Lest anyone assume that I’ve given up the writerly ghost, let me assure you that writing has been my life recently. So much so, actually, that the thought of writing additional stuff on top of the other junk made me laugh until I peed a little. Most of the stuff has been science-related for the Giant Proposal Of Becoming a PhD Candidate Death March of Infinity, but I’ve also been slinging a lot of emails hither and yon. I, as you might imagine, write epic emails. Long and meandering, but sometimes with a theme and occasionally even a moral. I try writing short emails, but they always seem so limp. And 30 Helens agree: There’s nothing worse than a flaccid email.
So, I present to you a compilation of a couple recent emails outlining my latest dive into the murky waters of online dating. Prior to this, my batting average with online dating was an unprecedented 4/4 with one 3-year relationship and three other genuinely lovely women, one of whom I still talk to from time to time. It’s possible that I should’ve retired and taken that average into the hall of fame, but no. Ha. No no no.
When I started grad school, I made a conscious decision to forego dating in order to make sure I didn’t fail miserably at jumping back into academia. Most of the people I ended up hanging around with (and still do) were around a decade younger than me and couldn’t understand anyone making such a decision. Sacrifice on any level seemed completely foreign to them, so trying to explain why I was doing it fell on deaf ears. My point of view then was that I could either not fail academically or not fail at being in a relationship, but trying to salvage both at the same time would likely result in failing at both, so I made my choice and I still stand by it. It has been frustrating, yes, and I did turn down a few opportunities, but whether it’s the military training or the hopeless neurotic in me, when I choose to focus on something, that’s it; everything else goes out the window. Having gotten past the majority of the academic hurdles (the last one happens in May), my recent experiences in trying to get back into the dating scene have justified my decision to give it up a few years ago. I’m unwilling to settle and I’m fine with being alone, but the combination of these two traits appears to be pointing more and more to the ‘Remaining Alone’ column.
I knew going in that body image was clearly the most subjective of all the descriptions one sees on any given profile, so taking those with numerous grains of salt wasn’t too much of a stretch. The thing that gets me is that a lot of the women on the site aren’t willing to consider anyone outside of their area. If you live in a place that, for whatever reason, hasn’t provided you with what you’re looking for, why would you be averse to looking elsewhere? And hell, an hour doesn’t even qualify for ‘long distance’. Three-hour plane rides do (I did those a couple times a month for three years; totally worth it). A common reply I get to emails is how it’s too bad that I don’t live in [their city], which started out as annoying and has gradually degenerated into mildly infuriating. And since we’re unloading pet peeves, women who type a couple sentences in a profile, evidently assuming that their pictures will do all the talking necessary; I’ve known a fair number of hot women that made me want to jump off the nearest cliff. So, while pictures are nice, there needs to be a little effort in the ‘word’ department, since that’s a huge part of what I’m trying to determine about someone (can form coherent sentences using words and punctuation). And the pictures … I don’t know if these people hire photographers or what, but when I run somewhere or climb something, even if I’m not doing it alone, the person with whom I’m doing it isn’t whipping out a camera to take pictures of me doing it. Am I missing something? Proof is what people want, it seems. Do you run and work out a lot? Prove it. Hike a lot? Prove it. Cook a lot? Prove it. I’m not going to flex in the mirror *snap*, whip up some chicken tikka masala *snap*, balance the camera on a tree branch to catch the dogs and I in mid-hike *snap*, etc., just so strangers can feel relatively certain that I do what I say I do. And I won’t even dive into the money issue. A lot of women are looking for intelligence and integrity and substance, but only if the carrier of said virtues makes above $XXXK a year? How’s that worked out for them so far?
And because I don’t want to come off as a relentless basher of women, allow me to say a couple brief words about male douchebaggery. There are amazing women that not only date, but STAY with douchebags. This never ceases to amaze me, but whatever, everyone has their cross to bear. What I can’t abide is that when the douchebag is gone, this picture of ‘men’ has taken root in her mind and it’s forever up to other men to prove it wrong. Now the bearer of the cross is any non-douchebag who happens to stumble into the minefield of this woman’s past, where chances are he’ll likely end up losing a foot or a leg. Dating is complicated by people carrying around burlap sacks full of their past and sometimes dumping them out onto the table, knocking over the candle and sending the wine crashing to the floor. This is why if you’re inclined to introversion, it can be a chore to talk yourself into strolling through minefields.
I’ve been told that I sound too ‘smart’, sound like I hate religion (my comment about having a strong faith, but an incredibly low regard for organized religion), and that getting involved with a ‘student’ seemed like a bad idea. In their own way, these women were doing me a favor by staying away, but it also makes me wonder if the ones who don’t respond simply lack the inclination to be that honest or just have more tact. Do they say they want one thing, when actually they want something else? Are they intimidated for some ridiculous little reason? If I changed the occupation and the income, what would happen? The darker side of me thinks that I’d have to fight women off with a shovel, that distance suddenly wouldn’t matter, that my thoughts on religion might somehow move from blasphemy to ‘intriguing’. If I had fewer scrupples, I might try such an experiment. Some of the women that I have met have seemed surprised to have had their preconceived notions dashed upon the rocks of reality. The fact that a 37-year old graduate student might’ve actually lived a pretty remarkable life! That there’s more to being a student than keg stands! This is why I don’t go looking for women on these sites anymore; I wait for them to find me.
Best story so far? It might just be the demographic that I end up talking to, but the prevailing notion of a lot of the women I’ve met so far has been 1) Marriage very soon if not extremely sooner and 2) A rugrat shows up exactly 9 months later. There was one who already had kids, but didn’t mention it on the site. When I met her, the number of kids she had increased proportionally to the number of drinks she threw down. I could graph this with axes relating to ‘drinks’ and ‘kids’, but I currently have enough graphs in my life right now, so you’ll just have to visualize.
Sir @ March 15, 2010