In theory, online dating seems like a great idea.  To think I can sit on the couch in the comfort of my home and shop for men, much the same way I would shop for a new pair of shoes just seems ridiculously easy!  I simply browse through pages of pictures and profiles, looking for the perfect guy.   This way, I can actually get a vague idea of what someone is like before I even talk to them.   If there are any deal breakers in their profile, I can skip to the next profile and not waste my time on someone who wouldn’t be right for me.  To me, this sounds way better than hanging out in a bar all night, waiting for some drunk to make a sloppy pass at me.

As it turns out, online dating is much more complicated and time-consuming than I thought it would be.  I’m more selective and cautious now that I’m in my fifties.  I’m pretty content in my single life and I’m not too eager to have someone come in and muck it all up!  I think that is a fairly common sentiment in my age group.

There are those that just want to celebrate their freedom after a divorce and some that don’t quite feel ready to move on after the end of a long relationship or passing of a spouse.  They balk at the slightest hint of a relationship and would rather be alone than tied to someone who might not be exactly perfect for them.

On the other hand you have the people who don’t like being alone and just want someone to replace the significant other in their life.  Rather than fill in the emptiness with friends, family and activities they enjoy, they search for a partner to complete them.

I definitely prefer to take things slow.  I like to chat back and forth on the site until I feel comfortable enough to meet for coffee or a drink and take it from there.  At this point in my life I don’t meet anybody I can’t live without so I don’t get too nervous about the first meeting.  If we enjoy each others company and decide to exchange numbers so we can get together again, I always secretly hope he waits a few days before calling.  It’s a huge turn off to me if they rush everything.

Remember the days before cell phones, email and social media?  When the only phone you had was at your house and you had to hope you were home when he called.  Before answering machines came along you had no way of knowing if he had even tried to call!  Between working and running errands you might miss a guy’s call several times before he actually contacted you and set up a date.  Then you just had to hope each other showed up for the date.  There was no text-badgering or social media stalking, just sweet, torturous anticipation!  Ahhh… those were the days!

Which brings me to the subject at hand, the Zealous Guy.  The guy who has your dating life mapped out for the next few months before you even meet in person for the first time.  I once gave a guy my number after only chatting a couple of times on the dating site.  I sent the email with my number attached and told him I was at work so I wouldn’t be able to chat until that evening.  He immediately called me.  🙄  I didn’t answer so he left me a lengthy voicemail in which he informed me that even though he lived an hour away, he figured if we hit it off we could see each other a couple nights a week and on weekends.  He proceeded to rapid-fire text messages to me, including about six or seven pictures of his face.  I decided he was insane.  I texted him later that night to tell him I got back together with an old boyfriend so I wouldn’t be able to meet him after all.

Another Zealous Guy I met online was a cute guy that had only been divorced for a year and still had a lot of baggage.  He discussed that baggage at length and in detail at our first meeting.  I was bored, but I listened politely and occasionally tried to change the subject.  He was pretty intent on giving me the long version of his side of the divorce story.

I agreed to see him again hoping that once he had his divorce story out of his system we could actually focus on getting to know each other.  That time, I did get to know a little bit more about him.  He  had some of the qualities I was looking for but the incessant chatter about the Ex was super annoying.  I got the feeling he was probably a good guy but he was still just emotionally tangled up in his divorce and I didn’t really feel like being a counselor.  I remembered going through all of that myself and I guess I felt some empathy because I found myself agreeing to see him again.

I explained to him that I like to take things slow, nothing serious to start.  I got right to the point and told him there would be no sex, nothing romantic yet, just some casual dates to try to get to know each other.  His reply was that he wasn’t seeing anyone else and he hoped I wasn’t either.  I told him that, to me, that sounded like a commitment.  Commitments are not casual and I don’t make them on a whim.  A commitment actually means something to me.  It is mutually earned in a relationship after you get to know someone well enough to make a decision like that.  I felt we should be seeing other people, that’s what “dating” is.  There shouldn’t be any expectations when you’re just dating.  We’ve only known each other for like five minutes, we should both be free to do whatever we want.  The decision to see each other exclusively, shouldn’t even be brought up until after we’ve dated for a while and are both ready to take it up a notch.

Shortly after that conversation, he began texting me at six a.m. every morning to say, “good morning beautiful!”  I would get several texts throughout the day, telling me how his day was going or just to send me a kissy-face emoji.  I told him to stop with the constant texting and all the mushy stuff.  I told him it was too much, too soon.  Although I didn’t say it out loud, I also thought it seemed very immature and high-schoolish.  He didn’t stop doing it though.  In my opinion, that is disrespectful.  When someone tells you they are uncomfortable with your actions and ask you to stop, you should stop.

I stuck to my no-intimacy rule, partly because I was trying to keep him at arm’s length and partly because I just didn’t feel that attracted to him.  Neediness is not attractive and can be quite overwhelming.  Whenever he phoned me for a chat, he never wanted to hang up and he would pout when I said it was late and I needed to go to bed.  Each date I had with him seemed to drag on way too long because he never wanted it to end.  He would act upset if he wanted to see me and I said I had other plans.  I suggested he find some hobbies to occupy some of his free time and maybe get some friends together to go do things with.  He told me he didn’t have hobbies or friends and that he would be busier once we started doing more things together!  I warned him that if he didn’t back off this wasn’t going to work out for us.  I didn’t want to be his only source of entertainment.  He didn’t back off.

After a month of feeling like the hunted, I finally told him I didn’t want to see him anymore.  He was shattered.  He begged, “Don’t do this to us!” 😱

I’m sorry, there was never any “us”!  Somewhere in between me telling him I didn’t want anything serious and that he needed to back off or this wouldn’t work, he created an imaginary relationship.  We’d only had a total of about six or seven dates over the course of that month.  I did feel bad for him, I knew it was probably just loneliness that was driving him to act this way.  He proceeded to send me two break up songs and a bunch of pleading texts.  One message contained several explicit photos of himself  that he said he was sending just in case I didn’t think he was a sexual person. 😳

When I ignored all of his messages he started calling and leaving me voicemails until I finally had to block his number!  I took a long hiatus from the dating site after that.  Six months later when I finally felt brave enough to sign back up, there he was, smiling at me from his profile pic.  He sent me not one, but three messages on the site, one right after the other, Pow-Pow-Pow!!!  I blocked him from messaging me on the site.

A few days later I received a random text from a number I didn’t recognize that just said, “hey…”  At that point it didn’t even occur to me it could be him, I didn’t have his number saved in my phone anymore.  I assumed it was a wrong number so I just ignored it.  That was when I found out that with Verizon a number block only lasts a month.  I guess blocking his number, icing him out for six months and ignoring his messages on the dating site were not enough clues that I wasn’t interested.  Since I didn’t respond to his text, he called and left a sappy voicemail begging me to give him another chance.  I did reply to that message with a text that said, “I have a boyfriend, leave me alone!”  Then I blocked his number again.  It was kind of mean of me, but seemed necessary.

Wow.  It can be scary out here in the shark tank!

Will I ever meet someone who is at my own level of insanity???  Stay tuned.