Tuesday, May 07, 2013

OKStupiding



if you are my friend on Facebook, which i encourage you to be (but send me a note with your friend request if we don’t know each other in real life, otherwise you’ll fall into subscriber category), you may have seen me post a few OKStupid Awards that showcase the best of the worst of my experiences with this internet dating experiment i started earlier this year.

it’s been almost six months since i joined the site, having made a new year’s resolution to get out and date more. in those months, i have received around 300 messages. i don’t know if this is a lot or a little, so the inclusion of the number is not meant as a brag nor a complaint. i’m guessing that in a place as big as Los Angeles for a woman my age, it’s an average amount. to date, i have initiated contact with zero men, replied to maybe 25 who’ve contacted me first, and gone on four dates.

in short, it’s not going very well. i’m not really sure how to make it better, nor am i sure that i want to try. everything about it feels unnatural to me, even though i realize that in today’s day and age, online dating is as ubiquitous as Starbucks. everyone goes there for a fill because it’s convenient despite the fact that the product is shit. i say this with complete awareness that i make up a part of the product.

my friends tell me not to give up. the messages from douche bags and idiots are just the cost of doing business, they say. a friend’s sister-in-law’s manicurist’s hairdresser’s half-cousin’s barber’s plumber met her husband this way, i’ve been told. don’t get discouraged. he’s out there! every bad date brings you a date closer to the good date when you finally meet him. giving up ensures failure. keep at it, keep at it!



before i continue, i want to emphasize that not every single message i’ve received has been ridiculous. i know there are decent guys on these sites, my friends among them, and i don’t think i’m attracting more idiots than the average girl. the overwhelming majority of messages are innocuous — mostly of the “how, hi are you” variety — and from seemingly normal guys.

i have noticed that a good chunk of the messages have been from men who are either an Aries, a creative type or black. i’m good with everything but the Aries, which is known to clash with my sign. i definitely like the creative types, though i prefer ones who are more established than aspiring, and i’m generally open to all races (though closed to most religions). here’s an example of a great opening message to prove that they do actually exist:

when i have replied, the guys usually ask for a date very quickly, which i refuse, saying i’m a slow mover. i do this because a) i am a slow mover with this stuff; and b) if i wait long enough and keep the messages coming, the guy will usually disqualify himself by saying something overly sexual or stupid, which spares me from needing to sit through a bad date only to find out what the internet already knows — that it would never work.

the other scenario that happens quite frequently is that i’ll begin messaging with someone, and it will be going fine, with us doing the resume exchange where we discuss standard details like our hometowns, families and jobs, and then, without reason or warning, i’ll lose total interest in the exchange and quit responding. this generally happens when i sense that they are about to ask for a date.

i know it’s more me than them, but it’s a little them, too. because for me to be moved to action, to spend some of my very limited and always precious free time primping for and then enduring an awkward blind date with a stranger, i need a compelling reason that goes beyond just an opportunity to have a conversation with a new friend. i have old friends i don’t see enough. i’m not looking to add to that pile.

as i’ve noted before, i’m running this operation entirely on instincts and, most of the time, my instincts have told me to just walk away, so i have. but there have been a handful of times when my instincts have said, “what’s the harm of one drink?” admittedly, this usually happens after a long stretch of being holed up at home and working nonstop while eating packaged food and wearing yoga pants covered in dog hair. but if that’s what it takes to make a date happen, who am i to judge? so far, it’s happened four times, none of which resulted in a second date. (good job, instincts!)
  1. the tech guy/writer: this one was a great starter date. i didn’t run out of the bar screaming, so i considered it a success. he was plenty nice and smart, resembled his profile, and we had a decent chat over two drinks. but ultimately there were no sparky sparks so we hugged goodbye and wished each other well.

  2. the former wall street journal reporter (or so he said): obviously, his career was a big draw for me, as was the fact that his witty messages arrived largely free of grammatical errors. i had high hopes for this one, but he showed up smelling like marijuana and mentioned in the first hour that he had been arrested before, noting that “the jail in west hollywood was much nicer than the one in new york.” sigh.

  3. the neuroscientist: leave it to the scientist to manufacture the chemistry. this guy was super smart, funny, cute, engaging and a great listener, and i was certain we would have another date, but, alas, he never called and my one message to him went unanswered. i can’t say it didn’t sting a bit, and i’ll never know why he vanished. my assumption is that other variables were at play at the same time i was (e.g., other girls), but he could have just thought i was ugly. through him, however, i learned a very important lesson about this internet business: not only will i have to sit through lousy dates that go nowhere, but also great dates that go nowhere. awesome!

  4. the smart bodybuilder: this one was the science experiment that burned the lab down. he hit all the check boxes on paper: 6'4", jewish boy from LA, harvard degree, pursued two PhDs, lived in europe, and that bodybuilder thing made me curious. we met at a country club, which should have been my first red flag, but i’m into “trying new things” like a good internet dater, so i didn’t protest. another flag came when he mentioned his daughter for the first time, who was at the club’s daycare and would i like to meet her? this came at the end of the hourlong date, a time in which he never made eye contact with me and basically talked into his meaty shoulder, which convinced me he had Asperger syndrome.

    i declined politely, saying that i didn’t sense a love connection so i would be on my way. when i got home, i looked him up on facebook after hearing his surname at some point during the date and hey now, i had been on a date with a married man. exciting! naturally, i shot off a quick message calling him a “dick.” he wrote back saying his wife knew all about me and that they had had “several long-term, meaningful relationships with girls from Cupid.” this would have been nice to know BEFORE THE DATE. 
i could stay mad about the last one but it’s just too damn good to waste a grudge on. i’m quite happy to have it in my Horror Dating Stories Repertoire. imagine how much duller my complaints about online dating would be if i didn’t have this gem to throw out when the eye rolls started? it’s always been about the story, my whole life.

so where does the story go now? clearly, internet dating is failing me as much as i’m failing it. maybe it could work if i had a better attitude about it, as i know plenty of people who’ve met their partners this way. i’m just not sure that this is how i’m going to meet my partner. 

yet still, my bad attitude and i are desirous of love — that deep, meaningful, cloying type of love with butterflies and rainbows and dilated pupils and a long life spent together making each other alternately miserable and happy. i’ll stop short of saying i deserve it, because we all deserve it. so instead i’ll admit that i want it.

so i did the thing that i’ve done every other time i’ve wanted something in this world: i asked for it.

i sat down and had a long talk with the Powers That Be — be they buddha, allah, einstein, jesus, the universe, moses, dalai lama or bob marley. (to my areligious yet spirtual self, they are all the same anyway.) i commended them on all the funny jokes they’ve been playing on me before kindly asking them to stop already and instead offer me the thing i really want.

i told them that i’d stop, too — stop trying too hard to drive my love life. i’d put away the list and set my natural willfulness aside to make room for whatever is intended for me; i’d throw my hands up in surrender and focus on keeping the faith that life will take care of me in the way it always has before. surprise me,”
i said, knowing that they would anyway. bring me what i really need instead of what i think i want,” i asked, but make it right, make it long-lasting and make me happy.”

i felt better immediately — lighter, freer, less panicked and burdened. i may have even done a happy jig while listening to Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds. it may have included jazz hands at one point (but only briefly). this is not to say that my love problem has been solved and i’m currently dating the man of my dreams, as i’m still dating no one right now, but at least i’m not preoccupied by it anymore.

i’ve used this set-it-and-forget-it approach with many other desires in my life, with things as simple as needing to find a parking space to more complex matters such as being published in The New York Times. i figure this everlasting love business is somewhere in the middle.

so now there’s nothing left for me to do but wait for that tall, dark, handsome stranger with soccer thighs to drop out of the sky and onto my doorstep, no doubt wrapped in a big red bow. or maybe he’ll start out as a thumbnail on OKStupid and magically hit all the right notes, prompting a date and a romantic walk on the beach. perhaps it will be someone i already know but haven’t seen in that way before or someone i don’t know who sees me in that way already. or maybe i’ll stay single for a few more years before some scenario i haven’t thought up yet plays itself out.

however it happens, it doesn’t matter. i just need to have faith that it will happen, on its own terms, not mine. and if it never does, i will be sad and disappointed and ultimately OK.

3 comments:

Dr. Kronner said...

Aries for LIFE!!! Hater.

Milla said...

aww, Kronner! some of my best friends are Aries (like you!) plus BOTH my parents. i love you wily little rams, just not for dating.

Judy Graff said...

You and I should meet for a drink sometime. I can tell you all about my years and years of dating disasters. However, I eventually found Mr. Right. He was a guy who had gotten on my nerves when we first knew each other. Big time. Although he was/is hot. And I married him when I was 44 (first marriage). And we are very happy. It will happen to you, Milla.