The Technology of Dating

By | February 2, 2008

Ah, screens and SMS infuse dating with even more ambiguity. Photo Credit: Mike Licht, via photo pin cc

So I’ve come to the realization that even though I’ve been out of the dating game for 10+ years, the comical highs and lows of dating have remained the same.

There’s just more technology involved.

Nowadays, two adults who may be “interested” have countless forms of communication available to get to know each other – e-mail, instant messaging, cell phones, text messaging, MySpace, Facebook,, Second Life, etc.

We didn’t have all these things the last time I dated. I’m a 30-something divorced single mother. When I met my now ex-husband in 1994, AOL email had just emerged on the scene, hardly anyone had a cell phone and text messaging was a sociologist’s dream.

Technology certainly hasn’t cured the ambiguity of dating. It has simply led to more kinds of exchanges to misinterpret. Awkward first dates and telephone calls are augmented with heavily-edited emails and carefully-timed text messages.

All this communication is rife with nuances to overanalyze, usually in the company of gal pals and several glasses of wine.

“What do you think he really meant when his text said ‘C U l8r?’ ”

It all seems so ridiculous.

As an accomplished, independent woman in her 30s, am I supposed to be using new technology to meet and be courted by eligible suitors? What are my other options? Blind dates? Hanging out in restaurant bars at happy hour to seduce buff construction workers or suited business execs with furtive glances?

Like Bridget Jones says, “I am very busy and important.” Who has time for this? What’s my motivation here?

To answer that question, I came up with a list of five highly un-technological female motivators for dating.

One. The desire to get married. Fueled by fairy tales and Disney marketing, a happily-ever-after romance is every girl’s dream. (Uh, done that. Seven difficult years of marriage followed by an unpleasant divorce. Disney sucks.)

Two. Biological clock. Most women inherently want to nurture something. The lure of pregnancy, cute babies and motherhood is strong. Tick tock. (I’ve already got a wonderful daughter. Best thing I got from my marriage/divorce.)

Three. Security. Money. Comfort. A house with nice furniture and a nice car in the driveway. Marry a man with money, have a baby and maybe you don’t even have to work!
(Whatever. My mother always warned me to never be wholly dependent on anyone, even your man. I’ve got a good job, my own money, my own house, furniture, car and a Blackberry.)

So that leads me to motivators four and five: Companionship and sex.

The prospect of meaningful companionship is a worthwhile incentive to date again in this brave new interactive world. Fortunately, I’m already blessed with a great daughter, wonderful friends and a loving family. But there’s no harm in a woman actively increasing her social network if the new company is good.

As for sex, well, the female libido can be quite the motivator. Especially when, as a 30-something woman, you hit that supposed “sexual peak” and all you have to help you out is technology – that “personal massager” from Brookstone your best friend bought you for your birthday comes to mind.

So I’ve decided to jump back on the dating train. Older, wiser, my unfulfilled expectations in check, I’m ready to embrace all that social technology has to offer. Armed with my laptop, my five email addresses and my cell phone, I’m convinced I’ll be better prepared this time when the pile of dating debris starts forming.

Recently, I asked out my dentist with a finely-crafted email.

He said yes by instant message.

We’re texting now.


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The Technology of Dating by Marie K. Shanahan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Based on a work at

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