So you’re single again. Your last on-again-off-again relationship, that exhausting emotional marathon has only recently ended with you limping across the finishing line, wounded, tired and over it.
Since then, you’ve done self-blame, self-righteousness and just for the emotional safety as much as sexual safety of it, self-pleasure and now you’re ready to get back out there.
Three cheers for freedom.
Not only that, you’re a catch.
You’re thinner than you’ve ever been, thanks to the appetite suppressive effect of angst. And your career is on the up, thanks to the hours you’ve been putting in to take your mind off your disintegrating love life.
Never mind finding somebody like him, as the Adele song goes. You won’t make that mistake again.
You’ve grown up a lot since you were last out there and you’ll be looking at the whole scene a little differently this time, as a ‘seasoned’ campaigner in the politics of love.
That is, you’ll be thinking with your brain, not the other organ you used to follow (guys, I’m talking about your heart).
Unfortunately, the brain is a discriminating master not content to let you wander around, willy-nilly.
There’s a peculiar side effect of all that experience you’ve gained. You may have developed a long list of small irritations that become instant relationship deal breakers.
These might be things like the wrong taste in music, the wrong sense of humor or something as major as putting the toilet roll on the wrong way round. They are things that may only be slightly annoying now but they’ll drive you to homicide later.
All that painful relationship stuff builds serious defenses. You develop a finely tuned radar for things that shit you.
I have just such a shit list. It gets longer with every relationship.
Today, if I see the faintest sign of something that looks even remotely like one of my pet hates, no matter how lusty I am or how drunk I am, I throw a smoke bomb and get out of there.
I’ve been known to write off an entire evening before it even started because I didn’t like the way my date double-rang the doorbell.
Unfortunately, that’s not the only hurdle I face moving forward in my love life.
I realized some time ago that I didn’t really know myself well enough to choose a partner that suited me. I can’t be left to my own desirous devices.
Many times in the past someone has seemed so right, but later, as my friends will inevitably tell me (the ones who stick with me after the breakup), the person I chose was so wrong for me.
Why was I the last to know?
If this sounds like you, we my friend have passion paralysis.
We only know what we don’t like and to make things worse, we don’t know what we do like.
I was describing this awkward position to a friend recently.
She was in a rare helpful mood, so she suggested that I hand my heart over and open my love life up to suggestion. She said she knew someone who would be a good match for me and that she’d organize us to meet.
AKA – a blind date.
I held off my silent scream long enough to tell her that I don’t do blind dates. I’m a control freak who likes to know who I’m hooking up with.
“You’ve dated complete strangers before,” she protested, “remember…”
I cut her off. “That wasn’t a blind date, I just GOT blind and woke up beside that person.”
I didn’t want to mention the accidental bedmate’s name. I was terrified that if I said it enough times, like Beetlejuice he might turn up and violate the terms of his restraining order.
My friend said, “So, Google this guy. Find out everything you need to know before you meet.”
Which I did, but first I Googled myself.
It stood to reason that if I could profile my date online, my date could just as easily be making his own “hot or not” judgement on me. God knows what he would find? I needed to assess the damage.
I did this at my home computer of course. You don’t want to be Googling yourself at work. How could you explain it? “I’m not vain, I’m paranoid.” That’s a no-win situation.
The first thing I wanted to know about my Internet persona was what hideous photographs of me were up there in digital hi def, parading their sweaty party faces and bad hair for all the world to see.
I began my research with a Google image search.
Thankfully, on the top page of my search results there was just one photograph of me: My profile shot from Linkedin. Quite respectable really. So far so good. I’d at least had the opportunity to choose that one.
The other images that Google uncovered were images of the work I’d done at an ad agency I once worked at. Good. I looked busy. Successful. Talked about, even though it looked approximately 2 years since I’d done anything exciting or new.
For some strange reason, the Google image search also threw up a photograph of a shirtless Johnny Depp amongst my results.
I was off on a blind date, but you’d have to be properly blind to mistake that pic for me. Still I was happy Johnny was there. It was Hollywood by association.
So that was the image search out of the way. Somehow my image had remained intact.
I assumed because my friend was my friend, she had informed my date I wasn’t ugly. My Linkedin pic is no Mona Lisa but the Google evidence seemed to support that view so far.
Now for a more in depth investigation.
Sure I didn’t want my date to see me looking awful but I especially didn’t want any random surprises, something awkward to pop up in conversation.
Like, “So Steve, when did your family first discover its link to the Hong Kong triads?”
I clicked the Google Everything search and sprang back like a mongoose while the page of results unfurled itself threateningly.
At the top of the list was my Linkedin profile again. Did that make me look like a shameless networker?
That was followed by a couple of old trade press articles on my long gone ad agency days. I was starting to feel like old hat again.
My personal blog was listed there. That could make me look opinionated.
Then my Twitter feed. I hardly used it but when I did I was usually drunk, bored or angry.
But wait. Finally something interesting, Hollywood by more than association. There I was, listed on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb).
Excited, I clicked on the link.
It was a listing for a contribution I once made to the soundtrack of a behind-the-scenes special about the 2002 series of Steve Irwin’s Croc Hunter show.
So, not only was I an opinionated, washed up, shameless networker and angry tweeter, I was a Hollywood reject who’s career high point came ten years ago – a mere mention in the “other contributors” credits of a local TV rehash.
Not so much Johnny Depp, as Johnny Dull.
This was doing nothing for my self-confidence. If I was dating me, I’m pretty sure I’d be disappointed in what I’d found.
Even if you have control freak reservations about blind dates like I do, what is the Google age really doing to the dating game?
I’m beginning to think it would be better to go back to the pre-internet days when you couldn’t conduct a search of your blind date’s credentials online.
People just asked around, using the six degrees of separation method to find someone who knew someone else who could tell them something about their blind date before the event.
Even then, armed with the advice of friends, we still met up with an incomplete picture. Which is precisely what was fun about it. It was still scary, but fun if you were up for it.
With Google in your dating posse, there may be just too much information available. Are we removing all the mystery from life?
If you know too much, there are fewer surprises. There’s less thrill, less anticipation of what we’ll discover, what will happen and what will life be like if we do start something.
In my mind, looking forward to things is a romantic notion. Despite my anxiety of meeting up with someone I didn’t know, I wanted to look forward to this blind date, I wanted to have hope, even if it turned out bad.
It’s hope that drives us to recover from a failed relationship and faith that reassures us that there’s someone out there for everyone, and I’m not talking about religious faith.
Recently the Reverend Father Tony Kerin from the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne advised single women to lower their standards and marry younger.
He felt women were getting too choosy.
I don’t necessarily agree with the Reverend. There’s nothing wrong with hoping for the best, aiming high and taking our time whether you’re a woman or a man.
Perhaps what’s preventing us from being in relationships is the amount of information we freely divulge about ourselves.
It allows us to make decisions too quickly. We judge too hastily. We feel by the time we meet, there’s almost nothing left to talk about.
And worse, it leaves no room for the lovely interplay of social skills to have their effect. We don’t allow ourselves to be charmed. We don’t get to experience someone’s charisma. We don’t get to see someone who we’ve written off redeem themselves.
It’s a glorious image, the phoenix rising from the flames. So much more romantic than a comprehensive column of ticks on a spreadsheet of relationship prerequisites.
Perhaps what we need to do is submit ourselves more regularly to the nervous unknown of the blind date.
I was beginning to come around to that view.
Well, actually, not the completely blind date. I wanted to know just one detail. I went looking for a photograph. I needed to see who I was meeting so I could at least recognize his face on the night.
I hate that whole “You’ll know me. I’ll be the one wearing a green tie.” routine. With my luck I’d turn up to find it’s St Patricks Day and the venue is an Irish Pub.
I definitely needed a face pic, so I went where all clever researchers go for failsafe, up-to-date photographs of anyone and everyone. I went where the journos go.
Using Facebook’s find friends function, I entered the name of my blind date.
Darn it. I discovered not everyone has a profile pic of themselves on Facebook.
My date was obviously smart enough to work out Facebook’s privacy settings.
The only thing I could tell from his limited available profile was that we had just one friend in common. The friend who set us up the blind date in the first place.
I took this as a good omen. If he didn’t know all my friends and I didn’t know all of his, this really did sound like a fresh start.
I’ll let you know how the date goes.