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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Hating on Dating

Until this year, I never really dated. I thought dating was a sexist, too-formal, antiquated and artificial system for matching people up. But then again, my informal, collaborative, contemporary system of getting involved with guys was producing results which were neither joyful, genuine, productive or gender equal. 

So I tried dating. According to my mother you can't "knock it until you've tried it."

Well, I've tried it and I would now like to knock it on its ass and then eliminate it all together.

Dating for the sake of dating is inevitably going to lower your self esteem. Its a system which creates desperation. I think this might be especially true of online dating because when you pay the fee, there is a certain expectation that you'll find a mate within the given time. I was dismayed when Bosslady saw a guy on my match.com that she had seen on there 10 years ago when she was dating. Now, I am sorry but there is something wrong with that although if she finds any more of them I am going to wish I could buy me some match.com stock. I mean, desperation is always profitable. 

Dating for the sake of dating is about finding a partner and being proactive about it. So that should be a good thing, right? Maybe. I would prefer that people live their lives fully while simply being open to finding a mate instead of constantly looking under every bush and rock like they're on an Easter egg hunt (but instead of jellybeans inside the plastic egg is a diamond ring/happily-ever-after). But the reality of dating is that you go out with people who are OK but not great and you never see them again or maybe you see them again once or twice. This process is somehow degrading to the human spirit. Or at least it was for me. 

Also, even though I didn't go into the whole process intent on finding a mate, after a few dates I started to get obsessed. I wanted some validation. I wanted to meet someone who didn't think I was a loony tune after 2 hours and so I became intent upon finding a kindred spirit. My whole sense of self was suddenly riding on this magical person who "got" me and didn't make me feel like somehow less of an awesome person after I realized that I wasn't going to get past date one.

I enjoy meeting new people when they are people I will be interacting with for a while, people I can welcome into my life. But dating is very black and white. The person is either your soul mate or is not your soul mate. And when you keep meeting people who aren't your soul mate you start to wonder if you have a soul at all!

I think that dating offers a nice socially constructed system for getting to know a potential mate. And I think that dating etiquette offers useful guidelines which can make this process go smoothly. But this whole system/etiquette setup should only be used when, in the course of a wonderful, full, non-desperate life, you encounter a person you'd like to get to know better in that way. Going out looking for dates is inevitably desperate and therefore unhealthy.

So here is what I am going to do. I am going to ride out my match.com subscription. I have about a month and a half left. But I am not going to really DO anything with it. Meeting a new kindred spirit (whether a friend or a partner) is not one of those things that can be rushed or controlled. So I am just going to live my life and kinda ignore match.com. I've seen all my match's profiles a couple times now and if someone new comes on, I'll either get an email or the new person will alert me to his existence himself.

In the end, however, it would have been a better use of my time and money to pay $75 to meetup.com and organize my own meetup group for 6 months. I would meet more people with less pressure and pay less per month. Even if I didn't meet my match, I'd have more confidence and I would have made at least one friend and maybe even a community of people with common interests who actually get together and DO things. 

Hmmm. Maybe I'll do that! That can be my next experiment: A Singles Group for People who Don't Hunt Eggs. 


Anonymous said...

Yes, one of the things that I really didn't like about match.com was the fact that I was dating so many men so quickly -- there was so much pressure, and totally dehumanizing -- I love telling stories, and I was telling my stories to many people in a matter of a week or two, that they began losing their luster! I found it boring very quickly. My recommendation - if you know you aren't interested in doing match.com anymore, don't even bother "riding out" the subscription. Just call them up and close the account. That way you stop feeling obligated in any way.

Good luck!


Jenn said...

I find this really interesting because I actually found that online dating *boosted* my self-esteem. I met quite a few guys that I thought were perfectly nice, even if I didn't feel any chemistry, but more importantly, it helped me learn not take things personally - if a guy wasn't interested, it was so obvious that it couldn't be because something was wrong with me because he didn't even know me! But I also have never thought about online dating as necessarily about finding my 'soul mate' - it's simply an easier way to meet potentially cool people. I really don't think dating is inherently black or white; it just seems that way because your attitude seems to be that each person you meet is either your soul mate or isn't. I'd encourage you to try thinking about dating not as a means to find a Relationship but as simply another way to meet people who may or may not end up being friends.

Vivianna said...

Jenn: You make an interesting suggestion. I would LOVE to be friends with the guys I met but I just don't feel like that is possible. I wouldn't know how to make that happen. I actually was excited about meeting new people when I started and I wasn't searching for my soul mate. But I think that the guys I dated were looking for their soulmate and I wasn't it. Either that, or I am inept at turning a date towards friendship.

Do you have any tips or strategies for how to take a friendship approach to dating? Do you just call the guy afterwards and say "hey, I didn't feel any chemistry with you and I'm figuring that is mutual but would you like to be friends?" I've thought about that but then I decided that approach bordered on psycho.

Monique said...

Yes, when you date too many people so fast, it's like a waste of time. You never get to connect with any of them. I've tried ehamony once, but didn't get to meet many matches, and the fact that I live oversead didn't help either. But just before my subcription ended, I met a cool guy who I'm still friends with two years later. So I guess it was worth it after all.... BTW, I looove the idea of a group of 'singles who don't hunt eggs'. :)

Anonymous said...

10 years?????????

Anonymous said...

Oh, I thought this was the post where bosslady saw one of your match hits and recognized him as someone she saw ten years ago. I guess that was another post.

Upon reflection, I guess maybe his profile was just really old, not necessarily that he was still on Match after ten years (which was my first thought).

The Singlutionary said...

Lisa, I like your suggestion about closing the account but it doesn't FEEL right just yet. Maybe whatever lesson it is that I sought to learn isn't quite complete.

Jenn, Vivianna, Monique: Thank you for sharing your insights and experiences!

CC, this IS the post where bosslady saw a guy on there from 10 years ago. I hope they delete people who have been inactive for more than a couple months! Wouldn't that be strange if 10 years later you got a wink from some website you'd forgotten all about?

Megs said...

I too am letting my match.com subscription go. I agree completely I started to feel desperate. I was meeting people I wanted to be friends with, but felt like when I was like so this isn't going anywhere can we be friend they took it as this chick will just not let me out of her site. I am not desperate and just like making new friends. If it is possible to turn a date into a friend will someone please let me know.

Scent of Eros said...

Informative post, I've a question though, which is better dating site?