As my love sabbatical reaches its final weeks, I’ve had some time to ponder about why I despise online dating as much as I do. For one thing, I find the whole idea to be completely unnatural, but that’s probably because in my mind it’s still 1995 and my see-through pager clipped onto my waistband is my most technologically advanced mode of communication. I suppose I should just accept that this is how shit works these days, but I don’t roll like that. I always want to fight the system. Basically, I’m a pain in the ass.
I particularly hate online dating because it allows men to be perverts behind the comfort and anonymity of their cell phones, and to dick around with women by texting them and then ghosting them. I truly do believe that this modern ability has changed the way men are as a gender.
And speaking of cell phones – ugh. It makes me sad when I think about the fact that kids these days will never experience the sheer terror of dialing their crush’s home phone number and having to talk to their parents first. Nor will they understand what it’s like to pull the phone cord halfway out of the phone on order to get enough length to be able to squeeze into the closet for some privacy. The idea of text messaging someone was something out of a science fiction movie. My version growing up was passing notes asking boys to rank me and my friends on a scale of 1-10 (glutton for punishment and needy of attention even then, I know). What happened to “Do you want to go out with me? Check yes or no?” Sob.
Life was so much easier then.
When you got older, you met people naturally – through friends, in bars, or in other social situations. Now all of a sudden, the “old fashioned way” seems impossible – it’s as if nobody has friends, drinks, or socializes anymore!? Well, let’s be serious, everyone still drinks, but somehow nobody seems to meet anyone organically, and that’s what I don’t quite understand.
When online dating first came on the scene, it was a mortifying concept. If someone suggested you go online, you basically took that as a personal insult meaning “you have no chance of someone ever meeting you and liking you in real life so you might as well go online and hope that someone likes your picture and can eventually learn to live with you.” Basically you were a pariah. Online dating was the equivalent of putting yourself in a police line-up and hoping that nobody recognized you. It was a humiliating idea and reeked of desperation. Like masturbating, nobody really talked about it and most people who created accounts did so in complete secrecy.
Eventually online dating lost its stigma, as people began to accept that there, literally, was no other way that they were ever going to get laid again, let alone married, unless they posted their picture on the internet along with a perfect profile snapshot – witty, but not pretentious. Cute, but with an edge. It was a lot of work putting that shit together and often it took the help of at least two friends to get it right. And then you would have to sit and wait for the messages to start rolling in. But when they did, it was admittedly euphoric. It was like a really good high. Suddenly you went from single and bored to single and mingling. It almost felt as if you had a life; chatting away with perfect strangers and going to bed at night feeling like you really still had it. You were on fire!
But then you realized you might actually have to meet these people in person. Suddenly your vetting out the busiest coffee houses with the most security cameras in order to meet a guy who turns out be 10 years older than in his picture and 5 inches shorter. Out goes the euphoria, in comes the depression.
I pushed off online dating for as long as possible. I vaguely remember its emergence and thinking that you would never catch me dead on one of those sites. Then I met the ex husband and got married. Years later when I was getting divorced, it appeared as if the entire dating world had changed. I did not want to go online, but apparently while I had been off in married land, online dating not only became socially acceptable, but it was actually the preferable way of meeting people. Now I had no choice.
You have to be in it to win it.
I will never forget my first experience with online dating. It was right before the holidays and six months after my separation. Knowing myself like I do, I knew that if I spent that week home alone in the house that my husband had moved out of, I would spend the entire week in the same pair of sweatpants, in the same spot on the couch, eating take out and ice cream and drinking wine out of the bottle. And probably not showering. So in an effort to preserve my sanity and hygiene, I grudgingly decided to set up a few online dating profiles in the hopes that it would keep me distracted enough on my time off to forget for a few minutes that my life had just fallen apart. I ended up quickly setting up 4 dates for my upcoming week off. At least I had an excuse to shower now.
Date #1: Never spoke to him on the phone, but chatted via text message. He sent me a selfie of himself wearing a wifebeater (red flag number one) and suggested we meet at Houlihans (red flag number two). Since this entire idea was merely to get me off of my couch and out of my house, I wasn’t really being too particular. When I arrived at the “restaurant” my date met me by the door. From the way he was dressed I could tell that he was definitely the type of guy who wears his hats sideways. Then he spoke. At that moment I realized the importance of speaking to someone on the phone before agreeing to meet – something I had failed to do. My date sounded like Daffy Duck. Calling what he had a speech impediment would be an understatement. It was uncomfortable. So I ordered a large drink and just smiled and nodded since I had no clue what every other word coming out of his mouth was. I was out of there and back into my sweatpants within 45 minutes, after giving some lame excuse for having to jet. It was clearly going to be a long week
Date #2: After learning my lesson, I insisted that he call me to set up the date. He seemed funny-ish and normal-ish and he didn’t have a lisp, so that was cool (amazing how that had now become a selling point). We decided to meet at a nice restaurant that I hadn’t been to yet. He was waiting for me when I got there and when we sat down I proceeded to tell him how I almost had an altercation out front with some “c*nt who tried to steal my parking spot.” Yep, I’m a classy broad. When his eyes got wide and he didn’t laugh I knew this one was going to be a losing battle. Which was fine with me since he was shorter than he admitted to being and clearly had zero sense of humor. I finished my meal with Mr. White Bread and made another mental note to myself to try not to drop the c-bomb until at least the 2nd date (or 2nd story on a first date?) Never heard from him again.
Date #3: Christmas day. We met at a diner and ate bowls of Matzo ball soup together. He was super nice. As I sat across from him and his beard, I wondered if I would be able to kiss him. I decided probably not, but he was still pretty good company. We spent an hour exchanging stories of both of our current separations and of our exes and what had transpired. So basically we spent our entire date breaking the cardinal rule of “thou shalt not talk about thy exes on thy first date.” But it was actually cool and it was the first time I actually was able to relax and be comfortable with strange guy. It was like a good therapy session with an old friend. I wasn’t physically into him and clearly he was in no position to be dating yet, as we realized early on, but the company was good and the soup was even better. We parted ways and agreed to staying in touch, which we did, for about a couple of weeks.
Date #4: At this point, my vacation week was nearing its end, and I was exhausted from all of this unsuccessful dating. I didn’t even remember who I had set up my last date with, as it had seemed like so long ago. I quickly looked him up again – really cute! Probably going to be terrible. Art, or Mr. Nice Guy, asked me to meet him at a trendy sushi joint in a neighboring town. With zero expectations, and having only had brief interactions with him leading up to that night, I got dressed, relieved that this would be the last time I would have to do this for a while. I was totally over this shit. I had helped to pass the time, but it was not my cup of tea. After that night, I would take my accounts down and move on. I showed up at the restaurant 5 minutes early and waited. Art texted me that he would be a few minutes late, as he was driving around searching for parking. Ten minutes later, the door opened up and my heart skipped a beat. He was totally hot. When he saw me a huge grin spread across his face. I realized for the first time, in all of my dates, that I was feeling nervous. Suddenly I actually cared about how this date was going to go.
We had to wait for our table so we grabbed a drink at the bar. It was immediately clear that we just clicked. Conversation was easy, he did not get tripped up by my sarcasm or humor, and he was really engaging and attentive. We finally sat and I attempted to fluster him by insisting that he order for us (I think you can tell a lot about someone by what they order off of a sushi menu…seriously). Art was a great sport and ordered pretty much what I would have. We ate and talked and had a few glasses of wine, and before we knew it we were the last ones in the restaurant. We grudgingly got up to leave and Art insisted on walking me to my car. We stood there for a brief moment – I began to thank him and tell him what a great time I had, but before I could get the words out, he grabbed my face and kissed me. He was a great kisser.
Five minutes later, after sucking face in front of my car in the cold, I offered to drive Art back to his car. We then proceeded to spend another ten minutes making out in my car. Finally, we came up for air, and Art said, “I don’t want tonight to end yet. Do you want to go somewhere else?” At this point I was on a total high and I agreed. We hit up a local bar, and when we shut that place down, found another dive bar that was still open. Before we knew it, it was almost 3 am. As we said goodbye for the final time, Art asked me if he could see me the next night. It was really refreshing to meet someone who wasn’t worried about looking too eager and who wasn’t trying to play games. Besides, the truth was, I wanted to see him again too. I agreed to the next night – or actually later that day, technically.
Three weeks after meeting Art, and spending nearly every day together, I was in a new relationship. It was extremely quick and unexpected, but it was also everything that I needed in my life at that time. Unfortunately that relationship did not last, but we had a good year and a half together. I considered myself to be an online dating success story! So needless to say, when I was ready to get back in the game, I assumed that it was going to be easy enough to meet someone else as awesome as Art.
Yeah – not so much.
Since I’ve gotten back online, it has all turned to shit. It’s been one dating disaster after another. In fact, everything is different this time around except for one thing:
I’ve met at least three more guys with speech impediments.
What the fuck?