Around the same time that it became apparent to me that my separation was not going to lead to a reconciliation, I learned that some people I know online were in similar circumstances. One woman with Crohn's were among the small group of us facing the end of our marriages. She's already got a new boyfriend. I'm happy for her, don't get me wrong. I don't begrudge her the slightest moment of happiness. She deserves it.
When I saw her Facebook status change from "It's complicated" to "In a relationship" and I learned that it was not about her and her husband reconciling, I felt mocked. Like it was my own computer yelling at me, "See how easy it is? What's wrong with you that you can't do this?" In fact, it seems that several people I know have found someone new, both online contacts and flesh and blood friends. I'm happy for all of them, I really am. I'm not even jealous, per se. Rather, I feel like each of them is a measuring stick against which I fall short.
Tonight, I was on my way to bed to lie down in yet another funk of Crohn's-related pain when I got the bright idea to check out eHarmony. I hadn't planned to actually meet up with anyone or anything like that, mind you. Just a little reassurance that there's hope for me, you know. That's all I wanted.
So I spent about 20 minutes filling out their questionnaire. I agonized over most of it. I was asked how I would say specific words and phrases describe myself. I picked a lot of "Very Well"s for things like "sensitive," "compassionate," "honest." I picked a lot of "Not at All"s for things like "happy," "stable," "attractive" and "healthy." (This is where that "honest" thing comes into play.) To be honest, I felt like giving up completely on each page. Who is going to want an unhappy, unstable, unattractive and unhealthy guy? Still, I stayed the course and completed the questionnaire.
Here's what I got for my trouble:
Thanks, eHarmony. Before anyone rushes to defend them and point out to me that I'm being overly sensitive and that they're just trying to protect their members, etc., I've already gone over all that. But if they have such a strict "No marrieds" policy, then the least they could have done was tell me that the moment I informed them that my marital status is "Separated," which was on the first or second page! I assumed by even allowing me to select that and continue that it was simply one of the fields that they use for screening, in case there are members who are willing to consider people in this situation.
I was wrong.
The entire task was, frankly, humiliating. To be asked repeatedly how applicable things are to me and having to constantly say, "Not at All" for fear of being accused of misleading someone later, constantly reminded on every page how challenging it would be to even find someone at all...only to then be blocked by the bouncer at the door asking, "Just where the hell do you think you're going?" It hurt.
After spending 20 minutes making me feel empirically inadequate, I was then made to feel like a sneaky impostor who had been busted. Not only was I unhappy, unstable, unattractive and unhealthy, but now I'm not even honest! I'm a fraud who tried to sneak his way into the Happiness Room. I will admit to you, Dear Reader, that I cried after encountering the screen shown above.
"Forget that site; you need to go out around actual people!" you might be tempted to say. Well, I tried that, too. I went to a bar a few weekends ago with a friend. I was never even looked at by a single woman there except a server...because I was in her way. No one wants me. I've been thrown away, and tonight I've learned that there's a moratorium on me. On top of being unappealing, I'm tainted goods. Terrific.
Yes, I'm unstable so you can't go by my reaction, but I share this all with you now in case you or someone you know is in my situation. If you haven't tried eHarmony, heed my warning before you subject yourself to the same rejection. If you've experienced this yourself, all I can tell you is that you are not alone. I can't tell you that you'll find someone or how to do it or anything helpful. I can just tell you that I, too, have been told to buzz off. And if you're reading this as someone who knows someone in this situation, now you know not to suggest that site.
Last night, I played Steve Wariner's Burnin' the Roadhouse Down album while I wrote. The album ends with his duet with Anita Cochran on "What If I Said." There's a line that asks: "We've both had our share of loneliness/So who's to say we can't have a little happiness?"
eHarmony, Anita. That's who's to say.