Street Smart Chicago

The Veil of Iron

City Life, Love & Sex Add comments

Chemistry.com promises to navigate the tumultuous seas of dating for you. However, is online dating really that much easier than dating in the real world?

I decide to test the waters and sign up for an account. Writing my online bio is supposed to be fun, but instead it throws me down some sort of existential rabbit hole that I am yet to climb out of. Now I’m plagued with all sorts of doubts and nagging questions about moral relativism. Who am I?  Where have I been, and where am I going with my life?

After powering through a grueling, hour-long survey that dissects everything there is to know about me—my interests, dislikes, hopes, blood type—I select a few properly appealing, non-Photoshopped pictures, complete my profile and think, “Phew. The work is over. Now let the fun begin!”

By Sunday, sixty-eight spamlike messages flood my email inbox: “Paul is INTERESTED in you!” “Mike is WAITING for you!” I try sifting through the multitudes, ruling out anyone who’s not in Chicago. Sorry to all the Minnesotans, but how do you expect to date someone who is 400 friggin’ miles away?

I choose my desired “sizzling” (as opposed to “fizzling”) picks, complete another questionnaire about my relationship essentials, answer MORE questions selected by the boy and then, finally, win the ability to strike up an email correspondence. All of this occurs before an actual, face-to-face meeting.

And this is supposed to be easier?

Why do people subject themselves to this?! The entire complex, bureaucratic system is designed to stew up anxiety and reinforce the idea that dating is a befuddling labyrinth of trials and pitfalls. Chemistry.com is tailor-made for people who want to hide behind a hundred iron veils, hesitantly peeling back one curtain only to be confronted by another, and then another, before finally reaching the real person on the other side.

Dating shouldn’t be this hard.

Yes, it is often ridiculous. I cannot count how many times I have heard my generation’s favorite one-liner: “Has anyone ever told you, you look like (insert name of celebrity with similar haircut)?”  Once, an oh-so-suave gentleman did his date the service of waiting until she went to the bathroom before asking me out. I also met a very cute boy who, on our second date, informed me he couldn’t return to California because he was kinda… sorta… wanted for murder (eek!). Maybe that iron veil isn’t such a bad idea. (Laura Hawbaker)

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