Is Dating Broken?

poor bear

I decided last night that we’d no longer organize speeddating events. Ever since Meetup updated their policy and disavowed speeddating events, filling them has been a struggle, never more so than over the last few months.  As I said last week to another woman who organizes speeddating events who has also complained of a slow-down, the only people utilizing speeddating now are the ones who have tried everything else to no avail.  They’ve used Tinder and Match and OKCupid and Bumble and blown through all their options there, and so now they’re circling back and going old school – meeting people in person.

I can’t do it anymore. I can’t read yet another post-mortem report from a host saying six, seven, eight of the eighteen to twenty people that registered didn’t show up. I can’t comp in the same male and female faces knowing they’ve gone to dozens of these events and always returned a few weeks later.

Where I do see solid results and return on investment are the activity events we host: fencing classes, truffle making classes, archery, nights out at the theater. I’ve begun to host events again and I’ve detected a noticeable shift in temperament and disposition.  There’s something more open and engaged about people who show up to create or learn something or who attend a mixer dedicated to a niche audience like Advanced Degree or Fitness Lovers.

I think people are going back to basics after months if not years of banging their collective heads against a wall by using dating sites and apps. Let’s face it, we have become commodities. We are a face, an age, and  a location. Singles using these platforms have been dehumanized, which in turn causes them to dehumanize others. Enter The Great Flake Factor of 2016. We simply do not care anymore if we offend or abandon or exploit people. They are nothing but one-dimensional representations. They are not human. As a result, we treat them as though they are emotionless entities and not people. We flake, we say ugly things, we test them, we jerk them  around, all because they are not real to us. That’s what dating has become.  We aren’t connecting anymore, not in a way that’s substantive.  Connecting is easy. Maintain and cultivating those connections has become an insurmountable task. Why? Because there are so many people to meet and ways to meet them, we devalue the connections we do make.

On Women on Top, I (frequently) discuss interactions I have with men at the gym.  As someone who gets literally no attention online from men I find attractive, I’m pleasantly surprised by how easy and often it has become to strike up a conversation with a man offline. While I’ve certainly opened myself up more and become more approachable, I find myself wondering if these men – like me – are fatigued by the rigamaroll that is online dating. It wasn’t always like this.  More and more, I encounter people – men and women – offline that are eager to forge a human connection. (As I’m typing this, I received an email from a woman from Italy that I met at our Internationals event the other night saying she hoped we could stay in touch.)

Something about the dating landscape as we know it is broken. It’s my belief that the people still relying on these sites and methods like speeddating despite not having any success return to the well for one reason: they don’t really want  a relationship.  The connection they seek is shallow and short-lived because that’s the best they can give. they’re jaded and cynical and have decided to exert only so much. God knows I’ve been there and am still there in regards to meeting people online.  My attitude towards people I meet IRL differs, though. My belief is that, by meeting them in person, I am seeing them as three-dimensional off the bat. They are real. I can touch them. If I do something to hurt them I will have to face them in person eventually. There’s an accountability there that’s non-existent online.

I’ll turn it all over to you now. Do you think dating is broken?

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32 Responses to “Is Dating Broken?”

  1. KK Says:

    I met a guy off okcupid about a month ago and it is going well but who knows? I think it is a combination of pure luck and being in the right headspace. And if thst happens thrn you can meet someone anywhere – online or at the bank. I was super surprised when our first date went well because i had had months of horrific forst dates and i used okc 3 years ago to meet my last bf. It was bad then but now? Omg

    It realy is easy to commodify people online and it has translated to real life but not as extreme yet. I think that if you are looking for a relationship online is really great at this point only for people who geographically cannot people irl and like me and this guy who are not into people that much. So…socially awkward.

    But it really is luck and two people wanting the same thing. Mostly luck

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  2. Yvonne Says:

    I definitely think a core issue is quantity over quality. There are just so many faces out there; it’s the “paradox of choice”. With so many options, people are overwhelmed and some never want to make a choice. There’s always, seemingly, a better option just on the next search page.

    I also think that the anonymity and ease of dating online plays a part. Not only are many not serious about meeting someone, I was surprised to realize how many men on dating sites are not actually completely single, or are even married. Anyone can throw up a profile, and I have definitely encountered people on temporary breaks from their significant others. And those are just the guys (and in one case, a female friend) I happened to find out about.

    Plus, I’m a fan of getting to know someone more slowly. I’ve found that a lot of people looking to rush into something aren’t looking for anything serious, or they are desperate for a reason. A man who’s interested in you and interested in forming a relationship isn’t going to dash off because you didn’t sleep with him right away.

    I can see why activity classes would be popular. Even if you don’t click with anyone, at least you’ve had a good time at the event and learned something new. Classes and activities are a good way to make new friends and expand your social circle.

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  3. Beta Male Says:

    I find that online dating profiles just reduce people to pieces of data. More often than not people check off a list of characteristics off of a checklist. Do you travel, you get a gold star if you do. What do you do for a living, oh that profession is too blue collar, is not creative enough, or fill in the blank on your ideal professional preference. What type of relationship you want, oh it’s too serious or not serious enough. I could go on but this checklist mentality is not conducive to actually meeting and getting to know someone. Whereas when you meet someone in person you don’t know any of that stuff unless you try to engage the other person. In the process of engaging with the other person you may realize that you like the other person without caring whether or not that person meets the requirements of your checklist. With online dating we’re too focus on our preconceived ideas of what we want in a mate but in real life we’re more focused on actually taking the time of knowing someone.

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    • UWSGal Says:

      “With online dating we’re too focus on our preconceived ideas of what we want in a mate but in real life we’re more focused on actually taking the time of knowing someone”

      This is a lie some people tell themselves. May be it holds for young and inexperienced people, who’re still figuring out who they are and what they want. In my 30-ies, rest assured I know really well what I do and do not like. Hoping that I would like what I say I don’t “if only i could see it and give it a chance” won’t work because guess what – my opinions are based on experience, I’ve already tried it and concluded it didn’t work. No really means no. OLD just makes it much more efficient.

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  4. AP Says:

    After a very very long time, I registered for your speed dating event last night. I think the ratio was 14 women to 4 men, and at least one of the guys told me he was comped. The women just looked incredibly discouraged and at least 3 of us walked out. Ironically, it was your recent posts on the flake factor online that made me go out of my way to register for an in-person event. Funny that it was this event that became the straw that breaks the camel’s back for you on not doing any more speed dating events…

    I agree with the first poster it’s become mostly all about luck. Clearly I am not exhibiting any at the moment. Instead yesterday, I went next door to a great Mexican place instead, enjoyed a margarita with some awesome tacos at the bar, and talked to a few random people there. It was engaging, and good food never fails to hit the spot.

    The issue with the Meetup events that you describe is that I already have a LOT of friends to do these activities with. I’d rather do them with folks I know and like, and it ensures I stay connected with my friend circle since they are my fall back folk that I lean on for everything. So I haven’t been compelled to attend any of these to date.

    As for the gym, I’m very much about working out and getting out of there. I barely have the time to make it a few times a week. Not to mention, it’s not at all social in the mornings, where everyone is just trying to jump into the shower, not knock each other out with the blow dryer & make it to work for their 9am meeting.

    So yes, I do think dating is broken. I’m out and about all the time for industry events, conferences, have a large group of friends, go to fitness classes etc. etc, but swiping seems like the only option to really meet new people interested in dating in NYC. As cliched as it sounds, it seems like most people are married or coupled up.

    The best bet at this point, as Moxie always says, is to live as full a life as possible. If a relationship comes your way, so be it. If not, hey, you still have the amazing life that you created yourself to fall back on.

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    • ATWYSingle Says:

      Yeah, when I saw your registration yesterday I panicked because I wanted it to go well, but things have been so wonky lately I wasn’t sure. We had 9 guys registered and 12 women. The other thing that really, really turns me off to these events is that we send email and text reminders asking people to please notify us if they can not attend, Do they? No, of course not. So we go into it thinking we have 9 guys and 12 women and 7 of those men show up, and of course a couple of them are late, so the women leave. It’s just this huge cluster fuck, all because people don’t care if they flake or screw up an event. I’m happy to refund you.

      The issue with the Meetup events that you describe is that I already have a LOT of friends to do these activities with

      I understand this, but at the same time I think it’s a symptom of the deeper issue. That being people just will not leave their comfort zones anymore in order to find a relationship. People are sticking to what and who they know. That’s the problem.

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      • AP Says:

        Yes, you make a good point:
        “but at the same time I think it’s a symptom of the deeper issue. That being people just will not leave their comfort zones anymore in order to find a relationship. People are sticking to what and who they know. That’s the problem.”

        It’s just after one repeated disappointment after another, it’s easier to stick to what you know…and be assured you will have a decent time around people who care about your well-being. And there in lies more of the problem: No one wants to take risks anymore. Everyone is afraid to get hurt. The flake factor continues to increase perpetuating these tendencies. And dating gets more broken.

        ps – no refund necessary, but appreciate the offer. that is very nice of you given it is NO fault of yours.

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  5. Gina Says:

    I don’t want to say dating is broken, but the way people treat each other when dating, as described above, is spot on. Because men and women see each other as immediately replaceable, some approach things with an “I don’t care, I can get a new one in a minute.” attitude. Though older, it’s the SAME THING with older men as with younger men. Whether we like to admit it or not, MANY just really want to hop in bed. It’s the “getting to that point” that’s now considered “dating”. I prefer the “events” that are activity oriented. Depending on the activity, it will bring out the human factor in people. In a bar/club, the lights are off, alcohol is served, and the music is general so loud that you can’t really have a conversation. You shoot small talk back and forth, figuring out if you can stand the person that looks good in the dark. While there’s nothing wrong with that, if that’s all that you want. For me, even if leading up to a one night stand, there HAS to be some attempt at humanity. The truth, you’re probably not gonna get that in a bar, with the lights off, alcohol being served, and loud music to the degree that you can’t hear each other’s bullshit. The end result: if you’re looking for a genuine connection, STAY OFFLINE and avoid singles events in general. Again, there’s a REASON the lights are off, there’s alcohol, and the music is too loud. Absolutely not an attack on organizers, they have NOTHING to do with how a night ends up. They help get us in the room. For that I thank you.

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  6. UWSGal Says:

    OLD will work for people whose primary “attractants” are quantifiable and obvious from pictures. Professional, tall men. Attractive women. People with no baggage in the form of kids from failed marriages. For people who need to win them over with their personality to overcome the lack of those primary attractants (short men, men with no college degrees, overweight women, people living 50 miles away etc.) obviously it will not work so well, or will not work at all. Ultimately it doesn’t matter how you meet a person. In the last 2 years I’ve enjoyed serial monogamies with 3 men, one i met online, one at a bar, and one was an introduction by a friend. None turned out to be a LTR (as in till death do us part) material, but I enjoyed it while it lasted. So, I disagree that people go back online because they “don’t really want a relationship”. It’s just hard to find someone who’s a good match, and in this day and age there’s no need to settle for anything less than, so people try and try again. I am now back online, but i also meet plenty of people offline. Just the other day I met a guy at a conference and then another guy on a plane coming back from said conference…

    As far as singles mixers/events go, I am not a big fan of those. I have been to a speed dating event (got a date out of it who turned out to be not suitable) and to a mixer. I found people at these events to be way too randomly mixed in terms of ages and other qualities (i.e. tons of guys from suburbs… thanks but no thanks…) etc. If you want to meet people IRL, go do “real life” – go to places where people you’d like to meet would naturally be occurring. Not some artificial events that are just a speed-dating in disguise, really.

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  7. Bryan Says:

    I’ve stopped the Speed Dating a while ago and I am done with online. Online is like getting punched in the face every day. And coming back for more. *sigh*

    Well, I dance… rather well. So, I am going dance… a lot now. It’s different and it’s not something to go into just for dating.

    Sometimes, I meet someone; mostly not. (At least it’s still fun!) But, no one is faceless and people have to see each other again and again, so the accountability is there.

    Bachata anyone in Philly? Look me up! ;-)

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  8. Parenting Says:

    I can only speak for myself but one thing I’ve noticed in my own behavior is that i am far less lenient in my “must haves” online than IRL. Online, forgetaboutit! If he isnt a 6’4 self-made billionaire with the body of a God and the wit of Steve Colbert, pass! IRL, Ive found myself very attracted to guys I would NEVER give half a chance to online.

    I suspect most people are online regardless of relationship goal or emotional damage. It just seems to be easier to identify and reject time wasters IRL.

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    • UWSGal Says:

      Could you elaborate on how is it easier IRL? For example, at the mixer that I attended I spent good 30 minutes chatting with the guy who turned out to be (1) separated not yet divorced (2) had 4 children and (3) lived in NJ. It took about that time to get this out of him, while OLD i would’ve nexted him in 30 seconds? I was also cornered by a 28-yo for good 15 minutes and spoke with a couple of guys who were mo suitable but not really my cup of tea. There are more productive ways to spend one’s evening and $50.

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  9. ATWYSingle Says:

    It took about that time to get this out of him, while OLD i would’ve nexted him in 30 seconds?

    Okay. Let’s say (*wink*)you met a man with 3 major strikes against him at a mixer. That same man probably wouldn’t admit any or all of those things in his profile. You’d either have to ask him outright by firing questions at him or by engaging in a prolonged messaged exchange or you’d have to wait until the first phone conversation or date. Either way, you’re expending time better spent somewhere else.

    Parenting doesn’t have to elaborate on anything. Your anecdotal (and embellished) evidence is just that: anecdotal. We get it. You meet men effortlessly, as proven by your multiple failed marriages and failed engagement and string of failed casual relationships. “I have had more relationship experience than you!” you’ll shoot back. That’s true, but none of it is covetous or substantive. I didn’t marry a rich man who used me as his personal ATM, I’m not twice divorce in my early thirties (which is far worse than being 48 an unmarried), I didn’t get passed over by a matchmaker despite my “model good looks.” You speak like your experience is the only one that matters or carries any weight, but your experiences (well, the ones don’t make up to prove a flimsy point or to get a jab in at other women) only prove you don’t know anymore than anyone else. In fact, it appears you know less. That you would even suggest you could vet a man online that had several strikes against him faster than IRL proves you don’t know what you’re talking about, as most of those men – if they were smart – would lie or other hide the truth in their profile.

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    • UWSGal Says:

      Men admit to those things in their profiles. There’re tons of profiles that list “separated” as a relationship status, list the fact that they have kids and even the ones who attempt to lie about their locations qualify it in text “i am listed in Manhattan but i really live in bulmbelfuck NJ, but don’t worry I am in the city ALL the time!” LOL. Most men are actually honest about their situation.

      And yes, I know a lot more about long-term relationships than someone who’s never been in one. I know how to get in one, how to be in one, and how to get out of one when it runs its course. Claiming otherwise is devoid of logic. So, a married woman knows something about relationships? And the second she files for a divorce she doesn’t? It makes no sense. Just like a person who successfully landed 4 different jobs knows more about interviewing than a person who’s never been employed, a divorced person knows a whole lot more about relationships than one that’s never been in one.

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      • Ruth Says:

        Using your analogy, a person who has a numerous short stints at jobs on their CV, doesn’t even get an interview. Why? Because it looks like they can’t actually handle staying in a job. So no, when your “long-term” relationships constantly end, it makes you bad at relationships, regardless how quickly you enter the next one. And if you are really in your early thirties (assuming any of what you say is actually true) and have been divorced and broken engagements that many time, NONE of this relationships can be that long! But I’m sure you’ll find a way to make another thinly veiled comment about how you really are better than every other women.

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        • UWSGal Says:

          Sweetie, I’ve had two 4-year relationships that were marriages, and four 1-1.5 years relationships that were not. And the engagement i broke was at 19, (thank god my parents knocked some wisdom into me at that time). So yeah, having spent most of my adult life in the “in relationship” status, i think i know a thing or two about it. But keep telling yourself otherwise. Moxie gives good advice on certain dating situations, there’s no question about it (especially a subset of situation where a woman fails to recognize HJNIY situations), but relationships? This is blind leading the blind.

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          • michelle Says:

            Two four-year marriages. Two. Four. Year. Marriages.

            That is all.

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            • KK Says:

              The RELATIONSHIPS were for 4 years. Who knows how long the marriages lasted?

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          • KK Says:

            Dude, what…I don’t understand what you post sometimes. Yes, you really know how to enter relationships. Clearly you’ve got that down. But the fact that they’ve all ended is not something that makes you an expert. I know you’re saying that you got out of them when they stopped working, and yeah, better to be out of a relationship that has stopped working, but it blows my mind that you act like you think you’re some kind of expert. You are not. You are clearly doing something wrong. PLEASE stop acting like you got it locked down.

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            • michelle Says:

              Her responses would be easier to swallow if she didn’t brag about how all-knowing and successful she was while sounding so unhappy.

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              • Beta Male Says:

                I actually think (assuming most of what she says is true) she is someone who really needs to learn how to be single for a decent period of time instead of jumping to the next relationship after the last one ends.

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  10. Nia Says:

    I *literally* am in the middle of editing an article for a freelance site that’s (basically) all about how online dating is not really working for the majority of us and how to apply the aspects of it that are/were working (access to a wider pool of people, ability to take it slow and filter) to your “real life” so yes, I believe online dating is broken. :)

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  11. mxf Says:

    I always feel like the sucker who comes to the defence of online dating, but I don’t think it’s broken. I see it like this: I used online dating to meet a series of people, and one of them became a boyfriend with longer-term potential. That’s where online takes its leave of you, and everything that remains becomes about what you bring to the table, and what the other person does. That boyfriend and I made our way through a series of learnings about our compatibility and parted ways after a year and a half. Nothing shocking, nothing that could have been prevented if we’d met at a café instead of online, just the natural end because we weren’t well-suited for the longer haul. But if the end had nothing to do with it being an online encounter, then my thinking is that the beginning doesn’t have much to do with it either. It’s simply one of dozens of ways to meet another person, and then it’s the same formula of two people seeing if they can make it together as any other beginning.

    I feel like I’ve repeated this a lot, so apologies, but to me online and IRL are not separate entities at all. It’s one thing to have dating exhaustion in general, and another to pinpoint online as inherently problematic.

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    • Noquay Says:

      I agree with you. Online and IRL are two paths to the same thing. I’m forced to date long distance so on line allows me contact with folk year round that I’d otherwise never meet. IRL can only happen for the summer tourist season when there’s a greater percentage of compatible outside folk and you’re not fighting icy mountain roads. My rship s tend to fewer and longer, a year and a half being the shortest. On line is more efficient in that, at 56, I know what works and what doesn’t. One can eliminate a whole lot of incompatible folk right away. However, in the end, it is what each of you bring to the table that determines if things will work out and you have no choice but to “waste” some time to determine that.

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      • mxf Says:

        Exactly – we all might need to invest some time we don’t get back in matches that don’t become permanent, no matter how we meet them.

        And people think that swiping has turned the dating world into a fickle, restless place basically overnight, but I think the functionality simply mimics what we do unconsciously anyway. In nanoseconds, you scan potential mates to determine their overall desirability, whether you’re aware of it or not. And I’m grateful that online slows that down a bit. Some guys have the quietest in-person presence ever – there is no doubt that I would never notice them at a bar, at an event, etc. A better chance would be to work together, but my job is my job, not a matchmaking enterprise. So I’m super grateful to come across the occasional funny or sweet profile online and get to at least see a glimpse of someone new that way.

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        • Noquay Says:

          You’re right mxf, I hang out at the local coffeehouse almost daily in the summer to do my computer stuff. I check out every male that comes into the place; height, age, approx weight, looks, indicators of health and fitness, and the all important wedding ring. Same as swiping right/left on a photo. Since seating is scarce, I’d invite him to share my table if he is a “like” and attempt basic conversation. Same as an email on-line. Met one dude from on line, one IRL last week. Both wound up to be the type of men I dread and avoid, barely educated, no real homes, living out of camper-trailers. Neither education nor living situation was revealed in on line dudes profile, IRL guy admitted to both fairly soon. Was thinking; had my last bf been on line, I’d have passed him by. He meets some criteria I look for in terms of fitness and stability, but he in general doesn’t photograph well, his politics are the opposite of mine, he writes poorly. That might’ve been a good thing as he cheated on me….hmmmm.

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          • Nia Says:

            Honestly, what IS it with these mountain men? Not to “drag” anyone, but I feel like there is a very low instance of barely educated women who are seemingly happy as clams living in a trailer/camper/RV/tent and/or off the grid/off the land.

            It is a grueling, punishing lifestyle and it is not conducive to dating or marriage. Maybe these guys know that and chose that, or maybe they couldn’t be bothered to do the work involved in getting educated and integrating into society to be able to bring something to the table.
            Sure, there’s women out there who are all “I’d love to live in an RV in the mountains!” They’re usually 22 year old ditzy baristas who have never actually done it, who enjoyed camping that one time.

            People who self-select to small, isolated, grim towns often do so for a reason. :(

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  12. Dark Sarcasm Says:

    I don’t know if dating is ‘broken’, but like Online Dating, Speeddating died a long time ago.

    It was a cute and novel way to meet new people at first, but then with the onset of ‘swipe left/swipe right’ credo and people adopting the ‘if you don’t have instant toe tingling chemistry then it’s not a match’ credo, sitting there trying to extract a five minute conversation with boring questions (what do you do? Where did you grow up?) becomes uncomfortable.

    The activity events are where it’s at now. The ‘bartending class/game night/trivia night/art & wine nights/salsa classes) that were around at first were way less tense and more fun than any speed dating events or mixers I went to.

    (I pray Boston gets more of these soon) :)

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  13. Yvonne Says:

    Interesting, I just finished reading an article in which the author stated that “dating” is alive and well, but it’s actual relationships that are suffering. People are doing a good job of meeting up and having short-term flings/relationships, but getting into anything of substance is the problem. Especially in my over-45 age range, most people are wary.

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  14. Nicki Says:

    I think that online dating is doing well, but actual relationships coming from it aren’t. I believe that all of these apps where you swipe left and swipe right have created a situation where everyone thinks something better is out there and easily attainable, so why commit? Ugh, it’s no fun!!!!!

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  15. Steve from the city next door Says:

    I definitely think dating is broken and has been for quite some time.

    I think speed dating and OLD came about because traditional dating was not working for a lot of people.

    I know I found it difficult after college.

    I am not sure why/how dating is broken. Even when I was in high school dating seemed more troublesome that it had been for my brother just a few years earlier.

    I am told the sports activities are good around here. I have tried the activity events and they have been a fail. I went to a painting one (not targeted at singles)…it was 4 single guys, a group of 4 women out for girls night (all married), and two retirement aged women.

    I took a break about 10 years ago where I wasn’t going to go out of my way but if someone showed interest I wouldn’t ignore it. No OLD. No speed dating, etc. I found after a bit more than a year I had not had a single date.

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