Looking over both sides of the fence that separates dating and marriage.
We’ve all heard the phrase, “the grass is always greener … on the other side of the fence.” According to urbandictionary.com, this refers to the way we tend to look at other people’s lives and other things that we don’t have in general – through rose-colored glasses.
When I think of greener grass, what comes to mind is what I call ‘the marriage fence.’ – that which divides folks like me that are single and dating, from those who are married.
For a frame of reference: I’m 37 years old, single, happily divorced, and have no children. I’ve been dating for six years (since being divorced,) with a few short-term relationships and one that lasted a year. Several of my closest friends are my age; married with two or three kids and most of them haven’t dated in 15 years. I’m on the other side of their fence and they are looking over at mine.
So it’s only natural that most of my married friends ask me what the dating world is like today.
When I talk to the husbands, they mostly want to hear about what I call “weirdness.” This is anything that’s extraordinary or funny, especially and including, all details about sex. They are interested in exploits more than feelings. They are interested in seeing pictures more than understanding most of the content.
When I talk to the wives or non-single women in general, they want to help give advice. Usually, they provide compliments, telling me what my strengths are, ask great questions with important details and then suggest this imaginary type of woman who will be right for me. Or say silly things like “when the right one comes along, you’ll just know,” and then try to set me up with their ‘cute, often-single-only-seems-to-date-jerks’ girlfriend.
No Thank You!
At least, I feel lucky that I can weigh both sides because I understand the subtle differences between talking and listening to women versus talking and listening to men. I am, however, biased since I am a guy, but I welcome anyone reading to weigh in, because to say, “I’ve got it figured out” is a huge understatement.
The biggest difference between when my friends dated 15 years ago and today has got to be the online dating phenomena. Honestly, I’ve probably tried every popular dating website and currently use three (Tinder, Eharmony, and Coffee Meets Bagel.) So now part of my day, nearly every day, is spent looking at or reading some woman’s dating profile.
Looking at these profiles, I can ascertain quite a bit of information from pictures, so I can actually sort through a lot of inventory quickly (my sister makes fun of me whenever I use the word inventory when referring to women.)
Most of the writing on these profiles is so generic anyway.
For example, nearly every woman out there says that one of her biggest passions is travel. Who doesn’t like travel? Not that profile writing ever really trumps the pictures, but it’s hard to give merit when every profile says I like travel, here’s my cat, and these are my hobbies. By the way, working out or being a foodie, isn’t a hobby. And travel really isn’t a passion. I would think woman that are serious about dating would actually take the time to do a proper profile. They are playing along and catering to this potential myth that it’s all about the pictures.
Many people think the most important part of online dating must be the pictures. It’s “weird” though because pictures are two dimensional and only tell a very small piece of the whole story. Some pictures do very little justice and others actually cause harm. The last two women I went out with, looked considerably better in person than they did in their photos.
Small hint, pictures are flat, people are three-dimensional and nearly everyone looks bigger in a photo than they do in real life. Even with our advances in hand-held technology, my eyes have been telling me that the camera really does add ten pounds. One woman I dated, told me her pictures on the site were three years old! No wonder why she looked different!
Another issue is the camera quality drops for selfies, (not that anyone wants to see selfie photos from the mirror), but it’s true, the lens is often different. We can also get tricked by professional pictures because the lighting, environment, perhaps makeup or even Photoshop may all play a role. Be careful with swiping left or right immediately on a dating site; I have been deceived by these very things.
So it does bother me that what I find attractive physically causes much of the content to not matter, or, at least, most people I think believe this. When I let my friends play around with my profile, especially using Tinder, I noticed the wives are worse than the husbands, even more critical at times. Of course husbands do disregard women right away based on the first photo they see, but the wives can be just as bad. Neither side seems to figure out the other, or care more about anything else than the attractiveness of the pictures. Suffice to say, online dating is a very limited service, but it at least provides immediate access to available “inventory.”
The other thing I’ve found that’s different from dating 15 years ago is that it’s more plausible and acceptable to date several women at once. This isn’t just from the male perspective, as I always used to just date one woman at a time. But I have found it to be also true for the women I talk to or have even taken on a date; they are often dating several other guys at the same time. It’s almost like playing the Bachelor or the Bachelorette in real life.
So when I am dating or trying to date, I am really juggling and searching and dating all at the same time. This makes me feel empty at times and it makes the whole thing seem like just a process. It’s also expensive (I would like to find the person that invented the rule that a good guy or a gentleman is a guy who always pays for everything on a date.) I probably spend $1,000 a month minimum on dating. Does that sound greener? It literally means less green. If the average husband spent $1000 a month to date and give gifts to his wife, maybe the divorce rate would be much lower! It’s not really about the money, but it’s worth making the point.
I live in Orlando and meet a lot of people through my work life, but the available dating pool still feels quite limited. There are only so many women I can meet – I work 50 hours per week, go to the gym, and accomplish countless other things in my limited spare time. For me, online dating has so become a necessary evil, just to keep up on who’s out there.
I really do miss good old-fashioned eye contact, but even that has changed; the influence of social media, navigating complicated text communication, and so much more. For now, I want to make the point that the grass isn’t green on my side of the fence.
From the money we as guys have to shell out, to reading multiple online profiles, holding multiple text conversations and juggling multiple dates, this stresses me out. I always thought dating one woman at a time was just fine, how did this landscape get so muddy?
Better yet, which side of the fence do I really want to be on?
Photo: Getty Images