It took me about a month to realize that I had been on the wrong site. Seeking platonic friends on a dating site? Why not? After all, OKCupid had provided the opportunity to search for friends or activity partners. Confident in my newfound venture, I created a profile. And to head any potential suitors off at the pass, I listed myself as seeing someone and reiterated my search for friends in my summary—then sat back and waited for a gaggle of girlfriends to roll in. Oh, I bet I’d be the Josie, or the Jerrica, or the Misty! No. No, let’s face it. I’d be the Sinclair, the Rose, the Charlotte.
Oh, God. I would completely and utterly be “the Charlotte.” But, hey! I could work with that! I could poke fun at myself! I wouldn’t mind being the butt of a few jokes regarding my naïve outlook, to cringe when being dragged to Magic Mike only to finally loosen up and hoot and holler with the rest of the girls. I was ready.
I was the only one ready. I received no responses from potential girlfriends. Not one. And while I scanned through OKCupid’s list of friend matches, eagerly hoping one of the individuals listed would contact me, my profile was not visited by one woman.
I did, however, receive profile visits from men, and responses from men, and instant messages from men. Some of the men were pleasant; some of the men were creeps; three of them were likely registered sex offenders. However, what they all had in common is that none of them had read my profile. My plea for local friends had garnered responses from men outside the United States. My request for friends five years younger or fifteen years older drew messages from men old enough to have sired me. Expressing my distaste for drugs seemed to attract regular marijuana users. Men who stated that they would not be interested in seeing a “geek” asked to see me romantically. The whole process had become an unmitigated disaster.
I decided to be more proactive. I visited profiles of those I found interesting in the hopes that curiosity would compel said individuals to seek me out. I broadened my search to include residents from a wider radius. Sadly, the result was the same. Discouraged, I disabled my account.
The older one becomes, the more difficult it is to make new friends and keep old ones. Often months pass between interactions; it makes the fleeting moments caught at a convention or wedding or baby shower bittersweet. It will last only an hour, a night, a weekend before bags must be packed and flights must be caught. And then one is back to writing occasional emails and viewing pictures on Instagram.
I have found myself in the bizarre position of building a social life almost entirely from scratch. And I am not alone. However, I don’t believe I will be using Social Jane to place an ad for that “Kei” or “Colleen.” It’s not because I believe that such sites do not work; In fact, I actually believe wholeheartedly in their usefulness. It’s that I’ve learned enough about myself to know that seeking a group of close-knit local friends isn’t the current path for me.
The best thing about placing an ad for someone else is that it requires the examination of oneself. I learned that I prefer suburban life in the shadow of a big city, that the culture and climate of the Pacific Northwest and West Coast are preferable to life in New Jersey, and that coffee shops and burger joints are more enjoyable than discos and bars. Gathering a group only to leave them high and dry once Seattle or Sacramento came calling seemed cruel. And it would leave me in the same spot I am now, a great distance from those I call friends.
The loneliness can be hard to bear, but it is often a burden one keeps to oneself to avoid pointed lectures. “Girl, you should have been moved out here! That’s why you’d never catch me building my life around no man!” Moral support can often be salt in a wound. I’d rather endure endless nights of solitude than a phone call peppered with “I told you so.”
I often think about what my ad would look like. Restless Jersey girl seeks Western geek for celebrity gossip and comic industry dishing! Misty seeks Colleen for Thai food and True Blood marathons! You: 30s, short, likes good Kung Fu and bad wrestling!
Hmm, probably not appealing to anyone except me. But, hey, if it sounds good to you? Drop me a line.