If you’re single in the 21st century, you probably have an online dating story. Online dating sites use these special algorithms that combine hope with perversion divided by despair multiplied by attractiveness and subtracted from the square root of Jesus freaks, general freaks, and ordinary people who don’t understand punctuation. From this, you may conclude that I don’t know what an algorithm is and that I have a few online dating experiences of my own. Here are my tips to an only slightly disheartening experience that will surely entertain your friends.
1) Creepy begets creepy.
I rejoined the ranks of online dating because I believe there are kind-hearted, intelligent men out there who are over 5’7”, have no children, and live within 100 miles of me. Initially, I thought I would treat all other site participants who sent me messages with respect and general well-wishes.
Hose1234: “Hey u like hose n heels?”
Hmmm. Yes, the garden hose is useful. Hey! Wait! Nobody sends messages about gardening at 6:32 am. Perv alert.
Me: “I don’t know. Does your grandma like hose? Get counseling.”
You have to go for it. Clearly, this Columbus, Ohio, man has never actually watched a female wrastle her lower extremities into a pair of control tops. And if he has, then he is a fan of cellulite whiplash, not pantyhose. We all have elderly family matriarchs for a reason. Never be too proud to mention grandma to creeps.
2) Don’t give the guy who paints miniature unicorns and ogres a chance to reject you.
The world is filled with unique individuals who enjoy all variety of activities. Who can say what is “normal?” The challenge with online dating is to accept what someone has chosen to share with the public and still try to get to know this person when his hobbies aren’t your hobbies.However, giving someone the benefit of the doubt, entering into a deep email exchange that starts to make you feel like you should have gotten that degree in counseling after all, hoping that maybe the opportunity will arise to share your own personal stories and then being rejected as this man takes your “counsel” and asks out a lady from his daily life instead of you…that sucks. Beware the deep emails. Therapy sessions should at least result in my choice of free beverage.
3) Trust your spidey senses.
If he seems oddly intense, it’s because he has murdered people and buried them in the park. No amount of Shakespeare quotation absolves that.When a guy in North Carolina, who doesn’t know your name, offers to bring up pizza and watch the Hallmark Channel with you, it’s not okay. Not okay when he writes about hugging you when your participation in the conversation has not meandered past, “You have a lot of pictures of yourself in the library. Do you live there? Ha!” He tells you he’s a nurse and will take care of you and your family…um, not okay. You ask the names of his dogs in his profile pic, and he replies, “Those aren’t my dogs. That’s when I was homeless.” NOT OKAY. Too much to share too soon, sir. Maybe this guy is in the process of getting his life together, but I have my own set of issues to manage.
I stopped replying to North Carolina man, and maybe that was the wrong way to handle it. A week later, he messaged me to ask if he had said something wrong. Yes! But I replied no because this guy isn’t Dr. Frank-N-Furter-Sweet-Transvestite creepy, he’s liver-eating, fava beans-with-a-nice-bottle-of-chianti creepy. I told him that sometimes conversations run out of momentum. He replied, “Is visiting you in Wooster someday too much to dream of?” Yes. And joke’s on you–I don’t really live in Wooster.
4) Honesty is the best policy, except when it isn’t.
Some folks put it all out there. They use their real names for profile names, list their employer, actually fill in that space for income, and list the dates of venereal disease screenings. Hey, we’re all here to meet and mingle. Why not share those personal details? Please refer to 1, 2, and 3.
No one needs to know your name or where you live. In fact, I rarely share my name because it is unusual and easily traced back to me. You might say I’m too suspicious, that I have trust issues. Precisely! It’s bad enough to have learned the hard way that hearts get trampled all the time. I don’t need a homeless man from North Carolina catching the Greyhound to Ohio and reading liver preparation tips on his ipad while he travels. All internal organs must stay intact, and unfortunately, my history with the one semi-successful online dating experience I’ve had dictates that this heart must stay guarded. I alone possess the access to name, address, income, STDs, and heart. It’s all on a need-to-know-basis, and most people don’t need to know.
6) Don’t play into gender stereotypes.
I had to say that before I assert that I don’t think most men are looking for a real partnership. I don’t think most men are prepared for it, particularly men of my generation, in their early-30s. Men are intimidated by humor, intelligence, assertiveness, independence, and vaginas. I have my own socket set and know how to use it. I have a job and aspirations. Men are great thinkers, lovers, friends, caregivers, creators, workers–all the same things that women are. Yet, there’s some disconnect with the men I’ve met and their expectation of relationships. Loving someone is compromise not sacrifice, and guys have one mother, who is not the girl they are dating. Also, my unsuccessful dating exploits beg that I point the finger somewhere.
7) If he seems too hip or attractive for you, he most likely thinks he is.
Don’t ever think someone is too good for you. It isn’t true. Beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, races, genders, sexualities, intelligences, experiences, etc. If you don’t believe me, go watch a Dove ad. They market the hell out of soap based on that. Dating is hard enough without allowing that internal voice to tell you that you aren’t as hip as some skinny jean-wearing, bald photographer who looks like he hasn’t seen the sun in 3 years and lives the in Short North of Columbus. Don’t go there. If people don’t want to know you, they are too shallow to be worth your time. If you find yourself treating other people this way when they message you, well, you do have to maintain some guidelines. Cape wearing is always going to be a deal breaker.
8) What do you have to lose in trying?
This is what married people say to single people. Married people who have always been happily married and have not spent Friday nights scrolling through online profiles while drinking wine and watching Murder She Wrote. Married people who want you to be happy but mostly want you to stop complaining about being lonely. Married people who don’t ask their dog for financial advice or opinions on outfits. Married people.
There are a lot of experiences to enjoy in life. Online dating is not really one of them. It is, however, a tiny ray of hope to a 30-something, liberal, creative-type living in rural Ohio. Since no one knows my name or where I live, what do I have to lose? I don’t know. I’m going to ask the dog what she thinks.