Sunday, October 25, 2015

O is for online dating

I've been trying online dating off and on since 2009. I finally decided to quit last year, disabling my OkCupid account and removing my profile from, reminding myself that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results (a quote famously attributed to Albert Einstein).

I don't have any good reason for signing up on OkC again, which I did three weeks ago, about a year since I'd bowed out of the scene. Totally new profile, this time with a profile picture that actually shows my face clearly, instead of the previous one which gave a side profile view. But it seems to be working differently for me this time around--then again I'm a different person now and at a different place in my life... and I'm approaching this online dating thing differently now.

In hindsight, I think one can't log into one of these sites with the expectation or even hope that you're going to find your soulmate. I'm not saying it can't happen, just that it's rare. I can only speak for myself: I invested too much hope in it, then got frustrated and discouraged when it didn't work. When a guy stopped writing, I'd wonder why and second-guess myself: Was it something I'd said? Did he not like something about me? Should I have presented myself differently? But at the same time, I was constantly judging them: Were we compatible? Did he have the qualities I want in a partner? Could I live with a guy who was like this?

I think it's an unhealthy way to approach a potential relationship. It's like not being interested in the guys for their own sake, but only as a means to an end. Everything said and done has some ulterior motive; you don't want to know who he is, you just want to know if he ticks all the checkboxes on your list and fits the nice little box labelled "significant other". You can't enjoy the friendship or connection that's developing, because you're always jumping ahead inside your brain and evaluating and analysing.

I also discovered that when you want so much for something to happen, you risk losing yourself. You want the guys to respond favourably to you, so you're full of anxiety. You overreact to what they do or don't say. You read too much into the silences--how long they take to reply emails. You second-guess what you write in reply. It's... exhausting.

This time around, I'm a great deal more relaxed about the whole thing. I feel more centred inside and I'm enjoying the connections I'm making, without attaching a great deal of expectation to them. I can be myself, be honest, without being haunted by the debilitating fear that I might be inadvertently destroying my chances with someone by doing so. Unsurprisingly, it's been a much more rewarding experience so far!

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