By Lorien Menhennett
ating in medical school is hard. When your 3:30 a.m. alarm heralds a 15-hour workday, you have little time left for yourself, much less a partner.
Dating as an older medical student is even harder. When most of your classmates are a decade younger than you, your dating pool automatically shrinks. Dating apps make the whole thing almost impossible. When Cupid's main criteria is pixelated faces there's little room for meaningful romance.
I tend to post on sites that allow a more freeform profile, minus images. I want responses to my words alone. So far, I've had mixed results. I've dated two men seriously; one for a few months, the other for a few weeks. I was comforted to know there were people out there who shared my mindset. I've also gone on a number of dates with like-minded people who weren't the keeping kind. There was either no physical chemistry or political differences of opinion too deep to overcome. I can't date someone who doesn't believe in the importance of social welfare programs, for example.
My online profile says I'm an intelligent, attractive, ambitious woman. I mention I'm a writer who wants to be wooed by words. I say I want more than a laundry list of hobbies. I ask for a photo or two, clothed please, promising to return the favor.
I put replies in folders so I can keep track of my suitors. My folders are labeled: "reply!," "maybe," "nope," "compliments," and "LOL." The most interesting responses usually don't lead to dates. Many say a lot about the people I can't say men, since until you meet the person it's impossible to know who wrote them and society at large. I'm part-lover and part social anthropologist. Human behavior intrigues me.
The messages in the "nope," "LOL," and "compliments" folders have taught me a lot.
But let me break it down. The "nope" e-mails are usually one- or two-liners like this:
Hi, I'm interested in you, hope to read back from you.
Good evening, how are you? I hope all is well. I am reaching out regarding your post. I am in my early-30's, 5-10, and looking to meet someone new outside of my social circle. Hobbies and interests?
I hope we have a chance to chat soon. Take care and enjoy your weekend!
If you're looking for a wordsmith, you skip past these.
The "LOL" responses exist to remind me there are still plenty of misogynistic men who feel threatened by confident and capable women. Some believe a bad marriage is better than divorce. Many can't imagine they might be the source of a divorce. I try not to respond to such messages. Here are a few examples, as well as my potential responses. I've made some minor grammatical changes for the sake of clarity, and have removed identifying details.
Im white, live in [NYC borough], and [am] looking for a relationship hopefully leading to marriage and raising a family. Ive never been married, no kids, dont smoke or do drugs, rarely drink, no pets, not a vegetarian, and am Catholic. And you? You seem like a nice person. Why did you divorce?
The most interesting thing about [your profile] is the part where it notes you're divorced and that you chose not to offer an explanation re: same. Thoughts?
I might reply this way:
Just because I posted an online profile with some vague details about my personal life does not mean that I owe you someone I have never met, and know nothing about an explanation. To be honest, I mentioned that I'm divorced for one purpose and one purpose only to screen out people who have a problem with dating divorced women. Looks like my strategy is working.
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