When traveling, I like to get lost. I used to think it was because of the adrenaline rush; my veins tingling in unfamiliar places. But now I believe that when one is lost, one has no time to get lonely and heartbroken. And so I was a little more than surprised to find myself feeling a little empty. I was single and free and should be happier. It was perplexing and I didn’t like it.
I was surrounded by fabulous girlfriends who inspired and supported me every day, but we often ended up quoting Girl’s Hannah Horvath on how we could be miserable in a world that has Siri, double mastectomy and perfect false eyelash tricks. On one karaoke session with my girlfriends, I sang The Beatles’ “Oh! Darling” and at the moment I felt like shooting someone. That night I knew something was wrong.
One of my girlfriends suggested that I tried an online dating site to broaden up my social network, “to paint the town red”. For someone who in the past few months had dined on KFC home delivery at midnight after long working hours, this was a radical idea, but I was willing to listen to the little voice inside my head. And at the time, it told me to stop being skeptical, and to see what could happen when I said ‘yes’.
“Open up your narrow mind, you umbrella head!” That voice told me. Plus, it struck me that my chances to meet someone within my circle were slim to none.
I needed to get out of my comfort zone, which is a cluster of creative workers, and expand my social relation. This may include bankers, lawyers, spoon benders, fire jugglers or anyone I would never cross path with in my normal life. So I signed up, thinking if everything falls apart, at least I’ve tried.
And it so it began. One day, a stranger sent me a well-mannered, but flirtatious message. He invited me for coffee and I agreed. We met the next day. He is in his early forties. As our conversation progressed, he confessed that the reason he “chose” me was because I was younger than him, and his reasoning was enough to make me decide not to have a second date with him.
Apparently, his partner was going through menopause and he blamed the failures of their relationship to this “bad experience”. It scared the crap out of him to think about having to go through it all over again if he were to date another woman his age. I wonder, what did he expect from younger women? A Cirque du Soleil trick in bed?
The second guy I met was a very nice man who revealed his family history on our first encounter. He works in a multinational company as a marketing manager. In his early thirties, he is well-educated and he travels a lot. As I sat down with him, he started to tell me what propelled him to turn to online dating. Apparently, he had promised his parents that he would introduce a woman to them this year.
He took out his iPad and began to show me pictures of his parents and siblings. He then went on to share his family secrets like we had not just met a few minutes before. As if that was not enough, he started to produce his savings and debit cards for me. And then, with not so many words, he looked at me with a look that says: “So?”
Then there was that smart-ass researcher, who confessed he liked to unwind with sex, followed by a sweet guy who consistently sent digital heart stickers—some were heart-warming, some ludicrous, yet others creepy.
At the very least, online dating put my life into perspective. Dating, whether generated by direct or online connection, involves the feelings of two persons. Rejection and acceptance are real. Wise men said hurting is easy, so I felt the responsibility to be careful with people’s heart.
Then after a few weeks of reviewing messages from men who couldn’t even form a sentence, I found the best-written profile belonging to a guy in a brown polo shirt. Firstly, no grammatical error, which is good. I cannot tolerate the wrong placement of “you’re” and “your” in a sentence. Secondly, he describes himself as a closet monogamist. From my point of view, you’re not hardcore unless you live monogamously. Polyamorous relationship maybe the trend among 20-somethings, but I am not hip on that. Thirdly, he looks as appetizing as a warm cinnamon roll—that I probably shouldn’t indulge in, but what the hell.
Without much consideration, I sent him a message, and he responded. We met for coffee and talked over things. It’s been four months since we started dating now and things are going good. Sure, we don’t have conversations like Jesse and Celine of Before Sunrise (and its sequels), but we never share comfortable silence either.
In fact, there were many iffy moments, but we put up a fight. Is it time to call off the search then? I think we both need more time to figure it out. For now, it feels right and I don’t hold anything back. But again, we shouldn’t settle easily in life, should we?
About Yendi Amalia
Yendi is a Jakarta-based unproductive worker and writer. She has a soft spot for words, places and good cause. When in doubt, she turns to Kentucky Fried Chicken and lies next to her cat Pokipoki.