I am a geek. I needed a geek girl. So began my journey into the great blender known as online dating in hopes of finding love among the puree’d virtual masses.
Step #1 was creating the online profile.
This was the part that felt most like work. In essence, the goal is to write a highly detailed advertisement where you bring luminance to your otherwise invisible personality and create a list of things you’re looking for in a partner without using the word “sex.” (Though I’ve heard this actually has a pretty fair success rate if you are of the female persuasion.) If all else fails, you can just throw in something about playing guitar…
The writing part I was fairly comfortable with. I was working as a copywriter at the time, so I was able to convince myself I had a leg up on all these self-styled hip Neanderthals with their dark-rimmed glasses or 1.21 gigawatt Macbook Pros. It was finding a picture to go with the words that was a little more challenging. When it comes to pics, you can not include one, but then you can also expect to fail at online dating. In the world of the internet, 1000 words does not = 1 picture. For all the fancy talk about skin-deep beauty, everyone still wants to know right off the bat if you’re an acceptable prospect for their genes.
I took some pics of myself using the webcam at work and strung together a bunch of other pics of me interacting with things I believed the fairer sex would find fun and attractive (animals, guitars, really difficult books, etc.). After that, it was time to sit back and let the dating games begin!
Ultimately, I ended up going on a few dates at first that generally all followed the same format: we’d chat online for about 3-4 emails, talk on the phone for a bit to make sure we were actually the age/gender we claimed to be, then, depending on how things go, we’d arrange to meet in-person at a public place like a bookstore/park/restaurant for a rousing session of controlled boasting and polite questioning.
One thing to note is that this is the first serious point at which the picture you put up becomes a major issue.
In all the online dates I’ve gone on, I learned one thing – people do not look like their pictures, or more accurately – people do not look the way you pictured them from their pictures. As with job applications, we take steps to present ourselves in the best light so that while what we present isn’t necessarily a lie, it’s often not indicative of the whole package (and I am totally guilty of this as well). Some people will even go so far as to use Photoshop to, quite literally, “stretch” the truth. Most commonly, I found that girls were usually a wee bit chubbier than in their pictures. For a moderate Galifianakian fatass like me, this was completely forgivable, but if a girl isn’t showing any teeth in her pictures, it might also be because she does not want you to know that she might be capable of breaking rocks with them.
After seeing the girls of the internet in the flesh, I came to a great realization: In the end online dating is exactly like traditional dating (whatever that is).
No matter what sort of fancy witticisms race across your Ethernet cables, the final result of all your online communication is a meeting IRL. After you’ve met with the person for the first time, the whole “online” part sorta loses its meaning and suddenly you’re dealing with a person instead of a machine, so really, the best way I can describe online dating is that it generally boils down to a lot of “semi-blind first-dating.”
Why does this matter? Well it should seem glaringly obvious, but I get the feeling a lot of online daters including myself didn’t quite understand this and were looking to online dating the same way I used to – as a way of bypassing all that initial awkwardness and shortcutting the social jitters in order to cut right to the heart of the “getting to know you” phase. I think this was a lot of the reason why I had lots of first dates that didn’t go well.
One of them lasted all of 15 seconds when I discovered she was ridiculously unlike her picture and one of which went so poorly I excused myself from scheduling a second one by stating that I “was going to go get a glass of orange juice now.” (So much for shortcutting social jitters!) Some of the more interesting prospects turned into 3rd and 4th dates, but in the end, I just couldn’t get totally comfortable with whoever I was seeing after hanging out with them. A lot of the time, the people I met were antisocial or didn’t have a lot of female friends (this is usually a red flag).
Eventually, I kinda threw up my hands with the whole thing and was resigned to treating online dating as something of my own curious hobby. I stopped seeking people out online and figured I’d just let them come to me. For all the odd experiences, it was always kind of neat to see what kinds of people were interested in you based on what you scribbled on the internet.
And then she came into my life.
Just a wink at first. She was interested. Checked out her profile. She didn’t look like most of the other girls on the site. She was slender with red hair, and her pictures made it look as though she had nothing to hide. She was on the internet, and yet…she actually looked and sounded like a real person who had a social life outside of…well…antisocialism. In short, she was an actual girl.
She was the kind of woman I had so much difficulty approaching when I first started this online odyssey. In other words she was, not all that geeky! At least, not by pop-culture internet standards.
But now, that was a good thing. In fact, it was a wonderful thing. I pulled my usual introduction routine and – surprise, she was actually a clever writer too! She even lived nearby! So we met up. On the first date, I couldn’t think of a good place to go, so we ended up going to this mediocre place I went with my buddy once (damn you social jitters!). I remember ordering a vegetarian wrap. Even though I am all for the eating of tasty animals, I somehow thought that not devouring some form of meat would make me appear more sensitive. All in all, it went pretty well. We talked, we laughed, I even made a joke using the word “pussy” that she found funny. It was a good date. I was comfortable, she was comfortable. We were
Around the second date I got seriously sick. And from there, things got kinda serious with us very fast. She was right there for me the entire way through with the respect, the compassion, and the empathy that you only find not just in the girl of your dreams, but in your truest friends.
I had only just met her. But I was never going to let her go. Three years later, and we’re living together. And we’re still holding on.
So ultimately, what did I learn from online dating? I suppose I learned that I didn’t need it so much as I just needed the experience of dating. I had hoped that I would be able to learn to relax and not worry about myself in front of a complete stranger, but it turns out there’s no substitute for a real live person next to you. (The sex is better this way too.) Was it worth it? Of course! I ended up with the girl of my dreams and I learned a lot about myself at the same time.
So if you’re on the fence about going the online route, my advice is to go for it. Who knows? You may meet someone you weren’t planning on. And they might be just who you needed all along.
datingandhookup.com is a website that explores modern romance in the Millennial era – which, let’s be honest, looks nothing like we were taught to expect. We feature essays, advice and social commentary with humor, compassion and brains, and we vow never, ever to publish a piece called “The 10 Best Ways to Satisfy Your Man in Bed”. Do click to submit your work to us. We love you.
Follow Dating & Hookup on Instagram
Follow Jess on Instagram
Follow Becky on Instagram
Follow me on Twitter