I Don't Want To Date You Online

When I first wrote that I wanted to date women exclusively online, I had a very clear rationale for this drastic life choice. I would solicit conversation from strangers, get to know them via electronic means and then pick a ‘lucky’ gal to be my girlfriend. The catch is that we would never meet in the real world. We would continue our courtship through Skype, Gchat, Facetime, AIM, etc. Theoretically, a lack of physical contact would prevent the attachment that leads to disappointment. I wanted to be in love, but not be hurt. I thought this would be a path to sharing myself with another human being without being abandoned, ignored, lied to, manipulated or coerced.

What I did not expect was that I would disappoint someone else.

A girl named Anna that I had been talking to via e-mail innocently asked for my phone number. I obliged her and we began exchanging texts. The communication would range from the general ‘how are you?’ to more specific questions like ‘what are you doing tonight?’ I would answer tersely, but also strategically drop in flirtations. I’ve been alive long enough to know how to keep someone’s attention while mine is diverted elsewhere.

Rapidly, it became clear to both of us that I was not fully engaged in the conversation. It was not something we addressed, yet it was certainly a palpable fact that colored the rest of our interactions. I mentioned my text conversations with Anna on my blog and added that she “didn’t seem like she had a lot to say.” I didn’t have a lot to say either, but I suppose I was either unwilling or unable to admit my culpability in this romantic non-starter.

I received one last text message from Anna that same day:

It’s not that I didn’t have a lot to say, its just that upon initially reading ur article..I thought u were looking for something real (although in a very unreal form) & I was genuinely interested. After realizing this to u was just a battle to see which female would come up on top as the winner, I lost all interest in trying to get to know u…seeing as though it just seemed to be a way to make urself feel better about urself or something. After that, i had nothing more to say. In case u were wondering! Good luck with ur online dating competition though :) interesting reads for sure.

Parsing over Anna’s text made me realize I had done something unconscionable. I had no recourse but to unpack the implicit truth of this ‘experiment.’ I invited intimacy from strangers. I asked them to open up and be vulnerable, regardless of the fact that we were never going to share the same room, let alone the same city. By not being emotionally present on top of not being physically present, I abused their trust in the same way countless women have in my real life.

I had to question my motive for this entire endeavor. It’s very possible that she was correct in saying that I did this to make myself feel better. Dating online could have been a subconscious attempt to smite the ever-present gremlin in my frontal lobe that reminds me  I was abandoned at the side of the highway by someone I loved. She didn’t even stop to wave goodbye while I kicked dirt in my own face.

The truth I now hold is that we are all contestants on the same horrible, late 70s dating game show. The carpet is lime green, our outfits don’t quit fit right and literally everyone is sweating. We ignore the disturbing, grotesque circumstances in order to focus on trying to win the game for ourselves. Relationships don’t start out as altruistic activities. We are not doing each other favors by going on dates, holding hands or sitting through interminable phone conversations about the boss who doesn’t respect us at work. It’s a self-interested need for affection and attention. As the years go by, love finally mutates into a magnanimous gesture out of necessity. We grow old and saggy. We can’t perform in bed the way we used to. Some of us even get to the point where we need assistance to use the bathroom. Worst of all, each and every one of us dies, and there is a decent chance that one of the participants in the relationship will be forced to watch their loved one cease to exist. Love is really about casting aside dreams of personal glory and accepting our mutual mortality. It’s about being at peace with yourself and giving a piece of yourself.

Getting to that emotional headspace takes decades of hand-wringing and frustration. There is no cheat, no way to cut straight to the part where love is selfless. I tried to circumvent the rules of the game by doing my dating on the internet, but I failed. All of the same shortcomings I have in reality followed me to the online space. I am me wherever I go, even when I’m trying to hide.

The problem is not with where or how I date. The problem is with me when I don’t keep up my end of the social contract. Whether it’s in a bar, a movie theater or a Gchat window, it is our imperative to be forthright, empathetic and kind with each other. Remembering that is the only hope that I have left.

_____

I did end up choosing someone to be my ‘online girlfriend.’ I gave her the pseudonym, ‘Tessa.’ The real Tessa is a woman I’ve known for 14 years. I would go to her house every Wednesday after school. Each day, I’d have to fight my urge to totally embarrass myself and reveal that I was in love with her. Love doesn’t really mean much when you’re 13, so I probably wouldn’t have had much to say if I did. We reconnected in 2008, fell hard for each other and decided to move in together. A week before I was to relocate, she called me and coldly ended our relationship. She decided she wasn’t ‘ready’ to settle down.

I always assumed that reasoning was code for something else. Maybe the real Tessa would agree with this e-mail I got from online ‘Tessa.’

I’m really glad that you’ve felt that you are able to talk to me, but to be honest, I feel like that’s because I’ve asked you a lot of questions – and with the exception of my prompting, you haven’t really asked me any at all. I’ve done my share of real life relationships where I feel like I am more interested/making more of an effort, and it blows, so that’s definitely not going to work for me online.

The wonderful thing about relationships is that there are millions of people in the world, so we can always start over. Maybe this is my chance to get it right.

_____

To read more on all the ‘candidates,’ click on the update links:

http://daveschilling.tumblr.com/post/17971479304/i-want-to-date-you-online-update-1-rebecca

http://daveschilling.tumblr.com/post/18029452211/i-want-to-date-you-online-update-2-amy

http://daveschilling.tumblr.com/post/18078865461/i-want-to-date-you-online-update-3-jessica

http://daveschilling.tumblr.com/post/18136899755/i-want-to-date-you-online-update-4-tessa

http://daveschilling.tumblr.com/post/18403460060/i-want-to-date-you-online-update-5-elizabeth

http://daveschilling.tumblr.com/post/18452092412/i-want-to-date-you-online-special-update-kendall TC mark

image – Shutterstock

More From Thought Catalog

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5WQXSSKAMOU4WCHKCWYMUKKKNU Aladin Sane

    You’re the worst. 

    • Anonymous

      Are you one of my exes in disguise?

    • Anonymous

      BARBARA, I KNOW THIS IS YOU. ADMIT IT.

  • anonymouscowardperson

    Sorry if I missed it, but.. Did you apologize?

    • Anonymous

      This is my apology, I guess.

  • Guest

    Sounds like you’re forever in search of that elusive mind candy

    Sad to disappoint you but it loses its flavor over time
    Real connection runs deep

    • Anonymous

      How do you define a ‘real connection’? This is an honest question, not trying to be glib or churlish. 

      • Guest

        That could be a topic for another essay on TC. All in honesty though, I define a real connection with the care we give eachother. Where conversation transcend mutual ego stroking. I’ll give you that this was an interesting social experiment and all those involved were aware of what it entails but what I mean by a real connection is not  the pressure for every instance of interaction to have the scripted one liners of a  romantic comedy but the genuine desire to listen and to explore and the person on the other line feels likewise.

      • Anonymous

        I agree with you, but I feel like quite a few of my conversations delved deeply into our mutual feelings. Most of my conversations were far from shallow, and I am so glad I met all of these women. The thing I take away from this is what I learned from all of them. I picked ‘Tessa’ because she was the one who I felt had the most interest in me as a person. And the converse is true of her. I remain very interested in getting to know her.

      • Guest

        Well I wish you the best. If anything ever does develop from this, do heed a warning. Many find this behavior “cold” because emotional cheating often stings the hardest and innocent online contacts have the danger of crossing a fine line. I see you’re just expanding your horizons and have to say, this is definitely a better alternative to a blind date. 

        Glad to see you might have found your ‘Tessa’

      • Anonymous

        Thanks.

  • Cassandra

    how cold.

    • Anonymous

      Not sure how this sentence is ‘cold’: ‘it is our imperative to be forthright, empathetic and kind with each other.’

      • Facepalm

        Because that redeems everything

      • Anonymous

        No, it just means I learned a lesson.

      • Anonymous

        Which is the point of this piece.

    • http://twitter.com/SafyHallanFarah Safy-Hallan Farah

      this was not cold. you’re cold.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001867960615 Jenny Jerome Urbano

    Great read, super honest. I thought to myself how I would love to be apart of this social experiment, to never have met you but to communicate and build upon that.

    Then I checked your name, and we have indeed met at a bar here in SF.

    Damn.

    • Anonymous

      Which bar? Was I charming?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001867960615 Jenny Jerome Urbano

        We met at the Blarney Stone, discussed videogames for a while, then ventured off to Buckshot.

        This was about a year ago, so evidently, yes.

      • Anonymous

        Can you believe that I remember that night very well? It was the day before New Year’s Eve.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001867960615 Jenny Jerome Urbano

        Well then, I guess I was quite charming myself.

      • Anonymous

        You were. I also remember you or your friend trying to get me to go back to Blarney Stone on NYE, but I had a party to attend.

      • http://twitter.com/SafyHallanFarah Safy-Hallan Farah

        oh dudes this is cool.

  • Sverre Eidem

    From your conversation with Rebecca:

    Wed, Feb 15, 2012 at 7:20 PM
    have you been to asia, did/do you like it?
    Wed, Feb 15, 2012 at 7:52 PM
    I’ve never been. I’ve only been out of the country twice. Once was Canada. The other was Israel. I’d very much like to go to Asia one day.

    Israel is in Asia ;)

    • Anonymous

      I know, but it’s hardly the ‘Asia’ she was referring to.

  • Speckled_sprocket

     I believe all the online candidates that you you had the pleasure of knowing deserve an individual goodbye. This post is the equivalent of a mass email and is about as personal.

    • Anonymous

      I still talk to all of them, trust me.

      • Speckled_sprocket

         Oh I do, I do.

      • Anonymous

        Also, there’s no ‘goodbye.’ I will continue talking to all of them. I have no reason to cut any of them out.

  • Anonymous

    Let me just say that if people think I come off as cold in this, I’m sorry. This was my attempt to understand and atone for something I feel bad about. This whole event was a learning experience, and I hope I can transcend the things about myself that I don’t like.

    • GrandVizier

      Been there.

  • Gross.

    “…..ewww.” That was my involuntary reaction to you and to this article, despite your intentions. Sorry bro.

    • Anonymous

      At least you’re honest about finding me repulsive.

      • Gross.

        nah, i’m sure you’re actually very lovely in person. I just meant the article. 

      • Anonymous

        Please elaborate then.

    • http://twitter.com/SafyHallanFarah Safy-Hallan Farah

      David is awesome. You’re gross.

  • Gillian

    I think that this is classy.

  • BJ

    Nice article. Although I must say, this girl Anna sends some very long texts.

  • Neosage

    If you know about the coldness inside (which btw does not only apply to guys), then you know how it happened and what they’ve gone through…knowing your charming nature and the ability to read people it is finally your choice to decide to open up to someone whose been through that late 70’s dating show or remain passive and troll along. The beauty of opening up is to forgo judging yourself and look at it from another’s perspective and react from there (should you choose to (adapt, improve or remain from there)…if you look at it that way, your opening up to gain wisdom on yourself and the other rather than being passive..it makes your time with the other person more meaningful and more worth the time n effort to make you evolve inside rather than splinter memories of a relationship where someone scored and thats about it…

    • Anonymous

      Good advice.

  • Kendall

    I highly enjoyed myself. I found myself more prone to internet stalking while we were chatting than doing the work I should have been doing. But if I need a distraction, I will deffo get onto Gchat and hit you up.
    You’re not the total creep. Sigh. I am.

    — Direct quote from one of the ladies (‘Kendall’)

  • TGold

    This article makes me have faith in the women of the world to ditch a loser.

    • "anna"

      Amen

  • Amureetah

    Hi, This is “Anna” 
    I’m not sure if the person who was asking if you apologized to was referring to me, but in case you guys are wondering, this is the e-mail I received from Dave. 

    “If you read the last article, I hope you know I’m sorry for what happened. I don’t think the things you said about me are true, but not much I can do about it now. 

    Good luck in life, and don’t let this experience stop you from taking chances.”

    I guess I did get my apology, and you’re right Dave…you couldn’t have said it better yourself, “I asked them to open up and be vulnerable, regardless of the fact that we were never going to share the same room, let alone the same city. By not being emotionally present on top of not being physically present, I abused their trust…”

    I wish you the best of luck Dave, and yes BJ I do send long texts if someone ticks me off by saying I have nothing to say..without taking into consideration that I’m a full time student also studying for my LSATs and was slightly distracted by my midterms in the midst of Dave’s cold experiment on women. 
    -“Anna”

  • "anna"

    Hi everyone, this is “Anna”
    I’m not sure if the person who asked if Dave apologized was referring to me, but in case, this is the e-mail I received from him earlier today.

    “If you read the last article, I hope you know I”m sorry for what happened. I don’t think the things you said about me are true, but not much I can do about it now. 

    Good luck in life, and don’t let this experience stop you from taking chances.”

    I guess that was my apology, but I don’t understand why you e-mailed saying you don’t think what I said was true, yet agreed that you probably did this experiment to feel better about yourself? I guess I must have been true to an extent. Anyways, what you said about asking women to be vulnerable when you yourself weren’t even emotionally present nailed it right on the dot. Its like the only reason you posted the 1st article was to see what everyone would say just so you could blog about it and get some sort of attention? I don’t know. and as for BJ, yes I do send long texts.. :) especially if someone ticks me off by claiming that I Have nothing to say, whereas he didn’t make even the slightest effort (don’t know what ‘flirting’ you’re talking about Dave. :-/) and didn’t take into consideration that I couldn’t always keep a conversation going because I’m a full time student alongside working full time and had a few distractions such as STUDYING to keep me busy..especially if he didn’t have much to add to the conversation. 

    Anyways Dave I wish you the best of luck as well! I guess I could have just e-mailed all this back to you, but what would have been the fun in that? :P Take care 
    xoxo-“Anna” 

  • Anna

    Hi, This is “Anna” 
    I’m not sure if the person who was asking if you apologized to was referring to me, but in case you guys are wondering, this is the e-mail I received from Dave. “If you read the last article, I hope you know I’m sorry for what happened. I don’t think the things you said about me are true, but not much I can do about it now. Good luck in life, and don’t let this experience stop you from taking chances.”I guess I did get my apology, and you’re right Dave…you couldn’t have said it better yourself, “I asked them to open up and be vulnerable, regardless of the fact that we were never going to share the same room, let alone the same city. By not being emotionally present on top of not being physically present, I abused their trust…”I wish you the best of luck Dave, and yes BJ I do send long texts if someone ticks me off by saying I have nothing to say..without taking into consideration that I’m a full time student also studying for my LSATs and was slightly distracted by my midterms in the midst of Dave’s cold experiment on women. -“Anna”

  • Anna

    OMG So embarrassed, totally didn’t mean to post the same comment several times! I thought one had gotten deleted so I had to re-comment!! haha sorry!!!! -“anna” 

  • michi

    Love is really about casting aside dreams of personal glory and accepting our mutual mortality.

    This line made the article for me.

    • http://twitter.com/edushke Edite A

      Hi Dave,
      As you know I was very intrigued by your experiment from day 1, BUT also realized that it was never going to be more than an experiment for either one on day 1, lol… I find this article admirable to a certain degree and cowardly to a certain level as well; because clearly I am astounded that you started your own experiment with such lack of commitment…sorry, I have to be honest…your lack of commitment was exactly why you never heard back from me at the end of day 1. I love your ability at wordsmith… maybe you should just stick with that!  
      P.S. I am surprised that anyone continued to chat with you after the first few exchanges. Your disinterest was evident…Anyways, please don’t give up writing. Good luck!
      E

      • Anonymous

        ‘maybe you should just stick with that!’ I should stick with writing and not…talk to people? Is that what you’re saying?

      • Marya

        Perhaps she is saying maybe u should stick with writing and not trying to do sick social experiments on innocent women!

      • http://twitter.com/edushke Edite A

        Yup, yup…stick to writing and not conducting experiments… unless of course, you’re committed to follow through. I am not trying to discourage you however! In the brief exchange we had, I think I provided you enough conclusive reasoning to why the experiment lacked substance to begin with… so needless to say I was just as disinterested but willing to entertain nonetheless. Anyways, considering the lack of inflection I hope I don’t come off as being upset or bitter in any way… ;)

      • Anonymous

        You offered no reasoning. The last thing you said was ‘But here’s the thing, imo, that no matter how much fabricating and lying can actually be done it’s usually ameans to an end… with us it wouldn’t have to be because our agreement is that we will never meet, so we can lie about our appearances all we want, it’s not going to aid either one of us to achieve an end goal. I guess what i’m trying to say is that, we have inherenetly eliminated any potential physical/ material benefit that would drive a dishonest person to be dishonest….the only thing that remains is the emotional aspect of the relationship…. move to g-chat?’

        We eliminated the benefit of dishonesty and all that’s left is emotion. That’s NOT a substantive thing to discuss? Your response right now comes off as just piling on to a scrum to kick me in the metaphorical stomach.

        Also, I said we should talk on Gchat and you never responded to my last e-mail. Not sure how you can equate that to disinterest.

  • Funlover1026

    Dave seems like a loser and Anna seems like my mom. WHAT WHAT

  • http://portiaplacino.com/ Portia

    I rarely comment but I find this article incredibly sad. Being vulnerable is hard and already a risk in itself. Then to be thus exposed and be part of the “candidates”. Then to be heartbroken and then exposed some more? Trying for a no-judgement perspective, but it really is sad. 

  • Joop

    Wow, you’re a tool.

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