Lesson 6: Clicking, or not so much.

I've met three good friends while dating online in New York. There was actually some chemistry with all of them, but I'm 38 and at this point I have a pretty solid set of likes and dislikes. So as a result, I do the honorable thing when I'm not interested in things going further, and say so.

This means I pass up a lot of sex. Or the RDA, I guess.

It's not that I've never clicked long-term with anyone. I was married at at 23 (she was 21), but that lasted under three years thanks to poor communications on the part of two otherwise halfway-smart people. Here in town, I lived with someone for three and a half years after going with her for a year and a half. That one hinged on me wanting more--a baby, a marriage, more of her time. I'll get it right at some point. My grandfather met my grandmother when he was 37 and she was 27. That was ancient in the 30s. Yet they were married nearly 60 years until his passing. Hope springs eternal.

Despite being picky, I find plenty of people online who are of interest and attractive. The problem is in--you guessed it--clicking. In this town people often have a chitinous shell to shield them from the oddness and danger that you get in any large population. Cutting through that takes major work for most people, on both sides, and I don't think many people are interested in making the effort. Every failed attempt also makes the next one that much more difficult in a sense.

I'm also hard to peg: a little weird, a little intense, a little goofy. But in a large population, there are lots of people you should, in theory, be able to click with. People who can complement the odd if they're even, be level-headed as a balance to intensity, and the like. Instead, it's a weirdly alienating town, with the crush of millions only putting singularity into a relief made that much starker. It makes me consider caving into the desire to move, and become a bigger fish in a littler pond.

Meanwhile, I keep trying, focusing on things that bring me joy, so that I can get excited about them and share that with others.

As for dating online, I'll say this much for the profiles: It's easy to tell when someone is flip or self-absorbed or uninterested in partnership. It's not as easy to tell when someone's a wet blanket. How do you figure out from a picture and text if someone is simply initially shy, generally reserved, or--on the other hand--a fuckin' lunatic? In short, you have to meet people. Good on ya if that goes flawlessly. I can't tell you how many fantastic e-mails I've traded with women, only to hear radio silence after proposing we meet. That's perhaps the most frustrating part of online dating. The good part is meeting someone and being able to bounce around town and just enjoy what the two of you bump into. Even on a planned night, there's always something new to see/hear/feel/experience.

It's just a matter of getting the right partner to do it with.