Are we not all victims of circumstance?
I’m sure you’ll have heard those spritely (often inane) optimists tell you “Easy – move. Get a new job. Change country. Do something different.” I’ve always viewed the whole ‘make the change you want’ mindset with casual cynicism. For me, it clashes with Catholic belief. No I don’t believe sitting on my backside will force God to provide for me. Neither am I arrogant enough to think that I can force my own destiny – moving country, changing job etc. won’t secure me the happiness I seek at a soul-ular level.
The last few days (in the approach to the summer break), I have been on something of an online dating binge. I’m currently active on Tinder, POF, Bumble, CatholicMatch, Match.com and the lesser-known CatholicDatingForFree.com The experience across them all, simultaneously, has been dispiriting to say the least. The online game is supposedly pitched in favour of women from the off (though that’s to say nothing of the unwanted attention they receive). It struck me how curious a system it is.
For anyone familiar with ‘app’ online dating, it is the worst; the epitome of our society’s vapid approach to everything. Romantic potential squeezed to a choice between swipe left, ‘meh’ or swipe right. Still a largely pointless exercise as the other person has to also swipe right to allow communication. Despite my protesting, I am on them. To no avail, I might add. I receive close to zero attention/interaction on these secular ones although I have pretty decent (I’m told…) pictures and a fleshed out profile.
I do (happily) find more success on CatholicMatch in particular. No properly long-term success, mind – but still, I’ll take the little victories. The problem for me with all online dating is: once that most superficial of stages has happened (the screen humans via their display image), and interaction begins, I see the woman as a properly-rounded human being. Thus, I can’t do what seems to occur naturally to other men. I can’t hurl cheesy or dirty one-liners; I don’t start to flirt outrageously. Why? Because I wouldn’t if I’d met this woman randomly out in the real world either. Not to mention that my beliefs lead me to seek a strong friendship of a relationship as the bedrock of a healthy marriage.
What does this mean though? It means I befriend women well… And depending on their character, they’ll either react positively to this interest or not. Not, here, can include offence, ghosting, casual feigned interest etc. This year has seen me take to a pattern of sharing conversation online and then attempting to meet in person as quickly as possible. I don’t really see the point of chatting endlessly only to meet and have that rapport wasted. (Going off my experience, women you meet from the Internet have thus far not been interested in friendship when using online dating, so prefer to omit you from their lives).
I don’t really know what I’m trying to say here. I’m happy to be who I am. I’m not bothered about being different. What does irritate me is the idea that my arguably more ethical, humane and Christian approach causes me more suffering. Furthermore, it’s not that suffering that annoys me – I can take meaning from it through my faith. It’s the continued run of this suffering that has plagued me for over a decade in some form. Pair that with seeing how other human beings’ lives take shape and it makes for a grim picture.
It doesn’t help that my best online interaction (who went on to break my heart) followed the converse-and-meet-up routine. Because that’s the path I like and now it feels tremendously less safe. Like I should tip-toe down it as if there were vipers coiled beneath every larger stone.
My most recent contact using CatholicMatch has been slightly different – a more drawn-out affair really with long messages exchanged over long periods of time. So there’s been a mutual relaxation of commitment I suppose. Having said that, she’s now gone on to suggest Skype… Originally, I was surprised to find myself feeling quite uncomfortable at the idea. But what is dating about if not breaking out of comfort zones?
I’ve read countless CatholicMatch testimonials where contact between internationally placed people progressed via phonecalls and Skyping etc. leading to an eventual physical meet-up. I’m still dubious but being in touch with people can’t be a negative per se. So I’ll see if anything interesting happens over summer. I’m looking at a quick weekend trip to the seaside, a two-week break away in the Med and possibly popping down to the pilgrimage at Walsingham – we’ll see!
But first, let’s get this final week of school finished!