I am a middle-aged, childless, divorced woman. I have choices. I can become a crazy cat lady. I can be a bitter old scary witch-woman. I can spend my days swiping and getting dick pics. I can go on awkward blind dates. I can try to turn friendship into romance. I can spend months messaging, sexting, and pouring out my soul only to find out it isn’t “real” real. I can get catfished. I can say screw it and become the wild aunt who goes on adventures.
I recently had a thing with a guy. I’m calling it a “thing” because I’m sure kids these days have a word for it, but I have no idea what that word is. Anyhow, I wrote to him, “Dude, I’m a middle-aged woman sexting and having a basically online relationship. I don’t know what I’m doing, and just figuring it out as I go along.” Well, figure it out I did not.
That “thing” consisted of months of messaging daily with him–conversations, flirting, sexting, planning, sharing. It started out with his attempts at flirting, which I laughed off. I was interested in becoming friends with him; I found him intriguing. Somewhere the conversation became less friends and more dating, I’m not sure exactly when or how that happened. I had seen him while in his area and made plans to visit just him in a few weeks. That was cancelled due to schedules. I was willing to work it out even if that meant we backed off the romantic stuff and were just friends. But he decided it was too much stress and if he wasn’t going to get what he wanted (a regular girlfriend) he’d stop being my friend. He ended up cutting me off even on social media. It burned me. If I couldn’t be there how and when he wanted, then he’d rather have nothing. It hurt. A lot. Not that I was dumped, but that I was rejected even as just a friend. (If you are reading this, I’d be extremely interested in hearing how this version is incorrect. Hell, I’d be very interested in having any contact and conversation with you.) I felt that if I were genuinely worthy he would have been happy to have any contact and relationship with me. I also felt stupid, like stoopid stupid. I had called the whole thing at the beginning when I was laughing it off. I LET myself get pulled into the attention and then stepped off that cliff knowingly.
During all this I had been conversing with female friends from high school about how we get hit on now, AS divorced 40-somethings and BY divorced 40-somethings. We realized there was a thread in our stories about the men going back to the high school well. Certainly, part of this was due to social media. Easy to friend someone you went to school with, tell them you had a crush on them then, how pretty they look now, remember something that happened in ecology class. Boom, you’re in. No drink buying or dating profile composing even involved.
I’m not saying that this is wrong or devious or mean. It’s actually very understandable. And there is no saying a relationship can’t come out of it, there IS automatically connection, history, and understanding that are meaningful things. (Full disclosure: I moved my Yankee, liberal, atheist, vegetarian self to Texas (!!!) to live with a guy with whom I reconnected at our 20-year reunion.)
What I am saying, from my personal experience, is that it’s easy to get wrapped up in this online. Even if you don’t remember us because we were the wallflowers, we are still real people. Don’t message us things you wouldn’t say to us in person. We read them, we want to believe them. Don’t try to make us feel special and then just ghost us. Maybe feelings do fade in person. I get that. The profile pic, funny messages, and likes are not enough to really know someone. But please don’t tell us how you want to get to know the real us and then refuse to.
Also, don’t ever, EVER send us a dick pic. We just laugh and show it to our friends so they can laugh too.