Thursday, September 5, 2019

Online Dating, Revisited

I am not one to speak of online dating, as my experience was rather small in that area. I joined SYAS for a day, then cancelled my membership. 

There is a difference, however, between SYAS and standard dating websites (which I did not join, either, not having the strength for it). SYAS operates on shadchanim setting up dates; standard dating sites have you do the searching for yourselves. 

I read two articles recently on the topic, in the NY Times and Wall Street Journal. The online WSJ doesn't allow any access to content without a subscription, so I'll sum up "Dating Apps Are Making Marriages Stronger." 

The premise is that since one can list exactly what one is looking for, being quite explicit about needs, wants, values, expectations, they are more likely to find someone who is in line with those criteria. When one reads an online profile, one can then choose whether a date makes sense before proceeding. When dating in real life, however, one may compromise or overlook after meeting the person in question. 

One man, who was quoted, went for looks first and foremost, believing everything else could be overcome. When he began to date online, he was forced to sit down and consider what was really important in a relationship. 

"In Praise of Online Dating" has a different message. The author has used dating apps for the past three years and has gone on nearly 90 first dates. 

Yes, online dating can be deeply demoralizing, a parade of indignities that throws into relief not just our self-absorption and banality, but our nihilism too. If I stumble upon one more man who seeks a “partner in crime,” one more “sapiosexual” or “entrepreneur,” I fear I will stomp on my phone. Worse still are the car selfies and nephew pics; the weird proliferation of taco and pizza emojis; the men who take it upon themselves to tell you who you are — “a girl who takes care of herself,” naturally, which always reads to me like a thinly-veiled threat. And above all the ghosting. 

However, she found these dates to have infused an extra zest to her life. 

How narrow was my own existence, I thought then, and how it continued to narrow by the day. But to go on dates with 86 different men is to gain as many windows on the world; it is to see one’s vast city and one’s vast self, if only for a few hours, through the eyes of a stranger one would never otherwise have met.

Additionally, she realized that in her now-dead marriage, she had lost herself; while many dates were soul-crushing, her self reemerged and hardened. 

I can echo the same sentiments. I would march home from a date and be able to voice my values, when before they could have been rather ethereal. I could say, "This isn't going to work for me. I need that."

So often, when dating, we are told to be something we are not. But we are what we are, there is no escaping it, nor is that anything to be corrected or altered. I could meet someone, respect his point of view, but know such an outlook would not work for me in terms of marriage yet still enjoy his book recommendation.