Sometimes you just need one.
As most of you know, I’ve been playing the online dating game for about a year now. Of course I’ve been doing online dating in some form off and on for maybe 9 years (woah) but this past year was the first time I had ever really put a lot of attention and focus into it. Throughout the year I had profiles on Match, OkCupid, and JDate. And I went out on dates with men that I met on all three, even going on more than one date with a few suitors. Which may have been a first for me when it comes to online dating.
I have learned a ton about myself throughout the process and a lot of that education has come from writing here about it. I’d love to say I’ve learned exactly what I’m looking for in a partner but that is definitely still a work in progress. As I am myself. Aren’t we all?
Over the last few weeks, though, I have realized that I may be a bit addicted to online dating. For the first 10 months or so I had found a way to integrate dating into my everyday life. To make some space for it. But recently, I was finding myself logging on and searching profiles even when I barely seem to have time to see friends these days, let alone go on a date with a stranger. But I just couldn’t stop myself. Even when as soon as they proposed a date, I never wanted to go on it.
There is something about that quick fix of attention. That first message from someone who isn’t 50 or 19. From someone that has some wit. From someone that shares similar interests. From someone that seems fairly attractive. From someone that lives in Cambridge.
And then there is the profile. Oh my goodness. The amount of times I have re-written my profile. Changed my pictures. Added new ones. Asked for advice about all of it. Tried to go the light and funny route. Tried to be this Nikki or that Nicole. Wanting my whole self to come through and having no idea where to begin. And that was before even trying to describe in writing what I was looking for in a relationship. In a partner.
And it all just starts feeling like a cycle. A cycle fueled by hope. That quick thrill of seeing an email saying you have a new message. From him. And even though you’re not quite sure you want to go on an actual date with this person, you find yourself replying back in the hopes that he will reply back. For that quick hit. That attention. That new message. That hope.
Hope. Yup, I’ve still got it. But I had begun to sell myself the fantasy that all of my dating woes could be solved in one quick message on a online dating site. That I could get over the last by just finding a new one. Which there is some truth too, but it was starting to feel a bit too systematic. A bit too much like applying for a job (although the similarities to job searching are kind of scary at times but that’s another post). I had started to get a bit too addicted because I was hoping it would all be a quick fix. And really, to my life, which doesn’t need fixing.
I recently met someone in real life. I know. I was a bit shocked myself. But I reminded myself that it has happened before. Nothing came of it but it was a really good reminder that online dating isn’t the only way to meet people (duh). And it was kind of fun to get to know someone outside of the online dating cycle. Where I could just be myself and not necessarily the person I thought would match with my profile and with what I had “advertised.”
So I’m taking a break. My JDate subscription was already up (don’t get me started on the auto-renewal hell that is online dating) and I suspended my Match and OkCupid accounts. I’m not saying I won’t go back online. Or that I’ll meet someone walking down the street today. But I needed to wean myself off a bit. I needed to go cold turkey. I needed to stop looking online for that quick hit of attention. Of that quick hit of “maybe this one will be the one.” That quick hit of “maybe this one will stick around.” That quick hit of “maybe.” Because it was becoming a crutch. It was holding me back from being more open in my real life. From talking to that guy next to me at the bar. From asking my friends, again, to set me up with people. From being myself. From not being afraid to be myself. From just enjoying my life and where I am at, because it’s pretty great these days.
Who knows what the future holds for me and online dating, and really dating in general, but for now, I’ll have to find a way to fill my days without answering hundreds of OkCupid questions. Perhaps on a sunny patio, drinking sangria?
P.S. And if anyone is about to say “maybe you’ll meet someone when you stop looking,” I would like to say “if I could find Prince Charming while laying on my couch eating pizza and watching Arrested Development, that would be FANTASTIC.”