‘Must Be Willing to Lie About How We Met’by Michael Thomsen on February 27, 2013
The following is an excerpt from Levitate the Primate: Handjobs, Internet Dating, and Other Issues for Men by Michael Thomsen.
I’ve noticed that many of the women who date online prominently require their potential suitors to be willing to lie about how they met. Dating is embarrassing, especially when you’ve got to pitch your best romantic qualities to an anonymous rabble using only a series of Rorschach questionnaires and a thoroughly censored handful of photographs. It’s alarmingly shameful to encounter these demands, admonishing any future intimate to never reveal you once stooped so low as to advertise the otherwise quite discriminating charms of yourself as a lover over the internet. Why would a woman want a partner to be an accomplice to her shame?
I first considered the idea of online dating at a friend’s wedding in 2006, where I was surprised to learn, over toasts and dirty asides about the moral flexibility of certain bridesmaids, that most of my male friends had started dating online. In my early 20s I’d never considered the internet as a necessary tool for meeting people. There’s something magical about the dating life during this period. You don’t need to send winks and come up with clever email one-liners to disincarnate phantoms, and instead allow your minimally employed friends to talk you into going to the neighborhood bar on a Wednesday night, inadvertently drink four shots of tequila, and, by the time network television has shifted to infomercials, you’re naked in a strange new bed.
Dating online should ideally be a less stressful and more efficient way for a man to go about meeting people. You don’t have to fret about approach anxiety or competition with other lurking mammals in the proximate range of your beloved. You just put up a metaphysical storefront that says what kind of television shows you like and those interested will respond. Instead of a night out oozing money on drinks and tossing around one-liners to women in bars, you can send out ten comeons in ten minutes. If men are doomed to be the formal pursuers, then online dating does for their needs what the advent of the computer did for secretaries.
Women are not, by culture and habit, pursuers – or rather the things they’re regularly inclined to pursue are quite different than the fleshy suggestions that incite a man’s curiosity to take a few steps forward. I imagine for many women – the upper-class, over-thirty group, judging by the demographic of people who’ve listed this particular requirement on their profiles – there’s some social vertigo in acknowledging their availability. Knowing that you’re pursuable must be a fantastic boon for the ego, and, likewise, there must be a bitter vulgarity in having to solicit pursuit as age sets in and more of your peers begin to disappear into the quicksand of marriage.
I don’t see why meeting someone online should be any more or less embarrassing than meeting someone after four shots of tequila. The world is a big and overwhelming place and there’s no need to feel ashamed about the impulse to find companionship with someone outside of the normal grasp of your own social circle or visible surroundings. All the stories of how people first met wind up being silly and innocuous in the first place. You meet someone by accident or through some carefully crafted sequence of pick-up lines, then decide you want to spend more time with that person. Feeling embarrassed about having met online is like feeling embarrassed about the line your partner used on you the first time you met.