Back to Online Dating

23 Sep

by
Rhea H. Boyden

As
another delightful summer of travelling, writing, socialising and
doing lots of sports draws to a close, I realise with a pang that I
face yet another long Berlin winter living alone. I choose to live
alone and that is fine, but there are moments where it gets dark and
lonely. I have, therefore, reactivated my online dating profile and
we will see where it leads. My experiences with online dating have
been pretty negative in the past, but I am trying to approach it with
a much altered attitude this time around.

I
am fully aware that many people have met their partners online and
have gotten happily married and started families with people they
have met on the internet. My main problem with internet dating so
far, has been the fact that it seems quite contrived on many levels,
and many people certainly lack a neccessary subtle and casual
attitude that I think is essential for a date to be a success.

I
have moaned in the past that I always find myself attracted to shy
and quiet guys who end up leaving me bitterly disappointed with their
silence and leave me staring into a hanging void of no words and no
response when I pour my heart out to them about my feelings and
philosophy of life. Clearly this does not work and scares the poor
men away. I should learn my lesson. I pine over these guys for weeks
when they choose to ignore me. I am left with an acute sense of
regret and pain at how I acted with them and how I could have acted
differently. I want them to reciprocate my feelings and send me long
responses back about their hopes and dreams. But, wait! Is that
really what I want?

When
a guy who I do not know sends me a long message about how interested
he is in me and how interesting he finds my profile, I am immediately
turned off. I then leave him staring into a void of no response. It
goes both ways. There is however a difference to what I am doing and
to what they are doing. When I pour my heart out to a guy I like, it
happens after a prolonged exchange and chat on the internet and I
want to know where I stand with him finally. I then get my response
from the man in one short message followed by nothing else which
leaves me in do doubt that he is not interested in more than chat and
friendship. This is why Facebook is more subtle than online dating,
you can just be friends, and it could lead to more, potentially and
it has for many people.

Online
dating, however, is right in your face. People are looking for love
and sex and that is that. That is fine, we are looking for love and
sex, great, but can we not approach it in a more casual manner to
begin with? I really do not want to be hounded by men in the first
message about my life’s dreams and how lovely and sexy they find my
pictures and how they cannot believe what an amazingly high amount of
matching points we have in the dating website’s match making system,
or how the guy is longing to meet me and is dreaming of me and so on
and so forth. This is nothing short of terrifying after after one
message has been exchanged. I am sure the guy means well, but to me,
this kills all subtletly and any chance that we will meet again even
if we do have things in common. I went on a date with a guy last year
and after the date he sent me a message saying: ‘That was a really
successful date, don’t you think??’ I could not reciprocate this
sentiment simply because he forced it so badly and needed it so
desperately.

To
be sure, it is flattering to be given all these compliments on how
lovely my photos are, and what a beautiful smile I have. Thank you,
they are professional photos taken for a magazine article I wrote,
and I am quite fond of them myself, but honestly, I am not on online
dating for an ego boost. I genuinely want to make an effort to
subtlely make connections with a man who I may, after getting to know
him slowly have something in common with, and can build a lasting
relationship. That is my goal.

We
live in a world increasingly ruled by macbooks, apps, iphones, blogs
and countless other ways to connect online and this is never going to
go away, but using this huge array of networks to try and find a
partner is a daunting task. I literally get dozens of messages a day
of potential matches and men I should be compatible with. It can be
quite overwhelming. We hope fate will bring us to the right person
and we will fall in love and everything will be rosy and lovely.

I
rcently read the following article in the Atlantic Monthly with
horror: ‘Messing with Fate- New social discovery apps try and
engineer chance encounters.Could they spoil true serendipidy?’ The
article talks all about how a new app links you to people who are
near you, say in a bar or at a conference who you may have things in
common with. It is based on whether you have similar job entries in
your linked in profile, or if you have liked enough of the same
things on Facebook. I do not necessarily have something in common
with someone just because I have liked the same things on Facebook.
Neither is a huge amount of matching points on a dating profile a
guarantee that we will be compatible. I dated a guy for 2 years here
in Berlin who I joyously met in a very serendipidous manner and I am
sure we would have had about 5 matching points on a scale of 1-100 on
a dating website, but man could you slice the air between us when we
were in the same room. Talk about chemistry! Does this mean we should
go on dates with guys who we apparently have nothing in common with
on these sites? Maybe. You never know who you might meet. Having such
overblown expectations of a date is unhealthy anyway and ultimately
leads to disappointment.

I
recently read a very practical article in AlterNet by a savvy woman
named Emily Hoist-Moss who proudly labels herself an online dater.
She goes on dates all the time, and instead of being overwhelmed or
upset by the many number of failed dates she has been on she tries to
not take herself so seriously and enjoy herself. She gives advice on
how to online date successfully. First she warns you that this man
you are meeting is not your soulmate. So do not even have such high
expectations as you will only end up sitting back on your couch
glumly eating a tub of ice-cream alone, depressed. She also advises
us girls to just dress comfortably and be ourselves. Why doll
yourself up and waste a whole lot of effort to go on a blind date? I
happen to agree with her on this. Most of us singles with full time
jobs and a large social network of friends don’t even have much free
time to date and meet a partner even if that is what we want. I am
sorry, but I most certainly am not going to waste a whole Saturday
night to go on a blind date. I do not want to go to a fancy
restaurant with a man I don’t know and have a long date. I am willing
to meet for a coffee or some other alcohol free beverage during my
work week with men in Berlin who also have busy work schedules. We
can meet, see if we like each other and if we don’t, politely say
goodbye and move on. You usually know within 5 minutes whether you
like someone or not, and whether you want to invest more time in
getting to know them better. This may sound harsh, but it’s realistic
for busy people with busy lives. Being honest with the person you are
with and not playing games or using online dating as some sort of ego
boost to make yourself feel better is the best policy. Treating the
other person with respect and hoping they will reciprocate it, is
plain and decent advice. It’s the best that can be hoped for. Online
dating is simply one more of the thousands of online apps that are at
our disposal today and if used wisely may lead to success and happy
adventures. I am hoping for an adventure-filled Berlin winter. I feel
hopeful and positive. We will see.

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