Chris Ersk­ine’s daugh­ters get the eye-roll treat­ment; L.A. Af­fairs tells a Tin­der tale.

Los Angeles Times - - SATURDAY - By Dan Schin­del Schin­del is a Los An­ge­les writer who spe­cial­izes in film and pop cul­ture at dan­schin­del.com. L.A. Af­fairs chron­i­cles dat­ing in and around Los An­ge­les. If you have com­ments or a true story to tell, write us at home@la­times.com

Ev­ery­one has a strat­egy for us­ing dat­ing web­sites and apps. I don’t know if one is bet­ter than an­other, but I tend to use OKCupid and Tin­der for my on­line ro­man­tic ven­tures. For OKCupid, I try my best to craft mem­o­rable, in­ter­est­ing mes­sages to send to women. But with Tin­der, my ap­proach can best be de­scribed as a “dart­board” model: I shoot out as many feel­ers as I can and see what sticks. I al­ways swipe right. I adopted this method early on, af­ter I re­al­ized what a waste of time Tin­der would be if I ac­tu­ally looked at and gave se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion to ev­ery sin­gle pro­file that popped up. So I swipe ev­ery­one to the right, see who swipes me the same way and go with what that turns up. It works pretty well. Not that long ago, a woman who ap­peared to be some­what ex­cep­tional popped into my Tin­der matches. I didn’t know whether she thought I was worth get­ting to know or if she was also an al­ways-right swiper, but she was beau­ti­ful, and her self-sum­mary ex­pressed her love of movies, ju­jitsu and an­i­mals, so I reached out. We had a lively con­ver­sa­tion and soon shifted from Tin­der mes­sag­ing to fre­quent tex­ting and Google chat ses­sions.

There’s an­other rea­son that I al­ways swipe right, say­ing “yes,” be­sides sav­ing time: It lim­its my emo­tional in­vest­ment. From Face­book to com­ments sec­tions ev­ery­where, Web users are en­cour­aged to pour their pas­sion into their brows­ing. I’m not sure if we give parts of our­selves to tech­nol­ogy or if it takes them from us, but the po­ten­tial for emo­tional dev­as­ta­tion mul­ti­plies once love, or the pos­si­bil­ity of it, at least, comes into play. I’m nat­u­rally dis­posed to hope­ful­ness and imag­i­na­tion, which is some­thing that needs to be kept in check in the bur­geon­ing stages of a re­la­tion­ship.

We couldn’t meet in per­son be­cause she was trav­el­ing with her fam­ily dur­ing a break from col­lege. But we mes­saged ev­ery day, for hours at a time. We’d write about our pasts, about films and TV shows and books we liked. We swapped dumb jokes we both en­joyed. We sent pic­tures of our pets, of food we made, of our­selves pulling goofy faces. I liked her a lot. I was head over heels in “like” with her. I told her so, and she said the same to me. I loos­ened the leash on my hope­ful­ness and it ran wild.

To date is to be vul­ner­a­ble. Grow­ing up in­tro­verted, it took me a while to ac­cept that. Some peo­ple might still dis­miss the emo­tional re­al­ity of on­line dat­ing, but you put your­self out there with ev­ery mes­sage that you send, ev­ery heart icon you click, ev­ery “like” but­ton you push. Even if you make noth­ing but a boil­er­plate mes­sage for ev­ery ice­breaker (which is a ter­ri­ble idea, by the way), there’s still that lit­tle prick of hope, that “maybe” or “what if ” in the back of your mind when you send it.

The idea of com­mu­ni­cat­ing long dis­tance for sev­eral months be­fore get­ting to meet in per­son be­came rather ro­man­tic, a 21st cen­tury ver­sion of gen­tle­men and ladies court­ing via swoon­ing let­ters. And then she told me she had a con­fes­sion to make, one that made her hor­ri­bly ap­pre­hen­sive. It turned out that she had a boyfriend.

Their re­la­tion­ship, she ex­plained, was a tem­pes­tu­ous one. While they were in an “off ” pe­riod, a friend en­cour­aged her to sign up for Tin­der and see who else was out there. She did, and she found, well, me. My stom­ach dropped as she blus­tered about how she didn’t ex­pect any of this, and how sorry she was, and that she wasn’t go­ing to break up with him or any­thing, but that she re­ally did like me.

Anger. Dis­ap­point­ment. Em­bar­rass­ment. It all rushed through for a mo­ment, and when it was past, all that was left was my limited “knowl­edge” of a col­lege stu­dent who’d in­ad­ver­tently got­ten into the kind of weird predica­ment that wouldn’t have been pos­si­ble be­fore the In­ter­net.

I be­lieved her when she said she didn’t mean to hurt me. I could see how cir­cum­stance had snow­balled on her. What use would it have been to lash out? She ob­vi­ously felt bad about it. I tried my best to as­suage her guilt.

Still, our com­mu­ni­ca­tion wasted away af­ter that con­fes­sion in a se­ries of spo­radic texts, like the re­main­ing wall of a wrecked build­ing giv­ing way not long af­ter a de­mo­li­tion.

To date is to be vul­ner­a­ble. Even to try to get a date is to be vul­ner­a­ble. And that can lead any of us into the strange haze of re­la­tion­ship am­bi­gu­ity, a state of be­ing that thrives in the cur­rent age. But that’s the place you have to dwell if you re­ally hope to find some­one. Which I do.

In the mean­time, I keep swip­ing right.

Daniel Fishel For The Times

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