I blinked and looked at the photo twice, just to be sure my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me. They weren’t. There, on the back of this potential online dating match’s shirt, was a line that read: “I’m not gay. But $20 is $20.”
Needless to say, I swiped left and closed the app.
Many of you have reached out privately to ask about my online dating foray. In a nutshell: I’ve slowed down. Waaayyyyy down. Probably because for every seemingly nice guy, there are about 50 of Mr. Classless. He is usually either wearing an offensive shirt, shirtless to show you his pec work, or smoking a stogie and holding a shot.
Funny, when I graduated from college, I thought I left all of this behind. The men of the world were going to be ambitious, kind, enlightened. Oh, my 22-year-old-self was bright-eyed and perhaps a tad bit naïve on all counts.
I decided, after my last breakup, that I was done making dating a priority. If I’m honest, I’m not your typical gal. This week, I’ve worked until 10 p.m. every night to meet multiple deadlines. I’ve advised CEOs and CTOs, worked with some dynamite journalists and caffeinated at my desk more than usual. I’m the breadwinner. The mommy. The blogger. The gal pal. I will remain open to meeting someone fantastic but he’ll have to be that and more. I’m busy and I’m—for the most part—happy with the life I’m creating. Solo or joined, it’s a good one.
I am tempted, however, to throw the online Neanderthals a curveball. As they emphasize their physical fitness, youthful appearance and love of all things 20-something-ish, I find the contrarian in me wanting to keep it real in a way they will never understand.
“Forty-something working mom seeks grown-up man. Do not bother to apply unless my morning dog walking outfit will not cause a chasm between us. Must appreciate large purple specs, unmatched hoodie, pants and running shoes, hair a-flyin’. Also, must be a fan of no makeup, which makes me look about 10 years older than I am—that’s a new development but one I think is probably here to stay, from what my older counterparts tell me.
I work long hours and sometimes eat olives for dinner. I realized my shirt was on backwards on the drive to my son’s school the other morning. This is something you can count on happening with regularity. I have enough on the brain that sometimes the details of life get squeezed out to make room for bigger things.
I usually have better cocktail conversation with the men at a party than the stay-at-home moms. I don’t believe I ever did enjoy bitching about diapers or cranky husbands, but if I did—I’ve certainly outgrown that phase. Talk to me of business, of politics, of spirituality, of wine and travel and grand ideas. I won’t fit your ‘bikini-ready at a moment’s notice’ mold. I’m too busy earning a paycheck. I know the dumb blondes (and brunettes and redheads) can get tiresome for you, but hey–you wanted bikini ready. Most women I know who support a family put the treadmill lower down the list than taking a meeting with a potential client.
I won’t bat my eyes and smile prettily when I give you my opinion. My mother raised me better than that. But make no mistake—when I meet a man who is real, a man who is so himself that he oozes strength and solidity, my eyes will sparkle, my giggles will erupt, my loyalty will be true.”
I am painting myself in the worst possible light, of course, to make a point. I know there are men who would applaud my achievements, my ability to keep a family afloat, my lack of time to apply mascara for a morning walk.
I’m done worrying about being a pretty package. As I watched Hillary Clinton debate Donald Trump the other night for the presidency of the United States, I realized that he is still trying to make the old rules apply—rating women’s attractiveness rather than their qualifications for a job, their weight rather than the heft of their achievements.
Online dating seems to create the same vibe. Here’s to the men who resist it. To the women who rise above it. And to all of us who are seeing each other for the worth within, the kindness inherent, the chemistry that goes beyond biceps and boobs.
If my mother was right, that is the only kind of match that lasts. And I’m holding out for it. Not holding my breath, people. There is a difference.
But holding out? Of course I am. As my dad used to say, “You bet.” It was his way of assuring you he was all in on something. I’m all in on real love. Anything else is a poor substitute—much like a pretty, but virtually empty, package.
And in the meantime, there are deadlines to meet.