Love in the Digital Age

It’s been a long holiday weekend. An extra day means there is time to exercise, time to rest, time to catch up at home….and time for a red table gathering! I love these women with a passion that is hard to describe. They are my comfy nest, they are my rock of stability, they are not afraid to cry, and they make me laugh so hard the wine comes out of my nose. We talk about nothing, we talk about everything. They know and love me well enough to realize that though they fill my heart to over-flowing, it is not enough.  On Saturday night, we talked about boys and dating in later life. Did I also mention that they are wise?

A few months ago, I joined an on-line dating site. Sure, I wanted to see what was out there, LOTS of lonely people in my age range. Also to see if I was too old and too used up to attract any attention, not a problem. But mostly I did it for me…to say to myself, “I am ready. My heart is big. I can entertain the idea of a relationship again.” I got lots of advice from friends and family when I embarked on this. “Never give out any personal information.” “If you are going on a hike with this guy, we want your ETD, your ETA and exact GPS coordinates of said hiking route.” “Don’t tell them you write.” “Use a different site…the one you are on is all about the quick hook up for sex. (hmm, who’s to say that isn’t what I was looking for :))” “Don’t settle.” I got pretty good at separating the wheat from the chaff, and only exchanged dialogue or information with those folks that looked interesting, honest, and kind.

On-line dating is interesting. There are check boxes for everything. Eye color and body type, sports interests and frequency of exercise. Politics and spirituality (in a check box…really??) This stuff is handy. It might make for an awkward coffee date if the guy is ultra conservative and he finds out from the next table over that I am working on the upcoming Democratic fund-raiser. Profession and income are things typically discussed, and this is good. While I am secure financially, I am not really interested in supporting someone else, or their kids through college. I also don’t want to find someone who has so much money that they feel they can take care of, or own, me. I can find out what the latest thing they read is, and whether they like to watch sports on TV. What is elusive is finding out what that person is passionate about, and even if there are pictures, it is hard to see if someone has kind eyes. I cancelled my subscription. After just a small amount of time, I found the whole thing tedious. Matching up features began to feel like shopping for a car on-line….and at our age it is used car shopping. When you cancel, they ask you why, and what you would add to the site to help people find love on-line. I did not offer much. It’s a pretty good site if that is what you want. I know what I want, and I am pretty sure it cannot be found in check boxes.

Kind eyes are essential. My heart, though strong and big, is fragile, bruised and in need of some repair. Someone will have to hold it very, very, very gently. Passion for life is also essential, and has to include more than me. This life is so rich with love and joy and sorrow and pain. He would have to know how to grab it, cause I intend to do so until I die. Body type, sports interests, witty conversation…all of these pale in comparison. They all just fade with time. That said, I do look for certain important things. I’ve day dreamed about them, and night dreamed about them, and they are not going away.

Play: I need play in my life. I’m not talking about recreational sports here with goals for perfection or prowess. Good old-fashioned play. Eating spaghetti without utensils, dancing in my kitchen, stupid camp songs at the top of my lungs, reverse snow plows on skis, tickle fests. Back flips off of boats, and surface dives and handstands in the swimming pool. Laughing so hard you feel like your stomach is gonna burst. A playful person has not lost that child-like wonder and awe of the universe. Play is important.

Touch: I am a touchy person. If my kids or my friends are in the room, we are touching. I rub a set of shoulders when I walk by a pair that are too high at work, and I love coffee in bed with my daughter or my wife in the morning. I like an arm around me on the chair lift, I hold hands when walking down the street. I like to snuggle under a blanket on the couch, and I adore a foot rub in the hot tub. When Jim died, I thought I would go crazy for lack of touch. I’m like one of those monkeys in the psych experiments. I had to put a pillow behind me in bed just to get to sleep. I decided to keep seeing my massage therapist. Touch is important.

Sex: There is not a check box for this on the on-line dating sites….which my friends and I think is very funny! Seems like it might be an important thing to know about the other person. Sex is a loaded topic at my age. Older people come with experience and baggage, and possibly diseases and dysfunctions. I don’t do casual sex, I fall asleep long before I can consume that much wine. I’m well aware that sex, in my case anyhow, messes with much more than my body. Still, before I could ever engage in a relationship with someone, I would have to know that I don’t feel like puking when they kiss me, that my head fits in the crook of their neck, that an embrace leaves me wanting more. Call me old-fashioned, but I think that folks should figure out if they are sexually compatible BEFORE they commit to spending any extended time together. I am so not done with this part of my life. Sex is important.

I cancelled my on-line dating subscription. I know what I want, and I am pretty sure that clicking check boxes is not going to get me there. I broke a lot of the rules. I gave out personal information. I let my daughter know where I was going on my hike, but she was in the backcountry until late that evening and out of range for any contact. I told folks that I write…which had one of two predictable responses in most cases. I learned quickly to weed out incompatibilities, and I did not engage in one dialogue or “date” that was anything less than interesting and satisfying in its own way. It was an intriguing journey into modern dating. It served it’s purpose. I am ready to entertain the idea of a relationship again in my life.

So…does what I want even exist? It’s a pretty tall order. I think it does, I see friends that are happy, and I know it does. I have to believe it does, or what would be the point of even trying? My mom once asked me if I would be happy spending the rest of my life alone. “Of course”, I replied. “I am by nature a happy person, and nothing is going to change that. I have everything I need, but this is not what I would choose.” Needs and wants are different things. I keep one piece of advice precious. I will not settle. I want to love again. When I love, I do it with my whole heart. I will find that again, or I will die, happy, for having tried.

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2 Responses to Love in the Digital Age

  1. Lisa O says:

    Thanks for this one! The idea of a new mate for me is similar to you in that I will not settle and life it too short to goof off or goof up… wisdom and truth will guide. I like to imagine him as a needle in a haystack and my needle will appear when it the time is right. I have faith and lots to lean into and keep me going until then! You do too! Be well!

  2. Becky says:

    This is very good advice, and a great blog. I divorced by first husband, and I NEVER wanted to get back into dating (let alone something serious), but God had other plans for me. I met Anthony at my workplace and we became great friends. Two years later we were married. I had all but given up on finding the right man for me. My husband isn’t perfect, he truly is my best friend,and we always find time to play. We are in our 30’s now and just like children. I think that online dating just doesn’t work ( at least not for me). I tried online dating, but I never actually met anyone because it just seemed weird to me. These men do exist, I believe we have to stop looking before we can let love find us. Just a side note, I narrowly missed being a widow myself, but my ex died of a heart attack shortly after we divorced. It’s weird to think that I could have been a widow at 28 years old. Keep heart, you’ll find someone that can fill your heart full of the love that you deserve.

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