When it turns into work

Christine Speer reports in Philadelphia Magazine (November):

[W]hile the story I was working on was pretty straightforward — What It’s Like To Date in Philadelphia — the research was much less so, because, well, I am single. And new to town. And at age 29, I want what all 29-year-old single women I know want, probably what everyone wants: someone who’ll zip my hard zippers and tromp to Trader Joe’s with me, who’ll split my takeout and be around for kissing whenever I want and share the paper on Sunday mornings. As long as we both shall live.

I have always thought that this person — my person — will walk into my life when fate (not a matchmaker, not a computer) chooses. It wasn’t even so long ago that I thought it had happened, the fate and my person (I was wrong). I’m not enthused to go looking for them, even just to write about, which is what I tell my editor when I say that I’d rather not write this story. “But,” my editor says, “what if your fate exists via a dating service?” “Yeah, fine. Whatever,” I say, knowing he’s not interested in my romantic well-being nearly as much as he’s interested in getting this story — and that he’ll win. “I’ll try it all.” And I will. But I also know that at its core, this will be just another assignment to tread on through, like the time I had to eat at 21 Mexican restaurants in eight days. Hopefully with less physical discomfort.

Part of her slog involves a stint at Match.com:

It’s all surprisingly grueling, filled with the self-indulgent self-­ reflection you feel at a therapy session, only without the relief or absolution or whatever it is that comes afterward. Instead, you just sit at your iMac and wait to be judged, for a monthly fee of $35.

Donna corroborates:

I was pleasantly surprised at how she really nailed the whole Match.com experience at least from the female perspective. The endless (witless) emails, the stupid “winks,” the guys who seemed to get their jollies wasting girls’ time, the great dates that just never called back, trying to figure out how to sanely deal with the rejection… It was especially nice how she ended the article without having found her soul mate. In fact, she found a guy she liked but he never called her back. That, my friends, is a lot more typical than the smiling couples they show on their commercials.

Still, the smiling couples aren’t entirely fictional:

It took me awhile but I did find somebody on Match.com. What kills me is I still haven’t gotten over the whole experience leading up to it. I mean, I think back to it and I still feel the rejection just as deeply now as I did then. It was truly pulverizing. Online dating is not for the weak, that’s for sure. I do hope the author finds love and she doesn’t have to go through torture to find it.

“I just wish we had a Trader Joe’s,” I said unconvincingly.


  1. fillyjonk »

    4 November 2008 · 12:19 pm

    “someone to zip the hard zippers.” Yes. As I begin to edge into the arthritis-tinged side of life, I find I have to add yet another consideration to clothes purchasing: can I do it up all by myself? And will I STILL be able to do it up all by myself five or ten years hence (if I still have the dress and can still fit into it and still want to wear it)

    “All by myself” sometimes are the three hardest words in the English language.

  2. Kay Dennison »

    4 November 2008 · 4:47 pm

    Being single can be a pain but I try to look on the bright side of not dating:

    1. If there’s a mess in my place, I know made it and who has to clean it up. (1a. And if I don’t feel like cleaning it up, no one will kvetch.)

    2. Cookies for supper.

    3. I can read in bed as late as I want without anyone complaining about the light being on.

    4. Beer lasts longer.

    5. No makeup if I don’t feel like it.

    6. No one flipping between channels.

    7. No one complaining if I want to watch a chick flick and insisting on The Terminator for the 87th time.

    8. No one hollers if I buy another black dress .

    9. No Victoria’s Secret (except the night shirts which are tres comfy and look cool with a pair of leggings)

    10. Two words: No rejection

  3. CGHill »

    4 November 2008 · 5:13 pm

    Hard to argue with that, I must say.

  4. fillyjonk »

    4 November 2008 · 6:14 pm

    Oh, certainly, Kay. Add to which some days I “run out of words” during the day and it’s an active relief to be able to come home and not have to make conversation or “entertain” someone. (I have known chaps who apparently expected their female companion to provide witty banter. While I can do that, I have to be in the right mood).

    And there’s no one to say, “You bought more yarn/books/fabric? Don’t you already have ENOUGH?”

    And I can flop across the entire bed – especially if it’s a hot night – and have all that space to myself. (Seriously, were I to marry or cohabit? I’d probably have to buy a king-sized bed to avoid nighttime claustrophobia).

    But sometimes the grass does look greener on that other side of the fence.

  5. CGHill »

    4 November 2008 · 6:32 pm

    A friend of mine has argued for years that couples should keep their own bedrooms, and meet in one or the other, or elsewhere, for horizontal boppage. I am starting to see the wisdom of her contention.

  6. fillyjonk »

    5 November 2008 · 8:01 am

    I have a friend who goes even farther, and suggests that people who lived alone for a long time before marrying buy two separate houses/apartments.

    (Hopefully close together, or else it might make that marital-relations thing awfully tricky to schedule).

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