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As you may know from my recent Facebook status update, I’m in the initial stages of being set up by a friend. For many, this situation is a nightmare. Blind dates can be scary, expectations can be unrealistic, and the awkward factor can be simply explosive. But from my vantage point, I love being set up. Yes, all the things listed above may be true, but they are quickly outweighed by the positives. Who knows you better than your friends? The odds of being a good match with someone they think you’d be a good match with are pretty good.

bakeryThis particular set-up is with a guy we’ll call The Baker, because he is, in fact, a baker. (Can you hear the collective sigh from all the cupcake-and-pastry-loving women out there?) My friend, riding on the high of a recent matchmaking success, sprung into action when she ran into The Baker while purchasing some cookies from the bakery where he works. She called me that very night squealing about how great this guy is, and I told her to go ahead and give him my contact info. She wasted no time and dropped off a piece of paper with my phone number and email address the next morning.

And here is where the story gets a little tricky. The Baker emailed me. It was a fine email, though I did have some immediate concerns.

      • He has an AOL email address. Tell me why these still exist? I don’t understand it.
      • hecouldreallyusesomehelpwithpunctuation. To his defense, at this point he didn’t know he was emailing a writer. Still, he knew he was emailing someone who spoke English. Periods, commas, spaces, and capital letters are our friends, people!
      • He ended the email by leaving me his phone number.

And there’s the kicker. He didn’t call in the first place, though he had my number. Then he proceeded to write his email in such a way to place the calling responsibility on me. I didn’t know how I felt about this, but I did know that I didn’t feel right. So I went to Facebook to ask my amazing readers for their advice. The advice varied, to say the least:

      • Text him.
      • Call that joker.
      • Say, “You have my number. Call me!”
      • Email him back and say you look forward to hearing from him soon.
      • Give the guy a chance.
      • Pray about it.
      • Email your number and say, “Call me maybe.”
      • Make him work for it.

What’s a girl to do? Before I let you know what I did (and how it all worked out), I’ll point out one more comment left by Natalie in San Jose, California:

      • Men just need to step it up….this would have never happened 15-20 yrs ago!!!!!

Now that got me thinking. In this day and age, we are completely inundated with new technologies. Before you climb out of bed in the morning, you reach over to grab your Blackberry to check the emails that came in overnight. Before you take a bite of your burrito, you bust out your iPhone to Instagram a pic of it (#yummmmm). Before you go out on your first date, you attack Google to uncover every last detail about your potential mate. Before you pick up the phone to call someone, you pick up your cell phone to text them.

When it comes to dating, this obsession with the digital presents a big problem. It creates a level of complacency that works against the nature of the pursuit, against the nature of romance. Frankly, it creates lazy men (and for that matter, lazy and disappointed women). And, as Natalie pointed out, this would have never happened 15-20 years ago.

So let’s steal some plutonium from those terrorists and get this DeLorean going back… way back… way, way back to 1993. At this point, I was the ripe old age of 13, complete with awkwardly long legs, a penchant for wearing my brothers’ flannel hunting shirts, and an obsession with The Sandlot. We were only four years into the revelation of the World Wide Web, and were just starting to use email on a regular basis. Our ears were accustomed to the chalkboard-scratching sound of dial-up, as we were still four years from broadband service. And we stayed connected — literally — as WiFi wouldn’t come around for another six years. Facebook? Not even an inkling in the imagination of its creator, who was only nine years old at the time.

zack morrisAlthough cell phones were around in the ’80s, they became more common in the ’90s. Still, people like my dad had cool mobile phones about double the size of Zack Morris’s phone that also came with an over-the-shoulder battery pack resembling a ladies’ pocketbook. Landlines were still the most common phone by far. But 1993 did bring along the invention of text messaging, though it wouldn’t become popular until two years later. I imagine that first text message said HELLO, and took approximately three minutes and 45 seconds to type.

So here we are. Back in 1993. If a man wanted to ask a woman out, he’d have to: a) talk to her in person; or b) call her (most likely using a landline). And get this: Call waiting wasn’t implemented nationally for two more years! So you couldn’t even screen your calls! As backwards as it may sound, there’s something romantic about the 1993 dating scene. There’s something personal, intimate, intentional. Fast forward two decades and it’s just way too easy to settle. It’s way to easy to sit back, take the easy road, and let your thumbs do the talking. Email. Text. Google chat. Facebook.

To some extent, it’s all just a reflection of how human interaction has evolved over time. But to a greater extent, it’s a reflection of how human interaction has deteriorated over time.

Alas, I ended up emailing The Baker back. As much as I want to stand up and fight against the warped dating mindset in today’s society, I am still a victim of the digits on the calendar: 2-0-1-3. Sometimes I have to fight fire with fire, email with email, text with text. The Baker did end up calling me and, to be frank, our first phone conversation was a complete nightmare. But more on that later.

I leave you with this — a dare to be different. Both men and women. Both young and old. Just because something is culturally acceptable — perhaps especially because it’s culturally acceptable — doesn’t mean it’s something we should strive toward. Integrity, honesty, bravery, and kindness — now those are things to chase after. From one semi-old-fashioned girl to the dating world, throwing in a little bit of 1993 wouldn’t hurt either. And remember, when you’re carving out your own way in life, sometimes it seems like the world doesn’t leave you enough road. Just remember the words of the great Doc Brown:

“Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.”

~Ruth