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I wasn’t interested in seeing anyone else. But I still logged on every day. OK, being totally honest here: A few times a day, usually. Always good for the ego to see who is checking out my online dating profile, scope which hotties (and grodies) gave me five stars.
Also: I wanted to see if he was online. Stalk him, if you must.
He told me straight out that he wasn’t seeing anyone else. In fact, he was brand-new to online dating. He confessed he’d held at bay a few other online prospectives for weeks until I returned from vacation for our first date (“I had a good feeling,” he said.)
When making dates, he would go to lengths to explain why a suggested time wouldn’t work: “I get out of work late then I need to take care of some business with my dad and then head to a friend’s birthday party. How about Saturday instead?”
Me? I was vague. “I have plans that night.”
Does that make me a bitch? A savvy dater? A vulnerable lover terrified of intimacy?
And so it went for a few weeks. Seeing a lot of each other. Texting most days. Learning each other’s rhythms and desires and childhood stories. He made me a playlist on Spotify. I cooked him dinner. He invited me to spend the weekend at the beach with his friends (“Yes, they invited both of us. I told everyone I know about you.”) Uncharacteristically, I dozed off in his arms.
Eventually, I felt cruel. “I’m not seeing anyone else, either,” I said, lounging one sunny Sunday morning.
But still, I logged on.
So did he.
I wanted him to get off first. Or to bring it up. I wanted to be the girl. I wanted him to pursue me. Like me more. Take the lead.
So I logged on.
So did he.
Oldest story in online dating: When to deactivate your account is the contemporary equivalent of exchanging class rings or changing your Facebook relationship status: It’s a big deal. Except it is a private declaration that can be done without any explicit agreement between the involved parties. I didn’t want to be like the stories I heard of people who disabled their accounts after a single date — the other party left confused and overwhelmed by the other’s instantaneous devotion. I also didn’t want to be my own self a few years ago when, after explicitly agreeing with a boyfriend to deactivate our accounts, to find him lurking online — and again, months later.
Now, in this digital standoff with someone I liked so much, I felt so silly. Petty and ridiculous. It was also torturous. Something had to give.
Ego in hand, I IM’d him one evening:
Me: I’ve been thinking about writing a blog post: “When to deactivate your online dating profile: The ultimate game of chicken”
Him: I’ve been thinking about that a lot, too. I’m interested in reading it.
Him: Well, I don’t know online dating decorum and when to get off. It seems like an emotional decision.
Me: Also, a practical one.
Him: I didn’t think about it like that.
Me: I think we’re playing chicken right now!
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