As I mentioned in Texting Etiquette, I could write an entire post about online dating. This is that post.
I know this may appeal to a more narrow audience, whether you’ve found the One (for better or worse), you’d never do online dating, or you’re smart and just don’t care to date because you have cats instead. I encourage you to stay for the horror stories. I’ll also try to make a broader connection to life or love or the lazy world or the electronically-obsessed world. I’ll figure something out.
Let me start with this: Why I Quit Online Dating Forever & You Should Too
What we have here is another millennial who gave up something pretty common and is now claiming to be enlightened and telling us to give it up with her (see Women and Wine).
Let me quote the post:
“I’ve been trying to navigate online dating for several years now with honest intentions and I can tell you for certain, it’s changed dramatically — and not in a good way. Actual relationships are rare and drama and disappointment is plentiful. Online dating is mostly bullshit now. I’m five months sober from looking for love online, and here’s why I’ll never go back:
1. IT’S NOT AUTHENTIC ANYMORE.
Many users aren’t looking for anything real, and are mostly trying to kill their boredom or sexual urges. Hours are spent pointlessly swiping, messages go routinely unanswered and people take out their bitter feelings of their last relationship out on a complete stranger. Yay?”
I don’t know, every guy I’ve met online (that I met in person) was looking for something real. If anything, I’ve used it as a cure to boredom. Well, because I had an empty house after my mom was arrested and an empty apartment after things went to rapetown with Matt. I actually just enjoyed the conversation and illusion of company…and sanity.
“2. CONVERSATIONS ARE SO CLICHE.
If you’ve been online dating for a long ass time like I have, you’ll get to a point where the initial conversations bore you to tears, but you have to have them in an effort to get to know each other.”
It never killed me that much. It’s a necessary evil. The sooner you get through it, the better your odds are.
“3. I’M SICK OF THE UNWANTED SEX TALK.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a seemingly innocent conversation with a guy and he suddenly starts talking about my boobs or makes completely uncalled for sexual comments — or even worse, he sends an unsolicited dick pic.”
Surprise sexual conversations are not fun, and I’ve rarely had an unsolicited dick pic that I was happy about. I do have to agree with this one. That’s not to say that spontaneous flirtation is a bad thing. I was convinced for a long time that Dave wasn’t actually interested in me. Because the most flirty(?) thing he said for a while was that he could use my boobs as pillows. The fact that he acknowledged I had boobs shocked me.
“4. THE ODDS ARE THE SAME IN REAL LIFE.
I’ve been meeting just as many date-worthy men in real life since I disconnected. When I truly think about the logistics, I used to chat with numerous men before just one of them stood out enough to take the connection offline. Now that I’m not constantly distracted by Tinder notifications when I’m out and about, I actually get approached by men again. Nothing has been promising so far, but the number of opportunities in real life are just the same as anything I experienced online. It gives me hope for meeting the right person for me organically.”
Where are you meeting them??? I’ll get into this more in a but, but I never had men at my disposal. And yeah, nothing has been promising, so how is it that much better than online?
“5. SEARCHING FOR MR. RIGHT IN A LAZY WAY IS CONTRADICTING.
It’s actually pretty lazy to think that you can find your Prince Charming while sitting on your couch in tattered PJs with chip crumbs in your lap.”
No it’s not. It’s working smarter, not harder.
“6. IT DISCONNECTED ME FROM REAL LIFE.
Like I said, when I was constantly searching for love online, I would be out and about constantly distracted by my phone and all the dating apps I had…[Y]ou’d be surprised how many opportunities for connection are right under your nose everyday.”
I’m always distracted by my phone anyway (I have Pokemon to catch and hatch). I’ve tried connecting in the real world. Which is why I turned to online.
“7. I’M SICK OF COMPETING FOR AFFECTIONS IN A SHALLOW ONLINE WORLD.
I’ve dated plenty of men who are constantly keeping their options open and continuing to persue and even date other women they meet online even after months of us dating. It’s fucking painful and it happens all the time.”
I never really dealt with this. So I guess it doesn’t happen all the time.
“8. I’M PERFECTLY CAPABLE OF DATING THE OLD FASHIONED WAY.
I can honestly say my life is a happier one without the constant and daily rejections, rude comments and anxieties that come with looking for love online. I might meet less men this way, but the ones I do meet feel meaningful right from the start and I’m confident that I’m still going to find love, even if I don’t look for it online.”
I’m not. Online love is no different than Facebook or any other social media beast.
How do they feel meaningful right from the start? And I thought the ods were the same, and now you say you meet more men online.
Let me share my “love” story though, as my right eye pulsates and swells from when Dave just accidentally elbowed me in the eye. I was just trying to grab his butt. I didn’t deserve this.
I had many crushes, from preschool to, well, now. As a high school freshman I finally found a guy who at least seemed to want to be friends with me. Literally the only time I’ve been “flirted” with in person is with this guy. He sat down next to me because I was talking about my goats.
Six months later I asked him out. Which to me was couplehood.
It took maybe a year and a half before we actually made it official. Like Facebook official.
It was another six months (I think?) before I tried to kiss him.
I was a freshman in college before we attempted making out, I think. It was a bit awkward, with my family being around, my dog watching us, both us of being inexperienced, and both of us wanting to wait until marriage for the fun stuff.
At the end of our freshman year we broke up. Still friends though.
I was single for seven months. The longest I’ve been single since I started dating. (I don’t count those middle school years of asking guys out…and being rejected, of course.)
I tried to flirt. I really did. I remember making flirty eye contact with one of the butchers at the Hannaford where my mom worked; she kept talking about trying to set us up.
My dad tried to set me up with a guy at his pigeon club. He was around my age, going to Albany College of Pharmacy. One night he happened to be at my dad’s, so my dad called me and I headed over.
He told my dad afterward that I was very pretty and seemed very nice, but his Jewish family was ready to arrange a marriage for him with a girl from Israel. I couldn’t compete.
I went into Michael’s everyday for at least a week, buying one item a day for my art class, claiming I wanted to use a coupon as much as possible. I just wanted to flirt with the cashier. I eventually asked him if he wanted to grab a coffee and he said he didn’t like coffee. I said we could grab a different beverage and he said he’d just been broken up with. Okay, sure…
Come up with a better let-down than “I don’t like coffee,” guy. Geez.
(I saw him recently with Dave and it was awkward for me, but I doubt he recognized me.)
I tried asking a guy out in the art class I was buying supplies for one by one. First it was just that his schedule was packed for now. Okay, let me know when it’s not.
He didn’t. I brought it up again. (Each time feeling like I might actually pass out from being so nervous.)
He said he was still too busy. I told him to let me know when he wasn’t, then.
He never did.
I’m sure I tried to flirt a lot more (hell, I hoped getting a job might help me meet men; they were all married). It was to no avail.
After seven months of singledom and not even so much as a successful flirtation, I decided to try the OkCupid app on my phone (I made this decision during church, no less). That same night I met my future boyfriend.
He told me he loved me on date two. On date three, we became a couple. A week in he cheated, three weeks in he stole my virginity before I was ready, then broke up with me days later, days after my mom was arrested. What a supportive boyfriend…
Whatever. I gave it another shot. I dated a guy with a baby on the way, plus a few others.
I dated a lot between my various boyfriends. Some weekends I had a different date every night (Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday). Sometimes I had to try to juggle two guys who wanted to go out the same night. Somehow they all managed to fall for me (even after only a date or two), and I had to break bad news to a lot of (foolishly) smitten guys.
My next boyfriend happened because my friend swiped right on Tinder. On our first date we decided we should be a couple.
Okay, whatever. Two days later he was telling me he loved me and wanted to marry me and we were choosing names for kids. I knew it was just infatuation, but either way it was a happy distraction from how much life at home sucked.
It lasted maybe a week and a half before he started getting on my nerves. After a drunk phone call asking for a threesome and telling me he was getting turned on by other girls (see Texting Etiquette, again), I decided it was time to end it.
A couple weeks later (like, two) I met Matt, the much-talked about ex. During the course of our six month relationship I moved into my grandparents’ house, where I had a curfew, which put some strain on us. My grandparents just put strain on us. They didn’t like Matt and he didn’t like them.
My relationship with Matt was fraught with arguments and most days I was annoyed with him, but my relationship with my grandparents was also worsening. So after five months living with them, I moved out and into an apartment with Matt.
I thought he was bad before, but he really smothered me there. But hey, I was adulting and away from my grandparents and making a home with someone I supposedly loved.
That is until he raped me and things got really bad, really fast.
I lasted about another week in the apartment, during which time I chatted with a bunch of guys, mostly to keep me sane when I was afraid to be there.
Of course I made dates with some. But I canceled most of them because I just wasn’t feeling it. One guy messaged me right before I was supposed to go meet him to watch a movie to ask if I had a problem with pot. I replied “Kind of” and never heard from him again.
I guess you could call it a “date” when I reconnected with the guy with the baby and he helped me move onto Siena’s campus for about two weeks. He said he felt like he owed me for going MIA many months ago, and he was happy to help me move (I got out in two nights). Unfortunately that was the same night my first date with Dave was scheduled, and I had to cancel. (Long after Dave was annoyed I canceled with him to be with another guy and he would’ve helped me. Not exactly the first impression I wanted to make.)
Dave gave me the benefit of the doubt and allowed me to reschedule. As I mentioned in that same post above, the guy who helped me move out called and texted me a few times during it.
But after that one date I was smitten. I was so dumb.
Again, two dates in we were a couple and on our third date (later that day we became a couple) Dave was telling me he loved me. A week or so later, I moved in.
He talked marriage for a few months. He actually talked seriously about proposing a little after our six month anniversary. We adopted three cats before one year (which turned into five). We argued a hell of a lot for about a year and said some horrible, nasty things to each other, but now we’re heading toward two years at an alarming rate and when I just asked him if we were going to get married, he replied, “Well duh.”
So that’s my entire dating history. Most of it online.
Like all of it except for one guy.
Men don’t approach me in real life.* I’ve had a guy friend tell me he’s surprised that I haven’t had a lot of boyfriends (this was some time ago), a few boyfriends have been convinced guys were constantly flirting with me, and my brother was even shocked that I’d never been flirted with and said I must’ve been missing it. That was practically a compliment.
*The only person in recent years that I’ve had flirt with me that I met in real life is a woman with a fiance.
Despite my rocky track record — okay, my mostly negative track record — with online dating, I still like it, recommend it, and would do it again. Dave has said I should know better and he does, because you only get shit from online dating (and he’s angry when he says it, so it’s not like he’s kidding).
I like it because you have a pool of people at your fingertips, you know everyone is on the same page, and you have an idea of what they’re about before you meet.
Instead of actively searching for and pursuing one victim at a time, perhaps days, weeks, or even months apart, I can lazily hunt a pack of prey. As you can surmise, I like to cast a wide net. The chance of me reeling in anyone is pretty slim, so I toss out a lot of lines and see who bites.
So many fishing metaphors.
Unfortunately, I often got more guys replying than I ever expected. Which meant I might be talking to six guys at once — like, in one night. I had to start assigning different ringtones to different people so I’d know who was texting or messaging (and if I wanted to get back right away).
I blame my bipolar in part for the impulsivity. But also, I never even met some of these guys. Some I entertained mediocre conversation with for a day or two. Some proved they were really only after sex. Some I went on only one date with.
If there was any real emotional investment from either of us, I did my best not to be a dick about letting him down. Or I was good about responding.
Anyway, a big advantage to online dating is that you can scroll (or swipe) through a lot of guys, instead of looking for a potential mate for months.
You’ll also probably get a self-esteem boost when tons of guys (some of whom you also find attractive) tell you you’re hot, beautiful, etc. And for the guys with whom it doesn’t go well, hopefully you get a good story out of it.
Another major benefit is that you know what everyone you talk to is looking for. Does he only want a friend? (Which is like nobody.) Does he just want to sext? Does he want something casual? Is he in the market for a relationship — but not too serious? Does he want a long-term relationship? Marriage?
I asked Dave what his end game was in his online dating days and he said something long-term. I replied that two years was kind of long-term and he told me to get out then. Seriously though, he equates long-term with marriage (even though you could be together for decades and never get married). To him, they’re the same thing.
Marriage was my end goal too, though I didn’t advertise that, nor get my hopes up. Also, it very well may not work out. I went into my relationship with Matt wanting to get married, and he was planning on proposing only two months after we broke up.
There are sites for people looking to get married, though. I was on one of them.
But really, it’s nice to know that people are (hopefully) single and looking for something — and you know what they’re looking for.
And, perhaps most importantly, you have some idea of what people are about, It was important to me that a guy be Catholic (or later, as I relaxed my criteria, Christian, or at least has a religion), like the outdoors, be doing something with his life…yes, people can lie on their profile, but why bother?
I feel like you can learn something about someone even by the way they write their profile.
I don’t want to waste my time on a guy that’s atheist, has three kids and is only looking to date casually. I don’t want to bother with a gamer ten years older than me who only cares to get high and do cosplay. I don’t care to seriously date a landscaper who acts superior because he rarely drinks, whines about doing things on weekends, and cares more about his trucks than he does me.
Again, people can lie on their profile and whatnot, but hopefully they don’t and it gives you some idea of what you’re dealing with.
I found Dave’s POF profile (even though I deleted mine months ago, and told him). I can’t figure out what about him first attracted me. I think it was literally that he said he was a Christian and that was it. Plus he was cute. (Note the past tense.) I should’ve known to run when two of his photos were of his car and a landscape.
But a person you met at a bar, or a friend set you up with, or you met through some kind of meet-cute? You have no idea what they’re about. At least online you can match yourself with people you see fit.
I do have to admit, however, that most of us dating online are damaged in one way or another. I, apparently, was too weird for real world dating (and was insecure and whatnot). As time went on, I’d also been cheated on, emotionally abused, and sexually assaulted. At this point, I’m also bipolar.
Dave has been cheated on twice.
Matt was cheated on. He had a host of other issues as well.
Other guys I dated or had relationships with had various disabilities or illnesses. Mental illness seems to be a big one.
Online dating is where broken people go to try to find love from other broken people.
Sometimes your “damage” compliments their brokenness and sometimes it doesn’t. And vice versa.
I think that’s why online dating gets a bad rap. It’s a lot of people who are hurting or have been hurt looking for someone who won’t hurt them. Hurting can be mental illness, physical disability, and so on. Hurt can be cheating, using them, whatever.
Not that people you’d meet in the real world don’t have dark spots in their past, but there seems to be a higher concentration of it online. My theory is that either these people have been rejected in real life (probably many times) because of a real or perceived issue, and so they think online will be better. More opportunities, plus the knowledge that others like you have probably flocked to the site. Or they just don’t feel good enough or confident for real world dating, and going online allows them to be themselves…or whatever version they choose to present.
I know my reason was that I couldn’t find love in the real world (after my first boyfriend). I wasn’t sure whether it was looks or personality; I assumed looks, but my personality wasn’t exactly…outgoing. Or charming. Or nice.
And that was before I earned my bipolar diagnosis.
Online I could give someone a sample of me and let them chat me up if they liked what they read (and saw).
Oddly enough, online guys told me I was attractive. So was it actually my personality that put guys off? But I flirted with and/or asked a lot of guys out before they ever really got to know anything about me.
I think another thing I like about online dating is that it’s easier to be yourself. I mean, I don’t go full-force right away — they need an adjustment period to my sense of humor and misanthropic tendencies — but the risk feels lower because if they don’t like me, I have ten other guys who’ve messaged me and yet more I haven’t even talked to, much less even viewed their profile. The stakes are lower. It provides a safe space for insecure people to venture out of their shell.
One more note on how we’re mostly damaged goods; there’s not necessarily anything wrong with this. My truck has rust and the front bumper is at a bit of an angle and it’s about five shades of black (plus blue) and it was even in a front-end accident (before I got it). I still love it and it’s been more loyal to me than any man. (I just furiously knocked on wood that Angus doesn’t suddenly fail me.)
However, with damage comes desperation.
Which is probably the other major reason most people are online. It’s not a self-confidence issue, but a boredom issue, or a lack-of-patience issue.
I’ll admit I was also on because I was desperate, but in the no-patience sense. Also I wanted to know if there was something so horribly wrong with me that no human male my age could possibly be interested in me.
Desperate guys (and girls, I suppose) are likely another big reason why online dating has a bad name.
People who are lonely, horny, seeking validation…they all get clingy, fast. Or, contrapuntally, they don’t dare open up emotionally (or dump their feelings on you), and instead are only sexual with you. Neither is ideal (unless you’re into that).
On a similar note, online dating taught me how needy guys can be. I mean, not only do most claim to love cuddling (which at this point in my life is needy and annoying), but they get all weird if you don’t respond to their messages or texts immediately and will get super attached after only one date.
Maybe that has to do with being insecure and desperate and damaged.
Surprisingly, a lot of guys say they’re happy to wait for sex, claiming that it isn’t that important. Unsurprisingly, they rarely mean this.
But I always figured women would be the ones who come off as needy and annoying and clingy. Unless I really like a guy, I don’t. And even then, I only seem clingy because I really like him and so I always want to talk to him and/or see him. It’s not like I latch on and make him a shrine in my room and he becomes my entire life.
But after only one date, or a few days of conversation? Yes, I was smitten with Dave and wanted to be with only him after one date, but he felt the same way. (Again, note that this is very past tense.)
Still, being damaged, desperate, and needy are all contributing factors to things going sour.
Going sour in the dating stages, anyway. The fact that Dave and I are wading through a pool of stagnant sludge is more related to long term relationships, not dating.
Ultimately it comes down to being clingy for whatever reason. (I feel like it’s easier to deal with those hyper-sexual people.) There’s a difference in interest, in expectations…after a night of mediocre online conversation, a few hours together, a couple days of on and off texting, some people get really attached, when I’m just not feeling it. They think things went well and are expecting another date, meanwhile I’m trying to figure out a way to let them down (or scrape them off the bottom of my shoe).
Despite the horror stories, the bad dates, the awkward conversations, the players, the missed connections, the clingy ones, the unavailable ones, the hurt, the disappointment, the sometimes short or nightmarish relationships, I still like online dating. I would still recommend it and try it again.
So would Dave.
Which probably says something about our relationship.
Seriously though, I’m in favor of it. Maybe because technology facilitates most everything in my generation (I wouldn’t tell my grandparents we met online until we were like married), maybe because I’m lazy, maybe because I have self-esteem issues, but it works for me.
All I’m doing is looking for love.