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.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

E-dating week 5: Gambling on love?

So I’ve got a little confession to make: I’m not quite sure what Kenny Rogers’ advice on gambling means, or how it applies to life, but I might be about to embark on a little romantic roulette beyond the blind date blackjack I played a few weeks ago. (Is that enough cheesy gambling references yet? Yes? Good.)

Can buy me love?
Yes, I might be about ready to plunk down cash for a dating service. I didn’t have to do it with the first one, since their two free trial periods were sufficient time for most of the guys I met on there to give me their emails or IM handles — and CrazyBlindDate is free of course — but eHarmony wants to charge me through the proverbial wazoo to answer questions from/trade emails with/view pictures of my matches. And by wazoo — in case you haven’t priced such services lately — I mean anywhere from $60 for one month to $251.40 for one year.

Now, granted, they have a vastly better interface than the previous site (though clearly the former had work to do in ensuring their users were actually revenue-generators), but still, the whole thing entails a bigger financial commitment than I’m prepared to make ... at least before my likely first date with e-Prospect #1 this weekend (turns out life in the mujahidin did not exclude some internet use after all). I still have almost no clue what the plan for Sunday is, but we’ll see. I guess you have to play each hand one at a time, eh? In any case, depending on how that all goes, I may be more or less likely to fold ’em, more or less likely to hold ’em, pay up and see how harmonious my matches are.

Either way, this new experiment at “putting myself out there” seems to involve risks with every deal. Obviously that’s inevitable, and some things will turn out better than I feared. Despite the cliché of blind dates being horribly demoralizing and awkward, my first one in a long time resulted in almost no nerves on my part and a very lively conversation that let me talk about things I’d forgotten I had thoughts about or had studied. (Alas, there wasn’t enough there for me to consider him a romantic prospect, but on the whole it vastly exceeded the street rep of such random outings. Props to the e-dating matchmakers at CrazyBlindDate.)

But as I try to get back on the same (or similar) emotional horse that bucked me off the last time and left several nice horseshoe grooves in my heart, it’s hard not to fear that I’m in for more pain this time, whether or not the ride’s half as good as it was the last time, and whether there’s one more thrilling fall involved. Then again, I’ve probably been that sort of romantic gambler/horse-rider who goes all in on the first round, who rides the horse without using stirrups, reins, or other standard safety devices (humor me, and find these two metaphors compatible, will ya?). This, it’s to be admitted, isn’t something I’ve really acknowledged till lately, but hopefully it’s a step toward saddling up again.

Improving on a poor poker face

One thing that may help me learn to ride and fall better is a new Sunday school class on dating that started this last week. Based on a DVD series with the author of How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk, it looks to be a tremendous guide to not so much different ways of dating but the skills, head knowledge and heart-pacing needed to “Pick the Right Partner” the course title mentions. The overview session alone gave me lots of new insights into some of the bruises my heart has sustained, and the book has uniformly high praise on Amazon. Check it out if the title is as new to you as it was me. Even if you’re not “single-and-looking-to-change-that” yourself, odds are you know someone who is.

If nothing else, I can say from experience that the title alone will get you plenty of laughs and stories about others’ ill-fated gambles on jerks/“jerkettes” when you mention what you’re reading.

Which confession of reading/classwork, now that I think of it, is one more social ante-in that went better than my risk-fearful heart might have expected. And if there’s nothing gained without venturing first, perhaps I ought to focus more on improving my game and learning when and how to risk, than just quitting cards altogether.

Kenny, I guess I’m not ready to walk away just yet, but have you got any insider tips on what the winning odds are with eHarmony? I’m still wary of big-money games ...

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