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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!
Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post’s ‘Must Read” list.
Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.
A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.