Why I quit online dating

I don’t get bored easily. This may come as a surprise to anyone who’s read some of my less inspired tweets (“Much Hip, Very Fashion” – yes, this was a real tweet) but they are usually only boring when I’m occupied with something more interesting to do.  I really can remain interested in many things up until the point when I see no more use for them in my life. This often happens quickly. I would say that the death of online dating and my interest in it came about suddenly and with immediate effect.

I’m not saying that online dating isn’t fun, interesting or pretty useful for a lot of people; it’s just not for me anymore. After countless dates; some dull and some fire-starting, a handful of boyfriends and consequently a big realisation about my pattern of attracting emotionally unevolved men, I am done.

My reasons are not simply because I didn’t find the love of my life on there, or that people are never who they say they are online because how could they possibly be? Or even that I was constantly receiving messages from men who shared absolutely no similar interests with me, who wanted to be married within the next week, or were old enough to be my grandfather (these men in particular also somehow managed to win the Filthiest Messages Sent award, so well done them).

No, I’ve given up on it because of what it’s done to me. And oh yes, it’s time for a list.

It made me bitter

Now before you get all analytical and assume that I have always been bitter and online dating just brought it out in me, let me tell you that it’s just not true. If anything, out of all my friends I was the unrealistically optimistic one. I believed in soul mates and finding The One and all that sugary sweet crap. I had a wonderful notion that maybe my one true love was out there on the other side of London, and perhaps we were supposed to cross paths virtually. I joined online dating with skepticism and hope, which is really what you need going in.

And then I was faced with real people, with flaws similar and sometimes worse than my own. And all the men I imagined myself with did not respond to a friendly message, or feel the same way about me apparently. And then the bitterness began to settle in. Gone was my optimism and Disney-like dreams; they were replaced instead by cynicism and an ever dwindling list of potential soul mates. Everyone seemed to think that there was probably someone better to click on and they would find them at some point. Which brings me onto my next point.

I became really picky

As soon as I joined online dating, something about it immediately didn’t sit right with me. It was the notion of shopping for people that really got to me; as if we all have qualities that can be quantified and discarded for a newer/ different/ faster/ easier/ more aesthetically pleasing model with the swipe of a finger. We all have our preferences of course as we’re only human, but the quick dismissal of another person without even trying to look beyond the exterior became a bit inhuman. And I had become a part of the problem; forever thinking things like “oh he’s too good looking” or “he looks like an ex” or “he’s very funny but is he funny enough?”

It all just became a bit disconnected and formulaic with all the faces eventually merging into one giant vat of a shopping trolley item; my better judgement lost somewhere between the baked beans and the mustard.

I became the rule

Let me explain this one. Have you ever seen that film He’s Just Not That Into YouWell if you have, you’ll know that in it they talk about the rule and the exception. The Exception is the girl who meets the love of her life online after one date and is married the following year and has all her dreams fulfilled. The Rule is the girl who goes on literally hundreds of online dates with the darn right weird and rarely wonderful, until finally ending it all by jumping off the Shard, apathetic to the world and every disappointment that it brought her. Obviously, this also crosses the bitterness line quite a bit.

My point is, I was never going to be the fairy tale my friends were always telling me stories about; I was the girl going on date after date, sometimes making the lesser weirdo’s stick for a while (4 months is my max, so proud and haven’t beat it yet) before coming to my senses and realising I never liked the real them in the first place and vice versa. Then I would get back on the horse, back online, date, now with a list of scripted date conversations in my arsenal, pick up early signs of no longevity and not go back for a second or third date. And so on it went. So by the time I’d got back on that horse after the ten millionth time I was probably the most cynical a person can be about a thing they are actively choosing to do. I had made myself The Rule.

So I started to question why I was still doing it, and how I had always dreamed of meeting someone for the first time in real life. Granted, going on it initially was a lot of fun, and dating really teaches you what you do and don’t want. I was also extremely busy when I first joined the virtual dating world; and definitely too busy to meet people in real life. But as luck would have it, my schedule is a little freer these days.

Yes, I am (perhaps) stupidly and optimistically waiting for my meet-cute to happen in a coffee shop but so what? Better to hope for that movie-like encounter for which I have many examples, than to rely on a computer algorithm telling me I definitely belong with that person because we both like chocolate ice cream. I mean seriously, what do computers know about love? You may respond with “well Maame Blue, what do you know about it?” And I will say, nothing and everything, but I’ll know what it is when I see it.

It probably makes me seem naive to hope for such things, but online dating is also useless of you’re not invested in it. Perhaps the real life meeting of the perfect partner might never happen for me, but I’m not quite ready to give up on believing it will yet.

Image credit: Computer Virus by Ian Ransley from the Noun Project

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Maame Blue

Writer| Poet| Blogger| Ghanaian by heart, Londoner by nature

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