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The (Online) Buffalo Exchange of Romance

Submitted by Anastasia Savvina on June 29, 2010 – 9:29 pmComments


Online dating – it’s got a bad rap, even still. Sure, it’s impersonal, a little tacky, and potentially creepy, but think of it as a Virtual Outlet Mall (VOM). In a recession everyone wants the best deal and dating is no exception. We all want Prada, but can only afford Hanes. Like Amazon, it’s a jungle out there. But in a messy array of layaways are a few gems. The profiles are store displays, cajoling to peek inside their world (the trick is to avoid too much baggage). Instead of “Save 60%!” pages boast “Body type: Athletic”; instead of “Buy one, get one FREE” it says “Activities: Travel, Extreme Sports, Opera.” Score.

One year ago, I decided to take a gander inside this so-called VOM. I had recently broken up with someone I had no intention of marrying and wanted a different kind of adventure, a virtual one with a chance of something more. And so, the window shopping commenced. The browse button, like an escalator, led me through cities, ages, and interests. When I’d “stroll” past a Chanel (code word for Ivy League grad) or a Burberry (works for Google), I’d do a double take and write a brief hello. It had to be just right – not too long to sabotage the mystique, but not too short to sound generic. It was a bargaining of information, trying to get more for less. I became a professional haggler, scoring a million-dollar compliment for my two cents.

Then, there was the actual first date. Sometimes, when I thought I’d found the equivalent of Manolo Blahniks, Mr. Right bore no resemblance to his photos, lived with Mom, or was a serial swinger. It takes a trained eye to spot a fake right away.

After months of drinks, awkward laughs and polite rejections, I was swept off my feet. Literally – swept from San Francisco to L.A. It’s been a year and since then we’ve moved in, changed apartments twice, adopted a cat, and fostered four kittens (gagging yet?). When people ask how my boyfriend and I met, I tell them unabashedly and recommend my single friends to do some online shopping.

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