When I began to sort through the glut of messages, flirts, and faves on the dating site, I felt overwhelmed at first. I wanted to reply to every message because it just seemed the decent thing to do. But there were messages from men young enough to be my sons, messages from men out of state, and messages from men I suspected had not read my profile.
The first man in his thirties who contacted me wanted me to text him. I didn’t bite. A friend of mine from the gym, a woman in her early thirties, had told me stories about men attaching photos of their dicks to texts once they had her cell number. We had compared notes on how we felt about that, and despite the age gulf between us, we agreed that any man who do this without being invited to was clearly clueless about what might turn on a woman. We also agreed that the dick we found adorable and enticing was the dick we loved, not just any schlong out there.
I was also aware that dating sites were full of scammers who were, in slang terms, catfishing–looking for women to take advantage of. I knew that catfishers quickly tried to convince their intended victims to leave the dating site and communicate via social media, e-mail, or text. The scammers who were weak in English were easy to spot, and I deleted pleas from them without responding. I also deleted messages from anyone whose first message suggested going to their Facebook page or texting them.
I quickly learned how to narrow the age parameters of who could see my profile. That eliminated the boys and the men well into their seventies. But what could I do about the men who appeared too old for me, either in appearance or profile details, who lived out of state, or who just appeared to be unsuitable?
I was actually stunned by the number of men around my age and even many years younger who looked old beyond their years. Had their lives been unusually hard? Had they abused their bodies? It was not until I began doing some online research to vet the men I was willing to talk to and meet that I discovered not everyone was telling the truth about his age.
I was also stunned by the number of men whose photos appeared younger than their stated age. That was easier to sort out. A lot of men were posting very old photos of themselves, as if showing the opposite sex what they once looked like would somehow make them more attractive to a woman than their current dissipated state would otherwise have.
To the men who lived out of state, I replied with a message thanking them for reaching out and pointing out that we were mutually geographically undesirable. But what about the men who were just unsuitable or unappealing? I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings any more than I wanted my feelings to be hurt unnecessarily. There might be numerous reasons for men and women to be on that site, but many of us, men and women alike, were looking for love and companionship. We all deserved respect.
The answer came quickly from a man I flirted with. His message back to me thanked me for the contact and wished me luck in finding what I was looking for on the site. It was the nicest possible turndown. I adopted his words and used them in my own replies to the many men I found unsuitable.
Within the first week online, I had interacted with a man who, while not immediately attractive to me from his photo, looked pretty good on paper. We switched from dating site contact to e-mail after a few promising messages back and forth, then we agreed to meet for Sunday brunch.
He was a lovely, accomplished man in many ways. He and his brother co-owned a small high tech company. I had checked out the company and the man online. He and his company appeared to be doing important work. He was funny, articulate, interesting, and smart, but he was also physically broken. Multiple hip surgeries had left him with a serious limp, and in person, he looked quite a bit older than me, though he was several years younger. Life had been hard on him, and he did not have the robustness I needed in a man. Most importantly, there was also no chemistry between us. He was the kind of man I would welcome as a friend but would never welcome into my bed.
Once home again after a brunch than spanned several hours, I went back online. The next morning, I sent him an e-mail admitting that I did not think there was going to be chemistry between us, though I was delighted and relieved to know that good men like him were out there and would be happy to call him friend. He took it well and sent me a couple of poems we’d talked about that he had written.
I never heard from him again.
My travels with an open heart continued.
Copyright 2016 by Melanie Mulhall