Post Author: Elsa Peters
“So, what’s your favorite movie?”
It is probably best that this was a phone conversation so he couldn’t see my eyes roll with the exasperated gesture that accompanied it. He asked this exact question three times – in our three previous phone conversations. The fates hadn’t aligned as his first email contact arrived in my Match.com inbox days before Christmas. Though he was heading out of town to see family, my schedule was more of a nightmare. Our casual emails drifted as New Year’s arrived. We had graduated to the phone by then. It was clumsy. And yet, our conversations had always had this tone of silence.
So when he asked this question for the third time, I didn’t play it cool. I called him on it. “I think I answered this before,” I said. “Remember?” More silence on the other end of the phone as I made another annoyed gesture into thin air.
The truth was: he didn’t seem all that bright, while claiming to be an intellectual type. Nothing about his personality seemed to have all that much depth – especially if interesting conversation for him was limited to what my favorite movie was and how much it had snowed. I was bored.
I was mind-numbingly bored of our conversation. This realization made me wonder why I was even carrying on this fantasy of meeting someone on the Internet. If this was what was out there, I’m wasting my time. I didn’t articulate any of this. I opted to be cute and girlish because there seemed to be no other way that I was meeting someone that could offer the possibility of romantic interest. So I giggled through my boredom. I wasn’t sure if he believed my attempt at being coy anymore than I did. It was unclear what he was thinking when he announced that he was tired. We said goodnight and made plans to meet for a drink the following night.
However, I only needed to read the first three sentences of his email to learn that our plans were not firm. It arrived before I had even awoken from my slumber. And yet, these were the words that greeted me that morning:
I’ve been thinking it over and listening to my inner voice in regards to whether I should move forward with you or not and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s probably not a good idea after all. We’re worlds apart. You’re religious, I’m not, and that would be the major stumbling block for us…
This dribble went on for six paragraphs as this intellectual gentleman recounted all of my faults, including that I’m not well-read and narrow-minded. Of course, these are minor infractions that pale to the fact that I am clergy.
I thought mean things about him as I read his six self-involved paragraphs. Though I wanted to curse
him into a pillar of salt, I wrote back a cordial reply explaining that I’m sorry that he felt incapable of seeing beyond his own assumptions of what being well-read, narrow-minded and clergy might be. I hit send. Then I got angry.
I hate that others assume what it means to be religious. I hate that this is a barrier in dating. Ask me, I wanted to tell him. I wondered how I could make this more explicit in my dating profile. I had assumed that a headline reading “Not What You Might Expect” might infer this truth about who I was as a woman and clergy. With this simple headline in my dating profile, I had assumed that I was asking these would-be suitors to not make assumptions. I’m not so naïve to think that there are not assumptions that we all make in dating. I’m not oblivious to the fact that I read certain things into the profiles I browse online. I’m not dumb. I’m just guessing there is more to you than you can fill into a two-paragraph introduction and a series of photos in your dating profile.
I may be mistaken. This may be the problem of being an open-minded woman that challenges her own assumptions of people. Even though I was bored on the phone, I was willing to risk the possibility that this man was just terrible at the phone. I was ready to step out into the unknown searching for romance and perhaps some interesting conversation (though I wasn’t yet convinced). Instead, I greeted the day by washing this man out of my hair and sent myself on my way to meet with a lesbian couple about their love and marriage.
The Rev. Elsa A. Peters is an ordained member of the United Church of Christ serving in Maine where she wades through a dating pool of men that all know each other.
Image by: andreas160578
Used with permission