Girl Talk: Why I’ve Given Up On Online Dating

I was an early adopter of online dating: I was into it before it became as commonplace as it is today, and I was young (22) when I first started. Back then (cue “when I was your age…”), young twentysomethings didn’t really “do” online dating. And if they did, they didn’t exactly openly advertise it. I think it’s safe to say that five, six years ago, it was easy to feel relatively ashamed about meeting strangers over the internet. But not me. I wanted to be dating and liked having some control over that area of my life.

Of course, now, it feels like if you aren’t online, then you aren’t dating at all. Looking at my patterns over the past few years, the one constant has been the internet. When one relationship didn’t work out, it was back to the drawing board — the drawing board being my browser. It started to make me think that dating websites have you locked into some evil formula where they know you’ll find temporary happiness, only to come crawling back for another subscription a month or a year later. OK, so that’s not exactly why I quit the online game.

Despite being a longtime proponent of Match, OK Cupid, and the like, I never wanted to admit to myself that there was one little thing that bothered me about it all — that, should something work out, your story automatically becomes, “We met online.” Not that there’s anything horribly wrong with that, but it’s just that, well, that’s been my story for every serious relationship I’ve ever had. Some weren’t even connections from dating websites, but nothing had ever originated from physically being in the right place at the right time. There was James from MySpace. David from Tumblr. Henri from OK Cupid.

It might be that last one that really put me off. Henri was my most serious relationship out of all of them. And when we broke up, after a long enough amount of time, I one night reactivated my OKC profile, being careful to avoid all those messages we’d sent to each other once upon a time. From there, I began selectively dating. I even hit it off with one guy, but I quickly became freaked out that this potential boyfriend would come from the same place Henri did. It ceased to feel special. And it made me wonder if the way my online dating brain works is different from my regular dating brain. Were these people I would choose if I met them through friends or at a bar?

So, I gave up, and made a promise to never log back on.

But I do have to admit: I’m not sure this is a promise I can keep. In the past year, I’ve realized (or simply been reminded) that meeting people the “old fashioned” way isn’t easy. They only come along once in a while. And once in a great while does something click.

To be sure, the challenge is there. When I ask my friends, “How do people meet people?” no one can really find an answer. “Not bars,” they say. “Definitely don’t date a coworker.” “Take a class?” But the resounding conclusion is, “I don’t know — online, I guess.” We’ll see.