Why I've given up dating
Well, guys, I’m out.
I know I said back in March that I was an eternal optimist and would continue to give online dating a crack (even after years of what could generously be termed “misadventures” in the internet dating realm) because “I want to believe”.
But as soon as I clicked on the “you have a new OkCupid message” email and read “If the thought of a 6'5" orally fixated SWTB (Single White Teddy Bear) with a bit of a dom streak sounds good to you...” my heart sank.
Not because there isn’t a place in this world for 6'5" orally fixated SWTBs with a bit of a dom streak (really, I’m sure he’s lovely, and he did have a very impressive beard), but because after years of trying to bend and shape myself into whatever might give me a fighting chance at Meeting The One™, I think I’m done.
Online dating adds another dimension of awfulness to the already delicate matter of putting oneself out there; for example, Match.com’s “viewed your profile” feature allowed me to see that, no matter how nice my photos were, 590 blokes still strolled on by without so much as a “wink”. It does wonders for the self esteem.
When only the most audacious of the online dating realm’s also-rans are sending you hot-’n’-heavy messages about whether or not you have “big, muscular calves”, it’s hard to keep on keeping on.
Inevitably, my thought patterns upon my daily log-in to see if Mr Right (or even Mr Not Completely Demented or Mr Reasonably Un-Nauseating) had messaged me devolved into something like this:
“Am I really only attractive to 53-year-old ex-cops who look like they were created by the Jim Henson Studio?”
“Hey, 590 people have ‘viewed’ me! Alright!!”
“Wait. Only ten of them contacted me, and one looked like a sentient thumb.”
“And two of them had serial killer eyes.”
“What’s a ‘good sensihumor’?”
“Maybe I shouldn’t smile in photos.”
“It’s my teeth, isn’t it? I knew it.”
“I should change my picture so I look prettier.”
“I don’t have any photos where I look prettier.”
“I am not pretty.”
“I wonder how much a nose job costs.”
“Guys really just don’t want to have sex with women who mention anything about brains, feminism, writing or dressing up as Dustin Hoffman, do they?”
I tried it all: the “sexy” photo (the only one of which I own was from when I dressed up as Courtney Stodden for Halloween), the “non-threatening” photo (no metal band t-shirts, no cosplay), the “nerdy” photos (all metal band t-shirts, all cosplay), the non-threatening profile (lots of fluffy prose about looking to settle down, references to When Harry Met Sally), the threatening profile (nothing but quotes from Event Horizon)...
And what did it get me in the five or so years I was on there? Two nice friends, one abusive relationship, and a handful of dates, one of which was with a 5’3” ex-comedian (I’m 5’11”) who took anxiety medication at the table and announced that my pointy Topshop earrings were “making [his] crotch hurt” over iced tea.
Ah yes, it’s all “good material”, which is one of the lies us writers tell ourselves to keep enduring the unendurable; I expect non-writers have similar justifications for such emotionally imperiling behaviours.
Then again, perhaps it’s more a case of being done with dating, full-stop.
When I got my first boyfriend, at the age of 15-and-a-bit, it was fantastic - and something clicked in me. Looking back, I can see it was the serial monogamist gene springing into action. I like to say I’m not an addictive personality but perhaps I was addicted to the “honeymoon period”?
For fifteen years straight, I rarely had a break of more than six months between relationships. (My longest relationship so far was two-and-a-half years.) And yet, when I inevitably ended up in a relationship, they ranged from unsatisfying to therapy-inducing, and during desperate days of moping about, solitaire à deux, I would long to be single once more. Here we go round the mulberry bush!
Surely, at the beginning of my fourth decade, it was time for a change?
So, when I deleted my RSVP, Match and OkCupid accounts, maybe it wasn’t so much an indictment of internet dating [generic statement about friend/relative/school teacher who met a very nice man/woman and now they’re married] as a symbolic gesture: it’s time to give dating a rest.
Sure, it might be lonely sometimes, but no lonelier than dating someone who isn’t right for you. I’m excited to think of all the time and energy that was previously reserved for dating/relationships being poured into new projects.
And I hope that 6'5" orally fixated SWTB (Single White Teddy Bear) with a bit of a dom streak finds somebody nice to settle down with. Now that 50 Shades Of Grey is going gangbusters it might just be his year - I will cheer him from the sidelines, up the back with the rest of the spinsters.