The Nondating Life

Monday, January 23, 2006

Online Dating: The Discussion

I'm about halfway done with what will no-doubt be a ground-breaking, Pulitzer-worthy post regarding couple's therapy, but football playoffs and the company retreat are intervening. In the mean time, why don't we have a discussion about online dating?

Karol--who, like Dick Morris, has a great deal of knowledge but still always seems to come to the wrong conclusions--informs us in comments on the previous post that she finds the whole thing sad.

I'm not cool enough to be up on internet lingo like LMFAO but I stick to my original comment that internet dating is basically for losers. ... I agree with Autumn that a grocery list of requirements in a mate isn't the way to find true love. There's nothing romantic about online dating, it's like looking for a job. I dunno, maybe this is the one thing I'm romantic over-- that eyes should lock across a room, that friendship should suddenly develop into more, that it'll all feel like fate that you ended up in THAT bar on THAT night.


Actually, Karol makes some good points about the overall feeling of "dating." Which is suprising as in almost all of her writing prior to this post, she seemed to be about as romantic as a mechanical engineer living in a Dilbert comic strip. (And please realize that Karol and I are taking polite, friendly jabs at one another in this as well. We like each other. We respect each other. Okay, well I respect her. She might think I'm an idjit, but that's fine).

Online dating doesn't necessarily feel romantic. That could be because of the catalog-type nature of the whole ordeal. It could be because there are so many people simply looking to get laid. And, also, the sites are a refuge for people who have either temporarily or permanently given up on the spontaneous thing. But you know what else isn't romantic? Going to the Young Democrats club, not because you have a boner for Howard Dean, but simply because you have a boner and you figure anyone dumb enough to fall for his line of shit, is certainly open to yours.

But if we want to use "fate"--a bullshit concept, if you ask me--I can point out that a million little things have to happen before two people run across one another on an online forum and actually connect.

Fate, though, is a pretty stupid concept. But not nearly as stupid as our own desires and first impulses. We all know about how "smart" our first impulses are, right? We've all seen the 45-year-old guy "fall in love" with the 20-year-old. We've all seen the young woman fall in love with the "musician." We've all seen the pain.

And for every person who sees another across a crowded room and makes that connection, there are about one million others who make that same connection, go home, get laid, get crabs, get dumped. And twenty million more who THINK they make that connection only to be trapped in the Friend Zone. And thirty million more who get rejected.

And online dating is different, how? In reality, it's not all that different. People meet, they hook up, they think they make connections, they give each other sores, they break one another's hearts. I would say, though, that the Friend Zone trap happens less in online dating. And you don't meet WHILE you're a drunken ass (instead, you 'meet' online, have some faux overly witty banter THEN get drunk on the first date).

To be honest, I think it's pretty much all the same. And what makes it the same is that dating sucks. This isn't college--where a lot of people meet and get married. It's a game of odds and for those who are even the least bit romantic, those odds start to beat you down. Some people get pissy. They get desperate. They get tired of one loser after another. They get tired of their own bad instincts. They get tired in general.

Or, they just want to try something else for the hell of it. They simply want to increase their odds.

And sitting in front of a computer looking at online profiles isn't necessarily any more loserish than someone going to a bar or a party every weekend, getting drunk and making passes and getting rejected. It isn't any more sad than joining up for all sorts of social and professional events--not because you're interested in politics or books or bowling--but because you just want to meet someone, and when you show up and find a) that all the "keepers" at the even are taken which b) leaves you being chatted up with all the other folks in your position, you suddenly realize you're not all that interested in Fourth Century Roman Law or whatever.

Sure, there are some folks who have been online--and only online--for five years, using the same profile, barking up the same wrong trees in the same dark forest. But there are also people who hang out in the produce aisle. There are women who go to service every Saturday or Sunday expecting God will deliver unto them a doctor. There's a guy right now hanging out in strip clubs, convinced that Candy is really working her way through college and is interested in him as a person, not in the five dollar bills he keeps shoving in her skivvies.

Karol got lucky in the real world. I got lucky in the online world. Many of our friends are still slogging away through either or both, and making snarky comments about us when our backs are turned. ("Of course Karol can say that, she's got a boydfriend." Or, "God, Ken just makes me want to puke now that he has a 'GF.' I mean, 'GF,' what the fuck is THAT about. Like anybody cares what her name is?")

Okay. This was supposed to be a paragraph. I'm supposed to let YOU have the discussion. So. Discuss. And be nice.

33 Comments:

  • Though I don't like online dating much either, I didn't have much luck, I have a few friends who have been very successful in finding a mate. Of course, it took them quite few dates to find the one. And even they admitted they had a few "interesting" experiences.

    You're right, dating, in general, SUCKS!

    By Blogger Jennifer, at 12:39 PM  

  • It's ridiculous to say online dating is for losers. So many people have tried it that it's practically mainstream.

    If you think about online dating as broadening the pool, it's not so bad. The problem, though, is that you will find more weirdos and emotionally unavailable people online. These folks either wouldn't be out in public, or they are easier to screen out if first met in person.

    Still, while I'm pretty sure it's not my best venue, it can work well for some people, especially the very shy. For more of my thoughts, read my post on the problem with internet dating.

    By Blogger Jamy, at 1:21 PM  

  • You can always find a date at church.

    I'll never forget my first kiss...Father Michael was so gentle.

    By Anonymous Billy, at 3:38 PM  

  • Okay, I feel bad about my previous post. On a serious note:

    I haven't tried onlline dating...but eHarmony seems worth a shot.

    Am I wrong? Is eHarmony just more of the same for a WAY bigger pricetag?

    By Anonymous billy, at 4:20 PM  

  • I heard eHarmony sucks!

    "They" match you with someone "they" say you are compatible with. But what does that mean? You don't necessarily want to meet someone with the same exact interests as you, do you?

    Also, the way it is set up, I hear, is frustrating.. example.

    If you have interest in someone you've been matched with, you let them know, then the other party decides whether to reveal more info about them or not. In between that, you have to answer another series of questions to get there.

    Sounds too complicated to me.

    By Blogger Jennifer, at 5:51 PM  

  • my online experiences were horrific. i had such stories... sigh. i guess it works for some people - one of my friends just proposed to his gf whom he met on Jdate.. so i guess it works for some people..

    By Blogger writersbloc gal, at 6:18 PM  

  • I got tired of the bar scene and having friends set me up with dates. So one night just for the hell of it I started looking online. I have to admit that at first I thought "What kind of loser am I for doing this?" but I was'nt having any luck the old fashioned way. It was there, six years ago that I found my wife. We've been married for almost three years now and have three kids. Best thing I ever did.

    Sean

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:11 PM  

  • The thing that weirds me out about online dating, and it's why I'd never do it, is that I don't want to get to know somebody's personality before I've met them in person. I can't tell if I would ever want to make out with someone if I haven't seen them in person. And getting to know and like someone online, and then finding out (in a dating context as opposed to "friends") that I'd rather eat glass than touch them... is really awkward. Ugh. I don't know how the rest of y'all do it.

    By Blogger Jennifer R, at 7:31 PM  

  • I had great experiences dating online, in fact, after my divorce, it was the only way I really dated, aside from the guy I picked up in Home Depot and being fixed up by friends, but those are stories for another day...

    Here's the way I look at it...I have a demanding job where I travel frequently. I have two kids. I'm a single working mom. I have 10 days a month to date, and only 4 of those are weekend nights.

    My boyfriend, who I met on Nerve.com, is a professional sous chef. He works every single night (and most days) Tuesday-Saturday. His dating days are Sunday/Monday.

    So, where and when do workaholic single parenty types like us meet people, if not online? He grocery shops at midnight.

    I'm in bed by 10 because I have to take my kids to school every day.

    I think online dating is NORMAL for certain segments of the population...people who are re-entering the dating world from divorce, people who are single for the first time in years and have no idea how to pick back up on single life....

    For the rest of you, who are in your mid 30s and still single, I can't speak for how you meet people.

    But I suspect you have vastly more time to dedicate to the pursuit of finding the perfect mate at bars on Friday nights than I do.

    And maybe more inclination for doing it.

    I kinda grew out of the whole "meet someone in the bar scene" back in my mid 20s.

    ;)

    I spose I could have tried speed dating, but I actually saw that in action once on a business trip, and that seemed even loserish than online dating.

    I went on 12 dates with guys I met online. Four were what I'd consider keepers, but not for me. Two were horrid dates, truly horrid. Two were okay dates, just no love connection at all, not someone I'd want to see again.

    Two were guys I'd totally have been able to fall for. I didn't fall for one (too young), but I did fall for the other one on a truly magical first date.

    Interestingly enough, in my nerve.com profile, I said I was looking for a sexy boyscout with the soul of a poet. That's exactly what I found.

    We also talked enough, online and on the phone, that by the time we met, we were actually at around 3rd or 4th date territory, talking-wise, versus having all the nerves of a first date.

    By Blogger Spill The Beans, at 9:22 PM  

  • And, the thing I'll say about meeting online, versus meeting in person...

    It's all too easy to judge a book by it's cover. I wonder how many nice, interesting guys get passed over because they don't have a great cover.

    When you meet someone online, and talk, and then graduate to talking on the phone, and then meet face to face...either the chemistry is there, or it isn't.

    I've never yet had chemistry with someone on the phone or in e-mail, and not had it with them in person. If the chemistry is there, it's there.

    I'm not sure I'd have picked up my current boyfriend in a bar, or public place. He isn't, physically, my type. But he is a great guy who treats me like a precious jewel.

    And...their looks will change. Their soul won't.

    Making out with him...our first kiss made my knees buckle. ;)

    By Blogger Spill The Beans, at 9:26 PM  

  • "I've never yet had chemistry with someone on the phone or in e-mail, and not had it with them in person. If the chemistry is there, it's there."

    You've lucked out better than I on that score. I have definitely met people with whom the two didn't match. One fellow I liked online but in person, had a really irritating, nails-on-chalkboard voice that I could not get over, for example. Then on the other side, I wasn't all that into a fellow that asked me out online (we'd barely talked), but in person he was really interesting. He wasn't my normal type either, but it worked out then.

    But then again, I very rarely find anyone remotely attractive in the first place, and I know a large number of guys IRL that I get along with, but in person we just have no sexual anything. Most people don't have that problem.

    By Blogger Jennifer R, at 2:21 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Misha, at 10:41 AM  

  • Here here to Trouble in Shangri La - re-entering the dating world after divorce is hard. The only single guys I knew were friends of my husband or co-workers - none of whom were eligible to date, in my book. Online dating opens a whole new world of people who I would NEVER have ordinarily met in my everyday life. I met lots of interesting people, some who were only looking to get laid, some I still chat with as friends, and I met my live-in boyfriend - we'll have been together 2 years this spring and we're discussing marriage. I'm happier now than I can ever remember being in my adult life, and I'd definitely recommend it.

    By Blogger Misha, at 10:43 AM  

  • You should try looking in the Village Voice personals!! They have a ton of really interesting people!! check out this funny video I found!!
    http://70.102.129.65/villagevoice/blg/wm windows media
    http://70.102.129.65/villagevoice/blg/qt quick time

    By Anonymous Leilani, at 10:55 AM  

  • Living in the Armpit of the Southwest, quality men are in short supply so the internet allows me to have decent conversations with a diverse group of people.

    I'm not interested in Dating sites, I prefer to make my mistakes directly ;)

    mg

    By Blogger mg, at 3:08 PM  

  • Anyone who refuses to increase their dating odds because of shear prejudice is retarded.

    Internet dating might be like shopping, but thats no different than any other place. Its like choosing Fresh Direct over the grocery store. In any dating medium, you still survey your selections and try to separate the best for yourself.

    I find it ironic that anybody whose world is wrapped up in a blog could dismiss internet daters as losers.

    By Blogger del, at 5:00 PM  

  • There's a guy right now hanging out in strip clubs, convinced that Candy is really working her way through college and is interested in him as a person, not in the five dollar bills he keeps shoving in her skivvies.

    What you mean Candy doesn't like me as a person?!?

    (sniff)

    By Blogger Barthi Shieldbasher, at 8:10 PM  

  • "I find it ironic that anybody whose world is wrapped up in a blog could dismiss internet daters as losers."

    Yeah, my world is soooo wrapped up in my blog. I got nothing else going on.

    Anyway, about this whole thing: If you meet people on dating sites, and that works for you, then more power to you. Like I wrote before, the first meeting matters to me and I just think it's a little cheesy to remember it as the first time you saw their 50 line profile over on Match.com and chose them, along with the blond and the brunette (increase your odds, ya know), to contact.

    Despite being, of course, 'all wrapped up' in my blog, I meet people everywhere I go. I don't get not meeting a big enough pool of people, especially in places like NYC. My advice to lonely people is to do what you enjoy doing anyway (for me that's politics, poker and music) and you'll meet compatible people along the way.

    By Anonymous Karol, at 10:36 AM  

  • Hi,
    Im 100 % agree with Jennifer and with all of you that thinks that online dating is for losers.
    It is, but some people doesnt feel that way and they do it and they have fun and the even get married.
    Its not my style and dont want to offend anyone but I cant see it other way. By principles, I have no way on earth to fall in love with someone who is with a profile in an online dating.
    Its hard to be single,jewish and dont have any idea how would you be done with the condition,but I chose the unknow, instead of resignation
    ( onlinedating).

    By Anonymous anita, at 10:42 AM  

  • I know this is shocking for new yorkers, but not everyone lives there.

    And his ad certainly isn't the first thing I remember about meeting him, but to each their own.

    I certainly wouldn't classify a woman who meets a guy to date on a subway as a loser, though in some cases, the thought might cross my mind.

    ;)

    I mean, that guy could be anyone. How do you know he is who he is? What do you even know about a strange person you meet on a subway? Creepy.

    By Blogger Spill The Beans, at 11:19 AM  

  • No, actually you dont know the person when you meet him in the subway, but at least you can feel the energy,you make eye contact, that is essencial.
    If you begin for the end, its more than weird.
    Of course, for my classic point of view. And...btb I dont live in NY ( unfourtunally )

    By Anonymous anita, at 12:27 PM  

  • And when you meet on e-mail, you can feel their energy and hear their words in your mind...

    And when you talk on the phone, you can hear his voice and get a feel for his personality.

    Is eye contact essential to *know* someone?

    It isn't, for me.

    But then, I'm just a digital girl...I can understand that others might not trust their feelings in this realm the way I do.

    But this need to call people who are different, or who are open to meeting in a new way "losers" or "desperate"? That speaks to some sort of deep-seated inadequacy that I can't even begin to address in the comments section of Ken's blog.

    Tell me, Anita...what if your perfect man was online right now and you missed him out of some misplaced need to be right about the medium?

    By Blogger Spill The Beans, at 12:39 PM  

  • Well for me the eye contact is the first step for begin to talk....
    My rigth man cant be online now because he worth more to find his dates on the street or somewhere else.
    I know I may sound rude but I dont see things other way.But, darling, good for you!!! Must be really much more easier for you than for me to find your Mr. Rigth.

    By Anonymous anita, at 1:39 PM  

  • it's probably just as well...if he was online, he'd probably be critiquing your grammar.

    By Blogger Spill The Beans, at 3:08 PM  

  • ooo...was that not nice? Sorry, Ken.

    By Blogger Spill The Beans, at 3:09 PM  

  • If there's going to be any gal-fighting around here, it will be done in tight white t-shirts and you'll both be covered in olive oil while wrestling in a pit of jello. You've been warned.

    By Blogger Ken Wheaton, at 3:09 PM  

  • ewwww.

    olive oil and jello?

    where's the whipped cream?

    Your fantasy life needs work. No wonder you had to resort to trolling for chicks online. ;)


    (kidding, kidding)

    By Blogger Spill The Beans, at 4:14 PM  

  • You're right, Ken.

    By Anonymous Allah, at 4:46 PM  

  • There is a first meeting in online dating. I met my wife online and the story of our first face-to-face meeting is more memorable, romantic and entertaining than any first encounter I've had with other women I have dated.

    True, I had some horrible dates that I never would have gone on had I actually met the person, but since I was neither raped nor killed, the experiences make for amusing memories.

    As far as name calling goes: single people are losers, users are losers, losers are losers, married folks are the biggest losers. Republicans are losers, but so are Democrats. Subordinates are losers. Bosses are Losers. Am I missing anybody?

    By Blogger del, at 5:02 PM  

  • Ok, It wasnt my intention to generate any figth, less with a desperate 40 years old woman.
    My gramma is not the best for sure, since english is not my mother tongue at all.
    Continue dating online and have fun !! I just said is not for me, and I consider it for losers, and I have all rigths to have this opinion. dont I ? Take it easy folks...

    By Anonymous anita, at 4:32 AM  

  • My canned response is that I've had about equal success dating "irl" or online. Being in my early 30s, there just aren't that many singles (especially women) floating around in my immediate social circle, so my options are either a.) big social events where I can mingle with people I haven't met 100 times before, b.) bars, or c.) match.com, etc.

    Someone would have to explain to me how c.) is so different from a.) and b.), other than convenience and selection (both much better online). Clinical and unromantic? Maybe, but it's not as if I call/email someone and say "you fit 90% of my criticals, wanna f**k?". And even if I did, that's not the fault of online dating--I got basically that kind of approach from a woman in a bar once ("Stand up next to me. Oh, you're short. Damn")

    And then there was the girl who wouldn't say two words to me, but meanwhile was lapping up a comedy sketch-quality line of BS from a guy obviously in his 40s with bleached spike hair ("when I saw you, I was literally speechless, you are so beautiful! I wish I could be like the little bird outside my window. He has time to appreciate the beauty of nature..."). That's the "magic" of meeting people in person.

    By Blogger Stacy McMahon, at 9:43 AM  

  • Lol....desperate? hardly.

    That is the whole thing...meeting someone online gives you a wider range of people with whom you might actually be compatible and whose paths would never cross yours in real life.

    Anita: I'm not alone. I have a great boyfriend. Can you say the same?

    So, who is the desperate one?

    You keep on clinging to the things you won't do to meet the right guy, and I'll keep on being happy and in love.

    And I'll wish you the best.

    By Blogger Spill The Beans, at 5:52 PM  

  • Ooh, I like your style, Trouble in Shangri La. Always go for the grammar jab.

    Is anyone else old enough to remember that exactly this kind of conversation went on in the '70's about this crazy new concept of "singles bars"? Now we're all "Oh, meeting in a bar is so natural and fate-ly. But online, that's so mechanical and forced."

    By Blogger pearatty, at 9:37 PM  

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