Dating: It’s a whole, different world than it was for mom and dad, or granny and gramps, or those muddy, pooping, peeing, smelly, fly-infested, grazing animals in the back forty among lusty shepherds. Okay, so relating to animals is far simpler, and a bad direction for this article; we’re talking about humans here, so stay on track, okay? Sheesh.
No longer do we have a mate foisted upon us through a matchmaker. No longer are we searching for love at that barn dance in a community of 100 in the middle of Desert Valley after a filling dinner of armadillo-head-cheese and lizard-tail hors d’oeuvres, buffalo brisket, a main course of prairie-dog butt steaks, and that luscious prickly-pear cactus a la mode.
Zoom forward a bunch of decades, where you find yourself not only living in the modern, over-populated world, but also without a date, like everyone else at any given moment in America, when and where everyone but men is on birth control.
Where to begin? It’s nuts out there.
Humans have imagined all manner of birth control, including death – although that method is ironically a part of the mating process for the mantids, those leggy, elegant, slender insects with the long, grippy forearms, the females of which grab and kiss (okay, eat) the faces (okay, entire skulls) off of their male lovers post coitus. What’s a girl to do? Eating your lover’s skull; that’s love.
But somehow, the face-removing scenes of Texas Chainsaw Massacre isn’t love at all.
Such is life.
Where camels roam, humans have prevented camel pregnancies (via camel-camel sex, not camel-rider sex) by stuffing pebbles into girl-camel parts, thereby fooling the girl-camel parts into thinking that a camel embryo is gestating (that’s a twenty-dollar word for “germinating,” which is a fifty-dollar word for “growing”), thereby preventing pregnancy, aka, knocked-upped-ness.
Likewise, we humans have assimilated this method into the IUD (Insida U [not me, no sir!] Device). We’ve also concocted myriad other methods, from foams and suppositories to sheaths and sponges. And beyond!
The hazards men face in the dating world… Whatever could they be?
The hazards men face amount to little more than this: Crazy women, like women with chemical imbalances in their brains. And needy women who never want to work and just want a guy to impregnate them so they can hang out in a cozy home and cook and clean and tend to a baby all day (yuck!). And fatherhood. That’s about it. Oh, and jealous husbands or boyfriends with weapons and/or anger-management problems, if your girlfriend is one of those not-so-forthcoming women. And meeting someone whose photos in online-dating sites, it becomes all too apparent, are really, really old (more later, read on).
The hazards women face in the dating world are too numerous to list, but in general, they amount to men, and women who want their men, such as that former astronaut who drove from the Northeast to Florida with a trunk full of rope and duct tape, and who wore an adult diaper so she could drive it non-stop, all because she wanted to abduct the woman who was having a legitimate relationship with the object of the astronaut-lady’s affections.
Other hazards include roofies. Drunks. Jealous boyfriends or husbands who find them cheating… Murderers, rapists… well, men, really.
Dating is a strange brew in this, the 21st Century.
Natalie is a college student, 28, 5 feet 9 inches, 160 lbs, childless and never married. She’s liberal in her politics and not particularly religious. She has used, but doesn’t like, the online dating scene. She may be an anomaly in this sense, given that happenstance meetings are such a crap shoot when it comes to drawing out from the object of your happenstance affections all the details that online dating lays out for the world to see.
Natalie is convinced that too many men don’t read her profile, they just look at her online-dating pictures, then send a message. She had been using OK Cupid (which she understandably alludes to as OK Stupid).
“One guy contacted me, and his profile listed Ultra Conservative. I typically scan a profile, look first at education, then politics and religion, then whether they have kids… this guy obviously wasn’t a good fit. He sent me a ‘wink’ and I ignored him after I scanned his profile.
“The more people I meet, the more I develop my ‘filter,’ where I’m looking for a better fit. But I get more pissed off the longer I spend online.”
Not every date ends with mutual satisfaction, and, Natalie says, sometimes denying a guy a second date feels empowering. “You feel like God when you turn someone down.”
She sums up three kinds of guys she’s meet online:
“First, the guy who is attractive but works all the time.
“Second, the player; just looking for a piece of ass. Really, really attractive guys I avoid, because I think they’re just looking for a piece of ass.
“Third, the unattractive guy online who is socially awkward, plays too many video games, is sexually inexperienced. Those are the three types of guys I’ve met online.”
The longer she’s scanning the online dating sites, the longer Natalie is not hopeful about the online-dating scene.
“There was the golfer, the PGA-certified guy who apparently taught golf as a job. He wasn’t a gentleman at all. He didn’t pull my chair out or push it in when I stepped away, he didn’t help me take my coat off or put it on later when we were leaving, he didn’t get the door for me when we left the place where we met. His photos and his profile made him out to be athletic and toned. When I met him, he was at least 40 lbs. overweight. As I was leaving, he asked me if I’d like to go on a vacation with him the following weekend. A vacation! After one meeting! After sitting and drinking two beers with him in a chain restaurant! During our meeting, he kept urging me to eat something, ‘You should eat something.’ Maybe he was trying to get me to catch up with him pound for pound.”
Then she met a guy who allegedly had a PhD. “He was the only one I’ve met so far who I could relate to, but that didn’t go anywhere, it was a one-date meeting.”
Natalie’s friend, Holly, also in her 20s, has very high standards, but you wouldn’t know it if you met her. “She’s pretty heavy-set,” says Natalie.
“Holly met one guy who she dated for a while, and she liked him, but I think she just wanted to race into a relationship too quickly. She hasn’t had much dating experience, I think. Pretty soon she realized that she didn’t have much in common with the guy. He was 29 and a virgin. He was at his apartment all the time unless he was at work. He has a computer-science degree, had a 3.8 GPA in college, and he’s totally socially awkward. He’s really into computer games, so that’s all they did at his apartment, which was a mess and in constant disarray, and he was usually in his sweats or pajamas, rarely showered. He was also a ‘furry,’ turned on by partners who dress like furry animals, like squirrels and raccoons and such. They never had sex. Holly finally dumped him after a few months.”
Matt, another 20-something friend of Natalie’s, met a woman from OK Stupid at a bar. Matt says she appeared to be pretty. Stoned, that is. “Her eyes were all glazed and bloodshot. I had already ordered a drink before she got there.” Being stoned, of course she was late to the meeting.
“During our conversation, she admitted at one point that she was high. She also seemed paranoid, she mentioned something about cops and such. The waitress later stopped by and asked if we wanted another drink, and I’m thinking, ‘Nooo! I want this over!’ Luckily, my high date declined, and I made for the door.”
Robert has been dating since he left a vicious wife of 30 years some years back. His primary dating site has been Match.com, and his stories are many.
On one date, a woman from Northern Wisconsin agreed to meet Robert on his Southeastern Wisconsin turf. He later found out that she was attending a funeral, that’s why she was in Southern Wisconsin, near Milwaukee.
“Another one I met didn’t want to see me again because she wanted someone who was hot for her, not luke-warm” as this woman apparently felt Robert was toward her – on their first meeting. He got that message in an e-mail.
“Sheri from Whitewater was really cute,” says Robert. “She was nice, young-looking, gave me a great kiss goodbye, then later said she wasn’t over the last guy she dated, who she had mentioned happened to be married and had a kid. I had this feeling that, over the [Winter] holidays, her married friend would have time on his hands and would look her up again, and sure enough, apparently, that’s what happened.”
Some of Robert’s dates were not just hung up on someone else’s husband, but their own ex-husband. “Stephanie talked more often with her former husband than she talked with me. He lives in Florida, and she’s in Wisconsin.”
Then there’s the not-at-all-as-advertised dates. “One I really wanted to meet, looked small and cute from her online-dating profile, but in person, she was twice the age and size as her photos would suggest. Upon meeting her for lunch, she petted my beard, called me sweetie and honey… she seemed overly affectionate. I looked her up on a government court Web site, sure enough her house was in foreclosure. I think she was looking for a quick and easy segue from the inevitable loss of her home.”
Some women seem to invent creative let-downs, assuming they’re not being completely honest from the start.
“Debbi had a brother who was gay, and I knew from our online profiles that we’re both liberals. She thought I’d be offended that her brother was gay. I mean, I’m politically liberal; why would I be offended? She wrote back long after our first meeting that she was too embarrassed to write back to me,” which Robert says explains her long silence after their initial meeting.
Does Robert think Debbi’s excuse was just a flowery escape, that she was pursuing other guys or just not that into him?
“No, I think she was truly embarrassed about her brother being gay. She was also religious. Not hyper religious, but who knows what’s going on in someone’s mind?”
Online dating can be a strange guessing-game, occasionally confusing.
“Another woman I was contacting online said she couldn’t write back to me anymore because she was already writing to someone she hadn’t met, but felt she needed focus on just one person at a time.”
And, of course, some women online are (apparently) vixens.
“I met this one woman online, and after a few dates, I was at a point where I was really interested in her, and I told her so. She laughed, and said, ‘When we’re in our 20s and kiss, we feel that we can’t date other people, but in our 50s, we can have as many sexual relationships as we want but don’t have to commit to anyone until we’re engaged.
“She thought relationships should be parallel, not serial. I guess she was into having as many lovers at once as necessary, until someone proposed to her. Of course, there’s the disease issue to be worried about with that kind of attitude.”
Occasionally, online dating uncovers a naked nomad, one of those people who keep busy jumping from bed to bed. Robert met and dated Rhianna for a while, learning all too much about Rhrianna’s past – and personality.
“Rhianna met and married her first husband right after high school. Then she met her second husband while she was in the process of divorce from the first. Then she met and was dating her next boyfriend before she was divorced from her second husband, and then she was communicating with me through online dating before she kicked her boyfriend out of her house.
“While I was dating her, she gave me an ultimatum that I had to marry her. We broke up a couple of times. When we last broke up, she told me not to come back unless I was on bended knee and offering her an engagement ring. I took this to be a bit nutty, so understandably ignored her, which caused her to send me a solid hour of angry e-mails, telling me what a terrible person I am.”
Robert laughs it off, adding that, believe it or not, online dating can get weirder yet.
“Another woman before Rhianna, whose name I forget, wanted me to go home with her the night I met her. She was huge, a rotund woman. When I declined the offer to meet again after our initial meeting, she proceeded to send me 2 hours of angry e-mails. I mean, I’m just looking for someone fit and active, someone who could maybe ride a bike, and keep up, without crushing the bike frame.
“Some seem serious about me, we talk on the phone about meeting again after our initial meeting, then they vanish.”
Unlike Natalie, who feels “like God” when she gets to tell a bad date that she’s not interested in a second date, Robert abhors having to break the bad news to a woman, no matter how lousy the initial date.
“The most awkward situation is when she likes me and I’m just not that into her. She may be very nice, and I may not feel like we’re a good fit… She says, ‘So, do you want to get together again?’ and I’ll be honest right on the spot. I don’t want to let go, I feel so bad for them; Sometimes they give me this puzzled, shocked look when I have to tell them on the spot that I’m not interested in seeing them again.”
One primary challenge for most of us, who are or have been in the online-dating scene, is the realization that no one knows exactly what each other is up to during the whole mating/dating game. A certain “limbo” looms in the foreground, with uncertainty about when or whether to ask if your partner has disabled their online dating profile.
“Most anyone could be seeing several people during this online dating business, but no one wants, or needs, to admit that they realize that the other person could be seeing and meeting other people constantly online. We all want to feel like we’re the other person’s exclusive date, but that may not be the case. After a date, temptation may occur through a new online communication from any number of online suitors – regardless of who you just met in person.”
Mark Forseth is a regulatory technical writer with the Federal Aviation Administration in Seattle, Wash. His career has centered on public-broadcast journalism and technical writing for such industries as GE Medical; ABB Robotics; Harley-Davidson Motorcycles; Allen-Bradley Motion Controls; Johnson Controls; and Imago Scientific instruments, among others.