It's been 3 years since I first wrote to you, and I am very happy to see you once again. Since I last contacted you, I've gotten past my nightly existential problems with your suggestions. What's more is over these last few years, I have made some huge steps forward in my life.
These days I've found myself in an actual successful career, in good health, and recently moved out of my folk's place and into a nest of my very own with a couple close friends as roommates.
But with all this success and joy that I've worked to get to... I can't help but be the loneliest bird in the nest.
Within the past few years I've had a few relationships that went south. Abusive relationships, cold or toxic (in one case both) relationships. Even a horrid long distance relationship. Most recently one that physically abused me. That one ended ... well terribly. Since then I've been focused on my career too much to even start thinking about having another relationship. But now that things have leveled out and my schedule has given me a few days of freedom every now and then. I'm thinking about dating again.
I've considered online dating, mainly because I've tried having my friends set me up with my last few relationships. I've been on the fence with actually pulling the trigger on filling out one of those online profiles and trying it. I'm just afraid that I will end up worse off than I was earlier this year. It's really hard to find an example of the questions that each individual sites ask and I'm afraid I will get invested in something and not be properly represented. Then either disappoint someone I meet through it or scare them away. Or just end up heart broken and constantly going onto the next person hoping that they might be 'the one.'
My question is, is online dating actually worth the trouble or should I just stick to the 'old fashioned way' of dating?
Either way, I hope someday soon I can find someone to fill the empty spot in my nest.
Dimitri (The Lonely Phoenix, age 26)
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I’m glad my reply to your 2013 letter was helpful, and thank you for writing again. Life is about problems to be faced, challenges to overcome. Fix one issue, and the next will knock on your door after that. Let’s work on this one.
There is nothing wrong with meeting someone online (that is, actually, how I met my beloved, departed, Jim). You can look at online dating as another tool in your belt to be used. It really doesn’t matter how you meet someone; what matters is the chemistry between you.
Letting your friends play matchmaker is clearly not working for you. They probably don’t understand what you need. Many people, when playing this game, look only at the outside (“Oh, isn’t s/he cute?” “Oh, s/he has money and owns a cool car!”, that sort of thing).
You say you’ve been in some bad, even abusive relationships. I’ve seen this happen to lots of people before. It happens for a couple reasons: 1) as noted above, you’re using the wrong measuring stick; 2) you’re too desperate and lonely, so you grab onto the first person who shows even the mildest interest in you; or 3) you have low self-esteem issues and don’t believe you can do better (especially true in the case of partner-abuse situations).
First thing you need to do is recognize and believe you are a worthwhile person who deserves love. Once that happens, you won’t allow people treat you like the gum on the bottom of their shoe, which will delete a lot of reject material from your list of candidates. Remember, if you can’t be yourself around this person, then they are the wrong choice.
Second, work on being a better judge of character. Part of this is trusting your instincts. If you feel there is something “off” about someone, something that doesn’t feel right or is perhaps even disturbing, then listen to that voice in your head and back away from them. I had this experience not too long ago. A guy who was actually quite nice in many ways, as well as financially secure, but there were some things about him that, eventually, I realized made him not the guy for me.
Third, at the same time that you are being discriminating, you must also allow yourself to be open to possibilities. You might meet someone who, at first, makes you think, “Oh, I could never be with someone like that!” But then you find, if you get to know them more deeply, that they are actually terrific! Often, this is because the person is hiding behind a mask that society told them to wear. Lift off the mask, and you find an actual human being.
Fourth, do not rush, take it easy, don’t push. Allow things to evolve organically. When you meet someone who seems really great, don’t jump into bed with them. Get to know them first. Sex will come when you’re ready.
Finally, of course, be good to them in return.
And that’s how it’s done.
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