I AM TRYING to be one of the good guys and I’m slowly getting there.
That’s what the first line of his online dating profile read. I was intrigued. We “messaged” one another a bunch, and I became more interested by the length and thoughtfulness of our exchanges. He seemed to actually be one of the good guys. We agreed to meet. But I couldn’t get a good read on the date. I panicked. I slept with him.
The next morning, I asked if he would be so kind as to point me in the general direction of the nearest subway. He insisted on driving me home. I declined, he persisted, I accepted. During the drive, he told me how fun the previous night had been and expressed a desire to see me again. He kissed me before I got out of his car.
We met the following Friday, and I slept with him again. The next morning, he walked me to my car, kissed me goodbye and told me (again) how fun the night was and that he would text me.
I haven’t heard from him since.
What is the going rate for a whore with a master’s degree and jobs to match? That question burrowed itself into my brain after “one of the good guys” cut off all contact with me after our second date, and the second time we slept together. I may have gotten fucked, but I certainly did not get paid. I’m starting to wonder if I’m not getting enough buck for my bang.
Some observers may feel I deserved what I got. After all, I was “easy.” I had sex with him after both dates. Some may think of me as a “slut,” or a “whore.” Some may dare say I ASKED for it. After this last experience, I’m starting to wonder how I’m any different from someone who gets paid to have sex with people. Other than the obvious way—that I didn’t make any money from the transaction.
I realize I need to be fair and take responsibility for what I contributed to the situation. The casual observer may conclude that all I wanted to do was have sex. It wasn’t. And he knew that. I told him I was looking for a serious relationship. Why? Because he asked. Did I muddy the waters by sleeping with him? I’m not sure. Maybe. I suppose my stubborn ideological self wanted to believe that I could sleep with someone I found interesting, intelligent and attractive on the first date and not have my original answer of “what I was looking for” involuntarily replaced by how my actions were interpreted. Yes. Maybe he didn’t feel the same way and that’s fine. I would have totally respected that. What I can’t respect is the fact that he was too much of a coward to reject me to my face.
What is it with my generation being so fucking afraid of getting their feelings hurt? Or hurting each other’s feelings? Isn’t there a point when brutal honesty is called for? Honesty is essential to intimacy.
I’ve created (and deleted) two OkCupid profiles since moving to Brooklyn two years ago. I am not alone in my quest to find a connection through the web. Currently, 41 million Americans have sculpted online personas on Match.com, eHarmony, J-Date, OKCupid, etc., in the hopes of finding “the one.” The problem is, the definition for that quaint term is shifting just as quickly as the technology developed to find it. And while the technology comfortably morphs and changes at what feels like the blink of an eye, we humans are struggling to keep up.
When online dating took its first wobbly (taboo) steps around 1995, many were skeptical. Twenty years later, online dating is no longer the exception, it’s the rule. Long gone are the once-scandalous snippets of conversation, the tacit shame in admitting you found you match at Match.com. Now, overhearing friends quip to one another “Just create an [INSERT CHOSEN WEBSITE HERE] profile! That’s how I met my, girlfriend/boyfriend/fiancé/wife/sometimes fuck-buddy.” is as common as asking about the weather. We—all of us, but my generation especially—have embraced the concept that connecting is just few clicks away.
Click, swipe and tap—we do it all. Instantly. The day has come that you can be on a horrendous date (I’ve had my share), and while that awful human is waiting on line for the bathroom, you can find someone to meet you the moment you hit the sidewalk. Oh and don’t worry, there’s no shortage of choice. Whatever eye color, height, ethnicity, or sexual preference tickles your fancy, you name, you can find it. In fact, you have so many choices that most likely, you won’t be able to pick just one.
The flip side of all this is that because we can connect so effortlessly, we don’t have to try. We lose nothing because essentially, we invest nothing. We don’t have to be considerate or vulnerable or even present. Clearly we rabidly crave human connection, and yet the actual connecting seems to scare the shit out of us. The lovely “good guy” that I went out with never even bothered to ask my last name. I’d requested his, which he gave, reluctantly. We all seem so comfortable carefully composing a digital version of ourselves for anyone to see, but when we reach the desired outcome for composing said profile in the first place, our digitally charming selves melt away. Is it that awful phenomenon of “FOMO,” that to pick someone and see them more than twice drastically reduces your chances of finding someone cooler, smarter, prettier?
Here’s what I think: Technology has turned all of us into a bunch of cowardly assholes.
Now, I too, have engaged in giving the virtual cold shoulder. If someone contacts me online and I am not interested, I do not engage that person. So, no, I do not respond. I do not want to provide any possible indication of interest, doing so would be misleading and rude.
But if I agree to meet someone face-to-face and that interaction falls flat, no matter how uncomfortable or difficult it is for me, I tell them, to their face. I recognize that time (and feelings) should be acknowledged and honored. I treat you how I would want to be treated.
Anything worth having requires effort. Making an effort is how one starts to build intimacy. Yes, there will be times when doing so fails which is painful and I think we are using technology as an emotional band-aid. Smart phones, tablets and laptops provide instantaneous distraction and comfort at the first inkling of bad feelings. But, if we exert all of our energy avoiding feeling anything bad, we have inadvertently chosen to deny the path of feeling joy, happiness, pleasure and the thing we came looking for in the first place, connection.
To the man “trying to be one of the good guys”: try harder. Don’t say things you think women will want to hear. Be honest. Communicate, preferably in person. If not, at least send a damn text.
Otherwise, just leave the money on the night stand. There’s no confusing that message.