Online Dating: The Best Thing I Did For Love Was Go Offline
I recently took a big step in my dating life and it wasn’t going online - it was getting off.
Undoubtedly, the decision will cause my girlfriends and mother to shudder, sputtering something about needing to put myself out there, that good men don’t just knock at one’s door and adding that good ‘ole faithful fear-inducing truism for extra impact: I ain’t getting any younger.
They’ll then recount their favourite online success stories, my mom surely repeating the one about our cousin Stu who lived in his mother’s basement until the age of 39 when he went online, found “the one” and is now married with two kids and living in a cute bungalow next door. Inspiring.
I’ll stand my ground though. For one thing, with millions of hopefuls sifting through virtual profiles each day, the odds of success seem akin to a winning lotto ticket. But here’s the more nefarious issue about online dating that resulted in my digital divorce: the anonymity and passivity it engenders tends to attract a smorgasbord of oddball, less-than-honest and highly complacent candidates.
After all, creating a profile and emailing the lovely faces thrown your way is easy. But solid, healthy relationships are borne of integrity, commitment to the process and an open heart, tough stuff I saw minimally in my experience online.
The final straw came by way of a man named Daniel. After forgetting about our first date, he emailed me apologizing and asked to re-schedule, capping his message with a few LOLs for good measure. Because, as we all know, a 40-plus male who relies on that acronym for effect demonstrates maturity and the propensity for healthy communication.
I let it go. We’re all so busy these days, I said to that voice in my head—the one who knows way more than we want it to, taking its cue from something called instinct. It’s the same voice that warns you about guys who seemingly prefer the comforts of an e-relationship or who pose standoffishly in their profile pics—hiding behind shades, tight abs, a smirk or the token child. They’re not looking for a relationship, it says. An ego boost maybe, a fling perhaps. But not a relationship. Or they’re married.
Not sure which category Daniel fell into since that second date never did come to pass. But the experience inspired me to take stock of my foray online, a part sordid, part frustrating and part comical on-again-off-again affair.
Let’s start with Tim, whose first email played up our shared passion for tennis and running. After I tried exploring those hobbies further on our first date, he sheepishly admitted to having never picked up a racket and a fierce distaste for exercise. He simply buttressed his profile with interests that mirrored mine to create an image of mutuality. When I appeared taken aback, Tim extolled the virtues of being single. Um.
Then there was Adam. On our first time out together, he thought it a good idea to recount, in detail, his previous five dates that week. It was Wednesday. He then proceeded to wax poetic about his ex-girlfriend - while reaching for my hand. Very romantic. Next, Adam revealed his most fervent goal: etching more notches in his coital belt, a mission the frustrated boy adopted after reading an article about the number of conquests of the average male – and finding himself on the low end of the spectrum. The mood obviously set, Adam leaned in closer, pursed lips searching for a partner. Apparently, timing wasn’t his strong suit. It may explain his sub-par numbers.
Oh and let’s not forget about Ryan. After a few innocent emails, he thought it a good idea to send me an X-rated selfie. Upon blocking his email and banging my head against the wall a dozen times, I made a mental note: next time a guy tells me to await a message, back away from the desk or risk spitting coffee over the keyboard. And, for God;s sake, get off those dating sites.
Yes, I will need to find other outlets to meet a partner. I will have to accept more invites to events and parties. I will need to be more open to setups. I may even have to loiter at the local hardware store. It won’t be easy, this search of mine. But the way I see it, ending one of the most unproductive and disappointing relationships I’ve had is a darn good first step.
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