Arts & Culture / Mosaic / March 3, 2011

Love’s labors lost and found

If this online dating series has taught me anything, it has been to expect the unexpected. Believe me, if this had been a romantic comedy no one would have been able to predict the twist that came a few days ago.

It has been an eye-opening term exploring the world of online dating from a cynic’s perspective. I am a person who values privacy and it was a risk writing about my potential love life for all of Knox to see, because it made me vulnerable to the judgments of this small campus. But at the close of this series, this experience has honestly shaped the way I think of relationships differently and for the better.

I did not think much of online dating as a way to find and have a relationship with someone before I made a dating profile. As I progressed with my profile, I realized that online dating was no big deal. You look at a person’s pictures and profiles, and you might choose to contact them or not. The digital aspect of online dating makes it easier because you do not have to take it personally. It is reassuring to know that people on online dating sites are there for the same thing: to meet people and hopefully find some kind of connection. This was a huge shift from becoming embarrassed at first when even thinking about online dating, because people I knew never really had dating profiles, until I talked to a friend one day.

A few weeks into having a dating profile, I talked to some of my friends again and asked if they would ever online date. They were open-minded about it, saying that they would be willing to try it out. I was surprised, but I probably should not have been. Once again, online dating is really no big deal.

In the beginning of this series I was skeptical that I would be able to find someone. I did not find anyone who was interesting to me until Aaron, the person from the dating site I have been talking to for weeks now. After we initially contacted each other, we talked via instant messaging, then moved on to texting, talking on the phone and, recently, video chatting on Skype. I had mentioned in previous articles that we had so many things in common in terms of movies, books, temperament and having musical backgrounds. We had a connection and got along well but, to be honest, I was wondering if I only saw him as a friend. And, to be even more honest, I felt conflicted because I had feelings for a friend at Knox. This friend knew I was writing this online dating series, but we were getting closer each week.

Last week, I finally told Aaron that I was writing about him because it was wrong to keep that from him. After that hurdle, I asked him if he wanted to meet with me in person someday. He said he would love to take me out on a date, but that he had to get money, transportation and time in order before we could meet. He asked what I thought about it and I said I would want to meet him, but I understood that time and money were an issue so I was not in any rush. A few days later, we were joking around via texting. He said I made him smile and mentioned wanting to meet in person again, saying he could not wait until he could. I said I felt the same. I meant it, but I still had some reservations because of my feelings for someone here at Knox. Neither my friend at Knox nor I expected us to get so close, and neither of us saw this coming, but we have decided to date. It was a hard decision because the last thing I wanted was to hurt Aaron’s feelings by dating someone else.

Aaron and I talked on Skype for the first time on Monday. We had talked for almost two hours until I finally had to tell him. I told him I recently started dating someone here at Knox and I hoped we could still be friends. He seemed disappointed and he said it was fine, that we were only talking. However, it did not seem like we were fine because he did not text me the next day. I was sorry to disappoint him, but still hoped we could stay in contact as friends.

He texted me today, asking “How goes it?” We told each other how we were and joked for a bit. It seemed like old times, a sign we could still maintain a friendship and I am very glad about that.

This online dating series has been full of surprises, leading up to this plot twist of setting up a dating profile on the Web only to date someone at Knox. Experiencing and writing about online dating has changed my preconception that online dating is something to be embarrassed about. I realized why more and more people have turned to online dating as a way to find a potential relationship—it is easy to meet people, and because there are so many people out there looking for love.

In the end, I did not end up with a romantic relationship with someone I met from an online dating site, but with a friendship. My unexpected experiences prove that love can come from an entirely different direction than the one you turn yourself to. But, when you do take the chance and let yourself be out in the open, you have a greater ability to propel yourself toward places—and people—undiscovered.

Sheena Leano

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