The romance novels told me that it would happen like this:
I’m walking through the woods one day, when suddenly, I’m surrounded by a pack of feral wolves, growling and foaming at the mouth. Out of nowhere, the large, proud alpha appears and his pack stands down. I stumble and fall as I take a step back, and look up to see, not a wolf, but a beautiful naked man in his place.
You really don’t want me to continue. I’d be a horrible erotic romance writer.
Me: “Why do you still have his number? He was a such a dick.”
Gail: “I don’t know. I just never deleted it.”
Me: “We should text him something wildly inappropriate, like… ‘Hey there… copper. Why don’t you haul that big… penis on over here and… put it in my mouth… big boy?’ Wait. I used the word ‘big’ twice. That’s kind of redundant.”
Alas, Disney lied. More accurately, all media ever lied, along with every single person who’s ever said ‘It’ll happen when you least expect it” or “If it’s meant to be, it’ll be.” That works so well with every other aspect of our lives, like our education, careers, and friendships, right? Success takes effort and dating is no different. So, I went to another Match event.
I cannot stress the balls it takes to go to these stupid things. Y’all, I am a pretend extrovert, because my job requires it. Despite my energy and humor in any social setting, unless I’m with a small group of friends or family, I can pretty much promise you that I would much rather be at home reading… in a blanket fort.
The original plan was to go to the Match event with a friend from high school, who’s kept in touch via Facebook and has also been navigating the harrowing waters of online dating. When that didn’t happen, I decided I’d still go, since I’d gone to another Match event alone and the world didn’t crumble around me. The problem is, I had been looking forward to having a gal pal with me and was having trouble readjusting the plans in my mind for a solo event. I was dreading it. I couldn’t decide whether or not I even wanted to go and wavered all day long. When it was time to leave, all of my clothing turned to ash and I had nothing to wear. When I finally chose an outfit, it ripped as I put it on. Though I was tempted to give up and get out the chairs and linens, I made the repairs and forced myself out the door.
The event was held at a Spanish grill downtown, which I had trouble finding at first. I decided to go to the nearby outdoor supply superstore to use the restroom and fix my makeup before giving the search a second go. I spent a good twenty minutes in the bathroom, trying to come up with an excuse to just browse the guns and go home. Finally I promised myself that, if I was that unhappy after 10 minutes, I’d just leave.
On the way, I tried to figure out why I was so miserable over the idea of going to a bar, when I feel nothing close when meeting someone. I realized that, when you go on a date with someone you’ve met online, you’re only making yourself vulnerable to one person. At a Match event, you’re vulnerable to about 50 people. Not to mention, on a date, you know exactly with whom you’re supposed to be socializing. There is no guess work. Quite the opposite, at this Match event, I sat alone and worked up the nerve to talk to the girls behind me, reminding myself (with the help of Jane by text) that this was not the first day of sixth grade at lunch time. When I introduced myself and was invited to sit with them, I figured if the worst case scenario was engaging in some meaningless girl talk, I’d be okay.
One woman was 24, energetic and friendly, but something she said did rub me the wrong way.
24: “My man’s gotta love Jesus. I mean love Jesus. I don’t like hypocrites, either. You’ve gotta practice what you preach.”
24: “We met on Christian Cafe.”
Me: “Is that free?”
24: “It is for a little while and then you have to pay. I just kept using new e-mail addresses, though.”
Wait. He’s gotta be a Christian who practices what he preaches, but you’re stealing online Christian dating? I wouldn’t normally nitpick the misuse of a free trial. To each their own. These statements were back to back, though. I told Gail this story at breakfast, wondering if I was being unfair.
She didn’t think so.
Her friend was 26 and we agreed that, although we’re not really in a hurry right now, we probably will be in four years. Still…
Me: “So, how long have you been on Match?”
26: “Two years.”
Me: “Any luck?”
26: “None. But I have really high standards.”
What exactly does “high standards” mean? Do you mean you’re looking for someone who works in education, so he’ll understand your career concerns? Do you really need to be with a member of the Church of the Latter Day Saints and that’s hard to find in this part of the country? Are you looking for someone with ambition and drive, who has accomplished some of his goals? All of those are completely reasonable, but you have to specify that. Grand generalized statements like “I have really high standards” come off as “No one’s good enough for me”, regardless of gender. I had just finished researching the poor online dating habits of women, so maybe my head was in the wrong space for this, but I can’t stand to see a statement like that on a man’s profile either. It’s a huge turnoff to read that or similar comments like “I know what I want.” Why bother trying if they’re that particular?
Despite the above irksome comments, I had fun getting to know other women who dated online and I really did appreciate them letting me sit at their table. They had some good stories and interesting experiences and we had a nice conversation. Eventually a couple of men came over and struck up some conversation and we started comparing who was worse at deception, men or women. One guy was drunk, but funny and nice. Had he messaged me after the event, I’d likely have responded. He even took my correction of his usage of who/whom in stride. Eventually, though, the older of the two shared a humiliating story about a woman having a breakdown when he refused to come inside after a first date, stating that he was actually still friends with her.
Confused, I asked how they were still close and he said that she’d just been going through a really hard time. I didn’t comment further, but dude, if she’s a friend, it is beyond hateful to tell a humiliating story about her to get a few laughs, especially from a time in her life when she was feeling low. If you come off as a shit friend, I really don’t want to date you.
As the event neared it’s end, I noticed a man I’d been messaging and decided to introduce myself.
Me: “Hi. I’m Belle. We chatted for awhile, not too long ago.”
Producer: “Oh… I don’t remember. If I’ve slept since then, I’ve forgotten.”
Me: “I’m a libarian. My screen name has that in it.”
Producer: “No, I don’t remember.”
Me: “Oh, well then, this is a terrible introduction.”
We talked for awhile online. I think he did remember me, but felt slighted when I stopped responding, because he never asked to meet. Still, we chatted for a few minutes, until the older man who cruelly mocks his friends came over, stood way too close to me, and obviously interrupted a conversation to ask where my friends went. Curtly answering his question, I told him I hadn’t known them, pointedly only told Producer it was nice meeting him, and left. Still, I got a message from him less than an hour later, saying how nice it was to meet me. I didn’t respond.
So, that was my second Match event. At this point, I’m thinking it’s going to be my last. The perk of online dating is knowing the fundamentals of who a person is before getting to know them. At the last event, I devoted two hours to a man, at a loss for why I’d never messaged him. Finally, I realized it was our different religious beliefs that had turned me off and it was still a valid reason. A Match event is pretty much just going to a bar and trying your luck, hoping someone will even want to talk to you and that you’ll have anything in common if they do. It is literally the face-to-face version of Match. You have to deal with the creepy people and the rude people and the pushy people just the same, only you have to do it in person. No thank you.