I remember a Sex and the City episode where someone asks Miranda if she's "seeing anyone special," and her response is a self-deprecating bit about how, "I'm not seeing anyone special, but I am seeing a whole bunch of un-special guys, so if you know anyone...."
Yuk yuk yuk.
Later, Carrie turns to Miranda and says, "What was up with that? I felt like your comedy act should've come with a two-drink minimum."
Unfortunately, I (and anyone else who's single and in their thirties) can relate to this need to perform a little stand-up routine when asked about my social life-particularly when it comes to online dating-because, well, it's embarrassing not to have the "right" answer ("I'm seeing someone/moving in with someone/engaged/married/pregnant....") We all must be losers if we haven't found "the one" by now-or better yet, found them in a generic way as opposed to through a website-so we make ourselves feel better by having a sense of humor about it.
It's funny when people say there isn't a stigma attached to online dating anymore. Let's just admit that we all say that because, even though it's become quite common to meet someone online, maybe there is still a teeny, tiny stigma attached to it? It's like saying, "I'm not cool enough to meet anyone in the real world, so I have to resort to trying to meet someone online."
I propose we follow Dr. Debbie's advice and change our thought process!
Let's not be embarrassed about online dating! The truth is, as we get older, our lives aren't as conducive to meeting people as they were in our younger days. We're not in college anymore, and we're beginning to outgrow the bar scene. It's just a fact that meeting people is harder as you get older. And we shouldn't be embarrassed about a fact. Am I embarrassed that the sky is blue? No...why would I be? I can't help it, just like I can't help the fact that in my thirties, I'm not going to parties in my dorm anymore or meeting guys in my Psychology 101 class.
When I recently became friends with a very sweet couple who are about my age, I asked them how they met. The man replied, "We met online," and the woman said, "Oh, it's the greatest thing!"
No comedy routine.
"Wow," I thought. "I want to be like them." It was as if meeting online was as natural as meeting at a party or through friends. And you know what? These days, it is! Plus, this couple is one of those really cool couples. The woman's as cute as a button, funny, pretty, and a total sweetheart. And the man is handsome, a gentleman, and one of the kindest people I've met. They're kind of perfect-but not in that annoying way. What I'm saying is, this couple is normal.
I think part of the reason we're all a little embarrassed about online dating is because we assume there are a lot of freaks on the internet, so are we a freak, too? I remember logging onto one particular dating site and seeing a guy on there who I used to work with. This guy was weird-he was socially awkward, smelled like an ashtray, and wore all black all the time. I thought to myself, "I should just give up right now if this is the kind of guy who comes up in my search!" But you know what? I also came across the profile of one of my old friends from an acting class who I always remembered as being the coolest guy there. The point is, there are freaky-deaks everywhere, including all of the places you're "supposed to" meet your significant other (aka your college campus, a bar, the produce section at the supermarket....). We may run into these freaks in the real world, and we may run into them online. But-we may also meet someone amazing in the real world, or amazing online. There's really no difference.
We also need to understand that, as Dr. Debbie says, dating is hard work! My friends and I joke that every first date is the same conversation over and over, so we should just bring pre-recorded CD's containing our answers to the requisite first date questions and sit back with a cocktail while the guy listens: "I grew up in Long Island. I have an older sister. I work in fashion and I also write. I've lived in New York City for ten years." Sometimes I think to myself, "If I have to have that conversation one more time...!" But there are times when I've been on amazing first dates and I was more than happy to answer and ask those questions, because I was genuinely excited about the person I was with. Those are the times when it doesn't seem like work at all.
Most importantly, we need to know that timing is a key factor. I'm sure we've all had the experience of being on a string of bad dates and then finally-a good one. When I get to that good one, I always find myself thinking, "Aaah, this is why the universe sent me on those bad dates; that was the journey I needed to take in order to get myself here." It's in those moments when I realize that the universe really does have a plan in store for us, and everything will work out just as it's supposed to.
So I say we all take a little bit of inspiration from the aforementioned happy couple, and the next time someone asks us about our social life, we simply smile and say, "I'm doing a little bit of online dating."
No two-drink minimum required.