Dater X: Stuck Between A Rock And A Bar Place

As I approach my two-year anniversary as an online dater (AKA my slow descent into madness), I’m finding myself incredibly bitter about the fact that I still haven’t met “the one.” I’ve always believed that there are multiple soul mates out there for everyone, but that the one person you end up with is entirely dependent upon a series of choices you make in life. Kind of like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, I feel that every decision I make — from selecting a career path, right down to whether or not I should run a yellow light — will determine which of those guys I end up with. In my eyes, there’s a different one at the end of every storyline. After dozens of dates and three pseudo-relationships — the longest of which lasted two months — I’m starting to doubt my theory.

I joined OKCupid in November of 2011 when a newly single friend convinced me to create a profile with her. It had been just over a year since my Lifetime movie-esque breakup, and I was willing to see if online dating was worth the hype. Her plan was to minimize her time and find a partner quickly by going on dates as often as humanly possible. I, on the other hand, had a very lax approach, and preferred to use the site as a back-up plan in case I didn’t meet someone in real life.

Practically every night for her first two weeks, my friend went on a date with a different guy. She kept track of her suitors by filling out her own version of Man Sparknotes on notecards after each date — things like looks, job and manners all warranted their own bullet points. She even wrote down questions that she wanted to ask each guy and kept them on a notecard in her purse so she could “nonchalantly” insert them into conversation during her dates. She kept all of the cards as references in case she lost track of who was who during the frenzy. I thought her approach was totally insane, but if she was willing to put in the legwork, more power to her. During her third week online, my friend met the man she’s going to marry. I’m in their wedding party and let’s just say, I will not be attending with a plus one.

Seeing my wing woman’s quick success, I figured I would have the same luck if I amped up my date frequency (minus the spreadsheets because … I just couldn’t) and tried to go out with someone new every week. Little did I know, all this would do was allow me to meet more losers in a shorter time period. Let me paint you a picture: within the first hour of meeting one of my dates, he asked if my boobs were real and how much money I made before referring to himself as my “sugar daddy.” Sensing my disgust, he followed that up by saying I wasn’t “allowing him to penetrate the emotional barriers” I had so clearly “put up” after my “last heartbreak”—  a heartbreak I hadn’t even mentioned to him. He really did use the word “penetrate.” I walked out in the middle of the date, telling him to never contact me again. Despite my warning, I heard from him non-stop for two weeks before I had to threaten to call the cops.

This winner made me decide to broaden my options (or as I’ve come to call it, my “manbase”) by signing up for a couple of paid dating sites. My thought was that I’d have higher quality men to choose from. Ones who didn’t use the word “penetrate” on our first date or try to stalk me after I rejected them.

First, I signed up for Aside from the fact that it was consistently and solely pairing me up with men with excessive body hair, guys with gnarly teeth and assorted other dude-types I am not attracted to, I was paying an arm and a leg for that shit, and it was SO not worth it.  I bailed after two months.

Then, I tried eHarmony, which boasted of its “guided communication,” a 4-stage “getting to know you” process, to match you up. Which means, if you’re interested in the match they suggest, you have to jump through torturous hoops in order to speak to him/her. Stage 1 involves each party answering a round of chosen “quick questions.” Satge 2 is an exchange of 10 “makes” and 10 “breaks” and Stage 3 is a series of open-ended questions. THEN, if your prospect’s answers are to your satisfaction and visa versa, you are granted the privilege of open communication, Stage 4. In a nutshell, fuck that. Dating is hard enough without feeling like I’m playing a game of Candyland where I have to pass through the Interrogation Forest and trek into the Magical Essay Valley before I make it to the promised land of His Company. No thanks.

So, I found myself back on OKCupid, trawling profiles and crossing my fingers. The good news, I thought, was that I wasn’t completely relying on online dating to find a man. I’m quite the frequent bar-goer, and I’d be lying if I pretended I didn’t spend a handful of Saturday nights putting on my tightest jeans and sexiest tops to lure in the manfolk. Unfortunately, all that’s gotten me thus far is the occasional free drink, 20 pounds of extra alcohol weight and attention from men who are more interested in my cleavage than my sharp wit.

I’ve tried switching up my bar MO by dressing more conservatively, opting to drink beer instead of wine, going out with different friends and swapping out different variables to see if any of them produce better results, but nope. Time after time, the only men who approach me at bars (if any) are the shallow “Can I take you home” types or guys who, frankly, fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down. Recently, a very sweaty pizza delivery guy approached me at my local Irish pub and eased his way into conversation by saying, “Hi. I want to rail you in your pussy and then do you in the ass.” I wanted to crawl under my table and die. This, my friends, is the kind of man I apparently attract.

Being single isn’t easy, but I have to give myself a pat on the back for not throwing in the towel after all of this nonsense. It does, however, seem like I need to find an entirely new way to meet people. The online thing isn’t working, and going out to bars, whether it be a posh rooftop terrace or my local hole-in-the-wall, is exhausting, expensive and demoralizing. I’m ready to embark on a new Choose Your Own Adventure to meet “the one.” I just don’t know what the storyline is yet. I’m open to ideas because clearly, I need some new ones.

[Photo from Shutterstock]