I quit dating. For now, at least. I imagine at some point in the future I may try again. For now, I’m done. Lately it’s been the most frustrating, exhausting part of my life. Ten minutes into the last date I went on, I found myself thinking “this date would be so much better if I was drinking this wine in my apartment. Alone. In sweatpants.” I’ve been on dates where I’ve found myself more interested in the bartender – someone I’m on friendly terms with considering that I usually request that first dates meet up at my favorite neighborhood wine bar. Once I was seriously tempted to ditch my date in favor of the guy sitting on the other side of him at the bar, who jumped in to talk about my favorite books when my date was clearly a non-reader (deal breaker right there). I went on one date that lasted maybe 30 minutes – when the gent 1) showed up late and 2) leaned back in his chair, crossed his arms, and said “tell me a joke. you were way funnier online. stop being awkward, be funny.” This was in response to a question about what he does for a living, after he blamed work for his delay. What the hell?
Inspired by Amy Webb’s Ted Talk on how she hacked online dating, I revised my profiles (yup, plural – Tinder, OkCupid, and Coffee Meets Bagel have all been in the mix at some point) with a view to attracting the kind of person I’m interested in – someone who is smart and not a jerk. Someone who likes to read books and talk about them, is into interesting food and watches the occasional Ted Talk, and who shows up on time. If I really put thought into it I’m sure the list for my ideal mate would be much longer, but unlike Amy I wasn’t looking for a husband, just a reason to get to date number two. Even that proved to be incredibly difficult.
Experience has taught me to keep my expectations low, so it’s hard for me to get excited about meeting someone new. My typical first date routine is to rush home from work, freshen up while quickly reviewing this person’s profile so I’ll have a few topics to bring up, text a friend asking them to convince me to go instead of ditching in favor of a yoga class or spending some quality time with my couch clearing out my Hulu queue, then head to the aforementioned wine bar, hoping for the best and expecting the worst. Most of the time I’d be home an hour later, annoyed that I missed yoga but happy to catch up on The Mindy Project.
What kept me going for a while was the hope that with the next right swipe or message alert I’d find someone actually worthwhile. I’ve had just enough good experiences with online dating that I know there are fantastic people out there – for one reason or another, those good experiences have not become a full-fledged relationship, but it’s heartening to know that OkCupid is not actually a desolate wasteland of survey questions and “nice guys” in fedoras.
So, why quit? For one thing, I’m actually happy spending time alone. I think growing up as an only child made me more comfortable with this than most people. Given the option to stay in alone or go meet up with a guy for an hour of halting conversation, you can bet I’d rather stay in. I’m an introvert and I like it. More importantly, I came to the realization that I don’t actually want to be in a relationship right now. Sure, the idea of a boyfriend is nice, but the work of maintaining a relationship is much harder than maintaining an online dating presence and I can barely keep up with that. Obviously the work put into a relationship should be much more rewarding, but the idea just isn’t particularly appealing to me at the moment.
Shutting down the profiles and deleting the apps was a relief. It’s been a few weeks, and I definitely don’t miss scanning through random messages, analyzing profile photos, and I really do not miss the dates. I do kind of miss that wine bar though, I think I’ll take myself there soon.