Written for Advanced Non-Fiction
|Confessions of a Serial Online Dater
Nearly all of my relations with men have started online, with a few key exceptions. But I feel like I should explain more about all the seemingly insignificant men who passed through my life. All of which originated from the same place, in comparison to the key man in my life who originated “in real life” and is in fact vastly more complicated.
I’ve been meeting men online since about age 16, it started on Yahoo messenger by utilizing their search for users based on screen names, locations, ages, and so on. I don’t remember many of the men I managed to chat with except for the main one, Michael Fletcher. He was to become my first real boyfriend. He was slightly older than me, perhaps in the legal world too old for me, but considering we never actually had full, complete intercourse, there really wasn’t anything legally wrong with our relationship. He was a big, fat, redneck. In fact the longer we knew each other, and the more we learned about each other, the less compatible we became, and in the end, by the time of his untimely death, we just merely knew each other’s names. While we dated, Michael and I would drive around, make out, and go to his friend’s houses and on occasion where I would drink a Smirnoff. But sadly Michael never won me over with dates or gifts, or really anything.
From reading my last non-fiction essay you’ve probably learned that my dad wasn’t a major role model in my life, this contributed to my issues with men from an early age. All I knew from the beginning was the key was to please a man, to strive constantly for his loving affection and attention. This was nothing like my mom and dad’s relationship, but more like my maternal grandparents, which was highly dysfunctional. Later I would attempt to use my sexual prowess to win men over.
Michael and I lasted about one month, and I truthfully couldn’t tell you how it ended. We remained friends and saw each other on occasion, primarily when I was 18 and early 19 years old, but later our time together grew further and further apart. Not too much longer I did meet Casey; he was the first guy I dated that I met in person. Truth be told, at first I hated Casey without even knowing him. But when he approached me and asked for my number one day after I returned to school after my lunch break, I gave in and did in fact give him my number. Casey also lasted approximately a month until it too fizzled away into on and off again friends. A few times we tried dating again, but it never worked out.
Now to bring up the key man in my life, Tommy. I too met Tommy “in real life,” but the last ten years of our friendship have been the most complicated of any man I’ve ever been with or dated or perhaps loved. Problem is there’s just so much to tell, and this is a story about my online dating, but Tommy has played many roles in my life and has intertwined himself into the stories of my online dating. I met Tommy at the drag race track in Little Prairie, Texas one night after I was dragged against my immense hesitation by my friend Amanda. I was out casted all night by the entire group of college aged guys and girls. Amanda had secretly asked Tommy to be nice to me since we were close in age. I remember I was standing outside of the circle of oppression, when this guy turns around and out of nowhere asks, “You drive that white Prelude at Midway right?”
“Yes…” I hesitantly agreed.
“Cool. I’ve seen you in the parking lot before.” He responded, and immediately turned back away into the circle, and that was the end of that.
A few days later I got an instant message on AOL from a screen name I didn’t know, it was Tommy, and come to find out he was drunk that night, and didn’t really know what to say. From that day forward we were friends. Primarily it was based on our intimate attractions to each other which played out night after night at his grandma’s house. But again, this story is about my online dating.
I moved away to Brownwood, Texas to attend Howard Payne University when I was 17 in the fall of 2003. While I was there I remember meeting Tyler Langford. He was one of the hottest guys I had ever met and he was interested in me! We met on Hot or Not, and soon exchanged numbers. He was a student at Texas A&M University, and a member of the Aggie Corps, which I’d never heard of but it sounded interesting. His parents lived in Abilene, which was an hour away and one night he called me up for an intimate exchange. Tyler and I never dated, but I always knew his dirty little secrets, he has always trusted me because I don’t judge him. We’ve remained Facebook friends, but never talk much or keep up with each other’s lives.
Let’s flash a little ways forward to about a year and a half after I left Howard Payne. I was back living in Waco, and was occasionally attending the community college. My best friend Neil and I mostly partied and found ourselves in hilarious but risky situations that likely could’ve landed us in a lot of trouble. I was now a regular viewer and member of PlentyofFish.com when I found Shane, a slightly younger guy who lived about 45 minutes away from me while attending the University of Mary-Hardin Baylor. He’d come stay the weekend with me at my parents house and we’d hang out, but I wasn’t too serious about Shane. I took his virginity, but emotionally I wasn’t fully invested. This is how I came to meet Michael Friar. I also met him on POF, and at first it was just as friends. Things got complicated when one day while I was in the shower, Mike texted my phone which was in my bedroom with Shane jokingly asking “when are you going to suck my dick?” Mike knew I was with Shane and had no intentions of leaving him, but try explaining that to your boyfriend who knows nothing. Shane automatically assumed I’d been cheating, and as Shane and Mike had a heated exchange via my cell phone.
I finally convinced Shane that nothing had happened, but soon after I ended things with Shane for my lack of emotional attachment. I knew all along that while I’d done nothing to officially cross the line with Mike, that regardless I was highly attracted to him and wanted to be with him instead. I was soon to learn Mike was not remotely a decent guy like he’d played himself up to be online, and I was about to get myself into some serious situations.
I soon learned that Mike loved drugs more than anything else in his life. At first he played it off as just cocaine, but later I would learn the way he was using what started as cocaine, in fact ended as crack. I was oblivious to how much danger I was putting myself into. I had fallen deeply in lust with Mike and thought it was the best intimate arrangement I’d ever been in with any other man. We partied a lot, while Mike and Neil did coke, or drank excessively; I moderately drank and primarily drove them around looking for something to score to amp up the night.
This is where Tommy comes back into play. I’d secretly fallen in love with Tommy, but I was in lust, that I considered love with Mike very openly. But the problem occurred in that neither Mike nor Tommy would commit to me, so instead I steadily bounced between the two of them, depending on who was available first. Mike was insanely jealous of me being with Tommy, but it went both ways, Tommy was jealous that I was with Mike, but played it off much better.
Mike ended up being abusive, both verbally and physically, but I stuck around longer than I should have. I let him tell me once that I “would look so hot if I just lost 100 lbs,” which turned into me slapping him. He responded by grabbing my shoulders and slamming my spine against the pointed edge of the corner in the hallway wall. This wasn’t the first time he’d slammed me against a wall. The first time was in the open air garage one evening. Oddly during the time I was still in this sort of relationship with Mike, I never thought of his behavior as a problem, I blamed myself and moved on.
There have been plenty of men in between then and now. When I moved to Nacogdoches I was still on POF, but this time I was a bit more serious about finding someone. Since 2010, I have been on plenty of dates with men I met online, but most ended in a one-night stand. There was one relationship that came out late last year with a man named Chad. He was such a good guy, but once again my lack of emotional attachment, like with Shane, just wasn’t there. I deeply cared about Chad as a person, but as a boyfriend, I wasn’t feeling much between us. The biggest issues I had with Chad were that he had a lot of personal drama in his life, that didn’t seem to be going away. Also there was the fact that he had no job nor a solid education, and I felt like I couldn’t afford to make all the effort.
It’s now been just over three years since I first moved back to Nacogdoches and truthfully I’m done searching for a boyfriend. My plan is to immediate move after graduation next May, and I don’t feel like there’s much use in getting into anything remotely serious with a guy and then moving in 8 months knowing I can’t realistically support a long distance relationship without forcing a guy into doing all the driving and most of the effort.
If I had my way I’d be married to Tommy. After 10 years I want nothing more than to marry him and live in our little dysfunctional world happily ever after. What started as a friend with strictly sexual benefits and no real feelings has turned into unconditional love. I know I’m one of the only people he truly cares about and also loves, but he keeps telling me he’s just not ready to get involved. I keep asking him if he’ll ever be ready. I went five years without seeing him when he was in the Army, I stayed in touch and supported him whole-heartedly through three deployments and one failed marriage. When will it be my turn with him? We have tried unsuccessfully to date based solely by talking online, and that didn’t work twice.
Out of all the online dating I’ve done, I’ve yet to find “the one.” Except perhaps Tommy. Recently I met Josh, a Sheriff’s Deputy for Nacogdoches County whom I fell for incredibly fast. I swore up and down, with all my heart, that he was the man I was meant to marry. If my parents relationship was any indication of who I would end up married to, he was my dad in our relationship. We casually dated for about three weeks, but it ended less than a week ago two nights after I met his family. I was completely broken hearted, but I told myself I saw it coming and shouldn’t be so upset over it.
Recently Tommy told me he’d somehow managed to spend a three-hour therapy session talking just about me. Being that he’s now out of the military and has severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder he is even less emotionally available than he used to be. He said he is willing to get married again one day but only when he’s financially ready. With Josh I forgot about my love for Tommy, but as soon as it failed I immediately ran to Tommy for support.