“You know, I’d totally forgotten we’d met on OkCupid.”
So had I. The relationship we had forged over a handful of pleasant outings and months of texts and emails was so unlike anything that had come out of my foray into online dating, that I was convinced we had been introduced by old friends. Or better yet, that we were old friends.
He confessed: “The truth is, I’m ambivalent about dating right now. I just want to find someone whose company I enjoy.”
We were standing chest to chest in the atrium of our favorite Museum. The lights were dim and for the most part, we were on our own. Had it been another couple and another night, the scene would have ended differently.
But my life is more like a Woody Allen film than a Nicholas Sparks-inspired Ryan Gosling flick — all the ambiance is there, but in the end, so are all the neuroses.
And all the greater life insights.
Someone whose company I enjoy was all I was after too, and in the museum I was in the very enjoyable company of a new friend.
Up until this point, OkCupid had been a general disappointment. I shut down my profile. It’s not that I hadn’t met good-looking or smart or affable men. The problem, I came to understand, was the context in which we met.
Every online date had more or less followed the same course: hello hug, beverage consumption, laughter, good-night, kiss, let’s do this again soon. In between those mile markers the terrain varied, but generally I could expect to meet the same conversational obstacles — why did you sign up for OkCupid, what kind of relationship are you looking for, have you ever been in love.
“I don’t know what I’m looking for,” I remember saying once when I was on a date and, thanks to a drink, was feeling particularly candid.
“I believe in playing a relationship as it lays. Some begin and end as friendships. Some, as disasters. Maybe one as happily ever after. We’ll figure ‘us’ out as we go.”
The guy didn’t like my response very much. He was looking for a mother to his children. I couldn’t promise I was ready or willing to go minivan shopping with him. But we had met on an online dating site — a place people go with the expressed purpose of finding a romantic connection.
How could I say that we might only ever amount to friends?!?!
How could I say that we might never have sex!?!!?
The problem with online dating is that it forces you to evaluate a person along a specific set of parameters — namely, do I want to get romantically involved with this person. Physical attraction and adherence to an idealized wish-list dominate. We sit across a table from someone waiting for a spark to fly. If there’s no spark, then we’re quick to dismiss the candidate.
But how often does a match light on a first strike?
Online dating hasn’t brought me a boyfriend. Someone might argue it’s been a failed experiment. But looking back, I’d say I beg to differ. Just don’t expect to find me transferring my account to match.com anytime soon.