In the world of fundraising, it’s called “Prospect Research.” As a leader of a mid-sized non-profit, I was pretty good at it. In the online world, the same set of skills is called “creeping.”
A few days ago, in a moment of weakness, I went “creeping” after an ex-boyfriend. (Don’t go judging on me…someone told me that research says that 80% of social media users are regular creepers. So it’s got to be true.)
Because I have mad skills, I soon found a photo of him…and his new wife.
Bzzzttt. (That’s the sound of sheer electrical current that passed into my heart when I saw the photo.)
Stunned, I looked at the shot.There, in the crook of his arm–the place that used to be mine–was a new girl. He looks the same. She is lovely. They were grinning, joy on their faces.
This shouldn’t have been as surprising as it was. Our ways have been parted for a quite awhile and I had reason to think he had married. Nevertheless, it stung a bitter sting. He is in love and I’m watching old seasons of television shows. It sent me backwards, into a few days of re-grieving the loss of his place in my life.
Dating is a funny process, but “not funny ha-ha” as a friend of mine would say. I have yet to experience anything “casual” about it, much to the chagrin of my sister and her loving advice. Rather, it is an emotional sequence of longing and wondering, evaluating and being evaluated, hoping and fearing. If you happen to experience any type of mutual intrigue (cue heavenly choirs), then a whole new adventure begins. Starting to think in terms of “we” and then, navigating the questions associated with being a “we” is an awkward dance where toes are in frequent danger of being stepped on. Getting to the part where you actually rest into each others company takes a while–and admittedly, it is precious when it happens. And, giving the other your heart–that’s the good stuff. Sheer risk and sheer joy.
Having returned to the world of online dating (pardon me while I gag!), I am actively prying my heart open. I mentally repeat the encouragement whenever I log-in, “Be open; be open; be open; be open.” I should change my password to “openness” or “unguarded” or “savemefromthistorture.” Typically, after three days of active use, I must take a break and allow the disquiet that it produces in this good-hearted, average-looking, 30something girl to settle. But, it’s how dating is done these days and so, I keep trying. Unlike some of the profiles that I look at, I’m not creepy…just occasionally a creeper.
On Sunday, the priest celebrating Mass looked eerily like my ex. It was a cosmic message of “off limits,” a visual verification of what I already knew. Okay God, I get it. Two messages in one week. Moving forward. Logging back on. In the sacred space of my little heart, in the quiet of that church, I crawled into the crook of His arm, a little child needing to be soothed and reminded to hope. And, for a moment, I was aware of being loved.
Mary, this is so brave and true. As someone who was single again in my early 30s, after a decade of marriage, I remember well the feelings that come with being in dating-mode. This, in particular, is spot-on: “…it is an emotional sequence of longing and wondering, evaluating and being evaluated, hoping and fearing.” And it’s exhausting! I’m so glad you’re both hoping and resting in God’s love.
I didn’t marry until I was 42, so all of this (except the online part) were so true for me. You nailed it. Blessings on your endeavors. Try to enjoy some of it too!