Monday, December 1, 2014

Do you believe in love at first sight?

I hope so.

I always thought I didn't. In fact, there have been some dark days when I wasn't sure I believed in love period, at least not as a part of my life. I knew other people experienced it, but I was pretty convinced it wasn't something I'd ever get in on.

Luckily I've gotten over that hurdle. But I'm still stuck on this love-at-first-sight thing. 

I guess it depends on how you define "first sight." The 1940s movie idea that you can somehow fall for a person after exchanging glances at a distance without even speaking to each other? That seems a highly improbable to me. I mean, sure, he might look super hot from across a crowded room but then what if it turns out he's completely full of himself? So not attractive. 

And if he looks like a nerd from across the room, which I happen to find even more attractive most of the time, there's really no way to tell if he's a nice nerd with decent conversation skills and a witty, sarcastic sense of humor or if he's actually a psycho killer with zero social skills who's trying to lure you in by masquerading as a glasses-wearing intellectual.

On the other hand, I can definitely believe in like at first sight. As in knowing that you want to get to know this person after only exchanging one or two sentences. That's happened to me before. I suppose that's more like chemistry than anything else. All I know is, it happens every once in a long while and it's super fun when it does. 

I seriously love that—when you meet someone new and you just instantly get along. It's pretty rare for me. You'll see why.

Generally speaking, I go through about six phases of getting to know someone.

1. The initial meeting/first impression. Most of the time I misjudge people at this phase. I'm not kidding. I'm terrible at this. My first impression of someone is wrong at least 68 percent of the time. Sometimes it's spectacularly off. When I first met my now-best-friend of seventeen years, I thought she was rude and devious and that she hated me. Turns out none of that was true. Thank goodness.

2. The apathetic phase. My primary love language is time. That may not mean anything to you, but what it tends to mean for me is that I often don't start caring about someone until we've spent some time together. Until that happens, you're on my periphery. I don't really give a fig what you think about me. I'll be polite, but reserved. I'm sort of waiting to see if you'll stick.

3. The lightbulb moment. This typically happens about three or four months after I first meet someone. Something clicks and I think, "Oh, I actually like him (or her)." It could be an especially funny joke he made or a time she let her guard down. It's a nice moment though. It's the moment I think, "This is the start of something. We really are friends now."

4. The awesome friends part. I LOVE this part. Friends are the best. All you have to do now is breathe a sigh of relief. You made it to the good stuff. Until . . .

5. The not-at-all-awesome maybe-we're-more-than-friends part. I HATE this part. (Obviously at this point, we're moving from platonic friendships with guys and girls to just talking about boys . . . er . . . men. Male people. Whatever.) Anyway, this part is the worst. I hate it because you just don't know. You don't know anything. You don't know if they like you as only a friend or if they like you as more than a friend and either way you don't know if it matters because even if they do like you they may not be willing to do anything about it and then you're stuck wondering if they're waiting for you to make a move or if you should just accept that this is a lost cause and try to move on with your life. See what I mean? It's the pits. I hate getting stuck here in limbo. And yet, I do get stuck here All. The. Time. Not cool, universe. Not at all cool.

6. Oh, so we're dating now. To be honest, this phase has only officially happened once in my life, but I'm pretty sure that if/when it ever happens again, it will most likely take me by surprise. Again. 

Why do any of you care about this? You probably don't. Sorry. But I've been thinking about it a lot because for one thing my dad was here last week and wanted to know why I'm not dating more and for another thing, I started up the online dating thing again a few weeks ago. 

I know. Online Dating: SO. LAME. But I have to admit, it hasn't been that bad. I've done it before so I'm over all the initial squickiness and I know what warning signs to look for and how to stay away from serial killers, etc. Now it just gets down to the actual mechanics of the thing. 

Frankly, I'm not sure I'm cut out for this. But whatever. It's not like I fare much better in real life so . . . yeah.

In terms of sheer numbers, online dating makes sense. I rarely meet single people in my offline life right now. Seriously, I pretty much go to work (99 percent girls or married guys), church (family ward), and the gym. And I'm not a social gym person. I've got my earbuds in the entire time I'm there. 

So it's nice to have a sort of built-in mechanism to remind myself that there are actual males out there. And some of them are single. And some of those single ones are genuinely cool, interesting people. 

One benefit of online dating is that if my initial impression comes from reading something someone wrote about himself, there's less of a chance that I'll get it wrong (assuming people are generally honest). Instead of misreading his expression from across a crowded room, I'll just read about how he loves working out and hates books. And then I'll move on to the next profile. But seriously, there is something to be said for having the opportunity to get to know someone before I get tripped up by my own awkwardness or my bad judgment.

On the other hand, online dating is . . . ugh. It's so hard. I hate it. Whine, whine, whine. Grumble, grumble. 

Okay fine, it's not that bad. If it were, I'd stop doing it. 

It's just that most of the time it takes just as long online as in real life to find someone you actually like. And the chances of him liking you back are also similar to real life, with maybe a slightly better edge online because:

a. Presumably he's also on this site because he's actively looking for a relationship—not the case with most guys you meet on the street (or even in the singles' ward).
b. You've already eliminated some key unsuitability factors by limiting your search criteria.
c. There's less commitment involved. If it doesn't work out, no worries. You never have to see him again. Unlike real life where that guy you went on one or two dates with is still in your ward or at work or in your group of friends. Awkward.

Honestly, online or not, dating of any kind is a pain and a half. It wouldn't be worth it at all if the reward at the end wasn't so great. For reals, though.

I guess that means I do believe in love at first sight because I have to hope that there's something easier than this long and drawn out process that I usually go through. But even if there's not, what I really need to hope for is courage. I hope that when it's right I'll either have the fast burst of courage to jump into something new with both feet. Or that I'll have the long drawn-out courage to not give up on the process and to keep my chin up when nothing seems to be working.

Whether it's love at first sight or love at five-hundredth sight, I have to keep believing in love. Life would be pretty darn boring without it. 

And besides, a little heartbreak is good for the soul. Trust me, I would know. You don't get to age thirty still single without getting your heart broken.

But it's okay. It's life. It happens. And the good moments make it all worth it.

Or at least that's what I hope.

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