Saturday, December 03, 2005

Third times the charm...er...not really.

I’m tired.

Dating takes a lot out of you. Today’s date took a lot more out of me than I was expecting. For one thing, it was in the morning for coffee. For another, my date, let’s call him “K” for lack of anything better (you’ll have to forgive me my lack of creativity, I already told you, I’m tired.), required a lot of concentration. Let me explain. I met “K” on Match.com. He was the first person to respond to my profile and instead of a wink he sent me an email that was humorous, showed he had read far into the text of the “in my own words” section (which is very long by the way. I used every character I was allotted. Surprise, surprise, I like talking about myself.) and he was very “Hi, how are you. I am not a psycho creep.” Anyway, we commenced to emailing back and forth. In the course of our conversations he slowly told me certain things about himself that I’m sure required courage on his part to divulge and that for many women would be deal breakers . I don’t mean “I live with my Mom and I really like it,” or “You’d look really good in leather chaps” deal breakers. I mean physical disabilities, including a speech impediment. Since I already knew from his emails that his mental acuity was not in question I was willing to give it a go. As they say, we’re all TABs – Temporarily Able Bodied. Who the hell am I to judge someone because they have a limp? The man has a Masters from an Ivy League institution for Pete’s sake. So, I said yes to coffee.

I got to the café first and found a table. There weren’t many and unfortunately the one I found required maneuvering through tight spaces. Without knowing the extent of his issues I was already trying to make sure he got to make the most graceful entrance he could. I didn’t want him to have to run a slalom course to get to me. I’m a very nice person and sometimes too empathetic for my own good – more on that later. When he arrived he maneuvered fine. He had obvious physical issues but nothing he couldn’t handle (for the sake of anonymity I’m not going to share any more details than that). The problem came when he spoke. Actually, it wasn’t exactly a problem, just a bit of a shock. His speech was profoundly altered and it took a few moments for me to get used to the timber and rhythm of his speech. To be honest, if I had not already “spoken” to him over email, I would have thought he was mentally, what’s the PC word to use now? Retarded? Handicapped? Challenged? I’m sure other people in the café thought so. I caught people looking at us every so often. I’m happy to report that I never felt a twinge of self-consciousness. I say that because in the past my self-esteem was such that I would have wondered what people thought about me being with this person. It’s amazing how much being comfortable with who you are changes the way you relate to people. “K” was obviously comfortable being who he is as well.

Once I became used to his speech pattern, the conversation was very loose. Not flirty (and one sided) like with buff blonde guy but also not as forced as it was with Friendster #1. We rambled from topic to topic instead of asking each other questions. My date with Friendster was like an interview, mostly my fault I’ll admit. This was an actual conversation. I think it was partially because I felt like I had nothing at stake. It feels awful to admit this but what I learned from this date is that when you feel like you have the upper hand in a situation you can be much more confident and relaxed. I have to learn how to channel that in a situation when I don’t feel like I have the upper hand.

Here’s the problem. We’re not a match. I know this. I knew this the moment he started speaking. I did not enter this date as a pity date. I entered it with an open mind. One of my favorite people from high school had similar physical issues (minus the speech thing.) However, "K" has already emailed me and asked me to do something else with him next week. I feel bad rejecting any guy but with this guy I feel even worse. I don’t want him to think I’m rejecting him because of his physical issues but you know what, I kind of am. Here's the thing, I don’t want to treat him differently than other guys because he’s “disabled.” I also know he wouldn't want me to. But at the same time my whole empathy thing kicks in and I can’t help it.

Here’s what I’m going to do. It’s a compromise but I’m comfortable with it. I will reply to him saying it was very nice to meet him (which it was) and I’d enjoy going to the gallery with him next week but (just as I told Friendster #1) I’m not looking for a long term relationship right now (I’m really not) so it would have to be as friends only. I don’t want to waste his time (or mine). I know I would feel worse making him think I was interested than if I outright reject him. He doesn’t need my pity, he needs honesty.

Well folks. I must go to bed now. I’m meeting another Match.com person for coffee tomorrow.
Luckily, my next real date isn’t until a week from now. After that, I’m taking a break until the New Year. Famous last words.

5 comments:

tjdygon said...

I know your feelings. I was set up on a dating service with a Downs syndrome boy. I felt like a complete and utter loser. Not that I have a problem with handicapped people. I work with them, just not really looking to marry one.

Sassy Pants said...

Oh my goodness. That's not a dating service I would recommend to others. Their screening process is a little off. Wow.

Anonymous said...

I've learned a lot from JM on this one. She often speaks, during her routine and in real life, about gentlemen's (her word) inability to pleasantly say anything polite in the "you are not my match" vein.

I had a similar experience to yours recently. We met and talked, and it turned out that she's been out of work for two years after one of the special ed. kids in her class wonked her on the head. She has a recurrent concussion, which comes with memory problems, particularly for new memories. I suppose that explains why she asked my name four times in our e-mail exchanges.

Anyway, it turns out truth worked well. I told her it was nice to meet her (true), that I enjoyed our conversation (mostly true), and that I wished her luck in her search (true).

Well, SP, good luck with this one. And thanks for the e-mail on that other comment I had left.

- Josh

tjdygon said...

Oh yes, I paid a lot of money for this dating service and afterwards I felt like a complete and total loser for getting set up with Downs Syndrome Boy. It was also a week before my 26th birthday which I was depressed about anyways and this just topped the cake off!

Jennifer Myszkowski said...

My method is proven. Here's the sentence. All you have to do is insert your name and his:

Dear blahblah:

It was nice meeting you. Best of luck to you in the future.

Sincerely,
blahblah

It's an amazing tool. No one is offended. Everyone goes their separate ways mostly happy.