When I share these stories with my girlfriends, they always crack laughing.. I hope that some of these stories would make you laugh too, and I am sure that many of you will connect to them as well!
A couple of years ago, and as I vented to a male friend of mine about the agonies of being single, he suggested joining a match-making website. He had recently moved from the US, and specifically mentioned a website that he believed was very popular and that gave results, most of the times.
I don't usually check these websites. I guess I felt too bored with my single life, and also a bit inspired by a friend of mine who got married to a wonderful guy that she met on a similar website, that I decided to join that website.
So I set up my profile, and took my time doing so. I meant serious business, so I wanted to make sure I listed all that I am, and all that I wanted. I also had to pay money (foolish, I know) which I did.
Every other day, the website would email me a list of the 'candidates' they chose for me. Most matches were in Europe or the US, but I decided I would worry about that when I got to it. Some were Arabs, most were not. I also decided to cross that bridge when I reach it..
So, once a candidate was proposed, I would go through their profile, then there's a list of 'Must Haves' and 'Deal Breakers' that we both exchange, before having access to email each other on the website. It felt like the old days when the internet was very new and chat rooms were the big hit of that decade.. I felt silly, but.. Have I mentioned I felt lonely?
Most of the candidates were horrible.. Some had no shame posting what they were looking for was a physical relationship.. A couple asked where I resided and would I help with a visa? Some barely spoke English (or Arabic, for that matter) and some delightful ones filled their profile with dots.. I guess they wanted the anticipation to build up so much..
The bottom line was I had paid $200 for a year of crap emails.
Towards the end of the year, a profile that almost looked normal showed up. It was of a guy who lived in the states, but was an Arab. He mentioned his friends had set up the profile for him to push him to start dating, and that he was serious in his search.
After the initial exchange of basic information, we started emailing each other. He was 32, has been living in the US for 10 years, and worked in a family-owned restaurant chain. He seemed to have good sense, and a light sense of humor. He was the only 'normal' person that I have come across on that website.
So, the emails started, and we clearly defined what we want from the 'potential' relationship. He mentioned that in due course, he would arrange for a trip for us to meet. I even told my mom about him.. I wasn't emotionally attached to him at all, but I thought, well.. People meet in so many different ways after all..
A couple of weeks after we started talking, we moved to exchanging phone numbers. He called me a couple of times, and we texted a lot. So far, so good.
By the end of the 2nd week of us realizing we exist on this planet, this guy told me he loves me.
I don't panic when someone tells me they love me. But when someone who has known me as words on a screen in a virtual world tells me they love me after 2 weeks, I simply don't believe it. Well, he said that he knows that it is too soon and unrealistic, but this is it, he feels it, he knows it.
Then, the suffocation began.
I would receive up to 30 texts a day, and most of them were the 'what are you doing' or 'I miss you' messages.. Some were also the forward messages that I personally hate, those with butterflies and moon and stars and lots of stuff that even as a teenager made me laugh..
Anyway, I (and my lovely best friend) tried to reason that he was trying to do the best that he could considering we live so far away from one another.. I waited, even when I didn't like how things were, until we meet. I didn't want to be judgmental.
My reasoning, if you are wondering, was that impressions are difficult to form over a phone call or an email. Maybe this guy was not as expressive as I was.. Maybe he'll turn out to be ok, there was no harm in waiting it out.. I also made it very clear, politely, that us meeting does not commit either one of us yet. I just wanted to meet, to see if we would have a good feel about each other. He agreed heartily, and said that of course, it was illogical to think otherwise.
A couple of months later, after a lot of emails, skype calls and texts, the guy told me he was planning to come see me. While we were discussing it, trying to arrange for the best time for him to come over, he mentioned he was placing his car on sale.
So I asked him, casually, if something was wrong with the car, or was he planning to replace it with another one.. And he said: No, I can only afford the ticket to come see you, if I sell the car.
But NO PRESSURE.
Pressure, or no pressure, and since we seemed to be 2 mature people who are thinking of a future together, and since there were no feelings involved, at least from my side, I had the right to know certain things.. So I asked him, politely again, and choosing my words cautiously, how much does he make and if he has any savings..
This is uncomfortable to talk about with anyone, let alone someone you have never met. But this guy said he was serious so many times before. He had even a time frame.. Like saying: if all goes well, I would come in July, again in January, and then we can get engaged in summer. If all goes well, we would get married next year summer time.
So he seemed to be a guy with a plan, right? He was 32, so he should know what he is talking about.
He said he makes $1,000 a month. He doesn't have savings but he plans to start saving soon. He doesn't have a university degree but is planning to get one soon.
Ok, this was way too awkward for me..
I asked him to hold on buying the ticket, and let us discuss it later.
I was shocked, I truly was. I don't know if I was too naive, but to me, it just didn't make sense. I emailed him next day, and I really really made sure I was very polite and that I wouldn't say anything that would hurt his feelings, but that I can't commit and get married and move all the way to the US, under those circumstances. I made sure that I mentioned that I understand that every one has their own story, I just don't feel that I can be a part of his, even though I respect it.
The lashing that I got was unbelievable.
This guy didn't respond for a couple of days, and then finally came his email. (I am so tempted to sharing the whole email here, but I won't, I don't want to be sued one day)
He started his email telling me that I have got to wake up, it is 2011. He says that I should consider myself lucky because someone loves me, and that I should basically bow and express my relief that someone has finally agreed to look at me (ok, these are my words..)
Then, and listen close to this please, he said that he needed to make it clear that, although he had said: I love you (and we had discussed it the time), he wants me to understand that that doesn't mean he is in love with me. He said if I don't understand the difference between the two terms, then it is not his problem. He also clarified that when he said 'I love you' he didn't actually mean it, but he wanted me to feel better about him, and put me at ease.
He said my 'insecurities' are ruining things between us, and that I have to get rid of past hurts (which we have not discussed, by the way) and that when I wake up from my dreams, I would know where to find him.
Do I really need to comment?
Actually, I want to, because I never replied back to him and told him what I really thought, because the moment I got his email, I realized it was no longer about him. But those words have been stuck in my throat since then.
I am a 30 year old woman, who has worked on myself, since my adulthood started. I worked hard to get a respectable university degree, I took job after job after job, to get to where I am. I live alone, and miss my family, because I am building a career and a future. I have savings, which means that I control my spending and that I plan my next steps. I do not come from a rich family, nor was I raised with a spoon of gold. I took responsibility of my life whenever I had to, and even when it was not fun at all.
And here comes a man, who not only underestimates all that, as if it was nothing, but who also wants me to quit all I have so far done, and follow him, thanking my lucky stars because he loves me (regardless of what that means because I still don't see the difference between that and in love with me!) and to pretend that nothing else in the world matters, aside from having a 'man' in my life.
He actually expected me to respond and apologize when I get my wake up call, he felt self righteous about it. It is honestly mind boggling to me.
Let's reverse the situation here..
Let's say a man and a woman meet 'virtually' and then the man finds out something about the woman that he doesn't approve, something that would affect their planned future together.. Would she say: Thank God you found someone to love you? You are old and no one wants to be with you?
Does the society allow her to say so? Why then does it allow men? Why is this guy's story not the first or the last that I have come across?
I do not believe that men and women are equal. I believe each was made uniquely and with specifications that the other can't have. I believe that neither is better than the other. I don't believe being of either gender means, by default, that one is superior to the other, or that their actions won't matter any more.
This story makes me laugh, at someone who tries to steal away my feelings of achievement, and my pride in what I have earned. It also makes me smile at the fact that some men's egos are too big for it to fit, along with common sense. It is one or the other, with some men.
As Oprah once said, all men are not dogs.
Some just bear too much of a resemblance though..