Blog by Yessica Maher, los Angeles Native.

She explores life after marriage, starting a career in her late 30's, relationships, breaking cycles of abuse, online dating, self care, fertility and depression. 

It's all over the place, but so is living. 

The Vulnerability of Men

Last week my online dating frustrations hit a point where I was whining to my big sister.  She was online dating for a bit and reminded me that our step brother found a wife on Ok Cupid and we all adore her. We were talking about the men that send pictures of private parts or ask for those pictures.  We talked about the conversations that get pulled aggressively into non consenting sex over a WiFi connection.  Those men never get in touch with me again. These things just appear to be the cost of the convenience of meeting someone without going out to do so.  Our talk was one where my perspective was shifted.  I was putting too much care into finding the right person to kill time with. I had my heart set on going out with someone and the ideas of where that would lead are still uncomfortable for me.  It's a nebulous idea that dances at the edge of consciousness and my calm has been in looking at profiles because looking is easier than leaping into another life of being with someone and the good and bad that come with it.

On Match, I wasn't getting many responses. I have hundreds of views each day, but not many people that want to talk or express interest.  I reached out to a few people, but realized that most of the people I was matched with are not actually visiting the site anymore.  Their idea of who sees you filters down to; seeing, clicking on and viewing, liking, winking and messaging.  It looks better on paper than in reality because in reality, many can look, but without a subscription, can not talk to me.  I have more responses and emails on OK Cupid, and a little more fun as well.  They have quiz questions that read into personalities and that helps with matching.

I have gotten messages but they fall into categories of NO.

The really cute ones that are submissives looking for a dominant woman to humiliate them with a strap on  - "You are truly beautiful, but not for me."

The boys that are 21 and 22, and unafraid of rejection.   - "You are cute as a button but I don't date younger men."  - They are persistent.  - "Really, I have a 14 year old and have been able to buy my own booze almost as long as you have been alive.  Hard pass sweetie.  Thanks for the ego boost." They tend to believe in a friendship that will convince me I want more and they ply me with words like "gorgeous, beautiful, goddess." There are a couple I will communicate with in kindness, but there is no interest on my part. I decided I will not date men that are younger than me. I was wrong in my ideas of being a shameless cougar.  I can't do it. She's not me.

There are a few requests from other cities and countries.  I am only looking to date someone in my city because that's the point of finding someone to spend time with. I want to spend time with them. What they are offering is not my idea of dating.

There are the older men.  I won't go above 45, but I've had a lot of requests from men in their 50's and 60's and even an 80 year old.  These men are persistent and ask for a chance.  They'd probably treat me well, but they aren't what I'm looking for.  I give my appreciation and say I'm too uncomfortable with the age gap and wish them well.

Men that want to talk about sex, and have a tantrum because I won't send pictures of my body parts: I block them or ignore them.  It usually comes with another tantrum.

There is one that I'm allowing to think he means a lot to me. It's an externalized abuse for my internalized issues.  When I met my ex, I was dating 7 different men.  I let them all go for my Mr. Right, but at the time, it was a balancing act.  This was when cellphones were about calling, and not about texting.  This was when people were still using pagers.  I would doodle through every call, and make sure to keep track of details about our conversation.  This man I'm texting is emailing pictures of himself to me and acting like I'm the one that holds the key to his forever, but I can hear his missed details in repeating conversations with me, as if it's a rehearsed script and he's lost his place.  He tells me how amazing I am and that I'm his priority and he wants to be mine, but I can hear the false ring to his words and know he's putting in a lot of work and will be disappointed but it's his choice to mask his polyamory habits so I can be the evil person I don't want to be because he deserves it.  That's my justification.  I'm sticking to it. Besides, he is many cities away and I turned him down flatly.  Is it my fault he isn't interested in what I want in his proposed relationship with my pictures? Maybe.  Maybe I should just cut off contact.

There were a couple of men that are looking for their forever.  They are well off and situated in life and looking for someone special.  I tell these men that I'm not the person they are looking for.  I have baggage that will look like I'm playing games and they deserve more than I am capable of offering, but I wish them all the best in finding the right woman. They tend to respect my answer. There's something beautiful about these rejections.  There's something in the vulnerability of their honesty and their desire for a connection.  There's something in me saying that I am not in a position to start a relationship that they would find fulfillment in.

I pass on military men.  They are a special breed of human willing to set aside their needs and wants for freedoms I can't imagine not having.  They live by rules I don't and deserve more than I'm willing to offer.  My Dad is a Vet from Vietnam.  I remember PTSD as that thing that makes me wake him up by shouting from far away because his fists wake up before he does.  It's that thing that makes him forget names and dates because the trauma that feels as fresh as yesterday reminds him that those he meets may be gone in 5 minutes.  I remember fireworks shaking terror into him and Thanksgiving meals that looked a lot like doomsday threats to unsuspecting boyfriends.  I remember the slow walk and hounding trepidation as we would visit the traveling Wall of black stone that was engraved with names of heroes that our nation tries not to forget.  I remember my Dad finding names and touching the cold stone in a moment of profound grief.  It's the sorrow that sits on shoulders, never offering relief, but the weight that flooded his features that day showed me that my Dad was capable of human frailty. It showed me that beneath his bravado he was broken and the shards he held in his heart were sharp and delving deeper as each year of survival pressed guilt on his frame. I feel a military man deserves an equally amazing woman and I choose to not be her.  I choose selfishness and will thank them for their service before saying, "happy hunting love."

I see the props they showcase in children, pets and cars.  I see the backdrop of global locations in their pictures.  I get the need to showcase what they can offer, but I'm not comfortable with being materialistic like that, so I have started skipping past men that are less attractive to me than their dog.  I see their stories as a way to say that they are amazing and as uncomfortable as I am, I try to see how they might be special through the worries that they would be seen less than their accomplishments.  I'm looking at their eyes and some of them have eyes as blue as the deepest seas.  I laugh when I read someone's impression of my body because clearly, they spend enough time in the gym to let their pectorals declare whose body means the most to them.  They tend to like my eyes (no idea what they see, but I'll take it) and my body and a few even mention my verbose blathering in my profile.  They get the apple points for saying I'm articulate and they want to know more of what I think .

I am looking for moments of shyness and insecurities because that is where I am humbled that they took a chance to approach me. I find their vulnerability attractive and I want more. I also enjoy telling the little boys I'm too old for them.  It eases the feeling of being thrown away that creeps up every so often when I slip in my vigilance.

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The Art of Gift Receiving