Good on Paper, Bad at Life

How many of you have spent time on a dating site?  Come on now, raise your hands.  No one’s going to laugh at you.  Online dating is now an extremely socially acceptable method of finding a partner.

But does it work?

I’ve spent 7 years on dating sites, off and on.  I’ve met men who are excellent at making themselves look fabulous on paper but who have incredibly poor skills at making themselves fabulous at life.

The sad thing is that these men all truly believe they are wonderful at life.   Please remember, I’m a straight female, so I’m writing about my experiences with men.  I’m not bashing, I’m simply writing my experiences.

I met, and lived with for 2 years, a man I met on Match.  He was SO good on paper.  Wow.  I was blown away.  He was great in email.  He wasn’t keen on telephone, but I, being naive about dating sites at the time, gave him the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe he was shy, maybe he just didn’t like to talk on the phone, maybe he was simply super-busy.  Nope.  None of those things.  He truly was boring and insecure.

We dated for a few months and then my lease was up.  He suggested I move in with him.  Well, hey, there’s a solution to my problem!  I didn’t want to live where I had been living and here was a fabulous solution, with a man I found wonderful on paper and a few hours out of each weekend.  What sane woman wouldn’t jump at such a chance???

So I moved in.  Month one I realized I’d made a huge mistake, but I’d moved 85 miles for him.  I’d made a commitment to him.  So I honored that commitment and I stuck it out.  I kept looking for the good – and there WAS good. He was incredibly good at making puns.  He was also incredibly good at making backhanded stabs at me.  His favorite pastimes?  Watching old movies on TV, and cooking. That’s it.  I didn’t know until I’d moved in that he had zero friends.  Then, at the end of the first month I was talking to a neighbor across the fence and she said:  “Wow, I was really surprised to find out _______ was dating someone and then when you moved IN, I almost had to give my left arm to my daughter because I’d bet her my left arm it wouldn’t last.”  HUH?  Well, I was curious so I asked why, as I carefully pruned my roses away from the privacy fence.

“Didn’t you know?”  Know what?  The look on my face was probably one of having been hit with the idiot bat again.  “Well, if my calculations are correct, he started dating you before his wife moved out.”

Excuse me?

On paper he was divorced.  I asked him.  Yep, he was divorced.

No he wasn’t.  When I confronted him with my newly gleaned knowledge, in the back yard, while holding bypass pruners in one hand and in the other, a sheaf of thorny rose canes, he said:  “well, I’m divorcing her, so it doesn’t really matter.”

Month two, I get presented with half of every bill he has.  Apparently I was not only supposed to pay half his mortgage, but half his car payment, half the utilities, half his credit card bills, half his phone bills, etc.  Keep in mind that this man made 70% more in salary than I did.

When I declined, and presented the option of contributing one lump sum that I could afford (and was what I would have had to pay in rent in utilities in the area) he tells me that won’t do because without my entire income, he can’t pay his bills.

Now I knew why he wanted me to move in with him.

His profile presented a man successful in his career, full of lively optimism about life, a complete social butterfly, and a charming wit.  He was obviously intelligent, he loved the arts, he loved going to concerts, shows, festivals.  He apparently dined out often.  He described himself as an incurable romantic who loved nothing better than to get up early, and go to the beach with his dog and watch the sunrise.  He talked about doing many things with friends and family, loved the outdoors, loved hiking, had skydived, belonged to the Adventure Club, etc.

His profile neglected to mention that he was:

1.  Not divorced

2. Only able to afford his lifestyle because his wife made more money than he did.

3. He had no friends – it was family he socialized with, and mostly his mother, who would just drop in and stay for a month or so.

He also neglected to mention that he prefers tiny waif-like creatures.  You know the type – 5’3 or shorter, and no more than 100 lbs.  Well folks, that wasn’t me.  I’m not huge, but I’ve got an inch on that height and 40 lbs on the weight.

I stayed with this man for two years because I could not – could NOT allow myself to believe that I’d made such a gross error in judgment.  I even introduced him to my family, who promptly (when this man had to go out to the car for something) asked me if I was nuts.  Well, yes, apparently I was nuts.

This man decided that I wasn’t allowed to have friends.  He became passive-aggressive when I decided to take some art classes with a long-time friend who lived in that area.  He complained to his mother about me so much that one day I came home from work to find her in the kitchen.  I was set to go out to see a show with a friend.  The man “couldn’t” go because he had a cold.  I’d paid $200 for these tickets and I was damned if I was going to waste them, so I invited my art class friend.  I left work early to come home and change, walked in the house to find it dark, and a little voice echoing from the kitchen:  “Helloooo.  It’s meeee.”  I groaned inwardly.  I put my things down and went to the kitchen to find the munchkin (his mother – all of 4’6″) unloading the dishwasher.  Naturally I asked why she was there.

Are you sitting down?  Please do.

“Well ________ called me because he’s sick and he needed the dishwasher unloaded and dinner cooked for him. Since you’re going out to have fun tonight, I had to come help him.”   His mother drove 50 miles because he “needed the dishwasher unloaded.”

He had a fucking COLD, people.

That was it.  My two years was up.  Almost.  I made my decision then, but decided that since it was so close to the holidays that I would go through the holiday motions and in January, I told him I was leaving.   It only took me 2 years to find my self esteem.  Not bad, huh?

A friend, who lived two blocks over, was going to France for two weeks and she asked me to dog sit for her.  When I got to her house, she said:  “Look, I don’t know how you’ve stood it for 2 years, but if you want it, my third floor is yours.”  My savior!  And she WAS my savior.  I was moved out of there before February.

I learned I can turn two blocks into a continent.

So, friends.  Who’s good on paper and bad at life here?  Not just the man I lived with.  I was the same way.  I AM intelligent, quirky, artsy, fun, social, and all those things that men purport to like in a woman.  I’m kind, loyal and devoted.  I’m also STUPID.  Okay not now so much, but I sure was then, and based on my last “relationship,” also with a man who was “good on paper, and bad at life” I’ve still got the idiot bat tapping me on the head.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do at this point.  I seem to have patterns of my own to work through.  I need to spend time figuring some things out.  I’m also off ALL dating sites.

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