The Worst $83.70 I’ve Ever Spent

My best friend got married in June to a very wonderful man she met on eHarmony. This meant that amid wedding plans, there was lots of encouragement for me to give it a shot (again). Unfortunately, while writing my maid of honor toast and, probably, drinking a beer, I began to think that maybe she was right and I should sign up for eHarmony. So I did.

That was how I spent $83.70, the same amount of money for which I could have had one extra large Snazzy Napper, a hot dog shaped hamburger mold, and Pink Kush Supports.

My first indication that things on eHarmony had already gone awry was within a few days.

And then there was this.

Whitney 3

But I’m not here to talk about my horrible matches directly (of which there are plenty). I’m here to talk about my horrible matches indirectly.

After only talking to one man who got weird, possibly a little serial-killery, and who only ate turkey bacon and then being matched with a devout Jehovah’s Witness in another state, I decided to call customer service. This is more difficult than you’d think because this is what happens when you try to find a customer service number on the eHarmony website.

Customer Service

After skirting eHarmony’s avoidance of providing customer service by googling for the number, I made the phone call (844-544-3179, if you’re looking for it). My conversation with the “customer service rep” went something like this.

Me: Hey, I don’t like the people I’m being matched with and the last straw is that you matched me with a Jehovah’s Witness in another state. Not only would be not be a good match, we would fucking hate each other. This basically shows me that you’ve run out of people to match me with.
CSR: Well, let’s take a look at your settings. It looks like you say you can be matched with Christians.
Me: Yes, that’s because “Christian” is a very vague term and it doesn’t mean much to most people, and I’m not sure you’d have anybody left to match me with if I uncheck that box.

My proposal was that eHarmony would not offer me a refund,  but instead shut down my account, and not take any more money. They said “no.”

CSR: Well, we can shut down your profile, but you’ll have to make the other two payments first.
Me: So let me get this straight: You want me to pay the same price but for less service?
CSR: Well, we have to collect the remaining payments before we make any changes to your account and profile.
Me: Ok, well, I guess I’ll just entertain myself by sending screenshots of ridiculous profiles to my friends for a few months longer.

warning

I have now paid my three easy payments, and eHarmony is routinely warning me that my time with them is drawing to a close. I will be released from this bondage on December 17, 2015.

Of my last 100 matches, 84 of them have been outside of my preference settings which I think are roughly equal to my real life odds. Of the 16 matches that were within my preferences, 100% of them were of zero interest to me.

I’m pretty sure eHarmony’s algorithm is basically, throw ’em what we’ve got, much like the real world.

Friends, learn from my mistakes, don’t give eHarmony money to do what visiting church or what visiting that weird guy at work’s mom’s basement could do for you.  Just don’t.

It ain’t for me, babe. It ain’t for me.

The immense danger of relationships is that they bring out both our best and worst selves. At best, we give with abandon. At worst, frightened of our own vulnerability, we disregard the emotions of our partner in ways that we wouldn’t a friend or an acquaintance.

It seems a cruel joke, both inevitable and horrible, that we find it so difficult to treat the people we care about the most with the dignity they so much deserve.

This more than anything else makes me want to be alone. The energy it takes to be wrestle with my own resistance to vulnerability and fear of being hurt combined with the energy it takes to protect the vulnerability of another and to protect myself from the defensiveness and offensiveness that vulnerability might incur in another is exhausting.

It is amazing how much hurt and tumult can be bound into one relationship.

Most recently I quickly was branded as an overreacting, crazy lover of drama. I was the target of misdirected anger. Many times I have been shut down and shut out.  I have caused multiple men to go cold, to find themselves bored and too comfortable. I have been withdrawn from. I’ve been cheated on and left without being informed.

Frankly, I’m tired.
I’m tired of protecting myself in and from my most intimate relationships. I’m tired of giving without replenishment. I’m tired of having to get stronger just because I’m not dead.

I know that I’m not perfect, that I can be rough around the edges and stubborn.
But I also know that I deserve to be cared for in the way I care for others. I know that I deserve to be listened to and valued as a whole person, imperfections and all.

Unfortunately, when I look back over all of the many comings and goings, the math doesn’t really add up to a positive number. I’m too old and too cynical to ever believe that if I keep adding up wrongs, I’ll eventually make a right.

The thought that perhaps long-term or relationships with much depth are just not for me has returned and stayed longer each time it arrives.
This thought is often accompanied by the notion that my solitude may be a blessing because it frees me to focus my energy on more productive and more fulfilling things than the double-edged sword of relationships.

Until I can both love myself and love another and also be loved in return, I will choose myself and solitude every time. Unfortunately, this seems an impossibly high bar, so it is likely that I will and should make myself at home with a solitary life.

Inadvertently Single on the Northside

Both the details of being single and living on the Northside are kind of irrelevant to these stories. I just wanted to use that title.
No one has actually inquired if I’m single. In fact, one special gent insisted that I was not single, no matter how vehemently I (or anyone else) denied it, but we’ll get to that later. The fact that it occurs on the northside is also pretty irrelevant, as there tend to be drunk fools almost anywhere.

The only way the title is actually relevant is that all of the words contained within it are factually accurate. I was inadvertently single. I was on the northside.

Drunk fools #1 and #2:
One recent night, two drunk men approached my roommate and me. After some very drunk chatting, the chatter-upper of my roommate reaches across her to grab my left arm upon which I have a tattoo of the moon blowing stars around my arm. He looks at my tattoo, then at me and asks very seriously, “Are you a Vice Lord?”
To which I chuckled, “Do I look like I’m a Vice Lord?”

At this point, I turned to his friend, my chatter-upper, and ask, “Is that a line?…. Is that a good line?”
He just shook his head with that kind of slow-motion headshake that one reserves for the very saddest of sad things.

I don’t know if the headshake was because I’m so not a gangster or if the headshake was because chatter-upper/drunk fool #2  was in the middle of passionately telling me about how a visit to Augie’s ‘would change my life.’
Frankly, I’m more sold by Augie’s  attempts to secure a reality show than drunk fool #2’s pitch.

Drunk fool #3 and his unfortunate big brother:
The bar was pretty empty, so I suspect that drunk fool #3 approached us primarily out of lack of options.

I was able to convince drunk fool #3 to abandon his shitty beer for something slightly more beer-like. Grain Belt, I think. He claimed it tasted like earwax.

I never got a satisfactory answer about why he was so familiar with taste of earwax.

Eventually, my roommate and I got suckered into playing pool. Drunk fool #3 was my partner, and though I had warned him that I suck at pool, we played.

Sure enough, I sucked. But drunk fool #3’s positivity couldn’t be stifled. Every shitty shot earned a high-five and praise.

I give him an “A” for positive bullshit. If we could have won based on that alone, we certainly would have. His big brother and my roommate kicked our asses pretty thoroughly with actual pool talent.

Drunk fool #4:
Ballsy but misguided, drunk fool #4 sat down at the booth with a friend and I, whilst my roomie ran off to sing “Baby Got Back.” Regardless the intensity of denial, he proceeded to insist that my roommate and I were a couple. That was all very entertaining until he looked at the both of us and decided that “she’s the man.”

I’m like, “So let me get this straight: In this hypothetical relationship you’ve concocted for us, you’ve looked at the both of us and decided she’s the butch one?”
To which he replied, “Yes.”

The sad part is that I was genuinely offended by this.
As I stood up to walk away, he says, “I lust you.”

“Huh?” I responded, because not only did he not know how to use the word properly, it’s just how roughly 75% of the conversation had gone.
Then he said louder, “I lust you. Lust. You know this word?”
“Yeah,” I said, “I’m an English teacher. I know words sometimes.”

Anticlimactic end: Then I walked away and went to smoke with my “lesbian lover.”

My heart is a minefield

Honestly, I feel like a fool making such public declarations of having found love and then retracting them like a middle-class housewife with buyer’s remorse.

Also, honestly, this is not a retraction of love. It is a retraction of presence and not of my own. Everything I said about this love is still true. I would have spent a lifetime enjoying the better and wrestling with the “for worse,” but he has chosen to leave.

For the third time in a row, my lover has gone numb and has ceased to feel anything about me, so I probably should be more accustomed to the dull ache of indifference. But I am not.

I am obliterated, and I am exhausted.

I used to think I had a problem with men loving me. I don’t.
I have a problem with men loving me continuously and at the same time as I am willing (and able) to love them.

The typical trajectory – lasting from a few dates to a year – includes this:

Man really enjoys my presence. We laugh a lot.
Man gets scared because the novelty wears off and/or he’s afraid of commitment.
He leaves.
Three to twelve months later (longer for a few), he realizes that the same thing happens in all relationships, but when it does he’s in a relationship with a far shittier person.
He comes back. I get text messages, emails, etc.

The further complication is this: Healing requires scarring, and scarring does not really invite wounds in the same place. Instead, I repeat the cycle with fresh wounds really close to existing scars which is, perhaps, why I always expect a different outcome.

I have grown tired of prodigal lovers.

  • My first internet date was with a pudgy, balding, ginger who I’ll call “Mr. Applebees” because despite the fact that he lives in a city with a great deal of good food, Applebees was his favorite restaurant.
    He re-emerged with via email.

Mr. Applebees:

I responded by sending him a link to Sex and the Pity.

Mr. Applebees:

Me:

Mr. Applebees:

I was trying to tell him something.

  • Fuck You: Chapter 1 has periodically re-emerged even from his re-emergence which is an odd thing because our four “dates” consisted of this:

    1) We talked and he asked to go out “sometime.” I informed him that “sometime” meant that night or in six weeks after I have back surgery and settle down on the narcotics. He came to a bar I liked and then insisted that we ditch it for a bar he liked.

    2) A month after surgery, he came over to hang out with my invalid ass, and I made him watch Mystery Science Theater 3000 with me. He was not amused.

    3) Whilst I was still recovering, we go out. We have some drinks and then climb to the top of an abandoned granary in Minneapolis with a group of his friends. I go home and read my back surgery manual. It says “avoid stairs.” I took extra narcotics that night.

    4) A few years later, I was an idiot and flew to Arizona. We have drinks. He ignores me for the rest of my weekend. I went hiking and to a Bluegrass festival.

  • Fuck You: Chapter 2 has also texted. I responded with a link to this post. He misidentified himself as Fuck You: Chapter 3.

  • Fuck You: Chapter 3’s reinterest was as short-lived as his initial interest.

  • The alcoholic finalist for you’re pretty cool has unsuccessfully attempted a reappearance or two. Fortunately, he became far less attractive, when I realized how much he drank and how rarely he did not. Also, he said these words, “Hydration is a myth.” True story.

  • The other finalist – a resident of Nebraska – disappeared as quickly as he reappeared. In shame, I assume. I’ve learned that booty calls that cross state boundaries are ill-advised. Stupid, even.

  • Mr. elicitor of stabbery knows better than to try to really re-emerge, but he has since learned that sometimes love (much like war) is, well, boring, and that’s okay. Because I still think he’s a decent person, I’ll spare him the full Sex and the Pity treatment.

  • And others who have escaped previous comment on Sex and the Pity occasionally emerge .

    • The man who became exceptionally awkward when I commented on his use of the word “retarded” as a synonym for “stupid.”

    • And one who should have most certainly been included for leaving me for an “almost twenty-one year-old.” He finally came back saying all the things I told him upon the exit he neglected to inform me about. “I don’t know what I was thinking,”  “She just wanted my money,” and my personal favorite, “You are the best woman I’ve ever been with, certainly the smartest.”
      Yes, but not smart enough to avoid it in the first place…

This is all to say that attempts at mutual love have been a long and laborious journey – much like travel through Nebraska – it all pretty much looks the same, and that makes me sad.

Now, I am doing my best walk through the pain, to acknowledge it but not avoid it.
I am not allowing myself distraction with people who will make me feel wanted but whom I will ultimately hurt.

I talk big about being happy alone.

At this moment, I am not, and the ugly truth is that I have rarely been alone for any extended period of time because I break my contentment with a fresh start on the same old trajectory.

So I am working at being alone.

I suppose my current discipline is a step of faith that I can and will be content in my solitude, but for now it is merely discipline.

I am stepping gingerly through the minefield of my heart, reactivating the tripped mines.

It is a healing of sorts, I guess.  A wholeness that only scars can bring.

 

Dredging the Lake

Match is at it again, dredging the depths of their vast testosterone inventory to find only the most suitable suitors for me.

Here are a couple of gems.

Meet chu1010

Of all the unfortunate (and rather appropriate) places to prematurely end a sentence, this man has it nailed. Don’t worry, Meet chu1010, I am less likely to want to shoot you and more likely to want to shoot myself in wherever it is that stores my short-term memories and processes visual images.

Thanks, Match.

Winona341

Of all the shitty matches Match has deemed fit for me, this one may take the cake. This one says, “There is no actual process. This is all just as random as real world you get to live in for free – complete with advertising in all corners.”

Good news: This scam and I are a good match because “he” is “athletic and toned”.

Vote of Confidence

I’m pretty sure that Match’s most recent matching algorithm consists of: *Shrug* Fuck if I know…

These gems were all contained within one day’s set of “matches.”

“Eligible” Bachelor #1: YOUNGCOWBOY28

Aside from his inexplicable caps lock and splitting of one word into two smaller one-syllable words, I guess we could be a match.
FUCK THAT, MATCH.
FUCK THAT.

Enjoying camping, drinking, and dogs is not enough to bring two people together. Trust me, I’ve tried that shit.

Next.

“Eligible” Bachelor #2:  Ladieslovesandme

Can you say, “codependent”? “My favorite place is your favorite place.” “I like to do, what u like to do hopefully shopping, cooking, and putting on makeup.”

Wow.
Also, fuck you and your pixelated, lego-faced second picture.

“Eligible” Bachelor #3: b_t_hellam1

I think Match may have momentarily gotten me confused with my crazy sister who would love to date and marry a nondenominational protestant minister (for marriage #4) with whom she could relax, read the Bible, and watch Paul Blart: Mall Cop.

“Eligible” Bachelor #4: D8M4

You know, this fucker’s not so bad (comparatively) except that he listens to shitty music.
Still, fuck him.

Also, fuck this.

Hot Mess: Volume 11

In general, I have pretty high self-esteem, some might even call it “cockiness.”
Semantics.

I know I’m not all that painful on the eyes. I’m pretty witty, laidback, self-sufficient, and low-maintenance. Also, I could probably kick your ass. This is, perhaps, why I’m perpetually the best friend with whom people really SHOULD be in love, but… There’s always a big “but”…

I’m also aware that many women do not carry themselves with or feel the same sense of confidence that I do. Which is why this is such a terrible first message.

It’s a fucking virtual head pat.

This message says:

  • You seem nice. Too bad your life blows.
  • I’m not quite sure why no-one wants you, but there must be a reason.
  • You seem hot, so you must be crazy.
  • I don’t understand why cupid keeps making you gargle his sweaty balls. You seem cool enough to me.

To add to the low blow, one knows it’s from someone who’s in exactly the same position, someone who thinks he’s a pretty good catch, despite the fact that he’s fictionally 92 years old and who has many interests not limited to, but including, women between the ages of 18 and 45.

Nothing says, “I’m just looking for a someone with (semi)functioning female parts” like a thirty year age range.
Don’t give me any of that, “Age is just a number” bullshit. No one says that or believes it except teenage girls who think they’re in love with guys old enough to buy them liquor, child molesters, old rich guys with trophy wives, and the gold-diggers waiting for them to die.

This message is only a confirmation for my “fuck it” inclination. Until my membership runs out, Match’s sole purpose is for providing me with entertainment while I get matched with myself and heal from their previous “matches”.

Hot Mess: Volume 10

In, perhaps, an it-seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time moment, I reactivated my account with Match. After a few messages began to pile up in the inbox I had not paid to see, I gave the site some money.
At least 75% of my justification to myself was that I would, at least, have some new blogging material.

Message #1 was from a woman who wanted to hear about my Match experience but was “Don’t worry. Not a lesbo.”  I suspect that it was some sort of scam.

Message #2 was as follows:

While I suspected that Lex may be a bit crazy, I couldn’t resist the urge to reply.

Of course, it’s a bad idea to encourage the crazy. He replied twice within the same hour…

While I do find myself inexplicably attracted to Lex’s 2D pastel blue silhouette, I’m not sure I’m ready to admit that I’d like to tie up that pastel blue silhouette and do “kinky things” to it. I think the paper cuts would get to me before long.

If I had not already been put off by his discussion of gang banging, I would have certainly thrown off by his transition from kinky sex to “actually, I was thinking about angels.” It’s a rough transition from inappropriate early messaging etiquette to a philosophical justification of his apparent Schizophrenia and his intimate “I’m sure you understand” statements.

Sorry, Lex, my fairly open mind is a little too small for the crazed yammerings of those that hear Djinn.

While this reopening saga does not bode well for my dating, it does bode well for you, dear readers. Some fish are still in the sea because they’ve been thrown back.
Get ready. It looks like we’ll be laughing a lot together.

Hot Mess: Volume 8

What scares me most about Hot Mess #8 is that he may be responsible for healing and/or keeping people safe.
Oh, also the chest shots. Nothing says, “I think I’m hot” like obvious self-portraits that involve your chest. That goes for the ladies too.

Keep your Myspace pics on Myspace, kids.

Tested Theory: Guys who can’t walk by the mirror without checking themselves out or primping are overrated and, possibly, gay (at least in my study).

Let’s play “Guess My IQ

  • “People look at me and seem to wonder what i’m thinking about, most of the time i’m not exactly sure, but whatever it is probably has to do with how great you are.” I’m gonna have to call “bullshit” on this statement except for his reported confusion and lack of conscious thought. However, if this is true, I guess he’s probably NOT lying when he later says, “There is one thing I haven’t had that much experience in, and that is ‘dating’. Or, at least, these thoughts about how “great you are” are not often mutual.
  • “I have fairly decent values, I know whats ‘good’ vs. whats ‘bad’. I fit into the good category”. Congratulations, you have reached Kohlberg’s first stage of moral development – Pre-conventional Morality. It must be exceedingly convenient to organize your world in neat little dualities and even more convenient, that you fit into the socially acceptable side of these dualities. Your mother must be proud.
  • “I’m also the most mature person there is.” Skeptical. See above. And below.
  • “I feel like going out and doing something; I could go out and take pictures with my cell phone while climbing mountains and riding a bicycle.” Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot. Recommendation: If you really don’t have anything going on in your head, don’t attempt a stream-of-consciousness writing style.
  • My religion: “that’s kind of a yes or no question” That’s not even a question, except possibly in Pre-conventional Morality. If it is a question, I think his answer may mean, “Yes, I’ll take it – the good one.”
  • Favorite Things: “Any category of music, as long as it’s good music.” Obviously. Should have seen that one coming.

If you guessed that Hot Mess #8’s IQ is 68, you are correct. Just short of both amusing and average.