My life is a sitcom. My friend prodded me to try an online dating site. When I finally did, I was surprised to meet a few nice guys. The thing is, she came over last night to compare notes – and it turns out we've been dating the exact same men! One guy in particular I quite like: We've had three dates and it's going swimmingly. We also text each other constantly. Anyway, she messaged this guy before, but he's recently stopped writing back to her. Now she doesn't "like him" and thinks I should stop all contact. Do I reveal to him that I'm friends with that blonde he talked to last week? You'd think in the massive cesspool that is online dating, you wouldn't have such issues. I'm creeped out by the whole thing, but more angered by her reaction: She asked me to delete my profile. Should I?
It's funny you should say "sitcom." I've had an idea ping-ponging around my cranium for a while about a show in which such coincidences abound –people are constantly finding out they're dating the same person, that their mothers went to the same high school and so forth.
I'd call it Small World. And that would be the catchphrase of the show, see? Whenever one of these coincidences took place, one of the characters – ideally wearing a curly-haired wig and funny glasses, like Ricky Gervais in the second season of Extras – would shout out: "Whoa, small world!"
Maybe he could even waggle his glasses up and down to really "sell" the line.
In this case, though, I'm not sure how much of a coincidence it is that you and your friend have wound up dating the same men when you've joined the same site.
I don't know the size of the city or town you live in. (Oh! Note to self: Create hilarious sitcom about online dating in a small town where there are only seven single people who already know each other inside out anyway.) But even in a major metropolitan centre, I'd imagine there's only a limited "cesspool" of men that subscribe to any particular site.
I would also imagine that, since you're friends, you have similar personalities and tastes, so you ticked off many of the same boxes on the questionnaire when you joined.
For example, next to the statement "I often see humour in everyday life," you probably both ticked the "yes" box. (That's from the eHarmony questionnaire – and can you imagine a couple that were matched up because they both ticked "no"?)
Now, I don't want it to seem like I'm mocking online dating. I have at least one friend who has found genuine happiness and love through a dating site, which is nothing to sneeze at.
But it applies the shopping/browsing model to relationships, and I think that can lead people astray.
When you buy a pair of pants, it's obviously fine to keep shopping for pants. And I'd say that, in 2011, it's fine to see someone once or even a couple of times and continue online "shopping" for other men.
But after three dates that went "swimmingly," accompanied by heavy texting, you're no longer shopping or "dating": You're in a relationship now, baby, however embryonic.
Call me old-fashioned, but I think it's time to click "not active" or whatever until you see how things work out with this particular fellow.
Since he's stopped texting your friend, sounds like he may have put his mate-shopping on hold to see how things work out with you. Maybe you got lucky and that rarest of creatures has swum to your corner of the online "cesspool" – an honourable hombre.
Vis-à-vis your friend: Well, speaking of pants, who wears them in your relationship with her? She bosses you to join a dating site, then when she finds out some guy likes you better than her, she bosses you to exit the site?
Nix that. Explain to her, as non-confrontationally as possible, that that's the way the dice fell, and you want to see how it goes with this guy.
I understand you don't want to hurt her. But bowing out of a relationship and exiting a dating site just because she stomps her foot and insists on it is not a good precedent.
You can still be sensitive to her feelings. First, yes, tell this fellow you are friends with that blonde he dated last week. Then – well, don't be secretive. Don't skulk around. But also don't rub her nose in it while you explore your burgeoning relationship.
(Anyway, I thought she didn't "like him." And if he's not returning her texts maybe she should get the hint he's just not that into her, either.)
But the bottom line is: You have the right to the pursuit of happiness, both online and off, and no true friend would want to get in the way of that.
David Eddie is an author and the co-creator of the TV series The Yard, airing this summer on HBO Canada.
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