Knowing what kind of relationship I wanted was one thing; figuring out from a profile and photos if a man might be a potential partner for such a relationship was something else again. I reminded myself to keep an open mind and an open heart because profiles and photos provide a very limited representation of a person. It’s like trying to see El Capitan or the Trevi Fountain through a hole you’ve poked through a sheet of paper with the tip of a pencil.
Henry liked my profile, thought we had some things in common, and wanted to know more about shamanism. He was older than me, and he looked older in his photos. He also looked a bit stiff, though I wasn’t sure I could actually tell that from a photo. And he was tall enough to likely find me a bit too diminutive to be a fit for him.
Still, I liked the intelligence that could be read through the lines of his profile. I had deflected a lot of men I thought would be too old for me. Some of those men were chronologically older than me, some were around my age, and some were younger than me, or claimed to be. Since some men stretched the truth about their age, I could never be sure how old someone was unless I could do a little online sleuthing. I considered taking a pass on this man, but based on his profile, I thought we might have a great conversation, at the very least. After a few false starts and my giving him the opportunity to back out based on our height difference, we set a date to meet.
When he stood up as I entered the restaurant, I could see that he was every bit as tall and lean as he said he was, but he was also quite a bit younger looking and definitely more attractive than his photos suggested. I made a mental note to remember that first impressions based on photos can be faulty.
There was something about this man that made a woman want him as a friend. And, in fact, he said that half of his friends were women. That had actually been a problem for him when it came to dating because at least one woman he’d dated was not willing to be with a man who had so many female friends. I, on the other hand, found myself thinking that a man with a lot of female friends was probably a man who genuinely liked women. And there are few things I find sexier than a man who likes us women as human beings, not just as potential sex partners or maids.
We talked easily and well straight through dinner and took a walk in the rain afterwards. Just knowing some men is uplifting. He was one of them.
Shortly before my dinner with Henry, I met another man, one who had found me on a dating site I had only recently joined. After three months on the original dating site, I felt I was repeatedly seeing photos of the same men I didn’t think were a fit. Too few new men were joining the fold. I needed a bigger pond to swim in, but I still had three months of paid membership, so I didn’t drop the site, just added another site with a larger membership. The free site I’d been on, the one with endless scammers, was not a viable option, but I planned to visit it on occasion for a while longer, mostly in my role as dating anthropologist.
Liam, who was from the Midwest and had only lived in Colorado for a year and a half, had a killer smile. But other than the smile, it was a bit difficult to get a fix on him because he liked, as he said, to keep his ears and his mind open. What that seemed to mean in practice was that he preferred asking questions to saying much about himself.
I did know that he was already retired at sixty, that he was involved in multiple activities that kept him in shape, and that he liked to fix things. Like me, he was of Irish descent. Unlike me, he wasn’t much of a cook. His lack of enthusiasm about cooking could probably be explained, though, by the fact that he had lost most of his sense of smell, which also meant that he couldn’t taste much.
Could I actually find myself attracted to a man who had lost most of his sense of smell? It wasn’t just about food, it was about the sensory experience that tells us the person we’re nuzzling up against is suitable for us–the sensory experience directly related to smell. I knew that other women understood the importance of smell to mating. Did men? And if men used their sense of smell in finding a suitable mate, either consciously or unconsciously, how did Liam make up for that?
But there was one other thing: Liam was an atheist.
Could Melanie the mystic find herself in relationship with an atheist?
Note: The names Henry and Liam are fictitious and have been used out of respect for the men involved.
Copyright 2016 by Melanie Mulhall