Finding love at my age is a completely different endeavor than I ever might have imagined. I find myself surrounded by swarms of attractive and successful men — and they all seem to be married. Or gay. I guess, in a way, it’s like it seemed in my twenties…times ten. So, naturally, I’ve ventured online.

And the online game is largely one of filtering. Filtering out the jerks and misogynists for sure, but probably adding in a few too many random and irrelevant criteria, as well. Take, for instance, one of the fellows pursuing me now:  I literally have to force myself to keep an open mind because I don’t like the suburb he lives in, the car he drives, his education or his career. Yet if I met a guy who was as nice and good-looking and seemingly emotionally mature in real life, I wouldn’t place quite as much importance on those things.

Online dating simply serves to exacerbate the filtering, the judgments and the show-me-what-you-got attitude. If I wasn’t conscious of approaching dating that way before (because, frankly, I don’t believe that I did), I sure as heck see an unlikeable dimension of myself emerging the more I meet people online. I haven’t made it easy on most of my dates!

But what I’m really getting at is that I can continually add criteria and easily dismiss dozens of men over the course of a year and then, BAM! the guy who’s short, not particularly handsome, doesn’t live in the city and is not even particularly available (given his custody situation) can simply circumvent all of my defenses — all the criteria and filtering and requirements — and get straight to my heart without even trying. Against my better judgment, I’ve developed feelings — for only the second time in a year (and the first was a miserably failed experiment, I can tell you!) — that cause me to open myself to possibility, to hope, to taking risks, to the willingness and, yea, likelihood of making a complete ass of myself.

Instead of that show-me-what-you-got attitude I find myself copping when I meet a man online, I’m evaluating what I have to offer this fellow, wanting to meet half way, seeing him as he is and caring for him anyway — regardless of where he lives or what he drives or what he looks like — and wondering if any of my gifts might appeal to him in the way that he appeals to me. I’ve been described as a strong woman, and I know I can be a hard woman, as well. But I melt in this man’s presence. And that’s a rare enough feeling for me to take notice.

The problem:  despite his having kissed me recently, I have no idea how he feels toward me. Clearly attracted…

I’ve spent entire days agonizing about it — and, by that, I mean the glorious agony of desire or unrequited love — and I’ve come to a decision:  if the opportunity arises, I will tell him how I feel. I’m not going to stress about it; I’m going to keep on being me. I’ll flirt and be fun and kind, but I’m not going to lower my standards or become some sort of contortionist in an effort to reel him in. Perhaps he has feelings for me and perhaps he doesn’t…no matter; there’ s nothing for me to do about it. Regardless, hearing his voice and being playful with him is the best part of my day.

So I will go on feeling completely, utterly defenseless. Honestly, I suspect practicing this genuine, open vulnerability will be good for me.

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