By Chris Bowman
I was driving with my friend the other day to get his tuxedo fitted for his wedding. Naturally, we were talking about all his old girlfriends.
He told me he’d done some online dating. A couple years ago he made a profile on plentyoffish.com to see what he could snag, which surprised me a bit, perhaps because I’m old-fashioned and still not convinced that online dating is valid. For his part, he is a charismatic, intelligent, and attractive guy, an extrovert, and a whiz on the dance floor.
Out of 11 dates, not one of the prospective romances worked out for more than a few weeks. I asked him to list each girl he’d met, and what went wrong.
I learned a useful lesson.
One of the lovelies had a trailer full of crushed cigarette packs and moldy cats. She wore a Slayer T-shirt, and actually horked while they were talking.
The next girl presented herself online as an intellectual. She turned out to be morose. Forget morose, she was monosyllabic. She glowered at him and answered every question like it hurt to lower herself to the level of his banal conversation. Later she wrote him a verbose e-mail, dated 15 minutes after he dropped her off, saying that she’d had an interesting, somewhat enjoyable time, and would agree to more dates, perchance.
He decided to up the “cheerful” ante on his profile. His next date could not stop talking in a sing-song voice that approached the end of each sentence like a mountain-climber, reaching a shrill, questioning, almost pleading summit. “I’m, like, so interested in going back to school, because I love kids, but I was thinking I’d like to maybe do business or something?” as the glass in his hand shattered.
The next date smiled and laughed so much he figured she was insane.
I won’t bother going through the entire list. Just think of that scene in American Psycho, when Patrick Bateman is sitting in a restaurant with his fiancée. She’s prattling on about their imagined wedding, and he’s completely ignoring her, drawing a woman being mutilated by a chainsaw on the tablecloth with crayons. That sums up the romantic connection on the majority of the dates.
However, just when he was giving up hope for online dating, he found himself completely enamored with one of the girls who asked to meet him. “She had so many of the same characteristics that I’ve since found in Jen [his fiancée]. Obviously I was completely interested. But it was strange; every girl I didn’t feel any connection to really wanted to see me again. This girl, on the other hand, didn’t seem to want anything to do with me.”
Still, he was excited about finally meeting someone he was interested in. She read books, didn’t complain about her job; she didn’t spend the first date listing the shortcomings of all her ex-boyfriends. She was funny and insightful. He was enthralled.
When he e-mailed to ask if they could meet up again, she was pretty busy. He wrote back, telling her that he’d see her whenever she had time. Her reply came a week later, and they set a date for a Saturday, three p.m., at a coffee shop. When quarter to four came around and she still hadn’t shown up, he checked his phone for the 10th time, and grabbed his car keys.
He e-mailed to ask if he’d mixed up the dates, or if something had happened to her. Her excuse was a very short e-mail about having to work. No apology.
He wrote back, telling her to get a hold of him if she ever felt like hanging out, but he knew she wouldn’t. For some reason, coming across as actually interested, instead of being aloof and noncommittal, had failed. To make things worse, he felt like a creep whenever he wrote her another e-mail.
Here’s the lesson part. A while back, I came out of a busy pizza joint on a Friday night with my girlfriend. She and I had been seeing each other for a couple months, and I really liked her.
She asked if I noticed that women kept glancing at me; apparently, even a guy looked over. I hadn’t, but it got me to thinking. To the women in the pizza place, I suppose I appeared confident and uninterested, sitting there with my girlfriend, which created intrigue, maybe a challenge. Whereas when I’m in public and I don’t have a girlfriend, I feel like a lecher every time I make eye contact with an attractive woman. Even if I’m not necessarily looking.
So, fellas, if you’re single, it’s imaginary friend time. Pretend you’ve got an invisible girlfriend, and she makes you the happiest man alive. Then watch the competition line up.
Just don’t talk to her in public.