Game, set, match

“Everything about him was accompanied by a sense of naivete, which I’m guessing is a result of his strict Mormon upbringing and lack of worldly experiences.”

Yep. That’s what my first online date via Match.com had to say about me in her anonymous blog. Not only did her “gay-dar” go into red alert, but I’m apparently “effeminate,” “polite to the point of annoyance,” and I believe she even used the word “pathetic.” She calls herself “Single White Female” and her dates “Victims.” It seems as though she has no moral qualms about blogging every detail of every date. After all, she’s behind a pseudonym and so are her dates, so nobody gets hurt, right? Well, not exactly.

I wish I could link to her post, but due to privacy issues I can’t. It’s partly because I revealed so much about myself and partly because her account of our date is so catty it’s embarrassing — for her and for me. What made me reveal so much to this stranger? Was it the three straight hours of drinking? Or maybe it was the cute, innocent smile she gave me. Or it might have been that I desired so much for the intimacy that comes from sharing your life with someone, and for them to share theirs.

So what is acceptable when blogging about a date? Unfogged was recently discussing a similar issue last week. Ogged writes: “My sense is that there’s a cultural free pass for what happens before a date: you can tell your friends everything, and they can be free with their opinions. After the date, things get murky.… They get much more murky when it’s not a few friends but a medium-well-read blog that you’re telling.” So what do you think? Should dates be left out of the blogs? More specific to my situation, what happens when blog-world meets real world? One thing’s for sure, it’s been very strange and awkward… so awkward that SWF has closed down shop on her blog (although, she claims it’s partly because she’s “content with Victim #5”) and even went so far as to change her screen name.

Three important lessons:

1. I’ll never “Myspace” a date again, even if they do advertise their anonymous blog on their online dating profile. Come to think of it, I’m through with online dating for awhile.

2. First dates should never include dinner. Coffee. In. Out. Done. (Thank you Dr. Cedarbrook for this useful piece of advice… I wish I had listened to you earlier.)

3. No matter how interested my date seems in the conversation, and no matter how many drinks I’ve had, next time I’ll hold back on the really private stuff – even if my date’s not blogging about it.

And so the drama unfolds. Blogs, dating websites, Myspace, screen names. Is this really what twenty-something dating has become? Oh, I’ve learned one more thing: never trust a website endorsed by Dr. Phil.

19 responses to “Game, set, match”

  1. G-Lock says:

    Yuck! Who the heck does she she think she is, Carrie Bradshaw? (That’s a Sex and the City reference. Sorry. I hate that show, too.)

    Online dating can work, I know, but there’s a lot of crap to sort through before you can find that rare gem. I was one of the AOL chat room pioneers in the early ’90s and then Friendster in 2003, which got old in, oh, mid-2003. I have to say of all the people I seriously dated for at least five or six months, all were people I met in person at various bars and parties or through friends.

    Literacy, we’ll keep our eyes out for you! Sorry your Match-ette was a turd. On the flip side, she was being anonymous. It’s not like she identified you. It sucks that you happened to stumble upon her page. It’s a new, scary world, apparently.

  2. anonymoose says:

    Dear LHD,
    Though it excites me to see a post about online dating, I find your account sad and depressing, and I sympathize. When I first dallied in that surreal practice of trying to end my own loneliness and workaholickness, I wracked up an embarrassing number of similarly painful experiences, some of which have dissolved into amusing party stories while others remain shelved in the recesses of my brain, next to memories of accidental public flatulence and the like. LIke you, I hung up my hat and decided to inflict no further punishment on myself. Several times. But something always drew me back to those dang profiles… it became something of an addiction to read them, even during periods of financial inactivity.

    Should this addiction also afflict you, I want to offer you hope. Just over three years ago I met in person for the first time the person who has become my LLP–my “lifelong partner”–if you’ll allow the sappiness of that acronymn. We spent six weeks getting to know each other via email before meeting face-to-face. We’d both been deceived and wanted to be cautious. We also lived 125 miles apart. When we finally worked up the courage to test the cerebral attraction on more physical grounds, we ended up having a three-day-long date that has resulted in grandiose changes in both of our lives. I sold my home and moved to LLP’s city where we bought a new home together. Six months later we got married. We probably couldn’t be any more perfectly suited for each other, and we are very happy. And it all happened because we were lonely academics with lame social lives who shared a desire to find a like-minded soul who agreed that all those profiles claiming the drafters were “unique, independent, and tired of the bar scene” were in fact cookie-cutter personas lacking intrigue. It also happened because neither of our profiles had any major syntax or grammatical errors. As a writer I know you know the importance of this.

    Cheers to hope, perserverence, and a happier post on your dating status in the coming months. Try to forget the sting of being a victim of someone whose gaze, conscience, and motivations are clearly crooked.

  3. Jameson Rocks says:

    LHD/E. Tan — mysterious ex-Mormon 20-something (why the switch of pseudonyms mid-stream?),

    I think it’s interesting that she called you “naive” without considering the possibility that her blog would be so easily identifiable. She clearly had that in common with you, at least. She never gave up the info that she was blogging about her dates, and you never let her know you’d already read her blog. Sounds like a game of cat and mouse.

    It’s quite a complex situation: you knew she wrote about dates for kicks. You knew she traveled under the name “SWF,” which is kind of scary. You knew she had a lavender template for her blog (which I’ve tracked down), which is even more scary. And yet you still went out with her — and divulged lots of personal details. I’m trying to put this all together. She sounds 1) really young and trying to kid herself that she has a lot of experience because she occasionally has casual sex, and 2) kind of mean and psychotic but convinced she’s really nice underneath. So why trust her enough to go on a date? Were you curious on some level about what she’d write about you?

  4. Rachel says:

    Yeah, finding her’s not too tough.

    Eight million bloggers in the naked city…you have to figure some of them are losers. If there is a bright side, E. Tan, it’s that a thick skin will serve you well in life, and maybe even in romance.

    Trust is the glue of social capital (if not of all civil society). SWF will learn that eventually, probably the hard way. Better that you know it now. You don’t have to be a Mormon expatriate to recognize the freakin’ golden rule, right?

  5. Becks says:

    Oh no! I’m so sorry to hear it. That’s just horrible.

    I wonder if the fact that she planned to blog the date made her more detached during your interactions and less likely to view the things you said through a positive filter. Almost as if she went in expecting it to be a bad date and for you to be just a collection of anecdotes for her blog so she interpreted everything you said as uncharitably as possible to “punch up” her post. I know when I’m at a party or a concert or something and know I’m going to blog it, my experiences and emotions seem more exaggerated and I look for the “hook” that’s going to turn it into a good story. That seems very incompatible with dating, which relies on more discursive charity.

  6. Dave says:

    Her habit of referring to her dates as “victims” probably didn’t help from the outset.

  7. the other jeff says:

    plus, she probably has herpes.

  8. Marleyfan says:

    To “the other jeff”, as her physician I will confirm her STD, for public safety (of course).

  9. E. Tan/LHD says:

    sorry for the pseudonym change — i was originally going to post the link to her blog and wanted an extra layer of protection for myself (and from the herpes)… last minute confusion.

    g-lock: totally sex and the city

    anonymoose: thanks for the kind words — i can see how these online dating sites can be addicting… so many profiles, so many people

    Jameson Rocks: you’re right — i went out with her fully aware of who she was… but on some level i wanted to play the game. when the date was going so well (she even text messaged one of my friends saying the date was going “fantastic”) i asked her if she was going to blog about me. she assured me she wasn’t and said that her blog focused on being 20-something in the city. i knew she was full of shit, but again, she was cute, nice, the drinks were flowing so we continued on.

    the other jeff: well her blog does say: “A young woman’s digital quest for true love… or at least a good lay.” close call but luckily i escaped.

    UPDATE: SWF sent me an apology (but signed as her pseudonym!) and posted the following message on her blog:

    “I feel like a total asshole, probably because I’ve been one but I guess it’s an eye opener and really changed my view on things and decided course of action. Of course, I never intended to hurt anyone especially someone like #7 whose first online dating experience has ended up as a horror story of mistrust and embarrassment… clearly the last thing such a sweet and confused guy deserves.”

  10. Jameson Rocks says:

    how does it feel to be sweet and confused? i’m glad she felt compelled to show such concern for your online dating welfare. what a nice girl! i hope she at least finds a good lay. it will be years before she’s mature enough for a real relationship.

  11. Stephanie Wells says:

    Wiat–she wrote the retraction/apology TODAY, after reading this blog? How did she know about it??! Did you send her the link? I’m sorry, but I must beg you for her link! You’re leavin’ us all hangin’! The public demands to know! However, you seem too nice to provide it. Come on! It won’t be stooping to her level!

  12. E. Tan/LHD says:

    no — i don’t think she knows about this blog… her reaction/apology came after i sent this letter:

    Dear SWF,

    So let me get this straight…. you have no qualms about lying to me, writing cattily about me, then thinking you might end up being friends with me although “fortunately” I don’t have a lot of spare time for emails or phone calls?

    Did you really think you could advertise an anonymous blog on your profile and not expect a potential date to find it? Myspace. Under two minutes. I’m naive? Possibly so since I never imagined a nice person like you would have a complete lack of regard for other’s feelings.

    Effeminately yours,

    Victim #7

    i really wish i could give everyone the link, but like i said — it’s way too revealing.

    and the drama keeps on unfolding….

  13. Tim Wager says:

    Yo E.Tan,

    It sounds like SWF set up her blog as a way to insulate herself from dating and the inherent vulnerability that accompanies such social interactions. On-line dating is putting yourself out in the world, exposing yourself to someone (a complete stranger), and that’s scary. If she tells herself that she’s just getting material for her blog, then it’s not really “her” out there, but a character (the blogger/journalist/writer) she’s created. The real her can never be hurt that way, but she’s also not going to be happy.

    Giving her the benefit of the doubt, in the moment she may have been responding to you in a genuine way, but when she reflected on it later the vulnerability you were strong and brave enough to show terrified her and sent her scurrying back to the role of blogger.

    Retracting that benefit, she may have been consciously or unconsciously drawing you out in order to have juicier material for her blog. Blogs are now a gateway to fame and book deals, but that generally only happens to bloggers who draw attention to themselves with salacious, scandalous, and/or very personal information. You may have stumbled upon a new dictum: “Never date a blogger.”

    Even as someone who has had extraordinarily good luck with on-line dating, I’d have to say that it’s probably just as successful a way to find someone just right for you as hanging out in bars, going to shows, meeting your friends’ friends, taking classes, volunteering at an animal shelter or a gallery, etc., etc.

    The pool of contestants is larger and not diluted by people who are not single (well, we’ll just trust them on that) or not looking, but in that pool there are also many people who are looking for dates for very many different reasons, many of which even they don’t know.

    Looking at profiles on personals sites is a bit like going into one of those giant box stores like Costco or Cub Foods (yo, wot up, midwest!). The choices are overwhelming. It’s easy to get the sense that, with so much bounty in the world, it’s impossible *not* to find someone who’s just right for you. This is exactly why it needs to be approached cautiously, in small doses, and with tempered expectations. (I found that the less buildup there is with emails and phone calls the better. As anonymoose attests above, others have had better results with the opposite tack.)

    Woody Allen’s character in “Stardust Memories” has a great line about how true love is almost entirely based on luck and that’s what’s so scary about it (I tried to find the quote, but couldn’t). It rings truer for me than pretty much anything else the Woodman has ever said or written, but that shouldn’t be taken as discouraging. One needs to put oneself out in the world, to be vulnerable, to hope for the best, to be hurt, to recover, and to be open to the good fortune that may just appear. As Tom Waits, a truly great sage of our times, has said, “Fishing for a good time starts with throwing in your line.”

  14. W2 says:

    Allen writes about luck a lot; I was thinking of the opening to Match Point: “The man who said ‘I’d rather be lucky than good’ saw deeply into life. People are afraid to face how great a part of life is dependent on luck. It’s scary to think so much is out of one’s control. There are moments in a match when the ball hits the top of the net, and for a split second, it can either go forward or fall back. With a litte luck, it goes forward, and you win. Or maybe it doesn’t, and you lose.”

  15. Scotty says:

    Naïve, effeminate, lacking world-experience…they sound like complements to me.

    Damone to Mark Ratner: “if she can’t smell your qualifications a mile away, who needs her?” At least you didn’t “buy forty dollars worth of fuckin’ film.”

  16. Rachael Gilkey says:

    Nothing more for me to add really, beyond what these good people have said and our own phone conversations on the matter. Except for maybe this bit o’ fuel for the fire:

    I was just looking through my text messages (yeah, I’m at work. so what?) and I noticed the one you sent in reply to my “How’s the date going?” question. It read: “Fantastic”. You told me the next day that she had intercepted the text and actually wrote the response herself. Point of the story is, people are assholes, you just have to search around until you find one that is only as much an asshole as you are. Despite her “cute smile” she is way too much of an asshole for you.

  17. Jeremy says:

    E. Tan: I’m sorry you had to read about yourself on someone else’s mean blog!

    Also,

    Dad: I’m sorry you had to read about yourself on someone else’s mean blog!

  18. Demosthenes says:

    One of my neighbors who is about sixty recently lost his wife to a heart complication. This was in August. Her health had gradually been decreasing for the past few years, and unfortunately passed away. I was amazed to find that he has since then gotten re-married. I found this odd that just a few months after his wife who he was married to for over twenty years died, he decided to tie the knot. I was talking to his new wife, and I discovered that they met on E harmony.com. I guess it does work like in the commercials.

  19. Scotty says:

    Jeremy- you are one funny mutha you know what.