Once upon a time (in February) I wrote a blog post as a new soldier in the war of online/app dating. During those early experiences, I was young, I was naïve, and I was hopeful. My cyber suitors and I were all comrades, fighting the same battle: everyone’s here to try to meet nice, normal people to watch Netflix and get take out with! Each initial interaction on these apps would fill me with excitement-the potential! The possibility! I was Trying, and I was Putting Myself Out There. These apps didn’t seem so bad-maybe they really were how People Meet People, and this type of dating would be fairly comparable to the real world.
Now, in April, I’m coming to you as a combat-battered general with the update on what has easily become the most entertaining activity I have ever tried. Through app dating, there has been laughter, there have been tears (and by tears I mean cringing), and best of all, there have been stories.
So. Many. Stories.
There was the guy who looked absolutely NOTHING like his pictures when we met, to the point where when he greeted and hugged me, I seriously had to question if I had met him previously, or if this was, in fact, my date. As the night progressed, he seemed to have some sort of third-life (you know, instead of a quarter-life or mid-life) crisis, even though he was only in his very early thirties. One of our first discussions consisted of what certain songs made us think of (example: me-riding around in my friend’s car in high school, him-starting graduate school), which sent him into a melancholic funk, one that caused him to mumble repeatedly, “I’m so old” into the bottom of his drink. I tried to change the subject/deflect/order us another round, but we never really recovered.
There was the brave gentleman who sent this pick-up line across the Internet waves: “If I was a giraffe, I would slap my neck against a thousand giraffes to exert my dominance over the herd and make you my giraffe queen”. No comment.
There was the time when I received, as a potential match, a goat. Literally, just a picture of a goat. No other description. Are you seriously telling me that I’ve exhausted my options of men, and now you’re moving me on to livestock?
There was the guy who spent an uncomfortable amount of time on our first date showing me baby pictures of himself and his siblings. When you’re in the middle of the bar with a stranger and you have to increase the brightness on your phone to point out the dimples you share with your brother, we may need to reevaluate our choices.
There was the simple fact that my dating app just up and temporarily stopped sending me any matches, which I am fairly certain is code for “We give up. Good luck and Godspeed”. Kthankbye.
There are definitely pros to app dating, ones I appreciate now as a more seasoned veteran. If you aren’t interested in someone, it is much easier to escape their advances, versus having to hide in a corner of the bar for the rest of the night if you had met in person. There is also definitely a greater sense of control: here are pictures of me, but only in my best lighting and cutest ouftits! Finally, and most importantly, there is the factor of convenience. The irony of writing things like: “I love exploring the city and doing new things!” while sitting on my couch in sweatpants and marinating in an unshowered state is not lost on me.
There are also definite cons. You have to boil yourself down into an enticing introductory paragraph, depending on the words to sell you, versus having the potential foundation of some natural chemistry in person. Fun fact: you’ve never known less about yourself until you actually have to describe who you are. “Write a 3-sentence summary of what makes you you!” Umm, can I instead staple water to a tree? Because that would definitely be easier. Plus, can you imagine the real world equivalent of having to do this? Picture it: your eyes slide towards that gorgeous specimen across the bar, and you are now at attention. You down your drink, glide over, and with the suave extension of your hand, you blurt out, “HI MY NAME IS MARK AND I AM A FAMILY-CENTERED ENGINEER WITH A PASSION FOR COOKING, GOOD WINE, AND THE RANGERS. I’M JUST LOOKING FOR A PRINCESS TO SHARE MY LIFE WITH. GIRLS WHO ARE INTO DRAMA SHOULD LOOK ELSEWHERE”. Good God-at least alcohol sales would skyrocket.
No matter what happens with these apps (I meet someone, I don’t meet someone, I become a hermit, all of these apps are found to cause Ebola, etc.), I view this as a learning experience, which is sort of a great way to approach life in general. I have amassed a considerable database of information, the likes of which I will impart onto you, my young grasshoppers.
Lesson One: Sometimes even the most insignificant of things bind us together on a grand scale. Example: 78%* of the men I have encountered on these apps love Game of Thrones. So much so, in fact, that they MUST list it within the confines of their profile, or predominantly feature a picture of themselves sitting regally atop an Iron Throne replica. *(Note: this is not an actual scientific study)
Lesson Two: Avoiding clichés really will set you apart (wait, was that cliché to say?) Example: In the (seemingly) thousands of profiles I have read, when asked to describe themselves, people tend to use the same euphemisms: “I’m not really good at describing myself”. “Family is the most important thing to me!” “I just want to find my Goddess” (I’ve seen that one at least 4 times. Admirable, good sirs). “Just looking for my partner in crime” (My question: if you’re planning on committing a crime, should you announce it on the internet?). Personally, my attention has been best held by the people who write something really witty, or different, or daring. You know, just like how it works in the real world.
Lesson Three: There are lazy people, idiots, and generally rude people no matter where you go. Example: I received a message starting with “Hi Laura, allow me to introduce myself…” He then quickly backtracked with another message, trying to convince me that he did not in fact just copy and paste a set template from girl to girl. Dude, I applaud your ability to multitask, but get it together. Also, there was the guy who said that one of my pictures (one of just my face, smiling) “offended” him. SORRY THAT MY ORTHODONTIA DIDN’T PAN OUT AS WELL AS I WANTED IT TO, BUDDY. I GUESS WE’RE BOTH EQUALLY DISAPPOINTED HERE.
Lesson Four: In some ways, we as a society are still stuck in the original era of the AOL IM Username, a time of no shame when it came to the username game. Example: Grown-ass men with jobs and 401k’s and the desire to have their own children using names like: “cutetush”. “yourprincecharming102”. “justwanttocuddle”. “yourmomwillloveme”. That’s a story I can’t wait to pass on to my friends. “Well, this guy with the username ‘CharmYourPantsOff23’ messaged me, and really, after that, the rest was history!”