I hate online dating for the same reason I equal parts love and hate Forever 21. It’s completely overwhelming. Both are supposed to be fun and positive, and I know this deep down, but both are also too much to process. I end up wandering into Forever 21 in search of a few cute going out tops and I somehow spend $100 and still have nothing to wear when Saturday night rolls around. Oh, but don’t worry I purchased a ridiculous floppy hat that I’ll wear once and never wear again. Exhibit A:
Online dating is the same way.
In my head I know what I’m looking for. It’s not going to be that hard, I think. I’m focused and have narrowed my list of “non-negotiables” down from a nearly impossible 50 point checklist like Toyota claims to perform on each vehicle before it leaves the factory to a manageable handful. Funny. Intelligent. Career-focused. Sweet. You know, the usual. Yet when I venture into the online dating world, I feel that same strange blend of panicked excitement I experience each time I step into Forever 21. My “here’s what I’m in the market for” list goes out the window and I lose focus. Look at all of the CHOICES!
Here’s the other thing: if the romper you end up buying at Forever 21 makes your long torso look weird or the bra falls apart in the wash, you can just toss it. The life partner choice? Yeah, ideally that’s a lifetime type of deal, so don’t screw it up. No pressure or anything.
Dating in 2015 is like the three-story Forever 21 you encounter in New York City.
Ideally it should be the best thing ever because there are options on options. You want a crazy turquoise necklace with a tassel and a charm with an elephant on it? Sure. You’ll probably find it there. But good luck, because it’s going to take a lot of focus not to get distracted from your elephant tassel mission as you pore through racks and racks of blouses and weird MC Hammer-style pants and dresses. When the whole thing is over you’re exhausted and still lacking in the necklace department.
In his amazing and insightful book Modern Romance, Aziz Ansari hits on this point, explaining that when we’re presented with a ton of romantic options, it actually leads us to feel less satisfied. There’s a major stat to back this up, but I don’t remember it at the moment. I’m not a numbers person. Seriously though, read the book. It rocks.
And yet despite my regular bouts of frustration with both online dating and Forever 21, I know there are certain parts I have to appreciate. Besides the inexpensive going out wear from one and the ridiculous messages that keep my friends entertained from the other, if you look hard enough in/on both, you can sometimes find a gem. A tassel necklace with an elephant charm in a sea of ill-fitting rompers, if you will.