Who Are You Going To Believe? Me or Your Lying Eyes?
Recently I found the courage to get back into the fray of online dating. I’d been a part of this scene most of last year. And I had started up again in the spring of this year. But, after several months, I felt like I was trapped in a horrible horror movie that kept repeating itself.
I had online conversations again and again with different men that led nowhere. A continual back and forth of hi, how are you. Like passing notes in high school. Or in-person dates that were often pleasant, but afterwards the men vanished, turning up three or four weeks later expecting to pick up where we left off as if we’d been in contact since the first date. If I were lucky, I’d get a text message saying what a beautiful person I was, inside and out, and then a confession. I’m not over my ex, so I can’t see you again, or I don’t really have time to start a relationship — some crap like that.
The Dating Fast
A little over two months ago, I’d stopped my search for Mr. Right. I had to. I’d fallen into the hopelessness and desperation that failing can bring about. I was aware that my energy was anything but attractive, and I needed to pull myself up and out before I’d be able to find someone who could be right for me. I needed to focus on my self.
Being open to experiencing new things and being vulnerable to share your heart is a great thing, but when you go from one defeat to another, it can close you up to love and remove all hope in the blink of an eye.
So I took time out for myself.
I started a self-love practice where each morning and night I tell myself I love myself while peering deeply into each eye, first the left eye, then the right, and then back to the left eye. Repeating this five times for each eye. This practice is amazing. It was like I was truly seeing myself for the first time ever!
I looked to my past and unearthed events where I felt I’d been wronged. I brought to mind the people I blamed. I recognized that they are not their actions and that if I knew the whole story I would have nothing but compassion for them. And I forgave them.
And I started telling myself the opposite of the negative things I had been affirming about my dating prospects. Instead of saying, no one in my area will ever measure up to my standards, I declared there are a ton of eligible, emotionally available men who are perfect for me right here near me. Instead of saying all the men on these dating sites won’t be interested in me, I affirmed that any man would be fortunate to date me. Little by little, my spirits lifted, and I began to believe in myself and the possibility of love again.
Back In the Game
So after two months of self-care and self-love, I ventured out again into the fray in search of a relationship that could lead to a life partnership. I was highly engaged yet unattached to the results of my virtual conversations and in-person dates. I approached it with more lightness and curiosity instead of grim-determined striving. And after only a day of having my newly written profile out there, I’d attracted some candidates with true potential. My hope began to take off.
I responded to the messages. I spoke to a few of these men by phone. And have even gone out with one so far since my fast ended ten days ago. It seemed my inner work had done the trick.
But then, I saw it: a second profile of Roger, a man with whom I was preparing to go on a date.
What game was he playing, I thought.
Though I wasn’t expecting exclusivity from him nor he from me (we had no agreement), the emails he had sent me were so deep and seemed so sincere. If he had a second dating profile on the same dating site, his authenticity and sincerity would be called into question. It felt like a lie, as if he were a player. I was hurt and felt annoyed with him and with myself for agreeing to meet this man.
Then a friend, with whom I shared this information, said, “When you see him, ask him about it. Come from a place of openness and assume positive intent. Don’t accuse him, but ask and find out!”
Fortunately, my date with Roger was several days away, and I could distance myself from the initial shock I’d felt at seeing this insult. I had created my intention to get to the bottom of it with detached involvement. Conflict has never been something I’ve enjoyed and in the past I have avoided having it. But I’ve grown so much that this was no longer an option. I’d have to ask.
The day of our date arrived, and I felt anxious about how I would broach the subject. There was a dog in the profile picture in question, so I could first ask if he owned a dog. If he did, perhaps I could ask to see a picture of the dog. But beyond this tact, I wasn’t sure how I’d ask this awkward question.
I met Roger for coffee. He wasn’t what I expected in person. He was a little shorter and older looking than I’d imagined, but I remained open. As we sipped our beverages, we talked about our jobs, our exes, our siblings, and pets that we’d owned.
“Do you have any pets,” I asked, feeling confident he’d tell me he owned a dog. But to my surprise, he didn’t have one. No dog that could have been the smoking gun I needed to prove he was playing games.
Our conversation continued, and it was pleasant. Roger was easy to talk with, and the more I got to know him, the more I thought that there might be a potential second date. I had to find the courage to ask that sticky question. “Do you have a second profile on that dating site?”
Then the conversation came around to our experience on the dating site. It was Roger who had brought it up, not me. I smiled to myself at this brilliant yet unplanned opening.
“I’ve been disappointed with the other women I’ve met in person from the site. That is,” he smiled, “until now.”
I smiled back, saying casually, “It’s been a challenge for me too.” I paused, breathing in deeply, and the said, “You know, I saw another profile with a picture that looked just like you. Do you have a second profile on the site?”
I was looking at him directly in the eyes, and he into mine. We had been for much of our conversation. Without hesitation, Roger said, “A second profile? No. I’ve only got one.” He looked a little confused as to why anyone would have two and went on to say, “When I was living in Lyon, my neighbor asked me why hadn’t spoken to him the day before. Roger had responded, “because I didn’t see you yesterday.”
The neighbor insisted it was him. After some clarifying questions, they both concluded it couldn’t have been Roger because he had been at work at the time of the sighting. A few days later, Roger himself came into contact with his twin at the apartment building. “This guy looked exactly like me. It was incredible!” Roger remarked.
His response was so genuine. He hadn’t batted an eye or looked away. I was convinced. So I accepted his answer without a second thought. Our date continued pleasantly, and we left it saying we’d see each other again.
Although I hadn’t given this profile question a second thought during our date, I had second thoughts when I arrived home. I truly believed Roger’s answer in that moment, but some part of me (the part that had seen this picture that looked exactly like him) didn’t.
So I went to the dating site and to the profile picture of a guy who called himself “Enzo.” I hadn’t clicked on the photo to reveal details of the profile before I’d met Roger, but now that I had, and he told me it wasn’t him, I felt I could. If I clicked on it and it turned out to be Roger, what could he say to me? And I’d have my answer once and for all!
I looked at the photo up one way and down the other. The English bull terrier in the picture obscured the bottom half of the man’s face, but the eyes and the balding head looked exactly like Roger’s. It had to be him.
I breathed in, and as I exhaled, I clicked on the profile to see if other pictures would confirm my suspicions or exonerate Roger.
I clicked past the main profile picture to photos of mountains and an ocean sunset, then on to two other images of this man, Enzo. I gasped at what I saw. Then a smile came upon my lips.
These pictures confirmed it wasn’t Roger after all.
How could I have been so wrong?
I came back to that main profile picture; it looked just like Roger. It was his double. Perhaps it was the man from that apartment building in Lyon.
When I saw this profile photo of Enzo, I expected to see Roger in it. And I did. Some part of me wanted Enzo to be Roger. I‘m not quite sure why. Perhaps for self-preservation. The picture was indeed striking, but the dishonesty I’d experienced in past relationships was something that was still with me. Perhaps it’s a healthy caution, or perhaps it’s another hang-up I must work on to resolve.
This experience was an essential lesson for me. Sometimes it is our eyes, not others, that deceive us. When in doubt, learn more. Assume positive intent. And don’t be afraid to ask difficult questions. Only then can I gain the information and develop the level of comfort I need to continue being open to the possibility of love.