I’ve been trying to date online, so I’ve been whining a lot. My friends and family have had to endure long-winded speeches about the internet and the lack of actual human connection in modern life. The popularity of dating online also indicates the death of romance and adventure. Before trying online dating, I expected love to fall into my lap. That was my definition of romance. I’ve seen too many movies and read too many books: someone’s supposed to ask me to dance or almost run me over with their car. Every romance has a cute beginning, a good story, and the internet is not a good story. What do you tell your children? “Mommy and Daddy were lonely and socially awkward and they were tired of the bar scene, so they turned to their friend OkCupid.”
Besides the mundane, officiousness of online dating, I also argue that the very concept, of finding someone via their virtual profile, is ridiculous. Actually meeting your potential mate in person is the most important part of the equation. I’ve been attached to and smitten with online profiles, but during the first minute of the date, I realized it was all an illusion. The spark (is there a less cliche word for it?) can’t be gauged online. Future generations will find a way to upload pheromones. I’m also positive I’m missing great guys because of the way I judge profiles. I look for people with similar interests, but perhaps someone different would be good for me? I’m also unforgiving about petty things that I might overlook if I’d met the guy. So if you list Labyrinth, Lord of the Rings or Happy Gilmore as your favorite movies, I’m not going to respond to your message unless you’re incredibly attractive and possibly listing those movies with a tinge of irony.
Terrible profiles abound. They all wear baseball hats so you can’t see their faces. Their profile pictures are always with other beautiful women. Everyone seems to have a picture of himself playing the guitar or scaling a mountain. Some pictures resemble mugshots. Others are photoshoots taken by the bachelor in his bathroom mirror. Why would you choose the shitter as your backdrop? Usernames are often off-putting: the worst I’ve seen are “Saddam Hussein” and “GingerJello.”
Of course it goes both ways, and my profile isn’t a real winner either. They make you write a self-summary, and mine reads like a stream of conscious shopping list. Worse it resembles a scattered character breakdown. “Kombucha drinker. Nail biter. Collector of unwritten journals.” Apparently it’s a character breakdown for an annoying manic pixie dream girl because one fellow wrote me, “What exactly does ‘collector of unwritten journals’ mean? It sounds like material for a quirky, poorly written romantic comedy starring Zooey Deschanel.” He has a point, but gee, thanks. He was probably just trying to stand out from the herd, but do you really want to start with a burn? Maybe it’s a neg? Another guy messaged me, “Great profile, wish you were taller.” To a certain extent this strategy works. If they’d had good pictures I probably would have written back some snarky response, hoping it would lead to a Bendict/Beatrice type relationship.
But after several dates with actual live suitors, I can’t muster the enthusiasm for any messaging. I also made the mistake of watching the 2009 BBC version of Wuthering Heights that stars Tom Hardy. There is no way in hell I’m meeting my Heathcliff online. Heathcliff disdains the internet. He also doesn’t have a sense of humor and he’s kind of an asshole and the book’s mostly a tragic mess, but that’s not my point. My point is that if I want a passionate love, one that makes me feel alive, the internet just seems wrong. I can hear my friends who’ve found great people online disagreeing with me, and maybe I’m deluding myself, clinging to a fantasy and a vision of Tom Hardy on the moors. But doesn’t all love involve a little delusion? God that question makes this read like a Carrie Bradshaw column.
Anyway, despite my aversion to online dating, a part of me wonders if quitting is a healthy decision. My therapist is very pro online dating. She sees it as a way of broadening my fish pond and boosting my ego. It is a practical way to meet people, but maybe I don’t want it to be calculated or practical. I’ve disabled my account. I miss the daily compliments or outlandish messages. Maybe I’ll go back in the new year, but for now I’d rather re-read Wuthering Heights.