He was my second big love (my first love also happened instantaneously) but he was weirded out by my lack of rules or expectations. “It feels like I could just walk all over you,” he once said to me in disgust. I had a nervous breakdown getting over him. Mysterious red blotches erupted on my face and I couldn’t get out of bed for weeks, not that I would have wanted to even if I could have, since I looked pretty mortifying. Maybe love doesn’t strike me like lightning; it's more like a recurring case of bubonic plague.
But privacy issue of online profiles aside, what really bothers me about dating itself is that it's intrinsically calculating. Underneath dating culture, sociologist Martin Whyte sees a “marketplace learning scenario,” in which “people date a large number and variety of others to acquire experience that will enable them, it is hoped, to make prudent choices.” Paul Hollander notes in his book Extravagant Expectations: New Ways to Find Love in America, “American-style dating … incorporates two not entirely consonant goals: the pursuit of romance and intense emotional involvement on the one hand, and on the other a deliberate, self-conscious rational, trial-and-error procedure of sampling potentially available partners.”
But I’ve given it a go and so far, I’ve been on four dates. The first was a jazz musician. We ate at a Thai restaurant, after which we went back to the jazz club where he was tuning a piano. The second was to a bicyclist and photographer recovering from his own ten-year relationship. We had dinner and walked around a little. I brought the third guy, a writer who teaches creative writing at NYU, to a party where he knew a few people. I met the fourth guy for tapas and we talked about his animal rescue work.
They're all quite nice and maybe in other situations, if we had met at a party or on the subway, we would be friends. But with the OK Cupid set-up, this seems somewhat unlikely. And I don't know if I like the position it puts me in. Maybe other people who are used to this sort of set-up know what to say or do, but it just feels like I'm inviting random guys to hit on me over drinks or dinner. This already happens to me plenty enough without me needing to go looking for it. Do other women like this? I find it rather uncomfortable and I never know how to react to it. I would much rather be struck by lightning. Or wait around for the next bout of the plague.