Friday, November 06, 2009

Online dating

For all those of my friends who like to live vicariously through my dating stories, I figured it was time for an update. As I'd expect someone in my mother's generation to say, dating today just isn't what it used to be. Particularly in the age of online dating, as I'm now learning.

Let me paint the picture. Sign up for Jdate, Match.com, etc, and you're hit with a plethora of potential mates, their pics and bios for you to peruse at leisure. Having never met them, you come up with some arbitrary criteria from which to narrow the pool. You rule people out because they're too short, too tall, overweight, not meaty enough, too old, too young, not religious enough, too religious, have a boring job, don't make enough, hold the wrong political views, etc. With a narrower list, you can proceed.

The next stage is that someone initiates some sort of contact, be it an email or a chat message of some kind. And if you're the recipient, you get to evaluate whether the other person is worth your time. It never ceases to amaze me when someone decides not to respond. Maybe there are other things/people currently going on in their life, but more likely, they've already ruled you out. I mean, how does one take rejection by someone you've never met? They're not even rejecting you, just some aspect of their perception of you, which is the absurdity of it all... then after this realization you proceed to yourself ignore the message from the chubby/dull looking boy with no ambition.

In the last stage, whenever you do actually set up a meeting, you're now used to evaluating people based on predetermined criteria. No longer are you simply looking for a vaguely defined chemistry with someone, you're comparing against the checklist in your head. And then you wonder why no one seems to be measuring up to your preconceived notions of perfection. Now even when you meet members of the opposite sex on your own, your instinct is still to be in checklist mode. Either way, it becomes all too easy to rule people out rather than in.

In short, I think the world of online dating is allowing us to date like we shop, comparing models and prices until we find the best possible option. Perhaps in doing so we lose sight of the bigger picture of connecting to an actual person.

1 comment:

Moshe Jacobson said...

eHarmony would like to have you believe that they are the solution to this problem, but I agree with you -- we are in an age where we are used to getting exactly what we want. Why should we expect any different from potential mate?