Your author, exhausted from picking out a new username.
My sister and I are both online daters. I talked to her recently about trying a new site, and she reacted with the deep, exhausted sigh of a woman considering switching religions for a third time. “The surveys…” she finally uttered. “I just can’t with the surveys.”
I get it. I’m a decade-long veteran of online dating. That’s pretty weird for a 30 year-old, not just because I was logging into dinosaur-era dating websites on my Tangent computer while my peers were hooking up on the quad (I assume?) but also because, well, you’d think I’d have given up by now. Whereas my sister feels worn down by her stints with a paid site and a hookup app, I’ve mown my way through three paid sites, two free sites, two apps, an app for Jews (I’m not Jewish), and I’ve flirted with speed-dating. It can be exhausting. Sighs are appropriate.
Me checking my first matches
This weariness can be applied more broadly. I’ve moved from zip code to zip code, from Ohio to France to Korea to Canada to Brooklyn to Queens. I love decorating, but there’s a small part of me that whispers this frame/painting/mirror won’t survive another move every time I pull out the hammer and nails. I see it in my housemate, whose room looks like that of a prisoner who is concerned that a warden with a penchant for unscheduled room checks might be coming through at any time. Nothing on the walls, no curtains, bed frame and mattress he got from a friend of a friend. He’s tired.
There’s an undeniable fact about New York City that even (or especially) relative newbies like me can understand. This is a city that does not permit slackness. If you’re living here, you’d better be getting something specific out of living here. Fun and an exciting life don’t cut it, not in a city where everyone you know is rent poor. To survive those nights when the D train is down for no specified reason and a rat runs over your foot on your way to flag down a cab you can’t afford that won’t drive into Brooklyn, there has to be something New York is giving you that no other city can. For me, it’s a combination of mostly reliable public transportation (ha!) and the best theater scene in the world. Even though I’m getting these, the question of “should I still be in New York?” is a question I have to ask myself, seriously and with the possibility of accepting a negative response, at least once every six months or so. There is no floating by. Not for outsiders like me.
I recently shared a 45 minute subway ride with this man and his pet pigeon. The pigeon flew at my face twice. I stayed because I had a seat. These are the choices we make.
I’m doing it, though. I’m making progress and things are moving forward. I moved to a more expensive, much more convenient apartment (screw you, South Brooklyn) and I’ve got gorgeous art on the walls, regardless of the very real threat of my housemate bouncing on the lease to go to Asia at the end of this year. I drink an extra cup of coffee on Tuesdays to do my 16-hour workday and it’s led to friendships and performance opportunities- finally, tangible success.
The same can be said for giving a new dating site or app a try just because it might bring something to the table that all the others haven’t. I didn’t find true love on the hookup app I tried, but I did have a very interesting sexual encounter in an artist’s commune in a warehouse in Queens that I’ll always remember fondly. I didn’t find true love on the Jewish dating app, but “Daniel” and I did have some interesting dates that all danced around the fact that I’m not Jewish in a rather amusing and intriguing way. Failure to reach the ultimate goal doesn’t mean that the process was a failure. I’m a bit weary, but I’m not exhausted. Exhausted means giving up, and I’m a long way from giving up. There’s always the distinct possibility that the next opportunity I earnestly explore (dating or otherwise) will be the one that works.
Let’s do this thing. Bring on the surveys.