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. 

Can You Trust in Online Dating?

I'm a bit jaded lately.  I had a moment in the ladies room at work. It was a moment of conversation and connection and it was a moment where I was completely transparent with a co-worker and felt she was just as open with me.  We talked about a few things, and one of those is trust. Can I trust you with this?

I left work and got in my car and turned the key in the ignition.  I expected it to start and it did.  I expected it to get me home because I can trust my car and my (many) years of driving experience to get me home.  I hear a thud from the trunk and I expect it to be the water bottle I never opened from my last hike, because I trust no one has left a body in my trunk (although there's enough room).  I get home and put my key in the door and I expect the door to be locked, but open because I used my key on the locks I changed myself.  I flip on the lights and I expect them to come on.  I trust the things I rely on but people are different.

I've had drug testing for a job where there were protocols in place.  I had to lock my belongings in a locker, enter a bathroom alone and with no personal belongings and pee in a cup.  It was odd.  I had a different drug test where a woman literally watched me pee in a cup. I've had 6 pregnancies, many of which were in learning hospitals. I'm not shy and there was no potty time performance anxiety.  It was odd, but I was okay.  The woman watching me told me about devices and contraptions people come up with.  I imagine if you get paid to watch people pee, you must be paid for your distrust. I'm boring enough that I don't do drugs and even spent Thanksgiving weekend sober because I didn't feel like drinking.

There are many things I trust, and rarely people.  That was my point, right? Only, it's not entirely true.  I proved it in the bathroom at work today and most of the time when I'm completely transparent with others.  When I was younger, my friends knew I would tell them more than they ever wanted to know. I share what is on my heart and in my mind because I don't hide from my truth anymore. I'm especially up front with my feelings lately. The gift of humanity is the intricate array of emotions we can feel and the myriad words of expression we have at our disposal to relate and connect with others. I'm working on using them. When I'm in touch with my emotions enough to know what I feel, it would be a disservice to myself to lie about it. It's not my job to help others feel better about how I feel.  It's enough to lay it out.  Isn't it? See, I'm in this space of genuine doubt.

In blogging, I try to keep the focus on me.  You might hear a bit about my kids, or one of my obsessive observation moments, but for the most part, you get my interpretation of the life I get to live.  In that way, I don't know what to trust you with and if I'm violating the things I've been trusted with.  I want to someday write a book about my surrogate pregnancies, but I haven't figured out the lines between what is my story and where it steps on the privacy of the families I helped grow.

When I was younger, my Dad promised a horse back riding trip that he kept putting off.  Over 30 years later and as a grown ass woman, I still think of that, and that broken promise keeps me from breaking promises to my kids. At the end of the day, they won't remember what I did as much as what I promised to do and then failed on. That experience comes with a feeling.  I try to not to commit to what I don't want to do.  If my promise is all I can offer, I'd rather it be a beautiful gift, untarnished by failed expectation. Last night I was talking to Kid3 about the value of our word. He volunteered to be punished if he broke his word. I asked, "if you break your word, people will see you as a liar. Isn't that punishment enough that I wouldn't be able to trust you? I think that would hurt enough."

I gave my trust in love more than once.  Being single means the trust I had in the future with the company I gave my heart, then my promise to means it wasn't treasured and I had to dust it off and rebuild again on my own.  It's really hard to trust in romance. Once I decide to love, I'm all in.  There's no holding back as I let my heart do it's thing.  My head always objects, but my heart is stronger than that and I know the risk is always worth taking if he's worthy.  Love is not synonymous with trust. I love my kids but I wouldn't trust them with my candy stash. These men are the ones where I've let them walk away and lick my wounds on my own. I might see him months later, and have an inane conversation about cake that I will never eat because of gluten and he'll never touch because of the sugar.  There will be a moment that almost feels like regret and tastes bittersweet stinging the back of my throat. Or maybe he'll text me in a while to see how I'm doing and I won't mention that my pulse still quickens when he thinks of me randomly and I read his words a few times before replying with something equally non-committal.  I trusted and let go and I'm unwilling to trust again, even if I might really want to.

Online dating has really made my trust stretch in the way where the rubber band has snapped back and the backlash isn't pretty.  I have had people ask for money, or a credit card, or for me to receive, then cash a check. I have had men say hello and the reward for my kindness has been a request for sex or an unsolicited dick pic.  I've taken ownership of this by sharing screen shots with Facebook friends.  They laugh at the stupidity of these boys with me and it is hilarious until it's another Wednesday night and my pickiness . . . my mistrust - has me eating dinner alone again. Then it's just sad. I don't need a relationship but I would love company. I'm really open to company that doesn't feel like my agreement to meet for coffee suggests sex should be part of the night.

It's hard to trust when you don't have a gut check to keep things honest.  It's hard when people hide behind a keyboard and a profile.  It's hard to trust when I know the expectation of meeting someone online means he's already been cast aside because of the car he drives, or the work he does.  I know he's judged harshly for who he is because the good ones are often rejected for dumb reasons (my reasons are dumb, but I'm sticking to the looks one). This means he's probably lashing out in a way that feels powerful to him and in moments when my sadness over the situation screams louder than laughter, I wonder what would drive a man to act so horribly to me. How I choose is if he's beautiful or his pitch grabs my attention, I let it play out for a while.  I try to let him persuade me.  Again, I haven't been on an actual date since June, and I realize that when I like him I look for similarities and it often takes one really dumb phrase for me to start looking for differences.

The takeaway? I need to just rely on my gut and that means I won't continue looking online. I was walking through Kid3's school this morning.  I was dropping off cupcakes for his birthday tomorrow.  I think people at work have become immune to the way I walk, but at my son's school, I again remembered what affect that has had on people. People admire or hate the way I walk.  There is no in between space. As I left the school and headed out for the day, I intentionally walked around without music in my ears.  I smiled at others and had friendly greetings offered.  I'm still intimidating, but I think less so when I don't shut people out with my sound barrier. Either way, I want a different result, so I'm ready to try something new, and give another shot at this trust thing.

Tonight I'm taking a hard look at the men that have gotten my attention recently.  I want to really appreciate what attracted me to them and what called out to me enough to allow them to get under my skin.  I want to really understand what kept me from trusting them completely, because I know I didn't.  I need to fix that.  They're gone and I don't expect a return to their orbit because they'd have to recon with my gravity but I believe what is meant for me will always be mine.  I'm not greater than God or the Universe or Destiny.  I can't mess up the great plan that was created for my life or alter it from what is meant to be.  I can release what isn't mine because then I am open to what is.  Whatever that is.  I can be open to trust.

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