I don’t mean to be one of those guys, but I was dating people on the internet before it was cool. It was decidedly UNcool when I was doing it, and the way I was doing it, by the standards of my parents and the wider culture at the time. I was one of those fifteen-year-old girls who got ensnared by the internet and started flirting with thirty-year-old men in the form of orcs and strapping hero lads, is what I’m sayin’.
Nothing really horrible ever happened, though. I’m not saying all of those relationships went well, even the ones that got as far as an in-person meeting (not until I was nineteen and living on my own). But they went bad for the same reasons they would have gone bad had I met these people somewhere other than MUDs and IRC rooms and WoW – because we were different ages, or because we were both teenagers and breathtakingly stupid, or because we couldn’t ever quite figure each other out. I never met anyone who substantially lied about their appearance or age. I never met anyone who tried to deceive me in any substantial way, until I looked too hard into the bottom of a bottle toward the end. Even that could have gone much worse. Lies weren’t the worst of him – it was when he said what we both thought was true that he hurt me the most.
The internet has largely been kind to me, in terms of helping me find my people. I’ve had many long nights of feeling that needy knot in my chest like an ember, watching for the message window flash, lifting freezing fingers from the keyboard to press them against my burning cheeks. I’ve also had many moments of standing in the airport, or at the bus station, or on one side of my front door, holding my breath and staring into a pair of eyes I’ve never seen before, searching them for someone I love.
Most of the time, what I find looks nothing like what I thought I fell in love with. But that can be the incredible thing about being with a person over time, if you can let them – and yourself – change and grow independently: every day you find a new way to love each other. Every day it’s a new dish in your favorite flavor.
Of course polyamory helps with this, helps you find takers for your other flavors that your partner isn’t into. Cause sometimes you’re like, “Oh, I love that, but not with noodles,” and then they can be like, “Oh that’s cool, I’ll just find someone else who wants my noodle then, you’re still into the sauce tho?” and then you’re all, “Yeah totally, just load me up with that, you know what I like, baby,” and then you both get thrown out of the Cheesecake Factory but it’s a really positive relationship moment anyway.
I often fall in love with people’s words.
It takes some time, if we should finally meet
to match the words to the person I see,
hear your words in a voice I’ve never heard.
Sometimes I worry that it won’t happen,
I’ll look into your eyes and feel nothing,
or I won’t recognize you in your skin,
but can’t tell what just what it is you’re lacking.
It’s not like that, though. Like hearing covers
of a song I love, like seeing you wear
different dresses, or when you dye your hair.
One body, a thousand different lovers.
You show up in my dreams and my nightmares,
bringing a new treasure to uncover.