Anti Social Media-My Recent Experience with Facebook and Online Dating

Anti Social Media-My Recent Experience with Facebook and Online Dating

Destin, Florida February 2021

I am sitting on my couch on a Monday afternoon. It is raining outside here in Florida. 70 degrees.  It is March 1st. I don’t know why I am writing but I am. I am binge watching the same Netflix show of seven seasons that I first began in October as a way to cope with so much alone time during this pandemic isolation. I am at the end of season seven for the fourth or fifth time, I have lost track. It is called Offspring, a show complete with hot Aussie men, a dysfunctional family, sunshine, laughter and tears and quite alot of wit and poignancy, but I got bored after sleeping through an episode or so, so here I am typing away. 

I was feeling lonely and started to do what I used to do which was look to social media to fill the void. I got as far as my Facebook page, where I updated my profile picture, knowing that by so doing, I could get some likes and loves and maybe if I am lucky, some comments. Those are the brass ring you know. I mean, anyone can hit a like or a love but an actual comment. Someone actually ambulating their fingers and going to the trouble to make words out of letters, well, that just feels so…empty really. In the long run. Because this is what happens next, for me, and this is the reason that I have abstained almost entirely from Facebook since the middle of December.

Now, I have set myself up for more loneliness, not less. Because now, I have a choice to make. I can go back to my Facebook to see if anyone has seen my new picture and then see if I have had any likes or comments. And then I can spend time living in my head wondering if certain people I find attractive have seen my picture. Or, whether friends have missed me or not. In the past, it inevitably ended up with entire evenings lost in scrolling, reading posts, being outraged at some, tickled at others, touched by a couple of memes, but ultimately coming away feeling spent, tired and MORE lonely than when I signed on and those hours spent scrolling are never coming back to me. Because I have used something outside of me to try and fill me up, when what I am actually doing is abandoning myself in the process.

Social media!?! It really isn’t social at all. At least not in my “I live alone in Pandemia and I am single” experience. Because since the time I have left Facebook, I have only heard from a small handful of the over 1400 friends on my account. Admittedly, there are probably about half of those who are only friends for business reasons. We have a code where we friend each other and then like each other’s business pages to grow those business pages and hopefully grow those businesses. Facebook algorithms give business pages more exposure when they show a higher number of followers and fans.

I am not judging or criticizing any of those people who I have not heard from. It is a two way street. Just observing my behavior that leads nowhere good.

The view from my window

Today, I decided to do something different. I know people who say that doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is insane behavior. And I want to feel better, not worse. So that is why I am telling on myself here because who knows, maybe I am not alone in my behavior. Wouldn’t it be ironic if by posting this story on the social media apparatus of my WordPress blog page people relate and take some kind of comfort in knowing that they are not weak or flawed or unloveable, all feelings I have had today backed by the gray rainy sky that blocks my solar mood altering sun from me. 

We are coming up on the one year anniversary of Covid 19 taking life as we knew it, and hermetically sealing it, or in some cases, us in, leaving REAL social interaction in some cases potentially dangerous to our health. I am so thankful that I have remained well from that sickness. 

The sickness I have had has been loneliness. Actually, loneliness is not a sickness, but I have some shame admitting mine. My response to my loneliness at times, is seen by some as sick behavior. I am just going to call it learned behavior. The other social media that I have gone to at times looking for something outside of me to make me feel less lonely is online dating sites. While I do have a valid desire for a loving romantic partnership, I have a pattern there. I start out telling myself that I can do so in moderation. Just sign up for one app, only check it every so often, maintain balance in the rest of my life and before I know it, weeks go by, four dating sites are downloaded on my phone, hours of my nights spent scrolling through pictures of men looking for…something outside of myself to fill my void, entertain me or take away my pain. There have been several dates. First and last, all in ones. I can’t believe I am admitting this on paper, but truth is the only way for me. And the truth is that I don’t want to feel discomfort or grief or loss or boredom for that matter and these are things in me asking to be felt.

I have a support network in place set to catch me when I need to be comforted as I purge losses that I have distracted from in any number of ways. TV, food, shopping, men, women, your life, world news. It is far more exhausting to distract at this point than it is to just sit with the feelings and let them come out. But I still fight just holding still.

I am having to unlearn some bad advice, or better described, “programming” I have subjected myself to for a very long time and took to be gospel truth.  For many years, I have heard the terms, “fake it til you make it,” and “act as if”- two of the worst bits of advice given by people who don’t know what else to say when someone is really in need of dealing with some really uncomfortable feelings. Advice typically given by people who can’t be with their own uncomfortable feelings, so it just trickles down like a bad infection to many unwitting eager for relief listeners. I tried it. It doesn’t work.

For me, it only caused me to believe that I was somehow flawed for having anger or fear or grief or loneliness. And I have them all. At some point or another. Because I am human. I still have shame even writing this here. But I want to be over this. 

So as of this moment, I am not cruising Match.com or Bumble or Tinder or Hinge or Plenty Of Fish, which, by the way goes by POF.com and would be better named POFFOT.com, (plenty of fish floating on top.com), and yet I go there. Desperate. But I want to bring a more whole me to whatever relationship I have coming, which I sometimes trust the Universe is preparing for me.

To be fair to me, and to anyone out there, I don’t bring a healed person to the table, so I am going to do some more of that before I get out there again and I really hope that I allow my daily walk of life to be the source of people I date because online dating leaves me spent. And not in the sweaty, fun way. I rationalize going there by saying “It is hard to meet people out in the world” which I find to be true, but I also find meeting people who I have anything in common with online to be difficult as well. Maybe more so than if I just give it up and see what happens. At the store. At the beach. Who knows. Clearly, I don’t and my way certainly isn’t working.

Honestly, I don’t feel like I am very available right now. I tell myself and others that I want a meaningful relationship and I do. But if I am completely honest with myself, I don’t have a lot to bring to the table right now and I don’t want to lose myself in someone else or use their attention as a distraction for feelings that I am trying to avoid. That is not fair to them. And not good for anyone. Just writing that here is scary because it means getting more intimate with me.

So that is where I will be. Hanging out with friends, open to timing other than mine to fulfill that heart’s desire because I have done nothing but wear myself out, lead people on, lie to myself and spin my wheels. I have caught myself saying “he’s a game player.” “He’s unavailable.” “He’s all talk.” That all may be true, but guess what? I am the common denominator. The laws of attraction are at play here and that tells me that these things are all true of me too, or else why am I attracting this type of man, so I am stepping back.

In the meantime, I have art to create, words to write, a one eyed cat who needs and gives love, a beach to comb, sun to soak up and being to do.

Eclipse-Passion Requited (Almost)

Eclipse-Passion Requited (Almost)

“ECLIPSE”

verb

 1.

(of a celestial body) obscure the light from or to (another celestial body).

noun

1.
an obscuring of the light from one celestial body by the passage of another between it and the observer or between it and its source of illumination.
“an eclipse of the sun”

2.
a brand of chewing gum.

I met him on a Saturday night. I was home watching a movie when I swiped right and so did he.

I was stunned by him because he was 20 years my junior and while I have often found men in their forties attractive, this was the first time one had indicated they were attracted to me. I have to say, that while I get more years as I breathe more days in a row, my spirit is getting younger and my libido is one of a teenager who had unrequited hormonal expression because that is my reality.

Most of my friends were having sex in high school and I was off somewhere wondering what that was all about. No one was endorsing me to explore my sexuality when I was younger. And what was modeled for me was done by my mother, a widow who got her sexual needs met inappropriately with strangers and married men.

From high school forward, I struggled to find a way to show up for a sex life. It was excruciatingly frustrating. I had to get good and drunk the first time I had sex at 21 and got pregnant right out of the gate. I had a brief marriage to him, while the child was lost to miscarriage.

From that point on, I was very attractive and painfully shy, a lethal combination which presents itself at 5’10” to some as being disinterested or unavailable, both of could not have been further from the truth. There was one brief fling with a man 10 years my senior that took care of a long dry spell sexually, but it was not unusual for me to go years at a time with no sex life.

For my adult prime years from age 30 to 55, I prostituted myself for the house and the yard to someone I never had any sexual chemistry with. Ever. We didn’t even consummate our marriage on our wedding night and for the last six years of our marriage, we slept in separate bedrooms.

My swipe right connection struck me as different when in his exchange he actually used the words “I’m lonely.” 

That was so refreshing to me. A man who can own his feelings. Not something I have seen much in my time of latent dating which began at divorce and age 55. 

I have been shamed after telling some of the people in my life when I am feeling lonely. “You just need to love yourself.” “When you truly love yourself, you will no longer feel lonely.” “You just need to get good at being with you.” These comments, usually uninvited, come from people who are not alone. They have a relationship with a significant other-a husband, a wife, a partner, a lover.  Here’s what I say. Fuck them. And their unsolicited input.  

So I find myself living alone with this amazing woman. Tall, pretty, sexy, sensual and funny as hell and she wants to have a relationship with something that’s not purple and doesn’t require batteries.

We talked back and forth and the conversation was flowing nicely. Not once did he “go there.” There being where amateurs go getting graphically sexual before really knowing about each other. I had a friend once who said the ones who go to sex right out of the gate are princes and that it takes a king to know when that should be a part of the conversation. Personally, I prefer  the terms used by Javier Bardem’s character in the movie Eat Pray Love when Liz says she is sick of people telling her that she needs a man. “My dear, what you need is a champion.” Exactly.

The chat flowed nicely, when sometimes they don’t go past “Hi.”  “Hi.” He was fully present for getting to know you chit chat which went on for most of an hour until I told him I was calling it a day. He said goodnight back to my goodnight and I went to bed. 

When I woke up, he had messaged me saying it was his birthday. He then said, “May I call you?” A little thing, but the chivalry in that small gesture was so sweet to me. Especially from someone just 41 years old. When I answered the phone, he said “Hello Lucinda” in a voice that made me bend over silently saying to myself “oh my God” because it was so sexy. And I kept doing that throughout our short conversation. He asked me if I would like to go to lunch. I said yes, but I did not feel like travelling. His home is just over an hour from me so when I asked if he would come to me, he said sure. He also asked if I would be willing to travel to him if we decided to see each other. I said yes. I picked a beautiful restaurant with outdoor seating right on the beach of the Emerald green water on the Gulf of Mexico. The only thing between us and the water would be white crystal sands. It is stunning.

I made him a little birthday gift from the things I have to make art with. An old vintage military metal toy plane with the paint chipped of except it still had red, white and blue stars, one on each wing, and wheels that turned. He was a flight instructor for the Coast Guard and had shared that he had ambition to become a commercial airline pilot. (I didn’t have a commercial toy plane, so this one would have to do.) With that, I placed a red drink umbrella and a small glow in the dark star. I wrapped it up in crumpled silver tissue paper and tied it with a bow of plain string. I was really excited about this date with this guy. That was on a Sunday. 

Sadly, that lunch did not happen because his kids got dropped off a day early with no notice, so we had to delay our first meeting. 

On Monday, we planned a do over date. Same beachfront restaurant for lunch for a week from Monday, provided he was able to take the day off. He was travelling an hour to honor my request that we meet on my turf and frankly, I wanted to be close to home in the event that the passion and excitement we shared talking to each other proved to be there in person so that I could bring him home with me.That, and the scenery where I live is considered to be some of the prettiest beach in the world. What woman would not want that to be the background for a tryst with a young, healthy hot man!?!

On Wednesday I got a text asking me what I was doing. He said that he was rained out at work and would be off for the day until his kids came home from school. He asked if I’d like to meet for coffee which ended up becoming lunch and of course I said yes, excited that we had an opportunity to meet sooner. In the flesh.

We were both eager with excitement. So we decided on a halfway point, about 40 minutes drive for each of us, as he only had a few hours. We met at a restaurant. As I pulled in, I knew I was right behind his truck. Just being that close made me really excited. And we hadn’t even gotten out of our cars yet.

I was nervous, but I had already expressed that prior to meeting, telling him that I had not had a date in several months. “Don’t worry.” His words to me. And worry was not anywhere near me, as we hugged hello. He, in an oatmeal colored wool sweater, typical attire for someone in New England. None of that polyester knit. Just real sturdy wool. And he was that.

I carefully chose what I wore. A soft fitted olive heather green long sleeve tee shirt with a boat neck that showed my pretty neck and shoulders. That and some nicely fitting jeggings, open toed sandals revealing my multi colored mermaid manicure on my tanned pretty feet. They are magic so that when I get in the water, they allow me to swim for miles without coming up for air.

When he hugged me hello, I practically shoved his present into his hand. “Here, take this.” I was nervous. We walked into the restaurant and after surveying the place for a social distanced table where I felt comfortable with a lunch date during a pandemic, we parked our stuff at a table near the window where there were no people within well over the six foot guideline and went straight up to the counter to order. 

We stood there in line, and I felt like an adolescent, excited and stimulated to be standing next to him. If we had been magnets, we would have been stuck shoulder to shoulder, the attraction was that strong. I felt him scan my body up and down with those great big gorgeous green eyes as I looked on to order, sneaking a peek with my peripheral vision. And oh my God, did I hope he liked what he saw because for me the attraction was palpable. My next thought was “Please God, let this be mutual,” followed by, “and if it is, we may blow the top of the building of my third floor apartment on our upcoming date.”

I learned that his mother was from South America, his father from New England and that he himself had lived much of his life abroad, including much of his education prior to joining the Coast Guard for his career there. And let me tell you, this man was refreshing to me.  I could sense something in him that I am guessing came from his mother. A softness without shame or false bravado. And a passion that exuded from his saucer like big green eyes and face full of dimples that lit up when he smiled.

First, he opened his birthday present and as is my practice, I had to narrate and explain. I love to give gifts. “The plane is the best I could do to represent your ambition to be a commercial pilot. The umbrella is so that you won’t get a sunburn at the beach and the glow in the dark star is meant to serve as the symbol that all of the difficult things that are going on in your life right now will one day be in the rear view mirror. (He was about to finalize a difficult divorce, something I knew about first hand.) He thanked me, then devoured his lunch.

He leaned all the way across the table towards me, his broad, sexy shoulders all in, as he asked me about my art. I was literally taken aback, and I leaned back at this body language that seemed to indicate an interest in my answers and the one who was giving them. 

It bears mention at this point to say that this experience was happening in the midst of a pandemic that had a year under its belt which for me, as an extrovert, has been something of a challenge with the forced isolation that comes with prudent concern for health. I had just begun to add back certain things to my life that pre covid didn’t seem like a luxury. I went to my first movie in nearly a year. The theatre only had about seven people in it, yet the experience was almost a sensory overload as I have adapted to all of my movies at home with my one eyed cat Atlas. And as for eating at restaurants, that was newly added back too so just seeing people out, albeit in sparce numbers as if picking up the pieces of a social life after an apocalypse seemed new and strange.

Distracted by his everything, I suddenly forgot how to talk, and as I fumbled for words like “paint” and “pictures” and “I like to,” I told him I didn’t think I was describing my art very well. “You are doing fine.” His words to me as the thoughts I wasn’t sharing were the fact that his strong folded hands that led to his wrists with dark and gray hair that led up his sleeves to his broad forearms that went up his sleeves to his broad shoulders, which were aimed right at me made it hard for me to think.

He was done with his food, smiling at how good his steak sandwich and french onion soup was. He had boasted “I’m hungry!” upon meeting and all I could think was me too. Famished for human touch. Specific to that of a man. I had hardly touched my food. I struggled with how to manage all of the sensations. Hunger, lust, chemical explosion and the sound of his voice. “How do I work the straw in my drink?” was just one of my concerns at that moment.

I wondered, did he feel what I felt, so in the middle of someone’s sentence, I have no idea whose, I said, “So how do you think this date is going?” followed by, “I think you are really cute and I am very attracted to you.”

His response at first was to smile simultaneously with his big eyes and his pretty mouth, as if I had tickled him. Then, he leaned in, looked at me and softly said in that bend me over voice, (wait, I almost forgot where I was, because I was reliving the moment-sorry.) He was looking at me so I was looking back and his big green eyes and my big blue eyes were making some serious big turquoise when he spoke the words “You are a very pretty woman and I find you very attractive.” I had no options but to be with that feeling of being washed over by the sound of him.  That loses something in black and white, so I will describe the experience or the feeling that I had when he spoke. It was as if we were the only ones there and if my side of the mutual chemistry that had just been confirmed could have spoken, it would have said, “Crawl across this damn table and ravage me right now.”

Instead, since there were other people there and getting naked in public is frowned upon here in Florida, we reviewed how much time we had left before he had to be home for his kids to come home from school,  so I suggested we go for a walk.  

We went to a nearby park and walked along a path in the woods. We were shoulder to shoulder, I had borrowed a warmer jacket from him that he had in his truck and I was cozy next to him. He shared about his family, much like a young teenager on a date with raging hormones. He would be a freshman and I would be a senior, but as far as desire we were both honor students. We talked about playing tennis together. His voice even smiled when he shared about his plans to live on a lake in Maine, where his great great grandfather had worked in a lighthouse. Such a sweet man.

When we got back in his truck, he said “Should I take you back to your car?” I said, “I don’t know, how much time do you have before your sons get home?” He said he had about two hours. Taking me sounded good. However, to my car was not how I would complete that phrase.

At this point, the only contact we had had beyond the hug hello was brushing up against each other as we walked. Now, it was intentional. He reached over and gently took my hand, massaging one finger at a time. He had said he liked giving massages and he knew that my shoulder had been bothering me, so as awkward as it was with the console between us, he worked his way slowly up my arm. Then, he leaned in. And kissed the back of my neck. All of it. From one ear to the other. Just writing this makes me feel something. He asked if I would like to come to his house. I told him I wanted to have more time together the first time after which he said he had wanted to get a room with me. If only he had said that earlier.

We sat back in our seats as he asked me what I liked with a man as if to say what is your favorite color, intent in his listening to my reply. And I gave it. He told me what mattered to him. About how he liked to touch. And be touched. It was innocent and sweet and sensual and a bit erotic. “I think you should kiss me” I said, as he sat up in his seat. He was reaching for the gum in the console. Eclipse. I giggled nervously as he did so. He said he wanted a first kiss to be remembered as tasting good. So I grabbed some gum for me. And we kissed. His gum and mine were eclipsed by what was happening in the middle. And I wanted more of that. 

When he took me back to my car, a difficult conversation was had. I kissed him goodbye and I got in my car. I could feel his eyes watching me as I walked across to get in. We exchanged a wave and he drove off.

Two more days before what was to be the official first date. The one I so looked forward to as holding the possibility of an entire day enjoying each other publicly and privately. Instead, that difficult conversation continued and that date never happened because of it. There would be no next date from there.

And while I was sad, I was also rewarded by the entire experience. There was communication from the word go, honesty and thoughtfulness too. There was sexual tension fed by pandemic imposed touch starvation. And there was a younger man desiring an older woman who desired a younger man.

You see, while I have confidence, it is not constant and when it comes to affairs of the heart, I can sometimes be the last one to know that when I walk into a room, I am seen.  

I gave 26 years in the prime of my life to a man my age who I did not love that way and who did not love me that way. And now, I am ready to claim some of the sensuality and passion that never got expressed when it was meant to.

I work to trust the universe and my instincts and the laws of attraction with my heart to bring me the lover or lovers I am meant to have when I am meant to have them.  Since my marriage ended six years ago, I have had several experiences in relationships and in each case the relationship was more loving than the one before and if this progression is any indicator, I really have much to look forward to. In the meantime, I’ll just buy more batteries.