I’m convinced we all have some sort of fire in us. If I lived in a war torn country my fire would be focused on survival. Because I’m living in a first world country my fire or struggle has been focused on overcoming a youth of abuse while dragging myself out of a bottle. My plan of attack included continuing my education. It helped me to further my career while proving to myself that I am as smart as I’ve always known myself to be. I must admit, it felt good to be the first person in my family to have earned a master’s degree. This little fire inside of me has always been there, but I never took it into consideration when entering a legally binding relationship with someone who was complacent to ignore his fire and stay deep in that bottle. I followed that person to this rural conservative Christian town in Pennsylvania 10 years ago after a short lived career in DC as a Graphic Designer. Not to be barefoot and pregnant, but to switch my career to teaching. Living through 9/11 reminded me that I am a helper, and I thought teaching was my path to helping. And so I taught, and so I learned, and so I grew. Now we’re separated and I’m stuck. I’m a city girl science believing feminist living in what is about to be dubbed the “Post Truth Era,” and I’m about to be very alone out here. Better yet, I’m about to turn 40 and that is really fucking with my head. Deciding to end the marriage was a choice that in no way was black and white. It involved a long struggle, a lot of growth, and some shoddy therapy. We never stopped loving each other. It’s so hard to explain, and I know I’ll be processing it for a long time. As for the idea of regrets, I would do it all again in a heartbeat. Time changes people. I don’t know quite how else to put it, but that very statement frightens me when I think of the idea of getting into another relationship. Yet, there’s something in me that is demanding I try dating. Demanding! Maybe it’s my hormones. I can’t be alone in this, can I? I guess I’ll lift my head off the pillow, dive into some sort of healthy exercise, and try one of those dating apps before I get my appetite back. But which one? Tinder kind of freaks me out. Is it really just for sex? People have told me that it can be used however you want, but I’m apprehensive. Plus I live in such a small area it would probably only show the same 5 haggard men. And it links to your Facebook account? I’m not sure how I feel about that either. I don’t exactly want the people of this tiny town to know I’m doing the whole online dating thing through Tinder. Match costs money. Hmm… I’m not ready to spend money. Okay, my friend Annie mentioned Plenty Of Fish. It’s free, I’ve never heard of it, I’ll give it a shot. Oh dear, I need some photos! AND I have to talk about myself? 😳
Let me fill you in on the Plenty of Fish dating platform. Plenty of Fish, or POF as it’s often referred to, has a splash page that assumes you are a man until you sign up. Which means you are bombarded with images and profiles of woman. There’s a ticker running on the top telling you how many people are currently using the site. When you register you are given a generated anonymous name that you can change if you want or keep to maintain some sort of anonymity. Next you are led through steps to put your profile together. You’re asked to add photos of yourself. The photos are approved before going live to make sure nothing too inappropriate gets out there. Then you have to write about yourself. I had some difficulty with this and made my intro pretty vague and short. I think it was something like, “Heyyyy! Just trying this thing out.” or whatever. I read through some from the men on the site, and they range from short and awkward to long and in depth. I’m just not comfortable talking about myself so I took the easy way out. The easy part came next, picking out the multiple choice questions. What are your hobbies? What’s your income? Really? People don’t actually put that on here do they? Wouldn’t that attract the wrong kind of person? Hmm… I’d prefer not to say and luckily I have that option. It was tough finding photos of myself that didn’t have other people in them. I’ve got a few up there, but they have all been cropped oddly. Regardless, I went live (you have the option to hide yourself). I now have a couple messages. But what am I supposed to do with “hi?” How do I respond to that? And why aren’t any of the men I’m interested in sending me messages? No, I haven’t written to them. What would I say? I don’t want to approach anyone who isn’t interested. So this is online dating. This is tough stuff!