“Dating…..don’t wait too long.” This is a memo I store in my phone, because I need to remind myself that the longer I stand on the sidelines, the harder it will be to get back on the field. Yes, I am ready. My heart beats to its own even rhythm; my eyes stay dry when I think of him; my lips speak his name with ease. So, what is my next move? At the moment, I’m in the safe-take-no-risks box; there are a couple dating apps on my phone; I’ve gone on a couple pseudo-dates; and I’ve been dissecting this new dating/relationship culture through movies and books.
A couple years ago, I made a meaningful connection the organic way and swore that I would never date the impersonal Internet way again. Fast forward a couple years and I decided to reconsider that decision. After some research, I found a couple alternatives to Plenty of Fish (Plenty of weirdos), OK Cupid (OK stupid), and Tinder (swipe, swipe, let’s hook up). Bumble, the feminist app, and Coffee Meets Bagel (CMB), the “quality over quantity” app, made it to my phone.
Like Tinder, Bumble and CMB have a swipe system and both parties have to like each other to send a message. With Bumble, women have to initiate the conversation within 24 hours or the match disappears, and with CMB you are served a “bagel” (potential match) every 24 hours based on your profile preferences, friend circle, and app history. (Those in my friend circle are partnered up, so I’m not inviting them to this experiment.). The Bumble profile is sparse with a max of five pictures and an optional ‘about’ blurb, while CMB encourages users to flesh out their profiles by answering three questions: Who are you? What do you like? What do you appreciate in your date? Both apps attracted me with their simplicity and easy setup, but after a week with zero bagels and a bumbling about llamas, I’m beginning to think they aren’t working for me. Maybe I should go back to the organic way of dating.
Enter pseudo-dating. What is this pseudo-dating? This is going out with a guy that you’re pretty sure thinks of you as a friend, and you pretty much feel the same way about him, but there is still this underlying chemistry, and desire to smell and look good for each other. A few years ago, I started taking salsa lessons and met such a guy. In between dances, we’d have heated debates, exchange occasional messages, and gush over our recent loves. I was the one gushing, and he was usually agonizing. When I became single, we started hanging our socially. We go out for dinners every few months, followed by long drives discussing our fears about dating, marriage, climbing the career ladder, etc. In between these dinners, we exchange long-winded texts and books, followed by his unsolicited reviews of the books. As much as I enjoy our interactions, he makes my blood boil with his unknowingly sexist and closed views, and when I arrive home after our ‘dates’, I wonder why I spent so much time getting ready! That is pseudo date #1.
Psuedo-date #2 is a bit of a hybrid. He’s the old lover that you catch up with after finding him online. When I was 22 I met him through a mutual friend, and there was no underlying chemistry — it was explosive, it was the kind of chemistry that could withstand a year separation, or so we thought. After a few sizzling months, I left for Thailand, and a few months of emails, phone calls, pictures and mixed CDs later, our “love” fizzled. It was bad timing, and part of me has always thought of him as the one that got away, the one that I should have settled down with. Over the years, we disconnected; he got married and had a child, and I fell in love with Thailand and had a short fling with Korea. A few weeks ago, when I was thinking about getting in the game, and doing my due diligence browsing Plenty of weirdos, I came across his profile. I don’t know if it was his dimples or my curiosity, but I emailed him, and a week later we had a ‘catch-up’ dinner. It was different; we had this familiarity, but no sparks. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed; I had treated it as a date, but he never even took his jacket off.
I’m not sure if these pseudo dates are good for practice, or just good for nothing. Sometimes I feel it’s safer to just consume books and Netflix. My first book of the year was Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari, and I followed it up with his Master of None series on Netflix. Both look at love in this modern world, and the ever changing landscape of dating and relationships. In Modern Romance, Ansari points out that we limit ourselves with online dating. We select pre-requisites, such as age and income brackets, body type and height requirements, that narrow our choices. I know I am guilty of that. When it comes to organic dating, I usually end up with someone that I would have never found online! Then there are arranged meetings (dating) that leads to arranged marriages. To be honest, I’ve always wished that this was a viable option for me. Meet the Patels directed by Ravi Patel is a great documentary that highlights the ups and downs of the whole arranging process. There truly are so many different ways to approach dating and relationships.
Sometimes I wonder how this whole dating world is going to evolve, but for right now I am just happy that the Department of Emotional Integrity (DEI) doesn’t meddle in my affairs. What is this DEI? Well, it’s the fictional government department in the new Wong Fu production, Everything Before Us. This was my Netflix fix last night, and it truly is an imaginative and insightful look at how our relationships and choices could affect all areas of our lives. Imagine not being able to get a job because you have one too many failed relationships? Imagine being denied a loan or entrance to an establishment because of your low relationship credit score? Imagine having to register and terminate all your relationships with the government? (This isn’t so difficult to imagine. Hello, marriage, so sorry, divorce.) Imagine staying with someone to boost your score? Although all of this may seem a bit far out, it made me think about an online profile question (How long was your longest relationship?) and our acute interest in the relationship histories of our partners. I know I am somewhat hung up on the relationship histories of the women in my family. Zero marriages, four marriages and four divorces, two marriages for two divorces. Oh dear, my EI score would be so low.
Let’s go back to the beginning. “Dating….don’t wait too long.” Regardless of my score, fruitless dating apps and awkward pseudo-dates, it is time to get out of the safe-take-no-risks-box. I might have to go back to the organic way and take the feminist approach of Bumble, and get the conversation rolling. I’m in no rush though; I’ll get out there sooner or later. In the meantime, I am happy to spend Friday nights studying and watching Netflix.