Last month’s story- What You Really Need to Know about the First Week of Online Dating – shared tips such as using a spreadsheet to track meaningless flirts/messages as well deciding to rule out any man who listed cats as a pet.
I still stand by those remarks but now, 4 weeks later, I have learned something more important.
I, as well as many of my single women friends, have often lamented there are “no good men out there” to date. The last several weeks have changed my perspective on this…there are good men out there…
You just have to be willing to see them.
I spent 4 weeks looking at various men’s profiles on Our Time and what I came to realize is yes…there are countless loud-mouth self-centered goofs out there that you need to avoid like the Bubonic plague. And because of that, I started viewing everyone with a negative filter—I looked only at what was wrong with them—looked for reasons to exclude them. In the process, I judged harshly and quickly.
When you look at others with an open heart, you are less judgmental. It is so easy in the online dating world (as well as our real-life world) to look at others with a smug, judging attitude…. to laugh instead of sympathize—to feel superior.
I admit I have been guilty of that.
After my first week, I decided to step back and look at profiles with an open heart….. to look with kindness …. to focus on the profiles using a positive filter—looking not to rule out but to find a reason to rule in.
Take online profile pictures. There were countless pictures of men who seemed clueless as to the kind of picture to post. Why is it that so many men take photos of themselves holding the cell phone in their hand in front of a mirror? And sometimes the mirror was the bathroom mirror which would reflect, how shall we say, an interesting background.
One of my favorites was a man who took 5 pictures and in each one he was wearing a different outfit.
The initial reaction was to laugh at them….. to say “Oh Really?” but when I looked at those pictures with an open heart, the voices in my head started asking questions with heart-felt compassion—do they not have any friends who can help them? What about a family member?
Or, is it that they don’t want anyone to know they are going to try online dating?
They are at least putting themselves out there and for that, they should get points for effort—not criticism for lack of marketing skills.
And what about hopes and dreams? We all have them and I understand how hard it is to put them on paper. Some of the men on Our Time would write “snappy upscale remarks” about looking for a woman who wanted to add more stamps to her passport—wanted to travel to Europe—which does sound exciting and glamorous.
But there were others that were simpler….. that, at first reading, you might laugh at…..such as the man who wrote he wanted to find a good woman who would like to travel in an RV to the Florida Keys.
Sounds hokey perhaps and yet….I could visualize them going down the highway…..riding in their RV…..and pulling over at a beach and sitting in lawn chairs….. sharing cheese and wine….. holding hands……watching the sunset.
What could be better than that?
How many opportunities do we miss in life to be connected to others because we use a harsh judgmental filter instead of an open heart?
All of this comes into play as I shared last month about my first on-line date with Mr. Motorcycle Man and since then, we have had countless more dates—some several hours in length and some all-day field trips to nearby cities (in his car….not on his motorcycle).
I could have, frankly, looked at the pictures in his profile and drawn some negative conclusions as 8 out of his 12 pictures had a motorcycle in them. The judgmental Janet could have viewed his profile with a closed mind and used a negative bias which would have painted a picture of a one-dimensional man who was a beer-guzzling tattoo-wearing motorcycle macho dude.
If I had done so, I would have missed getting to know a man who is kind, sincere, and thoughtful… who appreciates me for who I am …..not for what I can do for him….. and who makes me laugh all the time.
But the open heart does not just end there…. I have found that an open heart leads to an open mind.
Which is why last week I took a test ride on his Valkyrie Interstate motorcycle. Mr. Motorcycle Man, who is highly safety conscious, was insistent for this 15-minute ride (during which I would be traveling at “high speeds” of 15-25 MPH on my neighborhood streets) that I wear my boots and gloves as well as his loaner helmet, a loaner jacket with elbow and shoulder protection, and loaner knee pads as my “Not Your Daughter’s Jeans” do not have knee pads in them.
My biggest fear—I would blurt out “Help Me Jesus” during the ride. (I did not.)
The unexpected problem—I could not figure out how to get off the motorcycle when he stopped. His kindly spoken instructions were: stand up; put my hands on his shoulders; lift my right leg up and put my knee on the seat and then he said something else which was totally lost on me as I was trying to get my knee up to the seat while also trying to (using my other foot) stand on a small metal foot plate and, oh yes, stay balanced!
At that point, I had begun laughing at the absurdity of this so he went to Plan B—he got off the motorcycle (no easy feat with me sitting on the back) and helped me off.
But none of this would have ever occurred if I had not been willing to look at his profile with an open heart… to look for what was right instead of what was wrong.
So, 6 weeks after my first online date I am acutely aware of the lesson I have learned…. and the opportunity I would have missed if I had not learned it….. the importance of looking at others with kindness and an open heart.….whether it is a potential date or the clerk at Publix.
It is a lesson that may have changed the trajectory of my life…… could it change yours?
First Motorcycle Selfie
Past Stories in the Online Dating Series