Don’t I Know You? Or How I Learned a Huge Online Dating Lesson


I went to the international fair on campus Friday, during my lunch break.  A colleague and I planned to have lunch at one of the booths, watch some belly-dancing, and soak up some sun.  This is part of the reason I love, love, love working on a college campus.  It’s a moment to slip back into the undergrad lifestyle.  And once I’ve had my fill of the taste of life on the other side, I slip back into my cushy office and do real work.  Best of both worlds.

The international fair was packed with students, faculty, and staff.  It was a who’s-who of people I know, and so I was distinctly aware of what might occur.  At any public event held on campus I am aware that I risk seeing The Boyfriend.  We both work on the same end of campus, and so it’s really a miracle that we’ve only had to see one another about four times total in three years.  Seriously, I can count on my hands how many times I’ve accidentally crossed paths with The Boyfriend.  But I can assure you that every time we have, I’ve been having a bad hair day.  Murphy’s Law, what a bastard. Murphy that is, not The Boyfriend..well..

Anyway, though my senses were in overdrive and I was mentally preparing myself for a run-in with The Boyfriend, that’s totally not where this story is going.  As uncomfortable as it can be to run into The Boyfriend, I think what actually happened can be even more uncomfortable.

While I was standing in line at the Iranian booth waiting on some rolled grape leaves (which, are, by the way, one of my favorite things ever!), I kept noticing this guy in line at another booth.  His face looked so familiar.  I am overly friendly sometimes, too, so I smiled at him when we made eye contact and went back to waiting in line.  And as I got my food, I turned around and he was crossing my path again.  Once more, I smiled when our eyes met because…well, that’s just what I do.  And I began wracking my brain to make the connection, willing my neurons to fire on all cylinders.  Was he a hall director that I met through orientation? He sort of looked like him, but the last I heard, that guy was in Bangkok teaching English as a second language. Hmm.

Excited to have a plate of food, my colleague and I sat down and the gentleman passed before us one more time. I looked him directly in the eye and smiled, hoping he’d see my look, introduce himself, and remind me just how I knew him.  But he didn’t.  He passed by me, make eye contact, sort of smiled but kept going.

And then it hit me.  My jaw hit the floor, my cheeks turned bright red. My colleague immediately dropped her fork and looked around.  “Are you okay?”

I was okay but…I figured it out.   It was a guy I had been emailing off and on OkCupid and Match.com (he found me on BOTH..how embarrassing!) and sort of just lost interest in.  He was slow to respond to emails, his emails weren’t super interesting, and if I bothered to ask him questions he replied in very short, matter-of-fact sentences. I wasn’t feeling it at all but I can’t recall ever telling him this.  I think he took so long to reply that I just moved on and didn’t bother replying again.

Clearly that was a mistake.  I should have done the right thing and broke things off.  But I didn’t, so here I am making awkward eye-contact and smiling at the guy like I “know” him when, in fact, we don’t know one another at all and we had only casually communicated on dating sites. I haven’t felt like such a dork since middle school.

I guess this is a lesson to me that I should keep my communications honest and fair on dating sites and I should end things appropriate.  I feel like such a bitch.  Not only did I sort of just quit replying (But I checked my messages and he only replied once! it’s not like he was seeking me out repeatedly!) and then I made such eye contact trying to figure out who the hell he was.

But I think he was trying to get good glimpses of me, too.  I will say that this is the first person I’ve seen on a dating site in real life (that hasn’t been on a date with me) and it was actually interesting.  He was significantly less attractive than his photos.  He was wearing a weird shirt, jeans, and flip-flops.  And I will just say that his toe nails were not well-managed.  At all.

A few months back I blogged about being absolutely terrified that I would see someone I know on Match or OKCupid and it would be awkward.  Well, that’s already happened a few times and nothing has really happened.  Nobody really sends messages that say “OMG I KNOW YOU AND SAW YOU ON A DATING SITE” because, well, OMG I know them and they’re on a dating site too!  This scenario, this seeing someone who you don’t know but have “seen” online is much, MUCH worse.

I’m still dying on the inside.  Lesson learned.

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