One of my worries since I started online dating is that I’ll call a guy by the wrong name; it’s happened to me with people I know in person, so it seems more likely to happen with someone that I only know through pictures, profiles, and messaging.
I’ve carefully worded my profile to reflect who I am and some of what I’m looking for. I’ve chosen pictures to represent those things. Beside my primary profile pic on the different dating sites, I’ve given either my first name, or my online dating moniker, ‘CarolinaConnie.’ I’ll share some of those pics with you in this post. Looking at this profile photograph which is what the guys see first, it’s ironic that my friend, Jill made it at my book launch two years ago. I had no idea I’d be going through divorce. I had no idea that her picture of me, when I was relaxed and enjoying the day, would be my primary photo on a dating site.
Now, I see how many profile pictures you go through with this online dating. You make quick judgements about the face looking back at you, clicking ‘Like’ or ‘Pass’ and moving onto the next. Some guys use their first name, some have nicknames, or what a truck driver may call a ‘handle,’ their moniker for their dating persona. And then if you start messaging, like short emails or texts, he may sign it with his real first name.
It seems that responses from guys can be feast or famine–going through periods of no response then suddenly you have several. That’s what’s happened to me last week.
So, I tried to respond to three different guys, no four guys, during the same day– which was a mistake!
One man who had his name as John beside his picture, that first association of name to face, later signed his message, “Best, Randy.” Meanwhile, a guy who’d had only initials next to his profile pic signed his real name as Terry. And then there was Ray. I was doing okay keeping those three names straight, but then, I had a message from Louis.
That was the tipping point. I responded to Louis’s message, with “Hi John.”
Guess you know I didn’t hear back from him! LOL!
I’ve had good reason to be afraid of making this mistake; I have a history of that sort of thing.
My two sons, Brooks and Ross, were a grade apart in school. We’d talk about their classes, sports practices, Scouting, and church activities. They’d mentioned names of friends and acquaintances that I’d never met. When my sons went off to college, Ross had a bevy of friends with J names; Justin, Jared, Josh. It was especially hard to keep their names straight because I rarely saw those guys. I’d not heard their voices, had no memories of their personalities, and no interaction to associate with each name. When we were talking and I referred to one of their friends by the wrong name, my boys got exasperated. I soon learned to avoid calling their friends by name for fear of getting it wrong.
But the worst of it was when I’d call their girlfriends by the wrong name. Ross brought his girlfriend, Caroline home for the weekend. We’d only met her once. While I was preparing our meal, waiting for them to arrive, I kept saying, “Caroline, Caroline, Caroline” hoping to tamp down any errant name. The thought popped into my head, “Don’t call her Lauren,” which had been the last girlfriend’s name– and it had been a while since they’d broken up. Surely her name was so long forgotten, vanished from that memory file so it couldn’t be retrieved.
When they arrived. I avoided calling Caroline by name, and just greeted both of them warmly. Ross showed her around while I finished dinner. David came in from the office and I listened to see if he called her by name. Even if he messed up, Ross wouldn’t be as irritated with his dad.
Gradually, a feeling of dread came over me as they sat down at the table. I made sure everyone had what they needed and then joined them. Ross told about their drive from Georgia and then the conversation turned to their work. Caroline would soon be starting a training program in a new job and I was curious about her classes.
“What kind of courses will you take, Lauren?”
Oh, no, I panicked. I did it!
Everyone around the table was quiet and I was hoping the hardwood floor would open up and let me fall through. It was like those seconds after you stump your toe, when you know the sharp pain is coming, when you feel you could pass out.
I must go ahead and confess to her, I thought.
“I’m sorry. Caroline,” I said, and hoped I didn’t say Caroline too loudly for effect. “I have this problem with messing up names. Just ask my boys.”
Ross had an awful look on his face and mumbled something, or at least it seemed that way in my moments of Mama desperation. I hoped he’d prepared Caroline for this possibility– explaining his family’s idiosyncrasies on their drive home.
Eventually the conversation moved on and we made it through the rest of the weekend without me calling her Lauren again. But word got out in the family about what I’d done and my brother-in-law, Tim got quite a howl out of my blunder. It left me with a phobia of calling a person by the wrong name.
Now, I worry that I’ll get a name wrong again.
I’m sorry I minimized Louis by calling him John; I didn’t mean to. I know how good it feels to have your name called by someone who’s interested in you. There’s a lot to hearing your name called, knowing you’re singled out– in a good way. I can only hope that if I ever do that with someone I’m really interested in they’ll look beyond that, and come to know it’s one of my idiosyncrasies. They’ll know my long-standing history and understand that it means I’m trying to call each person by name–even when I mess up.
How about You?
If you were creating a profile about yourself, what would you say? What pictures would you include to represent who you are and what you want in your life?