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love out loud: world wide weird

Like most people (probably), I like to think of myself as rather open-minded. But one stigma I’ve never quite managed to shake is that of online dating.

Still, I was curious, so when my friend suggested that I sign up to a dating site and write a column about the experience, I figured I would never have a better reason (read: excuse) to do so. And thus began my foray into the world of online dating.

Within mere minutes of signing up, a few guys had requested to make contact with me. But when the influx got to be more than I could keep up with, the ego boost quickly gave way to the realisation that most of them were probably cruising just about any profile that hadn’t previously come up in their search results.

Nonetheless, there were a few I found things in common with and I soon found myself chatting to four or five guys at the same time.

The sick irony that I found in this is that I am a non-negotiable monogamist.  I have zero patience for people who want to still be able to have sex with other people while they’re seeing me and I actually don’t care if someone thinks this is an unreasonable expectation. That’s my bottom line and the only compromise is to be found in the fact that a person is not obligated to keep seeing me upon discovering this.

But I digress (I’ll go into that some other time).

Even though chatting with someone via a dating site is rather noncommittal, the fact that these conversations were oriented toward eventually dating or starting some kind of relationship made me incredibly uneasy. There was always one person who I enjoyed talking to more than the others and if these were actual dates instead of just online chats, I would have only been seeing the ‘favourite’. But alas, online dating is a vehicle that facilitates safety nets just in case you change your mind about number one, or they change their mind about you.

The chat function also felt a little too reminiscent of my rampant MSN-ing in high school. I actually did have a couple of relationships develop almost entirely out of contact via MSN in early high school and I never felt weird about it, but there are a lot of things that I didn’t feel weird about when I was 14 that I feel weird about now. Like butterfly clips and favouring boys with braces.

And finally, the lack of non-verbal cues was, quite frankly, disconcerting. I’d always thought the appeal of internet dating sites was that they save time, but I wasn’t convinced there was less effort involved in meeting someone online than if I’d met them in the real world. I understand that it is easier to make contact with a person if it’s understood from the outset that you’re looking for love, but it also seems rather likely that you could wile away hours talking to someone, only to find out they have a completely different demeanour in real life than what you’d imagined, even assuming that they were honest about everything they told you.

Still, I know a number of people who are in very happy and loving relationships with people they have met online. It’s not for everyone but it’s unfortunate that it’s widely thought to be used only by married men, desperados and those lacking interpersonal skills. We use the internet for everything else, so it seems odd that online dating would be categorised any differently.

But in my case, although I had been prepared to give it a fair go, the things I didn’t like about it had me feeling more dismayed about the state of my love life than I possibly ever have before. It entirely represented the fact that there are many people out there but I’m still compatible with very few of them, and I ended up deleting my account within a day and a half.

Dating can be exhausting and, at times, hurtful, but I find comfort in knowing that someone is really laughing at my jokes, and not just typing ‘lol’ while they watch porn in another browser.

(Image credits: 1.)

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