Friday, March 23, 2007

Restoring Faith

Yesterday’s post got me thinking about something that I was already thinking about. Allow me to digress...

It occurred to me about a week ago that I was officially six months out of a relationship or, to put it another way, six months single. Yes, I tried in the fall, and managed to have two mediocre dates with two mediocre guys, which served to first, sour my online dating expectations, and second, help me understand that I had jumped the gun when it came to jumping back in to the dating pool. Plain and simple: I wasn’t quite there yet.

So, I spent the last several months doing, what I lovingly refer to as “my thing,” blissfully detached from the pitfalls that surround dating and new relationships. Sadly, alone time is not without its mental health hazards. Sometimes I sit on the couch, in the dark and wonder, “Why would I ever want to get into another relationship after all the crap past relationships have caused me?” and, “What if I’m alone for the rest of my life?” and perhaps the most disarming, “What if I want to be alone for the rest of my life?”

(Seriously people, would I even have a blog if I didn’t use it—on occasion—for a thoroughly melodramatic moment? You love it as much as I do.)

But now time has passed; I’m this close (imagine my thumb and forefinger being approximately an inch apart) to being so over my last, failed relationship; I’m fitting into a smaller size of jeans; I’m looking forward to summer... and the possibility of kissing a boy without the threat of waking up next to someone who’s name I can’t remember...

That has never happened.

So dating... maybe? I’m thinking about it, with one teeny, tiny caveat: I don’t want to go back online (yet anyway... never say never... I’ve learned that... many, many times), which led me to ask this question:

Do people even meet the old-fashioned way anymore?

“Well, Lou,” you ask, “can you be a little more specific, perhaps, define what you mean by ‘old-fashioned.’”


Old-fashioned: When to people meet initially in person, either through friends, acquaintances, coworkers. Wildly romantic scenarios also apply and include, but are not limited to, the self-check out line at Jewel, the produce section at Wild Oats, the frozen food aisle at Trader Joe’s (groceries turns me on) the train, the gym, any and all types of cultural outings and, last but not least, the neighborhood bar (I mean, come on... you really can’t discount the bar. While most of the boys in bars are looking for one thing and one thing only—and seriously, it’s not like woman are absolved of all guilt in these types of situations, sometimes we’re looking for one thing too… sure, it’s a marriage proposal—but we all know somebody who has met their future bride or groom in a bar).

That was one heck of a definition. I’m exhausted, so I’ll get to the point real quick-like.

Amazingly, my question has been answered with a resounding yes, it is possible to meet people the old-fashioned way—between the guy who struck up a conversation with me on the brown line Wednesday night and a recent friend-of-a-friend encounter—I am almost convinced that once in awhile strangers will still talk to each and mutual friends can be the bridge between two people who could potentially hit it off... it’s a step in the right direction if nothing else.

Why do these scenarios seem so much more appealing than online dating where you can assume that the other person is single (hopefully) and looking for a date/mate? Doesn’t that remove all the potential variables from the equation? In theory… sort of, but…

Services like simplify the dating process by putting all of us lonely people in one place with one goal. Smart right? Problem is, that one goal causes pressure from the beginning. You know why they are online; they know why you’re online; and everyone is eager to make a love connection. Anything short of that is disappointing, so people put their best face forward and craft clever profiles and write witty emails, and cross their fingers that the person they are meeting looks at least similar to the picture—likely taken half a decade ago—that was posted online. And what happens? Disappointment. Turns out, you have nothing in common with this cute, witty, clever profile-writer. True… if you’re willing to pimp yourself out four or five nights a week, something has to stick eventually, but the process can be exhausting, if not disheartening.

The old-fashioned way is often low-pressure, sometimes no-pressure—having a conversation with the boy sitting next to you on the train about the loud cell-phone user doesn’t usually have high expectations attached to it. Why? Because it was unexpected. If you hit it off, great! If not, no one is the wiser, except maybe a few friends (“This weird guy on the train kept talking to me.”) While the old-fashion way has its own issues, the connection has been established; else you wouldn’t bother to make an effort to follow through. No money wasted, no extra time spent, no unnecessarily pre-date nervousness.

So I guess the only question left to ask is, "Will either of my recent old-fashioned scenarios have the potential to lead to additional communication or even a first date?" It’s anybody’s guess… but, I suppose if I want to do things the old-fashioned way, I have to be prepared that it’s not as “easy” as signing up for a service designed to get me a date… probably a bad date… but a date nonetheless.


Kendra said...

I met Blake through a friend of a friend in a bar. However prior to that all my dating "experiences" were friends of friends. So it can be good or bad - but its definitely worth the try!

heidikins said...

I tried the online thing for about 3 minutes - and decided that if I don't have the conversation, social, or people skills to make a connection in real life where people are (usually) much easier to read... then I really should enroll in social school instead of fill out a profile. For me, I'd much rather spend a little extra time getting to know and then discarding someone through real situations, real conversations and real life (i.e. practice for future "real" relationship) than spend extra time coming up with clever answers to basic profile questions which I would never be able to come up with in a real-time conversation. And I want my significant other to match me on a real-time, real-life, real-world level; not on premeditated (i.e. "canned") wit and humor.