And now another installment of my online dating fails:
I’ve changed the names to protect the innocent, or not so innocent! I have a habit of saving guys names in my phone with their first name (since I sometimes don’t know their last name) and some fact about them. This helps me keep them straight if I’m talking to more than one person, which let’s be honest, isn’t usually a problem. When I first started doing this I met several guys whose name and job started with the same letter (Carl the Coach, Adam the Audiologist) so I’ve just kept the alliteration trend going!
As you may have guessed from the name Aaron was in the Air force. When we first started talking he was deployed at a base about 1,000 miles away from where I live. He knew he was heading back to the air force base near where I live in a few months so we started talking. We had been texting almost daily for about 10 weeks when he finally moved back to my area.
Through our conversations I had learned that we both went to the same gym.
Now, you know those adorable girls at the gym who flit around like they just stepped off the stage of a Lululemon fashion show? I am not that girl. I do not look cute when I’m working out. I’m not being modest when I say this. I legitimately sweat like a man, and my face turns tomato red when I’m working out, it’s not cute at all. I feel like people purposely avoid me at the gym because it appears that I could go into cardiac arrest at any moment and they want no part of it.
So, obviously I went into full blown panic mode when he told me he was back in the area. We hadn’t been able to set up an official face to face date and in my mind us accidentally meeting each other for the first time at the gym was the worst possible case scenario. For the next few weeks, I put in an obscene amount of effort into my appearance before going to the gym. I don’t really know why I even bothered going, because I was so afraid of Aaron walking in that I avoided any exercise that might make me sweaty or red faced, which is basically all exercise.
One night, I decided very last minute to run to the gym after Bible study. Since I didn’t plan on going to the gym, I hadn’t packed any specific workout clothes to wear. I figured I probably had something that would do in the trunk of my car. I always keep an eclectic array of clothing in the trunk; just in case something comes up that I wasn’t panning on.
When I got to the gym I dug through the trunk to see what my options were. To my dismay all I had was a neon pink shirt and a pair of leggings that I bought when I was, let's say "less fluffy". I decided to press on and continue with my plan of working out despite the less than ideal wardrobe options.
Things only got worse once I got changed in the locker room. To my horror the shirt looked like I had accidentally bought it in the children’s section and it was nothing short of a miracle that I was even able to get the excessively tight leggings on. The whole outfit made me look like a busted, neon pink can of biscuits. Not cute at all.
Because I looked so horrible, I decided to work out in the cardio theater where it’s very dark and no one would see me. I made a bee line from the locker room to the theater. I found an elliptical, and started walking, all the while scanning the room just to make sure I didn’t see anyone I knew. Much to my horror I saw a guy that looked shockingly like Aaron running on one of the treadmills. I tried to get a better look at him without being like a weird staring creeper. I couldn’t really tell if it was him or not since it was dark and I’d only ever seen pictures of him. I decided to text Aaron and see if the mystery man on the treadmill looked at his phone. A few seconds after I sent the text, the man on the treadmill’s phone lit up.
This was my worst nightmare coming true. I just hoped that he wouldn’t see me. He ran for a few more minutes before leaving the cardio theater without noticing me. After I was done on the elliptical, I sucked in my stomach as tightly as possible and tried to walk quickly back to the locker room, and then run out to my car without making eye contact with anyone.
In hindsight I’m not sure why I was so worried. In that moment, red- faced, sweating, wearing skin tight neon clothing, I looked nothing like any of the poised, polished pictures that were on my online dating profile, so it’s doubtful he would’ve recognized me anyway. The moral to this story: make sure your emergency trunk outfits actually fit.
That night at the gym turned out to be the only time I ever saw Aaron. He canceled our date at the last minute and never apologized or attempted to reschedule. We kept texting for a few more weeks, but things just fizzled out.
I, of course wondered if he had seen me that night and been scared off, but I think the answer if far simpler. I think he was lonely while he was deployed, and once he got back to his home and his friends, he wasn’t as motivated to connect anymore. I think it’s easy to become depressed and chalk these types of situations up as a loss, but just because he didn’t become the love of my life doesn’t make it a loss. I learned things about myself and about relationships while talking with him. I have also joined a new gym where I don't know anyone!
I know that God is involved even in the small circumstances. I think sometimes He causes relationships to end quickly, or never take off at all, to protect us or save us from heartbreak. It’s His graciousness at work. He allows us to learn more about others and ourselves without becoming overly invested in relationships that aren’t God’s best for us.
The next time you feel like a relationship ends before it even takes off, try and see God’s grace in it. Thank Him for the lessons learned, and for giving the relationship a clear end before strong connections were made.