Maybe it’s me.
I sometimes wonder if I should resign myself to spinsterhood and save myself the aggravation of dating. Or at least quit the online dating sites, even if that might be the equivalent of accepting spinsterhood.
I’m sure that I haven’t always been as cynical as I’ve become, and there are times when I don’t think I’m truly a cynic at all. I’m not entirely immune to understanding how rare and special it is to be attracted to someone who is equally attracted to you. But I also recognize just how rare that can be, and I honestly get tired of wading through all of the maybes and the not reallys and the not until hell freezes overs. On the other hand, I also get tired of all of the unanswered winks and messages. Online dating provides opportunity for record levels of rejection in a very short period of time. Efficient? Absolutely- if finding a partner is a numbers game, online dating is definitely the most efficient way to work those odds. But I also feel like this inherently makes the process cold and impersonal, and not necessarily very good for the ego. It can feel like the search for the proverbial needle in a haystack, and how long are you really willing to keep digging?
I honestly find the whole process uncomfortable, starting right at the beginning with the profile setup. Of course we all know that the profile picture is probably the most important part of the whole profile. I totally understand that- appearance is going to be the first thing anyone notices, and I’m not trying to say that it shouldn’t be important. Right now I’m simply venting some of my own personal frustrations, specifically that I’ve never liked how I look in pictures. I’m sure it’s mostly a matter of being my own worst critic, but I never seem to look as good in the picture as I do in the mirror. I also don’t typically go out with camera-happy friends, so it’s not like I have a plethora of “activity pictures” to choose from. I’m generally stuck with the dreaded selfie, which could possibly account for some of feelings that I don’t photograph well.
Because I believe that I’m an optimist at heart, I like to pretend that the rest of my profile matters. That brings me to the next ordeal- the general who you are and what you’re looking for “essay.” I consider myself a decent writer, but I can’t shake the used car salesman feeling as I try to talk myself up. The thing is, I know that I’m awesome. I’m not perfect, I certainly have my issues, but all in all, I know I’m a pretty good catch. But I generally don’t feel comfortable with being compelled to convince various random strangers of this. No matter what kind of witty statements I throw around in my head, the end result always feels stilted and unnatural. I know that many people share my frustration, but that doesn’t really make me feel any better.
Of course, once the profile is finally tackled, then comes trying to navigate any sort of interactions. I think this is the part of online dating that most frustrates me. The more I contemplate it, the more I believe that this is the root of my cynicism. I’ve always been kind of a shy person, even in real life. It has never been easy for me to initiate conversations with complete strangers. I can’t count the number of times that I sat for 10 or 15 minutes just trying to type a one or two sentence message to a guy after his profile caught my attention. All the advice out there says to say something more than just “hello.” But I wouldn’t approach a man in real life and start telling him in great detail why he should go on a date with me, and it doesn’t usually feel comfortable in the online world, either. Based on the number of messages I’ve received that have only said, “hi,” I’m relieved to know that I’m probably not alone in this either.
I find that my tolerance for the whole system waxes and wanes. Some days it all feels like a great big adventure. Other days it feels like a chore. But, at the very least, my re-entry to the online dating scene has given me several additional ideas for future blogs… Not a return to my old bad dates blog, but general observations/experience/frustrations. I suspect at least a few of them will follow shortly…