The Preaching and the Practice

(Or Our Friend the Golden Rule)

The online dating thing was, at first, a lark. Having poked about in the Men for Women ads on Craigslist for a while (and having been largely, though not singularly, underimpressed), I decided I would post my own ad and see what happened.

The answer: a lot. I got a heap of replies, many of them legitimate and kind, some of them baffling, a few downright annoying (such as the fellow who wrote to tell me that my photos made me look 42 rather than 32--um, thanks--or the guy who ripped into me for being negative, for allowing my "New York and kickboxing" side to dominate, and for having "a worldview that excludes children" because I said I didn't want kids right away and wasn't looking to date single dads). Without giving up work, eating, exercise, and every other activity in my life that requires time and attention, I couldn't reply to all of the messages I received, and I didn't try.

But I did reply to several and, in the end, wound up meeting up with five of the guys with whom I'd corresponded. They were, to a man, interesting, kind, engaging, fun, and pleasant to spend time with. With the exception of one, though (interestingly, the least likely candidate), I didn't feel the spark/friction/flare/other inadequate term I need to feel in order to feel like there's real dating potential with someone.

Herein, for me, lies one of the difficult (and crappy) things about online dating. That spark thingy is of supreme importance to me; without it, even the kindest, most attractive, most fascinating person won't feel like a good match for me romantically. That's why, I think, I've generally dated or had relationships with only guys I've met in person first--at a party, through friends, randomly in some venue or other: I can tell whether I feel that sort of indefinable ping straightaway. Somewhat illogically, I'm happy to let the deeper getting-to-know-you process come after that ping detection. Online, of course, all of that happens in reverse.

And that, as I've discovered, can mean that sometimes I just don't really connect to people, even though they sound great in words (and, often, *are* great in person). The reverse is entirely possible, too: I may well not induce sparks in the guys I meet.

Here's where it gets muddy. Over lunch the other day, I asked Josh his opinion: what do I do about the guys I don't click with romantically but who might make great friends? He laid out the options. "Well, you know what a guy would do--just never e-mail again. But you could be classier than that, and just write back and gently tell the truth."

I like to think of myself as being one who generally aims for "classy" (though some might debate that point), so I figured I'd go for choice #2. But it took an honest e-mail from S, the guy I went out with on Tuesday, to actually get me to sit down and write.

S sent me a message yesterday afternoon thanking me for meeting him for dinner and asking for my honest assessment of the date; he mentioned that he wasn't sure if either of us had felt a spark, but said perhaps he'd missed something. I replied and said, essentially, I'm with you--we're not destined for romance, but sign me up for the friend thing if you're game.

And then I planted myself in front of Entourage this morning and wrote similar messages to the other guys I'd gone out with in the past few weeks, because I'd rather be forthright, tell the truth, and float the possibility of friendship (which I don't really see as a second place prize, though I know that's often how it comes across) than just disappear into the ether. Further, it feels a bit like adhering to some odd combination of the golden rule and the whole concept of "If you don't vote, you can't complain": I can't rightly be a jerk to others and then complain about others being jerks to me.

So here's to that elusive spark, and to C, J, G, S, and me all finding it somewhere, with someone. In the meantime, here's to truth, openness, and the willingness to take the harder path.



Right. So much for my overly confident belief that my immune system was hearty enough to deflect the sniveling cold that had affected many of the people around me in recent weeks. After convincing myself that the craptastic feeling that settled in early last week was due to some combination of four hours of sleep on Saturday night/Sunday morning (for the record: not enough, though I have good reasons not to complain too forcefully), crazy overwork, and a Sisyphysian (J, please correct spelling/usage here) To Do list, I had to admit by Wednesday morning that it was, in fact, a well-established cold.

So I haven't been my best self for about a week now, pressing the heels of my hands into my eyes in a largely futile attempt to get my sinuses to calm down, trying to cough and blow my nose and sniffle and hack in as dainty a manner as possible (which is to say, not very), watching as clouds of tissue balls fluff and expand to fill my wastebaskets. I can't remember the last run I took, which makes me edgy and puts me out of sorts. (Must, must, must go tomorrow, all else be damned.)

The most disappointment aspect of illness for me, I think, is my inability to see it as a forced vacation or a reasonable excuse to sleep for countless hours on end, and then to rise only to clear the Kleenex carpet from the side of my bed and refill my water glass or tea mug. All of that would be nice, but no: when I get sick, I get impatient, itchy with thoughts of all the things I'd like to (or need to) be doing but can't. Knocking furiously on wood, let me never find myself faced with any sort of actually debilitating illness; I would go well and fully loops.

I woke this morning able to breathe through both nostrils (another annoyance of colds: the forced decline into mouth breathing) and no desire to toss back another dose of Alka-Seltzer Cough and Cold (purchased last year, I believe, when the pharmacy at Walgreens was closed and anything with pseudoephedrine was thus unavailable). These are good signs, leading me to believe that tomorrow might even be 95% tissue-free and that I might soon be able to conjure up a post on something more interesting than the status of my nasal passage blockage. Onwards!