Sexless in the City

Sometimes reading romance novels doesn’t quite prepare you for a love life...

For this 30-year-old urbanite, love is always a misadventure: The Harvard Lickwit, Hippie the Groper, the 5% Man, and the Ad Weasel. These and many other men wander in and out of her life — but never her bed.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Internet-dating experiment, Days 3-9

Days 1-2

After a few of the painful chats and email exchanges I’ve sat through in the last few days, I can’t decide which is worse: going through this in between doing work tasks and checking email, or sitting there, at a bar, watching as the guy tries to think of something to say.

I’d like to think that some of them (hopefully most) would do a bit better in person, but what exactly is one supposed to say in response to an email that reads, “I’d like to get to know you if your interested” — this from a guy who hasn’t filled in a single short-answer question on his profile?

Then there was the guy who barely communicates in either his profile or our chat session, yet after just a few minutes of scintillating dialogue about the snowy weather he’d like to escape for California’s warmth wants to know if he can send me a Christmas card.

I promise, I could get far more sarcastic about the other tidbits he tossed out, apparently in a bid to establish his sterling, trustworthy character … but I’m trying, dear reader, I’m trying. (To be nice and receptive, that is — not just shoot guys down for working security, offering cheesy compliments, or asking questions about my “experience” within the first few minutes of chat.) Suffice to say, it’s a less-than-thrilling adventure so far, my foray back into the wooly world of Web dating.

At least with the one guy who seemed most promising so far, he had a sufficiently interesting email address that I could start spinning stories about what his job must be on my walk to BART from work that night. But then, of course, since he has yet to answer my first missive to said account, I haven’t had any chance to confirm or dispel my theories about what he does. I probably sent my email too soon after he had provided his address.

With successes like this, it’s probably little wonder that I found myself signing up on another site this weekend, one I’d learned of during a lively lunch chat about my new romance/research endeavor. The female half of a married couple from church had mentioned that she knows the guy who runs the OKCupid site. Apparently he has recently launched a new, free venture in just a handful of cities, called Crazy Blind Date.

Since I was hoping to check out an Adam Levy show Sunday night and didn’t want to go alone, I decided get a little … well … “crazy.” Based on my registration experience, I give them props for the interface, though not the ease of changing from a double to single date. The optional profile questions you answer later also touched on some interesting issues, but frankly some of them got more deeply into personal hygiene and moral positions than I care for strangers to know when they’re deciding to take a chance on schedule and geographic alignment.

At any rate, I didn’t wind up with a date, either crazy or blind. Whether I was too restrictive in seeking a Christian blind date to trek out to the Tenderloin (SF natives will doubtless start laughing hysterically here) or they don’t have enough people registered yet, it’s hard to say. Next time I think I’ll try them when I have a free night I’m looking to fill, instead of a set event I want to attend.

If you’re in Austin, Boston, New York or SF you can give ’em a spin yourself. Since the site is still in the beta phase, all services are free. And that’s this week e-dating report! I probably won’t blog much next week with the holidays, but after New Year’s I plan to take another site’s trial run. Look for comparative reporting in a week or so.


Sunday, December 16, 2007

A recommended read

I found myself writing a book review for the Barnes & Noble website* tonight (we’ll see if it gets posted) and thought I’d publish it here as well.

Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers
I have to admit, when I first got a used copy of this from my cousin, it did not jump to the top of my reading list. Oh no. In fact, it stayed on my dresser top, beneath a growing pile of books, for at least a year. Finally, however, one night when I had just finished reading a used copy of The Red Tent (a creative retelling of the life of Jacob’s daughter Dinah), and found myself swallowing disappointment at the flat second half of what started out as a very promising book, I gave our girl Francine a second thought. True, I had once devoured every Bodie Thoene book I could find; perhaps Christian romance wasn’t entirely the tepid discredit to writing I’d mostly thought it was.

Since nothing else in my dresser-top stack came close to the soul-feeding book I longed to read at that moment, I decided to take a chance on Redeeming Love. While the first couple pages didn’t exactly ring with the prose of an Updike — though he, too, struggle more with plot — it wasn’t long before I was unexpectedly hooked and turning the pages so fast I started to wonder if this book might make a speedreader of me (I did finish it in something like two days, a return to childhood late-night reading stints).

To my surprise, it wasn’t a book with the “fake” premise of a sinful woman redeemed that instead proves to paint “sin” in the palest, mauve shades imaginable; it delved with shocking candor into the sort of gritty, painful details too few authors seem to recall the Bible doesn’t blush at acknowledging. Rivers unflinchingly follows her characters’ story, not constraining it to the places church librarians might think it could safely go — and that’s where the transforming power of the book really lies.

Scenes like a later, pivotal one in a brothel play surprisingly well, though even that far into the book, I doubted there’d be a convincing, plausible resolution. Same with Rivers’ bold, but measured treatment of scenes in the couple’s marital bed. While she could never be accused of titillation, she doesn’t draw back from important issues raised and resolved in the couple’s greatest intimacies, powerfully mining the difference between physical sham and real unity. Full props to Francine on this one.

I have to say, too, on a personal note, that not only was Redeeming Love exactly the sort of story I was looking for that night — a book that fed my soul and left me feeling I’d live life better for having read it — it was a guide to me as an author. In the months later, as I tackled some major challenges in writing scenes for the book, I thought back to how Francine had handled sensitive scenes in her book. Definitely a worthy read, and a credit to the what’s possible when Christians make art with a view to honoring God.

*The links throughout are to Amazon right now, as I’m still waiting to get approval for B&N’s new affiliate program. Sigh.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Internet-dating experiment, Days 1-2

Well, I’ve done it. At the goading of a recently married cousin I saw this weekend, I’ve signed up for a short-term trial with a new-to-me dating site boasting an “all Christian, all single” pool of, um, eligibles. She claims that if I’d put myself out there in face-to-face settings — to the extent of some makeup and being reasonably civil, if not witty with any unattached men who should happen to chat me up — that there’s no reason for not doing the same online.

While I could argue that face-to-face settings don’t cost as much, I suppose the trade-offs of more time spent on fashion/make-up but less or no cost for admittance (unless you add up the number or drinks bought or snacks brought to parties) are about equal to the online trade-offs: getting “out there” in my PJs if need be (as long as a few good photos are handy), but paying a bit more to stay there.

We’ll see. I do admittedly have relatives on both sides of my family who met their spouses online, and two readers who met each other on this blog later got married! At least it turns out that Christmas is a good time to join, financially (however much it might inflate their ... I mean, our ... ranks with lonely singles). Already I’ve gotten offers to park my profile there more long-term at a nicely discounted holiday rate.

My plan is to wait out the 10-day trial period (although it has already inexplicably dropped to 7 days left despite my signing up yesterday — apparently they count your days from midnight on something like Greenwich Mean Time??) and see if anyone truly interesting contacts me. No browsing the profiles, no contacting men who appeal to me. All I plan to do is see if anyone actually emails, browse their profiles perhaps, and send appropriate responses.

I realize that might sound a bit half-hearted, but if all I’m doing is putting myself out there, why do more? Besides, to neither write an “I dare you to write me profile” nor spend hours scoping the prospects marks a major sign of growth — or at least adjustment — for me. Three years ago (and the last time I tried a dating site beside Craigslist) for instance, I wrote the following:
What I’m looking for in a Soulmatch
Nothing. Because I’m not looking. For a “soulmate,” anyway.

From the standpoint of divine destiny, I understand why people want to believe in one. And I do think God is involved in our lives. But all too often the desire to know how God is involved creates an abdication of responsibility. People would rather be told what to decide than how to decide.

But I suppose I’m dodging the question. Or rather, its intent.

I used to have so many lists of “qualities,” but they were often slanted by the guy I liked most at the moment.

Honesty matters, of course.

But the most important thing — the hardest to find — is sincere, thoughtful passion for God and His glory that manifests itself in humble but courageous leadership. That, right there, is probably asking a hell of a lot. But I really feel that God designed spouses to have complementary roles. The strength of the woman is displayed more in the seeming weakness of submission (though that in itself is about five conversations alone!). But I am only prepared to submit to a leader I respect. I realize that, if I marry, I will disagree with my spouse. But if I can at least respect his thinking and decision-making process, it will be much easier for me to abide by a decision I would not have made.
Needless to say, that didn’t exactly flush out too many prospects. I’m not sure this round will be any more successful, but at least I’ve tried to be less standoffish, and if early outings on Craigslist are any guide, I may be in for some interesting stories. In the interest of research, then, I’ll try to keep some record here of my week-long attempt to be “out there,” wherever “there” is.

So far ...

Day 1. Visit site, create profile, upload photos, wait for their approval.

Day 2. Visit site a few times to check Inbox. Messages so far received: announcements that my photos have been approved, offers to extend membership at the holiday rate and ... wait for it ... a couple emails from guys! One sends what seems to be a generic post he proffers to multiple women (bad move, never mind that he mentions both wanting to live and honeymoon with me, claims four denominational allegiances, and breaks the site’s rules about leaving links to blogs, websites and other ways of finding the person for free). The second, whose profile I actually looked at, only answers questions in brief sentences, most of which sound like he’s trying to convert the possibly unsure-about-their-faith.

And this is why is I do research, folks! Any stories about your own successes/failures/adventures in e-dating?

Days 3-9