He was a little nerdy-looking in his profile picture, standing on a woodsy trail by a waterfall, but nerdy doesn’t have to be bad. I always check out the men who have hiking pictures, provided they are not on top of Mt. Kilimanjaro with a team of sherpas. I find hiking fun and would like to do it with a partner. This guy was outdoorsy but not too outdoorsy, well-educated, and liked craft beer. It could go either way, I rationalized.

“I’ll meet you halfway,” he proposed in a text.  I’m sure there is a Starbucks halfway between Tewksbury and where you live.”

Where the hell is Tewksbury? I thought.  NO. I am not driving halfway to fucking Tewskbury in the middle of winter, to meet some nerdy guy, who I don’t even know. Is this what my life has come to? Traveling to the ends of the earth, in search of love. BIG NO.

I can’t imagine how he reacted when I unleashed my wrath against all men everywhere into his Bumble feed.

“I am not meeting you halfway!” I texted angily. “Did you not read my profile? I am looking for a mensch and obviously you do not know what that means. Buh bye.” Swipe left. Exhale.

When did I become an online dating sociopath? Maybe I could have been nicer to Mr. Tewksbury, but I am so tired of listening to the voice in my head saying, “you never know, give him a chance” when I already knew, dammit, every single time.

Maybe I need to take a break from online dating, even if it’s February, always a double whammy for me: Valentine’s Day and my birthday. In celebration, perhaps this February I will give myself the gift of a few new dating rules.

1. Listen to My Friends

Men can look so good on online, especially when they are Ivy educated, fit, and have a nice smile. These things have sex appeal, especially in the dead of a lonely, Covid February.  Remember that this is not an accurate representation of their character or whether there will be chemistry. Ask around and if a friend who knows him says, “He’s not for you” or “I just can’t visualize you together,” trust her!  This will save you from another Shleppy Steve, who showed up in a tattered blue hoodie and had a serious nose hair problem that was mysteriously hidden in his online profile.

2. The Phone Conversation

Don’t drink too much. If the relationship proceeds from texting to a phone conversation, keep senses sharp and don’t be afraid to cut him off at the pass with a simple,”I am not feeling a connection here, nice meeting you, bye.” Beware if the convo requires three glasses of wine because  a “meh” guy will turn into a “BIG YES” guy. Don’t make a date that you will later regret and cancel. And never make a fake Covid-related excuse to get out of a date, because it could turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

3. The Date

Still don’t drink too much. If the date hasn’t been canceled, big mistake. This will require even more wine with dinner. Don’t do it. The ramifications will become much more complex waking up next to someone completely unappetizing, like “Hairy Harry” in his tighty whities, with back hair that rivaled my mother’s 70s shag carpet. Just the thought of my night with him makes me nauseous with full-blown PTSD.

4. Keep the Faith

It’s hard to meet a man in his 50s/60s who doesn’t have some baggage. The challenge is figuring out what that baggage is early on, and deciding whether I want to make room for it in my overhead compartment. If not, stop letting it waste precious minutes of life that can never be returned. Instead, spend time with friends, work on a hobby, and continue trying to become a better version of myself. Stop thinking about what happens if the best version of myself still can’t meet a good guy, because romance will happen when it’s meant to.  But only if I follow my new rules.


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