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For much of this fall, happy hour for me started every day at noon. Instead of $5 cocktails and sliders, I would get a bagel — a profile of one man on the dating app Coffee Meets Bagel — and text some of my friends shortly before finding out.

Delece SB: ok team

i’m about to open bagel

AK: Bagel time

Delece SB: keep me in prayer

This “bagel” could be my next boyfriend — or another profile of an online dater I will never meet. Using the messaging app GroupMe, my friends and I groan about how much we love or hate our bagels, give updates on our most recent dates and talk about our successes and failures with the many dating sites we’re on. We call the messaging group SOS, and it’s how we stay sane through the daily frustrations of online dating. 

Like people who struggle with standing up to a belittling boss or overcoming addiction, singles often need support to get through dating hardships. “It’s easy to lose hope,” says Michelle P. Maidenberg, president and clinical director of Westchester Group Works, a center for group therapy in New York. SOS serves that purpose for us; it’s our informal group therapy.

I message AK and SJ — who prefer to be identified only by their initials — at 2 a.m., 11  p.m. or anytime in between. If AK is unsure how to ask a girl out via text, he goes through a mock text exchange in SOS, with me or SJ playing the role of his potential date.

We’ll vent about traveling alone:

Delece SB: Every time I stay in a hotel I feel lonely. Without fail. Why do you think I was working so hard to get you all to join me in San Diego?

Who wants to be in a nice hotel, in a nice area, sans a boo?

SJ: OMG when I traveled for the work those were the loneliest nights!

A waste of a good hotel room!

We’ll admit our insecurities when someone does like us:

Delece SB: I’m still like what does Steve see when he sees me?

None of these other people think I’m especially great

If they do, they don’t act like it

He can’t be seeing/meeting the same Delece that so many others have

So. Many. Others.

Or we’ll give on-the-spot coaching on how to approach someone:

AK: The cashier at jcrew looks perfect

What do I say

SJ: Go say hey! Ask her to show you some item

Ask about sales

Delece SB: right

you’re at a store

ask about something there

Nothing is too embarrassing for SOS; we’ve admitted to late-night visits with exes we should avoid and have schemed about how to get out of paying for dates. Because it’s a co-ed group, we learn about how much the other gender struggles.

Sure, we could get that support from one-on-one counseling, group therapy or a forum somewhere on the Internet. But sometimes someone you’ve known for years can be just as helpful. “I find that your dear friends are ultimately the ones that give you the best support,” says Gordon Cohen, a Washington-based psychologist and president of the American Academy of Psychotherapists.

I’ve known AK for more than 10 years and SJ for about five. Our SOS conversations have become so intriguing and helpful that some of our coupled friends have asked to be included. (We adamantly say no.)

There’s a camaraderie that we have, as three singles in our late 20s and early 30s, chronicling every date, every unintentional right Tinder swipe and every awkward conversation with someone we’re interested in. It’s a bond that’s unique, finite and necessary.

SJ: every night I’m like why is no one cuddling me right now

Delece SB: Lol! Right!

SJ: Why am I drinking wine alone? Why is my phone silent… The list continues smh

SIGH

but bae is coming for all of us!

Until he does, I am grateful I’ve got company.

 

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