Huffpost Divorce

Dating After Divorce: Online

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ONLINE DATING
alamy

By Jennifer Mattern

Fact: I never dated.

I kissed. I made out. I fooled around. I messed around. I saw. I slept with. I went with. I went out with. I broke up with. I got back together with. I was exclusive with. I got engaged. I eloped. I married. I separated. I divorced. Period. "Dating" was not a word my generation used to describe ourselves in any phase of the lurchy, messy love dance.

"Dating" always conjured up images of my mother in faded Kodaks from the '50s, shellacked in a cloud of tulle and and hairspray, topped off with heavy cat-eye glasses, perennially ready for prom. My mom knew how to date. Even when she and Frank were going steady, they had movie dates, soda shop dates, Scrabble dates. "You have no idea how hard it is to try to lose at Scrabble," she likes to say, still.

I got booted from my cocoon of marriage to find that "dating" was back, with a horde of impatient, hot-but-not-so-heavy subcategories. Speed-dating. Online dating. Sexting. Naughty Skyping.

Modern times. At first, I resisted the development. I'm a twisted addict to my past. I reconnected with former flames, tried to fix what didn't work the first time around.

This brilliant maneuver resulted in some spectacular, epic failures worthy of NBC dramedy. I began researching "single mothers who enter convents." This yielded few helpful results.

I decided to bite the bullet. I gulped down two glasses of Shiraz before I crafted my first online profile. I cringed as I tried to describe myself authentically, to choose pics that were the perfect combo of attractive, smart, possibly sexy. Cleavage or nay? Gahhh.

I met a lily farmer first, 13 years my senior. We had two "dates," if you count the afternoon I helped him organize his dirty bulbs for shipping. Hawt. I liked his smile, the sure way he dug his fingers into the earth. His Border Collies adored me, but he seemed ambivalent, as confused by post-divorce dating expectations as I did. On our second date, he made me a stir-fry with vegetables from his garden, then seemed miffed that I didn't want to be dessert.

Next up: A psychologist who worked at a camp for kids with cancer. Awww. I was impressed by our "by the books" approach: Our first dinner at a neutral location, a Mexican restaurant we'd both wanted to try. I liked his crisp white shirt, his Billy Crystal wisecracking, the way he talked about his sons. There were a few decent "dates" before I received an email from him out of the blue, saying he was in a dark place. When he was with me, he said, he felt like he was "overcompensating."

I feel like there must be a fantastic punchline there. When you find it, let me know.

Third time was not a charm. I joined a new online dating site. It searched its entire database of potential lovahs and enthusiastically offered me my "Top Match Within 250 Miles!" YES! I clicked through to see the new love of my life: My ex-husband.

Knife, meet Heart. I had taken his profile pic in our kitchen, a photo of him grinning in front of the cabinets he'd painted blue for me. The smile was no longer for me, but for WillowPussy74 and Purrfekt4u and SizzleGrrl1.

Top match within 250 miles: I am not ashamed to say that I puked. I am ashamed to say that -- after I puked up my invisible hairball of heartache, humiliation and regret -- I made a fantastic freaking arse of myself, by rewriting my profile as a letter to him. I knew the next time he logged in, I'd be coming up as his top match. If we had one last shot, I didn't want to blow it. I told him that I already loved his daughters. I told him I loved the blue cabinets, still. I told him real love was messy as f*ck, but maybe we owed it to ourselves and the girls to try to find our way back to each other. I told him I'd even learn to cook a chicken, if we could simply sit down and talk.

He declined the roast chicken. And me.

However, I received 47 heartfelt messages from other men, many of whom said they thought it was the most romantic overture they'd ever seen online. Several said my ex would be an idiot not to consider my proposal.

Aw, hell. What's a little cleavage between total strangers?

Date this, baby.

Jennifer Mattern is the creator and author of the award-winning blog Breed 'Em and Weep. She writes the weekly column Single Mom at Work at Work It, Mom. A Pushcart Prize nominee for her work at Brain, Child Magazine. Mattern is a freelance writer, playwright and single mama of two daughters.

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