Love in the Age of Technology

Photograpy__Love_contest_by_the_riot_machineI love technology. It drives my career, my social life, my consumer habits, my desire to be an engaged citizen, and my need to create and write. Since technology positively influences so many other parts of my life, it should be a boon for finding a mate, right?

Not many people would call me an introvert, but when I like a guy, I can be shy to the point of actually seeming disinterested. So for a while, online dating was great. The stakes are low, the potential seems high, and embarrassment of rejection is lowered to almost zero, making it a nice self-esteem boost. By most metrics, I was successful with it. I was meeting new guys, going out on plenty of dates, having nice conversations, and over the past few years, dated a handful of guys each for a few months.

For a while, I thought taking the pressure off of dating was a good thing. If you lower the emotional consequences of rejection, you make dating easier. But eventually it started to feel hollow, like just a series of interviews, asking and answering the same questions over and over, like the million first dates Dan Slater writes about in The Atlantic. It got me thinking that perhaps that pressure is important. Sure, there was no risk. But was there any reward?

If I just look at a few more profiles, email with a few more guys, have a few more first dates, love is inevitable, right? If we meet enough potential mates, do we eventually end up in a relationship? Can we game the computers, like Amy suggests? And if we can, should we?

If my friends are any indication, one of the most embarrassing things to happen on OKCupid is to be matched with someone you already know. We already value these guys as friends and coworkers, and we often even know they are single, so why is it embarrassing? But over and over, I hear (and have said!) “Oh yeah, I saw him on OKCupid” in a whispered tone.

That should actually be an opportunity, but we’ve become so reliant on looking for someone we haven’t met that we ignore the guys who are already in our lives. Some services actually block your Facebook friends from results. This constant hunt for someone new has convinced me that dating sites are doing us a disservice, so I decided to take a break from using technology to facilitate dating and am taking it old school.

It’s been challenging. I’ve got to be less shy and had to put myself out there more. I’ve been rejected a few times, and that’s never fun. There’s definitely more pressure and the let-downs can be bigger, but it all feels more real. On the plus side, I haven’t had to endure any dates with guys with whom there’s clearly no chemistry. It feels like I’m off the treadmill, and that’s been worth it.

(Of course, the product guy in me thinks – What would a service be like that might solve this problem? Should technology play a role in matching us with people we already know? But that’s another post.) 

Photo by the-riot-machine.

2 Replies to “Love in the Age of Technology”

  1. The article reflects the reality of how dating sites have actually made dating a less serious affair. There was a time when I went on date with different guys every week. The idea was, throw stone at a cluster and at least one might fall. I am pretty sure I might have missed someone nice in the process of mass scanning.

    1. I’m sure I missed at least a few nice guys over the past few years! But what keeps dating sites in business is getting people to go on dates, NOT getting them to settle down.

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