Someone on OkCupid recently sent me a message: “You really need to work on your profile," it read. "Just friendly advice.” I had some advice for them as well -- but it was too much effort to offer it. I have enough work. So why would I look for extra work on a dating site where the objective is, in and of itself, already requiring so much effort?
The work-to-payoff ratio in dating is by far the lowest of any interpersonal relationship. On the high end for adults is the parent-child relationship... in which I'm still the child. I visit on holidays, call a couple of times a week, drop by “just because,” and answer questions like, “What’s this with Becky’s hair, and why is Beyonce mad at her?” In return I get dinner, sweaters, and rides to the airport. And if, like me, you’ve attained a level of zen where guilt trips cannot affect you, parents are all reward and no work.
But dating's a chore. And like a second full-time job, the practice takes a certain fortitude to get mentally, physically, and emotionally prepared over and over. If you asked a dozen people why dating is miserable, you'd get a dozen different responses. For me, the reasons I don't date sound an awful lot like the reasons I give for not wanting to get out of bed in the morning.
It's nice and comfy in here
The first step out of bed is the same as the first step back into dating. It’s cold. It’s harsh. I feel exposed. Why would someone leave a place of comfort for this? In bed, I have something that’s actually called a comforter. It’s soft. It keeps me warm. It doesn’t ask questions. It doesn’t move off to the next bed because I'm not ready to have kids.
There is no comfort on a date. Seventy-five percent of the time you’re grabbing the oars to keep the canoe from tipping from boredom on one side to awkward on the other. On dates, people don’t tell you to relax. They say, “try and relax.” Why would I engage in an activity where I have to concentrate on being relaxed? Now excuse me while I shove goose down between my thighs.
I don't want to get dressed
Does the “dress for the job you want” adage have a parallel in the dating world? Should I dress for the woman I want? Should I cover my bases and dress like John Mayer?
The anxiety to pick the right outfit for a date delivers one of two messages. A) It’s going to take 20 to 30 minutes before you take a shine to my personality, so here’s something to look at. Or B) the date was awful but images of me in my hot outfit keep flashing through your head like you’re the kid in The Shining, so you’re going to text me anyway.
No to both. Sweatshirts, boxers, T-shirts, and jeans won’t make the hearts of any women I know race. But comfortable clothes save me a great deal of stress. Dressing up requires planning, ironing, selective dieting, mirrors with angles, and second opinions. You start to refer to your clothes with the word “my” in the front. And for what? How many dates will I go on dressed as John Mayer before she decides we aren’t right for each other? Countless days of parading around in... T-shirts and jeans.
OK, John Mayer was a bad example.
The only real upside is the coffee
Getting out of bed for coffee is really a lateral move. I go from the comfort (and comforter) of my bed to my couch or breakfast table. If I’m feeling a little naughty, the coffee may even come back to my bed with me.
The phenomenon of the modern coffee date has similar moorings. It’s the “moving to the couch” of the dating world. It’s intended to be a 30-minute affair, meaning I have an easy out if things go sideways. I’ll get my personalized drink in a place where the staff know me. In the end, I had a great cup of coffee, and you just happened to be there. It’s engineered for even a bad coffee date to be not that terrible and for the good one to be not that memorable.
You’re not feeling a spark? That’s cool. In fact, your drink might have been free depending on how many points I had.