When I travel on the train, I usually bring reading material, so it, let’s say, ‘irks,’ me to be seated with, let’s say, ‘rambunctious,’ fellow passengers. However, if their conversation is interesting and loud enough for me to eavesdrop on, the writer in me trumps the reader. So, when I was lucky enough to be sitting in front of a group of high-school senior girls, my ears certainly perked up when the conversation turned to popular dating sites.
Debating the clientele of Match.com vs. users on the generally short-term online dating sites and wondering aloud (of course) whether, at eighteen-years-old, they would meet the minimum age requirement, these girls expressed a dissatisfaction with the traditional dating scene stereotypically reserved for divorcees and 40-year-old virgins.
It wasn’t that I myself hadn’t been thinking about joining the online dating community, but for me, I was determined to see the option as a last resort (even to the point of giving myself a timeline along the lines of, “If I’m not dating anyone by the time I’m twenty-five . . .”).
High-school having been a vast wasteland of ‘un-dateables,’ I said to myself “I’ll meet someone in college.” Well, I commuted to college, and apparently the movies that tell you a handsome man will ask you out just because you can perfectly analyze a sonnet are lying. So, then I told myself, “I’ll meet someone at work.” Well, not only am I still job-hunting seven months after graduation, but the kind of jobs I’m applying for aren’t exactly man-candy repositories.
So, what is a Drew Barrymore à la Never Been Kissed to do? In today’s tech-friendly society, it may seem natural to craft a profile online highlighting all my desirable qualities and wait for the offers to pour in. Certainly that would be the advice of my train companions. However, it seems that the stigma foisted upon those who resort to online dating lingers on in my generation in a way that seems to be lifting in the younger age groups. Hence the internal policing.
Imagine my surprise when I found out over dinner with a group of high-school friends that a friend and her boyfriend who have been dating almost a year and are moving in together met on a dating site. Both of their respective friend groups had set up profiles for them as a joke, but as fate would have it, they found each other.
Inspired by their success story, I set up a profile on the same website (hey, it’s free, so why not?) with the help of my mom and therefore much hilarity ensuing – “Don’t put that, you’ll attract the perverts!’
It’s certainly possible that engaging in online dating is substituting a new delusion for the old one. You know the one. You’re shopping at your favorite bookstore, and the novel you’ve chosen just happens to be on the top-most shelf. What to do? Just then, Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome swoops in, retrieves your book, and suggests you discuss literary preferences over a cup of coffee – one that ends up lasting for three hours and leads to the most fulfilling relationship of your life.
The surety of finding someone online when we realize this fantasy has fallen through may indeed be a fantasy in and of itself. But, at least for now, taking control over my own romantic life – wresting the reins from nebulous ‘fate’ – feels empowering.