Marena Mitchell: Online dating for the cold-hearted

Marena Mitchell SQjpgThe Internet has changed our lives in numerous ways — let’s talk about online dating.

Before I launch into my typical cynicism, I’ll start by saying that a majority of my family members have met their significant others because of some online platform. I also have a number of friends who fell madly in love with someone they met online, some of them are even married now. I’d like to make it clear that it’s not the system I’m doubting here, but myself.

Most young people who can’t afford (or are too cool) to pay for a site usually end up in this wonderful little world called Okcupid. It’s much like a Facebook page, except the only way to communicate with a person is to either “like” them (it used to be a star rating system, I guess they figured out how creepy that was), or straight up message them.


A few years ago I reluctantly made a profile and ever since have gone through six-month cycles of activating and reactivating it. Not only because I fall in and out of weird pseudo-relationships in real life, but because being on Okcupid in the Hudson Valley is actually a waking nightmare.

In my time on this website I’ve actually responded to maybe four people (there’s a big red dot next to my info, which means I reply “very selectively”) and met only three in person. The first was this guy who I actually knew from school but had never talked to. We got together a few times and after too many beers on the Fourth of July, I told him I was in love with someone else.

He never called. In hindsight, that was okay since when I asked him why he never wanted to hang out with me his response was simply, “I really like video games.”

The other two were perfectly nice, just no real sparks, you know?

So, out of 104 messages sitting in my inbox, I deemed three acceptable. Part of this is because my heart is made of stone, but the other part is that people actually don’t understand how to “approach someone” online.

I recently received a message from a guy who told me he thought I was a guy when he looked at my photo, but that’d I was so good looking that he’d consider “jumping the fence.” Literally, of all the things he could write, after sitting and thinking about it, that’s what he picked. When I didn’t respond in 15 minutes, he messaged me again to basically say the same thing with a new euphemism for homosexuality. I checked out.

There’s also the issue of online dating in a small town. I’ve found multiple profiles for my old students and those “people about town.” You know, the people you just see everywhere but never actually talk to, and then it’s awkward the next time you see them because you suddenly know about their online dating personas.

Or, my personal favorite was when I reactivated my profile one time. The first person I found was the person I’d had feelings for and been “involved” (let’s keep it PG) with for years, and our “compatibility” was 99% percent. It took all the self-control I had to not fling my computer out the window.

So, after all this, I don’t know why I continue to even entertain the idea of having a profile. I guess I get bored and I guess I figure at the end of the day, it really can’t hurt.

I went on this date last week and like I said, he was perfectly nice. I went home feeling really good, but as time passed, I started realizing how completely unfit I am for a serious relationship at this point.

I don’t form super-intimate relationships easily, or willingly for that matter, though I crave them practically all the time. I have a friend who I was seeing for a short time, we recently started talking again after a much-needed six-month break.

We’ve established a friendship and what I’d like to think is an intimate understanding of one another, all the good and all the bad. We hung up after saying good night and two minutes later he called me back and said, “I just want to tell you that I love you and I really care about you and I want you to be happy.”

The sad part is this floored me. The sad part is I told him I loved him too and I think it was the first time I’ve meant it in a long time. I laughed as I said it and he asked me why. I told him it was because I don’t hear or say these things often.

In that moment it struck me. For most of my adult life I’ve looked for loving relationships in the wrong ways, in probably the unhealthiest ways possible. I realized I truly don’t need a serious relationship and that I’m not ready to bring some innocent outsider into my weird world. Let’s be honest, it’s mostly for their sake.