Only From A Distance

Dearest Rachel –

I haven’t talked to you all that much recently about how things are going on the dating front. Not because I think you’d be jealous (while you never explicitly gave me the permission to find someone else after you were gone like I gave you, I’m pretty sure that your reaction when I did so – “Why would I want anyone but you?” – suggests that either you wouldn’t go looking, or wouldn’t enjoy doing so if you tried. And, given my experience thus far, I don’t blame you one bit), but because there hasn’t been a whole lot to talk about. Ever since seeing [her] on the afternoon/evening before Labor Day – which I thought went reasonably well, even though we both concluded that it wasn’t meant to go very far in terms of the relationship – we haven’t spoken to each other. I probably need to remedy that; we did swap email addresses, and I should ask about her own camping trip in northern Michigan while I was in Colorado, and how that went. Still, like I said, we both agreed that it was more something to pass the time, and I’ve been keeping reasonably busy ever since.

I haven’t heard anything from ‘L’ since the attempt to arrange a meeting on Labor Day fell through because of her silence. And given that she lives up in Racine, I confess I don’t feel inclined to pursue that line of inquiry further. Seventy-five miles is a long way to go for a blind date, even if it is on the route to camp, where I might commute to ‘work’ if needed.

Meanwhile, both [she] and ‘L’ have either deleted their accounts, or had them removed. To be fair, [she] explained to me that [she] was on the app for a limited time to begin with, and her membership was about to expire – that’s why [she] sent [her] email address to me. But the original in-app conversation disappears when their profile is removed for whatever reason.

I can’t say I like the ephemerality of modern dating correspondence.

But it seems that the longer I spend time wandering down this garden path (or is it just a garden variety rabbit hole?), the more I have to agree with Jan about dating apps being for entertainment purposes only. Sure, Jeff and Julie found each other – and on this particular site, no less! – but I’m starting to wonder if that’s not the exception rather than the rule. To be sure, Jeff warned me to expect to be rejected by hundreds of women at a time – and, considering that everyone has their criteria for what they expect in Mr. or Ms. Right, that’s more than fair. It’s nothing personal – or rather, it’s their personal choice, and I don’t correspond to it, and that doesn’t necessarily represent a failing on my part. Indeed, if we mutually acknowledge an incompatibility at the outset, it saves the hassle of wasting our time trying to square a circle for the rest of our lives together.

I suppose I should try to explain what I’ve learned about the system out here; and please note, I’m still just feeling my way through it all. You’ll recall the three options I mentioned early on, when I was trying to figure it out for the first time:

It turns out that, when you send a smile, the other person gets a notification, either by email or on their phone (or in my case, both). It’s like getting an in-app text message, but without any evident etiquette regarding replying. When you click on the message button, of course, you’re given a text box to send a message to that person (which should be obvious, but well…) The other person is not notified per se, but they get a little red dot on their phone app – which I personally hate leaving unanswered, as you well know.

The like button in the middle also doesn’t notify you; neither does it pop up as an item to be addressed on your phone app. Rather, there’s a dashboard within the app of who you’ve looked, who you’ve ‘liked,’ and who’s looked at – and ‘liked’ – you, along with a separate list of ‘mutual likes,’ where both of you have ‘liked’ each other independently. That last category is supposed to give an indication of who might work out as a match.

So far, only ‘L’ has worked out as a match, and you already know how that’s turned out.

Well, no, that’s not quite true. There was one other, someone (who I’ll call ‘A,’ as her name started with that, but I can’t remember what exactly her full name is, for reasons that will become clear in just a moment. Hang on), whose profile listed her as being in Westmont? Westlake? Some Chicago suburb starting with ‘West,’ anyway. Evidently, she was born and raised in South Africa, and moved to the Chicago area with her husband at the time, and has been here for a number of years. Now that she’s divorced (at least, that’s what her profile said), she’s looking for someone here in the Chicago area so she can move on. I noticed on my dashboard that she’d given me a ‘like,’ and given her proximity (more on that in a moment), I figured I’d return the favor. At this point she messaged me, and we struck up a conversation. And here’s where things started to go off the rails.

You see, according to her messages, her husband actually fell ill back in 2019, and they returned to Cape Town, where he passed away. So there’s one little inconsistency in her story – is she widowed or divorced? For that matter, since she’s apparently still in Cape Town, why is she looking for someone in the Chicagoland area? Her response was a peculiar “that’s what I choose to do,” which really started to put my guard up; does she expect me (or anyone else in my situation) to fly out to Cape Town just to see her? Or would she want them to do what they can to bring her back to Chicago? It all looks a little fishy.

Not that I had a lot of time to ponder these inconsistencies, as her profile disappeared shortly thereafter, along with the entire conversation.

Honestly, my telling these stories makes me sound like that kid in high school always insisted they had a girlfriend up in Canada or some such, because I have absolutely no proof anymore that this interaction ever happened.

Speaking of which, it does seem peculiar to me that all the women who claim to ‘like’ me might as well be off in Canada, for all the distance they have between me and them:

You might notice how almost every last one of them on this list is from well out of state – indeed, some are even from out of the country. Sure, I’m looking to travel, but I’m not about to go that far for just a date. And just about everyone of their profiles indicates that they’re looking for someone near to where they are. So why are they bothering to ‘like’ my profile? I’m clearly not who they’re looking for, so why bother? I know we Americans are decried for our lousy educational system, and the fact that we can’t find anything or anywhere on a map. But seriously, you would think these ladies would know where they are, and where I am, and that the two locations aren’t even close.

At least Cape Town might’ve been an adventure. Although, considering what little I know about the crime rate there, it’s probably not the kind of adventure I might always enjoy…

Evidently, I’m a likable guy, but only from a distance.

You’ll also notice something peculiar about the one profile that is in Illinois… the word ‘and.’ Let me introduce you to this… couple

Boy, they will let anyone in to this site, won’t they? What are these two expecting to find on Christian dating website?

I’m telling you, this profile speaks for itself. Height of eight foot zero – must be the two of them combined, although that suggests a couple of very short people. I can guess that ‘thicc bih’ is missing a couple of letters in the second word – and if I’m right, I’m probably not what they’re looking for (unless they’re just on here for squats and giggles, which certainly seems to be the case. Still seems like a ridiculous waste of their time, if you ask me). Don’t know if fifty-one is their combined age as well – it certainly doesn’t count as young by most standards, so I’m going to assume as much. It’s just an absolute mess, even though it makes for a hilarious read in context.

Needless to say, it’s hard to take this site seriously when there’s so many out there that don’t, for one reason or another. Too many encounters I’ve had thus far seem to be more scams than potential dates (although I did enjoy my one time with [her], that was just one time thus far, with little further promise), and this couple who seem to be looking for hook-ups really might as well work with some of the more popular sites like Tinder or even Grindr (yes, I know about them – I’m not a total naïf – but I wouldn’t use anything like that); they’re completely out of place here.

So again, props to Jan for figuring out this is an entertainment site rather than a serious dating source. And now that I’ve filled you in on the latest of my attempts to use it as intended, hopefully you find it as entertaining as she does.

Anyway, I probably won’t be bothering with it for the next week, while Kevin is in town. No point arranging a date when I have him to entertain. Oh, and I have something more to say on that subject a little later on – hint, it has to do with traveling again.

In the meantime, honey, wish me luck – I’m clearly still going to need it.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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