In lof van online dating

In lof van online dating

augustus 26, 2019 0 Door admin

Translating…

 

Yes, it can be demoralizing. It can also enlarge your world.

Ms. Smyth is a writer.

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CreditCreditLan Truong

When I was in my early 30s, my husband of four years, partner of nine, left abruptly in the middle of the night. In the surreal weeks and months that followed, I grew increasingly apprehensive about the idea of online dating. I hadn’t been single in nearly a decade; I didn’t even have Facebook, let alone a stockpile of profile pictures or an irrepressible texting game.

But I was also a writer who worked from home, one whose closest friends were married with children. Meeting someone “IRL” — as, it turns out, they say — seemed unlikely at best. And so it was that, some four months into singledom, I gathered the courage to join OkCupid and head to a wine bar with Pete, a musician-turned-accountant whom I chose for his spectacularly anodyne profile.

Now, over three years and seven dating apps later, I’ve gone out with 86 men and counting; I know because I keep a list that reads like free verse (“David the orphan … Nathaniel bone broth … Shawn with rainbow tattoo … Shane sheepskin sex”). I haven’t met anyone I’ve liked enough, or who liked me enough, to cancel my accounts. But I am nevertheless here to offer a defense of online dating, not necessarily as a tool for finding a partner — I have no idea if the internet will ever yield me true love — but rather as a world-enlarging enterprise, and a means of rebuilding one’s self in the wake of separation.

Yes, online dating can be deeply demoralizing, a parade of indignities that throws into relief not just our self-absorption and banality, but our nihilism too. If I stumble upon one more man who seeks a “partner in crime,” one more “sapiosexual” or “entrepreneur,” I fear I will stomp on my phone. Worse still are the car selfies and nephew pics; the weird proliferation of taco and pizza emojis; the men who take it upon themselves to tell you who you are — “a girl who takes care of herself,” naturally, which always reads to me like a thinly-veiled threat. And above all the ghosting.

You’d think that I’d be used to it by now, for I’ve been ghosted again and again, first by Marc after a spontaneous road trip to Montreal; then by Alex after what I thought was a fruitful 12th date; then by Chris after I had nursed him through an LSD trip; then by Ben after he had introduced me to his 10-year-old son. Perhaps I take these vanishings especially to heart, recalling to me as they do the unsolved mystery of my ex-husband’s disappearance. But I would think that anyone who finds herself confronted by such baffling cowardice must suffer from them. (And I should acknowledge, too, that I have also behaved badly at times, failing to write someone back once real life takes hold or sending squirmy messages in lieu of a clean break.)

But for all this, what I’ve gained from online dating far exceeds what I have lost. That spectral ex-spouse of mine used to complain of what he called our “heteronormative” lifestyle, a term that made me roll my eyes though I knew just what he meant: Our lives had lost their capacity to surprise. I remember lying in bed and reading the memoirs of the French writer Blaise Cendrars; I couldn’t stop marveling at the boundlessness of that man’s existence, one that made him a film director, a beekeeper, a watchmaker and connected him to gangsters and whores.

How narrow was my own existence, I thought then, and how it continued to narrow by the day. But to go on dates with 86 different men is to gain as many windows on the world; it is to see one’s vast city and one’s vast self, if only for a few hours, through the eyes of a stranger one would never otherwise have met.

Take, for instance, Date No. 10, which found me at a Rhode Island pub on a February evening so brutally cold the authorities had advised us all to stay indoors. James was a boat builder, blonde and slight. We drank the espresso martinis he had ordered and argued about welfare; we talked of fathers. Later we decamped to his apartment, a flimsy, spartan place that nevertheless held the most exquisite furniture, tables he had inlaid with ash and birch and varnished till they gleamed. The heat failed in the middle of the night, and we clung to each other for warmth as his dog, Bruce, a German Shepherd, curled and recurled at our feet. As it grew light, he asked me how I took my coffee and I said that I drank tea; he returned some time later with a Styrofoam cup from Dunkin’ Donuts and a dozen red roses he had bought at the gas station. It was, he told me, Valentine’s Day.

Multiply that evening’s curiosities by 86, and you’ll begin to grasp the potential of these soul-crushing apps. Thanks to Hinge and Bumble, I have dated German poets and Indian bankers, Australian contractors and Brazilian waiters. I’ve met United Nations diplomats and my favorite movie star’s ex-husband. I have spent a summer dog-sitting in Los Angeles and flown to Jamaica for a third date; licked cocaine off car keys and undressed at midnight in a Barcelona square. I’ve had my air- conditioner stolen, inherited an Eames chair, expanded my music library a hundredfold, and made a dear friend, who, now that our fledging romance has failed, will be with me for life. I have learned about spearfishing and Oceanic art, about life in the merchant marines and urbanism in late antiquity. I have learned how to sext, how to plant tomatoes, how to drink mate, beat box, and navigate the bars of Bushwick. I could introduce you to men who believe in God and men who live in their cars; men who have slept with their sisters and others who have followed the Dead.

And I could tell you so many stories, stories of poverty and privilege, of divorce and infidelity, of fatherhood, forgiveness and the foolhardiness of studying philosophy when you are the great-great-nephew of the great Ludwig Wittgenstein. I would hardly suggest I lead a life to rival Cendrars’ own (my two cats have seen to that), but I have had adventures.

And as for those ghosters, they have their purpose too. For it wasn’t long after reading Cendrars in bed beside my sleeping spouse that I began to realize that I was slowly losing track of who I was and who I wasn’t, of what I believed and what I didn’t.

The conventional wisdom is that marriage makes us whole, that it completes us (as if alone we were unfinished). But as much as I loved being married, I see now that dilution might provide a better metaphor. I think of old organic processes, of oceans tempered by rain, of mountains rent by wind and snow, when I think of my creeping disorientation as a wife, of how the self in wedlock can be worn away.

Perhaps that’s why, when I first went online, I was so susceptible to fantasy. In a matter of minutes I would map out a new life for myself, one that fit the mold of whatever man I was messaging. Luke and I would chop firewood and breed St. Bernard puppies! Juan and I would move to Uruguay and raise his teenage daughters! But I soon noticed that the flip side to the disappointment of each mismatch or aborted romance was a mounting sense of strength and self-sufficiency, a hardening of character, a greater understanding of the woman I am when I’m intact. There’s little like ghosting to delineate where we as human beings begin and end; and little like ghosting, too, to lay bare our own infinite reserves.

James the boat builder drove me home that February morning, skidding a few times on the black ice of the highway. I kissed him goodbye on the doorstep, fairly certain I would not be seeing him again. For weeks I had been holed up in my family’s empty summerhouse, writing, and I worked all that day, caught up in a kind of luxuriant self-consciousness that has since become familiar — that acute sense of self and solitude that binding oneself to an outsider can at times unleash. Every so often I looked out the window at the river, where strange white tendrils were rising and whipping in sheets across the surface. Sea smoke, I later learned, occurring when bitter air sweeps over warmer waters, and it held me spellbound, for I had never seen such a thing before.

Katharine Smyth is the author of “All the Lives We Ever Lived: Seeking Solace in Virginia Woolf.”

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In Praise of Online dating

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