I’ve met two couples recently who met on online dating sites. I also met a couple who started out as pen pals from different countries. They’ve been together 5, 10 and over 40 (!) years, respectively, and seem pretty darn happy. What gives?
The 5-year couple’s story goes like this: The guy, Treasure Find-her, was online for a length of time—I can’t remember how long but, from his body language, I’d guess long enough to make it not fun anymore.
The gal—Let’s Do It!—was sort of online by default; her friend had signed her up and “forced me into it.” Let’s Do It! rolls her eyes for emphasis, while her now husband of 5 years, Treasure Find-her, takes a bite of his brunch. (Did I mention, we’re brunching?)
Anyway, Let’s Do It! is a busy lady and, although she has an adventurous spirit, she just wasn’t that into online dating. She scanned through the list of wooing emails, selected one, read it, read his profile, thought, “Not bad,” and replied. (Probably with something like, “Hey, I’m a busy lady so let’s not waste too much time.”) It’s the only email she replied to. Yes, cut to wedding bells.
They both agree that they didn’t think it would work out. There was attraction but not over-the-moon fairy sparks. Never mind, though, because to my trained eye (no qualifications whatsoever) they are totally BFFs.
(Okay, so now I’m paying attention.) Really.
They have some things in common (they don’t say what) and some things not so much, but they do their own thing, and they show interest in each other’s interests even in the ‘this is so not the thing for me’ things. (For instance: he likes rummaging for treasures [Read: other people’s junk]; she likes, wait what does she like? Anything fun. Everything, really.) Anyway, it’s working. He found the ultimate treasure, and she’s Let’s Do It!
Okay, next couple. They’ve been together 10 years. Same deal, they met online—well, sort of. I Entertain You’s GF found this guy, No Holds Barred, online and asked her, “What do you think?” What everyone in this threesome thought (or at least two of them) was that GF wasn’t the best match for No Holds. Nope, I Entertain You with No Holds was a hands down much better match.
But again, I Entertain You didn’t get those butterfly feelings right away with No Holds, partly because she had to wait for him to get out of the hospital (she’ll have to brief you on that one), but also partly because he didn’t fit her usual type (“no-damn-good-for-me”). But they got along great, and he made her laugh. (Gentlemen: don’t underestimate the power of a good guffaw.)
They have enough in common and enough of their own individual interests to keep things interesting while maintaining that healthy inter-dependence all couples should have. (Should = guilt word … Okay, then ‘that all couples would do well to have.’ Ugh.)
I Entertain You: “Don’t get me wrong, we’re still allowed to hate each other once in a while, but overall it works. It’s my all-time record!”
She goes on to tell me that they have a lot more activities and interests in common now because they were each willing to try out some of the things the other enjoyed, like softball and theatre. (I ponder this thought: “Try something new to please the one you love?” Blink blink. That’s so ridiculous it just might work. Hmph.)
Forty Plus couple. First: wow. Second: these two are as different as two people can get—I don’t get it! Other than their initial love of letter writing (by hand and snail mail in those days), I can only pick out one thing they have in common: their love of (their) children. But that can’t be it. Their kids are grown and long gone, so what holds them together still? I’ve seen them together—the fairy sparks are still strong.
I ask the artsy husband. He puts his hand on his hip and contemplates while leaning on the chair. (I’m at the coffee shop where I originally met him and his wife, Little Britt—a little cutie from England.)
Art: “Chemistry.” He looks off in the distance, thinking, then adds, “She lets me do my thing, and I let her do her thing. We don’t own each other …”
He goes into an esoteric explanation about how magnets with the same charge repel each other and how opposites attract and, though I understand the physics of what he is saying, I’m distracted by his lyrical gate, so I’m just nodding along.
Art: “It’s not always easy, but it is interesting.” His shoulders vibrate when he chuckles, which is often.
Me: “But what if you want to surf, and she doesn’t. I’m just not a water person. Err, I mean, you sail, and she doesn’t, right?”
He tells me how she’s a land lover and he’s a sea lover and goes back to how he does his thing and she does her thing, and somehow they remain lovers and the twinkle in his eye confirms his sincerity, and I’m half grinning and half frowning because it’s cute but doesn’t compute and somehow it doesn’t matter and we’re back to chemistry and “It’s elementary, my dear,” and I need to stop over-thinking and over-analyzing and spreadsheeting and “Go with the flow, my dear,” and I sip the last of my now cold decaf (I’m off the caffeine), whole milk (but not off the dairy) latte and off he goes and here I sit. Over-thinking, of course.
I think about my parents, who had a tumultuous and passionate love. They were only together 15 years when my dad died (miss you, Pops), but it was some of (maybe the) best years of their lives. They fought a lot—and loud—but they were also each other’s BFFs. They didn’t have everything in common: activities, ideals, other; but they never tired of each other’s company. They took enough interest in each other’s interests so that each felt validated, important, connected.
I remember my past relationships and wonder whether or not we had anything in common beyond intense physical attraction. (There’s that damn oxytocin again. Stupid bonding hormone, stupid orgasm.) Each man was different in many ways: interests, ideals, idiosyncrasies. None scored a passing mark on my aforementioned colour-coded, laminated, alphabetized, prioritized, dealmaker/dealbreaker spreadsheet. (OCD: one of my idiosyncrasies.)
In each case, we had some things in common and many things not so much (pot, porn, and pole dancers def definitely not on my list of interests), though I did try things that weren’t on my list of interests (pot, porn, and pole dancers—err, just kidding. Try something new to please the one you love? No? Sideways glance: Uh, next topic!) But the one thing they all did have in common is that they consider their partner their best friend and they don’t tire of each others’ company.
Anyway, as I touched on in a previous blog (“Why Being With Mr. ForNow is Preparing You for Mr. ForEver”), wherever we’re at in life, who we’re with is a reflection of us, whether we share common interests or not. I would like to add that I believe we attract our emotional equal. So maybe the better question isn’t “Are we activities/interests compatible?” but “Are we values/chemistry compatible?” Because from my extensive research (three couples and me), there’s no consistency otherwise, and even chemistry crashes without a solid foundation based on values. I guess when you find your BFF the rest doesn’t matter so much. (Pondering.) This will need more exploration.
What have I (re)learned?
Love cannot be processed, predicted or procured with colour-coded spreadsheets (damn it), but that spread-out-on-the-sheets bit can be procured, which sometimes suffices. (Indeed, my dear.)
Write a dating profile! Just for shits and giggles. An honest-to-goodness honest with good-heartedness this-is-my-date-me resume. I’ll not post it on any dating site, been there dumb that, not for me, I prefer organic, even though yeah, yeah everyone’s doing it and 30% are successful blah blah… Anyway, I’ll make clear (to me, if no one else) who I (think I) am and what I (think I) am looking for … something that can be handed out like a street flyer to be stapled to telephone poles, maybe with some colourful design aspects—marketing! I’m good at that. But keep it real—a poster that’s real honest, not real sexy way-better-than-it-is-sell-out-in-a-day-really-cool-buy-now! (Sitting up straight and smiling.) Note: if someone runs with this idea please make sure you put my website on the flyer. Note: all publicity is good publicity. Oh, also, remember slander is a federal¹ offensive, and I so will prosecute—refer back to ‘all publicity’ disclaimer.
Do not write dating profile, you idiot! (Slouching and frowning.)
¹I have no idea if slander is a federal offence, but it’s not nice.