Okay it’s so much worse than I thought – this on-line dating business.

Here’s what it isn’t. It’s not a bunch of regular people looking for other single folks to hang out with in real life.

It’s not that   –  even though theoretically, everyone’s looking for new fun people or maybe a special someONE to hang out with. Everyone – theoretically and literally – should be in the same boat on-line.

Hahaha that’s funny.

Bless our single souls, it shouldn’t be this hard, right?

Oh, but there are…. issues.

First there’s the issue of being married.

Recently, every decent man that I have talked to has been married. Some are only married technically. Sometimes this takes the form of separate housing, but quite often everyone is still living under one roof.  They may swear they are separated, but all I know is: a wife’s a wife.

I commend all the conscious uncoupling going around but most of it isn’t quite as blissful and full of loving intention as Gwyneth’s arrangement.  Mostly you get the sense that these fellows have lives that are fractured and haunted by the ghost of their marriage not quite past. And money and practical issues involving raising kids and having a roof mean that living together is the best arrangement. Or at least not actually getting divorced.

“I’m still on her health insurance,” wink wink.

Sometimes there are platonic parts of the marriage that worked okay and they are trying to salvage that while exploring their other “needs” elsewhere and online. The wife is “fine with it”.

Well I’m not fine with it!  I want the platonic marriage stuff for myself. I like those parts –  a lot. I miss domesticity and shared errands. I don’t want to meet someone’s “needs” particularly. Not as much as I’d like to make eggs and read the paper and then head out to Home Depot, ya know?

You might find this real footage of an actual exchange mildly hilarious. Somehow I was texting (for days) a guy with a full-on wife and I didn’t even realize it – and worse, he didn’t know that I didn’t know!

Regardless, still married should be a red flag, right? RIGHT??? This guy went on and on explaining the ethical decency of his relationship with his wife, and what he has to offer someone else. I don’t care. If it’s not the trip to Home Depot then I’m not interested.

But exclude this group, and you’ve written off just about everyone there is that’s worth talking to.

I do mostly exclude this group  – but some of them manage to get in, anyway. Like this guy I’m e-tethered to at the moment. The one who’s busy.

The newly separated guys have only a limited amount to give. They tell you that as though it absolves them of having to treat you like an actual person. Newly separated people spend a lot of time staring at their own navel. They are just spreading their wings a little and staring at their navel. But the newly separated guys at least will make plans, occasionally. Maybe. Possibly last minute, but hey, girl.

The biggest and most annoying group of humans on the planet, the people that have infested and ruined on-line dating for everyone,  are the swarms of people who swipe and chat and scroll just for the helluvit, just as a past-time, just to see who’s out there and who might match with them also – boom, boom – but who are so busy casting a huge wide net and dashing off notes to just about everyone – that nothing means anything. Especially since they really don’t want to meet anyone in real life.

The reason that it’s such a terrible blight on the world of on-line dating is that it’s insidious and contagious. Everyone ends up bored-swiping and limp-wristed – even when someone good pops up….yawn yawn.

You start out trying to connect with people you actually might want to meet in real life. Hey, hi, hello. And you end up just like them. The lurkers. The makers of empty promises. The kiss kiss you sound great disappearing acts.

I’m going to take a break and tell you how it is that I’ve come to realize how bad this whole thing has become with folks just lurking around, bread crumbing and e-maintaining their digital black books.

I’m watching a friend on-line date.

It reminds me of how I used to be, back when I had a heart. Before my heart became two sizes too small. Before on-line dating wrecked my spirit.

My friend gets behind all the texting exchanges she has online and gets excited about people. She remembers names. She takes these named casanovas at their word. At least she did for the first month and dozen or so exchanges.

She’s had conversations go from – “you like lo mein, too?” to “What are you wearing?” in the blink of an eye. She’s made vague plans to text, talk on the phone and get together in real life with several guys – plans that never materialize and that are SO vague even though they don’t start out sounding vague – that cancelling isn’t even a thing. Just radio silence.

(How this works is that the guy says something about Tuesday so you think you have a loose plan for Tuesday but then by Monday you’ve heard nothing and when you look back you see that what he said was that Tuesday might work but that he’d have to check with his schedule and he’d be in touch – and he is in touch ……..on Wednesday to say, ‘sup?)

Are you angry yet?

She has experienced the fine art of lots of texting that says nothing, while implying some real life reward that might be had if one just hangs in and on long enough. (Hint: there’s no pot of gold and this isn’t even a rainbow.)

Basically she has learned that even though it looks like there are/must be lots of decent men out there, all the swiping and texting and build up generally leads to absolutely nothing. Even if the night before you were joking around with some hunky, sincere and employed-looking guy from the next town over with kind eyes and rolled up sleeves, who told you he likes your dog and your effervescent smile. Chances are you will never hear from him again. Especially if he said something about not being able to wait to meet you.

You DO hear from some people. And those people start to look conspicuous and suspiciously clingy. You catch the on-line dating malaise disease and start having trouble when someone is too friendly – stalker!

Anyway, watching my friend go through all this, watching her blow through so many guys only to come up bewildered and dateless. It’s made me realize how really bad it is on-line.

But there’s some good news here.

And it’s that I don’t give a f*ck anymore.

I’m over it and now I’ll say anything and I don’t care because everyone’s a freak anyway.

I recently confronted a guy who was doing the usual taking up space on my phone dance. He called me gangsta, but we have plans for Sunday – so what the hell, fine.

The exchange started with a “How are you?” from him. I was okay, but he was going to be better if I called him…yeah no no no he can call me…..not taking the bait….

And that is the somewhat edited down version of me refusing to be “How are you’d” to death. I chose Sunday, and we have a date.

But after Sunday, it’s hibernation time.

I’m shutting down dating for the remainder of 2019. There’s too much going on and I just want to eat chili and crackers in bed. Sure, by myself.

Perhaps 2020 will be a better year for on-line dating. Maybe we’ll find a cure for the disease that’s infected it.

It’s not my fault. My friend has taught me that. Apparently, it’s like this for just about everyone. It’s epidemic and taking us all out one by one!

Chili time!