Friday, October 15, 2010


I canceled all of my online dating profiles awhile back, in an uncharacteristically quiet and drama-free sweep of cleaning some clutter out of my life. But I've recently found myself in conversations in various venues where I've started opening up about the whole online dating thing: why I did it in the first place, the successes (0) and failures (multiple), and why I am no longer a proponent of it PERSONALLY but can see how it might work out for some people in general.

In order to understand my reason for canceling the profiles, I guess I should first state my reasons for signing up in the first place. They are, in this exact order:
1. For interesting stories.
2. To meet men in Baltimore that:
a) are not someone I've already dated
b) are not friends with someone I've already dated
c) are not currently dating or have ever dated any of my friends
d) do not frequent the same places I do thus raising the chances of awkwardness (I like a little geographical separation, if only from one neighborhood to another)
e) have tastes/interests/hobbies similar to mine.

I'm not going to regale you with stories of some of the creepsters who sent me hilarious, sad, ridiculous, and sometimes downright pervy emails. We all know they're out there, and it's a stale story that (SHOCK! SURPRISE! AWE!) there are people with less-than-average social skills crawling online dating websites. To be fair, there are people with less-than-average social skills also crawling the bar scene. They're just sometimes a little easier to spot on-line.

I will say this: it's too much information. Pulling up someone's profile and seeing all their deets in black and white, perusing their interests/hobbies/family structures/pet peeves and getting all of this information upfront is definitely one way of weeding out individuals. The power of information is not to be belittled. I sure as hell don't want to meet up with the guy who has publicly posted on his profile the fact that he got a vasectomy at 21 to avoid contributing to the overpopulation of the earth. More power to you, Dude- you weed through a substantial population of females who might want to think about procreating someday that way. And I'm not particularly interested in striking up a conversation with a hardcore right-wing Republican who attends anti-choice rallies on weekends.

But all of this works against you as well. I've been on so many dates with guys who, on paper, are my Gemini twin: same likes, dislikes, upbringing, wants, desires, views of the world. And I meet them in person and, I've discovered, having 500 things in common with someone is absolutely no guarantee of any chemistry, spark, physical attraction, or even that you'll LIKE this person. I'm well aware that one of my most insufferable habits is correcting peoples' grammar. I get this trait from my mother (who emails me when there are errors in my blog- which I have learned to love to hate.) I don't need to date someone who has this similar burning desire for grammatical correctness. It would drive me insane. I also don't need to date a guy who loves Chick Lit. Some interests are mine, should be mine alone, and are not for sharing.

And, in my day, I've fallen for guys who are virtual opposites of me in every way. It's just a matter of what works and what doesn't and no online dating profile is going to give you that particular stat upfront.

Mostly, thought, there was something very significant lacking for me with online dating, and this was the thrilling sense of an organic situation arising out of chance meeting. There is something so very intoxicating about dating that derives from everyday or random situations. Whether it's suddenly seeing a friend in a different light, or chancing into an unparalleled conversation with a stranger at a bar, or having someone answer your Craigslist ad for a roommate and subsequently dating this individual for three months thereafter. It's all about the story.

I'm not saying there's no magic to be had in online dating. I know so many people for whom it's worked out, but I just never had any luck with it and, after awhile, I started getting annoyed with it. It was one more thing to check, one more set of emails to weed through, and one more spot of homework to be done in my otherwise busy life. Then there was the attempt to set up dates. Apparently it's a pretty big turnoff when you say to a guy, "I'm pretty busy this week and next- could we meet for coffee three weeks from Tuesday?"

So maybe I wasn't really all that committed to the process to begin with. I mostly signed up out of curiosity, really. And for the stories, of course.

Example: Record for shortest date- 25 minutes. I spent 1 minute sizing up the situation and the next 24 wondering how long I had to stay before it wouldn't seem so completely rude to leave. One cup of coffee later, I was out the door dropping the totally lame coup de grace of "Oh, my friend just texted me...she needs me to pick her up." Even I was ashamed. But this date was literally painful. We had absolutely nothing to talk about, and there were actually long periods of silence where we just sort of stared at the floor or the ceiling. We couldn't even grasp at straws and talk about news headlines. It was THAT. BAD.

Mostly, though, I've found that I vastly prefer to spend my time in the company of friends and doing things that I actually like doing as opposed to going to dinner/drinks/coffee/whatever with strangers. Perhaps if I were older and had been single for longer it would be different, and I would be more interested in meeting new people online. But, for now, I'm pretty happy with where things are and much more interested in meeting someone organically as a result of all of this time spent doing things I actually like doing.

Although I have some damn good stories. Saving it for the novel that I'm going to write someday. There's a statute of limitations on certain things.

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