Monday, 2 August 2010

Online Dating - The All You Can Eat Buffet of Romance?

All you can
What is it that is so right and yet oh so wrong with 'All You Can Eat' buffet's? Why do I walk in one door, slightly breathless at the array of food available for my limitless consumption only to walk out another, breathless once again but this time from that nauseating feeling of having tried one too many dishes and not enjoyed a single one of them?

I don't happen to have a functional MRI scanner at my disposal but if I did, I would be happy to bet that the same neural networks that fail us when confronted by a limitless buffet are just as guilty of making most of our online dating experiences equally unsatisfying.

Like your first fateful approach to the buffet spread, logging on to a new dating website immediately rewards you with a bounty of smiley happy faces. These days everyone seems to have worked out at least one pose or camera angle where their chins are minimized, their breasts maximized or whatever it is they feel is their best foot forward, call it your "shit this might end up on Facebook" look. So with fewer visual cues than you would like, you start slowly ploughing your way through a couple of thousand profiles trying hard to avoid too many of the dishes you are not too keen on (the human equivalent of broccoli, tofu salad etc.) and looking for one or two of the things you might actually fancy.

Just as you quickly give up trying to guess what each thing might actually taste like and start randomly adding things to your plate, so too you rapidly tire of trying to read too much into each couplet of generic homespun propaganda (who exactly doesn't like red wine, or walks in the park or travel?) and before you know it you are on your way to a number of coffee / beer / or God help us 'virtual' dates.

You take your food back, you sit down / You meet, you sit down.

You begin to chew / You begin to chat

... and slowly your eyes start to glaze.

You are no longer even really tasting the food you have chosen / talking to your date

Mentally you are now back at the buffet cart / dating site, reconsidering your options - evaluating if prawns really were a good idea and what might the chicken that looked a little past its prime might actually have tasted like...

Rather than sit there and enjoy the good company of another human being, you are mentally ranking and filing the individual in a hypothetical list of maybe's, could haves and should haves.

And what is worse???

.... If you look very closely you can see that your date is doing the very same thing.

Shallow? Undoubtedly. Spoiled for choice? Most probably. A real problem with dating random strangers met on websites? I think so.

But then, it's probably me.


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