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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Dating Thu Oct 13 2011

Chicago Dating 2.011: Two Necessities for Online Dating: Courage and Chicken Wings

Previous Entry: Pressing the Power Button
Next Entry: The First Date

I finally outed myself as an online dater to my friends one Thursday night over $3 spicy chicken wings at Toons. The eternal "beer glass half full" of the group patted my hand and said, "I heard that one in five relationships starts on" The "glass half empty, time for round two" of the bunch scoffed and said "You heard that on the commercial."

A basket full of abnormally large chicken wings and a few rounds later we had reached a general consensus that online dating was not that weird and actually probably a generally good idea given the quality of interactions at most bars on any sauce-soaked evening. As I took my last growth-hormone-enriched bite of chicken, I felt genuinely lucky to have such supportive and open minded friends, but I couldn't help wondering if what the rest of city, world and universe was judging me for my digital dating.

The online dating debate is one that has saturated the brains of many single 20-somethings across the United States since the beginning of the 21st century when Al Gore first invented courting via computer.

At the core of the debate isn't whether online dating is an effective way to meet a partner, or even whether finding dates online will in the end make you happier person. At the very heart of the issue seems to be what society thinks about people who date online.

I read an article last week on thought catalog which denounced online dating as a tool to be used only by divorcees and fat people with the author specifically noting that she has nothing against divorcees, fat people or fat divorcees. Although I tend to not categorize myself in any of these three categories, the article panicked me for a moment. I began to worry that "people," (mysterious judgmental people somewhere in the world who were intensely studying my love life) were judging me as an abnormal young woman, unable to date the way god intended us to date, liquored up with axe body spray masking the stench of sweat and desperation. For an anxious 20 minutes, I suddenly thought announcing my new online dating status was about as good of an idea as admitting you hated Lord of the Rings (really 3 HOURS!) at a Sci Fi Convention.

But then I remembered the shockingly numerous "you go girl" emails of support I had received so far, my mother requesting weekly updates and my friends begging for stories to live vicariously through me about the excitement, insanity and general amusingness of first dates. And I realized no one was judging me except for me, and I was being a bit of a judgmental bitch.

The hardest truth about online dating is to admit to yourself and the world that you are single and that you really don't want to be. When one is single and alone there is the brilliant guise of "Yeah I'm single but I really like it this way. I mean I save so much time not shaving my arm pits." But when you reach out into that ether to grasp for love, you are effectively saying, I'm single right now and although it isn't as bad as most rom coms make it out to be, I'd kind of like to not be. It is admitting you and your life aren't perfect. And that is scary.

The truth is online dating takes a bit of courage, or really it takes a bit of ordinary courage which is defined by one brilliant woman as the ability, "to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart." The truth is I don't mind shaving my arm pits all that much and I would like a reason to buy more shaving cream. The truth is I would rather be talking about my boyfriend's weird back hair patterns over wings instead of my next upcoming three dates with typical one-syllable-named guys who like sports and stuff. The truth is I would like to be an "us" more than a "me" right now.

It seems simple but admitting that to myself took a bit of courage I didn't realize I have. But after all I am a Midwestern gal and if I have the stomach to down an order of extra spicy wings and two miller lites, what is a little side of truth and courage. Order up.


There are a lot of dating sites, probably more than is justifiable by the number of fat divorcees in the world. From the ever-popular to the marriage-ready eharmony to the culturally specific Jdate, there is a little niche site for everyone. And now there is one specifically for Chicago RedEye readers.

The RedEye has launched its own dating site called "HowAboutWe." The general premise of the new site is interesting. Users advertise themselves via a date suggestion such as "take a motorcycle ride to a pumpkin patch" or "find an abandoned warehouse and dance life's frustrations away" or my personal favorite "how about we drink". The idea is to get people off the computer and out on dates.

In reality it works exactly the same as Match, asking users to pay a monthly fee in order to actually message users to set up dates. There are profiles and pictures and "intrigues" that are very similar to winks. The site is set up to be appear to be the antithesis to dorky online dating but really it is just online dating with a cool hook. But cute boys are cute boys, so if you are interested in investing $28 a month consider this Chicago-friendly option.

Previous Entry: Pressing the Power Button
Next Entry: The First Date

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mary s. / October 14, 2011 8:23 AM

i've used okcupid off and on the last couple years and went through the same motions of judging myself, getting a lot of encouragement from those around me, and then coming to the realization that its ok to want to be in a relationship! i've had two relationships since doing the online thing. thanks for the article, it's great to know i'm not the only one who feels this way, and great to know of another online dating tool!

BBW Online Dating / October 20, 2011 10:53 PM

Nice article. It's funny you mention that the article your read equated online dating with divorcee's and fat people. That's probably why there are a lot of dating sites for plus-sized women.

Thanks for the read, and humor. :)

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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