One of the things I enjoy the most about online dating is the opportunity it gives you to meet different people than you would in your everyday life, to try new things you may not have otherwise, and to pick up new hobbies or interest that will far outlast the people who introduced you to them. I thrive on new experiences. Sure, I could go out and find them myself without the ‘benefit’ of sitting through countless dull coffee dates waiting for the next person who actually wants to do something different, but I am honest enough with myself to admit that that would not happen. I’m either too lazy, too busy, or too content with my current life to actually make the effort to seek out new experiences on my own. Besides, everything is more fun when you do it with someone, even someone who is a complete stranger.
I used to love taking pictures. Even before every smartphone was a camera I would carry around a small point and shoot in my purse, just in case there was a chance to capture a moment. I purchased my first DSLR over a decade ago, and used it religiously. No sunset, landscape, or random animal was safe. For a while. Then life got busy and I put the camera down. I forgot that it was a thing I loved to do, or it got lost in the things I had to do, I’m not sure. Then about 10 months ago I met a photographer through Plenty of Fish, and he reminded me how much I absolutely love to take pictures. Not just the regular day to day family or event pics, but those pictures you take just for the beauty of the shot, or to capture an emotion. We would spend hours in his truck just driving around, stopping randomly on roadsides because one of us saw something in a landscape, cloud formation, or shadow. When it was ugly outside we would find things to take pictures of indoors, or we would discuss or plan shots we wanted to take, or ideas we wanted to try. The relationship didn’t work out, but I will be forever grateful to him for returning my love of photography to me.
Writing is something I have always been interested in, something I’ve always wanted to try, but beyond journaling I could never find a reason to do it. I didn’t have a grand story to tell, I wasn’t an expert in any field, and I’ve never really felt like anyone was going to care what I had to say. I had nothing motivating me to get started. Then I started online dating, started talking to other people about my dating experiences, and I realized a few things. First, people get really, really tired of hearing your dating stories. Really tired. Second, if I was going to run myself through the dating gauntlet I needed an outlet for all the things I would see and feel. And third, maybe, just maybe, there were other people out there who needed a sympathetic voice. And there it was. I had found my reason to write. This blog has grown and will continue to grow beyond what I originally imagined, but it and my reason to write only exist because of online dating.
Both of those examples are interests I already had that dating brought back to me, or that dating gave me the opportunity to grow. I have also found new interests, things I had never considered before, or things that I had only heard about but never seen. One of those is Shibari, the Art of Japanese Rope Bondage. When you google it you will find thousands of examples and dozens of definitions, ranging from very sexual to very artistic, but what it comes down to is using rope to create geometric designs that bind and accentuate the body. It is a method of applying art to the human body, of conveying emotion through an image, and of learning to love all parts of ourselves, even those we consider imperfect. I was introduced to it by someone I met online, and it has brought me a new passion, a new community, and a new way to learn to love myself.
Dating can be frustrating, heartbreaking, and exhausting, but it can also be something that helps you rediscover parts of yourself, or find new things inside of you that you didn’t know were there. Try to remember that even when you are having a bad streak of relationship luck there is always something new around the corner, and that you may find things through dating that will make you happier than any one person ever could.