Guest Column: Dating Online Series. Expectations? by Ms. Jennifer

Credit: Jason Marlow, Photographer

New Orleans (NOLA). How does it work? Mysterious. Inexplicable. I walked by a man a few days ago and there was something about him. I felt an instant connection. I didn’t realize he was my neighbor at the time.  It was more than his chocolate skin, strong body and both intense and gentle eyes. I can’t explain it. Whatever it was it was instant.

The next day he was at my front door and we started talking. His name was Derrick. I learned he had been in prison for 20 years. That means he was put away as a teenager and been behind bars for almost half of his life for distributing marijuana! I asked him why he wasn’t bitter, why didn’t he just punch me?  He laughed, but I was serious, how could he not hate people?  No rich, white guy would have done that much time. The poor are effected the most. He said he was talking to young people about prison and inspiring them to put their energy into their passion and not wasting away in jail.  He was compelling.  He was inspiring.  And I wanted to reach into his pants…lol.

While he was in prison he ran the kitchen and was in charge of home delivered meals for seniors (was he paid for his labor?). Now that he was out he wanted to continue his passion for cooking and was making meals across the street out of his parent’s home.  I got excited (again) when I realized he could supply daily meals for my father who was getting ready to move in with me.

But as so often happens when I get excited, I follow up with slap bitching myself. Don’t get interested in some guy whose spent half of his life in jail. He’s got to be fucked up in some pretty major ways, but the more I talked to him the more he sounded way more sane than most of the men I’d been meeting on line. When I went across the street to pick up lunch I was invited in to sit down and eat. Had I known I would have changed out of my sweaty shorts and sports bra covered in paint. I was tired of painting my upstairs apartment and hungry, but there I was sitting at his table realizing he was offering something way more than food. Then Derrick introduced me to his fiancée. Wait, what?  How can that be you’ve only been out less than 30 days. It took all my restraint not to blurt out “how and when did she happen?!”

His life was across the street, but the next day, he came over to help me and some friends move furniture out of my dad’s old apt.  He was the first to arrive I had just gotten out of the shower and my wet hair hung loosely around my shoulders.  He touched my hair and I was instantly 16 years old again.  How is that possible?  He said earlier at lunch that women know in the first five minutes (men typically need more time to decide if they are going to invest) and, after thinking about it, maybe he’s right.

The next day I had a date with Mr. George who I met online.  Derrick mentioned he would be at his parents and maybe we could meet that evening neither one of us ever mentioning the street that divided us. I sent him a text after I got home from my date with George telling him I was home, but got no reply.  I needed to swipe, but sometimes it’s easy and other times not so much.

The good news is there was so much potential with George, the sculptor.  Earlier he had sent me his web site and I checked it out, of course, he was very talented.  I was eager to meet him.  He invited to me to his “piece of shit” studio and I was willing to break my rule and drive to his house.  I talked to my friend, Barbara, to make sure she didn’t think I was crazy and the consensus was it would be okay to go.

Last minute, George asked if I would mind meeting him at a coffee shop.  Maybe he was getting cold feet or wondered if I carried a concealed weapon.  I was more than agreeable it was a much shorter commute (he lived an hour north of NOLA).  Instead of assuming why he changed his mind, I decided to ask him why he now wanted to meet at a coffee shop instead of his home studio.  He replied,  “Too easy to go right into sex. Unless you have a craving that need to be satisfied, seemed wise to meet in a neutral place.”

Uh?   I wasn’t planning to meet this guy and fuck him on his drafting table, but okay.

We met and it was an awkward embrace and kiss.  He showed up with his dog and we sat in the hot sun baking and talking about his art and then he suggested we get in the car where it was air conditioned. He said we could drive up Esplanade Ave, but suddenly we were in front of a herb shop.  He mentioned he was really into natural medicine ( I am as well) so I didn’t have to pretend to be interested despite this unexpected detour.

By this time we got back in the car he was talking about politics and telling me he was a libertarian and then he mentioned “white privilege” and how people are being brain washed.  Hmm. This wasn’t close to sexy. I was meeting his mind that was interested in taking over the afternoon. I listened and instead of feeling open and curious, I found myself falling away.  We drove back to the coffee shop and he told me he was going to get another cup of tea before he took off and so we said our goodbyes as he walked away leaving his dog in the hot car.

I was so excited to meet George, just like I was with Gabor, the film professor I met online, in both cases something was missing.  It was like they led with their heads, but I couldn’t feel their hearts. And I had no idea if they had a dick.  I knew Derrick housed one in his pants, but where was their’s?   I told myself not to jump to any quick conclusions.  Can you know on a first date or even in the first five minutes?  Maybe you need a few dates to get past the brain security guard?  I mean I would go out with both George and Gabor again, but I was pretty sure that wouldn’t  be happening.

With  Gabor, he told me he had been online dating for something like 15 years.  If he hasn’t met anyone in that long them there was no way in hell I was going to make the cut. I prayed that the days of me trying to “enlightened” people had come to an end.  My new response was: RUN.

This time I decided to ask George instead of waiting around for the potential radio silence.   I was curious if  my perception  was right and how he would tell me.  “Well, what do you think,” I inquired.  “After radio silence and quite a few one times dates, I’ve decide to try the “more aggressive” approach and ask, “how was that for you.”  Of course, he could ask “how was that for me,” but he didn’t.  How was my five-minute barometer doing?

“I enjoyed the conversation.  We don’t have the chemistry for being lovers.  I really appreciate your openness and thoughtful mind.  Good luck…”

So he’s speaking for me, too?

I wrote back, “I wasn’t sure about the chemistry part for me.  It felt more like our brains met rather than our bodies or our hearts.  Interesting that you already know.  I would have assumed it would take a few interactions, but okay. You know that quickly?”

“Yep. I know that fast.  I want to find someone close to where I am on my health journey.  You’re a fabulous woman.  You’ll find him.  When the time is right.”

And I feel that old part of me bubbling up that wants to argue/convince/negotiate.  Why?

What are you talking about I am totally into taking care of my physical health.  “My body is my temple,” I retort.  (I don’t want a  “a luke-warm, arms-length, overly intellectual man who doesn’t know himself” (not that I’m accusing him of such).

I love stringing words together to create meaning, but this love affair is starting to fade, because I realized his reasoning makes no sense and, more importantly, the words don’t matter.  If he’s not interested then we’re done and he makes that very clear.  Still I persist….  I wanted to debate him, seduce him and make him understand.  I’m on the right health journey, my God, man, I even bought some herbs and the herbs shop, what are you talking about!?

“Be sweet.  Ciao.”

“Maybe the non-direct approach is better”…lol  Ciao.

And that’s a wrap!

The crazy thing about feeling rejected is it doesn’t even matter if I wasn’t all that into the guy, because if I tell the truth, he’s right, I wasn’t feeling it either.  I’m just not totally certain and more open to giving the bread time to rise. But maybe we don’t have all that much time and it’s not worth wasting another few hours on a human being?  Maybe, had he felt the chemistry, we wouldn’t have ended up talking about politics, which ain’t sexy.  Maybe he’s just more observant and decisive than I am or maybe he’s the kind of guy who leaves his dog in the hot car.  Who knows and I won’t be finding out.

Maybe I’m just a little bit sad, but I didn’t feel George’s heart. He didn’t show it to me and his brain doesn’t see the world the way I do.  Does that always mean: swipe?

Perhaps, because Jamal, the one guy I’ve been seeing for a while is a Christian Evangelist who, without asking, took me to a sex club.   I don’t mind someone working some shit through but I need to be respected and asked.   He recently sent me a text telling me he just got home and then seconds later: “Some place downtown maybe…. What do you like to do?”

“Is that for me?”

“No, my daughter is in town.”

“Jamal, why would you be trying to see me if you daughter is in town or asking her what she likes to do?  You know what your daughter likes to do.  I have no problem with you dating other people, but I have no tolerance for “omissions” that’s how my ex used to lie and then comfort himself that he wasn’t lying”

“Are you home.  Can I call you?”

“No.  My friend Barbara is here.”

The next day, I don’t call him back.

Then he sends me a text, “aren’t you talking to me anymore?”

“Your swing from conservative religion to sex clubs is ok in that you are trying to sort somethings out, but I want it clean and in the open I want to be asked/informed so I have a choice/voice.   My last relationship stripped me of that along with my dignity.   Any scent of that bullshit is going to make me want to run.”

He sends his deepest apologies, but I’m still not amused.  I’ve shared that I’m dating other men even talked to him about a few, but if he hides or lives a double life I want NO part of that.  My ex wasn’t transparent, until he was fully into a new relationship and then, and only then, did he tell me about his new girlfriend, Pat, who he met on Tinder.  And then, Pat, who I agreed to meet, tells me about his fuck buddy in Canada.  The boy has hooked himself up in two countries and his only response is “I told you I’m non-monogamous so I didn’t see any reason to tell you.”  Omission ain’t lying, remember?   And the new toy tells me what my ex wants to hear.  She doesn’t restrain him in anyway and she understands our five-year relationship makes me primary.  Only problem with that is he’s fucking her and not me and she knows about his FWB in Canada so how does that make me primary?

Which reminds me about my first online date (oh, yes, I’ve been a busy beaver) with Henry.   I walk up onto the porch of the Column Hotel sweating buckets.   I’m trying to look cool, but I feel nervous.  He’s facing the street so he can see me coming.   And I feel it right away, but I’m not supposed to feel it.  He’s almost ten years older than me and typically I like my meat tender, but he’s aged like a fine wine.  I tell my friend, Barbara, later we can share him….lol…   He restores my faith in older men…that they can still be hot.

He’s a bit too good to be true.  He taught tennis for years and in great shape.   After that he became a lawyer and later a real estate baron.   He’s hot, smart, savvy, sophisticated and rich.   It’s not that this last feature is that important, but if I’m honest (and yes, I’ve dated starving musicians and artists –see above) but, we all know, rich is better than poor.

We sip our martinis and then he sends his “dirty martinis” back to the bar cause this man is used to getting what he wants.  Later we move inside and he starts opening up about his personal life and his need to be free and I’m starting to see the similarity between him and my ex.   Henry tells me his father was murder when he was five and he feels this is the reason he can never totally let a woman in.   Just like my ex, whose grandparents were murdered (in the Holocaust) they are both unable to commit to a woman and yet they are totally devoted to their children.  He’s 69 years old and his longest relationship is 13 years.  Will I be the one special enough to convert him, but wait, isn’t that exactly what I did with my ex?   Yes, and I failed.   Don’t go there, I admonish myself.

He tells me this as a warning, don’t get to close, and I think to myself, I’ve had a lot of practice with this sort of man.  At least he’s able to talk about the dance how when things get to close he has to move away and how he has deeply intimate relationships with a few different woman.   He admits that he was selfish, but seems to be more aware now of his ambivalence.  He lets me know, however, that he wants to see me again.  Funny, how chemistry works, I would rather be attracted to a fully available man, but so far that doesn’t seem to be happening.  In my defense, I was attracted to Jamal and Henry before I knew their story, but what do now that I know?

In the end, I must keep my relationship with myself as my main focus allowing these men to come and go.  To release my expectations and walk away gracefully.  At least George spoke his truth even if it was a little bitter, like the herbs I just bought.  What is the point of trying to change someone’s mine?  I did that for years with my ex trying to get him to see the light, but the way he “omitted” the info about his new gf until their relationship was firmly established did nothing to honor our five years together.   It’s one thing to be dismissed because George wants “someone close to where I am on my health journey,” but quite another to be dismissed after five years like an old worn out T-shirt.

Like an intimate relationship, online dating is not for the faint of heart.  It’s an oxymoron to open your heart and at the same time protect yourself.  It’s a treacherous road, but one worth taking.

Right?