The record shows, I did it myyyyyyyy way.

So there I was, sitting on my bed, thinking of how I could make my life a little more ridiculous. “Ahhh, yes…” I thought, “online dating.”

Though I felt a little lonely at that precise moment, I wasn’t trying to find my newest soulmate (which is made more difficult by not believing in the idea of them.) or jump into anything serious at all. Really, I wanted attention. This seemed like a pretty safe way to do it, I didn’t even have to get out of my sweatpants. I filled out the questions in the snarkiest way possible, uploaded a couple adorkable pictures, and posted it out there for the world to see. Or for a bunch of random dudes to see, whatever.

As it turns out, I’m a hit. I’m also gorgeous/sexy/beautiful, I have cute cheeks, a very regal nose, I seem like I’d be perfect for no less than 7 different people, and it’s worrisome that I dislike cats so strongly. I got the attention I wanted, and a bonus helping of pure entertainment.

I talked to the people that interested me (I’m totally going to admit it, it’s waaaaay easier to be a girl on these sites than a guy. I never once started a conversation with someone. I just sat back while the messages flooded in, and my ego grew.) and politely declined further exchanges with those that didn’t. Or, I just ignored them, because I’m not going to feel guilted into replying to  every “hey sexy u wanna hang out?” that comes my way. Some of them were funny though, and that’s important to my people. Those guys, I replied to. A few times, it went well enough that I went on real, live, face to face dates with them. That was also quite entertaining.

The biggest thing I discovered is that I do, in fact, have standards. It’s super exciting! In the past, I’ve told myself that I should accept people the way they are, be open-minded, and find a way to get along with them. While I still tell myself that frequently, I add “but that doesn’t mean you have to date them. Friends are great, too. Or acquaintances, even. Who doesn’t love a solid acquaintance?” I no longer feel like if someone shows interest in me, I should be grateful for this miracle, and reciprocate, no matter how they treat me or whether I actually like their personality. It’s like… I matter. And the things I want, the things I believe in… they matter, too! [insert heavenly chorus and beams of light shining down on my now-functioning brain here]

I’ve also started noticing red flags AS THEY HAPPEN! Not years later! Not when I’m already married and realizing that I should’ve taken his comment about wanting to wear my skin as a coat a bit more seriously, but in real time! Someone who texts me after meeting me once to ask if he can call to hear my voice is perhaps going to require more of my full attention than I’m willing to give anyone. If someone starts explaining to me on date two what my own behaviors mean I’m feeling for them, they might be a bit more controlling than I’m going to put up with. When someone assumes based on 17 text messages, about families and work, that what I’d love more than anything is to receive a picture of their genitalia… well I bid them good day and have myself a hearty laugh. And by “hearty” I mean I almost hyperventilated. Dude. Just… no.

Another thing I’ve done in the past is feel guilty when I do apply the few boundaries I had. Telling people “no” is not my strong point. So most of the time, I just don’t do it. You can see how this might not be my best strategy. But it’s not just that I don’t have to feel bad about saying it, it’s realizing I have EVERY right to say it, as much as I want, for any reason. As does everyone. Nobody gets to decide what I want, feel, or think, except for me. It’s so logical, yet something that eluded me for so very long.

When I started this, someone asked me what I was looking for. I had no idea. I do now. I’m looking to talk to people, because it fills a void, and starting conversations with strangers in public is too hard. I’m looking to keep being me, without having limits or requirements put on me. I’m looking for someone to have dinner with, have a beer with, and share a laugh with. That’s all. I don’t say that to seem low maintenance and cool, then hook someone in and tattoo my name on their chest while they sleep. I say I don’t want a standard, committed, serious relationship because… I don’t. At all. Maybe I will one day, but it’s not in the foreseeable future.

However, I do love me some free dinners.

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