I am a thoroughly modern woman. I work remotely from my MacBook Air, Insta live and Snapchat rainbow waterfalls of puke for my fan base. And I am always ahead of the curve in romance. You see, I met my husband online, when people just didn’t do that sort of thing (or if they did, it was a dirty secret).
Flashback to 2005. I was 38, a career woman in New York City, finally ready to take the plunge and start a family. There was the small matter of finding a partner, however. Despite my best attempts, I couldn’t find a match.
So I did what edgy, creative people were doing back then: I went on Nerve.com. Sure, people were already dating online, but the practice still had the rancid odor of desperation mixed with terror that sites like Match.com and eHarmony bred. You didn’t tell people you did it, or at least not at cocktail parties.
Until Nerve. My spiritual advisor (a graphic designer with hipster cred) tried it and instantly met her Russian fashion photographer husband. Nerve established itself as the first of its kind: a sexy dating site/literary salon/virtual destination. Success stories were piling up like trucks at drive-in porno.
After a couple of duds (the hostile actor with perfect cheekbones who accused me of being older than my picture, the neurotic poet who assured me he wasn’t as fat as he looked) virtual sparks flew when I met a witty nerd with luscious locks and pillow lips. Possibly the most pun-prone person I had ever met (besides myself), we bonded over our status as transplants in the big city.
After a year of courtship, I had a ring. Six months later we were married. Soon we produced a child and were in contract to buy a new condo. When people asked how we met, we proudly blared our allegiance to Nerve like zealots at a tent baptism hootenanny.
Despite our poster-children-for-online-dating-status, our marriage failed. Suffice to say that six weeks shy of my fiftieth, and three months short of our ten-year wedding anniversary, I was hastily packing boxes and moving out of our cute duplex to my “new” railroad apartment.
“You’re going to be fine,” my therapist assured me, “Just don’t get into a relationship for a while,” she added.
There was just one problem. I found that once I was available again, men started coming out of the woodwork. Where were they in 2005?
It started when I issued a group text to people in my neighborhood with SUVs (I’m a parent, remember?) to help me move, and Single Dad showed up with his Subaru. He attempted to kiss me after moving a few boxes on literally the first night of my single-hood. I offered him a cheek, slammed the door and hid. Twenty minutes later he texted a selfie of his hairy feet in the tub accompanied by the caption, “If I sent an Uber, how likely would you be to come over?”
Not bloody likely, I thought. “I’m not into booty calls, so probably not,” I responded instead.
As a single mom looking for more income, I took a freelance makeup gig. Between powdering the perfect noses of insanely hot male talent, I absorbed the witty and mildly flirtatious comments of the salt and peppery Creative Director.
“Why don’t you powder my nose?, “ he lilted in a mellifluous Spanish accent. So I did.
Former Client started a Quixotic quest for my newly naked ring finger (the diamond prophetically fell out of my engagement ring around the time I realized my marriage was over). We Facetimed and texted, but I demurred, telling him I wasn’t ready.
And then there was Hot Hyphenate (a 30-something singer/songwriter/yoga student), who made it clear he’d like to learn more from me off the mat.
There has been no shortage of prospects IRL. And I like it that way since I’m still paying the price for my dalliance with online dating.
At a half century, I know that vinyl sounds better than bits and that a Cortado only works when pulled from a bona fide espresso machine, not some plastic Keurig pod. I have a real life and am wiser for my experiences. The pratfalls and “learning experiences” I have worked so hard to win are bittersweet: I wish I could have stayed married to who I thought was my true soul mate. I wish I had made smarter decisions while in the marriage, but I did the best I could.
I know that meeting virtually just isn’t the same. Give me real flesh and blood, real signals and real cues. I like meeting people in analog.