ImageMany years ago, in my second job in the high tech space, The New Yorker magazine ran a cartoon by Peter Steiner.  My senior management team loved that cartoon because it perfectly exemplified the business case for our B2B enterprise solution – credential issuance, authentication, and instantaneous revocation (where necessary) and an assurance model for high value transactions rooted in commercial bank relationships.  In 1998 this was a paradigm shift so far ahead of its time it took until 2004 for the concept behind it and platform to be accepted and subsequently deployed at the global Fortune 50 firm where I was brought into to serve as the project lead for the related communications and change management.  The journey of finding love, in particular almost exclusively relying upon a single online dating site, is not one that promises authenticity.

On the Internet – now, just as in 1998 – you can be anything you want to be and, sadly, an awful lot of people do exactly that.  Recently I experienced both extremes of behavior. Three weeks ago a man asked to ‘take our conversation outside of’ the site and provided an email address.  The next email included five photos allegedly with his son.  But ‘the little voice’ suggested ‘trust but confirm’ and with my reply I asked for him to connect via Linkedin or Facebook; not surprising there has been no subsequent communication. In contrast, in the last 24 hours, a man has so thoroughly astonished me with his transparency as to truly reaffirm my belief that all things are possible.

“Hello. Is there any possibility to date with me?”

I emit a heavy sigh when I see that he is 24, and lives some 6000 miles away from me.

A friend (also attempting to find love) points out ‘it’s not like you are ever going to meet’. Well, perhaps not but still, a conversation never hurt anything, right?  As has previously been my reply to expressed interest by someone so much younger than myself this is also one of polite dissuasion. But then what is a number? If it doesn’t bother ‘the he’ then why should it bother me? But it does – a bit less than when I started this journey but still…

“Many thanks for your supremely flattering desire to take me out – truly lovely. Aside from the geographic challenges involved I have no immediate plans to be in Istanbul and surrounds – sorry. But if something changes I will certainly let you know and would delight in meeting you for tea.”

A decade ago a girlfriend commented that the 18 year old renter who lived downstairs had a crush on me and would hum Simon and Garfunkel’s Mrs. Robinson, Imagethe theme from The Graduate, every time Daniel left our company.  When ultimately he not only made a pass but pinned me to my sofa in amorous intent I was, as the Scots express, gobsmacked.  When he subsequently held my hand and stole a kiss in front of his (all male) friends in the 19-22 year old range I was as embarrassed as a 13 year old.  This was the extent of it because I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that I was a year older than his mom! Now, ten years later here I am being charmingly wooed by a man who was four years YOUNGER than Daniel was when he originally pressed his suit. (Shaking my head, heavy sigh.)

My new friend Momo, age 25, wrote this morning “sweeti, u r really something special” (spelling is his own).  I should believe this, understand it at a most cellular level, but the truth is I think I am rather ordinary. When it comes to being the focus of any male attention I feel like I should be looking behind me at the real source inspiring their words, I am overwhelmed and seriously under prepared. Having shut myself off for far too many years to count from the potential pain of being betrayed or hurt in a relationship all this is surreal to me.

Serhat’s reply leaves me breathless (unedited).

“Your reply proved that how true my decision; I sent message to you. I am sure you know everting about man, how to make him happy. 🙂 you are so cute thank you for your nice message. I want to date with woman that older than me at least once.. ı havent dated yet. But if ı date she should be like you. İf you havent planed your vocation you can take into consideration izmir also. it is really nice city you can search from web. and I can take you to showing around , be sure if you are with me anyone can’t it beter 😀 ( maybe litle bit embellishing) but ı am sure ı can make you happy. (by the tis way ı have a car) maybe it is litle bit rude but ı should mention that because it is big easiness to reach somewhere. ı can make a food for you that girls always says “delicious.” if you dont think to come izmir it is not problem first year of next year ı will go to riga (latvia) as a student maybe ı can go to sweden from riga to see you. ı have saved you as my favorite see you”

This is all on the assumption that I am successful in making Stockholm my home.  From my agreeing to meet for tea when/if I should make my way to his native Turkey (which isn’t such a reach as one of my dearest friends in the world lives there) to the above.  But it is lovely, isn’t it? In a world where we are so cynical about everything the kindness and enthusiasm being shown to me makes me want to believe that somehow I have fallen through the best kind of rabbit hole and time has stood still, that I am like Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray without all the debauchery and moral repercussions.  Or, maybe something else is really at the root of this.

Concurrent with the decision to get serious about finding love, I discovered a British man (age 26) name Matthew Hussey. Matthew is a life coach, dating guru and author whose universal wisdom exceeds that of men twice his age, he is also spot on in identifying ways to foster success in dating (for both sexes). I don’t need most of his practical advice about body language, confidence and self-esteem but I find the habit of receiving his blog posts reassuring as I navigate these oceans again.  But I think that just maybe (as Matthew challenged mom’s to help establish a standard for how women should be treated by raising their sons ‘properly’) men in their twenties have learned the new paradigm of courtship. They don’t seem to be hung up on the number but (in my new, limited experience) are really interested in the woman, who she is, how she thinks, what makes her heart race, how to make her feel like a goddess. I know it’s narrow in my view to assume men (even in) their forties are clueless (let alone older than that, men who are my peers and older still) but it strikes me that the confidence and bar no holds attitudes of reaching out and making it clear what they want belongs uniquely to the domain of twenty-something men.  Even as I am trying to politely extract myself from dating men less than half my age I am exploring the kind of man I do want – regardless of his age. There is a line from Steve Lopez’ The Soloist which resonates with me on my journey “… I’ve learned the dignity of being loyal to something you believe in, of holding onto it. Above all else, of believing, without question, that it will carry you home.” I am loyal to the idea that while I am not perfect, nor is it likely that the man I eventually find will be such, I believe that some place in the world a man exists that is perfect for me.

To which point I finally took a deeper look at my potential suitor’s profile and discovered we actually have a great deal in common.

“Thank you, truly. You have a vibrant wonderful smile and what shines through is your happiness and joy for life. I am, again, deeply flattered that you have chosen me and find my profile worthy of saving to your favorites. I will do so as well and will keep my promise. So, yes, if not Izmir then definitely Riga or Stockholm.”

I don’t know how, in the space of 24 hours it goes from:

“I will be waiting you.”

To his creation of a private Facebook page (we are the only two members of the group, and he migrated it from being a closed group to a secret one within an hour) but it has. Here he is sharing his family and friends and providing links to their Facebook profiles, essentially bringing me into his world and making himself utterly transparent in the process.  It might be the one truth we can all agree upon that “On the Internet no one knows if you are dog” but in Serat’s case he is proving that he is certainly a man worthy of knowing in the real world.

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