Like a rummage sale?

Online dating is like a rummage sale.

Ironically it was a guy I had met online who shared this perspective with me. And I have to admit that I agree. You sort through all of the “stuff” other people don’t want/didn’t way/still might want to see if you find anything you like. You may pick something up, look at it, even hold onto it for a while as you continue to search through the piles of cast-offs. Maybe you find something that lights up your eyes when you see it, but then hold it up to you and it’s just not quite right. Occasionally you may even take it home and hang on to it for a while even though you know it’s not exactly what you had been looking for, then discard it when you find something better. If you are extrememly lucky, you might find that one unique thing that you’ve been dreaming about for a long while and as soon as it’s in your hands, you are done rummaging.

In this crazy, disposable world we live in it’s so easy just to get something that fits your needs even if it doesn’t have the exact specifications that we had envisioned. That child’s tea set might come with everything except the creamer pitcher, but how often will your daughter imagine cream with her tea parties? That end table is a just the right color for your office, but it’s about 1″ too short. Maybe that “vintage” sweater you picked up at the church sale last week fits great, but you aren’t crazy about that hue of green despite all of the comments about how perfect it is on you. How often do we focus on the minor details and quickly make them into the major problems rather than thinking about what long-term impact these “deficiencies” may or may not cause? Are we too quick to make a decision, possibly ruling out something that might actually be ideal for us?

When we toss our items into the donation bin is it because we’ve grown tired of wearing that piece of clothing or using that particular bathroom rug? Is it because you bought it and it never quite fit into your life’s schematic? When we walk along the tables at the rummage sale we may turn our nose up at that odd combination of colors, but right behind us is someone who is looking for just that accessory to finish up their room. Just because something doesn’t work for us doesn’t mean it’s not ideal for someone else. And conversely – just because something didn’t work for someone else doesn’t mean it isn’t perfect for us. It takes time and patience when you are sorting through everything to find what you are looking for, you may not find it at the first few tables.

Each of us is made of a million different attributes – some genetic and some selected – that make each of us and our tastes unique. I find myself passing judgement on some of the men who post their profiles online and I know judgement is passed on me. We all wonder why previous relationships failed; why that person has been single so long; if that person is telling us the truth. We can run CarFax reports on used cars, but there is no way to find out a person’s history accurately unless they share it. We’re all rummaging through the information we’re given and have to decide whether or not to trust the source.

I find myself reading these profiles and wondering if any of it is true. At a rummage sale you might hear:  “This vase was found in George Washington’s house. We believe it was given to him by visiting clergy.” And how did you reach this conclusion? Or is it just a really creative backstory?

Dating sites bring more of these kind of questionable statements:

“It was a mutual divorce and I’m so much happier now.” Then why do you cringe every time your marriage is mentioned.

“My ex is crazy. She made up stories and the restraining order was the result of a misunderstanding.” Ummmmm…. Yikes.

“No, I haven’t had sex since my last relationship a year ago.” Riiiiiiiiight. Is that why all you talk about is sex?

“Nope. Never cheated not even once, she had no reason to be jealous of my high school friend, we just like to talk daily.” Alrighty.

“My ex and I get along well. It’s what’s best for the kids.” Then why did she move them out of state away from you for no solid reason?

What is the truth? Only our gut and BS meters can give us any clue unless we take the leap and bring that discarded human being into our life for a while, have long conversations and choose to have faith in what we are hearing. Don’t people have to do that with us, too? We all have history, holes in our stories, less than proud moments, perhaps a skeleton or two and definitely residual feelings and life lessons we are still learning. Are we too quick to make a decision because of one loose thread, a small scratch or what we determine is too much wear and tear? Sometimes our gut feeling is the best one to follow and if it feels good, let it flow. Don’t look for the issues, look for the benefits. None of us are perfect and much like everything at a rummage sale, we all have our own smudges even if you can’t see them right away. So why not pick up that vintage shirt and wear it proudly because, despite that little tear, it fits perfectly.




2 thoughts on “Like a rummage sale?

  1. You can look at it that way. I kind of see it as everyone is learning from their mistakes and growing. All the experience has (hopefully) made them smarter and they know more on what they want. The likelihood of staying in a marriage when you marry older are way higher than if you marry younger. So, the older singles have some more mileage, yes, but now they know what they don’t want, and might work out quite nicely for someone new. And besides, in finding the truth, everyone wants to put their best foot forward, even you. It always takes time to really get to know someone, online dating just a snapshot, not a movie.

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