As Awkward as You Seemed…

The Beginning.

I wasn’t intending on you being that awkward. Sure, you seemed like you were
“playing the game.” Someone must have told you once that responding too quickly meant you had “no chill”, that you would seem too needy and desperate. But there is also a length of time where that response lag is blatantly obvious. And you were blatantly obvious….

img_7253-e1520992354993.png

I ought to give some point of reference here… My profile is filled with adjectives. These adjectives on this particular site happen to start with the letter “p.” Passionate, perceptive, etc. His initial interaction was totally fine. Nothing like the communications I’ve received from others. So, I responded. Granted, if you’ll look at the first point of contact, it was almost 2am. That’s ridiculous. Even then… I responded with nothing but favorable reactions to his message and profile. All was going well.

IMG_7254

I even followed up after this message. I did my part and invested into a person that seemed like we had similar values.

img_7255-e1521004112786.png

His profile seemed genuine. He seemed sweet, caring and completely open to beginning a relationship. Perhaps too much thought went into his profile for me to really buy-into the idealism he was selling. But, I allowed myself to be hopeful. If I lost my hope, what was the point of searching anyway?

But he waited… five days to be exact.

IMG_7256

I’ll give him credit, he did ask for my phone number. And I gave it to him. I responded within 24 hours and gave him my phone number. How did he proceed? Oh with another app message of course… He definitely didn’t use my phone number. Instead, he used the app to tell me his own. I’m not the most *subtle* so I took some initiative and messaged him first.


The Middle.

Maybe I should have called it quits there… perhaps I should have read the signs that awkwardness was inevitable. But I gave him the benefit of the doubt and proceeded to text anyway. The average time between responses from him was about 36 hours.  Finally, I was able to get him to nail down a time to meet. It would be later at night, at 9:30 pm. It worked out for him because he had athletic activities and it worked for me because I would be leaving out-of-town the next day.

I am obnoxiously time cognizant (a fact I had told him prior to setting this date), and was 15 minutes early to our date at Dave and Busters. He, however, was not as aware of the time. He preempted his late arrival with a text letting me know he was running behind schedule. I waited until 10pm before he showed up…

Alright, he was late. But he had volleyball prior. Perhaps that’s what held him up? Either way, he had promised to make it up to me. Who was I to write him off already before he even had a chance to make good on that promise?

We went into Dave and Busters after a quick hug. For those that don’t know, Dave and Busters is like an adult arcade. Games, drinks, and prizes galore. He led me to the machines that fill the tokens onto a play card. After a couple of swipes, it was quite obvious the magnetic strip on his card was not being read by the machine. Not a problem. I took my card out and loaded the money he had originally intended to buy onto his play card and we headed to the game floor.

Don’t get me wrong… I have nothing against paying for a date. I am 100% equal opportunity buy-in as far as first dates are concerned. But this interaction just added to the overall awkwardness of the evening.

We played some games. We had a decent time.

I do have some issues with sensory processing, though. Too much light or noise or stimuli will trigger for me the mightiest of migraines. Dave and Busters is like a mini version of Vegas. Step inside and be throttled into an arena of lights, sound and casino-esque adventures. I mentioned a few times that the sounds were too much for me, but he didn’t seem to understand I would have preferred to talk elsewhere. Maybe I was being too sensitive? So I continued on as planned through the date.

We sat down at a trivia machine. My domain. I love trivia. We even found a set of tickets printed and left behind by another trivia player. Unfortunate for them, but definitely our gain. I won several rounds before we decided to move to another location.

Up until this point, each of his shortcomings were not deal breakers in and of themselves. Initially he tried to play it cool with delayed responses. Then he was late to the date. His card wouldn’t work. And his communication skills were less than adequate. All of these small things could be chalked up to circumstance or coincidence.

But then it got awkward…

I followed him towards the back of the building to the prize area. We had plenty of tickets compiled from the games of the evening and we even had the paper tickets left behind at the trivia game. Perfect. We can pick something out to commemorate the evening. But then he stopped. He did not enter the prize room. We just stood on the outside looking in. I was waiting for his cue since we would be using his play card. Though I technically paid for the date, and subsequently the tickets, I didn’t want to presume we would use the tickets. Maybe he saved all of his tickets to get a grand prize. So we waited…

And waited…

Then a girl around the age of 12 walked up to a machine near us to check the balance on her own card. Totally normal. He walked up to the girl and the following interaction took place:

“Hi little girl. Want these?” He then threw the tickets at her and ran away. Literally. He walked faster than he had the entire evening in the opposite direction towards the front of the building.

At this point I could not keep my thoughts to myself.

“That was weird,” I said.

“What?” he replied.

“‘Hi little girl. Want these?’ That was weird.”

He attempted to justify his wording by saying he was a being precise. She is a little girl. To which I informed him that just saying “Hey, want these?” and waiting for a response would have been 100% less awkward. There was no need to address her as “little girl” nor was there a need to throw them at her and run away.

Alas, he conceded. I think they longer he argued the more ridiculous he realized he sounded. Or at least I hope that was the case.


The End.

Quickly he changed the topic to divert from the awkward interaction. Instead he pivoted the conversation towards me. Asking about me was a good strategy: change the subject, focus on her.

I proceeded to tell him about my job. I am a teacher and one of the classes I teach is an inclusion class. This means that half of my students are general education students and half are special education. Each special education student has an Individual Education Plan to help them access the curriculum to the same degree as everyone else. For reference, this class still learns grade-level content. The class is not any slower or lesser than any other general education class. I just have the support of a special education teacher and we co-teach the material.

To further clarify, these students are ones who can access the curriculum when given supports. These are not students who need intensely modified materials or who are not as capable of learning the same amount of material. Students who have higher needs for my content, or academic content in general, would typically be placed in other settings. One such setting is a resource class. This is highly modified material of grade-level standards. In this class, students probably wouldn’t be exposed to the same volume of material either. Another setting is called self-contained. This would be an environment where students are placed for the entire day in all academic areas. These are lower cognitive functioning students than the ones that would be placed in an inclusion classroom.

Nick asked, “Is it difficult teaching retarded students?”

I almost lost my mind. Seriously? Although I explained to him, in-depth, how the classroom works he still had the audacity to use that word. I called him out, of course. But just like defending his use of “little girl” he explained why using “retarded” was appropriate.

All the rationalizing and justifying I had done for him throughout the night was gone. The “maybes” or “buts” or “perhaps” flew right out the window. I looked at my watch and mentioned the time.

“It’s late. It’s already 11 and you have work tomorrow.” I was on break from school and traveling to see a friend. But I made it clear that the date was ending because of him, not for my own personal convenience.

After walking me to my car, he told me that the next date would be on him since I paid for this one. All I had to do was text him when I got back in town if I was still interested in hanging out.


The Epilogue.

Moments after I got in my car I received a picture message from him. It was a photo of the Red Bull he apparently had brought me to “make up for the fact that he was late.” Where he got the idea I like Red Bull is beyond me. Perhaps he got a deal at the gas station on the way to the date, potentially the cause of his late arrival, and decided to give me one. I never did get that Red Bull… And I never messaged him for another date. To his credit, he never messaged me again either.

He really was just as awkward as he seemed.

Horrible First Lines: How to Not Start an Online Conversation

When looking for love online, I’ve heard some of the most ridiculous attempts at opening communication. Sure, I do actively pursue a meaningful connection through internet-based means. But I am also realistic about the kinds of encounters I open myself to when using avenues such as dating apps. I’m realistic because I have experienced first hand the attempts some men make at initiating a conversation. Some crude, some rude. All unacceptable.

All of the following are real first-liners guys have used to open conversation with me.


The Insult

IMG_5047

If you’re looking to start a conversation with me, do not start with insults. You are opening yourself up to a conversation for which you are completely unprepared.


The Pick-Up Line

IMG_2399

The pick-up line is not always a swing and a miss. But, if you are going to commit to something so cheesy, at least bring your A-game. Would it kill you to spellcheck?


The Emoji

IMG_2412

We all know what that emoji means… and this is the laziest way to go about it. Spoiler alert: second impression was also not impressive.


The GIF

IMG_5065

All things considered, saying hi in a gif is not the worst thing in the world. I would just appreciate slightly more effort. Maybe a question or a fun fact about yourself. “Hi” does nothing more than put the pressure on me to provide substance.


The Politics

IMG_5093

I understand that having equal footing in political ideologies is important in a relationship. Just don’t start with tackling that beast. Ask me about my favorite color or if I enjoy the sunset more than the sunrise.

Besides, does he really even want to know my answer to that question?


The Try-Hard

img_2385.png

Since neither of us had exchanged words, I do not see how I was playing “hard to get.” Needless to say, his attempt at a shortcut into the world of “outrageous flirting” did not go as successfully as he had hoped.


The Proposal

IMG_5081

I mean… at least he knows?

Pro-tip: if your end game is legitimately finding a spouse, do not scare him/her off with an opening-line proposal. At the very least learn their last name!


The Desperation

img_5089-e1519358298877.png

Even back then, I could not pass up an opportunity to offer feedback. His approach was an exclamation of relief that does not translate well over text. I offered him plenty of advice, by the way. From opening lines to profile improvement plans. He got defensive and wrote off my feedback. I was just trying to help him find someone else to be interested (as I was no longer). Oh well!


 

Dating is hard. And striking up conversations with a total stranger could led to embarrassment and disappointment. It could also led to something great. So, here I am, trying to not give up hope in this muddled world of online dating. Until that day, my sassy side will pervade my online presence.

Disappointment and Disgust: an almost mistake

I wish I could say I was not cynical. I wish I could say I trusted easily. But, life experience hasn’t quite led me down the road of a Disney-princess naivete’.

Let me back up approxiately a week. I was swiping on Tinder and came across an interesting profile. Despite my lack of interest in dating a teacher (I myself am in the world of education and have found the whole thing unappealing), I swiped right on a man whose profile says he is a high school history teacher. We matched. I kept swiping.

His opening line was a sad attempt at a joke. I responded with my usual brand of sass and the conversation progressed. Come to find out, he left education for reasons I’m sure most educators in the current climate would understand. Okay, so not a teacher. I can totally handle that. Then I find out he is also a member of the National Guard…

It truly is difficult to explain how much this realization was humorous to me. No matter how much I avoid active duty soldiers, they seem to find me. I have nothing against them. I have dated quite a few. But never do I seek out a man in uniform. It just happens to be the most common theme of man the universe keeps throwing my way. Obviously since I am still single, those men haven’t worked out in my favor; but, I digress…

Consistent messaging for nearly a week had me wondering why he didn’t ask for my phone number. I am neither shy nor subtle, so I pointed that out quite clearly. I must’ve stolen his thunder but he relented and asked for my number. Some quick messages were exchanged before exhaustion caught up to me.

The next morning, I decided to use my newfound information (his number) to do a bit of my own private research. Sounds sort of creepy, I suppose. I have just found that knowing a bit about a person through their online presence helps me gauge compatibility. Plus, meeting strangers is a dicey proposal. I’ve found it best to arm myself with the most information. Safety in knowledge.

His profile popped up on Facebook after a quick search of his phone number. It didn’t take long to ascertain from comments and photos that he is, in fact, married. Now, those who know me know I have zero respect or tolerance for infidelity. Vehemently so. That choice has never been one I’ve been capable of understanding. So, I’m glad I found this out sooner rather than later. Saved me some trouble and heartbreak. On to the next.

But he messaged me. How could I resist?

img_8496.png

This was it. This was the moment he would set out to convince me the marriage was over. He was unhappy. She had left him. They were getting a divorce. They were separated. This had to be the moment.

It was not that moment.

img_8499.png

His response made me even more upset than if he had tried to return to my good graces. It was cavalier and flippant. How could anyone be so casual about this?

I struggle with the idea of sharing this information with his wife. I’ve taken screen shots of his profile and our conversations. I could easily reach out. But, as difficult as it is, I don’t really think it’s my place to get involved in their marriage. He does not seem particularly intelligent or like he is going out of his way to hide it. She will find out eventually. I will not be the person to get in the middle of a relationship, let alone a marriage. And how dare he put me in that position in the first place.

Simply walking away was not an option though. Not for this sass-and-opinion-filled lady.

img_84991.png

K. Bye.

 

Online Interactions

I like to ask people when first getting to know them the following question:

If you had to describe yourself using only one word, what would it be?

You’d be surprised how boring some of the responses can be. Many men like to say “driven.” And while that is absolutely a good quality, I think it says little about the man I’m trying to get to know. I am not interested in a man that isn’t driven. Been there, done that.

I would never ask someone a question I wasn’t willing to answer myself. This is sage advice from my mentor at work. Reciprocal self-disclosure, if you will. My word? Sassy. Over the course of my encounters with online romance, my sassiness has been unleashed, typed, sent and thoroughly documented. Screen shots for days.

IMG_5031
“come cuddle”…Opening line courtesy of Patrick from Tinder.

Call me old fashioned, but even though I have searched for love in the vast expanse of the internet, I am still looking for a meaningful connection. In fact, one of my best relationships started with swiping right (a story for a different post). Sure, perhaps I am naive to think that men should try to get to know me before asking me into their bed. But that’s just the kind of girl I am. So yes, my sass comes out in full force if they open that door.

While not all of my conversations are sass-laden, I have captured the hilarity and shared with my friends the countless conversations that are beneath the efforts of a Mr. Darcy. But many are just too good to keep to myself. So, I present you with my online interactions…

The Journey Begins

Lauren K. Ashler

DSC_0078_2

Life in my early 20s was all geared toward figuring out what I want in life. Many years later, I know what I want but finding it has been a completely different matter. From missteps in online dating to hiccups in my career, life is anything beside what I expected when I graduated from high school.

 

Long-term and long-distance relationships.

Sassy quips and heart-felt conversations.

The best and worst of my 20s.

 

This blog will help document my journey. Hopefully you get as much amusement from this experience as I do.  Δ