With much prodding, I have spent the last few months dating. Actually dating, or what passes for it in 2014–meeting online. When was it that all of a sudden, all of us began filing out online profiles, uploading photos, scanning other profiles and rating and judging other photos?
The last few months have honestly been the first time in my life I have properly dated. Not pined or been played or gone home with some random guy for a random one night stand. At the same time that it has been fun and inspiring, it has been frustrating and at times, degrading. Like date number two, which also became date number six (being the second date with that guy, but the sixth date that week). We initially hit it off. Great chat, lots of laughter and what seemed to be chemistry. He found my eyes enchanting. He even kissed me at the end of that first date, after spending three hours in a sports bar talking about almost everything. It was the first kiss I’ve had in at least five years, and I was not only into Mr Librarian, but into the idea of more kissing and hours of laughing with an attractive guy. With our second date, my status as a 32 year old part-time server and writer with no degree turned out to be a real turn off.
Over the next few weeks I had several more experiences like this one, until hitting on what seemed to be the beginning of a real relationship. For four weeks I had dinners, coffees, hikes and kisses. It seemed that this guy, tall, professional, outdoorsy, was interested in me in the same way I was in him. Every time we got together, there seemed to be only more opening of the doors to intimacy and spending more time together. It appeared to all outside observers that a relationship was taking off. And then one month to the day after our first date, when I thought we would be having the “let’s make it official, will you be my boyfriend” talk, we met for coffee and good-bye. After four weeks of perfect getting together, he asked me to take a walk so he could tell me that he wasn’t ready for dating. His last relationship ended abruptly and badly, and all the time we were spending together was bringing up a lot of emotional distress for him.
And that was that.
There have been a few other dates since then, including three weeks of dating a guy I’ve known for years, that I myself ended out of a lack of romantic interest. I re-opened an OKCupid! account, which has been given three more days to pan out as having any sort of opportunity. I am still at a complete loss as to how romance works in the 21st century, especially where queer people are concerned. We are much less likely to meet at a party thrown by friends, or at work or the grocery store, especially if it’s a town as small as Albuquerque. I am still encouraged to have some sort of faith that Mr Right is out there.
I don’t think the next three days on OKCupid are going to yield any dates, let alone any boyfriends, and I don’t anticipate any more dates this year. But I do know that loneliness and boredom have not driven me to any desperate measures, which seem to be the driving motivation for online dating. I’ve continued to stick to my guns, and own up to the whole of myself–whether in filling out profiles, or meeting guys in person I’ve met online. My economic future (or present) are precarious, and there is no way in hell I will be returning to school for a degree in Business Administration. Regardless of whether or not I ever write a best seller, the small, publishing credits I am earning I take pride in, and am encouraged to keep at this more than anything. Even though the digital dating playground has not been working out for me, I can walk away from it knowing I gave it several tries, and always presenting myself, for better or worse, as myself.