To say wading into the ocean that is the dating world at 46 years old differs from what it was like in my twenties is beyond an understatement. Hell, it’s different that it was even 5 years ago and the surf can be rough. Quite honestly, it’s almost unrecognizable and I feel like people have just forgotten how to interact with other humans or in the case of younger peeps, never learned to begin with. So in an effort to entertain, I’m going to give you some highlights of what it’s been like of recent, for me at least.
The most major difference as we all know is the advent and popularity of internet dating. Now, this is not my first rodeo when it comes to dating later in life nor with internet dating. And quite honestly, it’s become somewhat of a necessary evil. I mean, most other options aren’t any better if not worse. Looking for a long term partner in a bar? Of course it’s not impossible but the chances are slim it will work out. Dating at work? Yes your chances are better in finding an equal more aligned with who you are but when they don’t work out, it can get messy and awkward. Even though I’ve tripped over this same rock multiple times, I have never quite learned to not do this. Being set up by friends? Again, if it doesn’t work out, awkward city. Coffee shops? Never seems to work in my experience. So the options for finding a person who has some things in common with you and has similar goals in life is limited. And honestly, internet dating does get some of those common, repetitive questions out of the way. I do like being able to filter out people who smoke and want kids. Those things are just not for me and I’d rather spend time talking to a person about things we have in common than discussing those filter questions in person.
As already stated, this is not my first foray into internet dating. I did it a little over 5 years ago and it was vastly different and better. Back then, I interacted with many more “real” people and met a lot of very cool people. Don’t get me wrong, it still wasn’t perfect. I still had a couple of issues with people grossly lying about their age or who they were. And mind you, it was still nothing compared to what women have to unfortunately deal with regarding incels, men who feel they are owed something from women, or worse men who outright insult or stalk women. The stories I’ve heard make my skin absolutely crawl. The biggest difference today is the amount of fake profiles that I have encountered. That is why is used the term “real” a few sentences ago. When I first got back onto internet dating I was woefully unprepared for this. At first I could not actually figure out what was going on but quickly realized it and was kind of annoyed it wasn’t obvious to me from the start. I encountered these mostly on Plenty O Fish and OK Cupid and it quickly became easy to pick out these fake profiles. They would all have only one photo of a gorgeous, model-esque woman. They would have the most contradictory (and hilarious) information in their profiles such as “Education: High School. Profession: Surgeon”. Additionally, their self summaries are a quagmire of poor grammar and odd punctuation. To top it off, these fake profiles will actually contact you with short messages of “Hi” and “Hello there”. And if you responded, undoubtedly you would get a response with a link to another less then reputable dating site or porn site. Tinder, a dating app made more for your smart phone and relies mostly on pictures with very limited personal descriptions (in case you didn’t know or have been in a coma), was no less guilty of having these profiles. But instead of contacting you with a link or hiding behind a fake profile, they would have a picture directing you too said other website with some of the most hilarious names. Then there are the more simple yet still annoying things people do with their profiles. Some put pictures of them with other people so you can’t tell who the person is. Some put pictures of nature. I even had one use a picture of Bill Joel??? What the actual fuck?!? At the very least they are entertaining. However it is ultimately more annoying as it becomes a great wast of time and my actual interactions and discussions with real people is far far less that it was 5 years ago.
I’d like to say that the differences from the past stop at internet dating, but they don’t. Even when meeting people face to face, there has been a huge decline in the ability of others to just have a conversation. I recently went to a place in Ocean City, Maryland called Seacrets. It’s an iconic establishment in OCMD that has been there for at least 20 plus years. First off let me say the phrase “You can’t go home again” might be a bit trite but it’s 100% true. While I have many memorable memories of that place from my younger years, it was obvious from the moment I walked it that it’s just not my scene anymore. But I was there so I sat down at one of the bars and decided to imbibe and people watch for a while. Not long after I noticed a rather attractive woman sitting across from me. She was alone and looked close to my age so I sent over a drink. I really wasn’t looking for anything and just hoped for some good conversation. After the person sitting next to me left, she came over to talk. I’m not exaggerating when I said it was one of the most painful conversations I’ve had in my life. I was unprepared for how one sided it would be. I would ask a question, she would respond with one to three words then… nothing. There was not back and forth, there was not questions from her. If I did not engage the conversation there would have been radio silence. I just don’t get it. Do people not know how to have conversations anymore? I could understand if it was a twenty something year old, Bieber loving person but someone near my age? I politely removed myself from the situation saying I it was late and I had a 40 minute drive back to my place (both true) and thanked her for a nice evening of conversation (not so true). I understand she may have had her reasons. I’m not discounting that. And what I wouldn’t give for a good conversation.
So, what’s next? Well, I’m going to keep some of a presence on a couple internet dating sites. Far more entertaining, I’m going to experience what speed dating is like come this August. I can only hope that it is at least as entertaining as the speed dating scene in the “40 Year Old Virgin” and I have something fun (or funny) to write about afterwards.