Monday, September 24, 2007

On Meeting Someone: Online & Otherwise

[A post in progress. I'd be glad to receive comments from your theories and experience.]

I've "done the personals" for some years now, and the process still fascinates me, though perhaps, as for so many others, it may frustrate me even more. Meeting online is both age-old and newfangled. Our ancient natures, wanting to latch onto the nuances of sparky, physical cues like facial expressions, eye contact and those oh so mysterious pheremones, go up against both the false intimacies and haunting disconnects of modern technology.

Friends aren't made in a single post or first phone call. We often, at first, try too hard, or, at first, expect too much.

Online, we meet sober (?), for one thing, not in some rowdy bar, not at a party, not through friends. There is very little to help lubricate the situation. Our initial "flow" is more like paddling a kayak in Class 4 rapids AND rowing a jon boat against a headwind across a lake. We are, at first, nothing more than our wits and perseverence, after a series of e-mails long or short, a voice, try as we might to be "real," selling ourselves, acting as product. It is at first such a delicate situation, no wonder it's chances of working, of sparking real chemistry, are rare (no matter what those smiley/kissy ads say).

We have this deep feeling that, of course, we want to be loved for ourselves, without pretense, much less perfection, and forget "perfect fit." Yet we feel we have to market ourselves, to fit the demands and prerequisites of a virtual stranger, who is, after all, a real person, most likely full of lovely and lovable desires and needs. And that is the shame: that the online medium is nothing more than a market unless we are caring or cunning enough to make it more.

No doubt, online and in person, we look at faces first. That's one of the ancient things about us. Animals look at faces, and in the old-fashioned up close and personal venues, they look at bodies and body language and all sorts of physical nuances as well, the things that add up to what we call "chemistry."

We can even find a "kindred spirit" and still not feel the chemistry. Are we so stuck on the list of green lights and red flags that we aren't willing to see chemistry as a thing which doesn't necessarily already exist between us? After all, we haven't even met! How about growing into chemistry. Now that is another old-fashioned and time-honored way of coupling.

We can shop for months and even years to find just a few people who clear the first few hurdles, but we are still just about clueless on chemistry. Resumes are not even remotely enough. We look for clues and touchstones and shared tidbits and still come up short. What we are really needing to find is a complimentary attitude toward life. And the older we are, the more our attitudes do seem to be set. Mating is increasingly difficult when we seem to be ever more "set in our ways" and when we are old enough or cynical enough to want to hide any shadows of our neediness. How can we want a partner and yet not seem wanting? How can we desire intimacy and yet think we have to seem especially self-sufficient and even independent?

Online, especially, without the usual social lubricants, it takes real bravery to reveal our desires. We tiptoe around "neediness," yet that is often where love grows, in sharing our true, unadulterated neediness, our desires to NOT search, NOT talk, not have to CHOOSE, but to just BE, to relax, to lie down, to share, to accept. It takes real bravery to be that vulnerable, even though we are often at our most beautiful when we are most vulnerable.

It takes bravery to be kind, to be patient, to try again, even after a rough start in the rapids or a listless start plowing into the headwinds on a big lake.

[This is a post in progress, and I will come back to revise it. Feel free to comment and help "flesh out" (so to speak) the themes to be presented here.]


At 10/15/2007 3:08 PM, Anonymous RQ said...

Just putting a biography on one of these computer dating things makes you vulnerable. Here I am. Come and get me. Gosh no one even winked!!!! Maybe a picture would help, but not one of those studio head shots. How about standing by my bike? How about in front of a waterfall? They never get past the AGE in the bio!!!! No shooting the rapids. It's more like hitting a brick wall. I do better in the flesh!!!


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