Monday, February 18, 2019

Dating Sites and Proximity Settings

Dating.  It's a tricky thing.  When I was younger and living in the glorious '80s, we had house telephones, but no internet, cellphones, or certainly dating apps.  

The closest thing we had to dating sites was receiving a handwritten note in class that read, "Check YES or NO, Do you like So-and-So?"

We girls would usually respond because, let's be honest, guys wanted to know we would say 'yes' before they'd ask us out.  Right girls?

By the time a guy and a girl finally talked in "person," a behind-the-scenes-matchmaking team had made sure there was at least compatibility.

Dating sites are supposed to work like that.  Instead of writing in a spiral notebook all about my dream guy while daydreaming in class, I now can fill out-(depending on the site) an extensive questionnaire, give my responses, search specific parameters and wait for the behind-the-scenes algorithm to do its thing.

One parameter that's troubled me is "proximity."  

Let me explain.  Where I grew up there were two HUGE high schools directly down the street from each other.  In students' eighth grade year their names were entered into a lottery, and wahlah, you were picked for one of the high schools.  It was weird because once high school rolled around and you boarded the bus, it felt like you were headed to your neighborhood school, but some students got off at one high school and others rode to the next school no more than 1/4 mile away.  We shared a football stadium, sports facilities, and buses. 

Your next door neighbor could literally go to a different high school than you.

It wasn't uncommon to have a boyfriend at the other school, because you'd see him each day when you got home, and while your homecoming mum might don the colors of the rival school, he was still the same guy from your neighborhood.

Contrastingly, when you got to high school, there were students from all of the district's other middle schools, and while your friends may be in close proximity to you at school, they could live several miles away, which made it difficult for your parents to drive you to/from dates to the mall with your "person," those awkward 9th and 10th grade years before you could drive.

Now, in 2019, I have access to dating sites that want to know how far away I'll date someone, and the answer is, "I don't know."  

I'm in a life stage with my children (grown but experiencing their "firsts" as young adults) that I can't and won't miss.  

Will I ever relocate for someone?  Maybe, but that isn't right now.  Because of this, I've set my "dating radius" to 25-40 miles, or whatever is the lowest a site will let me narrow my geographical preferences.

It's obvious that some of the "matches" I receive aren't filtered solely on my settings, because there are some nice guys who are MILES away, yet I swipe left.  Why?  My kids are more important right now than a potential match.  Period.

Could I lose my evenings talking to nice guys?  Yes!  I did it when I was a teenager much to the chagrin of my mother who had to ask me to get off the phone a lot.  As an adult, I have additional responsibilities and relationships I want to maintain.  My kids, my family, my friends, kind and wise neighbors.  I should maintain these.

The dating sites aren't happy with my decision to keep a close radius, and I get it.  

They want me to "pay" or "renew" or "stay engaged," so I don't throw my hands up in frustration and walk away. 

These sites are passive aggressively--in the most gentle way--telling me that I might be "too specific." 

When first confronted with this, I had self doubt.  

"Am I being too specific?" 

"Should I broaden my range?"

"Should I swipe right even though he lives over an hour away?"  

And the answers are no and maybe and I don't know.

For indecisiveness moments like this, I go to my tribe of elders: the Wise Neighbors, coworkers, my kids, and my gut intuition.

And they all say, don't do it.

It's a slippery slope saying "yes." 

 Could wider boundaries yield better results? 

 Maybe, but I'm just not in a place to uproot and move for a Mr. Happily Ever After, and I'm not in a place where I want to drive for hours round trip to meet someone. My time is too valuable.  Too fleeting.  I'm not in a place where I have time to Facetime or Skype or spend hours on the phone. 

I'm just not.

So, maybe I'm not in a place to date? 

Maybe my geographical boundaries are too specific to protect my heart?

Who knows.

Will I widen my search someday? Perhaps, but the two men I've fallen for so far in my 40-something years, I found just living my life.   

Will I love someone one day who could uproot me and feed my wanderlust to go anywhere?  

Time shall tell, but for now, the time I have is best spent in my little circle of the world.  Knowing what I know.  Loving who I love.  

I should trust that there is a great guy within my search parameters who isn't willing to compromise his 'must have' list either. 

And that is okay.  

Even if the dating sites aren't happy about it.

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