Becky and I love to play expert (okay fine, especially me) – even though we’re fully aware that it’s impossible for anyone to truly call themselves a bona fide expert in a post-dating world with no rules or regulations, where it’s every man/woman/relationship/app for themselves. But someone had to take charge and start figuring out how to navigate through all the confusion and ambiguity, right? So we’re doing our best.
Hell, you’re all doing your best! Look at all the crowd-sourced advice that was handed over to guest blogger D-Money Esq. just this week! I’d like to see He’s Just Not That Into You give that one a go.
Thus far, we’ve set out to create the post-dating roadmap by categorizing non-dates and sorting through the gaggle and calling out some of the new tools of techno-romance. Call me crazy (or fuschia!), but I honestly believe that we’re starting to figure this stuff out. Let’s say that, at the very least, we’re making it a little more comprehensible. Agreed?
But there is one key element of the post-dating world that Becky and I are not entirely equipped to discuss and analyze. An element that almost everyone we know (yes, almost everyone – can we finally declare the stigma gone? done! I declare it. it’s gone. sayonara. shalom. arrivederci. aloha.) has experimented with. An element that affects over 20 million people a month and is expected to bring in $932 million in 2011.
Ah, Online Dating. WTF is up with that?! Hell if Becky and I know (yet!). Luckily, we’ve got you guys to teach us. Welcome to the very first day of the WTF?! online dating series.
Over the past year – and unofficially, for much longer – I have heard countless tales and gripes and analyses of every single dating site out there from friends, family and you amazing and adventurous readers. Who hasn’t watched those cute eHarmony commercials (please see the Editor’s Note at the bottom of this post) and wondered if your charming, attractive, loving, well-dressed, enjoys-frolicking-in-the-park-and-staring-into-your-eyes soulmate is just a registration fee away? So we’ve gathered some of the funniest, sweetest, craziest, most successful stories from our favorite online daters to share with you in the coming weeks. Starting today! Don’t miss Julia Bartz’s nervy guest blog, Striking a Nerve: Tales of Online Dating.
We’ve got J-Date, BlackPeopleMeet.com, Plenty of Fish, Nerve.com, and – oh wait, there’s J-Date again. We’ve got an engagement, a special connection, and a woman who really should’ve taken her Lactaid pills before ordering a milkshake. We’ve got online daters who are having a blast, and ones who will never go near a computer again. And they’re all going to share their experiences, their insights, and their views on how online dating fit into their love lives, particularly amidst the many other complications of the post-dating world.
For the record, I want to be clear about why Becky and I haven’t personally delved into the online dating world (have I mentioned yet?). It’s not because we feel superior or ‘better than that,’ or because we think the culture is weird, or because we don’t want to lie to everyone about where we met our next boyfriend (“We were standing by the chip table at our friend’s party!” = “He was my 27th Match.com date.”). We know many happily-coupled-up friends and family members who met their partners online. We understand that we’re all busy, driven people, and that the post-dating scene can be frustratingly confusing, and that there’s something appealingly old-school and romantic about online dating’s ironic throwback to traditional dates and expectations. We get it, I swear.
Looking at online dating from a modern perspective, the process even seems like an effective opportunity to begin building a gaggle if don’t think that you don’t have one, or to freshen up the tired old gaggle that you do have. To prove our open-mindedness, Becky is now a registered user on OkCupid, and I’m toying around with the possibility of joining an online dating site that might prove to be a little less conventional (more on that soon – and more on Becky’s OkCupid journey tomorrow! I just got my first look at her profile. woah, there’s some crazy stuff going on in there). Is online dating a better bet than the bar scene? Unless you’re looking for a few Super Horny Guys, then yes. It certainly is.
So no, we’re not creeped out by online dating. But here’s what my voyeuristic, longtime observations of the scene have revealed to me.
When I ask men and women about their love lives, they usually begin by telling me about the people they’re meeting online. This one’s okay, that one picked out a weird restaurant, another one writes funny emails, I’m kinda bummed because the cute one didn’t write me back, etc. It’s all rationality and composure and judgments and thoughtful pros and cons and, you know, dates.
But after the requisite catch-up, other stories start to seep through. And that’s when I often begin to hear about the guy(s)/girl(s) who they’re really into. The old buddy from college. The co-worker. The friend-of-a-friend. The drummer in their favorite new local band. The softball teammate. You know – the one(s) they met in a more organic setting. The one(s) who they’re probably not traditionally dating. The one(s) who they’re hanging out with, in between the nice dinners and “casual” coffees with the people they’re meeting online.
And here’s my point. It’s absolutely best to put yourself out there as much as possible, and to open up your options, and to see what’s out there and who’s best for you and what you’re looking for. There is a beautifully good chance that you may meet your perfect partner on an online dating site, because these days, you could meet him or her anywhere. But even when you’re wrapped up in online dating – you must remember that you’re living every second of every day in a post-dating world.
Don’t shut off your head and your heart as soon as you shut off your computer. Look at online dating as one way for you to engage in exciting, romantic interactions with potential prospects. Don’t think that just because you’re logging in and surfing profiles every day, your job is done. And don’t allow the rest of your time to pass by uneventfully and unromantically. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Everything and nothing is a date these days.
Push yourself to continue seeing possibility and potential all around you, all the time. Make sure that you’re still going on non-dates and cultivating relationships with the new and existing people in your gaggle. And engage in modes of techno-romance that might not involve winks and flirts and suggestive emoticons.
Oh, and one more thing. Don’t use a photo of yourself from three years ago. That’s just lame.
Editor’s Note: Despite the charming commercials, Becky and I have been wholly unimpressed with eHarmony’s efforts (NOT) to include the LGBT community in their worldwide quest for love. Lame. Therefore, we’re not planning to include any eHarmony users in our e-parade of online dating guest bloggers. Love and commitment for ALL, we say.
However, if you’re an eHarmony user who is just dying to tell your story…let’s talk. WTF@the-gaggle.com
Jess is the co-creator of The Gaggle, alongside her childhood best friend Becky Wiegand, and is the author of the book - yep! - The Gaggle. She never tires of hearing your post-dating stories. She wants you to enjoy your love life, and is full of advice on how to do so.
The-Gaggle.com is a website that explores modern romance in the Millennial era – which, let’s be honest, looks nothing like we were taught to expect. We feature essays, advice and social commentary with humor, compassion and brains, and we vow never, ever to publish a piece called “The 10 Best Ways to Satisfy Your Man in Bed”. Do click here to submit your work to us. We love you.