As I write this, the battle sounds of Terran Marines ambushing the Zerg trickle in from the next room — my boyfriend is hard at work vying for galactic dominance in the newly released StarCraft II. As a museum–going history nerd who can go days without turning on my TV or PC, it is minor miracle that I know StarCraft II exists, much less that I can name alien species.
It’s safe to say that I never thought I would fall in love with a gamer.
And I really never thought I would meet him on an online matchmaking site for geeks.
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.
I have been on OKCupid for two years now. And in those two years I have seen at least a hundred people I know (if not more) on the site. These are people I know in all capacities: from work, college, through mutual friends, my best friend’s brother, that waiter at Mohawk Bend, that dude at the gelato place whose hands are too big for the scooper, that guy at the gym who Hansel-and-Gretels the machines with his sweat. The list goes on. And, frankly, it has made me realize that all of these people may or may not have also seen my profile. Which brings me to my point. Online dating is not anonymous at all. Why? Because it’s too mainstream.
Now that online dating is no longer considered Loserville, Louisiana, everyone and their father has signed up. Sure, you have some super-awesome handle punctuated with a “taco” or “saurus,” but that only goes so far in guaranteeing semi-anonymity. Your cutesy, ironic OKC name really only prevents people from Googling you and finding out that you write articles about vegan mac n’ cheese or that in college you drunkenly fell out of a parked Honda Civic and broke your femur in six places. (But let’s get real, you probably already advertise many of these factoids in your profile, or at the very least, allude to them in some self-deprecating manner.)
Your profile says a lot about you. A lot of private stuff. It’s like a drunk Google search on steroids. And it’s out there, haphazardly stumbling about, waving its giant arms at every passer-by within a ten-mile radius. And if, like me, you get matched with people twenty years your senior, it could be Mr. Warren, your high school environmental science teacher, seeing you in a new light. A very uncomfortable new light.
6 years. 5 websites. 50+ dates. 0 lasting loves.
Starting at age 13, I began to explore the wonder of group dates, after-school homework sessions, sports events, school dances, music competitions and the plethora of other non-date options available to teens with little to no ‘fun money.’ There were boys, and there were lots of them. They loved girls, and seemed to prefer little else to getting the chance to spend time with us. No one had money to blow, so real dates were out of the question. A real date would probably have dulled or killed the excitement, anyway. I capitalized on all of these factors, and I almost always had a boyfriend. I even earned the title ‘serial monogamist’ from one overly critical girl in my AP Chemistry class. I didn’t care, especially because no one even expected me to have sex with them! My dignity did not feel threatened by her intended gibe. No, in high school, the pre-dating world was my oyster.
Then I went to college. In Oregon.
After months of encouragement from my friends, I joined JDate in 2009. After almost a year on the site, this is my story:
10 Things I Hate About JDate
When you dip your toes into the dating world, whether it be IRL or online, you are bound to come out with some interesting stories – at least I do.
Rather than wallow in self-pity because I have yet to find my “true love” I find that viewing the whole experience as a comedy show is somewhat of a consolation. While horrifying, appalling, embarrassing or just an outright comedy of errors at the time, a good number of the awful dates now provide laughs, rueful head shakes and a tension breaker for current dates or those who are diving into the shark infested dating waters.
When asked about “worst” or “most awkward” experiences, I often cite one particular incident that I now find highly amusing. I call it “My Most Uncomfortable Match Ever.”
The website targets “farmers, ranchers, and country folk” and insists that “city folk just don’t get it”. As city folk we found it hilarious and immediately called over our friend who comes from one of those square states in the middle. Eventually our curiosity got the better of us, out came the smart phones, and before we knew it we were cobbling together a fake profile. What transpired was a quick trip through these five stages.
These lyrics come from real dudes’ OKCupid profiles, as seen on @dudesonokcupid.
Koko needed a man. A real man.
Well, ok, not so much a real man as a real gorilla.
And it wasn’t so much that she needed one as the scientists who worked with her needed one.
And they didn’t so much need one as want one, mostly because they wanted more gorillas.
Maybe they were just bored.
You’ve probably heard of Koko. She became famous 20-30 years ago because she learned to communicate with her keepers through sign language, and ever since then has been the go-to gorilla for all your pop culture primate-brained non-verbal communication references. At least once in your life you’ve been in a situation where some staggeringly drunk guy reached over and dumped a beer on the nearest low-cut shirt he could find (possibly you, and if so, my apologies on behalf of my gender), at which point he laughed maniacally until his complete inability to hold himself upright dumped him out of his seat and onto the ground. In that moment, someone, somewhere muttered, “Way to go, Koko.”
But as much fun as signing about bananas with scientists is, it doesn’t get you a mate, which is why Koko turned to internet dating. Her keepers would show her video of male gorillas, and she would express her opinion about them. If she didn’t like them, she’d turn off the video. If she did, she’d sign enthusiastically:
“visit have gorilla Koko-love!”
WATCH KOKO INTERNET DATE HERE
Man, haven’t we all been there? Sure, sometimes someone interesting will drift through your life for one reason or another, but today’s jet-setting gorilla-on-the-go gets bored with the apes she sees every day in her enclosure. Plus, workplace gossip is a bitch.
There was a time, back in the dawn of the internet, when the term “online dating” had roughly the same connotation as “Renaissance fair orgy.” But now it’s 2010, and the last flecks of stigma are falling by the wayside. And just because the magazines are, like, so over writing articles about the brave new world of online dating, which by now is neither brave nor new, that doesn’t mean people have stopped venturing into the online world. Far from it, a good 30% of couples now meet online, and as many as a fifth of new marriages started that way. Sadly, though, it’s still the case that when anyone tells you a story about online dating, they continue to feel the need to insert the word “actually” into the beginning of the tale: “Yeah, I actually tried online dating this one time…” It’s like masturbation: even if they won’t admit it, chances are good they’ve done it. And good for them.
So you know what? My name is Nick, and I, too, put in my time on OKCupid.
That’s it, I’m through with this nonsense. I’m quitting cold turkey. (I just deactivated all of my online dating profiles).
Why? Because my online dating future is going nowhere. In the 6(ish) months that I’ve been playing the online dating game, I have gone on one date. One. It was totally pleasant! But I slow-faded and didn’t call back because a) I’m a big fat chicken and b) I’m not as invested in finding my soulmate as I am in watching Melrose Place on Netflix. Since then, I’ve scheduled six dates, and bailed on all of them because a) I’m exceptionally lazy and b) nine times out of ten, it’s not meant to be, and rejection/being rejected are things I like to avoid.
Last week I covered how to write a really, really ridiculously good OKCupid profile. But if it is not your profile that is hindering your success on OKCupid, it may be the people you are finding – or the people you are waiting to find you – that needs some examining.
Look, there is a reason it is called OKCupid – not GetsItRightEveryTimeCupid or even GoodCupid. By its own admission, it’s just OK. Do not rely on their little magic matching algorithm to do everything for you. You need to develop your own sixth sense for finding someone who could be a good match.
1. Read between the lines. Some profiles say a lot without saying anything at all. Inversely, some profiles tell you very little despite taking 20 scrolls to read through. A guy with 15 “selfie” pictures is not a photogenic guy, but a vain or insecure one. A guy with a super lengthy profile is not an open communicator, just a little emotionally slutty.
Look out for red, orange and yellow flags. Trust your intuition. For me, my internal alarm goes off whenever I view the profile of boys who are just looking for “new friends” (read: one night stand), boys who skirt around the “What I’m doing with my life” question (read: nothing), guys who have 3 pictures in which they are in Halloween costumes at house parties (or at least I hope they are Halloween costumes…), boys who start their profile with “I’m not sure how to talk about myself” (because at the age range of 26-36, you should be self-aware enough to cobble together some kind of introduction), and boys who overuse “LOL” or emoticons (and by “overuse” I mean more than zero times). Oh, and ridiculous facial hair.
“Seddit” the “Seduction” subsection of the massive Internet message board-esque site known as Reddit, is a treasure trove of pickup techniques for men and as such, a brilliant way for women to gain insight on men. But it has its gross moments.
Let me say right now, before I go further, that in terms of dating techniques, I think Seddit can be a useful community for both men AND women. I’ll explain why later into this article. But first, the negative. And there’s a lot of negative.
Seddit is all about using pick-up tricks like that douche pickup artist with the gross facial hair. They have terms for EVERYTHING. Some examples: they refer to women as HBs and in a scale of 1 -10. For example, an HB7 = Hot Babe that’s a 7 in their scale. More about this scale:
The HB “scale” doesn’t just refer to how beautiful a woman is- it also refers to how highly she’s valued by other people, as well as how highly she values herself. An HB10 is generally a model or actress- you may never get an opportunity to interact with an HB10, simply because of how high-valued and off-limits they tend to be. Comparatively, an HB1 is typically a girl who’s ugly, and/or has an ugly personality, and/or isn’t valued highly by other people, and/or doesn’t value herself highly. An HB7 is typically your “average” girl (because guys usually don’t want to admit to going after anyone lower than a 7).
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