As it grew light, he asked me how I took my coffee and I said that I drank tea; he returned some time later with a Styrofoam cup from Dunkin’ Donuts and a dozen red roses he had bought at the gas station. Multiply that evening’s curiosities by 86, and you’ll begin to grasp the potential of these soul-crushing apps.
Thanks to Hinge and Bumble, I have dated German poets and Indian bankers, Australian contractors and Brazilian waiters.
(And I should acknowledge, too, that I have also behaved badly at times, failing to write someone back once real life takes hold or sending squirmy messages in lieu of a clean break.)But for all this, what I’ve gained from online dating far exceeds what I have lost.Meeting someone “IRL” — as, it turns out, they say — seemed unlikely at best. I haven’t met anyone I’ve liked enough, or who liked me enough, to cancel my accounts.And so it was that, some four months into singledom, I gathered the courage to join Ok Cupid and head to a wine bar with Pete, a musician-turned-accountant whom I chose for his spectacularly anodyne profile. But I am nevertheless here to offer a defense of online dating, not necessarily as a tool for finding a partner — I have no idea if the internet will ever yield me true love — but rather as a world-enlarging enterprise, and a means of rebuilding one’s self in the wake of separation.I hadn’t been single in nearly a decade; I didn’t even have Facebook, let alone a stockpile of profile pictures or an irrepressible texting game.But I was also a writer who worked from home, one whose closest friends were married with children.
Now, over three years and seven dating apps later, I’ve gone out with 86 men and counting; I know because I keep a list that reads like free verse (“David the orphan … Yes, online dating can be deeply demoralizing, a parade of indignities that throws into relief not just our self-absorption and banality, but our nihilism too.