September 2, 2014

Explosive Intermittent Internet Dating Disorder. ~ Jennifer Ginsberg

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The masses are finally realizing what the sensitive, evolved, and conscious have known all along: online dating blows.

Women are sick of the technological losers, pigs, and jerks. Men are sick of Internet gold-diggers, flakes, and liars.

Enough is enough.

Frustration, anger, and a sense of being duped prevails. Online dating is supposed to work. Everyone has a friend’s cousin’s sister who met her husband online. In the modern age, technology promises to solve all problems.

So, the problem of loneliness and singlehood could be solved by Internet dating. Just create a profile filled with a euphemistic list of your best attributes, leave out all the crap (you know: the stuff that makes you human), post some airbrushed pictures of the happy, sexy version of yourself (and if you’re on a mountain bike, tropical beach, or hugging a dog all the better), and voila…find your perfect match.com.

If only it were that easy.

Just yesterday, my friend Dave called me. This financially stable, attractive, divorced single dad was banned permanently from a dating site.

And he was pissed.

It started off innocently enough. A woman sent him a message expressing interest. After perusing her profile, his interest was piqued.

However, he was concerned that all her photos were from the neck up. A veteran online dater, he knew that the absence of a full body shot was a bad sign. (Especially given her “curvy” body description, which could mean anything from “extremely hot” to “morbidly obese.”)

Dave is not a fan of the Large N’ Lovely look. Rather than waste anyone’s time, he decided to be direct and asked her for a body picture. He waited in anticipation for the curvaceous Jennifer Lopezesque image to arrive in his inbox.

Instead, he received a scathing message accusing him of being a “misogynistic pig.”

He attempted to defend himself by explaining that he has nothing against fat women, he just doesn’t want to date them.

Her reply was, “You’re a d—. You should get some class.”

He responded, “You should lose some weight.”

Apparently telling a woman she should lose some weight is now classified as a hate crime, because he was banned from the site.

For life.

I’m here to tell you that Dave is neither misogynistic nor a jerk. And I doubt the woman needed to lose weight. The crazy thing is, in the real world, they might have met and hit it off.

But I believe they both fell victim to an ailment I call Explosive Intermittent Internet Dating Disorder.

Remember in the 80’s when it was all about Road Rage? Well, in the new millennium, people are too busy texting and checking their Twitter feeds while driving to get upset at other lousy drivers.

So now, all the pent up rage is projected at technology.

We’ve all been there.

Screaming at the computer screen when it won’t load. Threatening to throw our laptop out the window because it won’t charge. Stomping on the TV remote because we still can’t figure out which button is for the cable box and which changes the channel. (Okay, maybe the last one is just me).

And for us online daters, let’s not forget the seething rage we feel when the person we met online is nothing like the image they constructed on their online profile. This is a subcategory of Technological Rage that I’ve coined Explosive Intermittent Internet Dating Disorder. It’s quite a mouthful, but rather catchy. Yes I made this up, and I’m currently petitioning to get it in the next edition of the DSMIV.

This occurs when we read essays from men who claim they are “kind, chivalrous, emotionally available, and a great listener,” then send messages like “I’m not looking for anything serious but if you need a casual lover, I’m game.” Or guys who claim to be “extremely handsome and in shape,” but in person look like Carrot Top’s twin.

Men have similar complaints about women who consistently lie about their age, weight, and appearance, or who compulsively make and cancel dates.

I must admit that I also suffer from this disorder. Despite my inherent belief that online dating is demoralizing, dehumanizing, and totally unnatural, I succumbed to the pressure of friends and family. The unanimous belief was that I’d spent enough time healing from my divorce and it was Time To Move On. And so, I created the ubiquitous Online Dating Profile.

In the beginning, I was pleasantly surprised. The dizzying array of online romantic choices was exhilarating…it reminded me of how I felt when I used to order cheap take out pizza.

I was filled with anticipation as I surveyed the endless toppings, each one more delectable than the next. Did I want a thin and crispy pizza with olives and barbecued chicken, or Chicago-style pie with mushrooms and peppers?

But now I was choosing between the tall, ripped 6’3 firefighter or the more diminutive (but wealthy) lawyer. And I even got to set physical, economic, and lifestyle filters to my exact specifications!

How much did I want my Custom Made Cyber Man to earn? I was stumped, because in LA, a man’s income is directly proportional to his jerkiness.

But what the hell, I figured … I might as well aim high! Over $150,000! And do I want “athletic build” only, or is “average build” and “could lose a few” okay? Athletic only please! Height? Over 6’2 of course! Religion? Jewish with a leaning toward Zen Buddhism! Ethnicity?

Hmmm … I like ’em all, but in an effort to choose someone totally opposite my ex-husband, I selected Hispanic or African American. Green eyes, blue eyes, or no preference?

Crap, now I’m lost. I don’t recall ever getting attracted to a man over eye color, except for John Stamos (who I developed a major crush on when I was eleven), when he captivated me with his portrayal of Blackie, the blue-eyed hunk, on General Hospital. Come to think of it, John Stamos is exactly what I want, at least physically. I immediately changed all my physical filters to match him (circa 1985).

Despite my carefully constructed profile and filters, my inbox was inundated with emails ranging from a 26-year-old Hispanic construction worker, to a 50-year-old black retired NBA player, to a 60-year-old Jewish hedge fund manager.

And to make matters worse, not one of the hundred plus men who messaged me looked anything remotely like the 6’2, Jewish-Buddhist, African American/Hispanic, John Stamos doppledanger I requested.

I glared at my computer in disgust and almost threw it out the window.

But determined to find my match.com, I forced myself to exchange messages, texts, and even a few in-person meetings with these men. Suddenly I felt like I used to when I binged on that crappy, take-out pizza: nauseated, dazed, and disoriented.

I began seeing the men on the site as cartoon characters, with their shirtless selfies and crap-eating grins. I grew to loathe their benign emails. “How are you?” was met with, “Do you really care?” And “Your cute,” was sent back with edit marks.

Behind my laptop shield, I was ruthless. I raced through their messages and pictures, deleting them one by one like I was hurling Kleenex balls in the wastebasket. I lost touch with the fact that there were actual human beings behind these pictures.

Not only was online dating making me bitter, it was turning me into a bitch.

In my fragile, post-divorce state, online dating only reinforced all my distorted negative beliefs about men and myself. Beliefs that I’ve had to squarely face since the moment I made the decision to file for divorce. Beliefs that must be altered if I ever want to have the passionate, healthy relationship I long for.

The great lie of the Internet dating culture is that a carefully constructed profile will magnetize the right person toward you. But for me, attraction has nothing to do with how much money a man makes, his body fat percentage, whether he prefers Thai food or Italian, or (with the exception of John Stamos’ baby blues) the color of his eyes. A true connection requires human contact and pheromones.

It’s that mysterious thing that happens when I see someone and my whole being lights up. I find myself staring at his hands and wondering if he’s good with them.

My own hands are dying to touch his broad chest.

His voice is downright seductive without trying to be, and when he says my name I immediately have naughty thoughts. And his scent? Oh my God. I breathe deeply in his presence, trying to absorb his essence.

And none of this can be ordered up like a pizza, or delivered just because I’ve sent a prayer into Cyberpace.

At least not automatically.


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Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: Cali4beach at Flickr 



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Jennifer Ginsberg