About the Experiment

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Digital Me vs. Real Me, and A Guy I'm Dating?

This experiment continues to surprise me, every week.

We wrapped up Chelsea's Matchmaker week, and it wasn't quite what either of us expected.  Our goal was physical attraction, we'd put up a photo that showed my curves a little more, and hoped that boom we'd get some good messages.  Instead, we got a lot of messages from far away: not just Tennessee and Nevada, but also France and Turkey.  I'm not interested in a long-distance relationship so they're all not viable Bachelor options, and it seemed strange to have a sudden influx of long-distance messages.

Chelsea had asked me to respond to messages this week, although we would discuss the guys and messages beforehand.  There were a few guys that I'd sent messages with and seemed cool, but they lived too far away (in California, but 20+ miles away) so they ultimately didn't make the cut.

So Chelsea picked one guy:
Bachelor #12: He'd sent a message that he was reading the blog and answered the OkTrends Compatibility Questions that I'd written about way back in Date #1: Week 1 Bachelor #1, then he and I traded a few messages about traveling.  He hadn't responded to the last message I'd sent, but we figured we'd send him a "You've Been Picked" message and see if he responded.

There were a few interesting things that came up with her choice:
1) I see it as a good sign when a guy has read at least some of the blog.  I talked about it a bit in Date #6: A (Whoa) Romantic Date with Bachelor #9 and now I've seen it a few times.  There are logical compatibility reasons: I want to be with someone who likes my work, and if someone likes the blog they probably like my sense of humor.  And it's a little ego boost, which doesn't hurt!  I'm not necessarily interested in every guy who reads the blog, but it's an interesting trend.

2) Bachelor #12 is 25 and according to OkCupid "Non-Monogamous."  Bachelor #9 is also 25 and non-monogamous.  Wtf?  (Mom, that stands for "Where's the Fun?" Don't look it up.)  Chelsea had originally considered 25 "not age appropriate" (I'm 28) but had given the ok when I told her that B#9 was 25 and we'd had great dates.  I hadn't noticed that B#12 is non-monogamous, Chelsea pointed it out.  That is a compatibility issue, but more on that later.

Bachelor #12 promptly replied to the message that Chelsea had picked him.  He said he'd meant to reply to the previous message, but had a fever and then got hit by a car.  He's busy catching up on work this weekend but next weekend should work.  Uh...alright!  Getting hit by a car doesn't usually seem like an "I'll be fine next weekend" incident, but I guess I will ask him for more details about it if we do schedule a date.

I was a little bummed that we only had one new Bachelor, and he was unavailable for a bit.  Chelsea and I are looking into Singles Mixers and Speed Dating events to see if we can find an interesting one.  She also is going to ask a friend of her if he would go on a friend date with me, we'd met once and he thought the experiment was interesting.

However, the day after Chelsea had made her choices (but before we got the new Matchmaker profile up) a new guy sent a message.  I took particular notice of it because he had also sent me an Instagram Follow Request (my Instagram is private), and my Instagram is not connected to the OkCupid profile.  He looked cool and he also works in Film & TV, but I couldn't figure out how he had found my Instagram account.  I was a little weirded out, but also intrigued.  The internet is all public so I couldn't be mad/offended that he'd made the connection, I just wanted to know how.  I posted on Facebook about it to see if a friend had connected us (I've been asking people to make real-life Matches) but no one claimed it.

And then I realized, I could just ask him.  Whoa, novel idea!  So I sent him a message, politely asking how he'd made that connection.  I figured there was a 75% chance he would not respond, because I know it could be seen as me "calling him out."  But he did respond!  He said that in Google Chrome, if you right click there's an option to Search Google For This Image, he'd done that with my photos on OkCupid and found my Instagram.  As a former personal assistant, I thought I knew all the tricks to internet research/stalking, but this was something new!  I also really liked that he was honest about it.

I checked in with Chelsea about it, and she approved him to be Bachelor #13.  For the record: he's 26, and doesn't list on his profile whether he's monogamous or non-monogamous.  Also for the record: what's up with all the younger dudes?  I'm not a puma yet, right?

Bachelor #13 and I exchanged a few messages in which he made a joke about a certain TV show (Edit: I checked with him and he said it's ok to use divulge that the TV show is Community) so I made a joke about that TV show, then he told me that he actually used to work on said TV show and was speaking on a panel at a convention for that show this weekend.  Would I want to be his guest at the convention?  Um, YEAH!  I'm not generally into conventions (I've never been to Comic-Con and don't plan to go) but a smaller convention about a show I like?  Yes.  Getting to meet a guy in his element?  Double yes.  I was pretty excited.

He'd said he preferred to instant message a bit before meeting up with someone, so we chatted for a while and got to know each other.  Most of the Bachelors and I have talked on the phone and texted before we met up, and it was interesting how instant messaging is a bit different.  We talked about our jobs (we both work in Film & TV but in different types/capacities), we're both problem-solvers, and we were able to make each other laugh (which is always good).

As we talked, a few things came up that showed he'd been doing some internet research about me.  Nothing that took an extraordinary amount of searching: looking me up on IMDB, looking up the movie I'm working on, and following me on Twitter.  But he's the first Bachelor to do such (or at least to tell me), and it caught me off guard.  And as someone with a Rubber Ball Heart it triggered my flight reflex a bit.  I like when a guy reads the blog, so why did this seem strange?  The OkCupid profile has a link to the blog, but it takes more effort for a guy to do independent research on me.  And connecting via multiple social media platforms rang of that velocity that sends me into Rubber Ball mode, it made me feel a little cornered.  But I figured it was intended as a compliment, he was trying to get to know me and my work.  I didn't think he was going to show up at my front door unannounced, so what was I concerned about?

I realized one reason it made me nervous was because I didn't want to be in the shadow of my online self.  What if Real Life Me is a disappointment compared to his impression of me from the blog/Instagram/Twitter/IMDB/Youtube, etc.?  I never try to misrepresent myself, but all of those are just representations, they aren't actually me.  You are not your Facebook profile.  And if someone gets to know Digital Me before Real Me, could that get in the way of them really getting to know Real Me?  I prefer to get to know someone in person, and it's interesting to see the different ways people get to know each other.

I also can be a bit guarded about my personal history.  My life has taken some unusual twists and turns and I am very grateful for the experiences I've had, but I feel some of it needs a bit of context.  For example, I've spent quite a bit of time with both anarchists and movie stars (separately) and I like people to get to know me a bit before I talk about either of those parts of my life.  Again, those aren't me.  My past influences who I am, but there are a lot of pieces to the puzzle (just like everyone else).  Also then I can tell if someone treats me differently after they hear those stories.  But I'm working on making peace with my history, and that I don't have to carefully choreograph the reveal of information with every new person I meet.  So it's an interesting test to have someone find out so much so quickly!

I went to a party with friends that night and they were saying that I needed to tell B#13 that I was getting a bit overwhelmed.  That's not my normal course of action, and I struggled with how to say it in a way that didn't sound like, "Dude back off, you're freaking me out."  But as with most of these conversations that I get so worried about, it actually went well.  He was glad to get feedback, and I also asked him to be open and communicative with me.  I dread this type of conversation but feel so much better after it's done, and that encourages me to keep starting those Awkward But Necessary talks.  Is this what growing up feels like?


I also wanted to give an update on Bachelor #9, since I'd written that he and I had the first 3rd date of the experiment planned.  Before the date, a friend had been questioning why I wanted to be in a monogamous relationship.  I initially got defensive, then decided to really look at "Why Monogamy?"  Was it just because society told me to want that?  Turns out, no.  I realized that since I've been single for so long, being in a relationship will be very challenging for me.  I would rather just deal with that stress and not also be dating at the same time.  Since B#9 is already in a relationship I would have to be looking for other partners, and the idea of dealing with the stress of a relationship and the stress of dating new people at the same time sounds awful to me.  I admire people who have that much emotional energy, but it ain't me babe.  Also, when I'm really honest with myself, I've been in several open relationships over the years.  Not Poly, not emotionally mature and communicative relationships, and I didn't usually even call them relationships.  But that's part of what I've been wanting to move away from.  I haven't been in a committed, monogamous relationship in 6 years, but the only way to find out if that's what I want is to try.

This created a conundrum with Bachelor #9: he's in an open relationship and I don't want to be in an open relationship, but we really enjoy spending time together.  So we've decided to continue dating while the experiment is going (since I will already be dating other people).  Yes I recognize that it's a bit odd to say that I don't want to be in an open relationship, so I'm going to be in an open relationship for a short period of time.  But it didn't make sense to me to say, "I met this really awesome guy but I'm going to choose to never see him again."  I think there are things that B#9 and I can learn from each other, and I look forward to that.

And even this step has brought up new questions that I haven't thought about in a long time, such as:

-Where's the line between going on dates with someone, dating someone, and being in a relationship? 
-When do you say you're "seeing someone" or "dating"?  (Even if you're dating other people too.)
-If we're not going on a Date Date can I wear yoga pants?
-At what point do you stop counting dates?  

I hadn't had a third date in at least a year, and I don't think I've ever had a fourth date with someone I met on OkCupid.  All the relationships I've been in were with guys I met at school or work, or through friends.  There was rarely official dates until we were actually in a relationship, before that we were just "hanging out."  I've made an effort to use B#9's real name when talking about him to my family and friends, and the other day needed to clarify to a friend and stumbled over my words as I said, "The guy I'm dating?  Or seeing?  Or going on dates with?"  I've done this a few times now and it entertains me.  I know it doesn't matter what I call B#9, but it's nice to be asking the question.  It's unfamiliar territory for me, and I'm glad to exploring new frontiers in the world of dating!

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