I spend time thinking about how to stay sane in an insane world,
particularly the brave new world of online dating. What follows are
my thoughts based on my experience and stories told to me by
===== Why do they appear suddenly, act interested and then
Many of us have had the experience of receiving an initial email
from someone seeming very interested in getting to know us. This is
followed by email exchanges, and often phone calls. The getting to
know process seems to be going well, you are interested, they seem
interested, and then suddenly they disappear and stop responding.
Let's look at an analogy to understand this online dating behavior.
The stories people tell about seeing a ghost often go this way. I
woke in the middle of the night to see the ghost of (a departed
loved one) standing at the foot of my bed. They started talking but
I could not hear anything. The next thing I knew, they were
standing right next to me on the side of the bed. I did not see
them move. Shortly after that, they suddenly appeared at the
window, again I did not see them move there. Then after a short
time they disappeared.
For another similar behavior, let's look at how people report
seeing UFO's. I was walking down a country lane when suddenly I saw
a large round object above me with lights blinking. It was hovering
just above me. Then, suddenly it appeared a few hundred feet to my
right. I did not see it move. Next thing I knew, it was way in the
distance before it disappeared. I never saw it move from A to B, it
just appeared at the new location.
One theory about ghosts and UFO's is that they exist in another
dimension. And, sometimes they pop into our dimension. That is why
we don't see them moving from A to B. They go in and out of our
Well, online dating is another dimension, the cyber world. And,
unfortunately some people have taken advantage of the license and
power of this dimension to pop in and out at will into other
I highly recommend the 1884 novella Flatland by Abbott for an
entertaining and serious social commentary of class, other
dimensions, and how we can only see what we believe is possible
____ Pondering the advantages of anonymity of the cyber world
Oscar Wilde said “Man is least himself when he talks in his own
person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”
===== Feeding the good wolf, how to keep sane and serene on online
An ancient Cherokee Shaman was pondering on the two wolves he had
seen during his forest adventure that day, when one of his
grandchildren came running up and reminded him it was time for the
evening teaching. The old Cherokee ruffled the hair of his youngest
grandson and said he was on his way. He knew the exact story he
would tell that night. The wolves in the forest had been an
The campfire was already burning brightly and all the youngsters
were waiting with great anticipation to hear the wise words of
their grandfather. Without any delay the old Cherokee Shaman began
the lesson for his grandchildren about life. He said to them, "A
fight is going on inside me...It is a terrible fight, and it is
between a pair of wolves.
One of the wolves represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret,
greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies,
pride and superiority.
The other wolf stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing,
serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy,
generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.
This same fight is going on inside of you and every other person
They thought about it for a minute and then one child asked his
grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"
The old Cherokee Shaman simply replied..."The wolf I feed."
When I am mindful, aware, and accepting of what I am feeling I have
a good chance of feeding the good wolf. Then if my actions are
compassionate and wise, the good wolf gets well feed.
When I think and then act without paying attention to my intention,
the bad wolf gets the first course. If I focus my protective and
nurturing energy entirely on myself, the bad wolf gets the second
course. When I leave the present and focus on the future (hope,
fear, and anxiety) and the past (sadness and anger), the bad wolf
really gets stuffed
I pay attention to my intention and expectation when I speak and
think about difficult issues in my life. If I cannot say anything
helpful, I want to be silent. I do believe we shape our lives by
what we think and talk about.
My spiritual path is extremely important to me. It is not aligned
with any particular religion, it's a mix of 12 step, humanist
Judaism, Buddhism, Taoism, and pagan.
===== How to have fun and be safe on online dating
Take your time. Welcome to the brave new world of online dating. It
can be a scary, brutal, and sometimes wonderful world. It may have
many flaws, but it is one of the few places to meet potential
partners in our isolating world.
No one is vetted on online dating sites. People can write anything
they want about themselves, same goes for photos. To find that
prince(ss) you have to kiss a lot of frogs -- well not actually
kiss, more like emails and phone calls with an occasional meet and
greet coffee date. People have different email/profile persona,
telephone persona, and live persona. It takes a good year for most
of the masks to drop.
Think very carefully about you want, what your INTENTION is. Word
your profile so it reflects that. Many women over 50 have full
lives and really do not want a relationship; a relationship
requires you to make major changes in your life. It also demands
compromise, adaption, and going beyond your comfort zone. If you
are looking for an activity/travel companion, state that clearly in
To keep my sanity and serenity while using online dating, I enjoy
what each encounter offers, staying present and limiting trips to
the foreign land of the future (anxiety, fear, and hope) or that
god forsaken land of the past where everyone is sad or angry. I go
into a deep despair when I use online dating obsessively and
compulsively looking for that perfect long term relationship.
In twelve step we say that expectations are guaranteed resentments.
And, resentments are like taking poison and expecting the other
person to die. So, I keep my expectations in check.
===== Lessons learned from online dating =====
We prefer the familiarity of our pain to the pain of the
Perfect people are not real and real people are not perfect.
Whatever has a front has a back.
_____ Healing the wound
Many of us have come to online dating to heal a wound: we have lost
our partner through death or separation. After my wife Tricia died
in April 2010, I looked to online dating to find a woman to fill
the missing piece in my life. I had lost part of my heart, soul,
and mind. In my crazy wounded state I thought that I could fill the
hole with a person and thus heal the wound. After a few months on
online dating I realized that psychic wounds like physical wounds
heal from the healthy cells in toward the damaged cells. Toward
healing my psychic wound, this meant that I was able to heal myself
by concentrating on the healthy cells: having fun with friends,
taking care of myself, doing things that nurtured me. I realized
that at best, online dating is a place to find someone to share my
life with, not complete it or fill some gap.
_____ Values and goals vs. adjectives and activities
So many online dating profiles are lists of adjectives and
activities the poster has and is looking for. Often it is hard to
discern the character, values, and goals of the poster. Many posts
read like the person is ordering a sandwich: I want the long roll,
not the short one, add extra humor, no exotic fillings, add some
confidence, but hold the arrogance, french bread yes, dark rye NO,
____ If you keep going in the same direction, you will get where
you are headed
Many daters are looking for their soulmate, someone to click with
and have chemistry with. The answer is to keep looking for that
right person out there. Very few daters ask the question, "What am
I doing to make myself the person who would attract the partner I
seek?" Many people have been single with brief relationships
sprinkled in for 10, 20, or 30 years. The problem is always the
dating pool, never what they are doing or not doing.