In the late ’90s and early 2000s, Internet dating was in its infancy. I was always someone who enjoyed computers, knew how to build them, how to manipulate them. Shy, too, I thought that the best way for me to “land a man” would be by using this new technology to find the relationship of a lifetime.
Well, it didn’t go very well at first. In fact, it sucked. I would write to someone and never hear back. Someone would write to me, and they would be twice my age. I would talk to someone for a while, thinking we had a good thing going, and then they’d disappear. It was all very frustrating.
One time, I found a guy on a message board. It didn’t matter that he lived thousands of miles away. It didn’t matter to me that he was emotionally unstable. The relationship was passionate and crazy, and I have to admit I was a little obsessed. He ignored me a lot, and that just made me chase him harder. I cried when I didn’t hear from him. Eventually, I grew a backbone, got some self-respect, and told him that I couldn’t do this anymore. The jerk reacted with the same apathetic shrug that typified our entire relationship.
Instead of being devastated, I redoubled my efforts to find love online. I put my profile on every site that would allow me to put it up for free, including many that are still in existence today. I met some guy who was alright, but I didn’t feel anything all that exciting for him.
About 10 days after I broke things off with the apathetic jerk, I got an email from a man who lived about two hours from my home. It was from one of those profiles that I had posted and quickly forgot about. The writing was beautiful. He spoke of oceans and wanting to cross great distances if necessary to find love.
Something intrigued me about this man. Something pulled me in with those words, and I felt something I never had before. Here was someone sincere, someone looking for a best friend as well as a partner.
Throwing caution to the wind, I dropped everyone else that I was talking to and focused on him.
Talking to this man, whose name I learned was Chip, I found that I could be myself. At the time, instant messaging was the big thing, and we spent a lot of time talking to each other that way. He didn’t make me feel like he was doing me a favor talking to me. I could tell that we enjoyed talking, and we had a great deal in common.
I felt so connected to Chip, but I didn’t feel that desperate neediness that I felt with the first guy. I was at ease and more myself. Eventually, we talked on the phone and spent hours sharing our respective stories, talking about our favorite books, and discussing fantasy and science-fiction movies.
We exchanged pictures, and he found me attractive. As someone with very low self-esteem, I was elated by this. I saw his picture, too, and I thought he was cute. He had the nerdy look about him -- thick glasses, square face -- that I always found attractive. I was hooked, but it was healthy.
I’m not sure when I fell in love with him, but it was long before I met him in person.
We met about two months after we started talking, at a Barnes and Noble near my house. I remember being so nervous about seeing him, wondering if I would like him, wondering if he would like me. Coming through the door, his face was red from the cold January wind. He looked out of breath, but so handsome. Unfortunately, he didn’t wear his glasses, but opted for contacts. It didn’t matter. I still thought he was one of the most handsome men I'd ever met. We hugged, we talked, we were giddy on the high of just being together.
I’m also not sure when I knew he would become my husband. It was probably on our third date -- the first time he kissed me -- as we looked out over the beautiful view of Pittsburgh from a look out on Mount Washington. As he held me in the cold, I felt like I had come home. I was finally where I belonged with the person I was meant to be with.
Six months later, my mother died, and I decided there was nothing for me in Pittsburgh. I wanted to be with Chip, and I was willing to leave behind friends and family for him. I moved to Erie, bringing along my 13-year-old sister, and never looked back. We lived together for a while, and then married about two years later. That was ten years ago, and I don’t regret a single moment of the love affair that still makes my heart speed up when we are together.
Online dating is 100% responsible for helping me find the man who ultimately turned out to be my soulmate. Yes, it was spirit-crushingly difficult to finally find him. I tried those sites for years! But in the end, I found someone worth more than I could ever dream, and I would do it all again.
Don’t give up on online dating, and don’t dismiss someone for offhand reasons. You never know who may be the one to fulfill all your needs. Chip isn’t perfect, but he’s perfect for me. If I hadn’t experienced the heartbreak, I never would have had the chance to find the happiness that I now enjoy.