The Shame Factor

19 Jan

You are not alone

One of the fundamental barriers to online dating initiation (especially for women) is the social disgrace they imagine to be concomitant with an online dating profile. We’ve all been brought up on fairy tales of how romance is supposed to work, what chivalry is, and how that magical connection happens. Nowhere in that narrative will you find computers, Python-coded sites created by Harvard nerds, or digital “winks” with cheesy pickup lines. Chances are a girl (and guys in some cases) was brought up on a healthy spoonful of expectations for courtship, and chances are she has experienced a helping of “love, actually” before migrating to the online realm.

Let’s take a step back. Forget the fact that 50 years from now those same fairy tales will probably feature characters with computers and future social/virtual networks will be part of every child’s coming-of-age experience (more so than they already are). The idea of romantic love itself is fairly modern. In the course of human history, most couples came together due to necessity, economics, and, in sadder cases, by brute force. But the urban professional cares little for such relativist nonsense. We want sparks, chemistry, and if not a spiritual experience, then at least some semblance of secular enchantment. Leaving aside the situation faced by so many online daters (lack of time), many “dating immigrants” huddle on OkCupid, Match.com, and even eHarmony after disillusioning experiences with the bar scene. Many girls soon discover that living in a big city presents both genders with endless options and disincentivizes even minimal commitment.

Some come in with an open mind and high expectations, but many ladies tread lightly and spray their profiles with tentative and self-effacing confessions of doubt and embarrassment for being there. As cool as it is to admit, my own serious relationships have come almost exclusively from online rendezvous, so my point of view is somewhat skewed by limited engagement with the “bar scene.” But every time a profile starts with a defensive statement explaining why they are here and how different they are from the hordes of online dating losers, or when I see a “Most private thing I’m willing to admit” field populated with “I’m trying online dating,” I definitely roll my eyes a bit. Come on, accept it—guys, ladies—just roll with it. If you spend your entire profile apologizing for being here it can be off-putting. Maybe it helps the alphas, frustrated by their out-of-character desperation, bond together. But for the rest of us, let’s just admit that we’re all “losers” together.

Maybe sending electronic messages and pre-arranging dates is not the most spontaneous and romantic way of connecting with another soul, but if you found other social vehicles successful, you wouldn’t be here. Like any community, no one likes a whiner who’s knocking the group’s headquarters. Imagine people coming to a bar each week only to decry the drink list and turn their noses at other patrons. How attractive would you find that in another person?

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One Response to “The Shame Factor”

  1. the Dude January 23, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

    “We want sparks, chemistry, and if not a spiritual experience, then at least some semblance of secular enchantment.”
    so we can’t be just be nice guys, we have to be wizards too?

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