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Dating and all that…

What I've learned about relationships, true intimacy, and manhood since my divorce.
Dec. 21, 2008

My wife left me a year and a half ago. I’ll spare you the boring melodrama other than to say that there was nothing I could do to prevent it, that I remained faithful to the bitter end (which apart from her was deeply important to me), and that it was for the best for us both. Today we live a mile from each other and are still friends. And, we’ve been a unified front in caring for our beloved daughter (who in spite of it all is thriving).

Needless to say, a lot of things are different this time around. Today I find myself back in the dating world equipped with 13 years of marital experience. My expectations for the next relationship are a little more realistic (not jaded mind you, just realistic) and I am more centered than I ever was before being married… a time in life when loneliness controlled me more than I realized. And despite my strident insistence to the contrary back then, I no longer live under the illusion that a marital fairy tale will somehow rescue me. What a blessing it is to be able to date without the oppressive burdens of need and cynicism! Surprising as it has been for many of my friends and family, today I am more hopeful about my life, my relationships, and whatever future marital plans God has for me than I’ve ever been.

I was married in 1994 before Internet dating took off, so I never experienced this world, and never expected I would. Yet after 13 years, here I am… After several months of eHarmony and I’m still a babe in this brave new world, but even so I’ve learned many lessons about myself and online dating in general. Here are a few of them;

Seeking companionship does not mean trolling

It’s no secret that all kinds of people frequent dating sites. Obviously, there are the bottom feeders: Those who are there for themselves only, sporting gilded checklist they keep in their wallets next to the condoms; Those who want to hide in the shadows and act out some anonymous online fantasy without the risk of looking a real woman in the eye; those who are still married (!) and want to indulge their dreams or stroke fragile egos and haven’t got the courage to face their problems with their partners… In other words, people you can count on to run away the second that being with you requires an investment or a loving, sacrificial act of will. Emotional and spiritual cowards like these are beyond contempt, and their actions speak for themselves.

But even for the rest of us genuine intimacy is fraught with problems. Living as we do amidst a consumer culture, it’s difficult for us to think in terms of finding true intimacy with another human soul rather than shopping for a mate. At first blush, this might seem self-evident, but consider how many online profiles read like resumes rather than shared stories. After awhile they all start to sound alike. Is there anyone on this earth who actually isn’t a “smart, pretty professional” looking for “honesty”, “loyalty”, and “a good sense of humor?” Even the monikers people choose can be telling: “misschichiluvulongtime,” “hotcutiepie4u”… (Ok, I’m exaggerating, but you’d be surprised how many I’ve seen that aren’t much better). I don’t doubt the sincerity of profiles like this one bit. And to date I’ve never shunned one believing that it was shallow or purposely dishonest. Rather, I sense that many of us present ourselves like this out of fear, and a belief that if we don’t sell ourselves no one will give us a chance.

For my part, I’ve come to realize that I will never find the kind of relationship I want by selling it to someone. So the profiles I’ve presented at sites like and eHarmony are there for me to make myself known. Happiness in a relationship is not just about finding the woman who’s right for me… but also the woman that I am right for. I cannot expect to find her without being an open book myself. Not smothering or indulging in emotional vomiting mind you, just in being genuine… the same person on the pages of that I am in the quietness of my own heart.

I’m still learning how to write a decent profile. I worry sometimes that the ones I’ve posted don’t capture my personality, my sense of humor, and “child’s heart” as much as I’d like. But within the limitations of the few thousand characters most sites allow, they are as true to who I am as I’ve been able to make them, as are my online monikers. At for instance I’m cscottchurch. Because that is my name. It’s who I am. Last time I checked, my birth certificate did not say “hotguy4u.” ;)

In terms of finding someone, I can’t say whether any of this is drawing women to me or scaring them away. But I do know that it’s the only way I will ever find the kind of love, or even friendships I want, not to mention staying true to my own center. The ever-venerable Lyle Lovett said it best,

“If the stars didn't shine on the water
Then the sun wouldn't burn on the sand
And if I were the man you wanted
I would not be the man that I am”


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