Tag Archives: Internet

Why I Hate Dating/Reading Helen Fisher and Feeling Vindicated

Remember that time, about a week ago, when I concluded that all of the reasons not to participate in online dating are stupid?

Let me amend that: all of the reasons not to date online are stupid unless, like me, you actually hate dating.

This admission may sound strange coming from someone who writes a blog with a title that contains the very word; I understand this. I would not blame you for assuming that my obsession with romantic love translates to a general enjoyment of meeting people and going on dates.

I think I too, at times, have assumed this logical correlation as well.

And then, at such times, I go on dates with random people and remember that, actually, dating sucks. I mean, I hear there are some who enjoy it. I don’t think I’ve ever met one, but still. (Is it me, or does everyone speak of “people who like dating” by way of identifying themselves as someone who is not among those people?)

It is easy to lose sight of this when you meet someone who is really tall and interesting and attractive and you think you might marry–or at the very least have life-changing sex with. In such situations, dating seems fun.

And in the online world it can also seem fun: for that brief initial period of time when you trade witty messages and compulsively admire each others’ profiles and the fact that you have absolutely no idea what the other person sounds like or–honestly–looks like only enhances the anticipatory excitement which leaves tantalizingly open the possibility that you might, in fact, marry.

But then–as has happened to me twice in the past week–you meet: any hopes of a second date, much less more, are quickly dashed, and you must then suffer through one-to-two hours of forced conversation with someone who looks nothing like their online photos/asks you not a single question/is startlingly arrogant and, moreover, very unlikely to be your husband.

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What I May, or May Not, Want

Even on the internet, people.

Even on the internet: the place where single people go to be sensible, calculated, methodical in their romantic pursuits–I have gone to behave just as irrationally, impulsively and–dare I say–foolishly as is my bane in real life.

Or have I?

Truth be told I’m still rather squeamish about the whole project, and hesitate to write anything. Also, when one shares something with a person, and said person responds with shock and dismissal that borders on disgust, one might hesitate to share said thing with hundreds on the internet.

Fortunately for me, I need not listen to your dismayed responses the way I had to my sister-in-law’s the other day over the phone.

And in the end, I can’t very well announce to you all that I’m going to start dating online and not follow up with some sort of report.

So: within days of posting a profile, I have begun trading messages with a handful of men. One, a 24-year old fresh from a serious relationship. Another, a 40-year old with a ten-year old son. And another in his mid-thirties who is father to three children.

(Insert sister-in-law’s disapproval here.)

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First Adventures Online

In my writing, I’ve been over some of the reasons that a person–in particular this person–might hesitate to embrace online dating. To summarize: vanity, pride and an irrevocable fear of coming across someone to whom I’ve taught freshman composition.

I’ve spilled less ink enumerating the reasons one might be compelled to date online. And they are, of course, considerable. So here we are:

For one, it’s become entirely normal: the last statistic I heard was that one in five couples meet online. I’ve taken to interrupting people who start describing their “mother’s best friend’s cousin who…met on match…” I know, I tell them, I know.

For another, it’s a good way to ensure reasonably consistent male attention during those phases when one is more couch than bar prone. (And let’s be honest: Albuquerque’s biggest and hottest barfly is hardly guaranteed a single pick-up in a given week; has the internet made people forget how to flirt?)

And, oh yeah, you might actually meet someone to go on a date with. Potentially more than one. And sometimes it’s nice to go on dates. And sometimes it’s nice to have some faith in the possibility of another.

I guess the most compelling reason to date online, though, is that all the reasons not to are actually pretty dumb and embarassing to admit. (I mean, I think the former student thing is legit–but it’s something, I’m told, I have to swallow. Apparently that’s what grown ups do.)

That was the reasoning, at least, that led to me sitting in front of my laptop yesterday with my NY best friend R, perusing the local lads of OKCupid.

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What I Learned Watching Cable

For all of the negative effects of watching a lot of television–wretched lack of productivity, indoctrination with evil, unattanable ideals of skinniness and wealth, the inability to move for hours on end because you must find out how Eva wins Season Three of America’s Next Top Model even though you Wikipedia’d the outcome three episodes ago–I have come up with at least one positive.

You see, it’s hard for me not to feel somewhat sheepish when I tell people what my blog is about. (“I’m getting an MFA in Creative Writing.” “Oh, what do you write?” “Well, these days, mostly a blog.” “Oh, what kind of blog?” “Well, um, it’s about dating…relationships…but not really. You know, it’s like, my thoughts on those things.” Befuddled facial expressions and awkward conversational transitions ensue.)

I feel sheepish about making this admission for a few reasons. But basically, I fear that I will come across as someone who a) is not a serious, literary writer and b) is obsessed with relationships. Both of which, of course, are more or less true.

But back to the cable: these hours of bingeing on mainstream television have, if nothing else, served to remind me that I’m not alone. All of us–all of you!–are obsessed with dating, romance, finding love…the whole thing. I don’t care if you want to get married or wear white when you do or you’re still finding yourself, whatever. You’re obsessed. You just don’t write a blog about it.

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Is Facebook Making Life Worse?

Over Thai curries last night with a few friends, J announced that it was the evening of her ten year high school reunion.

Implicit in her announcement was the fact that she was, in fact, here in Albuquerque with us–and not in New York celebrating with her former classmates.

“Don’t worry,” she assured the group. “I talked to my friend who’s there and it’s not that cool.” According to said friend’s report basically everyone in the class is currently working in finance. Except for the former class president, who owns a bar–and also might have a job in finance.

This led into a discussion of reunion attendance generally: I’m about to go my college 5th, S is skipping hers, I skipped my high school 5th but would contemplate the 10th.

We all agreed, though, that the traditional allure of reunions–the chance to see what people are up to who you’d otherwise never know about–is pretty diminished these days.

Thanks to Facebook, we realized, we now know more than we probably ever wanted to about people from our past. We know who is married and who is single. Who works in finance and who is still in school. Who looks a lot better than they did when they were eighteen, who looks worse and who looks exactly the same (at this point, I’d have to say: most people).

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The Constant State of Panic

As I’ve lately alluded, I am currently intrigued by the hypothetical–and possibly practical–prospect of dating someone long-distance.

(Does it seem as though I’m being deliberately cagey about my present situation? It’s true: I am being deliberately cagey about my present situation. It’s gotta be.)

Regardless, it’s also true that several of my girlfriends are now involved, to varying degrees of intensity, with men who live in different states. Men who lived in different states, I should add, when they began to be involved with them.

So, by necessity, these relationships developed and are conducted via technology: through email, over the phone and with text messages.

In other words: these relationships translate to living in a Constant State of Panic. A Constant State of Panic that the other person will not write back. That they will not call back. That they will not return a text. That they will vanish because they have met someone else, forgotten you exist or realized that they simply aren’t interested.

What, does that sound irrational?

The romance, the excitement of dating someone far away lies in the constant exchange of emotional intimacy. Since there is no regular opportunity to be intimate physically, the relationship depends on a connection that must be articulated through words–thoughts, feelings and ideas. Which is thrilling. And also, terrifying.

Of course, there is never total certainty in a relationship. Even in a marriage, as we all know, there’s always the possibility that one person can get up and leave. Love is one part of life in which protecting others means being selfish: to be with someone that we don’t truly want to be with is as toxic for them as it is for us. There is always a leap of faith.

But we’d all go crazy–or, never try and commit–if we didn’t sheath ourselves in various folds of security. Much of that involves the immediate and the physical: living together, sleeping together, eating meals and watching movies–being with someone usually means, literally, being with them.

So how do you feel secure  someone is going to stick around when they’re not actually around to begin with? Especially when they never have been?

You don’t. You trust. You write what you hope are charming and witty letters that not only maintain but further the connection already established.

And then you live in a Constant State of Panic that you’re right.

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Ode to Gchat, or Why Our Lives Make Bad TV

My grandmother–not the one who is 100, but the one with a PhD and a social calender busier than mine and whose age I would tell you, but then I’d have to kill you–forwarded me a link the other day. It was from NPR’s arts blog, Monkey See, and she asked if I knew the author.

Before I’d had a chance to fully roll my eyes (bless her news junkie heart, this grandmother loves to forward articles that I don’t always love to read), I saw that the author was, in fact, my friend and writing/life mentor, Sara Sarasohn. Eagerly, I read. The post is about two new network dramas, “Parenthood” and “Modern Family”; being a graduate student, of course, I hadn’t  heard of either. But that didn’t make her post any less interesting, or relevant.

It’s about the fact that, in order for television to realistically portray family relationships, they have to present them as different in one fundamental way: rather than communicating via technology, these fictive relatives actually see one another. In person!

I contemplated the entertainment value of a “Sex and the City” episode in which, rather than spend time with a man she’s dating–or even rather than talking to him on the phone–Carrie communicates the way most people my age do as their romantic liasons begin: over texting, and gchat.

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