What It’s #Like Dating In The #Digital #Age

My first date was in fifth grade. A beautiful boy, who sat behind me in homeroom, sold all of his baseball cards to take me to McDonald’s. This is how we met and connected then, within your own parameters and comfort zone. You knew exactly what we were getting, no pictures to zoom in on in order to check for disparities.

Now it’s Bumble, Tinder, and Zoosk. Straining your eyes to be sure the pictures weren’t from the same year that you graduated high school.

You take people at picture value and assume that you are going to meet the same picture in flesh. So why does that rarely happen? I’m no stranger to online dating and quite frankly, I hate it. The depersonalization eats at me, but in this world, it seems the only way to go unless you want to wait for fate to hand you a companion. I personally am no friend to fate, so I periodically check those sites on which my face is posted.

Recently, I decided to take a chance and peruse the selection on Bumble. I crossed paths with an interesting gentleman who seemed to possess some of the qualities I was looking for in a mate. We chatted online, then on the phone. We agreed on the current state of affairs in the country and our passions for activism were a match.

At some point in the conversation, he asked me how tall I was, and I told him “5’4”. I returned the question and he replied, “Oh, I’m about 5’7, 5’8”. “No problem”, I thought. I reviewed his pictures one more time and he seemed handsome enough.

This can be the problem with online dating: often times, the opposite appearance is what you are exposed to. You don’t want to seem shallow so you attempt to read the profiles and chat on the phone just in case, but online dating doesn’t allow for the instant chemistry that you might feel with someone you weren’t expecting to fall for. It disables that chip in the brain and causes desensitization and you have to tune into your skills of detection and deduction. There is no magic, no fireworks or pixie dust – just straight business.

After our phone conversation, we agreed to meet up for lunch. We agreed on a time and place: a restaurant, 1 p.m. I was annoyingly on time – this is a curse – as I often try to be late but fail miserably, and texted to tell him I had landed a booth in the bar area. Once again I reviewed his pictures on the site, so I would know him when he walked through the door.

He texted back and said he had just arrived and was late due to traffic. When he walked through the door, I wasn’t quite sure if it was him. This man did not look the age he had advertised; he looked older. His hair and faded into a comb-over and when I stood to greet him, I towered over him. Granted, I was wearing two-inch wedges but if I was correct, he was around 5’7, 5’8, right? So I should have, at minimum, met his eyes.

I tried to hide my surprise as we sat to eat. He ordered before me without asking what I was going to have for lunch. It was at that moment that I told myself “pay for your half”. The conversation flowed as easily as it had on the phone, but there was one issue that stuck in my craw.

Each time he discussed his previous marriage, girlfriends, and baby momma, he called them all crazy and blamed them for the demise of the relationship. I may have been able to get past the lateness, the false advertisement (maybe) and the height issue, but the lack of awareness and understanding of human nature and flaws were things that I could not overlook.

When I shared my adventure with works friends they giggled and told me, “That happens all the time”. I reminded myself of the days of yore when this would often happen. So why was I trying to be honest when no one else was? Better yet, why was I even doing this – putting myself out there in the digital world – in an attempt to find a nice, honest guy (who was also intelligent and cool)?

Gone are the days when a guy would sell his baseball cards to take you on a date, as well as those moments when you could turn around and look a handsome boy in the eye and feel that magical connection to a potential mate. Now, it’s spyglass and trial and error. Time to get certified in private detective work.