The dating feedback loop

There are no available men here. According to every single girlfriend I have, it’s the same story. No one wants to commit, there are too many choices, and they get overlooked for prettier girls. Just to clarify, I am writing this from a girl’s point of view. I would love to tackle the male’s side, but frankly, that is not what this article is about.

So, single ladies, put your hands up. While I am not single now, I spent about four years without any good options. I was on dating apps and would comply. I went on meaningless dates with techies and felt empty after. I didn’t mind having normal conversation of what I did, where I lived, and where I was from. But things went downhill when I put them on the spot about their intentions. Each date, I asked the same question, “Why are you on dating apps, what are you looking for?” Each time, I got almost the same answer, “Oh you know, to meet people, hook up or maybe something more.”

At that point I was already halfway out the door. “My roommate’s dog got loose and I need to help her,” or, “I totally forgot I had to finish this project, let’s chat soon?” Mind you, I didn’t have a roommate or a dog or a project to finish. I was entirely grossed out by this process. After getting my heart incredibly broken by some dude who claimed he was single (but who was actually still legally married), I decided to go through my phone and delete every single dating app.

It felt great. I was no longer out there being judged by my appearance or attempt to differentiate myself from all the other blonde girls who were in marketing. I was riding high until I started meeting guys out and about. Each time, it ended up falling short. Whether they gave me bad vibes or tried to swindle me into sex, I was grossed out and making a beeline for the nearest exit.

Coupled with some incredibly grotesque dating stories of my friends, I realized that we were stuck in an never-ending feedback loop. While everyone is getting engaged online, we city kids are outliers stuck in Neverland. Women don’t want to feel left out from progressing in life with a partner, and men don’t want to feel trapped. The closer we get to sealing the deal, the more these men are taking a step back.

This feedback loop will continue until women back off and men step forward. But really, I am not super hopeful that this will happen anytime soon, especially here in San Francisco. Even for me: I may be in a relationship, but that doesn’t mean I’m anywhere closer to the eventual goal of finding a long-term partner. I’m still “dating.” Most of his friends aren’t paired off, and no one is really married. As we find we are the outliers of our friend circles, I realize I am not much different from my single girlfriends.

Life is a game of chutes and ladders. You could make it to marriage or children or whatever you want, but if the person isn’t the right partner, or things go south, you will have invested that time in something that doesn’t pan out. That opportunity cost is probably why many are apprehensive to partner up.

I don’t think this applies to everyone, but men’s dating lives probably suck too. Girls flake (like everyone in this town), and many people fit a profile. I mean, I do for sure. In that musical I wrote about last week, there was a segment about online dating. They had each girl come up with their Tinder frame, reading off their profiles like dolls. Each one said almost the same thing, “I like dogs, whiskey and going to brunch.” Well hold on a minute, so do I.

Let’s also talk about the people in this town that are too busy to date: founders, early stage startup people or workaholics. I have friends who are thinking of putting their careers on hold to make time for dating. WHY? Because they “don’t want to wake up single at 35.” Sorry to all of those people who are 35 and single, but I tend to agree. It is tough to approach 40 with no prospects. Especially for the women who want children.

As far as being completely independent of men, I am not knocking the movement. I just don’t think women want to remain single forever and not have children. I know women who are willing to adopt and become a single mom at 40 if they are still single. That I believe is a true feminist statement. Getting what you want without relying on other people.

So back to the feedback loop. While true that the more you chase something the farther it runs, I can’t completely knock men here. Us women aren’t perfect and may not be a match for them. But at the end of the day, who is? My sincerest hope for all women in San Francisco, including myself , is that we have a backup plan, because we can’t wait around forever.

With a background in journalism, Melissa Eisenberg has been working in the tech industry for eight years, currently leading the SF FashTech community.

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