It’s been just over a month since my second book, Laid Bare, was released and going by reactions from female readers across a range of media I’m either the poster boy for misogyny or a much-needed messenger of male honesty. That, and I’m revealing far too much of myself or not revealing nearly enough.
Online dating laid bare:
Jesse Fink writes exclusively for us on online dating and the happiness within.
Date: October 17 2012
Some of the comments made on Motherpedia itself have been quite hilarious. Said Emma: “I think that the author might possibly be a conman… I’m sure that the book is his way of trying to attract women.”
Right. By admitting when I was a teenager I had sex with a leather sofa? Or that in my loneliest moments as a single man post divorce I jerked off to porn? Of course!
The messages I’ve received from readers on my Facebook page are far more charitable. Like this from Jen: “Finally! You have laid it bare. The web is so unforgiving and insincere. There are not many with values out there. It’s like shoe shopping.”
But, you see, I was expecting wildly divergent responses and bracing for an onslaught of negativity from some quarters (including a few ex-girlfriends using the cloak of anonymity the internet provides). As I said in the book, and I stand by it: “Too often criticising women honestly gets men stamped with the misogynist brush when the plain truth is a lot of women don’t want to hear what men really think.”
No woman likes to be told she’s got “tuckshop lady arms”, much less rejected as a potential partner because of them. But in 2012 this is the way a large proportion of males in the dating game think, simply because they can. And whether you like it or not, it’s not about to change any time soon.
In matter of fact, with online dating and mobile technology irrevocably changing the way people meet and interrelate, it’s going to get worse. The “option paralysis” that attends so much of so-called romance in the digital age has made many men (and increasingly women) terribly shallow.
We men feel the pressure too. We’re out there pounding the streets trying to lose kilos. Saying no to carbs. Pumping iron at the gym. Getting facials. Waxing our backs. Having our teeth whitened. Upgrading our wardrobes at great expense. It’s not the easiest thing in the world for working, time-poor single fathers in their 30s, 40s and 50s especially to match up to the new male benchmarks for sensitivity and physicality set by Ryan Gosling and Chris Hemsworth. But we go on trying.
We’re in all this swirling inferno of superficiality together.
So don’t bang on about how unfair it all is. If you want to play the game of online dating, where looks matter, work on your appearance. If you don’t, quit complaining about how you never meet the guy you’ve always wanted. He’s out there, but the mail is he’s got about a 100 better options before he gets around to you.
And let’s dispel the myth right here, right now, that men are just out for sex. Every man I know is motivated by the idea of falling in love; it’s just that not a lot of us are wholly convinced we’re ever going to find “true love”, increasingly are questioning the sense of marriage of monogamy, and simply have no problem having sex with lots of different women if it’s available to us. Not the most pleasant thing to digest, but it’s the truth.
Online dating attracts such men like pigs to a trough. If you think you can handle them, go for it. If not, you’re best advised to explore other avenues.
In my case, I’m convinced that affirming, elevating “glimpse of eternity” love exists and I’ve always been motivated in having it in my life: whether it was reconciling with my ex-wife, falling in love with a painter I met online, or dating women outside Australia.
But after five years of online dating I’ve come to the view this kind of love is more likely to come into my life the old-fashioned way: organically. That is, through friends, via my business and social networks, by accident or when I’m not looking at all. That’s how I met my first wife, and we stayed together ten years and produced our gorgeous child.
None of us can go back into a hot-tub time machine when meeting people was easier and life was simpler – the world we live in is here to stay – but we can choose to disconnect from the pressure of thinking that more choices and more options means greater happiness is just a mouse click away.
As I learned the hard way, it was within me the whole time.
Jesse Fink is the author of Laid Bare: One Man’s Story of Sex, Love and Other Disorders (Hachette Australia, RRP $32.99)