Internet dating hasn’t much served its advertised purpose for me. There have been no lasting romantic relationships, no success stories for me. At least not the kind that OkCupid is going to be using in its advertising any time soon. I’ve been swept off my feet a few times, had my heart broken more than once, fallen hard and fast and found myself in a whirlwind of feelings, but as I write this, I remain as single as the day is long. It hasn’t “worked” for me at all, but I still haven’t deleted my Tinder account. Well maybe that one time after that terrible date where I went swing dancing with a guy who said he was allergic to my deodorant and then ignored me for the rest of the night as I wished desperately for a very large glass of cabernet. But besides that. Besides that I have persisted in my use of internet dating and dating apps and all the nonsense that we have available to aid us in our search for love and/or booty. Because while it hasn’t worked for me in the traditional sense I’ve found it to be a hugely enriching in my life as a whole. Online dating, as it turns out, can result in some incredibly fulfilling friendships.
Mind you, I never go into the dates with the purpose of making a new friend. I always harbor hope for sparks, that the man across the table from me will also be a writer who is crazy about British costume dramas and pitbulls and agrees that no fridge is truly stocked without some yellow miso and then we will ride off into the sunset together at the end of the night. And usually things start out that way. There’s flirting and blushing and accidental-on-purpose brushes of the knee. Maybe it will continue that way for a few weeks or a month but there’s always a point where things fizzle out. Always. And fizzling is okay. Unrequited affection is a waste of time and unless things are all kinds of passionate, I don’t want to be wrapped up in it. Even if I adore the guy, the fizzling ultimately turns out be just fine. Especially because after the romantic part comes to an end, friendship shows itself in.
Two weeks ago I met Ned for the first time. The chemistry between us was palpable and by the end of the date our hands were entwined and our eyes were moony. We talked pretty steadily over text and in person following our first date and eventually reached the mutual conclusion that we aren’t romantically compatible. But we get along famously and as such, I have one of my new favorite people to spend time with. Matt and I didn’t work out but he introduced me to Doctor Who and we still have endless debates on whether or not Clara Oswald is entirely insufferable (she is). Rob is pretty much my favorite drinking companion in the world and Barry (okay who doesn’t entirely count because I still have a bit of a crush there) appreciates a fine glass of red wine almost as much as I do. None of these men, even if we lasted longer than a month, would have ended up being long-term relationships. But as friends? They could be in my life forever.
Fledgling fondness is an interesting thing. It’s usually based on physical attraction and ease of interaction and makes its appearance rather quickly when two people meet. While lasting love takes something undefinable that either exists or doesn’t, immediate infatuation is hardly rocket science. And the things that cause it – common interests, similar points of view – are also the sorts of things that serve as the foundation for most friendships. It’s messy to carry on a friendship with someone you once loved. Love has a very distinct intimacy that you can’t ever forget. But if you two just crushed on each other for a short while, the transition into a platonic relationship is easy and almost natural. How silly is it to walk entirely away from someone you get along great with just because you aren’t head over heels? The silliest, really. Turn right around and ask them if they have any interest in helping you clear out your Netflix queue.