Taking It Offline: Why I Quit Online Dating

What’s a dating columnist to do when she gets sick of dating?

After a , a close encounter that was , and numerous , I decided to officially retire from the world of online dating. 

I had a pretty good run on Match.com and OKCupid.com. I chose the right profile pictures and I didn’t commit any “first message faux pas.” Still, in the end, I found online dating was just not my style.

Even if two people “make sense” together on paper, there is no guaranteed initial spark, especially when people lie about their height and sexual preferences on their profiles. In my experience, if there is no initial spark, there won’t be a second date.

Relationships move fast nowadays, and online dating encourages a quick pace by promoting the idea of an “Insta-Relationship.” Mathematical algorithms provide a list of people promising some degree of compatibility. All you need to do is browse the list and prioritize your picks. I hate that.  Relationships are not instant pudding – you can’t whisk with cold milk, let sit for three minutes and expect immediate chocolaty deliciousness. There are many more steps and many more minutes to wait.

First, you have to have a spark. Then, that spark has to grow. You have to enjoy each other’s company. There needs to be some anticipation. You have to want. You have to want to see each other again and again. You have to build a foundation of trust – and that takes time. Relationships are an investment. They grow – naturally, organically and in their own time. And so far, no online matchmaking algorithm has been proven to predict whether or not a relationship will grow.

Now, I understand the appeal of online dating, especially for singletons who work fulltime and need new outlets for meeting people. Still, ; only if they were really desperate.

I saw a lot of that desperation during my experiences online dating. I heard horror stories about online dating causing an increase in sexually transmitted diseases, but it was the process that ultimately turned me off.

Many people who use online dating are trying to find “the one.” They are busy and important and don’t have time to waste with anyone who isn’t the one. Online matchmaking sites provide an outlet for quick and easy searching from the comfort of your own home. It allows you to flirt, mingle and meet eligible bachelors while lounging in a ratty pair of sweats with no makeup on.

You browse profiles. You search keywords. You set ranges for age, distance, income, and height. You compare profiles side-by-side. It is remarkably similar to online shopping.

Then, when you do decide to meet up, you don’t go out on a first date, you go on an interview. You make sure that each other’s profile pictures are accurate and current. Since you already know where they are from, what they do and if they like dogs, cats or neither, you can skip ahead to important issues like what addictions they are recovering from and You are expected to dump your whole bag of crazy on the table – there is no time to waste here, building trust and all that mess, you need to know if they are the one or just another waste of your precious time.

Personally, I’m sick of interviewing. I’d rather be wooed.

Now, I’m not expecting a knight in shining armor who has heard legends of my beauty and virtue to bang on my door and beg to fly my colors as he goes forth to do battle. Neither do I expect Sweet Romeo to follow me home from Big Y, toss pebbles up to my window, and recite a sonnet. That would probably scare me to death and Romeo would end up getting pepper sprayed.

What do I expect?

Typical modern dude wooing: I want a guy to offer to carry something really heavy for me, dedicate an epic karaoke ballad to me, hold a door for me, or just smile and offer to buy me a drink.

From the dawn of time, men have been lifting heavy rocks and fending off saber-toothed-whatevers to impress women. They vanquished foes, composed poetry, and sang love songs. Conversely, women have painted their faces and pulled their hair out by the roots, worn horribly uncomfortable shoes and pretended not to fart.

For thousands of years, it’s worked that way. But, we’re so technologically advanced now that we’ve cut out the best part of being single: wooing and being wooed. The time when we go out and interact with people and show off for each other and build anticipation. Why rush that? It’s fun!

Why are we so focused on finding Mr. Right that we can’t take the time to enjoy a few dinners and movies with Mr. Right Now?

Maybe we’re afraid of growing old and dying alone. Maybe . Maybe we’re so focused on the quickest route to happily ever after, we forget to stop and enjoy the journey.

Whatever it is, I’m stepping back and slowing down. I’m deleting my profile.

Now what?

I guess I’ll be looking for a new way of meeting people.

Erika Gayle Ettin March 24, 2012 at 09:30 PM
You make some good points about online dating. I always call the first date really the first "meeting" to see if you want to go on a real date with someone. The hard part is that with online dating, people are so quick to judge if there's no initial spark since there's always someone else out there. Sometimes people aren't at their best during the first meeting, hence my Rule of Two. http://www.alittlenudge.com/2011/03/the-rule-of-two/ Online dating definitely gets frustrating, but so does dating in general. It simply brings you access to so many more people. Thanks! Erika


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