Online dating is not happy, but it is fascinating – part two

Since a lot of people seemed to appreciate my first post on putting my failures at online dating on display, I thought I’d keep it fresh for those who were curious what’s happened since. Quick summary of everything I’m about to say:

I’m wrong. A lot.

A cardinal sin

One of the things I’ve realized about myself in recent years is that while I’ve had perhaps a little too much experience talking to people in-person and online my instincts are right only maybe 75% of the time. That former GSLIS person I was talking about? Yeah she actually did eventually answer me, and it wasn’t even awkward until I fucked it up. We kinda-sorta even hit it off for a minute as we discovered common-ground and made it to chat-on-another-medium status (there could be badges for this, I swear) and set a tea date. But then she had to throw me off by getting all responsible and clarifying shit:

Her: Also, definitely still on for Thursday, but also feel like I should be forthcoming about the fact that I’m mostly just into meeting new people in a friendly capacity at the moment! As long as you’re good with that, let’s drink all the tea!

So I was understandably bummed and toggled the sad-idiot switch:

Me: That’s okay. I mean I’ll be forward in saying yes I think you’re quite attractive and probably someone I’d get along with, but I also know romantic interest emerges over time. I get the impression you went through a divorce at some point (sorry photos = viewport into life; some stick out more than others; I’m too curious) and get why you might not feel ready for it yet. Or I guess I could equally see you having too many suitors to deal with and that being stressful. Either way I’m fine to get tea – you honestly seem like someone I’d like to meet regardless.

Which was complicated by her definitely not being on for Thursday:

Her: Ahh! Jeff! Is it possible to rain check this evening? I’m so sorry, I promise it’s not a blow-off! I worked 7-5:30 yesterday, and I’m doing 7-6 today, and I’m just beat!

Sounds fine, right? It is, but note the lack of suggested alternative plan. I didn’t think it was ever going to come but that was my fault this particular time, because:

I am also pursuing something with another person, and have been for a couple of months. In the past week or so, it’s taken a turn from casual to not so casual, which maybe explains my hesitation–I don’t want you to feel led on! Also though, it’s been a bit disconcerting to have you speculate/analyze why i might not be interested in pursuing a romantic relationship with you instead of just accepting that I’m not, or asking me for my reasons. I’m not mad or particularly put off or anything, but it WAS a little mansplain-y. We don’t know each other well enough for you to know much about me…

This is the part where I, a person who hopes to identify as a feminist, just get depressed. She went on to make suggestions about how I could interact with her better and mostly I just wished there were cliffs in Champaign-Urbana. I had meant for the speculations to work as hooks for conversation and stories, as she hadn’t been replying to me all that much but god did that backfire. It seemed like I was telling her how she felt. I was assuming she wouldn’t be able to independently express herself on her own. I apologized and tried to explain and eventually got over my shame and rallied, but sheesh, the feels, they were not so good on this one.

Too good to be true is probably too good to be true

As for the unbelievably attractive one that I was so excited about we did talk back and forth a little bit. I had the wherewithal to drop her a link to the previous blog post and she said it was funny and explained email was a better medium for deeper conversation for her. Fair enough, I fired off a starter and the response… well here, look:

Her: I am not a very formal person when communicating with someone one on one in this fashion; that being said please excuse my casual tendency if you find it bothersome in any fashion. Also, I apologize for my tardy responses. I am busy and do not always reply same-day. Others find it frustrating however I am upfront with my communication style. If you do not wish to deal with this then you do not have to. It is that simple.

<interesting part about what she struggles with as a burgeoning adult, having too many choices and the need for financial independence>

I do not do google hangouts. I am not a particularly social person. When I am home I like to be left alone. I work with the public and find it taxing. I do not like to be around others once I am home. This is also a relevant topic in regards to meeting sometime. I am open to that however you should know that right now is not the best time for me. I am quite busy with work and school currently. I have been working 55+ hours a week and balancing class and studying and I pretty much only have one day free a week and I use that to study and read and run errands. Free time is a luxury I currently do not have. However if I ever wake up one morning and feel the desire to get a late night cup of cocoa I will reach out to you.

So what does this say to you? Shutting me down and shoving me off, sure, but dig into this for a second. Why would she even be active on Tinder and invite me to talk? Suddenly I’m wondering if the part where she indicated she’s 26 with multiple degrees and working in law is true. I did manage to rally a positive response back but I’m pretty sure this one is dead in the water.

The idealized outcome

What is the idealized outcome for an online dating experience anyway? You get to know someone a bit chatting, resolve to meet up and from there on out it’s just like life in-person, right? Except for that part where you’ve implied the other person is attractive to you, if it’s never overtly communicated. And maybe it’s hard to know at first – attraction grows over time, but really while these systems seem to me like they’re very good at matching up folks as potential friends, they don’t create sparks.

The “gardener” turned out to be someone I really like. We met for tea, walked around talking for nearly three hours and she came to visit my Labor Day party the following day at got along swimmingly with my friends, even staying after I left for a meeting. We texted here and there throughout the week. This is the ideal, right?

Well, this past weekend she bailed last-minute on our plan to go dancing and stopped responding to texts or even a phone call the following day. I know, it could be a million things and I should be patient, because if she’s anything like I think she is she’ll make the effort to get back to me and make up for it. That said I think it’s probable she’s trying to reconcile her lack of a reciprocative spark.

Imagine the scenario with me. You’re relatively new in a town, having trouble meeting people and a well-meaning lad with a gaggle of boisterous friends reaches out to you and invites you in. You yearn for the social inclusion and by all measures on paper you’re a good match. To add to it in-person he even seems like a decent dude and is honest about romantic intentions. But he’s not attractive, physically. What do you do? You’re not this shallow, right? Should you just be honest and hope he’s not resentful and still welcomes you in? What if you later like one of his friends instead? Why do they even include the “looking for friends” box on that website to begin with when you can’t even be sure until you really meet? You tried to do it the responsible way but there’s no easy way to reject someone compassionately, is there.

I know, I know, you’re wondering if I learned anything from my man-splaining speculation stunt earlier. I got bailed on twice in one week, do you really expect me to have a lot of confidence about my self-value right now? It’s not coincidence if it happens time and time again guys. Luckily I have a rowing machine and pull-up bar. They’re health-inducing hope of the Colbert-style “enhanced truth” variety.

But what of the transcendental Iowan?

Well I shared with her the first post and she didn’t reply for a long time so I thought I was doomed but turns out I just write too much for rapid replies (surprise?). This evening she introduced me to snapchat and the concept of atheist Mormonism and I couldn’t be more elated. The best part: we’re going to start a club for people who suck at meditation. Sometimes I really like being wrong 🙂

This. This is why I… snap this? (yes literally)

Chin up yo!

I have a fear of dancing. Nevermind what dating a Latin@ does to make you feel like you need to be better than Spanish-mode Buzz Light Year, I’ve been this way for ages. It’s really hard for me to be around the right people to just let go and move without being judged. My roommate, Chin, however, is


chinedudeNo, not because he’s got moves – of course he does – but because never have I ever seen another person on this planet who can make others feel as welcome and comfortable and worthy and full of joy on a dance floor as him. He’s been with me every step of my whining-ass way about how girls don’t love me and when the gardener didn’t show last night and he could see I was about to melt into a puddle of sad on the floor, he instantly befriended a spectacular crew of theater folks and just brought it all out. He spent three hours fueling circles, literally pushing me into a cute girl (don’t worry, she turned out to be 9 years younger) and getting everyone, from literally grandmothers to children to whirl. I couldn’t be more honored to have him as a friend.

Chin. Chin is also why I do dance this.