The Price of Internet Dating
"Fall absolutely madly in love with anybody. If it's the wrong person, all the better; then you'll have something to make a movie about." -- Hollywood director Allison Anders
My favorite conversation at the checkout stand happened when I commiserated with a grocery checker about working the night shift:
"Well, I guess it beats staying home and surfing the internet, right?"
Her face darkening, she grumbled: "That internet is evil."
Apparently, during the previous six months, three Safeway employees in that small-town store had left their spouses for people they "met" on the internet. Frankly, that didn't sound too crazy to me. We had recently graduated a senior girl who had been left completely alone to finish high school while her mother moved to London to live with her internet paramour. It's easy to feel desperate and constricted in a small town and the internet must have offered the promise of something (anything) better.
After I divorced, I decided to try internet dating, mainly because I needed to meet a selection of men -- to see who was out there (I had never really dated before) and if I dated a bunch of different kinds of guys, I could get some context for a good decision. My friends who had tried internet dating and failed were the ones who were seeking a lasting commitment and you just ain't gonna find that on Match.com.
Now, happily ensconced with my beloved (who I did NOT meet on the internet), I have been thoroughly enjoying the ABC summer series "Hooking Up" which follows 12 women in New York City as they internet date their way to...we don't know yet. It's produced by a documentary team and presented as "news," so it's not supposed to be scripted.
The shark of the series is Amy, a 20-something from South Dakota who knows exactly what she wants: to get married and have kids. Always moving, she sorts through men with her goals clearly in mind. That doesn't mean she doesn't make some colossal mistakes and she still resorts to old-fashioned manipulation to get what she wants. Thank God her sister is around to temper her libido and point out that some of her choices are goons. Her strong focus keeps her from wasting time, but I wish she would let herself have some fun so she doesn't find herself at 40 wishing she had.
I love Sonja, a Southern belle who jumps in with both feet even after a grabby first date turns out to be a jerk. Interestingly as the oldest of the group (38), she's also the most fearless. LOVE HER!
And the biggest dissapointment is Reisha, who holds her chastity (including kisses) so tightly I don't know how she ever gets a second date. If sex is currency, she is Scrooge and her dates are Bob Cratchett. As a result, a few cute ones have already moved on. The tension in the room during an overnight stay between Reisha and her (very handsome) boyfriend Acie foreshadowed a cold and distant marriage. Thank God Acie jumped ship. She reeks of fear over possible rejection and she has created a protective scaffolding of rules to keep her safe. Too bad. She's smart and beautiful.
The big surprise? The prettiest girl kisses the most frogs. Kristin has appeared in all the MTV yoga and pilates videos but can't catch a break date-wise. I think being beautiful must be like being rich. You never know if your date likes you for who you are or for what you can do for them. And beauty is definitely an asset that men like to use to reflect themselves to others. The biggest problem: Kristin, as beautiful as she is, doesn't really seem to be too comfortable with herself, and until she does, she'll probably have to keep looking.
There is something exhilarating about watching people take tentative steps toward a possible relationship. The thrill of first touches, trying to ferret out information without seeming obnoxious, finessing awkward situations without being rude. It's amazing any of us ever find each other at all and you have to admire those of us who actually take a chance and go out looking for our heart's desire.
I can't take my eyes off of it. If you need good material while walking on the treadmill, tape it. It's almost better than chocolate.