Thursday, January 13, 2022




Online dating is a headache, live vicariously through someone else’s experiences to make yourself feel better…

By Shannon Yingst

IF THEY CAN'T KISS RIGHT: SURVIVING ONLINE DATING, Creative Nonfiction, Tyburn Hill Media Co., 150 pp.

Online dating: the new way of life. It seems like the only logical way to meet people anymore. The rest of our lives are on the internet, so why not our love lives too? Because if you wait for your friends to set you up, you’ll only be disappointed with their choice of Roger from accounting, the epitome of mouth breathing, booger eating morons.

Fortunately, there are no Rogers from accounting in this tale. There are, however, many other bad choices. But along the way, I learned what I want, and what I don’t want in a relationship. I learned good qualities to seek and bad qualities to leave behind. I also learned a lot about myself in the process, too. The biggest gain I got from my foray into online dating, though? Writing this book and passing along some of the life lessons I discovered through a painful trial-and-error process.

If you think your dating life is bad, take a gander at mine. Relive the awkward moments, soak in the unnecessary drama, and don’t forget to learn a thing or two. Men and women alike will be able to read this and take-home solid dating advice for the future.

Laugh. Learn. Love. Question why some humans are so insane. Maybe even see yourself in some of the pages. But above all, take to heart all the things I figured out along the way. It’ll save you the heartache and trouble. Trust me.

Chapter 1: Oceans Away

I spent three years of my life in a negative relationship with a man that lived over three thousand miles away, in the UK. Miles and miles of ocean and land separated us, but I thought he was the only man that would ever love me.

            Always the fat girl in class, my life revolved more around making others laugh rather than pursuing crushes. That is not to say I didn't try chasing them anyway. I knew the outcome, though: the boys always liked the other girls, the skinny girls. Me? I was the ‘fun friend’. My yearbooks are filled with homages to my sense of humor and even sometimes to my friendly nature. Other girls were told to call the boys over the summer, reminded of their beauty, and endlessly complimented. My sense of humor was about all anyone ever noticed about me.

            "Am I ugly?" I would ask close friends. No matter what age, I always got the same answer in some form or another.

            "Don't be ridiculous. You're really funny and that counts for a lot." They would smile wide with kind eyes, avoiding mine. My question never directly answered. I began to think this was all for me – humor. My only redeeming quality. I would never be ‘pretty’ in a conventional sense.

            Now this isn't to say that beauty and boys are everything in life. I can guarantee you that they will never be everything in your life. They aren’t in mine. They are a side mission, not a main quest. However, I wanted nothing more than to find a man to join my story, to build along with me. I think we all want someone with whom to share our journey.

Right now, you’re reading this book for one of three reasons. Reason A: the humor in which each story unfolds - a good laugh is great for your skin* (*not medically proven.) Reason B: you want to avoid some of the same speed bumps I hit and save your sanity. Reason C: you want to see if our stories match and make sure everything is going as normal as possible. Relatively speaking. I don’t really mind whichever reason it is, but I do hope you gain something from my tale, and my sage wisdom. That being said, let me take you back to where this all started.

Desperate to fill that superficial abyss, I landed with the man from England.  

            We agreed that we would never see other people. We agreed it was a real relationship, despite only seeing each other twice a year, during my Christmas break from college and in the summer after school ended. He could easily get time off work, and spent most, if not all of it, with me. Looking back now, I'm not sure if it was selfish of me to take all his vacation time. Of course, he never let me forget how much it cost his wallet. Never mind that I worked all summer long and was barely able to afford my trip to him come December.

            Yet, no matter what, no matter how much each of us spent, it was never enough. The heartbreak we had to suffer each time the trip came to a close was immensely painful. It was like taking down decorations after a holiday: you're happy to get back to normal life, but some of the flair is missing and you feel it every day it's gone. Except with the relationship, things never went back to that sense of normalcy. It just got harder as the days went.

            The drives back to the airport were always quiet. Our last moments together for months and we spent them in silence with the occasional sniffle as we held back tears. The last time we were together (before we decided on a major change), I couldn't stop crying. I held onto him in the airport and repeated the same sentence over and over for five minutes straight.

            "I don't want to leave you," my voice whimpered between chest-deflating sobs. He would rub my back and rest his cheek on the top of my head cooing a shush. His tears hit my hair faster than my tears soaked his shirt. Maybe we both knew it was the end for us. There had to be something in us knowing we would never do this again. The painful goodbyes were over. We would never watch each other walk away into the long airport security lines again.

            "Hey, look at me. The next time you're on a plane here will be the last time you fly alone. Next time, I'll be with you. And every time after that. It will be us. Together." He kept his words hushed. Not because he didn't want anyone else to hear, but because he was doing his damn best to soothe my blubbering self. I nodded, wiping tears off my red-blotched cheeks. My hand gripped the handle of my suitcase and I felt the heaves within my chest slow. That was the last time I was truly in his arms. The last time the emotion had any real meaning. It was mere weeks later it ended.

            After that big change I mentioned.

            I had planned to leave behind the United States to be with him in England. My family, friends, my entire life would change in order to be with this man I had fought with more times than dreams of him filled my mind. Ironically, I often made up dreams to tell him because he would tell me about ones he had involving me. My mind wandered during the day, but come night, my subconscious never even bothered. I had more dreams about hockey players that I'd never met as opposed to the man I planned on spending the rest of my life loving. That probably should have hit me like a ton of bricks, but it didn't. In the end, it came down to one mistake. That one mistake showed me everything I overlooked. Everything I pushed aside because I thought he was it, my only one. 

            In our last seven weeks together, we tested everything we knew about being in a relationship. We never spent more than three weeks together at a time over our three year stint. Yet here we were, getting ready to be together for a large block of time. He was in America for two weeks to see me graduate from college, and then I flew back with him to spend five weeks in England. And if that went well, it was going to be forever.

My time staying with him was amazing at first. He would wake up and kiss me goodbye as he left for work. I would have dinner ready for when he got home. Minus the night his roommate told me the cooktop was on low when it was actually on high and it burnt the meatballs beyond recognition. Everything seemed perfect.

            But, as everyone knows, perfect can't last.

            We began fighting. Stupid, pointless, absurd fights. One night he was in his kitchen, running around trying to make a nice dinner for the two of us. He was sweating and overwhelmed. When I offered help, he took it, but criticized every single thing I did.

            "Can you knock it the fuck off?" My voice was straight and low, my hands steady on the knife and cutting board.

            "I just want the carrots cut thicker." His jaw was squared, eyebrows furrowed.

            "There isn't enough time to have thick-cut carrots cook. We need them thin because everything else is already done. I'm not an idiot, I can cut carrots." My eyes closed, but I still could feel the heat in the kitchen adding to my already boiling blood.

            "I don't want thin carrots."

            "Well I'm not waiting all day for thick carrots to cook."

            "Then get out of the kitchen." He took the carrots off the cutting board and waited for me to leave. I went upstairs to his room and sat on the bed staring out the window. An hour later, he came into the room slowly and placed a plate down in front of me on the bed before turning on the TV. I heard his fork hit the plate and then he started chewing with his mouth open. A habit I hadn't noticed before spending that kind of time together, but it grew more and more annoying each day. I think he picked it up from his roommate because I didn't remember this habit when we were first together.

Maybe I was blissfully unaware before, and now was slowly falling out of love. Maybe the fight just opened my eyes a little wider to all the flaws. Either way, there they were, on display. Crowned by that horrible smacking of open-mouth chewing. And don’t tell me the sound of a human chewing like a cow is sweet and endearing. Because it’s not. At least to me. After a few minutes, he stopped and angrily sighed. "Aren't you going to eat? I cooked a nice meal."

            "I'm not hungry, thanks."

            "Are you fucking kidding me?" The bed shook as he stood in a huff. He threw his fork onto the plate with a loud clink. I saw his hand reach over and snatch the plate from in front of me and, in a blur, threw it behind me into the trash can with such force that it broke into a ton of pieces. Food and broken plate scattered all around, and a few bit even landed in the trashcan. He stormed off with his plate and didn't come back to the room until I had fallen asleep, and was gone by the time I woke up the next morning.

            It was that night and the following night I was so upset that I forgot to take my birth control. That second night without birth control, we also had sex. I was still upset, but wanted to make him happy, so I pretended to be okay. Unfortunately, we had decided not to use condoms anymore. We were in a committed relationship, both clean…and both so stupid. He told me that condoms hurt him and made it harder for him to stay erect. I foolishly let him go without one. Yet when the pregnancy scare happened, all of the blame went to me. He only had one thing to say about the whole thing.

            "You have three choices: keep it, abort it, or give it away. I'm not comfortable giving it away and we can't be together if you keep it." So, only one choice, really. He offered no support, no kind words, nothing to help me feel less trapped. He blamed sleepless nights on me and piled all of his stress on this accident. It wasn't a mistake we both were in together, it was all on my shoulders. He started ignoring me. Days would pass without him even sending a smile. 

            When I found out I wasn't pregnant, it was the beginning of the end. Nothing ever felt the same after that. Eventually I told him I wasn't moving to the UK. I couldn't. Not if he was going to blame me for every mishap, isolate me, and make me feel like nothing more than a mistake. There was nowhere I could go, no friends or family to rely on if he were to tear me down like that again. After I told him all of this, all of the empty feelings and worry I had about moving there to be with him, about how I didn't think I could do it, he responded with, "Okay, it's over."

            I've had problems with self esteem my entire life from being overweight. It affected me in ways you could never imagine. As I write this sentence now, I feel the dread of a ‘not good enough’ mental breakdown creeping up. It always lurks in the back of my mind, waiting for the perfect time to leap and sink into the depths of my heart where no daylight can get, no matter how bright it shines. I end up drowning in the warm sunlight while my still beating heart continues to pump cold thoughts. Never good enough is not a good slogan for yourself.

You are always good enough. Always. I promise.

            It was only a week after getting back to the States when I wanted to see what was out there for me, for an overweight twenty-something. It hit me hard, the idea that guys could still like me despite the way I look. Despite my weight, despite my less-than-average face. Despite that, and despite my own person reservations, I am considered desirable. Maybe not as much as other women, but enough to get me laid. Apparently. 

            However, time for a 180 as I turn this sob story into a continuous ‘what the fuck’ moment.

            Let me show you the world of dating apps and what actually happens when people say ‘I totally want to date’ and then live on that lie for months while they awkwardly spend time and money on someone for an entirely too expensive, and mediocre, fuck.

            It's really not as glamorous as movies and TV make it out to be. It's mostly a lot of ‘what do I do now’ moments, followed by naked escapades, and confused drives home where you laugh out loud at yourself with a little bit of crying. Or maybe a lot of crying. It all depends, you know?

            Here is where I beg any family members to stop reading. Seriously. Please.

            To the rest of you: join me. Marvel in my disasters. Take notes. I have plenty of excuses for getting out of bad dates, examples of what not to do, and little tidbits of life advice I'm sure you'll want to take along with you in your pocket right next to your condom. Don't do everything I did. Or do, I'm not your mother. Maybe by the end of this, you'll feel like an amazing person with new found confidence gained from reading about how I found confidence. Or you gained it because you feel better than me after all my stupid mistakes. Either way, congrats!

            Disclaimer: The rest of these pages contain copious amounts of profanity, crass behavior, and graphic descriptions of sex. I’m not going to apologize if you get offended, but I did warn you.


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Shannon Yingst
 is a woman with dreams far beyond her reach. Not because she isn’t ambitious, but because she is short, and her dreams are on the high shelves. On her tip toes reaching for those dusty aspirations, she hopes to achieve the daunting task of entertaining the masses with the written word. Shannon likes to write while listening to Star Wars soundtracks, stand outside while it snows, and get confused playing board games. She would love to spend her days reading on the beach with a waiter bringing her frozen margaritas and snacks as the sun moves about the sky, but for now, she will continue to work at her desk in Jersey.

If They Can’t Kiss Right: Surviving Online Dating is her latest book.

You can visit her blog at or connect with her on Twitter.

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