I wasn’t looking for love. Certainly, not on Facebook. But you know how Facebook works. The algorithms recommend people to you based on who you’re already friends with. That gives you a certain amount of security. Not like Match.com, which I tried years ago. On Match.com I felt like one of those naked chickens hanging in the window of a butcher shop. It was a meat rack and all the winks and sly remarks made me uncomfortable. I had one disastrous coffee date with a twice-married man who announced he was looking for his soulmate, and I cancelled my account. I’ve acquired an allergy to soulmates after discovering my previous soulmate had a mistress. Now I put soulmate in the same category as kissing frogs, knights in shining armor and Prince Charming. I just can’t believe in something as whimsical as that again. I’m 66. There’s no time left in my life for fairytales.
Anyway, I feel like Facebook is different than a dating app. When I joined Facebook, I wasn’t looking to hook up with another human. I joined to be in touch with my friends, the people I already knew. Then “friending” became a thing, getting new friends seemed like putting numbers up on a scoreboard, and my circle of friends on Facebook grew to include people I don’t know. I’m not complaining. I’m complicit in enlarging my list of Facebook friends because I’m a writer and I want to reach as many people as possible with my words. Truth be told — Facebook gives me joy. When I post a piece and people comment on it, I feel like I’m having impact on the world in a way that wasn’t possible before Facebook connected us. But still, I’ve always considered my Facebook relationships to be secondary to my actual physical relationships with people I can hug, eyes I can enter and hearts that hold me.
I have a few friends who are couples that met each other on Match.com in the days when it was less corrupted by predators and grifters. I see what’s possible. And I’ve met some very cool women on Facebook, whom I respect and enjoy and look forward to meeting in person someday. I just wasn’t expecting to meet a man. I had/have a carefully constructed wall around me. I made a point of joining women’s groups on Facebook, private groups that screen out men to create a space where women feel safe and at ease. I don’t accept friend requests from men unless I know them in the physical world. I report the Facebook accounts of men who leave me creepy comments or appear to have a fake identity. I work at feeling safe on Facebook, and the main way I do that is by blocking men from my experience. But I let this one through the blockade because I knew him a million years ago when I was a teenager.
It’s been a months-long process re-connecting one comment at a time, a few sentences here and there, photos. Then Messenger, then texting, then — this is going to sound radical — the telephone. Then a socially distanced Covid date outdoors with masks, walking trails in a state park. Now my dog likes him and I’m starting to believe in fairytales again.