Family & Relationships I Met My Boyfriend the"Old-Fashioned Way," But I Couldn't Have Done It Without Online Dating
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When I was growing up, movies and TV shows made it appear that dating was just something that happened naturally in the adult world. People met in the most random places, felt some kind of spark, and then. It all seemed kind of effortless.
My adult dating life has been anything but. Having spent most of my formative years figuring out and accepting my own sexuality, I found myself navigating unknown territory of the gay community and the New York dating scene at the same time. Only instead of allowing myself to get acclimated to the water, I dove into the dating pool headfirst. Online dating sites quickly became my guide into these worlds. But then, after nearly 15 years, those experiences surprisingly led me to my first real relationship.
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It’s worth noting that my first foray into the dating world came at a time when dating websites were still finding their footing. A lot of peoplewere a bit skeptical about the likelihood of finding love through a computer screen. Being newly out and completely inexperienced, it seemed like the easiest option. I set up profiles on Gay.com and OkCupid and waited for matches.
Online dating may have switched from websites to apps for the most part, but it’s always been pretty much the same. It’s a waiting game. Waiting for a profile to strike your fancy, waiting to find out if they like you back, and then waiting for message replies while waiting to meet up in real life. The whole process is exhausting but necessary for someone like me, who didn’t have the natural charm and confidence of the Ryan Gosling and Matthew McConaughey characters I used to watch on screen.
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I’ve always beenin platonic group settings, but that didn’t always carry over with romantic prospects. I found that in my early online dating experience, I was much better at getting a witty rapport going with someone through messages. Unfortunately, that didn't always mean I had chemistry with them in person. But these (sometimes awkward) situations had their upside: With every bad date, I learned more and more about what type of person and relationship I needed.
Throughout my whole dating site saga, I was also hitting the town more with the group of friends I made after coming out and living in the city. There was always the hope in the back of my mind that the dude I was destined to be with would be out at the same bar at the same time and we’d have an adorablebefore starting the rest of our lives together.
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The reality of what it’s actually like to meet someone at a bar is far less cute. It’s a lot of screaming into the person’s ear and wondering if they’re brushing up against you purposely or if it’s just because the place is overcrowded. When you throw alcohol into the mix, it’s far more likely that the person you’re thinking you might be able to take home to your parents is just thinking about taking you home to their bed. It’s a game that gets old quickly when you’re trying to find“The One.” Needless to say, most nights out ended with me drunkenly app-browsing while eating a late-night snack.
But as I spent more time sharing drinks and food with strangers I met on the internet, it got easier to find things in common with basically anyone. It was faster and more obvious whether there was a romantic vibe, a friendship feel, or just a total clash of personalities with a new person. Sometimes there were one-off dates where the conversation flowed but the spark wasn’t there. A few of these failed romances have since developed into my.
Then there were situations where I was totally off-base. Sometimes, I left thinking I was in love... and never heard from the guy again. And then there was that one time where a guy I never even ended up meeting in person tried to guilt me for letting our online conversation fade out by telling me he was terminally ill. (I'm still not sure if that one was true.) It’s been a journey.
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These years of exploration provided ample time for self-reflection. It’s hard not to internalize when you’re putting so much of yourself out there. I would analyze every first date that didn’t lead to a second and wonder how the outcome could’ve been different. Did I text too much or not enough? There were so many unresolved situations where I didn’t get closure, which made me believe there was something wrong with me. Friends of mine were starting families and I couldn’t make it past date three with most of the men I was meeting.
It took a lot of coaching myself and wine-fueled chats with friends to learn not to obsess over things that are beyond my control. You can never truly know what’s going through the other person’s head and it’s something you just have to accept. Once I learned to go with the flow a bit more, the new perspective allowed me to loosen up the reins on my love life. Every date doesn’t need to lead to marriage. A night out with friends doesn’t mean you need to be on the hunt for Mr. Right.
It was one of those nights that ended up changing everything for me. Pride month revelry usually doesn’t lend itself to be the foundation for a long-term relationship. When I attended a cosplay booze cruise dressed as Mario in June of 2018, I expected a party with plenty of dancing and costumes and cocktails with my friend.
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Within 10 minutes of being on the boat, I saw him. Prince Eric was dancing next to Mega Man, and I couldn’t look away. I jokingly commented to my friend that I already found my crush for the night without any expectation it would go beyond that. We locked eyes and Ariel’s beau was making his way toward me. All of my previous ice-breaker training came into play. I knew by the way our conversation flowed, words bouncing off of each other, that we were compatible. Neither of us monopolized the conversation — a common mistake I encountered in the past. You never want to be the only one talking on a date nor do you want to be just listening the whole time. The signs were all there that this was a romantic connection, but I didn't let myself get carried away with where the whole thing was leading. We were laughing a lot and we were kissing before the boat even left the port. The rest of the evening was spent dancing under the summer stars with all of New York City as our backdrop. It was as close to perfect as a first meeting could be.
In the years since that night, I’ve had countless conversations about how meeting someone“in real life” is still the best way to do it — and every time the topic comes up, I disagree. I don’t think I would have ever met my guy without those years of practicing with online dates. I don’t know what my life would be like if I never had those experiences and focused solely on face-to-face connections. In some ways, I owe my current love to all the boys that came before.
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Dating as a Curvier Woman Isn't Always Easy, but I Know My Worth .
I've always struggled with my weight. Growing up I was always "bigger," and even when I was a size eight, I still seemed to weigh more than everyone else around me. Although I was extremely self-conscious, it didn't hold me back from making friends. It did, however, hold me back from dating. And that wasn't always by choice. When I was in 7th and 8th grade and other girls were being called pretty, I was hardly acknowledged as anything other than the "funny friend.