The Secret Life of Melanie O.
Friday, March 24, 2006
Dating hell
I am one of those post-feminist women who is thankful that there are still a lot of honorable guys out there who believe in marriage. More and more, I hear from 30-somethings who despair of ever finding that person and of having a family. And while I can't say I've been married to the same man for 25 years, I can say I have married a good man, even if it took a few tries to get it right.

I was one of those 30-somethings (a single parent, to make matters worse,) who despaired of finding a partner. I tried the local Christian singles scene, who either a) decided I wasn't a "real" Christian because I didn't attend one of the churches on their list, or b) decided I didn't fit in because I wouldn't conform to their idea of a right wing Republican (because, as we know, only right wing Republicans can be true Christians.) Plus, I also don't believe in "waiting" for marriage before you can express your feelings for someone (although I certainly don't advocate irresponsibility.) I probably scared the "good" men away. You know - the ones who play in Christian rock bands and are terrified that some woman will tempt them to eat the forbidden fruit against their will.

I also tried Internet dating. I met some interesting guys. I struck up a nice "conversation" with one guy who was a couple of years older than I, who, after only three emails and barely learning each other's names, accused me of "playing games" because I wouldn't spend the weekend with him at his place. Nice. Another guy came off as being really sweet and wanting to help kids. He'd tell me about the work he did on a horse farm with troubled boys and girls. He seemed like a decent person, even though there was no real chemistry there. We became penpals of a sort. Then one day I accidentally received an email from him that I don't think he meant to send to me. It was an episode from a serial porn story that he was writing. Here was a side to this "nice guy" I'd never seen, and I stopped writing, after I recovered from the shock.

Then I met and dated a wealthy guy who, while nice, was somewhat distant. He took me to the nicest restaurant in town. He was nice enough looking, although there was no real chemistry right out of the starting gate, but I was willing to give it time. Apparently, he wasn't willing to do the same. He was in a hurry to get married and I wasn't warming up quickly enough to suit him. He quickly faded from site. Maybe I was too cautious? Who knows. I'll never find out. I think he figured that by the second date, I should have jumped into bed with him. But who'd want to jump into bed with someone who doesn't give you any signals, one way or another, that he finds you attractive? Maybe he wasn't "that into me" although he emailed and called me regularly. Maybe he felt he was applying for a job.

I also dated a lawyer. Nice guy, but rubbed me the wrong way. It was one of those things you can't always put a finger on. I think it was his aggressive approach to dating that bothered me. He was a mass-dater, meaning he dated several women at once, and I got to hear about the other women. This didn't allow me to relax at all and devote my time and attention to him. I felt like I was auditioning for something. A part in Peter Pan, except that he had the Cathy Rigby role.

I also dated the inventor/motorcycle racer. Smart, good-looking (in a thin-lipped kind of way,) great sense of humor and full of energy. My kind of guy, and I was really warming up to him until he told me one day, "I don't think that, just because you're a couple, you should have to spend most of your time together. You both need to have your own life and spend maybe 30% of your time together."

I ran for the hills.

There was also the army sergeant that I met via an online dating profile. He was a really nice guy - total gentleman, but, again, no chemistry. I think it was knowing what it was like to be an army wife that made me a bit standoffish. I was thinking that it was never going to happen with anyone. I had to learn to enjoy being on my own and not be beholden to anyone. Some days, I was actually happy to have decided this.

Of course, through all of these online dating experiences, I had a penpal in Australia. Dan was there for me to cry on through all of the mishaps of dating land. He was "safe." He lived on the other side of the world, so there was NO WAY we were going to get together, as far as I could see. He was just a good friend. Not husband material since he "just drove a truck" for a living. Turns out that he makes twice what I make, and I'm in the IT business.

We celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary this year, at a time when people are putting off marriage or eschewing it altogether. I think I know why someone invented marriage. It wasn't about political alliances or pooling land resources. It wasn't about bribes and pawns in tribal conflicts. It was because people figured out that dating in your 30's sucks, and my heart goes out to anyone who is over age 30 and still "dating."

posted by Melanie O. at 4:15 PM -
  • At 1:49 PM, Anonymous Donald said…

    Great subject Melanie,
    Can you introduce me to some 50 year old lady in Sydney who would be "safe" to be a pen pal?
    My divorce was only finalized in early December but my ex is already re-married! The lady I met on-line back in August (and visited her three times) had found her "true love" by New Years and told me she still wanted to be close friends. You were so lucky to find Dan. And he was so lucky to find you!

  • At 9:11 AM, Blogger LivinginOz said…

    Hi Don - oh, I will definitely keep my eyes open for you.

    I do feel fortunate. Single people over age 35 (except for me, it seems) don't stay on the market for very long (but you can't really blame them, can you?)

    Check out for single Aussies. It's the biggest dating site in Australia.

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About Me
Name: Melanie O.
Home: Durham, North Carolina, United States
About Me: Female, American health and beauty-conscious professional who has rekindled a childhood love of dolls.
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