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Ira Israel Headshot

Dating, Mating & Gender Roles in the Loneliest City on Planet Earth

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I usually begin my online dating profiles with something tongue-in-cheek such as, "Dating in Los Angeles should be listed as a crime against humanity as the whole process is inhumane: basically it's like auditioning to play a role in someone else's script entitled, 'This Is What I Think My Life Should Resemble.'"

Arranged marriages in Third World countries are infinitely more organic than dating in Los Angeles is. In terms of pure fun, dating in Los Angeles falls somewhere between root canals and colonoscopies.

In the year 3000, when human beings or cockroaches look back on mating rituals in the former United States of America, they will certainly correlate the decline of propriety and etiquette with the rise of antidepressants. To say that contemporary romance has become akin to the Wild Wild West - a mind-boggling, confusing, no holds barred, free-for-all - would be an understatement. Every first date is like walking through a minefield wherein you will probably be blown to tatters but not realize it until you get home and receive a text message stating, "You're so awesome! But I don't want to date you."

'Best of luck with all of your future endeavors...' is tacitly implied as if you were receiving a stamped letter of rejection from a Department of Human Resources.

And getting such text messages is a privilege in contrast to the typical LA protocol known as the FADE OUT wherein people slowly stop returning your emails so you are under the delusion that you're still dating but they don't even remember your name when it pops up on Caller-ID. Then when you bump into them at the gym they say, "Crazybusy, sorry, yeah... I'll call you next week (or after Armageddon, whichever comes second)."

Regarding romance, the first thing you'll notice in Los Angeles is that all sexual activity must be premeditated. In non-car-culture cities such as Paris and New York, a kiss and a wink and a nod and and a "Taxi!" and off you go.

In Los Angeles, first you have to work out driving:
"OK, I'll follow you to your place. Are you sober enough to drive?"
"Yeah, I'm fine... Are you sober enough to drive?"
"Yeah, I only had three Apple Pomegranate martinis..."
"Cool. Where do you live?"
"Eagle Rock. But don't worry, there's no traffic at this hour."

Then when you get there you have to figure out parking. "Street sweeping 4am, 1 hour parking after 10pm, No Parking any time ever. Don't even think of parking here. Let me just run inside and find one of those permits - I think I have one leftover from a party I had last year..."

While walking to the front door, you can negotiate cat allergies and/or dog walking rituals: "She ate two steaks for breakfast and has been cooped up in the house all day... it will only take a minute to walk her. Do you mind carrying the bags?"

After that you can navigate your way through morning ceremonies such as caffeine requirements, personal trainers arriving at 5:30am, Pilates or yoga, assistants, colonics, fictional writing deadlines - or rather a new blog deadline implemented by one's Life Coach ("Otherwise it would never get done! That's why I pay her $350 an hour to Skype with me!") - responding to emails from one's manager who has mysteriously moved to Europe, checking the Dow Jones opening bell at 6:30am PST because "the 401K is in the toilet," and/or shuffling children off to school - "Don't worry, none of my kids are light sleepers..."

Once you have all that sorted out, then you can have the dreaded venereal disease/contraception chat. And that's if you're one of the lucky, passionate, chosen few.

Ah... modern love...

Los Angeles is the only major metropolis in the free world where healthy single adults can actually have sex more infrequently than their married counterparts. Frightening. And from what I've heard, married people seem to be doing it primarily because their partners are excessively geographically desirable.

One night after dinner last year I invited a woman home and she kindly declined stating that she had purchased a toy that can bring her to climax three times in five minutes. I've got nothing on that: my best time is six and a half minutes, I told her. However, I have more graduate degrees than her new friend has D batteries so I'll probably be vastly more entertaining in the morning.

What happened to human connection? What happened to passion? What happened to intimacy? What happened to affection? What happened to sensuality? What happened to romance? What happened to love?

Well, why bother when you can make the beast with one back three times in less than five minutes?

And I won't even begin to tell you how many dates Google has sabotaged: I Googled one lovely, well-spoken physician before we were scheduled to meet and found a recent arrest record for assaulting her boyfriend in a hotel in Northern California. FADE OUT...

At least ten times in the last few years I have gone out with 43, 44, 45 - and even one 46 - year old women who "definitely" wanted to have children.

"When was the last time you checked the expiration date and do you not think that this bit of information may put undue pressure on our first (and probably last) rendezvous?" were the questions I had the decency not to ask. Tick-tock, tick tock...

And if you ever think that feminism has made any progress, then try mediating l'addition after a wonderfully sumptuous dinner in one of LA's amazing restaurants. (I can feel you cringing as you read this as if I were dragging my nails across a chalkboard.) At the end of the meal sophisticated ladies will reach for their purses but be surprised when you don't offer to cover the whole tab. Modern women will say, "I'll get the next one." And women schooled in the world's oldest profession will reach only for their lipstick. I actually prefer the latter - at least they are honest.

Was there not some sort of sexual revolution that was supposed to liberate all of us and make women and men equal and mutually free to pursue their desires?

Or should falling in love be reserved for naive adolescents and tabloid stars?

All of the recent scientific research (cf. Sonja Lyubomirsky's "The Myths of Happiness") informs us that the only thing that strongly correlates with life-long happiness is the quality of our intimate relationships. But how can relationships unfold naturally when everyone is "crazybusy," has unrealistic expectations for instant chemistry (otherwise known as lust), is subconsciously looking for red-flags, knows that 50% of marriages end in divorce (most of which are highly traumatizing and fucking expensive!), thinks it is acceptable and humane to send business-like rejection letters via text message after spending 60 minutes with a stranger, has been conditioned to perpetually hunt for more-better-different, and there is no established protocol for "dating" in the sea of ambiguous albeit infrequent and often desperate "hook-ups"?

I'm still idealistically looking for my life-partner, a spiritual, emotional, and intellectual equal who happens to enjoy meditating, doing yoga, eating healthily, strolling on the beach at sunset, reading the Sunday NY Times in bed, going to French movies (preferably in Paris), who knows how to communicate compassionately and authentically, and who doesn't need her tombstone to read "Richest Gal in the Cemetery."

When did it become so complicated?

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