Smartphone apps change the dating game

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From what I have heard lately, dating in this era is a little different than it was when I was younger.

I’ve been married for a long time, so not only is dating not something I am up to speed on, it is not recommended for anyone of my marital status. Before I was married, dating seemed kinda simple. Today, it might almost seem quaint or antiquated.

You either met folks in a bar, through friends or at a social occasion. There might be what is called a “meet cute,” where you do something like bump heads when reaching for the same cantaloupe at the supermarket or accidentally fetch each other’s orders at the coffee shop or get tangled up in a knot of leashes when your schnauzer decides he wants to square dance with her Lhasa Apso.

These are incredibly rare and only happen if you are a folksy actor and the woman is Meg Ryan. I have never dated Meg Ryan, but I don’t have a schnauzer either.

Years ago, what we called computer dating was a gimmick. You entered a bunch of personal information into a database and a bunch of eggheads matched you up with singles who had the same interests or biorhythms or whatever it was they did. Most of the time, they would get the information wrong and you would wind up with someone totally wrong for you.

Video dating was equally bad. You had to record what was basically an infomercial for yourself and hope someone thought you were appealing. These recordings were never high-quality or remotely appealing and looked more like a dirty movie with the dirty parts cut out.

People paid a lot of money for these. The money spent on finding a mate rivaled that of the budgets of small countries. Romance was big business and a lot of people paid a lot of money for a lot of wasted time.

Today, there are websites and phone apps that streamline the process. You can swipe right or left on the apps and on the websites, you input a lot of criteria and you are provided a collection of possible mates to choose from. It’s kinda like when we looked for a used car on one of those used car superstore websites, but a lot more personal.

People are pretty descriptive on these sites, far more so than when the computer and video dating were in their infancy. Type in a few words and you might get a series of pictures that show more than you bargained for. I don’t think this is such a great idea, not because I am a prude, but I wouldn’t want to log on to one of those sites just to see someone’s, um, shortcomings.

I believe there should be some mystery with romance. Why would anyone take the time to read the book if they already knew the ending?

A few of my friends are actively dating. In general, not with each other. I am not in the practice of setting up friends with each other as it never works out. Some of them have been on numerous dates that never seem to work out. I keep hearing about how awful the dates are, but I can’t help but wonder if the dates weren’t the problem, but my friends were. After hearing dozens of bad date stories, I can’t help but say, “Maybe it’s you.”

Not every guy is God’s gift to women and not every woman is Miss America. You can’t fall in love after three dates and there are some people out there who aren’t looking for a soulmate. It’s just how it is.

I don’t think there is room for much humility on those dating sites, though. It’s advertising, plain and simple. You’ll never hear Pepsi say, “Have a Pepsi if you want. It doesn’t taste bad.” The same goes for the dating sites.

I’m fortunate that I no longer have to worry about all that stuff. I feel for my friends who do, and I hope that they eventually find a partner. Before any of you ask, I won’t give out any phone numbers.

Joe Weaver, a native of Baltimore, is a husband, father, pawnbroker and gun collector. From his home in New Bern, he writes on the lighter side of family life.