Anonymity is part of the allure of online dating. You can represent yourself the way you want to be represented, without whatever baggage you may normally carry. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case in DC. There may be many fish in the sea, but DC is less like a sea and more like a mid-sized fish tank… You brush past a lot of the same fish.
This first happened for me with a cute pharmacist I’d noticed on previous visits. One afternoon when I went in to pick something up, she happened to be behind the counter and we struck up a pleasant conversation. I got the sense that maybe the interest was mutual, so I flirted with her a bit to see if I got a reaction. The transaction wrapped up quickly and I snapped out of it, assuming she didn’t need dudes hitting on her while she’s just trying to get through a day at work.
Not long after, I came across her profile on a dating app. For some inconceivable reason, I mentioned that I recognized her from the pharmacy and had considered asking her out then, but was glad I got a second shot.
In a brutal twist of ironic timing, I had to pick up a prescription only a few days after our app encounter and, of course, she was behind the counter. Getting your allergy medicine isn’t exactly a traditional way to cultivate sexual tension. Surprisingly, she had a sense of humor about it all and we made plans to go on what turned out to be a fun first date.
I’ve had countless real life run ins with people I’ve first seen in profile form. Girl at the grocery store? Looks like her interest in cooking checks out. That girl singing karaoke looks familiar, do I know her? Of course, I know both her hinge and tinder personas–we go way back.
The pharmacist and I had fun, but things didn’t go anywhere. The biggest disappointment was having to find a new spot to pick up prescriptions.
A few months later, I joined a social fitness group and once again found a lot of overlap between the people in the group and the profiles I encountered. Unsurprisingly, many of them were good looking and we all had to expend some of the energy we didn’t have another outlet for. It may not have been in the way we’d had in mind, but we enjoyed getting sweaty together.
I made friends, but didn’t connect with anyone romantically. Seeing these profiles while getting to know them personally gave me insight into their vulnerability and sense of frustration with the dating treadmill, which I definitely shared.
Maybe you’re reading this and thinking, “Hey, maybe you should just man up and ask someone out in person?”
Sure, I’ve thought about it. The truth is, connecting online feels a little more straightforward. I don’t have to constantly second guess and try to decipher the signals. Then again, maybe my reliance on the dynamics of online dating are adding to my difficulty in really connecting with someone.
This bad habit was on my mind on Valentine’s Day this year when I went to a comedy show by myself where performers were relaying bad date experiences. I struck up a conversation with two girls next to me, and we exchanged our own comically bad dating experiences and enjoyed commiserating together.
While we talked, I debated whether or not to keep things going with one of the girls. I wasn’t sure if I’d caught her eye, or was just flattering myself and liked the idea of the story. I eventually talked myself out of it because she was there with her friend and I didn’t know how I’d pull that off.
Besides, considering my track record in the DC fish tank, I honestly figured there was a 50% chance I’d connect with her online anyway… Turns out I was right, and we’re going out this week.
Mike/first ever male poster