My boyfriend and I met online. Not, we are quick to point out, on a dating site, even though certain friends of ours persist in a tautological assessment of the matter: Did you meet on a website? Yes. Are you dating? Yes. Well then it's a dating website! Sigh. Okay. Whatever.

But this lady might protest too much. I am, after all, an enthusiastic fan of online matchmaking, not least for its astonishing properties as a kick in the ass to get a lovelorn singleton out of her incestuous postcollege friend group and make her aware of a slightly different, although quite possibly demographically parallel, milieu.

In fact, back before we knew of each other's existence, Mr B and I were both members of actual-for-real dating site Nerve.com. A few months ago, mushily talking about how happy we were to have found one another, we wondered if we would have wound up together had we found one another's Nerve profiles.

The short answer, after firing up the computer and remembering ancient logons and passwords, was Absolutely Not. Even looking past the fact that I was below his minimum age range and he was above my maximum, he thought my profile made me out to be a childish, hipper-than-thou ditz and I thought his made him sound like an overeducated, vaguely creepy, generic dude-bro. And, for what it's worth, while we might each be not entirely unlike our profiles, we agreed that the people we saw when we looked at each other were not the people we saw when we read our profiles.

I suppose the real gist of it is that the one thing a dating profile is sure to broadcast is the product of (a) how you perceive yourself, and (b) how effectively you are able to portray that perception. (Mr B assures me that he was not intentionally trying to come off as the kind of dude with a basement apartment and a second-life account.) But for all that, odds seem high that your potential coffee date doesn't actually care what your self-perception is. And she'll only be able to assess how well you've conveyed it after she's gotten to know you well enough to identify the places where self-perception and reality differ.

This is all an extraordinarily circumloquacious way of getting to Crazy Blind Date, which almost - almost - makes me wish I were single. Here is how it works: you don't make a profile. You don't get to pick who you go out with. You verify that you are a real human being by replying to a text message, you say what time this evening you are free for a drink, you narrow down the neighborhoods in which you'd be willing to have that drink, and the algorithm hands you a date. Tonight. With a complete stranger.

If Mr. B and I had found each other on Nerve, we wouldn't have given each other a second look. But if we'd had a randomly-generated blind date, which in effect is actually quite similar to how we did meet, though in real life as opposed to online, things would have probably turned out quite differently. In the good way. Which is to say, single people who live in Austin, Boston, New York, and San Francisco: Do this! Meet people! Bring an open mind! And probably pepper spray!

Report back!


Miss Britt said...

And security.

Holy CRAP that sounds dangerous.

RW said...

No I honestly got the hipper-than-thou part. I can see it. You mean you ain't?

helen said...

RW: I'm certainly not hipper than thou.

Anonymous said...

If I ever get beyond my overwhelming sense of distaste for everything related to the ridiculous process called 'dating' I'll probably give it a go just to say I have but I agree it could be dangerous. I plan on bringing some GHB to slip into my own drink just in case I need to avoid remembering the experience.

Will said...

Nina and I met online too but not via a dating site, also while we were both on Nerve I don't think we were simultaneously. She would have likely not have chosen me based on a profile.

Kat said...

I have totally signed up for this. If you don't hear from me in the next few days, consider calling the police.

Rococo Cocoa is Joe said...

don't you mean circumlocutious? Also, I see a lot of May/September romances and Danny DeVito/Heidi Klum esque pairings happening. I would love to watch Crazy Blind Date if it were a reality show.

Harris said...

My girlfriend and I would definitely have met each other if we were both online...actually, we DID meet each other online.

I'm actually one of the online dating pioneers...I was on matchmaker.com like ten years ago - it was me, eight other guys, and one woman...and we all dated each other.

It was an exciting yet confusing time.


Anonymous said...

I have one small hole to poke in your theory: Mr. B would very likely not have made Manhattan one of his areas that 'isn't a big deal to travel to' -- you likely still would've ranged one another out.

Not to say I'm against the site. I've been on five through it... it's lovely. Better than lovely, actually the best 'model' I've had experience with yet for all the reasons you listed and some that you didn't. Take, for example, the psychology of the people who are willing to be so adventurous, confident, and open-minded. It is, in itself, it's own type of filter for desirable qualities.

But it's not without its failings. The 'double date' idea, for example, is just outright rotten -- men have a biological imperative to compete in these matters and even if both men prefer different blind matches they will still fight to impress their respective date by being the 'best guy' in the room. A pissing contests just means everyone walks out of the room with wet shoes.

Kat said...

Me too!

I've known him online for 9 months. Wer have written approximately 450 emails to each other had countless IM and phone chats and the chemistry between us is amazing.

March he is coming to see me (I live the thter side of the world) and we'll see whether we can tolerate each other in person. If we can, then we'll move on to the next step.

He is still as much my boyfriend as if I'd met him in a bar or club or party. We both are crazy about each other and crossing our fingers it will work ofr us.

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