Turning Away More Than Wrath

Dearest Rachel –

So… I’ve gone into great detail to you about my many adventures – and misadventures – in trying to meet people online. Not complete detail, mind you – that won’t happen until the last of them stops ‘sliding into my DMs,’ as I understand the expression goes.

I’m ambivalent about that day, if and when it comes. I don’t look forward to the day when I have to give up hope that I’m going to find anyone, but the current situation of juggling six or seven different conversations, all demanding my attention at the same time, isn’t anything I bargained on, either. Especially when I’ve basically started each with the assumption that they aren’t going to pan out anyway, so I’m basically wasting my time with any and all of them. You and I both tended to subscribe to John Lennon’s assertion that ‘time enjoyed wasting is never wasted time,’ but I can’t say that I’m exactly enjoying this situation.

It doesn’t help that this weekend’s chaos proved a distraction from my more regular divertissements; I wasn’t always paying sufficient attention to the games the gang were playing last night. The good news for them was that other people could win, and I wouldn’t get bent out of shape over it; the bad news was that I wasn’t playing as the top of my game – and with regard to the overall conversation, I was clearly ‘out of it’ more often than not.

It got to the point that, when we decided to set aside the games and say goodnight, not all of us did right away. I certainly got a dollar’s worth of free advice from both Kevin and Erin about how I should be dealing with these interlopers. Erin, in particular, seemed worried about my speaking to all these people, and telling them about myself; “Don’t say anything to them. Block them, right away.” It’s enough to leave me wondering about her motivations, but knowing better than to ascribe anything other than the purest of them to her.

And, maybe she’s right. Maybe they are all predators, seeking my information and money. Still, if they are, they’re going about it in a rather roundabout, overly hands-on way. A lot of that kind of information can be acquired through various public domain records; going to the trouble of contacting me directly seems like taking more steps than necessary to accomplish their ends.

The problem is, in order to find a match with someone online, it’s kind of a prerequisite that one lists what they’re like, what they’re into and what they believe in order to find someone who’s similar. Actually, that’s not even exclusive to finding someone online; the whole point of such a relationship such as what we had (and I guess I’m still looking for) is one where you can bare your soul to the other, and know that they accept you. But in order to discover whether you can, you actually have to do so – at least, to a certain extent. It requires a certain amount of risk, and while that scares some people – and maybe it should – the fact that it worked so well for me before encourages me to try it again.

But I’ve learned to view these conversations with something of a jaundiced eye, and that poses a problem. If you’re expecting an encounter to go wrong right from the start, and find yourself looking for red flags, you’ll find them. Heck, you saw me as a loudmouthed, know-it-all jerk when you first met me, and I saw a girl who would rather be five years old rather than the eighteen she was. By rights, we should never have made any effort to become friends, let alone lovers and spouses. But we did, and we – and all those around us – are so much better off for it. So I can’t bring myself to shut one or another conversation down, just like that, because of my suspicions. If I did, I might as well give up on the search right here and now, because I’ll never find anyone that won’t come into a relationship without some baggage – and, for that matter, I know I’ll be bringing some of my own to any such union, too, so I’ve no real right to criticize another.

However, I’d like to think that I’ve gotten to the point where I can recognize when I’m being played. And while ‘a soft answer turns away wrath,’ it turns out that it’s effective in turning away those kind of conversations. It just takes a little time.

More than once, I’ve found myself administering advice to whoever’s chatting me up to tone done the terms of endearment, so as not to cheapen them. Similarly, any argument that distance or age doesn’t matter when ‘we’re’ (read ‘they’re’) talking about ‘love’ leads me to point out that they don’t understand what love truly is – or at the very least, they mean something very different when they use the term than I do. I’ve gotten at least one of them to admit to having been dealing with a recently failed relationship, and pointed out to them that “I’ll wager you thought that was love, too, didn’t you?” It may not be the softest answer I can give, but it gets the point across.

Anyway, if they accept this somewhat fatherly advice going forward, then maybe they’ll be all the better for it. Assuming they’re as real as I am, they’re putting themselves at greater risk than I am, truth be told, and I respect them for it. Now, that dissipates a bit if they’re doing it for the hustle, but if that’s how they think they can earn a living, that’s their prerogative; it’s a free country, at least for now. I think I can recognize such a player when she makes a certain request, and I can turn her away gently but firmly.

Regardless, if you can see your way clear, I’d still appreciate it if you would keep an eye on me along the way, and wish me luck. I’m still going to need it yet.

Published by randy@letters-to-rachel.memorial

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

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