Online Dating and The Things Grandmothers Know: Part One

So, my grandmother is reading my blog. Not Grandma Edith, whose 100th birthday I am going home to New York this weekend to celebrate.

No, my other grandmother: the one who is approximately twenty years younger but who, if I mention her actual age–or ever, ever address her as “Grandma”–might physically injure me. This grandmother is savvy, hip and smart: she publishes her own newsletter and has a PhD. (When I told her I’d gotten into Columbia for grad school and would have a hard time saying no, she dismissed me with “Why? Honey, I have three degrees from Columbia and I am starving.”) She is a fiercely rabid, Rachel Maddow-loving Democrat and, generally, as open-minded as New Yorkers come.

But, occasionally, her more traditional values emerge. Such as the time she caught me smoking pot in high school. Or when she looks at me plaintively and asks why I can’t just wear some mascara. Or, last night: when she emailed me about how sorry she is that I have such trouble with men and: is there a dating service in Albuquerque/Santa Fe I might try?

I chose to interpret “dating service” as “online dating,” and no, I must tell her, and you, I cannot try. For one–though I know it might be difficult to glean from my current blog habit–I am feeling so overwhelmed between school, writing and teaching these days I sometimes think I don’t have time to pee.

And, also, I’ve tried it. Once, while living in Washington DC. It wasn’t a highly deliberate decision: I was messing around one evening with my then-group-house mates, checking out random JDate profiles, when I came across one that caught my interest. To see his full page, I had to sign up. So I did. Needless to say, when I finally I went out with this man I found him to be a total bore with little resemblance to his profile picture.

Over the course of my month-long subscription, I met one person who I clicked with. We had two glorious dates, I told my mother I thought he might be “the one,” and before our third dinner he called to say he had to go to Kenya for work and might or not might not call me in four to six weeks. (He didn’t, and I recently heard that he is engaged to a woman I briefly lived with during college; they met through friends).

So, please forgive my lack of enthusiasm.

Then there’s the other reason–the one I’ve written about in a Valentine’s Day column for, coming out later this week–which is that I love a story. I stand by the essay. But in truth, I’m realizing what a sorry excuse that is too.

I realized this the other day, when I asked a colleague in my MFA program how he and his wife met. He immediately responded “!” and then launched into his presumably standard anecdote about how he’d just made a rule about not dating women on the West side and she was just signing a lease over there and…and I realized: everyone‘s got a story. Not just those of us who randomly meet people on public transportation (which, as I’m sure I’ll write about at some point and is included in the NPR essay, I sometimes do). Even those of us who meet, successfully, through the internet.

So, to summarize: clearly , as busy as I am, I’ve got the time. I had a bad experience, but that was years ago in a different city–and, hey, at least I met someone I thought was interesting. Even if he is about to marry someone else. And the whole “story” thing is just kinda silly.

But still, I won’t do it. Maybe I’m just being lazy, or stupidly embarrassed, or soooo early 2000’s about it, but I’m not ready to believe that I need to go through a “dating service” to find the person I’m meant to be with. And, I suppose there’s the possibility that I’m simply not ready to find that person.

Either way, the last time I assured my grandmother that I’d like to get married “eventually,” she wasn’t impressed.

Eventually?” she intoned.

I told her to relax, I had a timeline in my head–one for marriage and children that far outpaces some friends of Β mine who are actually in serious relationships.

“The thing is,” I told her, “I’ve got an idea, but really, I don’t have any control.”

She sighed sympathetically. I know she understands.


Filed under Love Life

2 responses to “Online Dating and The Things Grandmothers Know: Part One

  1. Your grandmother sounds awesome. πŸ™‚

    And don’t knock the online sites. Some of the best relationships of my life came from Don’t make it your ONLY method of meeting people, of course, but just think of it as another way to put yourself out there. πŸ™‚


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