Back to dating and its difficulties

I’ve finished the first draft of a novella with internet dating as its central theme and I’m back to considering the idea of dating profiles etc.   Alain Badiou’s ideas, already discussed in a previous post, were helpful in terms of ‘safety first love’ with the dating profile allowing us to pick and choose people prior to meeting them.  But its not just this ability to check up on someone anonymously that has me flustered.  I think its that we come to meeting the person with a prior knowledge we wouldn’t have access to otherwise and this colours the way we see them.

The Philosopher’s Mail website recently published an article, ‘On the Madness and Charm of Crushes’, and this prompted me to think about how we first meet people and how the kind of prior knowledge in a dating profile might subvert the process.  The unnamed writer says of more conventional meetings, “We allow the arch of someone’s eyebrow to suggest a personality.  We take the way a person puts more weight on their right leg as they stand listening to a colleague as an indication of a witty independence of mind.  Or their way of lowering their head seems proof of a complex shyness and sensitivity.”

This not just great writing, its great writing because its true.  We can know nothing about a person and yet small cues can be suggestive.  Of course we can be wrong…… or right, and are blind to more challenging parts of the personality as the writer goes on to argue, but that’s not my point.  I am wondering what the difference might be between a person who sees another first and is attracted because their walk seems graceful and a person who sees another first through a profile picture and a set of neatly listed traits and interests.

Are we making the same mistake with love that we did with economics and the GFC?  Are we assuming too much of human rationality?  If only we could gather a list of facts about people, throw them in like-minded hats and pull out true love and a life time of happiness.  Sometimes we can, I suppose.  There has been one person in every group I’ve canvassed on the subject eager to tell me they met their partner/husband/wife on an internet dating site, but could this be accident rather than evidence?

Perhaps this novella has made me soft in the head and all too readily a romantic, but I don’t know that we are automatically attracted to those who meet our needs.  I think desire and attraction are less rational and more complex than that.  It may make no sense at all that it is the set of the shoulders, the tilt of a head or a curious flick of a hand which provides first ignition.  All I’m saying is, that it often does.

I don’t know that I’m done with this subject and a short story might be in order, so weigh in and leave a comment on your position – random life meetings versus internet dating.  I would like to know.