Monday, January 3, 2011

The Misadventures of Online Dating

On December 7th of 2010, I hit the two year Anniversary of my own personal "Day that will live in Infamy" (coincidentally mine lands on the same day as the famed one of 1941)... This marks the day that my last relationship of almost 2 years was blown to smithereens much like Pearl Harbor was 67 years prior. (Too soon?... neh.) Around my birthday a few weeks before, with the pending anniversary of my last major heartbreak looming... I decided it was time to take some drastic measures. After all, Carrie Bradshaw would have me believe that I've wasted entirely too much time on such a thing... I was way past the due date for "moving on". Like it or not, it was time for me to fling myself into the deep end of one of the most un-welcoming and treacherous pools of life- the dating pool.
Now I know what you're thinking... "Wow, dating in NYC! What an adventure!" I am here to assure you however, that you are sorely mistaken. You see, searching for love in New York City is much like searching for a needle in a mine field. In my particular case it is made extra hard when you consider the types of places that I frequent (musical auditions and piano bars), which are chock full of GORGEOUS, sweet and incredible men- who just so happen to only want to sleep with other men. Womp womp. So for me, it's pretty rare to find myself in locations loaded with suitable straight guys. Confused as to how to go about visiting such places when all of my female companions are already shacked up and taken, I decided to skip past awkwardly going out alone and hop straight onto the nitty gritty ominous road of online dating. (Dun dun dun...)
Armed with an arsenal of headshots, sarcastic descriptions of myself, and a generous grant from my all-too-eager parents (*on the CONDITION that along with my site of choice, I also join their beloved J-Date... the Jewish guilt rages on, even as I'm inching towards the big 3-0), I created my profiles and got in the game. Half-reluctant, quarter-hopeful, and quarter-desperate, I slowly started to peek through other profiles and watched the messages, winks, and "oy-vey's" fly in. It's exciting for about the first 30 minutes, until you realize that you're sifting through pictures of human beings the way you sift through paint swatches when considering a new change in the living room. Two months and almost 200 messages later, this journey has been quite a whirlwind already... and to be honest, the most that I have gotten from it are some stories that serve as great blog fodder. Hence, this blog that I am writing right now.
Let me introduce you to some gems:

Ah, the beloved Peter. Probably the gemmiest of the gems. This is a 38-year old divorcee who closely resembled the human-form of a salamander. Even his profile picture screamed "I just might keep human body parts in my fridge". He sent me a couple "VIP" messages, which meant that I HAD to read them (the website forces you.) Just by the looks and sound of him I was definitely not interested, and ignored his first two VIP emails. This was the 3rd I received:
"No offense, and I know that I may not fit your exact plan, but you would have loved meeting me. I know that sounds ridiculous to the ear but it is true. I think that you are incredibly attractive. I am a former athlete, I write music, I make everyone and anyone laugh, I am a great listener, I am incredibly successful at what I do, but i don't take myself too seriously and am involved in all kinds of charities that would melt your heart. anyway, after you meet another 30 guys and get no where, you should seriously rethink responding to me before i get myself too deep into something else."
Oh. My. LORD! Was this guy FOR REAL?? For those of you who have heard the "Dmitri the Stud" voice mails... this is where my mind went immediately. My very own Dmitri! (For those who haven't, you must!: Charities that would "melt my heart"?? Respond before he gets himself too deep into something else?? (Like a sexual harassment suit or something?) This guy was hilarious! But in all the wrong ways. Once again, I let the message go unanswered. Bad idea. The very next day, another message:
"this gadget said that you looked at my profile again. With my hand over my heart, I swear that you would have more fun with me than you would with anyone that you can possibly find here or anywhere (you have to give me a little credit for having the gumption to make that claim). I really am certain of it. Even if you spoke on the phone with me for two minutes you could tell. Peter"
The reason the "gadget" told Peter I was looking at him, was because I wanted to rub in my moms face the caliber of men that were after me on J-date like unfed dogs on a piece of (kosher) meat. I read the first message out loud to my family in the car and we all had a look at his pictures and a good laugh at his expense. I still could not believe that this guy and his "gumption" were real. Again, I ignored it.
Apparently, he's persistent:
"i think one day, in a moment of unexplained conviction (not confusion) you are going to ask me to meet you for coffee or a drink (or at least speak on the phone). You may find this shocking, but I really get lots of messages on this very surreal web site. I just have a feeling that I would make you laugh and that you might be surprised."
Finally I gave in and wrote him back. I told him he was right, he HAS made me laugh, but not in the way he intended. I asked him to please stop pestering me and take the hint that I've given 4 times now- I am not responding because I am not interested. He FINALLY got the message. And thus endeth the saga of the Peter. I'm just glad it's not my skin he's wearing tonight as he applies red lipstick and dances around in his basement cave...
I can't remember the name of the guy in this story. We will call him D-bag, and I will let you figure for yourselves what that might stand for. In this case, D-bag and I exchange pleasantries via email, and he asks me out. I agree, and suggest coffee. He writes back that he's not really a coffee drinker, and can we grab a drink instead? I'm not the biggest drinker in the world. I work in bars and can drink for free if the mood strikes me, but otherwise I don't tend to go out of my way for it. I especially don't like to drink in situations with new men that I have never met, when I am trying to give an accurate first impression of myself. I tell him that I'm not the biggest drinker and would prefer a first date outside of a bar, and I playfully suggest milkshakes instead.
D-Bags response:
"Haha I'm not sure I can remember the last time I had a milkshake. To be honest, I'm not really at the stage in my life where I'm doing coffee (or milkshakes) on a first date so no hard feelings but I'm not sure this is such a great idea."
And thus endeth my correspondence with the alcoholic who is "not in the stage in his life where he can roll with the punches, have a good time and treat a lady like the lady she deserves to be treated like". I fish back to his profile, and am reminded that this guy wasn't even cute, he was one of the "less attractive ones" I was willing to give a chance to. C'est la vie.
This... along with almost 200 messages (85% of them from people I'm not interested in) does not exactly have me singing the praises of online dating. I have been on a number of dates... some pleasant with great conversation but guys I don't feel that chemistry with, some absolute disasters (one in which I literally had to dodge a kiss and crawl out of the guys grasp while jumping onto a train and avoiding eye contact as I left him bumbling for words on the platform). Already, I'm tired of the game. It's hard to be excited to go on dates with people you've only seen in an online form. No matter how many pictures you look at, it's ALWAYS a blind date- and those are scary and have the most potential for super suckage. Think about it, if you HAPPEN to get lucky and meet someone one night while you're out and about, and you find yourselves attracted to each other and feel that great chemistry- then YES, of course it's exciting when you arrange a first date together. You know that you like this person, you get the excitement and butterflies, and all the John Mayer songs make sense (until he most likely spends the date texting someone else or has a secret Jesus fetish you didn't know about. What, me? Bitter? Nooo!) But when you are setting up date after date with someone you haven't had the chance to test the actual chemistry with... it gets quite exhausting. Not to mention, having to tell your story over and over again.
Here are some of the lessons I've learned about online dating:
1. A guy is only as cute as his WORST picture. (And a lot of the time, even that is better looking than he turns out to be.)
2. I don't like foreigners. Now, this is not one of my usual "oops is that racist?" moments... I have nothing against foreigners in the rest of the areas of my life (um hello, I miss my former Mexican roommate more than LIFE and I adore the Korean ladies that do my nails.) I just mean that it's hard to date someone from another country- especially ones with thick accents that I don't understand (I'm looking at you French people). Now more than ever I am so so so sure that my attraction to white anglo-saxons (mostly from the Midwest) is not at all coincidental- it's just my "thang". And lack of 'em on J-date be damned... there's got to be at least ONE amongst the billions of people in the world that will suit my (and my parents?) needs.
3. It is never ever cute to hear how "hot" you think I am. This is never a good pick up line! I don't know why guys are CONSTANTLY using it! This is NOT a good first impression, and I can't stand when it's the first line in a message. I am hot, and you are clearly inarticulate and insensitive. NEXT.
4. Out of all of the things on the list that I am looking for in a man, blue eyes continue to trump all other requirements. I am probably skipping over a lot of great guys who are lacking in this arena. But this goes back to the "paint swatch" theory of online dating.
5. It is impossible to find chemistry this way. True, honest-to-goodness "I looked into his eyes and then I could not look away because my knees locked and my heart started to pound and I could feel my cheeks blushing" chemistry is SUCH a rare thing. I walk the streets of this packed city every day and look into the eyes of hundreds of people and it's so rare to ever feel any sort of connection. So what makes people think that by sifting through online profiles, finding someone who seems cute and interesting, and meeting in person is going to render up that nearly impossible-to-find feeling? The odds are SOOOOOOOOO damn near impossible. This is the biggest lesson I've taken away from this experience.
It happens when you're not looking. That's the message they've all been beating me on the head with for two years. And I shake my defiant noggin' and wonder HOW in hell I'm supposed to just "stop" looking for something that every part of me wants so badly? I can tell myself a hundred times a day "stop looking stop looking stop looking", but I still get a little Pavlov's dog-like when I lock irises with another pair of blues for a moment. In spite of how nutty I find the "happens when you're not looking" concept to be... it is absolutely true. I was recently smacked in the face with some proof of that, which leaves me hopeful. Life is funny like that- in the one moment that you really do finally stop... perhaps because you're in a place where it's silly to be looking, or you just get so wrapped up in something else (like, I don't know... living your own life?), it falls on you with the force of 3,000 dead birds in Arkansas. (That's right. I read some news today.)
So that's the goal for now. To just, "stop looking". Online dating has forced me to get out and be social, which was the whole reason I joined in the first place. I wanted to experience "dating" again. I wanted to remember what it's like to talk about myself on a completely clean slate, to be TREATED, and WELL by a man (ah what a welcome change), and to re-build my confidence as I continue wading through this mine-field, not really looking for anything in particular.

1 comment:

  1. FYI, those "Dimitri The Stud" voicemails are a viral marketing hoax for a Hollywood movie about notorious seduction guru "Dimitri The Lover". Here's the proof ... you can view the MOVIE TRAILER plus check out his BANNED ANIMATIONS or get movie production details on his DOUCHEY TWITTER