Well, I’ve gone back to online dating and I have mixed feelings about it. Just under a year ago, I gave up online dating in absolute frustration and vowed to never go back. The move was inspired by some bad experiences, rude comments from men, and more generally by the fact that sending good money after bad and spending 11 years on and off of over a half dozen dating sites had left me with nothing but angst.
What’s changed my mind? Well, for one thing I feel like I’ve spent enough time pining over that last guy I dated. I feel like I gave him his one last chance talk things through, and I got ignored. He’s had more than enough chances to have me over the years that we’ve known each other, and if he can’t step up at this point I just need to move on. Another thing that changed my mind was a conversation with some friends at brunch on Sunday. I met up with a group of girls, some of whom I know but hadn’t seen in a while and others who I was meeting for the first time. At some point in the afternoon we turned to online dating. The conversation was an eye-opener to me. Pretty much all of my close female friends are now married or long-term paired off, so I suppose it’s been a while since I got to really compare my dating experiences with others’. Here’s what came out of the conversation that resonated with me:
1) There is probably nothing wrong with me. In a group of about 15 women, mostly in our 20s and 30s, almost all of us with gainful employment and at least one college degree, only two of the group were married. A few were dating, the vast majority were single, and almost everyone had some experience dating online. So many quality women around my age, still single? That was surprising.
2) There was general agreement that online dating is a must. More than one woman agreed with the statement that men just don’t seem to understand in-person interaction anymore, and it’s hard to meet someone the “old-fashioned way.” With so many of us traveling in the same circles all the time, there’s little opportunity to meet someone new except through the magic of the Internet.
3) Every woman has been harassed on a dating site and has had bad dates. This was the saddest thing to me, because of course it shouldn’t happen. I would never imagine writing to a random stranger on a dating site out of the blue and saying something vulgar or sexual. It’s the online equivalent of running up to someone playing tennis on a public tennis court and shoving them to the ground. It’s baffling, intimidating, and rude. Yet there’s a notable portion of male individuals (especially on free dating sites) who do. Most of the women I brunched with said they ignore these remarks, some suggested tactics like making your profile unsearchable so that only people you choose to message can see it. Still, it made me sad that these bad apples are out there and going after women so often… But this leads into my final take-away from the day:
4) A sense of humor and resilience is required. And this is what I was lacking. I got a little jealous hearing about the good dates women had, and those who appeared to be meeting genuinely nice guys. However, I realized that the only difference between me and them is that they kept trying, they laughed off or forgot the failures and bad dates. I let them get under my skin until I could not stand the idea of looking for love anymore. I’m easily discouraged by dating in general, but contrary to that old adage that I hate, you don’t find anyone when you’re not looking.
So I’ve been back on two personals sites. In the few days I’ve been back, I’ve gotten several “hey baby” e-mails from guys just looking for a good time, but a few seem like genuine nibbles. I suppose, all things considered, it’s not a bad return on a few minutes’ investment since the weekend. So… here we go again.