THE DATING PROJECT #8. A SHOCK!
The Dating Project follows the adventures of three women Lou Lou (30s), Astrid (40s) and Iris (50s) as they navigate the tricky online dating scene. Along the way they have the support and advice of renowned sex therapist Bettina Arndt and relationship counsellor Rob Tiller.
Things are hotting up for Lou Lou… although this week she wasn’t quite as much in control, due to a glass too many of Pinot Gris.
Big mistake. But now she knows it pays not to get too tipsy on those vital first dates.
Iris had a fun chat with a new mystery man, once she worked out why her computer was making a strange beeping noise.
And Astrid had a shock kiss from someone who turned out to have far too few degrees of separation from her own family life.
Astrid’s latest correspondent raises interesting questions about truth and honesty in internet dating, questions we hope some of our readers might answer for us.
We know there are many experienced internet daters reading this and we’d love to hear more from you. Rob and I are keen to promote discussion of the complexities of this dating process and are sure many of you will have good advice for our team.
So please join in and help make our comments section part of the learning process for our girls and many others who are plucking up the courage to follow in their footsteps.
Astrid: “Too close to home.”
It has been a really busy week, so busy that I have been falling into bed last thing at night and then sending some kisses. I started to wonder if I can’t find time to get on RSVP this week how am I going to fit someone into my life? So I have had a serious talk to myself and taken some action.
As suggested, I changed my age criteria, so now I am looking at men from 40–56. That’s good – more potential dates that way. I’m determined to send kisses every day, buy some stamps and send someone an email next weekend. Not sure yet who’s the lucky target!
I’ve also started to grapple with the mighty question of whether I will display my photo with my profile. Currently it is hidden but I had decided YES – I would be brave, be transparent, be visible.
That was last Friday until… strap in for this one.
My girls and I came home from a concert at school and I was in bed in my flanny PJs with my cuppa, some chocolate and my iPad. I logged on for a bit of kissing, wandering through the aisles of eligibles and, bingo, someone had sent me a kiss! It was so exciting. “I’d like to get to know you, would you be interested?” was his message.
Yes please. He hadn’t seen my picture but obviously my well-crafted profile had intrigued him. Let’s buy stamps, let’s talk… be still my beating heart! THEN I clicked on his profile. Let’s NOT talk. And NO I am not making my photo public for now.
This “gentleman” turned out to be a long-time family friend, one of my daughter’s best friend’s dads, who is recently and messily separated. Over the years his family and mine have spent countless hours together. I watched the marriage disintegrate and our friendships unravel as battle lines were drawn. I am currently counselling his kids, propping up his ex-wife. Now I read his profile and so much is untrue: “no baggage, separated a long time, financially secure, kids stay with him regularly”.
I was rocked and shocked; not that he was on RSVP but I have known this person 15-plus years and known him to be the most honest, dedicated, loving man. Yet his profile was absolute rot. I thought back to my own struggle to write my profile, wanting to be honest without frightening people and here someone I know has been so untruthful. What does this mean for everyone else online?
Despite all this I’m feeling fine. I’m finding this whole experience is fascinating, challenging, confronting, fun and a huge learning curve. Yes, it’s time consuming and I haven’t even been out with anyone yet but getting to know Bettina and Rob, learning from them, learning about myself and the world beyond my comfy family life is well worth it. And I love thinking and writing about the journey.
BTW – I turned down that kiss…
Rob says: I’m so inspired by your persistence, Astrid. Your story reminded me of a TED Talk I watched recently by Richard St John on 8 Secrets of Success. He talked about persisting through failure and c.r.a.p. (criticism, rejection, assholes, and pressure) as a key skill to achieving your goals.
“Rocked and shocked” sounds like an utterly reasonable response to discovering that a temporarily insane family friend is sending you kisses. He’s most likely struggling, probably in a lot of emotional pain, and desperately seeking something to take his mind off his disintegrating family. No excuse for compromising his integrity of course, but an RSVP headline like: “man in messy separation desperately seeking brunette distraction” would go down like a lead balloon.
Your positive attitude suggests your emotional muscles are growing stronger allowing you to roll with the punches, which is great. In a way you could consider your friend’s behaviour as a blessing in disguise. It’s an extreme illustration of how most of us can, to some degree, misrepresent ourselves to prospective dates for fear of not being accepted as we are. Listening to your instincts – as Lou Lou explains this week – will give you a sixth sense regarding the information you’re receiving from men online. That will help protect you from some potential disasters, although sometimes – as in this case – you only know the facts when a man’s identity is exposed.
Bettina says: I know what a shock it is to discover someone you know is kissing you, Astrid. I had a far more positive experience soon after I started internet dating. Nice looking guy, chatting back and forth and then I sent through my name and phone number. Within minutes came a phone call from a man roaring with laughter, who turned out to be the father of one of my son’s friends. I had never met him before but his son had been in our home many times. For me this was reassuring and gave me confidence that despite all the horror stories about internet dating, you can meet people who are just outside your own social network, people with whom you have a lot in common.
Clearly your experience was very different and it is a shame that you have run into this type of deceitful behaviour with one of your first contacts. It just doesn’t make sense that people think they can get away with spinning these sorts of yarns when surely the truth will out if a relationship does develop. It’s one of the great mysteries of internet dating and I’d love to hear our readers’ views about what is going on here.
And Lou Lou’s vowing not to drink too much next time…
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