The messages are different. At her place, she was by turns seductive and standoffish. 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. She got back to me right away. After a while, I got tired of explaining, over and over again, how journalists come up with story ideas—by going on online dates, of course! You never know how people are going to be when you meet them offline. By that point, I was used to it.
Then I got to work, sending out messages to a slew of women. 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. The vulnerability—and the spontaneity that goes along with it—in romantic connection is diminished; online dating may make you a more active dater, but it also turns you into a more passive romancer. I did, but I also never saw her again. I like girls who like veal. What we react to in a person is behavior, but what we see in a profile are attitudes and preferences and background characteristics. Probably very, very few. I did go home with one girl. Last month, right before I quit online dating for, I hope, the last time, I was at a rooftop party in Williamsburg when I met a goodlooking girl who seemed smart and funny and kind and all of those good things. She was sweet and easy to talk to, but also a bit remote. Before I knew it, I was going on three or four dates a week. Who else is going to tend to my 1, Tinder matches? By that point, I was used to it. I once met a pretty and well-dressed Eugene Lang student at a bar in Union Square who said she liked Anatole Broyard, one of my favorite writers. White, Dwight Garner and Tobias Wolff. 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. Then, as we got into her bed, she seemed to be changing her mind. 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. Over the course of the evening, she alluded several times to going back to her apartment, which surprised me. Over the past few months, I have tried repeatedly to delete my online dating accounts, only to redownload them shortly after. Over the course of five hours and many, many pints, we talked about a lot of private stuff—or, more accurately, she did—and by the end of the night we were making out at the bar. A couple of days later, I asked to see her again. The swiping and the searching is, for the most part, mindless I would swipe right on almost every girl, just to see who was interested in me—a form of self-validation. At her place, she was by turns seductive and standoffish. We only talked for about five minutes, but there seemed to be something there, and when she left, she glanced back at me with the kind of look that told me I should have asked for her number. I already knew, after all, that I liked her.
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