*Rebecca was a knockout: green eyes, strawberry blond hair and a smile that lit up a room. It’s no wonder *Jon swiped left on her profile. After several texts on the dating app, they made plans to meet for coffee.
A few hours later, the two hugged and Jon said he would be in touch.
“You better,” she said, her voice a flirtatious wink.
True to his word, Jon reached out after a couple of days, wanting to “play it cool.” However, his mind was already seeing them go on camping trips with his dog and sitting beside her at an Astros game.
After what Jon considered enough “polite texting banter,” he asked Rebecca out for dinner that upcoming weekend.
With bated breath, he watched the 3 dots surface on his phone…then stop…then start up again. In what felt like an eternity, he received the following text:
I can’t this weekend. I’m heading to a family reunion upstate. But let’s definitely get together the following weekend!!!
Crushed, Jon was grateful the text didn’t allow for her to see the disappointment on his face. Instead, he texted back a no-big-deal thumbs up emoji.
Jon spent the next week researching restaurants and cool things to do in the area. On Wednesday of the following week, Jon texted Rebecca again:
Hey! Hope you had a great reunion with your family. Does this weekend still work for you?
The beautiful strawberry blond texted back within the hour:
I just found out that I need to fly to LA for a work event. I’m sorry for the confusion. But let’s definitely meet up the following weekend.
Jon felt like his heart strings were being pulled against his will. For the past two weeks since meeting Rebecca, Jon had replayed their long coffee date in his mind like a record stuck on the same groove: the angle of her face as she laughed when he told her a joke about getting older, the excitement she expressed when talking about her love of contemporary art. The way it only felt like the two of them at the coffee bar.
The following week, Jon began looking on the dating app again. A few girls “liked” him, and he started to engage in texts with two of them.
The excitement of meeting Rebecca and their potential was fading.
And of course, that’s when Rebecca reached out to him:
Hey! How’s your Thursday going? I’m back in town. Did you have a fun weekend?
Jon’s veins flooded with a dopamine high.
Good! I’d love to take you for dinner this weekend🙂
Aw. Thank you. I’m just so exhausted. Let’s shoot for next week.
Online dating makes me think of the Hindu parable of the snake and the rope. A man is walking alone in the desert when he sees a rattlesnake. His heart races and his adrenaline is at an all-time high. But before he runs away, he takes one final glance at that snake, only to discover it’s a rope. Suddenly, all the adrenaline and fear left his body.
Our perception creates our reality. When it comes to dating, the myriad of emotions we can experience can feel so personal, so real. But like the weather in the sky, our emotions are temporary. When it’s rainy outside, we don’t take it personally. Likewise, when we experience a negative emotion, we are not the emotion itself. We can observe it and know that like weather, it will change. We have the power to alter our perception, to see the dating world as a rope, not a snake.
Jon will never know why Rebecca keeps putting off meeting him again. He will never know “the truth” about why she reached out to him if she’s not interested in dating. But he CAN experience a more enjoyable dating life if he’s not weighing everything like that man walking in the desert: fearful, anxious, considering every interaction with a stranger a matter of life and death.
When we consider dating a game, we don’t take the experience as seriously. We can enjoy the moments themselves. We can change our goal from something less lofty (meeting “the” one) to meeting new people (making new potential friends while learning more about what we like and don’t like). A game is about having fun, not torturing oneself with what ifs and failed attempts at mind reading.
*Names have been altered to protect the individuals.
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