Sunday, March 1, 2009

Online Dating Debris

I am a dropout. 

I have taken the online dating plunge on three separate occasions, and yet I still find myself steadily hurtling toward spinsterhood. OK, so that may be a little dramatic, but, I think it is fair to say that for the amount of work I have put into looking cute and acting coy on countless blind dates, I should at least be receiving some kind of runners up trophy from the headquarters. 

I have gone on more coffee dates, walks around lakes, and dinners than I care to share. I have written over a dozen versions of my online dating profile, complete with customized sets of photos to reveal the person I am trying to create. In fact, I have painted myself with so many different dating personas, that I forget which one I am supposed to be when I go out on a date. To name a few, there has been The Athlete ("I like triathlons!"), The Artist ("Ahem, I was an art major in school"), The Comedian ("So, my mom gave me the book He's Just Not That Into You as an Easter gift"), and The Thinker ("I tend to gravitate toward documentaries and green tea.")

All of these people I have made myself out to be never seem to capture who I am in the mind of my date. One time I had a guy tell me that I was more muscular than he had expected. I think he meant it as a compliment, but I'm not sure. Anyway, for the rest of the night I was distracted as I kept reminding myself that I would need to pick a different descriptor from the drop down menu of possible physical appearances on Match. Note to self, change Physical Appearance to 'Athletic' instead of 'About Average.'

Even though none of my online dating relationships ever stuck for longer than a few months, I still find myself connecting with several of the guys I have met from my three separate trials on Match. These are the men who make up my group of friends who could be referred to as my Online Dating Debris.

Tonight I had the chance to hang out with one of these guys and we had a conversation that could only occur between two veterans of Not being from the area, he was telling me how hard it has been to meet people in Minneapolis. He had originally assumed that he would easily find someone while out on the town, but eventually resorted to online dating in order to increase his chances. 

We swapped a few war stories from the dating scene and discussed the appropriateness of terminology used to describe different dating disasters:
(Him) "I went on a date with this girl, and, is it sexist if I describe her as an airhead?" 

(Me) "No. Not if she was a total idiot."
Mmm. Mmm Hmm. We both nodded our heads in quiet analytical agreement. I had such a great time hanging out with this guy tonight that I started to wonder what had gone wrong during our original date... How could my analysis have been so off? I should have at least added him to my favorites on Match. Maybe this is when I will take things more seriously and throw out a little let's-make-out face?... But as soon as I started to ponder this, my head came back to the conversation at hand:

"So, we are meeting for our first date tomorrow morning and I am excited to meet her."

Wait, what?
... Apparently, this debris was spoken for. 

Oh, the tales I could tell about my life as a serial dater. I have dated short guys, tall guys, serious guys and funny guys. I have dated guys who live far away and I have dated guys who are my brother's best friend (which I do not advise for all you out there with puppy love crushes on your sib's buddies, btw). 

I guess when it comes down to it, although I would like to settle down eventually, I really wouldn't give up this chance that I have had to experience life as a dating adult. When you are in elementary school, you ask someone if he will "go with out." Not go out, just go with you. This might mean that you do something crazy like touch tongues during Truth or Dare. In junior high, you might actually be able to say you have a boyfriend, and you might inappropriately make out by your locker between classes. Then comes high school, when suddenly there are dances to go to and everything feels serious, official and final. 

I wonder how many millions of people go through the pain of thinking they will marry their high school sweetheart, only to then discover a whole new world during Freshman year at college. There are those few you always hear about who make it – the ones who tough it out all the way through school and end up married to their high school sweetheart in the end – but those are like people who become priests and nuns (you hear about them and you know they exist, but you do not know any of them personally).

Sometimes I think it takes forcing oneself into the dating scene in order to learn to appreciate relxing time alone at home. Sometimes, when you have the, Poor me, everybody on facebook seems to be married with dogs or kids Syndrome, the best thing to do is force yourself to go out on some guaranteed-to-be extremely awkward dates. This system works because, by the end of a horrific date, your solitary life with your TV, your laptop, your cats, and your books will seem like MTV Spring Break in Mexico.

Want to ensure that your date will be super awkward? One idea is to show up 20 minutes late and see what happens. Who knows, you might find that your blind date is on the phone trying to make back up plans and you might end up spending half the date apologizing for being late. THAT would be awkward. Another suggestion would be to go out on a date with someone who is in the middle of a complicated lawsuit with his landlord. You can listen to him spew out his anger and let him rant it out for your entire three mile walk around the lake! Believe me, create a few disastrous blind dates, and you will definitely start to increase your appreciation for your luxuriously rule-free single life on the couch.

But, what about those two days of the year that are inevitably hard for us single curmudgeons? You know what I am talking about – New Years and Valentine's Day. Now, I am convinced that these holidays get much less hype when you are in a relationship because you have the option to choose how involved you want to be in proclaiming your couple-hood to the world. But, if you are single? Eh, when you are single, you might feel the urge to hide in the bathroom when there is no one to kiss at midnight. You might also feel inclined to turn Valentine's Day hearts upside down and draw a line down the middle to make them look like little red butts.

This year I had the chance to spend Valentine's Day at an art opening at my friend, Jessica's gallery. It was a genius idea – to spend Valentine's Day among emotional works of art with a bunch of other free agents poo pooing the $100+ Valentine's Day dinner. I had a great time at the art opening, and it certainly did save me from Valentine's Day. But then I inevitably felt like I was troll walking to my car and arriving home at 10:00 PM, imagining that every other person was out on the town having porno sex in the most romantic hotel rooms with rose petals covering the bed. 

Then I was reminded of my great friend, Jeff, who has on multiple occasions, sent flowers to my office on Valentine's Day. Jeff and I dated for a long time, but the times he has sent flowers have been since we have gone our separate ways. The point is, when I received flowers at work from him, I immediately turned into a goo-brain and loved the whole concept of Valentine's Day.

So, I think there is something I learned after receiving flowers on Valentine's Day from an ex-boyfriend: At the end of the day, it is easy to feel great and thrive as a single person as long as you feel surrounded by people who care about you. It may not be all that bad to be lingering with guys who became friends as debris of online dating. They have a unique perspective because they have been there too, and they know the effort it takes to put yourself out there to the dating world.

So, will I ever have a fourth go at I don't know. For now I am hoping that instead of trying to make love happen, I can just bask in the friendly sunlight of failed crushes and online dating debris. Of course, it's a messier lifestyle, but it's way more Sex in the City instead of Everybody Loves Raymond.

If you are seeking counsel for ideas on composing your life into multiple witty paragraphs and you need some pictures Photoshopped for your online dating profile, I can probably make you look pretty hot. Let me know.


1 comment:

  1. Thoughts from your girlfriend:
    I met my current beau on, which is...FREE! So even if you hate every single guy you meet, WHO CARES!?!?

    Move to NY. it is weird to be married under 30 here. Granted we're pushing that threshold, but just for kicks, change your old profile just by zip to New York, Ny and you will be SHOCKED by the men that come up. The pool is much, much bigger here.

    I stood up aforementioned beau on our first date by accident, because I'd gotten a callback appointment and in my utter excitement failed to realize I was double booked. When it works out, it works out, whether you met online or in a bar, or through your brother. It's not that you're doing something wrong, it's just that it's not right. So enjoy the ride.

    (Though, there were a few dates I went on before meeting Jon where I called a girlfriend exasperated saying "I can't go on any more bad dates! I just can't!!!!" So... been there, feel your pain, and now I'm a smug taken girl... haha!)