Why is Adult Dating an Exercise in Dumpster Diving?

This quote really resonated with the women, especially the single ones, at a recent women’s only yoga retreat I attended. Dating as dumpster diving. Do men feel the same way about dating as adults? Which might be the point. Do any of us remain adults when we enter the dating arena?

Or do we morph back into teenagers with better cars but worse hair?

The last fellow I met online told me that so many of the women who’d contacted him had profile photos wearing camping attire and hoisting up large fish they’d caught, each bass or grouper proclaiming these ladies were low maintenance, high energy, and one of the guys. And apparently could scale their own fish. But this guy was really urban. He wondered why he was attracting pioneer women.

When we go online we’re looking for reflections of ourselves; we’re looking to see what we reflect back. Whoa, that hot successful orthodontist contacted me, I must look pretty good. That guy with the bad rug who looks to be 20 years older than I (and put up an unfortunate swimsuit shot) thinks I’d be interested? I said I want a relationship, is my profile so secretly needy that this guy who’s into onetime hook-ups thinks I’d say yes? Or in my case, how come I only attract guys from Berkeley who like Bill Maher and NPR, disparage the suburban town that I live in, and think that makes them seem smart?

So, when we are looking at the metaphorical trash heap that is adult dating, are we not saying, what is wrong with me that I am attracting refuse? Why aren’t I hooking someone who reflects back my own potential? Am I sporting an invisible sign that says I lust after the irremediably damaged

My ego is my Plenty of Fish profile. Lets see who it reels in.

An old friend attracted the seemingly perfect guy on Plenty of Fish. He was smart, uber successful, thoughtful, and really into her. She crowed about him incessantly. And as she quipped “I don’t stay on the market for long,” what I heard her saying is “Look who I can attract. I must be pretty special.” Her Prince High Tech turned out to be a professional con man. The moral: Beware of succumbing to your own reflection. You may fall in and drown.

But even when I’ve found a promising flounder, the guy was usually damaged beyond repair. The Alec Baldwin lookalike still wasn’t over his ex and thought I needed to bathe in his pain. (I know not why). The older artist still had unresolved anger towards his mother that he thought he could take out on me (as if I wouldn’t notice).. The environmentalist’s life was so disorganized there wasn’t even room for him in it.

Or like so many men I’ve met, my prospect might be a nice fellow, but all the fruitless searching and resulting loneliness have left him with a patina of disillusionment. Like almost everyone I meet, he has lots of crazy dating stories but a famished soul. Oh yeah, plus we have nothing in common, or he still lives at home, or or he wants to date a woman who can gut her own salmon

The single women I know are lovely and clever and flexible (we’re all yogis). The male dating pool can’t all be comprised of discounted, long expired cold cuts. Or do a greater percentage of damaged meat popsicles go online? Whereas, the “normal” ones have given up, retreating to Netflix, and, you know, retreats. Have all the sane singles left the butcher shop?

So, the grown up dating process is like dumpster diving but you won’t even find a free coffee table. I had my soulmate and high school sweetheart for 32 years until his death in 2013. I am grateful for that. I’ve dipped my foot into the polluted waters of online dating—rather excessively for a while—but found little to reel in. I’ve heard that older singles are just too intransigent to tolerate love. We’re used to living how we want to and we won’t change that. One fellow commented that he uses “friends with benefits” to have companionship, but to be free of commitment.

Or does dating bring out our inner insufferable adolescents such that we’re all reliving our old insecurities? Someone who might seem cool in normal circumstances morphs into something evil during the mating progress, sort of how spawning salmon seem to mutate. One friend suggested a “but party” where each single person brings an unattached friend they like “but” only as a friend. Maybe having to report to our friends would make for better behavior.

So, why is grown up dating a visit to the dump complete with flesh-eating zombies when we all know cool single grown ups? Or is it that the undamaged dolls have left the Island of Broken Toys? If any of this resonates, please visit my blog The Hungover Widow where I examine more of the absurdities that ensue after losing your partner.

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