I didn’t know what to expect.
Although the eight years separating my divorce from my first wife and my marriage to the second had provided ample “dating” time, the ten subsequent years spent raising six step-children while nursing their ill mother had left me a distant stranger to the dating world.
I also needed time to grieve, thus my two year immersion in graduate school and my decision to write a book as I mourned my second wife’s tragic passing. Now who can be with me as I HIV, I want someone to date but with the one who understand me.
So what does one do with a book finished, twelve years having passed and a loneliness no longer to be ignored? I don’t frequent bars, and as interesting as my fellow graduate students were, they weren’t my age, nor did we share many interests.
Online HIV dating intrigued me, but whenever I brought the subject up to my male friends, derision followed by feeble attempts to suggest alternatives left me empty. In truth, their scorn echoed my own of years before when contempt prior to investigation was my standard response to the subject.
Then a clinical psychologist friend made an interesting point: “It’s safe to assume that over twenty percent of the new, committed relationships you see on any given day are a product of that online world.” I was stunned.
“Yes. I’ve done it myself,” he added.
“The woman you’re with…”
“No. I met her at a professional conference. But I still spend time with friends I met through an online service. They’re good people, solid women.”
So I took the plunge. That was two years ago.
In the meantime, I’ve become more and more open about the subject, confronting scorn with the facts as I find them. And the facts are simple: I’ve met many women; I can safely say that those women are among the most accomplished, interesting and courageous I’ve encountered; and the common denominator is that they are, by and large, authentic and in possession of the courage to share themselves in a meaningful way and to do so without fear.
In not knowing what to expect, I found the unexpected. And the unexpected addressed that which I discovered was what I craved most in women after surface concerns such as “looks” are discarded: honesty, courage and authenticity in both thought and action.
I can only speak for myself and my experience. I’m not speaking of those women who advertise themselves on free dating sites or in the personals; I’m speaking about dating sites that focus on pairing like with like and doing so with care. I found it a calculated risk well worth taking.