Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Total Nerd Seeks Same (2)

None of my friends believe me when I say that, after much research in the field, I truly think I'm happier single. Being in a relationship always makes me anxious, because so often it's about walking a tightrope of false expectations. But my friends insist: "No, no. You just haven't met the right guy yet. When you do, you'll understand each other, and be able to share everything, and yada-yada-yada." (Oops. Did I just out myself as a heterosexual woman? Well, it's true.) At any rate, I'd sometimes like to believe them, but the truth is that dating is hard, especially the kind of dating you do with people to whom you've imparted your deepest secrets (at least the ones that make you sound hot or at least don't make you look bad) before you've even clapped eyes on one another. And, for better or for worse, that's the kind of dating most of us do these days. Two weeks of phone and email courting can lead to an imaginary intimacy which makes for a wicked post-honeymoon period letdown. Truly, what makes a person "right," and how can you tell by an ad? In my experience, personals ads tend to leave out important details -- like whether or not the poster is a hopeless, sloppy alcoholic who can't be taken out in public, for example. Okay, that's an extreme case, but it also happened to me.

But I'm not merely talking about giant potential sticking points like religion, having kids, or whether or not you smoke/drink/eat things with faces/enjoy porn/top or bottom. Even the trivial stuff can make a huge difference in the long run. So you both love movies? Perfect! But what if you like big boom-boom special effects extravaganzas and s/he likes they-came-to-talk indies? I see a lot of eye-rolling in the future. Or you both adore weekends in the country; unfortunately his ideal is a nine-mile nature hike before breakfast, and hers is nine hours of dozing in a sunny hammock drinking G&Ts. I think you get my point. The truth is, people often post ads which only reflect their most generic traits and ask very little of potential mates in order to maximize their dating window. For example, here's a short personals blurb that might reflect my search for Mr. Right:

SWF, 30's, seeks SM 28 - 45. I'm cute, 5'4, auburn/green, gainfully and steadily employed, well-educated (MA in English Lit, former teacher), love reading, writing, gardening, computers, movies & other media, smoky dive bars and spending lots of time curled up in bed -- with or without a book.

I'd love to meet a smart man who also makes me laugh. Regular job and easygoing disposition definite pluses.

Let's see now . . . not only is that ad unbelievably boring, it's also full of gaping holes. While it's all technically true, it kind of makes me sound like I curl up with Proust and a cuppa every night. Perish the thought (at least the Proust part . . . shudder). And apparently I'm looking to hook up with an accountant who tells jokes and drinks lite beer with his buddies on the weekend. I could get a thousand responses from every walk of life, and still, none of us would have a clue about potential compatibility with the person we thought we were going to meet.

So maybe meeting the right person is all about placing the right ad. You want to meet someone who likes the same things you do, has the same values as you do -- who'll love you for yourself? Then spill -- warts and all. The question is, what would I really want to say to the world about myself? And what would I want to ask for in return? See part 3, coming as soon as I work it out myself.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Total Nerd Seeks Same (1)

This is a think piece in preparation for my next personals ad. Funny thing is, I hate personals, mostly because I pretty much shun meeting new people. Anybody who enjoys the dating process is deeply disturbed, anyway, but meeting a total stranger cold just because it seems like a good idea on paper -- that's a whole different ballgame. It's about as much fun as a job interview at the dog food factory.

My experiences with personals have been a mixed bag thus far. Best case: I had a fling with one really cool guy, but I'm not sure it counts, since it was actually his best friend whom I met on the personals board. Awkward. Worst case: I woke up in a stranger's room only to find out later that my housemate had had exactly the same experience just a few weeks earlier. I mean exactly. Really awkward.

One thing about blind dates is there's that unpredictable chemistry question: it can be as flat as last night's opened beer, or it can knock you out of your panties from across the room. And it's fickle in a way no number of flirtatious emails can predict. I have a friend who carried on a torrid email affair with a guy she met online for about two weeks; on the big night he picked her up -- and then returned her about twenty minutes later. In the car on the way to the restaurant, they had discovered instant mutual non-chemistry, and had the brains to call it a wash rather than putting themselves through yet another bad date. Good call. At least if you meet someone at a party or through friends, you have some time to suss out that tricky attraction factor prior to winding up sitting across the table from him or her at some gruesome trendy bar with the evening ahead looking about as long as War & Peace.

So why is it I'm thinking about posting again? I'll get to that later. (Probably in part 3 of this particular rant.) There's also . . .