Town hall-style event seeks to answer the question, “Why is everyone still single in Los Angeles?” but doesn’t include the possibility that maybe, for right now, some of us like it that way.
Earlier this month I attended “The Great Love Debate” at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood. The event, co-sponsored by online dating oligarch Match.com and created and produced by Brian Howie, is a traveling road show that is supposed to answer the question: “Why is everyone still single?” while providing, of course, an opportunity for attendees to get coupled.
On one side of the theater were the single guys and on the other, outnumbering them by 2:1, the single women. On the stage, eight experts — meaning matchmakers, love coaches, dating specialists, self-help authors — who make a living by fixing single people.
As you can imagine, people like me who say it’s OK to be single were not on the stage that night. The exception was Dr. Wendy Walsh, host of “Happily Never After,” whose parting words at the end of the program were to stop obsessing on your relationship status and become the best you can be, whether you’re single or not.
My takeaway from the whole deal was further confirmation that online dating is destroying the ability of people to make human-to-human connections. People are so focused on marketing themselves and the expediency provided by smart phone apps that they wouldn’t recognize a real love connection, even if they looked up from their iPhone long enough to notice. Is it any wonder that both men and women are disappointed when they meet face-to-face after initiating a “relationship” with the avatars they’ve created to attract the right consumer? Meanwhile, the abyss between the genders grows wider.
The women in the audience said men only care about getting laid. The men said that women only care about how much money they make. One of the experts on the stage, a Los Angeles-based matchmaker, suggested that women learn to make five dishes because men want a woman who can cook – that would seal the deal. Another kept piping up with her website address and product pitch of how she was uniquely qualified to find your future spouse.
As for me, I saw a room full of restless people who had been convinced that being single is their problem. The women were mad at the men; the men were fed up with the women. I saw men, who for one reason or another, didn’t fit the “ideal man” cookie cutter in terms of age, height and looks and were likely dismissed without so much as a hello. I saw women dressed in 4-inch heels and revealing dresses who wonder why the men they attract only want sex. I saw a room full of people, single people, who had come to believe that if only they could connect with the best dating coach, craft the perfect online dating profile, attend the right singles event, they would finally be happy.
After the show, during the mixer in the foyer, I recognized people I’d seen at speed dating events years ago, still working the room like they did back then. I saw the furtive hopeful glances and the abject dismissals. I chatted with one man, who looked like he could barely wait to make his escape. I asked if he was single and invited him to join us for the dinner party that SingularCity was hosting on Sunday night.
“Oh, I don’t usually go to singles events,” he said. “I’m only here because a friend brought me.”
“But our events aren’t like typical singles events,” I said. “It’s just some fun, friendly people, who happen to be single, getting together for dinner and conversation.”
“Ah, no thanks,” he responded, making it clear that he could not be persuaded.
I could understand why, after what I saw that night at The Great Love Debate. After all, at least one of those speakers would argue that I would have been better off learning to make five dishes for a future husband — delivered for a price by a dating coach — than spending the last five years trying to reframe what it means to be single in a positive light.
Copyright © Kim Calvert/2014 Singular Communications, LLC.