March 1, 2014

Why I Cancelled My Online Dating Subscription. ~ Erika Ward


Warning: Graphic language ahead.

I want to mean what I say and say what I mean.

I want you to do the same.

Hold me to it, please.

No easy stereotypes. No clichés. No platitudes.

Unless of course, we find them funny or accurate or proven to be true.

Our conversations and interactions are so very full of things we may or may not intend or believe.

We don’t even realize it most of the time—sharing polite nothings, tossing each other empties, holding on to irrelevant ghosts.

“Good luck.”

Do you actually think there’s such a thing as luck?

“I hope you have a great time.”

Sincerely? Will you listen later when I describe the time I’ve had?

“Nice to meet you.”

Is it? Really? Why?

“Another day, another dollar.”

Just… wow. Can you feel that desperation and depression?

I want to be mindful of words.

I want to wake up to the sounds and intentions of the noise coming out of our mouths and into our ears.

I want to actually say something to each other.

I want us all to—most of the time, at least.

I know life is much easier and safer when you sleepwalk through it.

I am also guilty of shuffling around the world in my feety pajamas.

But this need, this desire to be present, to actually connect has been brewing for quite awhile.

One instance yesterday brought it to the forefront of my awareness. It is partially from my ego, but also from the rest of my being, that I feel compelled to write this.

I hate owning up to it, but I have dabbled in the realm of online “dating.”

The quotes are for emphasizing a term I never liked, yet had reluctantly adopted over time. I had been meaning to disable a profile I set up on one of these websites but for whatever reason, I had not gotten around to it.

Yesterday I received this message from a man I have never met: “Hi. You seem like a really sweet and lovely girl. How are you today?”

What now?

I read his words and remembered how consciously I had created my profile: I had aimed to sound as soulful and real and humorous as I strive to be in my non-virtual life. I tried to fill the tiny blurbs they provided with a genuineness, a curiosity, a bold honesty. I posted visually interesting pictures and purposely didn’t show too much of my face or body. I guess I wanted to be heard or read by someone who also feels like they’re on fire most of the time. And doesn’t want to extinguish it.

That is to say, I wasn’t quite sure what I had done to elicit such a trite response. And his comment was more annoying to me than the ridiculous and unfounded “Hey sexy” I had received earlier from someone else.

The following is what I wanted to reply to this man but didn’t and wouldn’t.

He was merely the detonator. An innocent who had unknowingly wandered up to a ticking bomb.

“Hi there. Thank you for having the courage to reach out to another human. It can be scary, I know it. And I also know that when one person does something that is even mildly fearless it has an effect on all of us. So yeah, thank you. That being said, I am not interested in engaging in a polite conversation with you at this juncture. I am getting the feeling that you are seeking something that I will not provide you with. Also, it sounds like you didn’t actually take the time to read what I wrote on my profile page. Did you? If you did, I apologize. Maybe you are just nervous and decided to hide behind comfortable phrases. If that is the case, I completely understand and I can definitely relate. But if you didn’t read what I had to say on this website, then I would appreciate your attention to what I have to say below.

Being called a “sweet and lovely girl?” It makes me want to vomit every plain and uninspired word you’ve ever said all over you.

If you want sweet then you probably wouldn’t really like me, or anyone with a pulse and breath and an intense desire to be authentic and alive.

Because yes, I can be “sweeeet.”

I can be loving and warm and comforting as a fucking chocolate chip cookie.

But I am not merely sweet: I can quite often be sour.

And salty.

And very, very dry.

Calling a person sweet is like calling them nice—a word holding very little meaning these days.

Calling a person nice is equating them to a robotic and hollowed out shell of their humanness.

Calling a person nice is limiting and shows that you don’t really see all of them, and we want to be seen.

Now, onto your question.

How am I?

I am a lot of adjectives a lot of the time. Aren’t you?

I am not sure what you were looking for here but a simple “good” or “fine” or “okay” will not suffice right now. Nor will a fake “great!” Because I don’t think you really want to know the answer to your question. Which then makes me want to thoroughly and truthfully tell you just how I am.

How am I today?

At this present moment I am a bit annoyed.

How was I a few minutes before receiving your message?

I was rapt up in joy. A friend of mine just sent me some beautiful photos he took on a recent trip. I adore my friend.

This morning?

Highly emotional. I meditated then suddenly sobbed on my bed for 20 minutes—half of it was in resistance to change and the other half was in gratitude for all that I do get to experience in life. To actually have a life, you know?


I would say calm and connected. After my tears, I went to the park and drew with markers and admired some bees. A mentally handicapped man wandered up to my bench and we smiled at each other for roughly 30 semi-awkward seconds before a mutual laugh. This uplifted my mood considerably and I feel confident to say, his as well.

The rest of the day?

Same as most days. Good, bad, ugly. See! I’m not better than common and recognizable phrasing.

Good: I will laugh uncontrollably and/or cry for seemingly no reason. The crying isn’t always sad crying. I experience shades of happiness and love and God. Everything is entertaining and beautiful and fun. I do and discuss silly and sometimes profound things with other silly and sometimes profound people.

Bad: I slingshot into various levels of the deep despair that is my own and not my own. You see, I’m waking up to the fact that I have always been an empath which means I’m highly sensitive to the emotions and energies of other people. So often, I’m not exactly sure if what I’m feeling is my shit or someone else’s shit. Whether I know them or not.

If that doesn’t quite make sense, basically I have a huge well of love for the people I carry with me, so sometimes I unconsciously or consciously take on their pain so that they don’t have to feel it as much.

I’m not trying to sound like a martyr nor am I an egotist—this is just an explanation for behavior I’ve engaged in throughout my whole life. And it is a major part of my emotional state on any given day. And you asked, correct? You did write, “how are you today?”

So yes, good, bad, and… ugly!

Ugly: I can feel quite unattractive and undesirable throughout my days as well. It’s not as bad as it has been in previous months. I’ve really been making my way through some pretty nasty beauty and vanity issues. I mean, I have totally been in the bonnet for about a year. You know?

Anyways, that is how I am.

I don’t know if you would find this sweet, but if anything, it is honest.

Slightly sharp and almost abrasive but undeniably true.

You can resonate with what I’ve said or you can ignore it.

You can send it on to your friends and family and laugh at my expense.

You can tell me to fuck off, that I’m crazy, too intense or hormonal.

Whatever it is, I just want you to mean it.

Let’s really say what we say and ask what we ask.

I’ll do it more if you do. Okay?”


Author’s Note/Addendum:

In the days following the completion of this piece, I had some thoughts.

And because they are very relevant to the above work, I wanted to share them. These are those thoughts:

I know being vulnerable is not easy.

Oh, how I know. It is so difficult to not build walls around yourself when you are constantly being bombarded by life. When you’ve faced rejections and negative emotions and abuse and have to contend with a million other outside forces. Not to mention catastrophes, war, death, disease, poverty and all the other human plights. I know. Whatever your fears are, they’re yours. I most certainly have mine. We can all come out on our own time. If we even want to. I have tried to rip butterflies out of cocoons before and it’s a messy ordeal. I have learned from my “mistakes” and I don’t want to ask more of people than what they are truly able to give. I know I am only able to do my best in any moment, whatever that may be.

Then what are you asking for?

In all honesty, I don’t quite know what it would look like if we all were our realest, truest, craziest selves with each other all of the time. It might be complete chaos. The Earth might explode. It hasn’t happened yet, so I am not sure. And I also don’t think we need to spout the emotional details of our days to everyone we meet. But I know that actually taking a moment to see another person and then giving even the tiniest bit of ourselves to them, reminds us of the connection that we all could and do have—to each other, to the world as a whole, to that which is so much bigger than our singular experiences.

Connecting in an authentic and loving way?

Paying attention to a person’s specific characteristics and uniqueness? Paying attention to our own?

Don’t we all crave that on some level?

To be seen and accepted?

Maybe we can figure this all out together as we go. Maybe this will at least start a conversation.

What do you think?


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Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: Pixoto



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