We’ve all heard that saying, “You have to kiss a lot of toads before you meet your handsome prince.” With the online dating world, you hear folks say you have to “go through a lot of toads” and some say, “you have to have a lot of bad dates until you get to the right one.” When I first entered the online dating world, I heard those things so much that one night, as I was in that pre-sleep twilight zone, I had a strong image come to me.
I was standing and facing a wall about twenty feet away. A conveyor belt came out of the top of the wall and moved downward and then passed me. About every foot along the belt there was a toad sitting there facing me. To my right was a stainless steel work table like you’d see in a pathology lab. My job was to pick up each toad, examine it on all sides, determine whether it was healthy, suitable, or if I wanted to keep it. If I felt anything positive about the toad, I was to put him on the table– which became a holding place while the toad was under consideration.
That image stuck with me and in my waking hours seemed to fit with my experience of online dating.
When I looked at the pictures and read the profiles of the men on the sites, that was the first check of the toad:
Did he appear to be healthy? When you start this process as a Baby Boomer at sixty-five years old, we’re all thinking a lot about health. Some of the guys have all their pictures made sitting down and you wonder how often do they get out of the chair. Some mention that their favorite activities are chillin’ and grillin’ and I’m thinking that doesn’t qualify as physical activity.
I pay close attention to whether or not they smoke. Our family saw the negative consequences of smoking when my father-in-law had years of illness from his years of smoking. It the profile says “occasionally” or “tryin’ to quit,” I pass on that one.
What kind of activities did he enjoy? If he’s an avid Harley rider and wants a companion for his cross-country trips, then he’s not a match for me. If he spends his Saturdays at flea markets and junk stores– I would be bored and sitting in the car. I’ve had a couple of toads offer to take me fishing and one said I could even come to his house and help him cook the fish. I definitely put those toads back on the conveyor. Some other woman on down the line might want to enjoy those fishing trips; not me.
One toad noted that he liked to dance and go to music festivals. I took him off the conveyor and placed him on the holding table. I messaged with him on the site and had a phone conversation that was enjoyable. We may talk again, might even run into each other at a dance once things open up. I’ll keep that toad on the table and see what happens.
Do we share common values? On my profile, I note my faith as a “Christian– but not conservative” and out of that I value treating all people with respect, reaching out to those who are hurting. Some guys put their faith and some omit that. Knowing how key faith is in my life, I’ve passed on guys that noted they were agnostic or a faith very different from mine like LDS/Mormon. At my age, I see that I’m only going to grow more into my faith as I journey to the end of my life. It’s not a time when I want to navigate with a new life partner different core beliefs around life and death.
Is he attractive? I guess I should have listed this first because the first thing you notice is his picture.
That’s a bit tricky because what is handsome in your sixties has changed from when you were young. Most of the guys no longer have the dark hair I was attracted to; instead they’re either bald or gray. But I do find my heart quickens with some photos more than others and if that guy happens to “Like” me back, then I’ll take him off that conveyer belt and hope that he’ll eventually be on the holding table.
As a young woman, I was always attracted to guys who were taller. Perhaps that was because the first man I loved in my life, my daddy, was 6′ 1″ and also had dark hair. He was a handsome man. But by the time you get to my age, we’re all shrinking a bit. I’ve found that a couple of frogs that I checked out, going for coffee and dinner meetups, could not have been as tall as they’d put in their profile. My friend who’s been my online dating coach says that the men “Round up” and after meeting those guys, I thought she was right. Now I won’t let a guy I’m attracted to pass by on that conveyor because he’s not tall–as long as I wouldn’t have to look down at him!
All this ‘sizing each other up’ is a bit unnerving– knowing that the guys on these sites are doing their own evaluations of me and the other women. The first guy I had a phone conversation with was checking out my physical fitness. He made a point of listing his activities and they were impressive: rigorous hiking and rock climbing, rowing, working out at the gym. He was tactful in how he asked me about my activities, but still I could see him wondering how many planks I could do. Ultimately, the conversation was more like going thru a check list and by the end of the forty-five minute call it was understood that we weren’t a match. That toad went from the table back to the conveyor belt.
Last Christmas, I was looking through a box of glass ornaments–considering which ones to use on my small tree. I unwrapped the tissue paper from a toad I’d purchased years ago. I remember I loved the rich green and red, the royal cap the toad wore. It seemed like the perfect symbol for my life for December of 2020, so I placed it on my jewelry box where it has remained.
I pick it up and consider all the toads I’ve examined over the past months. I think about how it’s been to go through a divorce during the pandemic. And while that’s had challenges, there has also been an advantage; I haven’t had to kiss any of those toads because we’ve been wearing masks! Thank You, COVID, for sparing me that with those toads that would not have been my prince.