I thought we could be more than friends — then I got the Big Apple brushoff: Dating Diaries | #facebookdating | #tinder | #pof

Ronald is a 48-year-old production manager who lives downtown.

He says “My personal style is ‘non-existent’.” He is “funny,” “empathetic” and “protective” and says “I am largely focused on logistics at work, but I have a passionate creative side.

“I love watching live performances, especially comedy. Sketch, standup and improv. COVID-19 has put a stop to that, for now.”

He says “I also love to travel, spend quality time with friends, and play basketball, all things that are on pause. The only hobby I have left, at the moment, is cooking.”

I encountered Isabella on a singles cruise. There was a mixer the first night. She was younger and very pretty. I didn’t ever get to talk to her much, because she was travelling with friends, but when I did, I really enjoyed it.

On the last night of the cruise, Isabella happened to sit with me on a bench on the open deck. To the sound of water rushing past, she told me her story. She had experienced, and met, a lot of challenges in life. I was filled with sympathy and admiration. We exchanged contact information before we disembarked the next day.

After the cruise, life took over and we were out of touch for a while. I actually had some events occur that mirrored what had happened in Isabella’s life, and I felt a stronger connection to her. I felt like no one could understand my situation better than someone who had been through it. Isabella and I started messaging regularly.

As we got closer, at least online, my thoughts had been turning to telling her that I had feelings for her, and that I felt we could be “suitable” for each other. I decided that I needed to see her in person.

I talked to her about travel dates, and we agreed to have dinner. I booked a flight to New York, and a bus ticket back to Toronto. I wanted to arrive fresh for dinner, but didn’t mind taking the bus back to economize.

However, Isabella changed her mind and asked if we could meet in the afternoon instead. She told me that she had an appointment in the evening on that day. I was able to change my flight time. She suggested we meet at a mall close to the airport. I agreed. I had a room booked for one night at a hotel nearby. If things worked out the way I hoped, I could extend my reservation at the hotel, and change my bus ticket.

I arrived very early, so I decided to go shopping before meeting up with Isabella. Inevitably, I got delayed, and she ended up having to wait for me. It was great to see her in person again. I asked her if I could get her something to eat. We both got something light and sat down.

We talked easily enough, but the conversation was mostly stilted, nothing like the connection we had forged on the cruise and online. She asked me point-blank why I’d come so far just to spend time with her. I replied that I was hoping we could be more than friends.

I said that I’d hoped that we would spend the day together, and maybe the next day, too. She replied that she had never thought of me “that way.” She told me that she wanted me as a friend, but nothing more. After that, I didn’t really know what to say.

She talked a little more, then looked at the time and said she had to go. She drove me to the local bus station. As I got out of her car, I leaned in for a perfunctory kiss on the cheek. We waved goodbye awkwardly.

I thought of leaving right away and taking the night bus back to Toronto, but I wouldn’t get a refund on the hotel room, so I took a bus to the hotel and checked in. I thought about going into Manhattan, but didn’t feel that I’d enjoy a Broadway show, or anything else. By this time, I was just focused on cutting my losses. I turned on the TV and fell asleep.

Isabella and I continued to be friends on Facebook. Eventually, I felt relief that we hadn’t ended up together, as she started to post things on her wall that I found strange, and turned out to have vastly different perceptions of reality than I did. We weren’t all that suitable for each other, after all.

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Ronald rates his date (out of 10): 7

Want to be a dating diarist? Or have you been on a virtual or socially distanced date during the pandemic? First-date drinks on Zoom, or a long-distance dinner and movie night on FaceTime, or a socially distanced coffee hang at the park? The Toronto Star’s “Dating Diaries” wants to know all about it! Email datingdiariescontact@gmail.com for more details.

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