I had to ditch all the dating apps so I could find love

Monday, 29 May 2017, 11:00:55 AM. I reminded myself that a real world existed beyond my computer that presented plenty of opportunities for meeting that “special someone.”

I was finally ready to get back into the dating game — something I hadn’t done in a while after a broken engagement.

After expressing my newfound enthusiasm for wanting to “get out there” again, friends and family had the same advice: “Try online dating.” The concept seemed unnatural to me. Sitting in front of the computer and viewing prospective boyfriends’ bios, exchanging email greetings instead of a sparked glance across a dance floor or a grocery store aisle ... (I say this as someone who once met a fellow at Trader Joe’s). 

But I succumbed and signed up with an online dating service. All I had to do was complete the application, hit send and the dating website would make my matches and the first month would be free of charge. Perfect — a website that would find a boyfriend for me!

i-had-to-ditch-all-the-dating-apps-so-i-could-find-love photo 1 Laura Jacobs

If you’ve been a single girl in Los Angeles for a couple years, you know the “rules” of the dating scene. It’s a jungle out there, filled with animals and indecency. So when my friend Mara said to me over lunch, “He hasn’t texted in two days. Should I say something?” I already knew what had happened. 

...

If you’ve been a single girl in Los Angeles for a couple years, you know the “rules” of the dating scene. It’s a jungle out there, filled with animals and indecency. So when my friend Mara said to me over lunch, “He hasn’t texted in two days. Should I say something?” I already knew what had happened. 

... (Laura Jacobs)

A few days after my application submission, I came home from a long day at the office yet eager to get back on the computer. I logged on to my online matchmaker — heart fluttering with excitement at the prospect of meeting potential suitors who, like me, would love animals (especially cats), live music, hiking and walks along the beach. These would be men who were smart, funny, outgoing, preferably with an athletic build and who lived within a 30-mile radius of my Laguna Beach home.

Or not.

It seemed that the online matchmaker’s “scientifically proven formula” for finding the perfect match completely failed in my case.

I met an eager athlete who insisted that I take up mountain biking with him, completely disregarding my stated disinterest in biking (unless the bike was a Harley-Davidson). “Hiking,” I repeated — not mountain biking. I was matched with Harley rider, but he lived in Hemet, far beyond the 30-mile radius of my home, and he resembled a 300-pound Hell’s Angel … delete. Then there was the guy allergic to cats, and my favorite: the music lover who, in his profile photo, wore a circa 1984 David Lee Roth-esque electric blue spandex jumpsuit. Seriously.

i-had-to-ditch-all-the-dating-apps-so-i-could-find-love photo 2 David Welby

I began my dating app experience much later in life. (The foolish decision to buy a Windows phone set me back two years.) I was anxious to get started the moment I upgraded devices. The first and most obvious download was the infamous Tinder, renowned as a hook-up app but also responsible for significant...

I began my dating app experience much later in life. (The foolish decision to buy a Windows phone set me back two years.) I was anxious to get started the moment I upgraded devices. The first and most obvious download was the infamous Tinder, renowned as a hook-up app but also responsible for significant...

(David Welby)

After months of spending evenings and weekends on the computer scrolling through endless mismatched matches, I was done.

I already had a full-time job as a paralegal, and this was becoming more tedious than working for lawyers. 

I reminded myself that a real world existed beyond my computer that presented plenty of opportunities for meeting that “special someone.”

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I started hiking in Laguna Canyon, exploring local beaches and acquainting myself with Laguna’s music scene. The Marine Room Tavern in Laguna Beach became my favorite hangout on Sunday afternoons for live classic rock and camaraderie with other music lovers. I was having so much fun I almost forgot that I was supposed to be looking for love, but was reminded one Sunday as I watched couples kissing while swaying on the dance floor. I thought, “How cool would it be to meet someone here — someone who’s into music like I am?”

A couple of months after that thought, I hurried through the open door of the Marine Room, scanning the crowd of locals and tourists to find my friend Lori, whom I was meeting. From the corner of my eye I saw my buddy Jay waving at me. “Hey, Pam, I want you to meet Gary,” he called to me. My eyes locked with Gary’s eyes for a few seconds. I’d seen him on occasion, always sitting at the other end of the bar from me. He was distinctive in his fedora. Gary smiled and shook my hand. 

Hmm, I thought — cute. I liked his goatee and green eyes.

A few weeks after meeting Gary, I cozied up to my spot at the bar one Sunday and hailed the bartender for a glass of wine. As I looked under the bar for a hook on which to hang my purse, I could see the bar stool next to me being pulled out. I sat up and recognized that hat.

“Hey,” said Gary with a big grin. I looked at him and felt a rush of energy surge through my body and turned away for a moment, trying to hide the fact I was blushing. 

He’d worked his way down to my end of the bar. Interesting.

“Hi, Gary — love this band,” I said, trying to be cool and casual.

“Oh, yeah, they’re awesome,” he said, and that was the beginning of a conversation that went on until the last song ended at 8 p.m. Turned out we shared a passion for music, and we were both in the midst of a career transition. Gary lived just a few blocks away, enjoyed hiking and loved the beach; he was outgoing, funny, smart, loved dogs and was curious about cats (close enough).

Over the next few weeks we got to know each other through friendly, flirtatious banter and discussions about his new music directory website, which needed content, and me, a part-time freelance writer who needed clients.

Sparks flickered in between the lines, yet I kept him at a bay. I had found my match, but would this pairing lead to a business deal or a boyfriend?

After one of our “meetings,” which ended at our favorite tavern, Gary walked me to my car. Before I could reach for my keys, he kissed me. That was the tiebreaker.  My prospective client, soon after that kiss, became my boyfriend.

Knudsen is working on a children’s book and also a memoir based on her blog: Cat Lady in the Canyon.

L.A. Affairs chronicles the current dating scene in and around Los Angeles. We pay $300 a column. If you have comments or a true story to tell, email us at LAAffairs@latimes.com.

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