Recently I was at a bar with a girl friend of mine. While sitting there clutching my whiskey glass, I gazed down the row of faces. Most of the barflies were like my friend and myself – alone or with friends. Why did it seem impossible to meet someone out in the world? It should have been simple for me to lean over to the guy next to me – who was pretty cute – and strike up a conversation while my friend was in the bathroom. But I didn’t.
As a woman I’ve had many a fellow approach me over the years, drunk on liquid courage, and deliver some kind of line which flowed a little too easily from his tongue. This doesn’t work on me, and usually acts to repel me from the wooer because it comes across as crass and impersonal. In my experience, the kind of guy who approaches strangers this way is the same guy who can’t take a polite “No, thanks.” I will feel my stress levels rise, get my back up, and try to fend off his advances; I risk being verbally attacked by a man whose fragile ego I’ve bruised. Whew. So much easier not to make eye contact with anyone at the bar.
The alternative is to sit tight and wait until I feel the urge to approach some cute strange man myself. As an enthusiastic online dater for three years, I no longer take the plunge in person, unless I sense amazing stars aligning. I’ll tell you why.
Online dating is like shopping. Whether I’m looking to fill my basket or just pick up an item or two, I can take my time and read all the ingredients before heading to the checkout. If I turn to that guy beside me at the bar, I might be fifteen minutes into an awkward conversation before I find out he has a girlfriend. It’ll take a few dates before I hear about his video game obsession or that he’s a Nickelback groupie. When I see that on a profile, I can just roll my eyes in the privacy of my living room and move to the next one.
Sometimes people go to bars alone or with their friends, and they don’t want to be disturbed by others elbowing in. Maybe that guy sitting next to me is married or has a girlfriend or is gay or is celibate or is just not in the mood to talk. At least online, I know we’re both there for the same reason.
Let’s face it – people lie. I’ll never know if the online guy is really single or is the age he claims to be until we meet. But at least it gives me a place to start and reading about his interests gives me ideas of how to open my first message to him, instead of coming out of nowhere in person. If I choose carefully, and the first few emails back and forth go well, then I never need to worry that our first date will be spent talking about bands we like (zzzzz) or that four dates in I’ll have to ask him if he wants kids.
Chemistry is a strong element and reaches out when you least expect it – in line at the coffee shop, for instance – and slaps you in the face. Trust me, I’m an old-school romantic, and I live for those moments, but I don’t wait around. For dating-on-demand, I turn to the internet and sites such as hookupland.com
What do you guys think? Has approaching women at the bar been replaced by sifting through profiles on the web?