some obstacle, major inconvenience or unusual challenge attached to it. Always.
It’s The Matt Way®. Things can never just be normal and easy. Not with me. Luck might have something to do with it. Maybe ADHD, too. But all signs seem to point to this unfortunate probability: God must totally hate me.
I’m an asshole. Let me put that out there. I don’t mean that I’m mean and treat people poorly. I just mean, in a 50-percent-serious, self-deprecating sort of way, I’m an asshole.
Why am I an asshole, you ask?
Because I met her on an online dating site, which you might consider strange, if not impossible, since I swore off online dating more than two years ago and have constantly railed against it as shitty and horrible and unnatural and couldn’t POSSIBLY have an online dating account! And that makes total sense that you’d think that.
If it’s any consolation, I promise I’m really embarrassed about it, and that it’s not my first time being kind of a hypocrite.
A few weeks ago, because I’m a shitty planner, I let a weekend sneak up on me without making plans. One of my friends and I were going to go out for a few drinks. But then he got sick and needed to stay home. And then, because all my local friends are married and/or have children and don’t live in Asshole Single Guy World where smart planning has forsaken these lands, everyone already had full calendars and I ended up spending most of the weekend alone in my house, and that was that. I’d had enough.
Some people like being alone. I’m one of them, sometimes. I was an only child, and I love writing, reading, and poker—all things best accomplished alone or among strangers you don’t really want to talk to. Creeping up on three years removed from my marriage, I’m totally fine being alone.
The flipside? I’m ridiculously social. If I could ONLY choose company or solitude for the rest of my life, I would choose company for sure. Maybe even a lot of people. A lot of people is good. I like energy and connectedness and togetherness and all that shit. Very much. It’s life-giving to me. I’m at my very best in a room full of 40 people I know and love who brought along 10 strangers for me to befriend.
But there I was, watching HBO and football, and writing from my couch two weekend nights in a row, and I was done.
This is bullshit, I thought.
Match—the online dating site I used for a few months when I wasn’t emotionally ready to be dating two and a half years ago—had sent me one of their crap emails telling me someone had winked at me, or whatever.
I texted my friend: “Remind me again that I hate online dating and don’t want to do it.”
Huge mistake. He’s super-smart and I usually listen to him. Even worse? He is more than a year in with a new girlfriend (an excellent one) he met through Match.
I don’t remember what he said, but it felt like a two-handed shove toward the vortex of suck, and I fell in.
Also, I want to deflect some of the blame.
I used to whine here that no girls liked me on Match.
But then I read my profile that was still live from spring/summer 2013. It sounded EXACTLY like an insane, insecure, whiny, crying mess of non-sexy loserness had written it.
Good God, this is bad. No wonder that shit didn’t work.
I rewrote it.
I can’t be certain it’s the best-written Match profile of all time, but there’s a fair chance it’s the best in my 50-mile radius. Girls liked me. I talked to some of them, but there was nothing there. Even though it wasn’t a rejection festival to the degree it was more than two years ago, it still sucked ass.
I’ve said it a hundred times: I’m either someone who passes your primal attractiveness test, or I’m not. And if I do? You’re probably going to like me because, cocky as it may sound, I don’t make it hard. I’m not the smartest, funniest, wittiest, sexiest or most charming, but I have enough of all that stuff to make it work in real life.
But not so much on Match. And that’s what I hate about online dating. It takes away the one thing I tend to excel at: one-on-one interaction.
Even though I’m kind of a hypocrite about online dating, I’m not a hypocrite WHILE online dating. I try hard to be fair. And it’s perfectly fair for women to want to date tall, never-married, childless men. Those aren’t unreasonable preferences. I have preferences, too.
Match would be amazing for casual dating. If it was all about dating simply for the sake of having something to do. And I’d be all for that if I thought legitimate platonic friendships might result from doing so. But it doesn’t work like that. And if something can’t end well, I have a hard time investing in it. Even when I really like the other person and believe it could go somewhere if things were different.
People hear me say that and assume I’m wife hunting.
I don’t crave marriage. It’s scary. I don’t even crave a committed, monogamous relationship. That has never been my objective, or even my hope.
My only hope?
To meet someone so amazing that I would want those things with her.
I’ve met some great people since becoming single. Under other circumstances, things could have gone differently.
But no previous encounter had a viable happy ending. Single parents put their children first. And when your loyalties are (appropriately) with your children, it often makes single adulthood more challenging.
Not that this thing now is less challenging.
She lives three hours away, even though she used to live in my town, because God’s hilarious.
Some people don’t think that’s a big deal, but I intentionally don’t date people who live even an hour away. Want to know why? Because that’s three hours, roundtrip on a wintry Tuesday night for dinner and a movie, and that’s some serious bullshit.
I don’t do it because I’m selfish and I want to actually see and spend time with the person I like.
I don’t do it because I think, fundamentally, long-distance relationships are unsustainable.
So, here’s the deal: I’m breaking a ton of my dating rules on this thing. But I’m not compromising ANY values. Not one.
Whether it was radical differences in life philosophy or personality, insurmountable geography, or a bunch of really bad timing, a fatal flaw in any potential relationship tended to rear its head immediately.
But not this time. Even with all the rule breakage. Not this time.
She lives three hours away.
She’s an insanely busy person, personally and professionally, which keeps communication comparatively infrequent.
She’s a mother of three. (I had a no-more-than-two-kids rule, because I already have enough trouble with time- and money-management.)
She might be a fraction of an inch taller than me. (Classic, right?)
Any of those four things would filter you out of my online dating preferences if these hadn’t been particularly unique and unusual circumstances, quite possibly orchestrated by a God intent on smiting me. “Hey guys, check out this dude, Matt. I kind of hate him. Watch this!”
And then, fa-la-la-la-la-la! Alakazam!
And it’s way too early to know what “This thing” is, but I insta-turned off my Match account after meeting her and that felt like something.
And it’s way too early to be scared, but it still feels scary.
And it’s way too early to make judgments or predictions about anything, because really? Who knows anything, ever?
I only know that it’s different.
No matter what happens next, this time’s a little bit different. Because I’m still single. But I’m not still available. And that feels like something, too.
Wow, two and a half years feels like a lifetime ago.
Wow, this is crazy and different.
Wow, I’m going to hit Publish.