woman

I waited until she closed the bathroom door.

Click. That meant two full minutes until she came out — two full minutes for me to grab my computer, check my online dating profile, and — inevitably, guiltily — slam my laptop shut just as she snuggled up next to me on the sofa.

What was I doing? Just days earlier I had been ready, even eager, to take my profile down for good. After almost a year of searching and scouring every Website in Los Angeles for the perfect match, I had — I thought — finally found her: the One for Me. OFM had it all: intelligence with a streak of creativity, the ability not just to hear but to listen, a searing sense of humor with a tang of sarcasm, and a really great rack. We started seeing each other regularly — quickly moving from making out in my car to doing much more in my bedroom — and talked on the phone every day. Everything was perfect.

Except for this: I still checked my profile once, twice, three times a day. Even when she spent the night. I was an addict, and my drug was online dating.

At first I tried to rationalize my behavior. What's the harm in doing a little casual "people watching," right? Like being at a café or a park. And who doesn't wonder every now and then if maybe they could do a little better than their current mate?

But this was different. On the Internet, I had an actual catalog of available women, listed with their quirks, characteristics, and measurements. Finding someone better was no longer innocent curiosity; it was easy — and it became an obsession. Yes, OFM listened, but what if someone else listened better? True, OFM was smart, but couldn't I find someone smarter? And fine, OFM had a really, really great rack, but don't flat-chested women also have a lot to offer?

Soon, looking became winking, winking became hot-listing, hot-listing became e-mailing, and e-mailing became seeing other people. I never found out if OFM knew. Unlike me, she stopped checking her profile soon after we met. There was no official breakup; I just didn't return calls as quickly, started canceling dates with her so I could try out new potential matches, and eventually we drifted apart. With so many new "opportunities" out there — with the illusion that a life-changing upgrade was just a click away — I couldn't maintain my focus on our relationship.

That was a year ago. I've dated many women since. None of them has quite lived up to OFM...but there's someone better out there, right? I'm sure of it.

Christopher Farah is a screenwriter living in Los Angeles. He has written for the New York Times and salon.com.

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