My match.com membership expired a couple days ago. I decided not to renew it, especially because I've begun to think of this online dating site as "Middle-Aged Men and the Young Women They Lust After" and "Men Who Want Girls Who Don't Eat". (I just read a profile where the guy wrote, "I'm looking for a girl who's in shape, not a girl who's a shape." I mean, really?)
I'm disappointed and embarrassed that I only got to go on one date this time around. It made me think that maybe there was something wrong with me, or that maybe I was just very unattractive.
On the other hand, I haven't really e-mailed anyone in a couple of weeks; I don't feel as hopeful about it as I did when I first signed up. I also haven't logged on to plentyoffish in more than a month, partly because under "occupation", one guy wrote "Hi people"; b) I am apparently very appealing to men with multiple children and ex-wives; c) more than one guy wrote in his profile that he wanted to give his dates lots of massages (and I don't even like to hold hands!).
When I went to cancel my match.com membership, I received an offer: "3 months for the price of 1". Despite my failure with both match and plentyoffish, I thought about joining zoosk.com, which is one of the few dating sites I haven't tried. But on the other hand, I would have to pay almost three times the amount that match.com was offering me for the same amount of time on zoosk. I could have tried eharmony again, but it would have cost more than a hundred dollars to see a bunch of profiles with no pictures. (I'm not completely superficial, but I do want to see at least one picture of the guy before the date. I just want to Google him to make sure he's not on America's Most Wanted. Just kidding. Sort of.)
I also could have tried okcupid again, which is free, but I was afraid I'd get more e-mails from married guys (whose wives were also on the site) or from guys who insulted me because I didn't want to hook up with them...and their friends.
I always thought that I'd meet someone the old-fashioned way, by chance when I was out pursuing my own interests, working, or just running errands. But my interests include going to neighborhood festivals like Northalsted Market Days, which is in Lakeview (otherwise known as Boystown). I think of that festival as "The day that I walk around eating funnel cake while staring wistfully at all the muscular gay guys dancing in colorful underwear." (And they're all so friendly, polite, and nice, darn it!)
The chances of my meeting someone at work are fairly slim, since I'm an English teacher and a grad student. Most of the other grad students and teachers are a) female; b) in a relationship; c) gay; d) single, male, straight, and only have eyes for women like Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, or Mary Shelley.
Even though a lot of the guys on match.com claim that they're tired of the bar scene, I know that most of the guys are actually at the bars and clubs. But seeing as how I don't drink alcohol and most of my friends are too busy changing diapers or working sixty-hour weeks to go clubbing, I don't get to go to those places very often. Anyway, every time I do go to a bar, I keep yelling, "WHAT?" the whole time. I also keep thinking, I could order two twelve-packs of Coke for the price of this one cocktail.
Every once in a blue moon, a cute guy does flirt with me, but seeing as how I literally am a nonflirt, I'm usually clueless and oblivious when it happens. For example, when I went to another festival, I bought a chocolate covered strawberry. The guy who sold it to me said, "I'm going to give you one of the big ones, because you're cute." I merely said, "Thanks," because what I was really interested in was the strawberry.
When I went to one of the cafes where I'm a regular, one of the male baristas kept complimenting me and trying to chat me up. But I was too focused on the manuscript I was working on, the coffee I was drinking, and the person who loved Justin Bieber so much that she blasted it from her iPhone (I thought about pouring my coffee on her iPhone, but that would have been a waste of coffee.)
I usually don't even realize that a guy is flirting with me (or in one case, that a guy just asked me out) until he's given up and walked away. Partly it's because I get harassed by random creepy guys on the street on a regular basis. I've learned to keep my head down, my eyes averted, and my mouth shut. So when a cute and friendly guy tries to strike up a conversation with me, I immediately clam up. On the other hand, it's also because I really am very shy and don't know how to react, because I automatically think that he's only talking to me because he's a) drunk; b) trying to make his ex-girlfriend jealous; c) trying to convince me to join his cult. (And yes, all three things have happened before.)
When I'm online, it's easier. You have to be more straightforward online, by sending a "wink" or an e-mail (I always send e-mails). It's much easier to say hi to a cute guy online than to just walk up to one in person. You can figure out what you want to say beforehand and rewrite it if it doesn't sound right, unlike in real life. If someone you don't like tries to contact you, all you have to do is block him.
So I decided to renew my membership with match.com for three more months. I'm also thinking of going to one of match.com's singles events, such as one of their speed-dating parties. If that doesn't work, then maybe I'll try zoosk, or maybe I'll rejoin okcupid. I want to keep trying, at least for now. But if online dating really doesn't work out (I can't keep doing it forever, or rather, I can't keep reading profiles written by arrogant, age-obsessed jerks for that much longer), then I'm going to have to turn off my computer and venture out into the "real world" to meet someone, rather than wait until we've exchanged several e-mails before we meet in person.
What do you think? Is it easier for you to meet people (whether it's significant others or friends) online or in person?
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