Online Dating

The Fading Magic Of Love

Admittedly the following thoughts are my own (somewhat emo) individual observations and feelings, so take them with a grain of salt, this has not be researched by any means.  In fact, hopefully I’m very off-base overall… but it occurs to me that a great deal of what traditionally considered “romantic” or proactive in terms of somebody pursuing another person romantically is now considered “creepy”, “stalker-ish”, or “harassment”. (Which, in many cases it actually is, I’m in no way disputing that, and nobody should be harassed regardless.)

Thus is the plight of modern romance. Unless the stars align and you cross paths and are introduced organically through social situations, folks are more or less forced to use social media style apps like Tinder or various dating sites to create a pre-existing context to meeting a stranger.

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Ahh… romance (though points for the HP reference.)

There is no more “love at first sight” for a stranger or acquaintance because nine times out of ten (especially, but not always, if it’s a man pursuing a woman) randomly approaching or attempting to talk to / get to know somebody that you have no (or very limited) preexisting context with will be met with suspicion, scorn and a label of one of the above terms.

Further, even if met with courtesy, attempting to pursue the matter usually breeds discomfort and is quickly reclassified into one of the above categories.

But that said, it’s true that such things (when unwanted, which initially, before people get to know each other, they almost always will be…) ARE in fact harassment and a lot of the tactics that folks in the “old days” used to employ to get a potential partner’s attention ARE in fact a form of stalking. And it’s absolutely correct that nobody should have to put up with harassment or stalking on any level, even with good intentions.

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Stalker!

So I wonder then what the fix is? What if everyone you come across organically isn’t the right one for you? What if you come across a relative stranger and feel the magical pull of what was once love at first sight, but there’s no real way to pursue it? What if all the “dating” apps yield a few great friends but then mostly contribute to losing your faith in humanity?

More and more people are staying single, and that’s okay because we need to be our own strong, independent people… but I feel like romance and whatever magic that love once held is becoming more and more scarce because the rules have changed and people either don’t want to play the game any more, or don’t really know how to operate in the new rule set. Or maybe the new rule set just doesn’t lend itself well to spark of a real, long-term love.

It’s a social evolution in that people’s rights are being respected on equal levels (ideally anyway), but in doing away with the archaic misogyny and religion – based social constructs, we may have also discarded some of the attached old-school charm and courtship that led to a small percentage (among many failed…) of happy, long-term, adorable couples/families. These days I see families and couples, but a large majority of them have settled, I don’t see the love. Some admit it, others don’t and in some cases my observation is wrong… but in others it has been proven to me, through action, confession or simply watching it fall apart.

I suppose it’s too early to tell, and I can only speak for my immediate bubble, but I see even less potential for those true, long-term connections now than I did with the old ways. We reduced the suffering of millions, and there’s no question that it’s worth it, but I think that the increasing rarity of classic, old-school style love actually makes me sad. It’s as easy as it has ever been to find somebody to hook-up with, but the problem is some part of me always wanted the idealized classic, stable, happy family with the “picket fence” or some version of it and I’m beginning to think that for somebody like me in a world like this, I can’t build it. I can build me, but everything else is like playing the social lottery, and the odds are very much not in my favor.

(Note: This wasn’t supposed to be a blog post,  it started out as a facebook post… I guess I just had a lot to say.)

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The Double Stand-Up

-or- “How the universe saved my ass from the curse of Sea World.”

I make mistakes sometimes.  As I’ve mentioned before, one of my best friends observed that the worst thing I can be is alone for long periods of time, and bored.  When this combination happens I begin to reach, or at least occupy my time with things that are better left alone.  This is the story of one of those times, and how the universe essentially bailed me out of something that could’ve been so much worse.

In my endless search for “the one” with “it”, I pursue many avenues including a now well-known “dating” site known as “OkCupid”.  I’ve had a profile on there since before it had anything to do with dating, when it was a simple quiz site called “TheSpark” that evolved into “SparkMatch” and eventually to the “OKCupid” we know today.  Originally the appeal was takingthe many tests and seeing how you compared to other members, I suppose turning it to compatibility and dating was the next logical step.

No, I'm not linking my profile, go find it. :P

No, I’m not linking my profile, go find it. 😛

I’ve had very little success on the site.  Those I get messages from, I’m generally not interested in.  Those I am interested enough to put forth the effort of messaging respond *very* rarely.  In fact, I don’t recall the last time they did.  I have overhauled the descriptions on my profile many times, to no avail (perhaps because the information doesn’t change much, it’s just presented differently.)  But on VERY rare occasions, something worth at least looking into surfaces… or I’m just at the point where I’m feeling particularly… open-minded (aka alone and bored.)

One such experience happened a little over five years ago…  I had spent weeks corresponding back and fourth with a seemingly attractive and intelligent girl.  I don’t honestly recall if I expected it to go anywhere, but I can assume (especially considering my state of mind at that point…) not anywhere other than perhaps to bed.  Regardless I was interested enough to go and meet up with her.  The thing is, at THAT point I hadn’t got my shit together yet either.  I was either unemployed or just coming off being so, and I was driving a crappy, older VW Cabrio with a number of issues (and… standing water that later earned it the name “Swamp Car”.)  Among these issues was the fact that the breaks were all but failing.  They had been manageable but were getting progressively worse.

This + Florida Storm = Swamp Car.

This + Florida Storm = Swamp Car.

So the day came that this girl and I decided to meet up.  She was a manager at Discovery Cove (the upscale park owned by Sea World where you get to interact with dolphins and such) and offered to get me into Sea World for free as our first meeting.  I’d never been, so it seemed like a good idea whether the day went well or not.  From the get-go I was in trouble.  She wanted to meet earlier in the morning so we had time to do a full itinerary (she was an expert at catching all the shows!)  I arrived pretty close to on time, and was supposed to meet her in the parking lot, but my brakes had been really bad on the way there, and when I finally made it to my parking spot… I couldn’t stop.  Instead my car barreled over the curb and up on the dirt before I managed to use the E-Brake to stop it and allow it to roll back down.  Needless to say I was already embarrassed.  When I apologized to her and tried to explain, she said she didn’t see it anyway, but I think perhaps she was just trying to preserve my ego.  Regardless, off we went into the park.

Have you ever met somebody of whom nothing was wrong with them at all, they were perfectly nice and physically attractive, and yet you had absolutely ZERO chemistry?  To the point it made everything really, really awkward?  Well, long story short, that was this day.  We went from show to show, I got splashed by a Sea Lion as a volunteer to impress her, and I got a photo of it for free because she was connected.  But that was the only connection that day.  That night I think I recall sending her a message that essentially thanked her, and (from her reactions) said that I thought we agreed that nothing was there.  Naturally, I never heard from her again, but I still have the photo of myself and the sea lion.

If only I could blame this...

If only I could blame this…

Now, fast forward to about nine days ago, and a potentially bigger mistake.  It began similarly to the last one, but there were some notable differences.  I received a message from a girl on OKCupid.  This in itself is pretty rare, but then the message wasconfident, straightforward and articulate.  So, I was impressed.  I went to check out her profile and found very little to go off of.  A single photo that was… okay.  Physically she is in great shape being very athletic and vegan (there is nothing wrong with this.. but for me!?  Have you met me?!)  Her face was.. not ugly.  That’s about the most I could say.  Now, normally I’m honest with myself and know better than to bother.  Normally I would’ve simply not responded because of the potential to pretty much go nowhere.  However, this day was one of those days.. I was feeling adventurous and “open-minded.”  I was alone and bored.

I wrote a message back saying something along the lines of: “Alright, I’ll bite.  But to be honest I don’t know how we’re in any way compatible.”  This was apparently enough for her.  She suggested Gatorland (which was cool because I’d never been and frankly it’s cheap.)  Numbers were exchanged and plans were made for the following (this most recent) Saturday.  All seemed fine.  If nothing else it “should be fun” I thought.

But as the week went on I came to dread the upcoming Saturday more and more.  Her text messages came across daily with horrible shorthand writing (I hate that…) and she ended up applying to work for my company (she’s nowhere near qualified so it’s not a concern.)  Finally Saturday arrived and we had plans to hang out after she got off work at 2 pm.  At this point I was hoping she would be late, or stand me up, or something would happen.  But she did text, and I responded because I do try to do the things I say I’m going to do (I’m just usually better at saying “no.”)

Then came complication number one: she decided it was too hot for Gatorland, and instead decided (I bet you guessed it) we should go to Sea World!  Immediately I felt the irony of the universe closing in.  Things were different this time though, my nearly new Prius has no brake issues whatsoever and I had to pay my own way in.  I got online and ended up just buying myself an annual pass for $15 a month (resident special!)  My alternative was $90 for a day pass and not including parking, and meeting her just wasn’t worth that in my mind.  At least with the annual I can go back with friends of mine (or see the ones that work there!)

Siri.. this doesn't seem right...

Siri.. this doesn’t seem right…

Despite the purchase of the pass, my motivation was very low.  However, I managed to drag myself out and eventually was on my way… just a little late.  I had told her that the change from Gatorland to the farther Sea World would make me a few min late, but thanks to my lack of motivation, and (honestly) Siri deciding to take me a VERY out of the way route, I arrived about thirty minutes late.  I texted her and told her I had to pick up my pass and I would be along.  Fifteen minutes later I was in the park and sent her another text message asking where I could meet her.  She hadn’t responded to my previous text message, and now, after a few minutes I didn’t get a reply.  Obviously, I normally would be concerned… but in this case I decided to just let it go for a while.

I wandered to the seal exhibit and found a pretty bird to take a photo of.  Who knew seals could give such good puppy dog eyes!?  They are masters of their craft (suckering the tourists!) but the birds too are excellent goal keepers, capable of swiping feed out of mid-air.  I really wished I had a professional camera on me (thankfully I have a pass now!)  At least another half hour passed and no response came from my texts.  I resolved that I had done my part and honestly hoped she had simply stood me up for being late.  Next I proceeded to the sky tower and fourty-five minutes later the sun was setting with no message in sight. It was the happiest I’d been about being blown off pretty much ever.

Pretty Bird.  NASTY Goalkeeper.

Pretty Bird. MEAN Goalkeeper.

I DID get a message, but not from her.  It turns out another old friend of mine who is in the Blue Horizons show was performing and she wanted me to go see.  Finally, somebody I was excited about seeing! (To clarify she’s an old friend and it’s never been like that.)  I got a fantastic seat in the stadium and was snapping instagrams of my friend airborne when finally I got the call from the girl I was supposed to meet.  Well…shit.  Naturally I immediately ignored this call, because pictures, a live performance and loud music wouldn’t make for a good conversation anyway.  But I wasn’t going to just ignore her.  When I had suitable pictures I sent her a text message saying hello, and that I hadn’t been sure I was going to hear from her.  She explained that her phone had die and she’d been unable to turn it on to send me a meeting place.  Since we hadn’t connected she’d seen a show and then left, and was on her way home now. Yessssss!

Feeling properly off the hook I texted her lightheartedly that I had ironically bad luck at Sea World when it came to meeting people, but she was upset and replied that it was “really stupid, or really shitty of me to not bother calling.”   Unfortunately for her, especially at this point, I didn’t care that she was angry and sent a rather curt message back saying I texted her twice, and for all I known she was pissed I was late or gotten cold feet and chosen to ignore me.  Calling would do no good with a dead phone anyway. For a long while she didn’t respond.

In the meantime I met up with my friend after the show and traded stories with her.  She told me dating sites like that would probably never produce anyone worthwhile, and that I needed to get out, do things and meet people situationally.  She backed it up by telling me the adorable and serendipitous story of  how she met her current partner, whom she’d been with only two weeks and was uncharacteristically swooning over.  It was adorable.  I knew her message was pretty on point too.  After a selfie an some hugs I was off to see the penguins of the Antarctica exhibit (It was later and dark, so I was hoping for shorter lines.)

Because Penguins!

Because Penguins!

It was 10AM the next day before she wrote back.  A three-part tirade about how I was inconsiderate and hadn’t been thoughtful.  I didn’t respond to it until around four that afternoon. I was way beyond caring and was just happy I had escaped and had a good time without investing any more time in a situation I never should’ve gotten myself into to begin with.  The universe had bailed me out of this one.. and I was grateful.  Because I was feeling grateful I sent a friendly message back with the honesty I should’ve shown at the get-go.  I explained that after looking at her profile, I couldn’t imagine that we’d have been compatible anyway (had she even read mine!? It’s a NOVEL!)   I told her that I try to be open-minded, but our lifestyles were completely different and that she was looking for something long term that I couldn’t see happening.  I wished her good luck in her search thanked her for giving me a good reason to pick up an annual pass.  Overall it was an amiable message meant to leave things civil and straight forward.

Her response was three words: “who is this” 

Perfect.