Periscope Depth

you can rent the space inside my mind

(Part four of my series on dating. Part three: why keeping busy will improve your chances)

Continuing my series on dating with a slight detour here into the seamy world of INTERNET DATING.

My experience with Internet dating ranges from one awkward Craigslist date, a brief stint on the hipster-targeted (now defunct; don’t go there) and many, many years on OKCupid. I created an account in 2003, abandoned it when I entered a long-term relationship, revived it when I was single again, used it on and off for three years, and have since deleted it. Don’t bother looking for me; I ain’t there.

In my time on OKCupid, I probably went on a dozen first dates and three second dates. I saw one girl I met there three or four times. We had good chemistry but not quite enough to build a date on. Fortunately, she’s met a guy whom she’s been with since then, so she did well. She traded up.

So aside from that one near thing, I have never had a relationship with someone I met on a dating site. Or even a one-night stand. But I’d still recommend it.

Why? A couple reasons:

First, messaging someone on an Internet dating site makes you think about how you present yourself. This is often one of the biggest obstacles keeping guys from attracting women. They don’t think about what a woman would want, which means they don’t offer it, which means they bore everyone they end up with. With online dating, if you don’t put a good first effort out there, you get nothing. Not even the polite conversation an uninterested woman would give you in a bar. Nothing tells you that you need to improve your game better than an 0-for-20 ratio of messages sent to received.

Second, you’ll become a less awkward dater by going on a few awkward dates yourself. You, the lonely guy reading this, may reach a point of desperation. You may be convinced that any date would be preferable to spending a night alone. Then you’ll go on an OKCupid date with a woman with whom you have nothing in common. She’ll talk about how hard it is to convince her wealthy cousins not to buy land in Cyprus just so they can build their own villa. She’ll talk about the abusive ex-boyfriend with whom she’s still sharing an apartment. Or she won’t talk at all. You’ll stare at your empty beer glass and her half-full Cosmotini, wondering if downing another beer before she finishes will make the conversation flow easier. You’ll walk her to her car, thank her for her time, and try to leave without sprinting.

After a few of those, a quiet night of reading looks awesome.

Third, it gives you something to do. As I mentioned in my last post on living an awesome life, brooding at home takes a toll on your mental health. You wonder why you’re not out with someone, you feel worthless, you get depressed, this depression makes you less fun to be around, which means no one wants to hang out, which leads you to wonder why you’re not out with someone, etc. It’s a lonely cycle.

Online dating has a marginal chance of matching you with your future soulmate. But sitting at home by yourself has zero chance. So what does it hurt?

I looked at online dating as something to occupy my attention while waiting for a real relationship. It got me out of the house, got me working on my conversational skills, and introduced me to new people. Plus, there’s something fun about having a few drinks and flirting with an attractive member of the desirable sex. Even if nothing comes of it, the fun means the effort wasn’t wasted.

So, while I wouldn’t put too much stock in it, I’d recommend creating a profile on one of the free online dating sites. At the very least, it’ll keep you busy. And who knows? Two of my good friends found their fiancees on dating sites. Those aren’t great odds, but it’s better than the lottery.

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