Like the fundamental laws of physics, there seem to be online dating laws we women have to deal with, just as we have to deal with gravity. And let me tell you, the older I get, the more I resent gravity.
One of those laws is that the men you are uninterested in will inevitably be interested in you while the men you are interested in will be uninterested in you.
I am uninterested in some men for a variety of reasons: They live out of state. They live within the state but at too much distance to make dating them enjoyable or even feasible. They are too old for me, whether chronologically or by virtue of my sense of their robustness. They are too young for me. I don’t find them attractive. They either seem to have a feminine side that is overdeveloped or a masculine side that renders them little more than one step above Neanderthal. They have religious beliefs that will probably make us incompatible. There is too big a gulf between our lifestyles and interests. They smoke.
Why are some men uninterested in me? I’m clueless. It is one aspect of the mystery of men. It might be for reasons similar to those that make me uninterested in some men, or it might be for reasons I have not plumbed. Actually, I often do not know if a man I might be interested in is, in fact, uninterested in me. He might have simply not provided me with enough clues to tell me that he might be interested.
I kept returning to one man’s photos and profile. He had asked a question on his profile and suggested that the woman who could answer it might be old enough for him. This was an approach I had never seen before, so I finally sent him a message giving the answer to his question and telling him that is profile and photos had made me smile.
I heard nothing back from him.
I was disappointed.
He was a few years younger than me, but no so much younger that he was age-inappropriate. He appeared to be an architect or at least in the building design/construction field. He had referred to a rather iconic structure in the mountains as having been his opus. I figured that a man who could use the word opus probably had enough mental horsepower for me. But apart from that, his connection to architecture appealed to that part of me that has long appreciated architecture and design. I own a copy of A Pattern Language for heaven’s sake.
He kept cats instead of dogs, something unusual in a state where dogs probably equal humans in numbers. I had lived with three cats for the better part of their entire lives. They all died of old age with me. And while I haven’t lived with felines for many years, I still have a fondness for them and am of the opinion that there is a fundamental difference between cat and dog people. I liked that he was a cat person.
He didn’t seem to work out as much as me, but he liked to hike. And he liked to skinny-dip in mountain lakes. That he actually had skinny-dipping in his profile was also something I had never seen. Did that suggest a sensuous man? I hoped so. But aren’t mountain lakes frigid? I wanted to know more.
He wanted a woman who is self-confident and comfortable in her own skin. His backyard was one of his favorite places, and he enjoyed gardening. He was into woodworking and photography, and he’d read How the Irish Saved Civilization.
There were numerous other indications that he might be a man I’d find devastatingly appealing. But there was no reason to believe that the man was going to message me. I could let it go or I could send him another message, a longer one that spoke to at least a few of the things I thought we have in common. So more than two months after the first message, I reminded myself that I really had nothing to lose, except maybe my pride, which was worth losing, and sent the message.
I had no expectation of hearing back from him.
The following day, I got a message from him. Yes, he was an architect. He’d been the principal in charge of development for a large, well-known organization. He thanked me for reading and understanding most of his profile notes, and he said that I was the first to do so. But he also said some mysterious things: He was struggling that day, he said, with an attack of some kind on his nervous system, which, he added, made him anything but the strong man I had referred to needing in my profile. If he could beat what was trying to beat him that week, he would be in touch.
Once again, I was reminded that men are a mystery to me. What in the world did he mean by an attack on his nervous system? And when he said he was struggling “today,” did he mean that calendar day or some longer part of this moment in time? Did he have a disabling chronic illness or just some passing virus? I had no idea.
I waited a week with no message from him. Had he just been trying to let me down in that indirect way that men sometimes do online? My second message to him had given him permission to be direct: “If you’re curious at all or might be interested at all, I’d love to hear from you. If not, I’d still like to hear from you by way of thanks but no thanks.” I’m a pretty direct person. Kind, but direct. I like directness. Was he being coy instead of direct?
I was back where I’d been before I’d left that second message. Should I just let it go or should I check in with him to see how he was doing? If I did send him another message, would he view me as that self-confident, comfortable-in-her-own-skin woman he said he wanted, or would he view me as desperate and pushy?
And would men ever stop being a crazy-making mystery to me?
Copyright 2016 by Melanie Mulhall