Internet dating is really the only kind of dating I have extensive experience with. I’ve been meeting people to date online since I got my first computer in 1997. Probably one of my best early relationships was with a boy I met on ICQ in the early days. Then I had a series of boyfriends imported from different states that I met within various games.
Now, there’s Tinder, OKCupid, e-Harmony, so many. There’s hitting on your followers on Twitter. Everything social media seems to be fair game for picking up on people. Meeting people online has become the norm. I was surprised by how much. After spending many years with the same person and then getting divorced, I suddenly find myself back on the dating scene.
I tried Tinder, but I found it wholly unappealing. How can I go out with someone based solely on how they look and a few words about themselves? Plus, it seems geared more towards hooking up, at least, the few people I met through it seemed to think we were going to hook up immediately. I uninstalled it after a few days.
Next, I decided to try OKCupid. Again. I’ve had an OKCupid account for some ridiculous amount of years, and have tried it on and off again as I have been single and not over time. Although I’ve never met anyone I dated for a long time through it, I have made some good friends. When I decided to try it again, some of my friends warned me that because it was free I would probably get a lot of “low quality” messages from people that just copy/paste and spam out the same message to a bunch of people.
This time I decided to be fairly systematic about it. I reworked my profile some and put up some recent pictures, and included a sentence stating that I would respond to anyone that sent me more than just a “Hi” or “Wanna fuck” or some other offensive thing. I also mentioned NOT being interested in a one-night stand or hooking up on the first date. Then I waited.
Within the first couple days I received more than 50 messages. It was completely overwhelming, and I was glad I had a plan to cull the disrespectful or no no-effort messages. That took care of about half of the messages, leaving me with 20+ people to write back. And I wrote everyone back.
One guy flipped out on me after a few messages because he realized that I smoke weed and his profile said no drugs. Hey, you messaged me, buddy.Another wanted no kids, despite my pictures of myself and my daughter and sentences explicitly stating that I had a daughter. Most of these snafus can be alleviated by actually READING the profile of the person you are “interested” in.
But for the most part it was a good experience. I talked to folks for a week or two then lined up dates with four people, the ones I thought I was most likely to connect with.
One of them hadn’t even messaged me first, just viewed my profile. I thought he lived far away, but I messaged him anyway. It turned out he was in town for awhile from Seattle but would be going home soon. This was my first date. It was a big bummer because in my week of dates, I definitely connected with him the most, and he was leaving.
So I kept the other three dates and went on those. They were with a musician with a job, an IT guy, and a tutor. The musician was sweet, but the date was going to his show so we didn’t really get to talk. He gave me a drink ticket, but it was kind of a whiff and we stopped chatting after we met. But the show was at a venue I hadn’t been in for a long time, and I had friends there, so it wasn’t a total loss of an evening.
The IT guy I was really looking forward to because I thought we’d have the same sense of humor. He brought me a beautiful bouquet of roses and we went out for wine and snacks. But he was super frugal on the date (I would have been happy to pay half, but he wouldn’t let me, then cheaped out. Wtf?) Also, he talked about his previous career in the Navy for most of the date, until I went cross-eyed. Then he set up another activity immediately after our date, so we had about 45 minutes and he had to go. Which was okay with me at that point.
My last date was with the tutor, and he was very sweet. But he was seven years younger than me, and he carried a distinctly negative world view. It was a shame, because he was so smart and cultured, and loved Carl Jung and dreamwork. Very rare. But I couldn’t get over how negatively he viewed everything, so after our date at a cute vegan place, we mutually stopped chatting as well.
But I was all hung up on Mr. Seattle anyway, and after my week of dates I was no longer interested in wading through the messages anymore. I admire people that can stick it out with persistent online dating, going on these terrible dates until they find someone they click with.
I deactivated my OKCupid profile for awhile. It’s still deactivated, and I don’t know if it’ll go on again, at least with the express interest in finding a date. My dates weren’t TERRIBLE, actually, they were pretty fun. It was nice to get out after years of not dating. It was nice to get dressed up and feel pretty.
At this point in my life, I wouldn’t say I am done with internet dating. I still enjoy getting to know people through these little messages more than awkward in-person conversations, but that’s just how I am. I am hoping with the right person, that it will not be that way. That we will mesh so well in person that I don’t need to live in little chat boxes. But for now, it is enough.
My roommate and I recently went out dancing for Halloween, and we had such a great time. Maybe there is still hope for meeting the right man or woman the old-fashioned way. Lately I seem to be doing a tour of exes, re-examining old relationships that didn’t quite work out to see why and how, and whether there is anything left there to salvage.
But mostly, I am enjoying being single again. It is good to find myself, to decompress, to work on making myself happy. The thought that we need to be with another to be happy is a lie, but there is something to be said for companionship and snuggles and long late-night conversations. The grass is always greener on the other side, so for now I hope to continue to enjoy the little things. To stay present in my life and be aware of the beauty and freedom that comes from being without ties. I hope the same for you.