I'm on an Internet "cocktail" date. I give these first encounters no more than an allotted 26 minutes. That's my rule which, of course, I have merrily broken in the past. But generally... a cup of java and I'm out. Tonight, it's booze -- 'cause it's Thursday and he amused the hell out of me in email exchanges and I'm feeling, well, optimistic. The man shows. He's shorter, older, balder and duller in the flesh (umm, how does this happen? How do people who dash off witty emails manage to fall so short -- excuse pun -- in real life?) And he's cheap. Within seven minutes, I know this is a no-go. Nice enough man -- let's call him "Dan" -- but we have absolutely zip in common. Yes, "Dan" has lied (RUDE) on his profile about (a) his age (b) his pictures (c) his freakin' height. Despite all this, I sympathize as a fellow human being, but think he's a troll to be rid of ASAP. Perched there at the bar, sipping my dry, delicious Bombay martini, I knew I needed out. Now, it was my turn to lie. (RUDE.) I said I got a sudden text from a dear pal who lives on the Upper East Side, in urgent need of my physical assistance. We are in midtown on Third Avenue in NYC, at a trendy bar on the East side of the street.
Because "Dan" is basically a decent chap, he escorts me out of the bar, with my half-drunk $23 martini and his Rob Roy (!!!) barely sipped at. I flag down the first cab.
BINGO! My driver's name is Leroy and, unlike the nightmare Internet date I just had, Leroy and I connect immediately. He's a Caribbean cowboy who, as I leap in, asks "Who's the dud?" scanning the man abandoned on the sidewalk. I tell him the basic scoop: that I'm shakin' the date but that... alas, we're right in front of the dude going in the wrong direction -- as my real destination is my home in West Village, not the Upper East Side bullshit story I just laid on said dud. Leroy laughs at my idiotic dilemma and pulls a U-ey right there, in front of the man, and cranks up the tune he was listening to "SECOND TIME AROUND." Perfection. Well, Leroy, it ain't the second time around for this girl -- try 122nd time around. So, yeah, I'm an expert. And when you attain that level, you follow the advice we give in our book, DUMPED -- you know you deserve more. You can't put up with the rudeness inherent in modern internet dating, but you can't help but be party to it too. Yep, I have just f*cked over this starry-eyed bloke, left him in the dust, red-faced and humiliated and basically, I am not giving a shit.
What. Have. I. Become.
The answer is simple: I have become... RUDE. And I am not alone.
Internet dating, in a way, is a joint partnership in not giving a shit.
We're all disposable. We're all paper plates. We're drowning in the sheer abundance of available mates. You begin to take this embarrassment of riches for granted.
Maybe we've gotten too technical with our online dating by perfecting our Match.com algorithms, choosing our studiously ironic OkCupid profile picture and mastering our self-summary with just the right amount of self-confidence tempered with self-deprecation. All that tweaking has turned the chase into an arcade game and left us barely able to pay attention long enough for the actual prize -- a living, breathing human being, in the flesh, that we get to communicate with and potentially touch in sexy ways!
Maybe it's this. Or maybe we have just become RUDE.
Everybody over "a certain age" likes to bitch about the present generation's need to be "present." But it is not just "the present generation." IT'S ALL OF US. And certainly, all of us in the dating pool. We've all been perpetrators of RUDE and NOT PRESENT. We've all been zombies walking down the street, phone in hand, narrowly avoiding getting hit by buses.
It was enlightening, taking a poll of good pals who have reentered the dating world and discovered how very much the landscape has changed. These are kind, loving, fun, attentive, sexy buds. They are good people who love their mommies, just like you -- and have either done the following RUDE deeds or had them done to them:
1. Waiting for drone date to finish TEXTING while you enter the bar to join him or her-- not even looking up to acknowledge your presence until said text is done. Are we invisible or -- worse yet -- getting used to being invisible?
2. Leaving the phone on the table throughout a dinner. We get it, you're busy and the world needs you to be available at all times, but ferchrissake, unless you are a doctor or a drug dealer, during the date, put the phone away.
3. Your date says she needs to use the bathroom -- and uses the opportunity to, of course, check for messages on her phone. And while she's at it, she texts her friends about her date's shortcomings. That's the paranoia, right? I mean, who are you dating -- a girl or a girl gang? (Girls are worse but boys, I know you do this too.)
4. Someone you're dating decides to just stop responding, even though the flirting has been off the hook. Where do these people go? Down an Internet black hole? Is the gravitational pull too strong to type a few letters? Sheesh.
More like, "Lying Out Loud." Let's be honest, you are not really laughing out loud. Shut up. Stop with the emojis too, asshole.
6. You had a few dates, but have not qualified this person with a contact name associated with their contact number. There's simply too many of 'em. You get a text after fifth date and write back: "WHO'S THIS?"
As Michelle Tanner would say: HOW RUDE
7. "What's up?"
What do you mean, "What's up?" We had a DATE, asshole!
8. A pal was caught texting a potential hookup from his date's bed. When confronted and informed that his behavior was assholian to the max, he justified it with a wave of the hand and said this: "I thought she was asleep." Can we just make a rule that you are on one date at a time? Please?
9. Instagraming your goddamn appetizer. Put the phone away.
RUDE and really, let's face it... just LAME.
10. Personal grooming. You can't pick that up in a profile. Not good to smell like a dirty belly button, have filthy fingernails or bad breath. ou aren't gchatting here. You are actually talking to a real person, IN PERSON. Wash. Get a mint.
You get the picture. The list could be endless... and depressing... could it be the death of conversaton? The death of romance? The death of common courtesy?
We need to come up with a way to NOT become the eternally NOT PRESENT PERSON and come up with a new etiquette for digital dating. And it ain't just Internet dating -- it's all of it. Is using the phone EVER OK again? And what about voicemail? It now feels archaic and yet, hearing a lover's lusty voice is hot. It's sexy! When is a text an immensely wimpy thing to do (like when you're dumping someone)? I loved Nick Bilton's piece, "Disruptions: Digital Era Redefining Etiquette." IS it RUDE to take somebody's time up to say THANK YOU via phone, email or even text? Have we come to that? Is this "unnecessary communication," as Baratunde Thurston, co-founder of Cultivate Wit says, because it's "a burden and a cost"? Especially in -- yes I am gonna use the word -- romance?
It's hard to not treat the ding of an incoming text message like a little present. But it's not. It's an interruption. We forget that the person in front of us deserves our attention and the person on the other end of that text message will forgive you for having a life. And if they don't, it's a f*cking RED FLAG.
Gotta go. The phone just jolted me out of my concentration... an older gent I was on a date with last night just thanked me for a rather lovely evening we spent together....
Maryjane Fahey is the coauthor with Caryn Beth Rosenthal of DUMPED, a breakup bible for women to get off their asses and over their exes in record time. AVAILABLE NOW. Find, tweet, facebook, whatever them... they're very friendly.