I spent a month humoring my mother after she took the reins and created an account for me on J-Date. “But you’ve never tried an online dating site,” she’d lament. Though I started to feel as if I was immersed in the movie “Because I Said So,” where the mother figure (Diane Keaton) created a dating ad for her daughter, I did not exactly protest profusely. I’ll admit that I was in state of poignant moping with regards to the male species, giving way to vulnerable outbreaks here and there, and I absolutely do not fault her. Yet, my experience with the online dating world these past weeks only confirmed what I originally suspected all along: it is awkward, forced, and awkward some more.
Now I must insert the disclaimer that while this online journey may not be for me, there are many success stories when it comes to finding love, marriage and the whole nine yards from these sites. The popularity of online dating has skyrocketed in recent years since meeting people in the real world isn’t always easy (and granted, depending on where you live, the night life can lend itself to being around non-sociable cliques).
“Nearly everybody nowadays is conversant in the idea of relationship sites,” stated the article, “On-line Dating Websites: Trendy Development To Make New Associates.” “Over the years, these Web sites have grown from a mere whole bunch in quantity to cover tens of thousands. Though, not all are worthy in terms of functionality and prospects, most of them may help you discover the individual you’re looking for.”
I’m personally having trouble wrapping my mind around said concept when these profiles are made out to be very… generic. It’s great that someone enjoys “going out with friends” or “having fun,” but don’t we all? What does that really tell me? After sifting through several pages that illustrate interests or tastes in music/movies, I haven’t felt that I truly grasped a good sense about who they really are. And yes, one might say you get to know them better after you meet in person, but if I can’t formulate a virtual connection, the longing to hang out in real life is pretty much non-existent.
“It’s hard to stand out if you declare something generic like ‘I have a wonderful life and am looking to share it with a special someone,’” Andrea Syrtash says in her article, “How to Navigate the Crazy World of Online Dating.” Her “show and don’t tell” theory is certainly on point as well. “Being funny is a much better approach than telling your audience, ‘I’m told I’m hilarious!’”
When I read profiles that featured “about me essays” that are likened to resumes, listing off one attribute after another, my attention span waned. I suppose instead of reading how a guy is “smart,” or “fun-loving," it would have been interesting to see them express who they are through their writing, while noting how they choose to present themselves.
With regard to the more awkward side of online dating, interactions between the two possibly interested parties are usually highly structured. In one particular back and forth email exchange, one guy asked me what my hobbies were, and I had a very vivid flashback of entering my new sixth grade classroom, where I had to reveal to my peers what I like to do in my spare time. It’s not his fault; it’s the mere nature of these sites to try to push people together by unnatural means – of course the conversations are going to feel stilted.
Then there’s the case of what I like to call the “premature spark.” This is demonstrated when one person is trying to ignite a connection that’s not present (how could it be if you never met?) by using mushy pet names or signing off a message with “xoxo.” Unfortunately, this only pushes me in the other direction.
Who knows, maybe there will be a turnaround in this digital world, but if not, I will continue to be an eternal optimist and believe that meeting people in the real world is still quite possible.