Once upon a time, I thought a moment and a man like that were just around the corner for me. Like at any time, I would accidentally trip over my soul mate and ride off into the sunset.
I call that “once upon a time” my early 20′s.
You remember those, right? That sickening combination of infinite optimism and idiotic bravado? In those days, I’d proclaim proudly (obnoxiously) that I’d never be an online dater. “It’s unnatural.” “It’s awkward.” “It’s desperate.”
Be that as it may, when you cruise by your mid-20s and start rounding the corner toward the late-20′s, and when God or fate or the universe or WHATEVER seems intent on sending you one commitment-phobe crazy after another, you start to think that you should change your tune. Add to that the hysteria-level media frenzy about the plight of educated Black women and how we’ll never get married because all our men are in jail or with White women or whatever, and the “Gee, ain’t it sad but good luck with that advanced degree!” attitude of this coverage, (P.S. – I’m talking to you, New York Times!), and you just may decide to grab fate by the balls and get online already.
At least I did. I am officially a “Black Woman Seeking,” with the online profiles to prove it.
Just to cover the bases: I have wonderful friends and family who can fill my life and my time twice over. I’m in grad school and about to embark on an awesome, fulfilling career. I love my life. But in the words of Jill Scott, “Even though I can do all these things, I need you.” “You” being my soul mate, life partner, etc. And so, a-hunting we will go.
First stop: BlackPeopleMeet.com. Blame it on a late-night commercial on BET, being inspired by the President and his strong Black marriage, or just old-fashioned comfort in the familiar. Whatever it was, my first dating profile went live on the African-American equivalent of J-Date (except with a much less subtle name) about a month ago.
If you’ve never been to (or heard of) the site, I guess the first thing you should know is that it’s not just for Black People. “But it’s called Black People Meet?!” I know, but you don’t have to be a Black person to want to meet a Black person. During my first 24 hours on the site, I got no less than 5 messages from White and Asian males communicating just that fact. Guess they know what they like! And who am I to be a hater?
The other thing you’ll notice on BPM: no one gives a crap about who you say you want to meet. If they’re interested, they’re contacting you – whether you like it or not. Who cares that I said I’m interested in meeting a “never been married man with no children between the ages of 25 and 35?” Not the 52-year-old divorced father of 3 who refuses to stop sending me “I’m Interested In You” flirt messages! (I’ll get to those in a bit.)
I know love is generally not a restaurant where you can just order a tall, dark, and handsome off the menu. But If I’m on a dating site that asks me 100 questions about what I want, shouldn’t I at least get what I ordered?! I can meet pervy old men on my own, thank you very much.
On BlackPeopleMeet, you have two main options to contact someone. You can either send them an instant “flirt” message or a personalized message. It seems like whoever built the site really wanted to limit the latter, because there are at least 20 different flirt messages you can send – ranging from a very normal “What’s Up?” to a very creepy “Wow! You’re the One!” It’s gotten to the point where I basically ignore flirt messages. They’re the online equivalent of throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks. If I wanted to take the shotgun approach to finding love, I could do that on my own at my local bar.
That doesn’t mean all personal messages are much better, though. Here’s a sample message I got once: “Yo sexy, where are we drinking later? I’m buying.” Ummm, I don’t know how to reply to that. Shouldn’t you at least tell me something about yourself first? Maybe ask me some questions? Who says we would even have anything to talk about at drinks? Unless of course, we don’t need to know each other for what you have in mind. Oh, got it. If I want a booty call, I can do that on my own – with someone I actually know.
But amidst the chaos above, there are actually a few nice, genuine guys on the site. I’ve even gone out on a date with one of them. And they have their own war stories! Turns out, women can be just as crazy as men!
This gem of a nightmare date was shared with me by a lovely man I went out on a date with a few weeks ago, himself a BPM veteran of 7 months. Let’s call him Richard. Richard and I are on our first date and have already covered the basics when I ask, “So tell me about your worst BPM date.” Brace yourselves, readers.
Richard is on a first date with a seemingly normal woman when she somewhat randomly tells him during dinner that she’s lactose-intolerant. Not ten minutes later, she orders a milkshake. “Interesting,” thinks Richard. Maybe she took a Lact-Aid? Whatever, I’m not getting involved.
Dinner comes to an end and she excuses herself to the ladies room. Ten minutes go by. Then fifteen. Twenty. Had her purse and jacket not still been at the table, Richard would have thought she bolted. But no such luck. Around the thirty minute mark, she re-emerges and nonchalantly joins him at the table. Almost afraid to ask but too curious not to, Richard ventures, “Are you okay?” Her response: “Yeah. You probably know what happened in there. Just had to get it all out.”
All together now…“EW!” Seriously, who DOES that?
So one month down and here’s what I’ve learned so far about online dating. It can be a little sketchy, but that’s part of its charm. The men are really not that different, for better or worse, than the men you already know in real life – just more direct. You’ll never find a better pick-me-up after a rough day than an inbox full of “flirt messages,” even from people you wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole. And every once in a while, when you least expect it, you may just meet someone you would actually want to speak to in the real world.
That alone is worth the price of admission.
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