My Problems With Dating

We don’t commit now. We don’t see the point. They’ve always said there are so many fish in the sea, but never before has that sea of fish been right at our fingertips on OkCupid, Tinder, Grindr, Dattch, take your pick. We can order up a human being in the same way we can order up pad thai on Seamless. We think intimacy lies in a perfectly-executed string of emoji. We think effort is a “good morning” text. We say romance is dead, because maybe it is, but maybe we just need to reinvent it. Maybe romance in our modern age is putting the phone down long enough to look in each other’s eyes at dinner. Maybe romance is deleting Tinder off your phone after an incredible first date with someone. Maybe romance is still there, we just don’t know what it looks like now.

Jamie Varon, This is How We Date Now

My problems with dating have always been two-fold:

  1. Impossible for me to stand out from the thousands of guys on the dating sites.
  2. Extremely difficult for me to get that second date.

The first one is something I can never conquer myself, without investing some money to be highlighted on the various dating sites. That strategy seems like a complete waste of money, because the only thing that will stand out is, “This guy knows how to use a credit card.” Nothing about being highlighted signifies that the guy should be more appealing than any other guy on the site.

The second is rather puzzling for me. I meet the woman, things seem to be going really well, and they tell you they want to see me again. The next morning, I get the dreaded text message: “I’m sorry, I don’t think I’m quite ready for a relationship right now.”

Part of me wants to believe those messages, that the person really isn’t ready. The doubt almost always sets in that I was misled after a while. Some women have let it slip in conversations with me that they were a serial dater, going out to meet with men mainly to take advantage of the free meal and drinks, hopeful they would actually connect with the person but thankful for the freebies.

The more it happens to me, the more cynical it makes me. After each failed date, I start to think that the majority of women on these dating sites are out to take advantage of guys like me.

I am sure there are a lot of decent women on these sites, and they do have honest intentions. Jamie is right, though, in how easy it is to find the next great date. There is no compromise in finding a partner these days and then trying to make things work. People go on these first dates with a mental checklist of what they would like. At the first sign of something that contradicts an item on that list, no matter how major or minor, the Eject button is mentally pressed and the end of the date is imminent.

And I wanna kiss you, make you feel alright

I’m just so tired to share my nights

I wanna cry and I wanna love

But all my tears have been used up

Tom Odell, Another Love

It is a cycle.

Finding someone to go out with, being rejected or ejecting myself out of date, and then starting all over again is mentally exhausting. It is even worse when I am still battling some inner demons trying to recover from a previous relationship. I read those messages of rejection and wonder about what needs to change in order for me to find someone that I connect with. I can never ask that person why they weren’t completely sold on me, because there is likely nothing wrong with me at all.

I am always going to be myself.

That is a big problem. My words and actions that are purely genuine, coming from my heart, being shared with someone of interest, can easily be read as a prepared message that was copy-and-pasted and sent to multiple women in quick succession. Every urge I have to send a, “How are you?” message is balanced with a moment of hesitation, wondering, “How many other men have asked her that tonight?”

That hesitation leads to more missed connections. Every message not sent, words not spoken, is a chance lost to reach out and make an impression. Without taking those chances, I will never know whether something may happen or not.

Having patience and continuing to take those minor risks more are all I have to work with right now. Eventually, I will find that deep connection that I desire.