In my experience, dating has been a big, sticky ball of Not Much Fun. I didn't date in high school. I started coming out at 18, but didn't openly identify as lesbian until 23. Aside from a couple dorm-related disasters, I lived with my parents until I was 28, which wasn't conducive to wooing the ladies.
When I was 30, I had my first serious relationship with a woman. Even though things didn't last, we enjoyed movies and weekend breakfasts with triangle-shaped pancakes. After the breakup, I dated sporadically, but didn't find anyone who fit right. I decided my less-than-stellar luck meant I was supposed to be single, at least for a while, and I stopped looking.
Fast forward to 39. I decided to reactivate an online dating profile. I wasn't ready to date, but reasoned it was going to be hard to get married if I never left my apartment. I started trading emails with a woman I'll call Rachel. She was cute, close to my age, and we shared similar interests. Our letters were fun, open, and honest. I smiled like a doof when my inbox dinged its new message chime.
About two weeks into our correspondence, I suggested we meet for a beer. Rachel said yes, we set a date, and then everything went to heck. Two days before our date, she wrote and said she was sick and had to go to the doctor. I was disappointed, but said her health naturally took priority and we could reschedule. She thanked me for understanding and then told me about her exciting weekend plans. The weekend that was two days after our now-cancelled date.
Even though I was suspicious, I didn't say anything, but I did protest when she wanted to bring a third person on our first date. Her response? She'd been doing a lot of thinking while recuperating. While meeting me had been great, talking about dating had triggered her various anxieties. She was deleting her profile and seriously thinking about going back into therapy.
Oh my God. It was just a beer.
When I wrote back (a.k.a. my ruthless pursuit of closure), I said I hadn't been expecting something right away. I didn't want to screw on the first date and had certainly not enlisted a flash mob in order to propose. One beer. Maybe two!
Rachel admitted she'd never dated someone she met online and the thought was making her anxious. I agreed not to use the D-word and promptly sent her a cartoon featuring two women driving in a U-Haul to their second date. She laughed, but the death knell had sounded. We emailed a few more times, but our pages-long correspondence shrank to a couple of paragraphs about our respective days. Á la T.S. Eliot, our budding whatevership ended not with a bang but a whimper. Of course one foiled date isn't the same as the world ending, but it sure would've been nice to have someone to hold hands with again.