Now don’t get me wrong.
I’m am probably the biggest romantic on the planet. Truly. Give me the cheesy love songs and slow dances, the heart-felt poems, the long walks, the hand-in-hand stuff with the right person, I am THERE.
And there WAS a time in my life, more recent that I am comfortable remembering, when I was so lonely, that I was not always discriminating in who I allowed myself to ‘fall in love’ with. However, I have always hated matchmaking, of any kind. Even of the most well-meaning variety.
I’ve gotten older, and I hope smarter, and maybe seasoned enough in matters of the heart to where I’m starting to get that ‘alone’ doesn’t have to mean lonely. I’ve experienced the devastating emptiness of feeling alone AND loving someone as well. There are, I have found, much worse places to be than fretting over why the phone isn’t ringing.
Which brings me to the singles services that are all over our email, Facebook and other social media sites today. I really find them, in turn—funny, sad, pathetic, and at times, alarming.
I considered going this route, back a few years ago when loneliness overcame common sense. And I know one or two hapilly married friends who met that way–through “E-Harmony” and “Christian Café.” However, my inner ‘commitment phobe’ just wouldn’t let me follow through. Something really important seemed to be missing.
Long-distance relationships are difficult enough when it is someone you actually know. But in the cyber-world, as thoughts become I.M’s, and there is so much that one can do to conceal who they are, right down to actual appearance, attitudes, etc. these modern day dating services can be downright alarming.
Let’s look at the not so old days (still happens!) Guy spys girl. Guy thinks girl is cute. So, he walks over, introduces himself, takes a deep breath, and asks her on a date. She agrees to go, because she likes him too, and was hoping he would ask. They go out, they have fun.
A few more dates, maybe they decide they want to only date each other. By that time, infatuation has died down a bit, and they may be ready to do the work of adult relationship building–where the foundation of loving friendship is just as important as the romantic side. Hopefully there is also deep and earnest prayer going on, on both sides about what God’s will is for this relationship. To me, this is the real-world, off line reality.
And yes, it is hard to be single and lonely. I have stayed away from bars that are the traditional home of those single and looking, simply because often what the male side of that appear to be looking for is uncommitted sex. I believe that a woman who walks into a bar alone is pretty much advertising she wants the same thing. Right or wrong, that’s just not me.
But I’m not quite enthralled with the church singles groups, or the innocent seeming social groups that are meant to get folks together. They tend to, for lack of more gentle word, turn into ‘meat markets’ where the joys of connecting with someone who has lots in common with you, looks good and is mutally interested sometimes gets trodden in the dust.
Recently, I commented on Facebook about the wide variety of dating services there are online and how they are being marketed. I was joking, but I speculated that there might be a marketing strategy to draw in singles who are habitual oatmeal breakfast eaters. And nothing wrong with that. If you’re going to end up spending the rest of your life with someone, maybe you need to know what you might at times, fix them for breakfast.
However, our society, in its’ quest not to be lonely, pretty much advertises through these services that many folks just don’t know how to connect.
Healthy relationships are more about two melting into one, similarities and differences than to bark out at someone ‘this is who I am, like me or not!’ And it seems that the latest dating service ads cater to this type of brokenness. I have seen ads by seemingly bitter men, which say “Honest women only.” Or,”No skinny women wanted!” Or, “No young girls wanted–mature women NEEDED.” Or worst of all, “Rich Men looking for YOU.”
Okay, great. I’m honest, and certainly have some extra pounds and I passed ‘young’ a while back. However, the last one is just insulting. While its great to know my would-be partner is working and has some ambition, ‘gold-digger’ has never been any part of my personal description. There is so much more to a lasting relationship than the surface stuff. Why does it get so heavily emphasized?
Today I saw an on-line ad which I hope was a parody, but I fear that it wasn’t. It had a rough looking guy (and I am sure Road Warrior types need love too) who apparently had been following a woman around and decided he liked her. This was part of the marketing strategy.
As a social worker who works with women (and men) who have been stalked and harassed by people who claim to ‘love’ them, that’s not even close to appealing. It’s actually frightening to think that some vulnerable woman (or man) might find such an ad appealing.
I am single at 48 for a lot of reasons–by choice, out of fear, because some relationship choices just didn’t work out, and because really, up until about two years ago, I was addicted to the ‘bad boys’ and didn’t give the nice guys five minutes.
Finally, I woke up to the basic truth that you can’t make a pearl from a sow’s ear. If you want respect, it pretty much has to be there from the beginning. If you want loving, gallant behavior, it should be evident in how the person you are attracted to treats everyone. And it really helps to be friends first. You learn more that way than in the protection offered by cyber-space or any other dating service.
Not so long ago, I saw an ad from Christian Mingle that had the couple saying that without the service, they would have never met and had their child. That blew me out of my chair. Really? Then why not just be honest and leave the “Christian” out of it and just call it “Mingle.” I personally believe in a bigger God than that.
When God wants a couple together, wants them to grow into love with each other (much preferable to ‘falling’ in love which intimates that it’s accidential) HE orchestrates it. And yes, it can be every bit as joyful, mysterious, nerve-wracking as the best romantic ad that CM can dream up…the key being…God doesn’t need human or cyber help.
And frankly, neither do I.