No, I don’t want to be your valentine. I’m sure tomorrow will be nuts over there, but I’m going to stay away.
All those single, love-hungry people combing through profile pic after profile pic searching for that message anchored deep in someone’s pupils, scanning self-summaries for hidden insights, for that in-between-the-lines message that would tell you (and only you) that soul mate status is imminent. That you two are meant to be. And that everything else is just further confirmation: the astrological compatibility (“and it’s fun to think about”), the shared religious status (“Judaism, and laughing about it”), the private thing that is just private enough to get you all tingly but not so private that it would be creepy, and, of course, the “what I’m doing with my life” that is driven and passionate and yet humble and altruistic. It’s really too good to be true.
And then, OMG, you just have to message, and then there’s the whole will-they-or-won’t-they, and then they do, and then OMG, and it’s just so great, and you write or you text or you call — whatever technologic apparatus works for you — and it’s dizzying and fun and distracting, and you’re both trying to figure each other out, and then it’s so much fun that you almost don’t want to meet but you do — because you’re soul mates.
Except that there’s this other person, this other profile, maybe a quiver match (whatever that means), maybe someone who favorited you (when did that become a verb and does the OED know?), and maybe this new person is a better soul mate, and maybe they are really good at just the things you’ve always wanted your partner to be really good at, and so you’re going to write them back, only once, just to see what happens —
And you get the idea.
Online dating is online shopping. And in our ADD-plagued culture, it feels virtually impossible to imagine ever finding someone to date while, also, actively having a dating profile. Because even when you think you’ve met someone lovely, there’s still that sensation that someone lovelier could come along. And maybe you should just check to see what your astrological compatibility is. You know, just to be sure. Because maybe it’s better.
When really what you should be doing is shutting off your profile and (re)learning the art of deep focus. Meeting someone and focusing on them. Getting to know them in that awkward and uncomfortable place known as IRL.
But the problem with IRL is that it’s scary. The problem of focusing on just one person is that it’s so easy to obsess, to fixate, to dwell and overanalyze — and this is why OKCupid is hard to give up. And what if you give it up, but they don’t, and then you’re dating, but they’re still shopping, and then OMG, the vortex.
Because it can be so much fun to engage in meaningless flirting. To diversify. To patch up a bruised ego when a text goes unanswered by finding some other hot prospect whose typical Friday nights are your typical Friday nights. To embrace the dizzying kaleidoscope that is the wall of future soul mates. Because that’s not scary at all. Because that’s not IRL. Because that’s shopping.
Or you can just Tinder.
But maybe, one day, you’ll be (un)lucky enough to find someone worth having another date with, and then another, and then a third and fourth, and before you know it, a week has gone by, and it’s hard to remember what it felt like not to know that person, and then you go back to OKCupid, and it feels like a shell of what it once was. A shell game, to be precise.
And part of you misses those days, because IRL is fucking scary. And your text waits, unanswered. But there isn’t anyone else you’d rather text.
So you ignore the dizzying kaleidoscope and write a blog post.
Phone Calls: 0
Messages: One short of happiness.