I am, as the Jerome Kern tune goes, old-fashioned, even though I’m 26, and I like old-fashioned girls.
If I could bend the world into another reality, I would mold it after Woody Allen’s great musical comedy But I can’t, so last summer I joined Ok Cupid, the online dating site.
I’d made an account one sad evening a few years ago, but the process of scrolling through mildly pornographic photos of women I didn’t know felt voyeuristic. This time around, however, I was tired of being alone, and the possibility of meeting a lady offline seemed unlikely, even in New York, where women outnumber men—but also especially in New York, where everyone seems so guarded and preoccupied.
When I’d completed my new online profile, I sent it over to a female friend for vetting. A lack of interest on her part, a lack of interest on mine. As the search continued, I’d come home each night to my computer and spend hours scrolling through the vast sea of faces.
There was a time, not so long ago, when I could look back on my relatively barren romantic life and count, one by one, the half dozen first dates I’d experienced.
That was last year, before I casually sauntered into the wide and anarchic world of online dating, overwhelming my senses with the vast number of available women in New York who were willing to meet for drinks or dinner or perhaps an afternoon walk.
It wasn’t until recently, when I stepped back to reflect on my time in the digital dating arena—a whirlwind of pretty faces and predictable interests and prosaic conversations—that I realized my lifetime date count had, like a strain of mutant amoebae, multiplied by more than sevenfold.
But only one date—and I went on close to 50 via online services—made it past the first encounter.
That one petered out almost as quickly as the rest.I certainly didn’t set out to meet as many women as possible, an exhausting goal.I much prefer spending time with old men, who put me at ease; girls frighten me, and I have been known to vomit when the prospect of romance presents itself, fraying my nerves.I was, however, looking for a relationship—long- or short-term, as the online dating argot goes—which, I guess, requires you to do things that make you uncomfortable.
Add an inch to your height, she said, and put a few female writers in your list of favorite authors. Then I got to work, sending out messages to a slew of women. There were lots of aspiring actors and lots of people in PR, and most of them, I learned from their profiles, were seriously into men who “don’t take themselves too seriously,” which is an idea that I object to. After a few months, I’d gotten used to the unwritten rules of messaging—never introduce yourself with a “What’s up?I took her advice, making myself 5-foot-11 while adding Nora Ephron, Katie Roiphe and Gail Collins to a list that included E. ,” among other trivialities—and my date count started to pick up as I ricocheted from one woman to the next. Before I knew it, I was going on three or four dates a week.