Recently, I got a letter from a friend of mine named Carol who has decided to give Internet dating a try. She had never tried dating online before and didn’t know anyone who had had any experience using it. She is in her early fifties, travels a lot, and rarely has time to develop an ongoing relationship. Carol is a confident, successful woman with a degree in international law. She concluded that the only way she was going to meet someone who could share her love of travel was going to be on the web.
She met a man, whom she liked, and they began writing one another. They exchanged mail daily, sometimes several times a day. Then, as suddenly as the correspondence to flight, it crashed without warning. It had been two weeks and he has not written her back during this time.
She was frantic and wrote me a long letter asking me some questions that had come up for her in retrospect. Questions such as, how often should she write him without sounding desperate? How many times should she email him in a period of a week and not seem too anxious? When is a good time to accept a meeting date after your first cyber contact? And where should your first meeting take place? And before I knew it, my confident, successful, intelligent friend had disappeared. She was replaced by a ‘’Pod-Woman’’ who looked like Carol, but was void of all her lovely self-assured traits.
One of the things I personally dislike about being single – especially being single and over 40 – is that the rules for dating etiquette are constantly changing. I can barely keep up with the latest film release let alone what I’m supposed to know and when I’m supposed to know it when it comes to starting all over again. And this uncertainty can make it fertile ground for self-doubt. If I’m not careful enough to keep perspective on my objectives and who I know myself to be, I can quite easily loose my footing and tumble into the abyss of ‘’fear.’’
But even having said this, I still find that it is easy to feel insecure when we are wandering though new territories. And Carol, even though she was doing something brave by making the decision to take control of her situation and try an online dating service – found herself becoming insecure about a situation that she had little control.
The questions brought up bigger issues for her, and for me - Issues such as our place in this world as women of a certain age who are single. Single either by choice or by circumstance. We found comfort in taking a step back and looking at the state of affairs from a different vantage point.
It turned out that the ‘’man-in-question’’ had a legitimate reason for not getting in touch with her for a fortnight. And they have now resumed their online relationship. But one thing has changed – Carol is no longer possessed by the temporary ‘’Pod-Woman’’ and the brief experience taught us both a valuable lesson. The foundations of our confidence must be built on concrete beliefs; otherwise, that foundation will crumble like sand at the first sign of trouble.