Just Frances

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Dating downtime

This entry was posted on Saturday, July 12th, 2014 by Frances Ryan.
Tags: widowhood, sad, lessons, fear, faith, ego, dating, confession

No one said that dating was going to be easy, but I didn’t expect it to be as difficult as it’s been. Part of that, I suppose, is because I had this naïve notion that I’d just meet someone, sparks would fly, and the rest would be a lovely little fairy-tale. After all, that’s how it happened last time.

After my first foray into dating, followed by my first attempts at online dating, I should have known that it would be a bit of a challenge. Yet when I decided I was finally ready to really try my hand at dating, I allowed that naïve hope to take over once again.

But here I am, still without someone to plan a holiday with. Not for want of trying.

So, what’s the problem? Well, I’ve run into a few issues.

Not the least of which were a couple of “helpful” friends who decided to try their hands at sorting out my dating life. Sadly, their actions actually made things worse because they took it upon themselves to communicate with people on my behalf—in ways that didn’t help me out in the slightest. (I’m trying to find the positive in it all but to be honest, I’m very angry about their meddlesome ways.)

And on top of that, a few people I know(ish) thought they would share their views about how wrong it is for me to be dating in the first place because, as a widow, I am duty bound to mourn my husband for the rest of my life. Yes, some people feel my desire to date is a betrayal to Paul, as well as to his family and friends. (Paul would disagree with that.)

But those dissenting voices really did shake me a bit and even caused me to question my desire to date. After all, if people I haven’t seen in many years feel that I’m a horrible person for trying to find happiness, I must be! (Don’t worry, I only spent a few days entertaining those ridiculous opinions before deleting the offenders from my Facebook account and moving on.)

Of course, it’s not been all bad.

I met a few nice people for coffee in the first few weeks of my return to dating. Of those, I made plans for second meetings with two of them—one of whom we mutually decided a third meeting wasn’t necessary; we just didn’t click.

The second of those men, however, I met with a handful of times. In between meeting, we exchanged emails and a few text messages. But there was something missing. I don’t know what it was, I don’t know if it was him or me or a combination of the two. I just know that I didn’t feel the spark*.

But I received messages from even more men that I didn’t meet up with.

Some of those messages were highly inappropriate. Some were from men who I just didn’t feel a connection with. And some were just plain rude (for a variety of reasons).

Then there was the man I messaged back-and-forth with a bit—and whose path I cross offline on occasion—but nothing came of it. Frustratingly, that’s because he never actually manned up to ask me out, despite his willingness to continue emailing. My last message was clear: I don’t need a pen-pal so ask me out or go away. Sadly, he went away. (Still, I admit to kind of hoping he’ll get back in touch about meeting up. I don’t know why.)

The madness of it all has prompted me to deactivate my online dating account. I just don’t think it’s the right place for me.

So here I am, more than five years after my husband died, and I still haven’t had a new first kiss. I still haven’t held someone’s hand or snuggled with someone on the couch. Some days, I wonder if those things will ever happen for me again. But I try not to dwell on it too much. (Too much being a relative term!)

Again, it’s a bit hard to share this so publicly, but I know that several widow(er)s are following my journey and that they find comfort in knowing they’re not alone. Of course, I’m sure that non-widow(er)s may also find some comfort in knowing that dating drama happens to everyone—not just to them!

As for me, I don’t know what I’ll do. I don’t know if I’ll re-activate my account or if I’ll consider other match-making formats**.

But I do know that I’m not giving up on the idea of meeting someone new. Maybe it will happen when I’m actively seeking someone or maybe it will happen by pure chance or divine intervention. Time will tell.

I have to admit that I wish it would happen soon though. And not just because I want to go on a nice holiday without having to pay the dreaded single supplement!

In the meantime, I guess I’ll devote my energies to more important things like my PhD studies and my race training.

Don’t worry though, I’m not alone. I have loads of friends to spend time with. In fact, I’m heading out to do that just now! (And—who knows!—maybe I’ll meet the man of my dreams when we’re out this afternoon!)

* I don’t believe you have to have an instant spark, but if it’s not there by a second or third date, that’s a problem. But isn’t it funny how you can have a spark-less friend for years then all of the sudden develop a spark? (It’s never happened to me, but I can see how it could.)

** I don’t fully buy into the “you won’t find him if you’re looking” camp, but am rather a member of the “you won’t find him until you’re ready” brigade. And by ready, I mean ready to share your life with someone else; ready to feel vulnerable with someone else; ready to love someone else. And I am ready. I really, really am. (And not just for the kissing; I’m ready for the fighting part, too!)

Comments

I’m not sure how this will be received, but I’ll stick it out there anyway.

I know that you’re interested in the whole management of online reputation thing, and was wondering if you’d contemplated the idea that publishing with such candour about your personal life might deter people from wanting to become part of that life?

In the old days a person could be pretty sure that news of any embarrassing faux pas of could only really be disseminated to a very small community. Any failure in personal hygiene, manners, sexual skill or (heavens above) physical inadequacy, could only realistically be shared with friends and/or family.

Now you are obviously very discrete when sharing the things about your dates which you dislike, but I’m guessing that others are less so. Many people would have no issue sharing names and details of people who they felt deserved ridicule or who deserved retribution for some dating misdemeanour (a person scorned and all that).

I’m a person of a different dating era obviously, but the idea that I might need legal protection against “Revenge Porn” would be enough to make me think twice, while also making sure the lights were off!

Either way I think that the Social Web (is it still called that?) requires a lot more trust from both parties, even at the “first date” stage. Does a predilection for blogging and tweeting about one’s personal life, make one a more “risky” dating option?

This is just me thinking however, not some indictment of what you’re doing!

by Ephemera at 7:40am (GMT) on July 14th, 2014

You make several good points - and they’re all things I’ve thought about over the years.

Am I a “risky” option because of blogging? A potential suitor may think so if they don’t know me and don’t realise that I do try to be discrete. You’ll find very few “real names” on Just Frances and where you do find them, I’ve used them with permission and only in positive ways. And where there are “negative” comments (say, for example, my first post-widowhood date) I don’t give any clues as to who the person may be. In fact - even my closest friends don’t get real names. I figure there’s no need to share names and details with anyone (here or in person) until I know it’s someone I actually want in my life.

Now, if a potential or active suitor can see past my blogging (and hopefully recognise that their identity and person is safe here) then I have to move onto the next phase of blog consideration: When, if, and how they are introduced on my blog. They may be happy to be called by their real name (or a nickname) in a story about a lovely day out to a castle, or they may wish to not be mentioned at all. (The story will then exist in a way that says I went to a castle, but will be altered so that it’s about the building, not the company. That way Mum still gets her castle story!) But I will always try to consider the wishes of others when I write and share here.

And when/if I settle down with someone, I know that the sorts of things I blog about will change over time. I know that I won’t be posting as much “emotional” stuff because I’ll have someone to share those things with in an intimate, one-on-one way. And I would never share stories about fights and disagreements here (or anywhere else).

So am I a risk? I suppose that’s for a suitor to determine. Hopefully, they’ll see that I don’t have a reputation for being mean to people or for naming-and-shaming. But if my blogging at all (no matter the content) is a problem for them, then they’re not right for me. (I am happy to compromise with the right person about how I blog though.)

Ultimately, however, blogging helps me on several levels. And I know it helps others who aren’t able to share but find comfort in reading my words. So ... here I am, and here I’ll stay.

I’m always happy to hear the opinions of others, and I hope you never feel that you can’t share yours with me. I do value other view points and I learn a lot from them. Really!

by Just Frances at 9:48am (GMT) on July 14th, 2014

Hi Frances,

Please don’t take my previous post as any sort of negative comment aimed at you. The fact that I read your blog at all (luddite that I am) says a lot I think.. in a good way!

It was more a wondering on my part really, particularly since I read about the possibility of “Revenge Porn” legislation and how the very requirement for such a thing might have influenced my dating practices.

I applied my question in the context of dating, but I guess I was thinking this through in the wider scheme of things (yeah, I’m a bit slow!).

In the old days for instance, people might be labelled as “gossips”, so you might not trust them with certain information. Could you foresee a situation where “blogger” was thought of as carrying similar risks?

Even in my line of work where non disclosure agreements are pretty standard practice, should the existence of an active blog be seen as an additional risk to mitigate in some way? Even if the spilling of beans wasn’t malicious or premeditated, does the ubiquity of this channel mean controls are not in place in the same way they are for more traditional channels?

Taking a step back from the organisational context, is there an argument for specifically dealing with personal blogs and twitter accounts within employment contracts?

Is this what happens now anyway, and I’m woefully behind the times?

Anyway, lots of questions, but either way certainly my display of ignorance was never intended as a negative comment towards you.

by Ephemera at 11:04am (GMT) on July 14th, 2014

Oh, I absolutely didn’t take it as a negative comment. I could see that you were asking “what ifs” and not suggesting that I am actively damaging the reputations of others.

My research is looking at how people manage their reputations online and looks at issues of identity and information, as well as how individuals determine the reputations of others based on online information. And let’s face it, we all do it to an extent. (Regardless of what we say we do.)

Is there an argument for an organisation to put restrictions on what an employee does online? Absolutely and it’s happening all the time. In the states, court cases have found that employees have the right to Tweet “I hate my job” because that’s their opinion - but they wouldn’t have the right to Tweet something that’s damaging to the company’s reputation and brand. (There is a fine line.) As for an employment contracts, there have been several attempts by companies to limit the use of social media, but there’s a balancing act that needs to be met.

I opt to blog as me - the real person, despite Just Frances being a kind of pseudonym. (It’s not really.) I complain about my own unhappiness at times but I wouldn’t share a story about a fight with my sisters - in part because I don’t want to be “that” person and in part because I know it would only add fuel to the flames. Likewise, I would never air dirty laundry or porn videos (I would never have those in the first instance) online because it reflects badly on me and would damage my reputation more than it would embarrass the other party.

There are loads of online gossips though. People sharing more information about relationship issues than they should or sharing too many intimate details about too many things. It can damage personal reputations as well as that of an organisation - and it can certainly make someone think twice about doing business somewhere. I mean, if the executive assistant is tittle-tattling on her blog about inappropriate things (private or work life) then how can I trust that my business information is safe?

And I do admit that I Google people I’m interested in. So far, it’s saved me from two married men who had failed to mention they were married. (One has a wife who blogs way too many details about her family!) Of course, I want to learn things from my date himself, not online, so I only allow myself to Google just enough to determine that they are who they say they are… then I stop.

And if someone’s Googled me and found this site and still want to see me, I know I’ve got a potential keeper. (That or a masochist!)

by Just Frances at 10:43am (GMT) on July 15th, 2014

Another thing: I’ve been invited to speak during the Fringe this year about the role online information plays on reputation (Life in a Digital Fishbowl: Managing your reputation online). Some of the talk will cover what we’re talking about here, so I’m happy to share a summary of it with you if you’re interested.

by Just Frances at 10:47am (GMT) on July 15th, 2014

Thank you Frances, I’d be really interested to read a summary, but please not anything that requires any additional work from you.

Mind you, I should probably take advantage of you now, I won’t be able to afford your extortionate rates when you’re a super high powered consultant!

by Ephemera at 8:15am (GMT) on July 16th, 2014

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