EDWISE  - EDITOR AND EDUCATION CONSULTANT
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Transition-Online dating

I haven't used online dating until last month. I've been on a 50+ service for over three weeks and on one date as a result. The date went well. I can say that, despite my previous reservations about online dating and dating in general, online dating is very practical and workable.

I have never been keen on dating before, as I don't like the role-play and assumptions that it carries. I have felt that there are certain procedures set by society and tradition, and I don't always feel comfortable. I have favoured meeting someone through common activities and mutual friends, then getting together by either receiving an invitation from some such person or making an invitation to someone myself. As soon as one asks the other out, however, the confusion about the roles, expectations, etiquette, and procedures comes up. I have rarely felt myself. 

In dating earlier in my life, the procedures are cloudy. It varies from one person to another, or one couple to another. When is one "supposed to" have sex for the first time? This is one example. Guys of average incomes and social status have often seemed to think that they are owed their dues after taking out a woman and paying on around three occasions. Furthermore, I can see that paying for the woman is difficult and perhaps resented. To offset that expectation, and ensure further opportunities to go out together, I sometimes offer to pay, trying to have some control and maintain equality in the relationship, but doing so can alter the expectations on the part of the guy so that he may think the woman is bold and free-thinking, interpreting the situation as a casual relationship where sex is part of the game. I don't like the game aspect of this. Not a few comedy sketches, shows and movies have been built on the confusion over procedures and expectations, and the game angle. Isn't that right?

Another problem is caving into my urges. I will be bold and approach a guy when I am feeling either bored and wanting to go out and flirt, or my sexual frustration or lust is rising. Both kinds of desire can take over, but it is the physical need that gets me into trouble, leading me into foolish liaisons. No shortage of sketches, shows and movies on that aspect, either. I have really wasted my time, and my worthy refined manners, good body, open heart and empathy this way.

Probably the greatest problem in the mix is uncertainty about my identity and goals. Nowadays I am much surer about them. I think that is the main reason while a feel much more relaxed and in control about the prospect of dating, 

Further to that, online dating is a method that makes the whole business clearer and more practical. You must decide who you are and what you want when you sign up and create a dating profile. Then you can look over the profiles of prospects and sort them out. You can make tentative communication, as for more information and just have fun flirting and chatting in the meantime. Online dating gives the participant more control and turns the selection of prospective mates into a clear decision-making process.

I suppose age has something to do with it, too. I am not as burdened with physical desire as I used to be. I have learned, though, that it can heat up and burn pretty fiercely once I allow it and start to get closer to a man. The thing is, even though lusty feelings and romantic dreams can still creep in, I can allow it. I can remain in command of my mind and body. I am not at the mercy of the man's insistence or established role-play that generate falseness. I am not subject to so much uncertainty, either. 

When I answered a couple of requests to meet online candidates in person recently, I was very selective and knew exactly why--okay, with the information given and my gut instincts, as well--I consented. Anyway, I met M with the mutual understanding that going out would be in the interest of getting out and in the mode of "light friendship." I could comprehend his situation in life, a point of big transition, and his view of going out. Having the common circumstances of transition, age, geographical setting, education and preferred forms of entertainment and food, it could not go wrong. A good opportunity to make it an interesting outing came up, when a relative invited me to a couple of events that would be suitable to bring a companion one evening. It worked out and we had good conversation and a friendly and healthy fun time. It finished up with a hug and a loose idea of getting together another time. I hope to keep M as a friend.

I have been in touch with another candidate on this online dating site and he is more of a romantic contender. His pictures are attractive and the tone is more flirtatious. I agreed to go out, but only for a simply outing on a weekend afternoon. The fact that he, like M, postponed the first date because of the priorities of his work and personal life has kept the excitement in check, my mind and heart sober, and kept my expectations measured. The big day is tomorrow.

One doubt I have is my readiness to date. In terms of my living space and personal affects, there is a lot to be desired. I need to find a proper apartment and shop for more appropriate clothes. All the more reason for me to go slow and keep to friendships with a few platonic meetings for now.

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