Within the last month, I went on yet another first meeting. Yes, you know the type: the ones where you meet up with someone you met on a dating site. It was a fairly successful interaction. By my design,it wasn’t one of those boring average Internet meetups where you ask about each others work, education, and recreation. I went in for the good stuff, the ones with emotional content that most people are afraid of touching.

By the end of our first meet, we parted ways after a hug in the subway station. As I stood in the 5th Avenue train station, waiting for the R train, I felt rather empty. An introvert and observer by nature, it took a lot out of me to do most of the talking for over five hours. I tried to figure out the reason for my emptiness and thought that perhaps it was because I was simply emotionally drained.

The train arrived and I took a seat against my better judgment. I was, after all, wearing my beautiful suit and didn’t want it to become wrinkled. Sitting down was a clear sign that I was tired. I was also a little hungry. Previously, my companion subtly suggested getting something to eat. I was indeed hungry, but I had decided to end the interaction. My throat was getting a little worse for the wear due to my being unaccustomed to speaking for such great lengths. In my daily life, I barely utter a word to anybody at all. Going on for five hours was a real workout for my vocal cords: I felt my voice giving out as though I were on the cusp of falling ill from the flu. So without any food in me since the large cup of coffee I had in the morning, risking the wrinkles in my suit seemed like an acceptable risk.On the way home, I wondered if I would ever meet someone I could make a real genuine connection with. By most social standards, the interaction was good: I built very good rapport and avoided boring and generic conversation, thusly differentiating myself from the vast majority of the dating pool. Although I probably came off as just a touch arrogant, I was confident that I also came off as someone who was emotionally engaging and socially interesting. This was of course due to my diligent and not-so-effortless charming efforts on my part, but I wondered why I even bothered. I was so focused on creating a connection and to have a successful interaction that I forgot the most important thing: to gauge whether or not I was even all that interested in this girl.And so I mulled over this question as I sped through the subway tunnels, squished between the hard seat partition and a woman whose legs were supple and warm due to her steady workouts judging from her spandex gym outfit. Not wanting to be accused of being a pervert, I squished my own legs together and leaned leftwards towards the door. I thought about the first meet that I had just concluded. Between my date and I , we certainly had our quirks, ones that seemed rather serendipitous. I found her penchant for neatness and organization to be a fair counterpoint to my overall messiness. A humorous thought flashed through my mind: one advantage of dating this girl would be that, in the event that I cook (something I enjoy greatly), I would not have to worry about doing the dishes.

By the time I got home, I still hadn’t really determined whether or not I wanted to pursue this girl. On one hand, my mere lack of motivation to pursue her was enough to tell me that I should leave things be. On the other hand, I wondered if I was falling prey to unrealistic expectations of that magic spark.

I had better things to do, so I pushed such matters to the back of my mind. It was only several weeks later that I decided to send a non-committal open invitation to see her again. But what was mymotivation?

Truthbe told, it was mostly perfunctory. I decided that I did not dislike her, and that she was worth taking out on a “real” date, if only to see if she flipped any of my romantic switches. This got me to realize something.

Dating once used to be an exciting prospect to me. The possibility of meeting someone who might be a potential life partner was one that motivated me greatly. All of these actions were also driven by a simple thought: you can’t expect any gains if you don’t put in the work. And work I did. I would actively engage my prospective date, read into her profile to find something interesting to talk about, and otherwise write a very personalized message: actions recommended by a variety of dating experts. While I understand that finding romance can be hard work, it was largely fruitless.

What was once exciting has since become a chore. Checking my account on OKCupid is perfunctory. In my spare time, I use the iPhone app and blindly rate every profile four stars to see if anyone bites; all it takes is for me to constantly tap the same spot on the screen. I surf profiles presented to me and rapidly acquire a hooking point to give me a reason to message the girl. I spend less than two minutes writing a couple of sentences and fire it off, forgetting about it and freeing myself from having any expectations of its outcome. Underlying this cursory routine was not a sense of desire but a sense of duty. It felt like dull work.

That looking for love has been reduced to a chore is very disappointing. I used to feel compelled to find a romantic partner. Now, I find myself even more withdrawn. I feel almost no need to socialize or to find romance. I am aware that my desires and longings are likely cyclical, but it has been quite a while since I have truly felt a desire to have a romantic partner. Since the beginning of the year, such thoughts have waned to almost nothing. Right now, I don’t feel the compulsion whatsoever.
At the same time, I fear that I am following the classic path of the modern dater: becoming anesthetized from failure after failure, growing numb to the prospect of romance.

Ultimately, I don’t believe my lack of interest is borne from any bitterness or negativity (or depression for that matter). Rather, I believe my withdrawal from society is a development of my true and final acceptance that the my life is unlikely to contain any people of quality. I believe that I have finally (truly) made peace with the fact that I will in all likelihood end up alone. Although I had considered this in the past, I think I had a hard time accepting it, even if it was subconsciously. And perhaps it is with this acceptance that I can finally feel truly satisfied with my life. If I treat romance as a luxury, as something I can easily live without, then I can be free of its lonely nights and painful pangs of pining. Though the likelihood of love falling into my lap when I least expect it is incredibly slim, I would rather that a woman come into my life through happenstance than for me to search for the one unlikely kindred soul for the rest of my life, sloughing through hundreds of dates.

Now that the desire has essentially subsided, perhaps I should just quit dating altogether. A friend joked that I might becoming asexual. I of course had considered this possibility long before. And perhaps I have finally realized myself as an asexual being destined for solitude. Or perhaps I have finally regained my balance.

Whatever it is, I now feel at peace with myself, feeling no discomfort in my unattached state. I think this state of equilibrium will become disturbed in the future, but for the time being, I will at least enjoy my rest.