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An intrepid entry into the world of online dating

I have recently entered the world of online dating. As I mentioned in last week's introductory column,  I never thought I would explore this route to meeting a potential match.

However, I finally decided I needed a new method of meeting eligible members of the opposite sex. I was sick of chatting up pseudo-acceptable suitors at bars or trying to subtly determine whether a cute guy I spotted was wearing a wedding ring. I was also disenchanted after two separate experiences of flirting with an attractive guy at a bar for more than an hour before he told me he had a girlfriend. (Note to all people in committed relationships: Whenever conversing with someone who seems interested, it is common courtesy to drop the “girlfriend/boyfriend-bomb” immediately to assert that you are off the market.)

I admit that I needed a little push to create my first online profile. My little sister had experienced success on OKCupid, so after a couple of martinis I allowed her to create a profile for me, which she did on her smartphone, while we were still at the bar. I woke up the next morning to a barrage of messages.

I sifted through my inbox using a very scientific method: I responded to guys who seemed decent looking from their photos and reasonably intelligent based on their profile write-ups. I was even so bold as to proactively make contact with a few guys who met my criteria. (Note: I plan to devote an entire future column to my personal do’s and don’t's of choosing a date based on an online profile.)

After a few days of messaging with one particular candidate (we’ll call him Matt), we decided to meet up for a drink. He was great on paper:

  1. He seemed attractive from his photos;
  2. He was 6’4’’ (I’m 5’10, so height is an issue);
  3. He was in his mid-30s (meaning he was likely more mature than a twentysomething guy); and
  4. He recently moved to New Orleans and was, therefore, unlikely to know any of my friends or friends of friends (reducing the chance of possible awkwardness).

Before embarking on my first in-person meet-up, I asked a few friends and family members to check in on me repeatedly via calls and texts in case the encounter was awkward, creepy or dull (and to ensure that I was not kidnapped by this complete stranger I was about to meet in person based on a few basic messages via the Internet). After chanting inwardly, “It’s only a drink, it’s only a drink,” I summoned my courage and walked into the bar.

I was pleasantly surprised by my first experience. Matt was smart, funny, attractive, and we seemed to have a lot in common. We hung out for several hours over the course of that day and went out a few more times soon after. I was stunned, having anticipated horror stories involving incredibly awkward pauses or close talkers. It had been a long time since I had dated someone new, so I was surprised when he made statements like “I really like you,” or “I don’t want to play games.”

Wow, I thought, how lucky to meet a potential match on my very first encounter. I took him to get his first drive-thru daiquiri, introduced him to Mardi Gras, we became Facebook friends. I smugly thought I had conquered the online dating world.

Oh, how wrong I was…

In all the excitement, I forgot how hard dating is; a tenuous new relationship can go from good to bad in the blink of an eye. Matt slowly became distant and made excuses to avoid hanging out. He claimed to be too busy to meet up during the week, then canceled on me one weekend. Finally, he told me he would get back to me about a date ... but I never heard from him again.

I tried to figure out what I did wrong and how I had pushed him away. I automatically assumed it was something I had done, instead of considering other reasons why it just didn’t work out. Based on some Facebook stalking and advice from a good guy friend, who helped me analyze all of our correspondences, I determined that the most likely cause was that he was dating someone else.

Suddenly, the excuses and distance made sense. He was juggling dates during our brief courtship, and simply chose someone else over me. I had made the mistake of automatically assuming we were heading into relationship territory, based on my history as a serial monogamist.

The realization stung at first. Wasn’t I good enough? Admittedly I indulged in a little self-pity before a realization hit. I thought more carefully about the past month and concluded that Matt and I were not, in fact, a perfect match. The conversations didn’t always flow naturally like they do when you just click with someone. He didn't always get my sarcasm (red flag) and was completely perplexed by my devotion to the Saints (serious red flag). As my sister pointed out, “Sarcasm and football are, like, two of your favorite things.”

I was trying to force a relationship to avoid remaining single. It was a sobering thought, and it helped put my re-introduction to the dating world into perspective.

I defriended Matt from Facebook (highly therapeutic) and vowed to keep my options open and just have fun with this whole online dating experiment. This is an exciting time in New Orleans, as entrepreneurship continues to blossom, encouraging young professionals to move to the Crescent City. Last year Forbes touted New Orleans as one the biggest brain magnets in the nation. 

So I’m sure there is a budding entrepreneur out there who will need my help figuring out how to most effectively peel crawfish. Or, maybe I’ll find a grad student who will be eager to learn why locals sporting black and gold excitedly yell, “Who Dat?!” as they pass one another. I have so much Nola knowledge to share with one (or several) lucky fellas who would appreciate my company. I will no longer force a connection that is not there.

And I don’t care what anyone else says … sarcasm is the most intelligent form of humor.

Ms. Match NOLA writes about dating and relationships in New Orleans for NolaVie -- and wants your input. Send thoughts, suggestions, questions, observations and anecdotes on dating to [email protected]

Ms. Match NOLA writes about dating and relationships in New Orleans for NolaVie — and wants your input. Send thoughts, suggestions, questions, observations and anecdotes on dating to [email protected].