I’m sure some will read the next statement with judgement: I have been online dating on again/off again since roughly 2008 using OKCupid. It’s crazy I know. I seem like such a “normal” person. Seriously though, some people still think online dating is weird and for pathetic people (which may or may not be true). I know my mother is constantly concerned for my safety when I tell her about my online dates. She assumes that everyone on “those sites” are there to murder women (and who knows, maybe she’s right). I can’t speak for everyone but I can speak to my issues, challenges and successes with the online dating world.
I have a soft spot for romantic comedies or really any movie with a meet-cute. I would love to meet the man of my dreams as we both reach for the last copy of the same book at a book store and then end up at dinner later that night deciding ultimately that we should share it. That’s what American books, movies and television have told us for what seems like all of civilized mankind -You meet the person you’re suppose to be with in circumstances of shared interest. Period! Right?
I’ve been struggling with something since graduating college: Once you’re done with school, where do you meet people if not through work or friends? I’ve always worked in small non-profits or I freelance so I haven’t been inclined to seek romantic companionship through those venues as I need to maintain all my professional relationships. I had met all my friends’ friends and still nothing (though I should note that meeting people through your friends has one of the high success rates for relationships). Back in 2008 under the influence and help from one of my good friends and some whiskey, I created an OKCupid profile.
At first I was skeptical. After considering that my expectations are low and that I have nothing to lose I went for it. I went on a good amounts of dates without any real results. There’s definitely some cantor that comes with online dating. One guy asked me if we could have sex after just meeting me at a bowling ally. After I said “no” we kept bowling, shared a pitcher of beer and went our separate ways. One guy and I decided in the middle of the date that we weren’t into each other and are still friends today.
Everyone needs to get over the stigma. This is how young people are using the tools available to meet a higher variety of people. Though it can feel awkward it is really efficient to weed out certain people that you know aren’t going to work for you. Though this is a problem that online dating present: if you don’t know yourself and what you want, how are you suppose to be able to be successful at online dating? As I’ve gotten older and had more experiences I am much more in tune with my needs and wants and who I am – basically an internet dating pro.
Creepers vs Good ol’ Fashioned Creeps
There’s something pretty enticing about being able to snoop through people’s personal dating profiles. Social media brought a new world order of creeping and stalking. I’m a creeper – checking out your pictures, links, comments etc. Truthfully I have been doing this my whole life. I use to look at people at restaurants and in the mall and make up stories about them based on their appearances and actions. Now instead of doing that at cafes and shopping centers, I’m doing it online. If I meet someone without an online presence I jump to the conclusion that that person has something to hide. I love that we’re living in a time of putting it all out there. Hopefully the honesty of it all will help with stigmas and stereotypes. I digress though.
Some people have definitely taken this “creeping” to a creepy level. Obviously there are hackers in the world that are out for your personal information to steal your wealth and make your life more annoying. I’m not really going to get into that here. The real creeps are the trolls and real stalkers that find your address or follow you on the street. These creeps threaten your safety. Thankfully I’ve only encountered some trolls on OKCupid who’s sole purpose is to build you up to put you down. I assume they do this as some sort of game that makes them feel better about themselves. However I feel obligated to say that it’s okay to creep and do research on someone that you’re possibly interested in. I do it. I’m very aware of my online presence and will not be creeped out if you look me up. I will be creeped out if you know things that are more private or if you find my address.
Unfortunately there are real good ol’ fashioned creeps both online and in real life. This is definitely a down side to the internet. Some people believe that just because they can’t see the person they are interacting with that it means they can be utter jerks. Louie CK said it best when he talks about empathy on Conan. Seriously I have read some really fucked up messages from guys on OKCupid that I feel like they wouldn’t have the nerve saying to me in person. Some things are violent and very inappropriate, especially to send to someone who is basically a stranger. I wish there were therapists I could recommend these guys talk to to work out their issues with women.
Predator and Prey
It’s never made a lot of sense to me why dating has to include an essence of power. I either feel like the predator or the prey, the seeker or the seeked. Traditionally women seem to fall in the prey/seeked roll in dating and from what I can tell from my friends and family, they don’t seem to mind. I have alway thought this was bogus. As women we’re suppose to wait around for someone to want to hang out with us?!
Every man that I have ever tried to seek, it has completely scared them off. Seriously. I have heard from many many guys that complain that they wish women would take the lead in dating sometimes but you know what, I’ve done it like a dozen times and I have never been successful. Even on OKCupid it doesn’t work. There must be something about a woman that’s interested in you that is a major turn off for a guy. Please if you have any real insight about this contact me.
Game of Jerks
An ex-boyfriend, whom I met on OKC, clued me in on something that he had heard from some buddies also using OKC. It’s basically an approach to online dating that they have amongst friends where they give each other points depending on the activities of the date. X amount of points for this and X amount of points for that type of thing. I think they would just keep a running tab on how “well” someone is doing by how many points that person has generated. Obvious things like hand holding, kissing, hugging, and offering to pay or split the bill are included in the game for point opportunities. Now these specific friends of his live in the Bay Area which I only mention because they would say offer 50 points if they could get a female to cross a bridge for a first date. They would offer more points the farther a female would travel for them. They had a series of point opportunities if the women put herself out there, taking a chance. They would also purposely take a woman on a bad date and offer points depending on how long it took a woman to complain or whether or not she was easy-going. My understanding of this game is that these men would put a lot of effort forth to weed out women and reward each other with arbitrary points depending on how good of a story it gives them later as they sip their Pliney the Elder.
First off I have never gotten on board with referring to dating or love as a game. Games have, objectives, rules, winners and losers. Dating and love shouldn’t have to have rules, winners and losers, it should be more fluid. I feel disgusted and sorry for all the men and women who treat dating as a game. It makes me frustrated.
What’s Love Got To Do With It
Why do we even bother doing this? There are so many terrible people in the world. How are we suppose to find someone that we might want to spend more time with?
I try to approach my time on OKCupid with low low low expectations. I’m not there to find my husband or true love. I’m truthfully there to meet new people and maybe find someone who I get along with and might want to see movies with down the line. I made my profile somewhat silly and open ended. I reply to messages with an air of flirtiness. I don’t put too much stock into someone until I can really get a good read on them. I’m usually not surprised by people’s flakiness or lack of empathy. I don’t let it control my life.
We’re all looking for love. No one really wants to be alone. My only advice is that as you go online looking to connect with someone, try to have fun with it and don’t expect fireworks or people to not lie to you or be a jerk. Just do it for the experience of it and enjoy the ride.