I used to wonder what kind of losers dated through the Internet-until I became one.
It’s not exclusively how I date. Frankly, I don’t date enough to require me to make choices about my methods.
But I have recently come to see the Internet as perhaps my only chance for dating ever again, as well as a great idea for queers in general.
Whether you live in Flin Flon or San Francisco, the queer community is small.
It becomes smaller with every year you age and every time you break up with someone. People couple off, people stop talking to you because you used to date their friend, soon your romantic life turns into that Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game.
You can’t date A because A used to date B who used to be roommates with C who was in an open relationship with D, only D didn’t know it was an open relationship and C was sleeping with E, who was in that movie with Kevin Bacon.
I’ve done the math on it and here are the hard stats: If there are X number of people out there that I would be interested in dating and that would be interested in dating me, even if we limit ourselves to Canada and the US (including the territories, Hawaii, and Alaska), if we multiply X times the number of states/provinces we find that there are a total of 17 potential love interests out there for me. And that’s rounding up.
I’m not an expert e-lover by any means. I’ve only done it once before.
I grew weary of my dating wasteland so I swallowed what was left of my pride and placed an online ad.
The first reply was riddled with things like LOL and L8R. Delete.
The second one actually used those little smiley emoticons, the electronic equivalent of writing in high school bubble letters. Delete.
The third was from an articulate and charming transman named Jay from just across the border. There was no sign of the dreaded text-speak or punctuation faces. He clearly either knew how to spell or how to use his spellcheck and-be still my heart-he even used semicolons correctly. Reply.
We had long, fun e-mail exchanges discussing everything from queer politics to cartoons and we quickly grew smitten with each other; at least the electronic versions we knew.
By the time we met, we already knew so much about each other that the face-to-face part seemed like a formality.
I visited him, he visited me, but in the end it just didn’t pan out. Luckily, because he really is all the wonderful things I first fell for via e-mail, we dealt with it and he is now a dear friend.
But that experience taught me that a romance in the cyber world doesn’t necessarily translate well into the real world.
Yup, I learned my lesson.
Okay, I didn’t learn a damn thing and I’ve gone and electronically fallen for someone else.
Funnily enough, Jay was the one I called on to dissuade me.
Before meeting me, Jay had made a disastrous trip across the country to meet an online paramour. Since he and I hadn’t worked out either, I figured he’d talk me out of my foolishness. To my surprise, he did the opposite.
Oh, sure, he gave me the obligatory, “Remember, it’s different in person” speech. But he also said: “If you and I were your average, run-of-the-mill, non-queer/trans boy and girl, I would say get offline already and go join some sort of shared interest community group, go to a White Stripes concert, go to a book signing or whatever it is young hip straight people do when they’re mating. And those are all good ideas for us gaylords, too. But you and I are in a tiny, widely spread, fucked-up dating pool and that means that we need to jump on possibly good things when and where we find them.”
I agreed. And I jumped. Wheeeee!
There are plenty of great things about dating this way: We never run into any of our exes on cyber dates. Our sex is ridiculously safe. The fact that I am a terrible cook has yet to drive her away.
Of course, there are some really important facets of an in-person relationship missing: I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what’s at the top of the This Sucks List. Not being able to hold hands is a big one for me.
There’s the little problem of geography. Falling for someone who lives far away means long distance bills and plane tickets and, yes, the possibility that there will be no spark when we meet in person.
But I’d rather have my heart broken by someone far away that I adore than someone in the same city who I barely like.
I don’t know that Marshall McLuhan was concerned specifically with my abysmal dating scene when he coined all those catchy little terms of his, but I have to say, I sure do like this queer global village he portended.
Now, if only I could figure out teleportation…