I finally broke down and tried online dating.
Now, before you start judging me, hear me out! I too was of the “online dating is kind of weird and creepy” mentality, until a good friend of mine gave it a try and met a really sweet, funny, cute guy. Totally not creepy at all!
Maybe I could give it a try…I mean, I could just create a profile, no obligation to go on any dates at all. I’ve been feeling stuck in a rut lately–I seem to meet the same guy over and over. We like each other, we’re attracted to each other, but he doesn’t want a relationship. The online dating community, I figured, is full of like-minded people, people who are looking to meet someone and really date, instead of just hooking up.
I created a profile and tried to pick out some flattering-but-accurate photos. I listed my interests, what I like to do, and picked out a few criteria for my potential man (non-smoker please!) One click, and I was done.
I got a few messages from guys I wasn’t really interested in. I had decided that, since I was just testing it out, I wouldn’t actually search for anyone, I would just have a look at whoever expressed interest in me. Finally, a few days later, I got a note from a cute guy. He had taken my little “about me” section and modified it so it was about him. Funny! His profile was witty, and we shared a lot of interests. He had a few pictures posted, and he looked totally my type–skinny, tall, glasses.
I figured, what the heck, why not? I responded. We exchanged a few clever e-mails back and forth before finally deciding to hang out. We picked a restaurant, a day, and a time. So far, so good.
That’s when the nerves hit. I have never been so nervous for something in my entire life. I felt like I was about to take the SAT’s, or open up that first letter from a college. I felt like at any moment I would pass out from the pure adrenaline. What if he doesn’t think I’m cute? What if I’m not funny enough? What if, what if, what if!?
The day of the date came along, and I primped and primped. I picked out the best possible outfit (sexy but not too sexy, dressy but not over-the-top), shaved my legs, put on lipstick, dabbed on some perfume, the works. I was so nervous on my way there that I actually considered bailing several times. I called my friend and had her calm me down. Breathe.
I saw him standing outside the restaurant and suddenly, my heart sunk a little. He was much shorter than he seemed in his photos, and, call me superficial, but I like my guys on the tall side. In his photos he was just wearing a plain t-shirt, but now he looked like something out of Revenge of the Nerds–pleated khakis, a short-sleeve buttoned down shirt tucked in, and clunky black shoes.
OK, whatever, I knew he was a temp, so I let it go. We said hello and went inside. We sat down at the table and looked at our menus. And then…the silence.
I don’t know if he was nervous or just shy, but all that witty banter and funny commentary just disappeared. It was like I was sitting next to the dorky twin brother of the boy I had met online–he was socially awkward and painfully quiet. I tried engaging him in conversation by asking him questions about himself, but I kept getting one-word answers. I starting talking about myself, just to fill the silence, until I couldn’t bear hearing my own voice any more. Nothing.
He just sat there and ate his spaghetti (after commenting “hm, I haven’t had spaghetti in a while”. Really? How fascinating) When I tried to reference things we had said in our e-mails, I was met with blank stares.
I have never eaten a salad so fast in my entire life.
He walked me to the subway, and we exchanged a quick goodbye. He didn’t ask to see me again, thank goodness, and I quickly headed over to a friend’s house to unwind with some ice cream. Our “date” lasted less than two hours: two painful, excruciating hours.
I get being shy, or nervous. Heck, I was about to vomit I was so nervous. But it was really like he had created this entire online persona which he couldn’t reproduce in person. I remembered the thrill of seeing someone across the room and locking eyes, or when you find yourself in a great conversation with someone you’ve just met. I decided I wanted to date real people, not online personas.
I guess online dating works for some people, but it’s just not for me.