A buddy of mine, Greg, recently visited me from New York City and had nothing positive to say about the dating scene there. Having just split up with a girl he’d been seeing for three years—“the girl”, according to him—he finds himself playing the proverbial field once more.
To him, as with most people in their early thirties, the dating game can be a serious drag. Just one of Greg’s issues was actually finding the time to build a relationship with someone else. As a young professional starved for time, it can be really difficult, especially when you’re living on a New York schedule. Another problem which all New Yorkers can relate to is money. Dating, especially in the Big Apple, is expensive. His solution: online dating. And Tinder. Sadly, though he’s had plenty of hook-ups and met a bunch of new people, none—in his books—were viable long-term options.
In his mind, and I tend to agree with this view, online dating is the most convenient solution. Something like Tinder breaks the ice, but it also goes one step further: it creates a kind of expectation that sex, barring some disaster, will happen, so it becomes a kind of ‘end’ in itself instead of a ‘process’ that encourages people to genuinely learn more about someone else. If you’re single looking to mingle, a couple profile pics and a list of cursory interests is all you need to know. For someone like Greg, not so much. That said, there are always outliers and exceptions to every rule—unhappily, Greg isn’t one of them.
While he’s met plenty of women he’s been attracted to, few of them have had the time to actually build a meaningful relationship
And with apps that facilitate quick, throwaway flings, why would they? That’s just the culture of things, he’d say, a look of anguish clouding his face. Dating websites can be even worse.
One night, Greg arranged to meet a girl he’d been talking to online at a trendy East Village lounge. They had similar interests, she was twenty four, and from the pictures she sent him, she seemed cute, too. When they met, he was shocked. Standing in the throng, waiting to get inside was a heavyset woman waving at him. A divorcee, she was in her early forties and a mother of two, he later learned, who’d simply been looking for an excuse to get out of the house to amuse herself on a dull Friday night. Ever the gentleman, Greg humored her—but that was the end. It’s also worth mentioning that he didn’t have an issue so much with the size of his date, but more with the blatant deception that he was played into.
Greg was discouraged so he stopped using Tinder and closed out his accounts on the various online dating sites he’d been signed up on. In his own words, he “stopped caring”, relegating himself to a life of bachelorhood and meaningless sex. It was just then that something strange happened.
Commuting on the L train into Brooklyn, he caught the eye of a pretty girl reading Catch-22, his favorite book. He excitedly jumped at the opportunity to introduce himself and they began to chat. When she got off at the Bedford stop, she ripped out a page from the book with her number on it.
Though they’ve just started dating, there’s something to be said about doing things the ‘old-fashioned way’, allowing the world to arrange for sometimes strange, but always coincidental exchanges.
As in Greg’s case, the old-fashioned ways force us to confront the awkwardness that comes of meeting someone new, and those little obstacles, once overcome, bring us closer together.