The Myth of Expectations

Blergh, Hard Stuff, It's Personal, Obstacles/Challenges, Rants, Reflection, Uncategorized, Writing

I recently read a post from one of those “mindful” dating sites.  The author was writing about the “myth” of dating difficulties for people over 40.  She abruptly found herself dating at 45 and, despite all her friends’ dire predictions, was having an absolute BLAST! And you know what she claims is wrong with her friends?  They just have the wrong expectations!  If they would clean up their emotional bullshit and change their expectations, all the chum they’d been attracting would disappear and they’d suddenly have their pick of ridiculously awesome people.

I’m here to call bullshit on that entire perspective, and the implication that I’m just not doing my personal work well enough, that I continue to attract bad things to myself because I’m not working fast enough to unload my baggage.  This effectively makes every sh*tty thing that happens MY FAULT.  Because I’m not doing a good enough job being better.

Seriously?  I’m not doing good enough AT BEING BETTER?

Despite years of messaging about “creating my reality,” I have come to understand that most things that happen that are out of my control.  I get to control my responses and reaction and choices, but I’m not responsible for the fact that so many people in their 30s and 40s are hot messes.  Or that I get coffee with them.  Or that I lose my job, fight with a friend, or face ageism, or racism, or misogyny, or all that other crap that REALLY TRULY EXISTS.  Simply putting on my ruby slippers, clicking my heels, and breathlessly exclaiming “everything is wonderful, everything is wonderful, everything is wonderful” DOESN’T MAKE EVERYTHING WONDERFUL.

One of the hardest things to learn is that there are many, many things I HAVE NO CONTROL OVER, regardless of how much work I do on myself.  I still have to deal with bad dates, difficult co-workers, aggravating family, and a world that seems like it’s going to somewhere bad, really fast.  It’s not helpful to keep blaming me because bad things happen to me, in my life, and in the world.  In fact, it’s that message – that I can somehow magically control everything in my life that has led to bouts with anxiety, depression, and shame and guilt, all things that add to the already heavy burden of being human.

It’s true – I do need to do my work, address my issues, and be the best person I can be.  It’s true that I do need to check in on my expectations, ask for feedback from friends  and professionals, and realize that sometimes I do make bad choices.  But sometimes, a bad coffee date or fight with a friend is just that, and blaming me for somehow creating the situation because I’m not an evolved enough person is truly, truly unhelpful.

unhelpful

Is it over yet?

Obstacles/Challenges, Reflection, Relationships, Uncategorized

For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been in the online dating world for a long time.  I’ve had one or two successes, but it’s mostly been an ongoing hot mess of inconsistency, erratic behavior, and completely unexplainable and confusing communication.  There have been many, many times where I was so confused by some man’s online behavior or communication that I genuinely thought I was going crazy.

I have no explanation for this phenomenon, especially not for men of my generation.  I understand you younger folks approach dating differently, blah blah blah, but I don’t get the guys around my age, or within 10 years or so younger.  I mean, what the fuck is happening?

The years of inconsiderate, impolite, mean, and inexplicable behavior is slowly pushing me to believe that no man I meet online is trustworthy, honest, mentally healthy (in the most basic sense), or even human.  This creates a real sense of personal turmoil because I know it can’t be true.  I can’t quite believe that any man who is online is a worthless human being because I interact with many who are exceptional humans.

But there is an extremely strong cognitive dissonance that I can’t resolve or explain. It may be that these encounters are strictly dating-site related and that something about the anonymity of online dating brings out the worst in these men, but I can’t tell.

I have wondered for years (years!) if it was me – if there is something so wrong about me that I instantly bring out the worst in every man I meet.  I suppose that could be true, but I have many healthy male friends and they don’t get all bananas just because I’m in the room.  Even still, I’m willing to accept that there could be something about me that isn’t appealing, because that’s just true for all of us.

By now, you’re probably wondering if this post was motivated by a recent “encounter” and the answer is yes, it was.  The brief version is this:  John Doe contacts me, charming and complimentary, strings together a couple of sentences and appears intelligent.  I am surprised but cautiously optimistic and a little flattered.  We exchange messages, move to regular email.  After a few of those (he continues to be flattering, thoughtful, complimentary), I’m both skeptical and wondering – could this man be real?  Does he really dig me as much as he seems to?  Finally, he asks about meeting.  He wrote:

“I thought cupid was seeing if two people wanted to meet for coffee.  [Yackity Yackity yackity…..] It’s unspoken understood that either party breaks communication at any time before they meet, after they meet people usually show more courtesy.  Your hopeful suitor,…”

– and I said sure, let’s make a coffee date. Guess what happened next?  Total radio silence.  Thunderous silence.  A complete absence of response silence.  For those of you familiar with online dating, if someone doesn’t respond with in a day or, at most, two, without explanation, it’s a good sign they’ve ghosted out.  36 hours went by and nary a peep, and I discovered that he either no longer has a dating profile or that he blocked me.

Aside from a massive eye roll and now this post, this whatever it was is done.  But the bigger question is – why did it even start?  What would prompt someone to put time and energy into making a connection that they almost immediately end – abruptly and rudely?  I’ve been trying for years to understand and I just can’t get my head around it. People give all kinds of explanations, about the individual and about online dating in general, but none of them satisfactorily answers the question.

I been unable to understand this type of behavior and I probably never will.  I don’t see the motivation nor how they hope to benefit.  There was a time, probably not that long ago, that I would have been much more invested in this exchange and the ending would have stung.  I’m grateful that I’m in a better place now and all it gets is a blog post.