I met (let’s call him “Guy” for the sake of this piece), on OkCupid in 2013 and, after chatting for a bit online, decided to meet him at a nearby Starbucks. Guy showed up, ordered a coffee and sat down across from me. It was comfortable, yet very formal.
He started talking about how he had moved out east for a job, owned a condo and was now working with a friend on a startup project that seemed like an exciting, new opportunity.
He really built himself up – much like a company would.
Then came the question that made me realize I was being interviewed.
“So, if writing doesn’t work out, you have journalism to fall back on?”
Huh? I had told him in a message or two that I was working on a few manuscripts. I hadn’t finished any yet, so I was going to focus on journalism until I reached a “Stephen King level of success” with book writing.
With his question, my brows furrowed and I frowned. I was confused. Why did this matter? I was working towards a goal, liked what I did and had gainful employment.
Then a lightbulb went off. He wanted to date someone who had the same level of success as him; someone who could afford a condo overlooking the waterfront. In a way, it felt like the “Where do you see yourself in five years?” interview question.
“Well, writing novels can be hard, so journalism is my fallback,” I responded. “It’s something I’m probably going to keep doing, even if I get something published; they can go hand in hand.”
I thought that was a good answer, but he kept pressing it. It was as if my answers weren’t good enough.
Other questions followed. Ones that had a similar tone, but this one stuck out to me. I soon realized I wasn’t going to measure up to his ideal girlfriend candidate – not that I wanted it at this point.
We did have a second date, but it was just as icy.
Dating websites ask a slew of questions in order to find you better matches. So, I had filled out everything. Even the fact that I’m a short person who still loves Titanic and can’t live without a good cup of tea was there. But it was like I was applying for love. I was a job applicant applying to be the girlfriend in someone else’s life.
Before the Internet, dating had a sense of mystery about it, and online dating can blur that mystery. You know all of a person’s quirks before you even meet them. We swipe through profiles trying to find that “perfect” person, not realizing the person who hates pizza could be the person you’re supposed to be with — even if they dislike pizza.
Last year, I tried online dating again. This time I included a few random details you might notice if you saw me on the street, but left most things blank. Dating may be a lot of work but shouldn’t be a job interview.
You start a relationship with someone because you like something about them. Eventually, you have to put more effort into it, and you learn more about each other as you go: You have date nights, make weekend plans and you meet each other’s parents while thinking everything you’re doing and saying is wrong. Sometimes you decide you want to move in together, get married and have kids.
It’s something that requires a little more work with every step you take. If it’s worth it, you keep doing it even when new details present a fork in the road.