Coffee Dates & FetLife

mylifeWhile still married I had been on many internet dating sites, looking to find a local bay area woman seeking “just friends”, for coffee and gossip. I attended church pot-lucks, belonged to many social and political groups, and attended (even headed up) meet-up groups. But I missed having one-on-one time with caring empathetic people (that generally end up being female). I had a couple men friends that fit that personality, and had coffee klatch lunches with several wives of guy friends. But I wanted to make my circle larger. That desire, boredom in retirement, was the beginning of the end of my marriage.

The many websites, setting up profiles, exchanging greetings all ended up being a fools errand for me. But the fundamental disagreement over my behavior, my being on “dating sites” while married, was dragged into marriage counseling, and my refusal to budge were some of the grounds for final separation. During my summer trip I read a great “Mars/Venus” book that specifically stated men can compartmentalize and have coffee without romance but women cannot. It was certainly true for my ex- and our woman marriage counselor. In the end, I did succeed in making one friend this way, but she later revealed she had hoped for romance after all. Oops.

Of the many dating sites I joined, one was FetLife, which I also used all summer to find local events, play dates and munches. The site has many features, one of which is that, like Facebook, people post their daily experiences, fears, joys, and intentions. Since everyone is anonymous on Fet, and the entire site is about sex and sexuality, everyone posts much more than just the usual happy birthday wishes, baby pictures, and what you ate for lunch. FetLife is Facebook on hormones.

When first opening my horizons, I wrote to various women for advice about my coffees, dating, polyamory, power exchange and other complex male-female relationships. I carefully picked people from their writing (empathetic, not self-centered or over sexed) and that they be impossible distances from Florida. I was married so I never wanted to bump into them at the post office. I corresponded with women in New Zealand, Scotland, Vancouver, Thunder Bay Ontario. The closest one was in NYC, and her reply was well written, very kind and she added that I should write back anytime. I “friended” her, and began to read her posts.

She was a nurse and divorced single mom, and she posted almost daily on advice boards, mostly people concerned about UTI’s and STD’s. But she also talked about her heart and one posting caught my eye. She wrote about a touching Christmas interaction with a black male neighbor and how it caused upset with others in her neighborhood. This post was long before BLM, was well written and poignant.

So without telling her, I reposted her text on my own Facebook page to “all friends” (without saying where I found it). I keep my FB compartmentalized by my various interests and it was rare to send out a public note. Her story received likes and positive comments from many friends across all of my unrelated groups, from anarchists to backyard gardeners. Her words resonated. A week later, I sent her a somewhat anonymous thank-you, for sharing her story, and told her how I reposted it, and how it touched many people during the holidays.

So over the next year; as my marriage crumbled, as Lyn and I negotiated settlement terms, and as we finally filed the paperwork; I would now and then login to FetLife and her recent posts would pop up on my home page. I eventually became intrigued. She was a nurse, and posted lots of sex-positive helpful information. She was sexy without being vulgar, directly helpful, always coy about her own likes. She offered no pictures, except of her shoes, earrings, or a bracelet saying her one son (like my own) was too internet savvy and would find a picture of his mom in a minute. So instead she posted stock photos of things that she wore, and of things she found sexy, and of things she was hoping to do with someone she met. Zoiks! I was hooked. I eventually nicknamed her Kitten, for being openhearted and playful, yet coy and mysterious.

On the night that I filed for separation, before I left for Orlando to start my trip, I was overcome with emotion and emptiness, and I  had nobody to tell. I didn’t want to post a “change relationship” status to Facebook, as that just seemed crass, and we had agreed to our change low profile until it was final in October. My parents and my sister had passed away so I had no family I might use to unload. As I ran down my list of friends, I realized all were shared between Lyn & I, so my dumping on them would put them into the terrible spot of “having to choose”. If they were too supportive, they may later feel they were disrespecting Lyn; if not supportive enough, disrespecting me. No, it was best to leave any friends out of this swirling empty mood.

Then I thought of my invisible mysterious friend in far away NYC. So I penned her a note: a line of apology, explaining who I was and why I knew her, and thanked her again for her Christmas story. I told her how she replied once to me, and how I had been reading her kind advice to strangers across the many months; and that I had utmost respect for her worldview. Then I told how my year had evolved into arguments and irreconcilable differences and my separation and divorce and how today was the day the paperwork was signed and certified and filed. I was awash in emotions I said, with nobody in the world to tell, so I chose to write to her, a stranger I didn’t know, yet I knew so well. I had never laid eyes upon her, but knew the working of her heart from a couple exchanged notes over a year ago, but mostly from reading hundreds of her posts. I knew well her heart was kind and open and I poured mine into it.

I hit send and went to bed….

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