In this new frontier of technology and social media, are we doing ourselves any favors by allowing ourselves to be overly accessible?
Think back, if you can, to dating in the “old days.” The days before texting, g-chatting, Facebooking, Tweeting, Grinding, Scruffing, the list goes on and on. For all you young, tech-savvy twenty-somethings, allow me to blow your mind about courting, pre-2003, in the days when you met someone in a natural, organic way. Randomly and spontaneously. You were introduced by friends. You met a guy in class, at a bar or a party. You met while standing in line for coffee. You simultaneously reached for the last bagel at the craft services table.
Okay, so the last one may be more fantasy than memory, but you get the point.
Essentially, you met a guy, engaged in cute, flirtatious banter, exchanged numbers and then…you waited. Waited for him to call. Debated whether or not you should call him. You hoped to run into him again by chance or by “randomly,” re-visiting the scene of the first meeting in hopes he was doing the same. You had no choice but to wait. And eventually, the phone rang and you scheduled a first date. Then, you waited again until that day finally arrived. On this date, you had two, hopefully three, hours to chat it up, put on your best Barbara Walters (or Oprah) and ask all the questions you could get in, in the time it takes to sip a couple of dirty martinis. If that went well, you waited again, maybe a few days, maybe a week, until the even more highly anticipated second date. With each date, the questions got a little more personal and the chemistry grew a little bit stronger. It was slow. It was simple. It was beautiful.
Cut to the year 2013. You log on to [enter dating social media outlet of choice here]. After scrolling through hundreds upon hundreds of profiles, you find a hot guy you could definitely see yourself dating. You’ve seen pictures of him shirtless on a beach, on a boat, enjoying cocktails with friends, on the couch with his dog, holding a baby, and of course, the obligatory bathroom mirror selfie. You’ve read about what he does for a living, what he’s looking for, where he’s from, what his interests are. You know his favorite books, movies, shows, music and food and are now ready and well-armed to send him a message.
After a significant amount of back and forth on said dating site/social media app, you get the “Here’s my number; feel free to text me anytime” message, and you’re off! You now have constant access to each other, any time of day or night.
I recently had an experience with this “fast forward dating” that was painfully eye-opening to how these situations can unwind as quickly, if not more quickly, than they began. I met a guy in the above fashion. A younger, sexy stud whose name I will spare for the sake of anonymity. (However, I will say that his name rhymes with “messy.” Foreshadowing intended.)
We texted incessantly. All day long. From “good morning, handsome” to “sweet dreams, mister” and everything in between. We talked about anything and everything. Past relationships, emotional baggage, sexual exploits, hopes, dreams, fears and aspirations. Anything. Everything.
But here’s the downfall. When we finally did spend time in person, after having condensed a six-month courtship into a two-week whirlwind technological romance, things got crazy. Expectations were sky high. We had “fallen in love” via well-crafted, contrived messages, with complete disregard to whether or not the personal dynamic and energy was compatible.
It wasn’t. The whole thing came crashing down under the pressure of feeling such strong emotions with no real chemistry to support them. And I fell for it. Why wouldn’t I? We had spent so much time conversing via instant technology, how could we not be absolutely head over heels smitten with each other? I was the first person he thought to text in the morning when he woke up. He sent me sexy photos to convey the way he was “thinking” about me. We even had a song; not one that we had heard together while staring into each other’s eyes, but one he had heard on Spotify, found on YouTube and e-mailed to me.
The perpetual connection to someone can ultimately lead to a severe disconnect. We never got to experience those cute conversational nuances like interrupting each other because we were about to say the same thing or seeing each other’s eyes light up when we discussed things about which we were passionate. Those fun moments of complete mental, emotional and physical presence were totally lost to the habit which had now become ritual. Technology. How did this happen? When did we become okay with hiding behind our cell phones and computer screens?
Don’t get me wrong. I am just as much of an iPhone whore as the next person, and it’s a fact that I am intermittently checking Facebook while I type this column on my MacBook Pro. I’m merely saying that I would like to take things back a few steps when it comes to dating. I’m starting now.
Case in point, I recently went on a phenomenal date with a handsome gentleman whom I met at a museum gala I attended with a friend a while back. After two months, limited messages and two or three texts, we met up for drinks. We sat and talked for hours. (Yes, over dirty martinis.) We talked about our mutual love for musical theatre which pretty much took up the entire conversation. We barely scratched the surface of what we truly know about one another and I’m okay with that. We were able to look in each other’s eyes and actually see them light up in excitement over having so much in common.
The next day, only two texts were exchanged, expressing interest in seeing each other again. The texts were flirtatious and spontaneous, just the way they should be. They should be random, not ritual. I don’t know when our next date will be, but we shared an amazing kiss at the end of the night, so I’m fairly confident there will be another. For now, I will wait. For now, I will be content with the knowledge that his first favorite musical as a kid was, A Chorus Line, and that he has a dog name Ebby, short for Ebony. Maybe next time I will ask him how many siblings he has. Maybe next time there will be a romantic song playing on the radio that we both love. Maybe. Who knows for sure?
Regardless, for the moment, my finger is off the fast forward button and I am ready to date “old school” style.