Iâ€™d just burned my fingers badly on an unsteady guy whoâ€™d left my flat and me one fine morning. Or the other way round. The heartache was considerable. Leaving home only to get the weekly groceries, Iâ€™d crawl back into bed for the rest of the week. And smoke cigarettes. Yes, I allowed myself that vice back then. It was on one of these shopping expeditions that I saw Cosma Shiva Hagen smiling down at me from a poster: Every 11 minutes, someone falls in love at Parship. Until that day, Iâ€™d met men on crosswalks, standing at bars, or at my best friendâ€™s birthday party. Which had worked quite well for a time. Except for the crosswalk story because I got hit by a car. But on the Internet? Online dating: End of the line. No, thank you. If only there hadnâ€™t been the overpowering heartbreak that could only be soothed by the occasional one-night stand. Suddenly Parship became an option to test my market value.
Back home again, everything went very quickly. Just one bottle of red wine later, Parship congratulated me on my premium membership. Minimum subscription period one year. Anonymous, secure, and practically with a national seal of approval. Nothing happens here except love the dating agency promised. Theyâ€™d been nominated best agency. Repeatedly. Why not Elite Partner, the experienced reader might wonder. Simply, because I thought signing up might mean my sophistication levels were sinking. And sophistication is rated very highly at the Elite Partner dating agency. They cater to academics and sophisticated singles.
I answered a list of questions such as: â€œAre you more a winter or a summer type?â€ and chose quotes to describe myself from a selection along the lines of â€œI couldnâ€™t survive without my own space.â€ Parship then gathered my input to compute the relationship-significant dimensions of my personality. It appears I have more male traits than average. However, the real obstacle is posed by my extreme values. Introverted here. Extroverted there. That could complicate matters. At least I scored an average rate for empathy. If nothing else.
Disguised by a code number, I began my quest. I clicked my way through profiles, read cringe-worthy platitudes listed under My philosophy of life. At the top of the list: Some people enter your life like a blessing, others like a lesson. And I waited. Eleven long minutes, and absolutely nothing happened. I should have known. Clearly Iâ€™d been taken in by Ms. Hagenâ€™s promise from her poster. Then some pictures were released. After one whole hour. Guys straddling a motorcycle, on the beach, next to a dog, or standing in front of an indoor plant. I quickly became depressed by the sight of all these people, hungry for love, and convinced that a matchmaking algorithm would lead them to that one person who would hold and love them forever. That is, to me.
I received messages, I didnâ€™t reply to. And I wrote messages that remained unanswered. I answered the question if I enjoyed kissing after having oral sex. Not something Iâ€™d ever talked about, but Parship led me to think it was okay to open up about this to a complete stranger. Time to stop? Absolutely not, by now I was totally hooked. Why? God knows.
I made a rule: I had to receive three convincing messages, before I released my pictures. This member has said good-bye. Standard rejection. A rejection hurts, even if itâ€™s sent to you by mouse click. But we were all in the same boat: If you didnâ€™t select, you couldnâ€™t make any progress in this interpersonal jungle.
I had a goal. A date with a man whose pictures I didnâ€™t want to see beforehand. Blind date. Old school. Iâ€™d never done that before. It happened on the third day. He: Doctor, mid-thirties and eloquent (someone else obviously wrote his messages for him) sat across from me in a bar. The topics we covered during the entire evening could fit on a beer coaster. Not that he was shy. Just bored and uncommunicative. But good-looking, though a scar or a gap between his teeth would have suited him well since he obviously hadnâ€™t been blessed with much personality. A scar over an eyebrow might have given him more character. But, for one hour, it was okay to simply look at him. We said our good-byes and both knew that there would be no follow-up.
I couldnâ€™t have made up what did follow if I tried. The next day he called me up. We had exchanged numbers in case one of us changed their mind on the way to our date. Anyway, he called me and asked whether I wanted him to give me some feedback. For my next date. After all, unlike him I was a newbie with Parship and he was glad to be of help. I was so flabbergasted, I forgot to hang up. â€œGoing out for a drink with friends,â€ is not a hobby, he laughed. A cackling laugh that obliterated all of his good looks in one fell swoop. And for the next time, he advised me, to dress with more sex appeal. Feelings were unclear parameters, he continued. He now had the bit firmly between his teeth. He said he used a number of social media channels to establish intimacy. Facebook just wasnâ€™t enough anymore, and ever since he stopped looking for an exclusive relationship he was doing a lot better. A silence ensued. Then he hung up.
I had played the game for four days. The rest of the year, Parship simply deducted the monthly rates from my credit card. Occasionally, theyâ€™d inquire how I was getting along and encourage me to persevere. Somebodyâ€™s out there waiting for you, they said. Love is when it feels right, they said.
Dear compassionate reader, please donâ€™t think, Iâ€™m desperate. Quite the opposite. Those four days of Parship were sadder than any of the breakups of the previous years. But it was good to find out that Iâ€™m not a lost cause. I have even more of a weakness for unsteady types now and am really not looking for a relationship in which endearments like â€œsnugglepussâ€ are considering arousing. Of course, youâ€™re absolutely right â€“ there has to be something in-between. But by now youâ€™ve learned that my extreme values are an obstacle.
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Nora Zukker, born 1986, lives in Urdorf where she is currently working on her prose debut. Her texts to date have been published in various literary magazines. When sheâ€™s not writing, she provides supplies to the public. Her recommendations which book, which magazine or which blog is a must read can be heard in her program â€žLesezunderâ€œ on Swiss radio station SRF 3 every Thursday.
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