The first one is the latter half of the letter I addressed a couple weeks ago in Ask Sarah – Damaged Goods.
He asked the question:
I guess the crux of my point is this: Is the idea of finding your true soulmate too hard, in this instant age of Facebook, Twitter, eHarmony, and all the others?
The next letter came from a woman:
How do you endure such crappy dates and dissapointments and not give up on dating all together?
Every time I’m reminded again how dissapointing my choices are, I run away. I suspend my online accounts and vow to become an old cat lady.
How do you endure the dismal dates and continue forward with optimism?
I love how the automatic corollary to finding the love of your life is always to “become an old cat lady.” Really? That’s the exclusive alternative? That’s the spectrum? Love on one end, running a feline menagerie on the other?
(Ever notice how Cat “Woman” is sexy and powerful, but Cat “Lady” is old and pathetic? I digress.)
The questions above seem to be not only- why keep believing in the efficacy of online dating,… but how to stay optimistic at ALL.
But, really, I think the issue is less about optimism and more about HOPE.
Ok – full disclosure… I’ve typed and retyped this post several times now. And in the spirit of authenticity, I should tell you – I’m really struggling with answering this question!
It’s not because I can’t think of a “cool” way to say it…it’s because, until now, I don’t think I’ve given much thought to the question of – how DO I keep up hope? And is it the same as being optimistic? Or… is it something more?
Is it just my cheery personality? Am I just wired to be hopeful? Or maybe it’s something else…
Part of me wants to say:
The difference between optimism and hope is this– Optimism says, “It’s all gonna end up fine, no matter how the evidence suggests otherwise. The reality of this world is that there’s a lot of suffering.
But, hope – unlike just thinking that the glass always half-full – hope has an ace in the hole. Hope has the (and yes…this is going to sound uber cheesy, but just hang with me for a few minutes)… Hope has the power of the human heart. Oh gag… wow…even knowing where I’m going with this, that sounds way too blindly inspirational to stomach.
So, ok — it has to be something other than simply the “power of the human heart.” Because, while in moments of national tragedy, when I see people behave with unbelievable kindness and sacrifice… I also know that a day or two later, those same people are privy to the same crankiness and despair that plagues us all. The same human spirit that prevails over heartache, also yells at their children days later, or tells a lie to save face, or…any other transgression that misses the mark of true goodness. Goodness exists – but right along with our heart’s natural tendency toward selfishness and rebellion.
No…hope can’t JUST be a product of the strength of the human heart…
So then another part of me wants to say:
I have hope because I believe God has someone for me. And surely he wouldn’t have created me with such big love in my heart only to let it stagnate with only a handful of cats to be the final recipients of my affection. Right?
But that argument breaks down really quickly …after all, he allowed me to be divorced, and that sucked pretty hard. And there are lots of lonely people out there – people HE created – who don’t ever find the love story they so desire. And then you get into the whole problem of evil …God doesn’t save millions of people from starvation and illness … how could I believe that I have some kind of relationship insurance just because he loves me?
No…there’s something more to hope. (Plus, I really don’t want to get into a theological debate in today’s post).
I dare say we are CREATED to be hopeful people. That doesn’t mean that it always works out the way we want. But, maybe HAVING hope IS the good thing. Getting what you want is just icing on the cake. Maybe the very virtue of being hopeful keeps us alive… I mean really alive.
And maybe all we’re ‘supposed’ to do – is ‘keep the faith’…that is, make choices for love, rather than out of fear?
Ultimately my answer may not satisfy some, but here it is:
I have hope because I HAVE to have hope.
For me… there really is no other option. Those Friday nights where I’m sitting alone on my couch and I feel those lonely thoughts creep in… the “I sure would like to have someone special here to snuggle up with me” thoughts…
should I just resign myself to that? Is that the answer?
If it comes down to surrendering to a life of loneliness or holding out hope that there’s someone out there for me… someone that can push past the insanely picky parameters I’ve set…then I have to choose hope every time.
So – yes – it’s a tautology…but that’s the best I can come up with – for ME, that is. I am a hopeful romantic. Hopeful because…I choose to be. I have to be. I’m not ready to succumb to a life of cats JUST yet. (Don’t get me wrong…I like cats… I just like the idea of a handsome man a bit more…)
And that brings us back to – can it be found online? And…what about all the bad dates?
Well – I don’t know if online is the answer…I just know it provides a filter that you can’t find anywhere else.
I’m still open to other things…
like friends setting me up. Ahem…
FRIENDS SETTING ME UP! hint…hint…
…as well as just meeting someone organically – at a bar, at church, at the DMV…. ha! Kidding…just seeing if you’re paying attention. Do NOT go out with anyone you meet at the DMV…..lawsa mercy…
So – let’s just say that the online option is just that – AN option…that’s all. It’s one of many avenues to potentially finding the one.
And as for the bad dates…well….THIS is why I blog. It’s a great outlet to vent my frustration and once I verbally vomit my misfortune all over all of YOU…. I can move on to being the hopeFUL romantic I naturally am. And hey – for every few bad dates, there’s a good one. May not be THE one… but good nonetheless.
I guess, in the end – bad dates, abysmal online profiles and photos, and all other manner of dating discouragement – are not enough to dissuade me from the necessary hope I have.
And here’s hoping it continues long enough for me to find a couch-snuggler of my own.