I think I’m doomed to be single forever.
I was just checking out this infographic from “The Truth About Online Dating” and remembered a recent Jezebel article about the inevitability of online dating for single people. The numbers don’t look good for me. You see, as a 30-something single girl, I am a veteran of online dating. In fact, I should be a four-star general by now. I made my first foray into Internet matchmaking sometime around 1999, when I was a college student on a rural campus that was utterly lacking in interesting and available men. I’d never had a boyfriend before, and at first dating sites seemed miraculous. I wrote to a boy who sounded exactly like the lab partner I’d been crushing on all semester (he wasn’t), and ended up in my first relationship within several weeks. N. and I dated about until I graduated college a year later. The breakup was not totally mutual, but we both understood it was necessary. He was attending grad school locally, I was about to move several states away for a graduate program that would eventually require me to spend time doing fieldwork abroad. N. and I remain friends to this day, but our pairing also inspired another relationship that would be much longer and more tumultuous: My 10+ year relationship with Internet dating.
Since the late 90s, I have had profiles on pretty much every site you could name, past or present: Match.com, eHarmony, Yahoo! Personals, Lava Life, OK Cupid, and even that ill-fated outing on Craigslist. I’ve thrown good money after bad, always with the stubborn belief that there is someone out there for me, and I’m just not capable of running into him in real life. The result? Aside from my long-term friendship with N., there was the guy who broke off our engagement, my nearly three-year on-and-off merry go round with this guy, and a lot of hilarious bad date stories that went nowhere. After my last date with an online suitor last year, a winner from OK Cupid who spent our entire coffee date checking out other women and describing his last sexual encounter in detail, I vowed that I was done once and for all. It’s been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Isn’t that how I’d been living my life for 12 years?
Now, after nearly a year of hiatus and nearly a year of exactly zero dates with new men, I am confronted with the latest statistics. Online dating now appears to be the second most common way for married couples to meet, after introductions by family or friends. This might mean that there were some hope for me, if I had any family or friends who ever take a serious enough interest in my spinsterdom to actually introduce me to anyone. In Tucson, I’ve had only one set-up attempt in nearly four years, which was an individual who evidently knew me so little as to suggest I date her ultra-conservative border guard cousin because he was “into politics.” (I did meet him, for the record, and it went about as poorly as expected.) Back home in Western New York, I have had a couple of friends who have tried, bless their hearts, but the continent separating me from any potential suitors in the northeast consistently seems to foil those plans. As to my family… what can I say. Distance is again a factor, but unless a transporter suddenly beams a man into my parents’ living room, I don’t think they’re going to be much help anyway.
Maybe I shouldn’t be too upset about all of this. The study cited in the Infographic above indicates that 30% of those guys online are liars anyway, and my own empirical case study research (which, let’s face it, borders on large-N territory) does not indicate an abundance of quality. Still, I struggle every time I’m confronted with the evidence that I’m getting older and face doing it alone. I’ve reached that age of wondering if I will ever be a mom, or a bride. Hell, I’d at least like to have someone to spend a Valentine’s Day with or to be present at my grad school graduation. I’m tired of tearing up on the treadmill at the gym while watching “Say Yes to the Dress” (honestly, why do I never change the channel?), and I’m tired of watching other people pair off with exasperation, wondering when it’s my turn. But would going back to online dating change any of that? Would I be fooling myself to believe this time would be any different from all of those other times that I ended up with flakes and liars and losers?
*Sigh.* So… maybe I move on to the third most common place for singles to meet their mate? Work or School. Hmm. Oh yeah, I’m totally screwed.