While I was in NYC, a session with my old shrink told me that I really need to—as much as I hate, hate this expression—“put myself out there” more. “It’s not wrong to want to be in a relationship,” Dr. W reasoned. “It’s unhealthy, however, if you just sit at home all the time and do nothing about it.”
“But doesn’t it just feel kind of anti-feminist to be that desperate girl on the prowl, or the woman who feels lonely and unfulfilled without a man in her life?”
As usual, Dr. W called on her homeboy, Siggy Freud. I hate it when she does this. “I really think this goes back to your childhood, and your relationship with your parents. You should really come back to therapy and be in psychoanalysis—I know you hate the multiple sessions a week thing—but you need to work on these issues while you’re young. Now is the time. You should find a psychiatrist in Paris.”
I stared dubiously at her, aloof like an apathetic teenager, rolling my eyes with an exaggerated ugh. Sometimes I feel so done with therapy. I’ve only been going occasionally for the past few years because I felt I’d stopped getting anything out of it. And I’m sorry, but how will going to psychotherapy five times a week find me a boyfriend? Doesn’t it seem just slightly counterproductive to spend your time lying down on a couch talking about your loneliness issues when you can be out in the world trying to find someone to make them better?
“Sorry, Dr. W, to be a therapy slacker, but it’s not going to happen, at least not now.”
“Well, OK. Let’s talk about what you can be doing, proactively, to meet new people.” Dr. W rolled out a list of antiquated suggestions that seemed to come from the mouth of my mother, the last of which, of course, was online dating.
“Dude—” I interrupted her. “Let me tell you about online dating in Paris … “
If you’ve been reading 365 Days in Paris from its start, in September, you know I’ve tried online dating here. And my first round wasn’t too bad. After my very first rendezvous, I ended up dating the guy, but only briefly. Mr. Cupid was almost normal and completely boring. I’ve since learned that he was perhaps the sanest person available to me on the French interwebs. If you thought American guys were clueless about their messaging and profiles, you’d think twice after experiencing the weirdness here.
It had been a while—a couple months at least—since I’d logged into my account. Yet, the night I got home to Paris, I took Dr. W’s advice and decided there was no harm in periodically looking. This hour or so spent browsing only reconfirmed my horror. For starters, there just isn’t a very wide selection. There’s one website, Meetic, which is sort of the French version of Match.com, but it feels a bit too old and stodgy for me—divorcées, guys who write outdated things in their profiles like, “I’m looking for the missing piece in my life. I like to take walks on the beach … ” OkCupid is international and has a couple hundred or so guys, most of whom I’ve already checked out and vetoed.
But OkCupid it is, so scanning my dozens of unread emails, I started in at the top. A tiny icon pic shows a sort of Abercrombie-looking dude, shirtless. Shirtless pics are definitely a no-no when it comes to profiles, but this guy is ripped, so I click to see more. Full-on ass shots! Ahh! Shield my eyes! How did that get past the moderators? Moving on. I click around a bit, seeing three not-so-shabby-looking dudes in a row, who, I quickly realize, all happen to be bi. Maybe Parisian chicks are more open-minded about that, and don’t get me wrong, I’m all about sexual equality, but, for me, a bi guy is a dealbreaker. Then there’s the way the Frenchman composes his first message to you. It makes me miss the half-hearted, “Hey, wassups?” of American dudes, because the way some of these letters start off is so serious that I think they have to be joking. Here, some translated from French to English, each literally the real message in its entirety:
- “You are too beautiful. I offer you a big kiss from my heart.”
- “Hi, I’m getting my degree in psychology and I want to meet you.”
- “You remind me of someone I once loved, but lost.”
And, unfortunately, some of the messages in English are just as off-putting. I’m sure my French isn’t perfect when I write to someone, and maybe the grammatical errors are a turn-off for them, but there’s something about the following that just … doesn’t do it for me:
- “I’m a student in Paris and I’m constantly looking for new ways to fulfil my life night out, discorving new places, lot’s of sex, good food and wine… Paris is pretty propice to do so… I want to dialogue with you.”
- “Hi sweety iv read ur profile and interested in charting with u.am an African living in Paris,am i permited?Bonjour.”
- “hi i want to meet you in realsee you.”
- “I like your profile and science is telling me so also, ye ye ye!”
So. That’s where I’m at. If you have suggestions on what I should be doing to “get myself out there,” please, be my guest, and leave them in the comments. Merci beaucoup.
Original by Leonora Epstein