The Garden Gnome Who Got My Engagement Ring + Online Dating

On the side of a highway in Calgary, Alberta, in a Canadian Tire that's frankly seen better days, sits a garden gnome wearing my engagement ring.


Alright, let's back up the bus, and I'll tell you how the ring (and me) got there.


I was in Calgary for work.


The Canadian Tire was on the edge of town, next to the hotel I was staying in. (I didn't specifically go looking for a Canadian Tire, I went looking for a place to drop off the ring and five minutes before closing time, that Canadian Tire was it.)


It wasn't a real engagement ring. It was an engagement ring/wedding ring set that I'd bought at Walmart a few years ago as a deterrent to a very annoying man I used to regularly see on the bus. (Back before I was pimpin' in my own car. Because nothing says pimpin' like a Hyundai Accent.)


Why the garden gnome? Because it seemed like a poignant way to let go of the ring and everything I had allowed it to mean. To take something that was so loaded and heavy with meaning and leave it in the hands of something as small and humble as a garden gnome, well, it helped me diminish everything that the ring symbolized.

I'd been hanging onto this ring because it was really pretty. (I'm a girl ok, and therefore no different than a Magpie; I like shiny objects.)

Every now and then I would put it on and look at it. I would imagine what that would be like if it was real. Imagine what it would be like if someone picked me.

Because isn't that what
we're taught since we were little girls? That until we are chosen by a man, regardless of anything else we've accomplished, that we are not whole and complete.

The last time I tried online dating (right after coming back from New Brunswick and the whole Captain Blue Steel episode), it convinced me that for now at least - if not forever - this was not the right channel for me to meet the kind of man I was looking for.

Online dating is like thrift store shopping: the odds are good, but the goods are odd.  (As someone who started online dating in 2006, and who grew up with her entire wardrobe coming from the Salvation Army until the age of 16, I know that of which I speak.)

Sure we might find an unexpected gem, but we have to sift through an awful lot of garbage; other people's used-up and worn-out cast-offs. (So distasteful.) And even then, no promises. That funky pair of jeans we thought was so great might actually have really weak seams that'll burst open like a tube of Pillsbury crescent-rolls the first time we bend over.

That's online dating. Only unlike the busted-up, stained jeans that are obviously no bueno, we can't always tell that about people right away. Lots of men I've dated present a shiny package, and then at the slightest amount of pressure (because life and love aren't sunshine and roses every day, making it inevitable that I'm going to need to bend over at some point) they burst at the seams, and I'm left feeling like a fool.

My last experience of online dating underlined pretty much every other experience I've ever had online, and it told me, finally, to cut that shit out. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Well I'm letting go of the crazy and I'm quitting online dating.

There's a new breed of men I've encountered: men who act as though they're doing me a favour by talking to me. (What is THAT? Entitlement? Mommy treated you like a little prince and so you think your shit don't stink?) They play coy, they act unavailable, they wait to respond to messages and then act like ice queens (and I do mean queens) if I don't respond right away. (I demand that you drop your trousers immediately and prove to me that you are actually a man because right now your behaviour indicates that you likely have a man-gina.)

That last time I was online, I connected with a man who seemed different in a good way. He sent nice messages, and didn't wait to respond to mine. He was creative, had raised two kids by himself, had started his own business, was long out of his last relationship, and he was attractive (based on the photos).

After exchanging messages for a few days, he suggested (points to him) that we have a phone conversation.

Which we did.

And then he didn't let me get a word in edgewise. Literally talked non-stop, and talked over me.
Interrupted constantly.

At one point I said (in a calm and respectful manner) "I have to be honest, this conversation is stressing me out because I can't express a complete thought before you interrupt. And that makes me feel as though you're not actually interested in getting to know me, because you're not listening to the information I'm trying to share with you."

He said "Oh yeah, I know this is a problem of mine. People have told me that repeatedly. I will try to make an effort."


(People keep telling you that and you - as of yet - have not taken any steps to change that?!)

I said "Ok, well we're all working on our stuff, so I'm still happy to meet for coffee at some point." (Wait, what? Da fuck Jasmin, really??)

"Thanks for being so understanding. I really appreciate that. A lot of people would have just ended the conversation without saying what was bothering them. I have a lot of respect for you for being able to say that."

"Absolutely. We need to let people know what's wrong and then give them the opportunity to change things if they can."

We hung up the phone shortly after that, with him saying I should let him know when I was free for coffee.

But I had a funny feeling when we hung up. So I sent him a text later that evening - testing - saying "Thanks for the chat, have a great evening."

And he never responded.

It is not my job to teach a grown man manners, or how to treat - not just a woman - but any other human being. You don't talk over people as if what you're saying matters more than what they're saying. It's rude. It's childish. (It's a phase you should have grown out of when you were 5 years old.) And it's self-centred.

TANGENT: And I guess that's that point. I'm genuinely interested in people. I know that everyone has a story and I'm curious about those stories. I want to know from everyone "What was the journey you traveled to get to where you are now?" And I'm not talking about famous people. I mean EVERYONE. If you're a cashier, a garbage man, a hotel receptionist, anything. I want to know how you ended up where you are right now. What were the choices you made, wish you hadn't made, wish you could have made? Why is your life what it is and why are you who you are?

People fascinate me.

I once explained this to my brother.

He said "You're unique in that, because most people just aren't that interested in other people. I'm not." society in general just a bunch of little narcissists?


Finding someone who is genuinely interested in getting to know another person is very rare. But that's what I expect, because that's what I offer.

Back to my original point: in my view at least, online dating is GARBAGE. I'm not anybody's mama, and I have far better things to do with my life than to re-educate a man
whose parents didn't raise him right, or who couldn't be bothered to continue raising himself where they left off.

(If I had stopped raising myself after my parents raised me, I would be a truly fucked up human being. It's because I realized that my parents had done, in some ways, such a terrible job that I sought out better ways. That's why I'm not an entitled little twat.)

If you aren't smart enough to realize that you're not a pleasant, whole, complete human being, or if you do realize it but haven't bothered to do the work to better yourself, in either case, you're not good enough for me. Because I have realized it, have done and continue to do the work on myself.

I hold myself up to a certain standard, and if I cannot hold you up to the same standard I hold myself up to, then YOU FAIL. Get off my island.

This year the two men that I was actually interested in, I met live, not online. One I met on a plane, and one I met through work (not at work, just to be clear - never shit where you eat). When we're meant to meet someone, we do.

I'm not discounting online dating entirely; I know many people have met their significant other that way.

But online dating has never, ever brought forth a serious relationship for me. So why keep trying something that clearly isn't working?

And frankly, I'm also
tired of the insults and trolling.

Examples of some of the messages I got:

Why are you still single? You're beautiful and intelligent, something must be wrong with you. (Why would someone even bother taking the time to send a message like that?)

Why don't you want to have kids? Every woman wants to have kids, you must not be normal.

Hey baby.

Hey hot stuff.

Hey Hey Hey.


In the last line of my online profile I wrote "If you decide to send me a message, start it with the line 'this is love in the modern world' (just checking to see who's reading profiles versus looking at pictures."

Approximately 60-70% of the men who messaged me DID NOT OPEN WITH THIS LINE. (Which made the filtering really easy - you didn't read my profile and/or you cannot follow simple instructions? Automatic delete.)

And the funniest thing was, a lot of the men who didn't open with that line had the nerve to say "I really liked your profile." I was tempted to respond with "That's impossible because if you had read it, that would not have been your opening line."

(I get it, men need to send a lot of messages and often they don't get answers, and so they copy paste. But what if they changed their approach? Find a few profiles of women you're really interested in, and then only send to those few with a more tailored approach. No one likes to feel as though they're one of many and that you're casting out a massive net and are willing to take anything you can catch. That's called lack of discernment, and that's kind of gross.)

My point?

If I'm meant to share my life with someone, I'm going to meet him live, face-to-face, because online dating is for the birds.

A woman would rather have a piece of a man than to be a whole woman without any kind of man... The thing you are most afraid of is of living as an individual. You have been conditioned to think that "If I don't have a man, I am worth nothing."

RC Blakes

I could have kept the ring. It was a pretty ring, it didn't have to mean anything.

Except that it did to me.

It meant waiting. Thinking that when that happens, when someone picks me, my life will be whole and complete. That I will be whole and complete.

It meant waiting for someone to rescue me. Waiting to hand over autonomy of my life. Do we all want that, in some ways? Trying at life all the time can be challenging. Exhausting. And so it's tempting to say to someone else "Here are the keys to my heart and my life, you decide, because I'm tired of this."

I think many people do this; I suspect this is why divorce is so difficult. It's not only the loss of the familiar and having someone be "there," but suddenly taking the reins of one's life again. And if we were used to handing over a lot of the decision making to someone else, then making all those decisions and being solely responsible for ourselves can be frightening.

I've never been married or in a long term relationship. But by golly have I bought into all the Disney fantasies that say that my story cannot begin until a man has chosen me.

It would be easy now to go into an angry rant about women's right, and how I am whole and complete without a man (all true), but it doesn't change society as a whole.

We as women need to call out society and say "FUCK. THAT. NOISE."

I had to let go of the ring. Because I had to let go of the idea that being chosen by a man is something that I need to have in order to define myself.

To be honest, I'm not entirely sold on the idea of marriage from a practical aspect. In theory getting married, having a wedding, and all of that, well it sounds romantic. But marriage itself? In practical application? I'm not so sure.

Shared bills and dirty laundry and a mortgage. I don't know what about any of those things screams "LOVE" at someone. Familiarity breeds contempt.

I do not know a single person that I love so much that I want them to be around me ALL THE TIME. Hell, I don't want to be around MYSELF all the time, so someone else? That's a hard pass.

I like the romantic fantasy, and I think that's what a lot of us like. We think that somehow that commitment will fix the things that aren't totally right in the relationship, or that they will suddenly become unimportant, instead of the reality that having the marriage license actually becomes the big fat yellow highlighter for all of those things.

Every Disney movie ends where real life begins: with the wedding. I want to see what happens after the Little Mermaid realizes that she gave up her identity - what made her who she was - for a Prince who maybe watches sports all weekend, and who doesn't respect her enough to leave the room when he has to let out a rank fart.

But how are the fantasies we have any different than that of the Little Mermaid?

So with this ring (that I gave to the garden gnome) I let go of the idea of being married, and being "chosen" by a man. I don't know if that's important to me. I know that it is important to me at some point to have a romantic partner to share love with, to learn and grow with. But in what context? What will that paradigm look like? I don't know. If I am meant to share my life with someone, then he and I will decide that for ourselves. Until then I'm rocking the solo act, and will keep on rocking it for as long as I am alive, because no matter who I share my life with, it's important to me to always remain an independent woman.

With this ring, I let go of the idea that the key to my happiness is in someone else's pocket. No matter how wonderful and amazing our partners are, our life experience is still very much our own. I am deciding to be and always continue being the conscious creator of my own life.

That face I've been looking for in the crowd? Of the person who will always be there for me, never let me down, love me through the ups and downs, the fats and the thins, the richer and poorer, the sickness and the health, the failures and the successes?

It's my face.

I'm the one I've been looking for.

Something's telling me it might be me
Yeah it's telling me it must be me
And I'm feeling it'll just be me
All of my life
It's me
It's me
I've been waiting for all of my life

Jasmin Wolf

A woman who values herself doesn’t waste any time trying to convince anyone to value her.

If I have to negotiate with you to get the things I give freely to you, then you are not worthy of me.

A Queen never negotiates. If she is not freely given the things she knows she deserves, she silently walks away, dignity intact, knowing that he will regret for the rest of his life the fact that he lost her.

I have found the courage not to allow the world to define and valuate me, and instead have decided to define and valuate myself.

My value is based on WHO I AM, and not on WHAT I HAVE. (That includes a wedding ring.)

*mic drop*


Post a Comment

Hey there! Thanks for taking the time to provide your feedback.

Your comment will be published after review.

Popular Posts