After leaving my partner of six years in Scotland, I didn’t date for two years. I was grieving my relationship, even though ending it was for the best. I was also consumed by my first job as a professor, and writing my first contracted novels.
But after a move to Pittsburgh for a new job, I decided I was ready to date again. Everyone told me I had only one option: online dating. Otherwise I’d never meet anyone!
In the pre-swiping era of 2010 there were two credible options: Match.com and Chemistry.com. After perusing both sites, the PhD in me couldn’t resist the second. It had me take a quiz, then assigned me a type so Chemistry.com could find me compatible matches.
Quite frankly, online dating sounded like a relief, given that regular dating necessitated all the things I knew I wasn’t good at, like making myself vulnerable and letting strangers into my cozy little existence. I loved the idea of a science to clean up what was otherwise messy, intimidating, and time-consuming. If matched with perfect options, surely one would resolve into a perfect partner?
One of my first dates was with a man I’ll call Chaz. Chaz wasn’t my usual type. He was kinda weedy, with a ponytail and John Lennon-esque glasses. He had an art degree and was stereotypically underemployed in a job with bad hours. Chemistry.com, however, insisted we were absurdly compatible so I gave him a shot.
On the surface, it went well. We both worked all the time, so we didn’t see each other very often. But when we did, it was nice. He was a good listener and he had some interesting rules — for example, one should always, and only, order two toppings on any given pizza. I’d spent my twenties dallying with men who may or may not have been employed by MI6, or played cricket (the games take ENTIRE DAYS, people), or who wanted me to disappear with them into swamps or up mountains to do God knows what. I’d expended a lot of energy on relationship drama, ridiculous adventures, and making cucumber sandwiches. In contrast, Chaz simply went to work at a museum. He either didn’t have hobbies or…