Julie: I hope you guys have gotten to know each other a little bit. Now I’d like to is talk about your dating experiences in Providence. It’s different for people who have just moved here versus people who have lived here a long time. Let’s start with first impressions. How do you feel the scene is here? How do you feel as someone who is ostensibly looking for dates, or a partner?
Mat: I found at first, after moving here after college, it’s great. It’s a really fun scene. There’s an infinite amount of places to go, to eat, to hang out. And then three to six months in, I started looking around and saying “ok, I’ve been on a date with everyone in here right now.” Or the friend I was with had dated that person. All of a sudden you run the gauntlet and then feel like a ho.
Sarah: In Providence, there’s one degree of separation. So any connection you have, whether personal or professional, it has a little bit more weight, because you don’t have that remove you might have in a bigger city.
Julie: I feel like every time I see a new face, I wonder whether he’s visiting from out of town, because he’s not part of the circle that moves in Providence. You feel like everyone knows everyone, but at the same time, when you look on dating sites, there are all these faces of people I haven’t seen before who live in Providence and Pawtucket. These people are there, we just can’t find them. There’s a big divide between the people who go out and do things in Providence, and the people who stay home a lot. The rich dating pool is the people who aren’t in the scene. So how do you find them?
Sarah: I used to be on the dating sites a lot, but they’ll put this one great person so you’ll get excited, and then after that it’s like womp womp. Where did that one person go? Then it’s just like “ok, no, no, I know that person, no.”
Joe: That’s the problem with these sites. It takes away the nuance. It takes away the ability to sit with someone, see their body language, see if you’re into me.
Brendan: Have any of you dealt with the situation where the online profile pictures are of like eight different people, and then it’s like, which one are you?
Aleishia: Yes! I’ve been on dates where I didn’t recognize the person.
Sarah: I feel like Tinder is consistently the opportunity to constantly look for something better. My friends who have talked to people on Tinder, they’ll see that their profile is still active, so while they’re talking, the other person is continually going out and trying to go through and see what else is there. I feel like it’s the lazy person’s way to meet people.
Mat: The issue I have with these dating apps and these dating sites is an issue I found in real life in Providence as well: no one wants to pursue the other person. Everyone wants to be on the shelf. No one is the person who buys the drink, no one wants to be the person who starts the conversation.
Joe: Technology is a wonderful thing, but with technology you don’t have to take a risk. We’re afraid to be told no, but with the sites you can type anonymously in your home.
Aleishia: And lie. People can lie in their profiles.
Seth: The downfall of that is that in Providence, you know it’s such a small scene, you’re going to run into those people again. If someone catches your eye and you don’t want to talk to them that night, you just think I’ll just come back another time and I’ll see them again, maybe when I’m not with these friends or when I’ve had a few drinks and I’m feeling courageous. With Tinder, people say stuff because they think they’re not going to meet them.
Sarah: Has anyone tried Hinge before? It matches you with people who are friends of friends on Facebook.
Emily: With a friend of a friend, you at least hope they’re not psychos. It takes the element of concern out of it.
Joe: The great thing about living in Providence and why I’ve stayed for almost ten years is that, being an artist, I meet people who love the arts. Artistic people who love politics, politicians who love the arts. We live in a community that makes this place great. It’s all so interconnected. It’s difficult because we all know each other. The solution for me is to say screw it, I don’t want to bother and then I get frustrated because I wonder how do I find myself so lonely sometimes in a town that’s so manageable? We’re still so isolated.
Sarah: It’s a balance. Do you embrace the internet?
Aleishia: You can embrace it, but keep it real. You meet these people on the internet who seem so wonderful, and three dates in it’s like we don’t have anything in common. You lied.
Kristen: I’m so envious in a way of people who put themselves out there on the internet, but for me, it’s personal. I feel like chemistry and meeting a person is such a huge part of it that the internet takes that away. For extroverts, you’re like, whatever, I’m just going to talk to someone.
Emily: But it’s also a great way of getting back on the horse, if you’re getting out of a relationship.
Kristen: Yes, but you have to have some level of courage for that. You have to be secure in yourself to be like yeah, I can accept rejection.
Joe: But that’s what people do. I can remember being in college and not having a computer. That’s how folks met people. You would see them across the room and buy someone a drink.
Kristen: You’ve gotta get a vibe.
Sarah: You start communicating via text, via email. You think that there’s a connection. That’s why I say to my friends who are on the internet, you need to meet that person very soon. Because if you let that relationship go for a long time online and then you meet that person, it could be very different.
Mat: There’s the dating zone, and the friend zone, and the person I’ve been talking to online for a week zone.
Kristen: With the internet, you have the luxury of time. You can craft your message. You have plenty of time to say what you want to say, whereas you meet someone, you’re just talking. You get a vibe or an
instinct. That to me is a more valuable, tangible thing.
Sarah: That’s why I don’t think you should let an internet relationship go past two weeks without meeting.
Seth: I agree. Just because you both like tennis and golf and you feel compatible, until you physically meet someone... A lot of things don’t translate via text, either. You could take something someone says that’s serious as sarcastic, or something that’s sarcastic as serious – even worse.
Brendan: That first meeting is crucial. You need to know if there’s something going on, no?
Julie: I read a theory that text messaging, and this instant communication between strangers, is actually making dating harder.
Seth: I agree.
Julie: There’s this phenomenon where you’ll text – and I’m sure we’ve all experieced this – where you’ll text back and forth a million times and think we really have a connection, when are we going out? And he’ll never ask you, because there’s no urgency to the situation.
Sarah: He’s getting what he needs from you.
Toyin: I rememeber having this conversation with this woman who was texting with someone she was interested in, but she didn’t know when they were going to go on a date, because they were just talking and talking. She didn’t know when they were going to go on a date, or if she should ask.
Kristen: That might be a married guy.
Sarah: Yeah, it gets weird. Two weeks. After that it gets weird. They’re married, or something.
Joe: Also when you’re doing this, you have the luxury of presenting your best self. When it’s time to meet, what’s going to happen now? We’re actually in a way starting back at square one.
Brendan: I like to present myself as my worst.
Seth: You can only go up from there.
Kristen: Don’t you think it’s different by gender? I have friends who are newly divorced, and they’re hilarious, because they’re like a new gazelle. They’ve never been alone, they don’t understand how to be alone. If they see a single man, they pounce.
Brendan: Where are these women?
Kristen: I can give you a few. I’m just like calm down. I’m a little bit older, so maybe it’s the divorced generation, but they pounce on dating and it’s like I can’t compete with you.
Julie: But wouldn’t you, the gentlemen here, be freaked out by that?
Seth: No. It’s so nice to have someone approach you. I feel like it’s come around. It’s not like it was 20 years ago, where you can’t approach a guy. It’s refreshing to have someone come up and talk to you.
Julie: We’re in a time where nobody knows who should make the first move anymore.
Seth: That I agree with. Chivalry is still alive. I’m big on that. I open doors, I hold doors, I still like to do that. But I like girls who will say hello.
Joe: But also we can get bogged down in chivalry, but I’m always dealing with a man and a man. It’s about power, and the ability to reject and accept. I don’t think dating among gay and straight is very different. In the end, nobody wants to feel rejected.
Emily: And the flip side is it’s really nice to feel the opposite of that, like, yes, I’d love for you to buy me a drink. I’m happy to pay for my dinner, but I’d love for them to offer.
Kristen: As a successful woman, it’s also stressful, don’t you think? It’s like, what’s my power position? Do I pay? I feel like there’s a little bit of that dynamic as women rise. We have our first woman governor. How do you navigate that? I’ve had relationships fail because I’m more successful than the other person.
Seth: That’s insecurity for the man.
Kristen: True, but it’s a dynamic you have to navigate.
Toyin: I will pull back, and I will let the man pay. Because at the end of the day there’s still stressors from the outside world – you have to act a certain way, be a certain way.
Aleishia: I’m not going to dumb myself down, but if you’re going to offer to start my car for me because it’s cold, I’m not going to say no.
Sarah: I feel like any time I’ve approached a guy, it hasn’t worked in my favor. They want to be the one to pursue.
Seth: I disagree with that.
Kristen: We’re with her.
Sarah: I’ll be fine initiating a conversation, but in the end their interest is really not there unless they’re pursuing.
Seth: Initiating a conversation, I’m with you. Pursuing, I get.
Sarah: If a guy’s not willing to pursue, it just isn’t there. I don’t do it anymore. I’ll talk to you, but the guy has to pursue the girl.
Julie: So Daniel, you’re the newcomer to Providence. He’s only lived here for about a year. What’s your take on the dating scene? We’re all saying everyone knows everyone, we’re so jaded. Do you find it’s easy to meet people?
Daniel: I don’t think Providence has a dating issue. I think it’s an issue across the board. I lived in Italy for two years. Dating there is the way it should be. It’s all about going out with someone to see how it goes. There’s no guarantee. Dating is never a guarantee. You go out with someone and see how it goes. Nine times out of ten, it’s horrible, but you do it because you want to find the right person. You enjoy yourselves as people. This is not a Providence issue. Just be yourself. I don’t care what the media says. The best you can do is you.