Friday, 12 December 2014

Online Dating and the Woman in the Mirror

So the past few days of standing next to Berlin while he crashes through this scamming thing have started 'telling' on me. I was all 'gung ho' last week when I decided to switch on my Tinder again and start gearing up for the end of my 100 Days of Solitude (4 more days left!!). But now I'm not so sure I want to play online. It's rough out there!

My first issue is online safety. Physical, Financial and Emotional safety. I've been reading up on 'how to spot a romance scammer'. Google it. there are plenty sites out there. This wiki that I referenced you to shows, with photos, how to go about being very discerning about how you filter out the bad guys. And the more I read, the more I realise that the "Alessandro" I met on Tinder last week is most definitely one of those. And another guy called 'Shane' who also felt 'off' most certainly was! Maybe one of the universe reasons for me witnessing Berlin's 'burning' was to help me be more careful in this space. I can see myself being very naive in some of my earlier blogs about online dating, and I'm glad I've had a real enlightenment before I got myself into severe trouble!

From what I've read, there are huge proportions of scamsters trawling the dating sites trying to hook people in my demographic mostly: we're older; not as hot as we used to be, some carrying middle aged fat and health issues, so not great catches. We're divorced or widowed, lonely, probably fairly financially well off. We are just so needy and may well drop our standards for fear of being left on the shelf completely! Now that I'm aware of the things scamsters will do, I'm looking much more closely at every Tinder photo series. Too good looking? Piles of pics of trappings of wealth? Slight language mistakes in profile descriptions? Foreigners just arrived in town and looking to make friends?

And if we chat: are they too intimate too fast? Accents that sound weird? Grammar issues? Fact issues? All sorts of excuses about how we can't meet up? Ugh. It's too much. While my heart is still in such a fragile space, I think I must just actually stay the hell out of those places for now. I'm just not up for weeks of trawling and testing and checking and second guessing.

But there's a deeper reason. Raw and vulnerable. When I went on Tinder last time, before my big meltdown, it was fun: lots of boys, lots of banter, and even though I didn't find anyone I wanted to be with (except Berlin), there were no really negative experiences. I felt upbeat and positive about my chances of 'landing' a boy there if I wanted one.

This time has felt so different. Maybe I'm much more aware of my internal processes this time, but I'm actually feeling quite vulnerable about it all. I'm not getting as many hits as I did last time. And even though I'm unmatching boys that don't really do it for me, I'm also being unmatched. Why? I find I'm taking it quite personally, and seeing each 'unmatch' as a personal rejection. What's wrong with me? Did you pick me on an impulse and now, when you browse through my photos, are you thinking I'm just not attractive enough for you? And if we banter back and forth for a bit, and then you unmatch me, was I just not sexy enough? Clever enough? Enticing enough? Should I change my profile description? My photos? Should I grow my hair? Maybe men will only enjoy women with long, sexy hair.

I have felt each unmatch with a little blow of disappointment. But together, over days, it's building up to a soreness I didn't expect. The thoughts I'm seeing flow through my head while I'm out driving are going to a very sore place: what if my husband is right? What if his lack of attraction to me is the universal response to me  rather than just his? When I started my relationship with John, he made me feel like a complete goddess. So beautiful and sexy. But what if that was also part of the Big Lie? What if he found me repulsive and was just actually manipulating me with meaningless flattery to achieve his evil scamming plan to steal money from me? And get his rocks off at the same time.

That sexy goddess feeling I had with me after John and I broke up, I managed to carry with me until now. For 8 months. I felt like that when I was with Mark (although he didn't actually comment on me physically or compliment me in any way), and I felt like that with Berlin (and I cannot remember whether he commented on me at all). I was carrying it inside me, and it didn't depend on my partner affirming me in any way, so strong was it after John.

But now. Now that I have had to face how much of our relationship was actually a lie, I have no idea where I stand at all. I feel the ground getting very shaky under my feet. Hearing Berlin confess that he was not particularly attracted to me either is also unsettling.

I look at my face in the mirror and I see a beautiful woman. She has lines on her face - testimony to her life of laughter, love, worry, sadness. But her face is alive. Alert. You can see she has incisive thinking. Her eyes are intelligent. Probing. Thoughtful. And when she speaks she's passionate and emphatic. And sometimes gentle and thoughtful. Animated. Strong. Confident.

But when I see myself naked in my mother's unflattering full length mirror at my dad's place, I see a middle aged woman. Plump waist. Protruding tummy. Boobs that sag a bit now, after about 45 years of pert youthfulness. Legs that no longer 'go on forever'. Maybe I'm now seeing the woman in the mirror that my husband always saw. Sexy curves here and there, but, on the whole, not the woman I would like myself to be when I don my bikini at the beach in a few weeks time. I know my mother's mirror exaggerates flaws, so I try to remind myself that it's not as bad as it seems there. But I am finding my body image shifting a bit every day now, deep in my soul. I am losing my story to myself about the sexiness of me. And my fear is that neither I, nor any man I meet, may be able to see me with the light I experienced with John, whether it was a lie or not. Am I to lose that too, in this journey of mine?

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