The problem … always comes down to the people. They’re the actresses who can never find work; the failed opera singers, painters, and writers; the lower-management men who will never get to the middle. People who, should they corner you in a bar, will keep you hostage with tales of their exspouses and their digestive troubles. They’re the people who can’t negotiate the system. They’re on the fringes … – Sex And The City, p.15
A month after I had signed up to an online dating site, at the encouragement of a friend, I came to realise that online dating was starting to become quite hazardous to my health and sanity. The choice of men you’re confronted with is overwhelming; its like being a kid in a candy store – its impossible to make a choice even if ‘just one piece’ sounded like a good idea as you walked in. I would troll through profile after profile and found myself closely scrutinising every photo, every word, every grammatical error…and a mostly sane quest for something ‘ideal’ spins out of control when you see some scary pictures behind names like “CumWidMe69”. Most profiles were either fraught with misspellings or were totally incoherent (I’m not kidding, I found over 50% of them impossible to make sense of), leaving me no choice but to put a bigger focus on photographs (plus they take up most of the screen). As additional filters, I quickly developed basic rules to ignore anyone who couldn’t string three sentences together, had particularly bad grammar, couldn’t spell, started off their profile descriptions with ‘I don’t know what to say’, used acronyms like LOL or ROFL, overuse of 😉 and 🙂 , who didn’t have a photo and was shorter than 5’8. Even after all that, I still got some duds.
What surprised me the most was the speed of the connection-making – I felt it cheapened the whole dating process. I like being able move at a speed similar to real life interactions; first a few emails/or instant messaging, then a few phone calls, and only then to meet first for coffee or a drink, never dinner. Yet, I was constantly asked out within the first two interactions. It was not flattering; it was creepy. I only wanted to shout, ‘But you don’t KNOW ME at all!’ When I told guys I preferred to text for a few weeks before meeting them, I was rejected. (Though clearly not a loss, it was a good indicator of the person he was). In the end, it was more exhausting trying to weed out the creepy folks, than to try to get to know the nicer guys.
Then when you get started talking to someone, it was always just a matter of time before the “Thing” dropped; and I would almost wait for it. The Thing is the reason why a person chose to go online to find a date, rather than to a party or bar. Was it because they have no free time? Was it because they were just trying to ‘broaden their horizons’? Was it because they had no luck meeting people in through other venues? Or is it something else, something worse? The Thing always did drop: Most of the guys were just looking to get some. Others were trying to stroke their own egos by piling up as many dates as possible as a ‘take that’ to every girl who had ever rejected them. Most of the time, The Thing was something closer to the first quote I posted above. Not everyone I met was on the ‘fringes’ per se, but most seemed to have trouble negotiating the real world dating system – they did not go into bars, parties, or out with friends to meet people; they went online.
My Thing (I later realised) was that I was “rebounding” (I hate that word) and was using an expanse of “dates” and “male attention” to distract myself from how awful I really felt about my current relationship situation. But even if I did meet someone with real potential, it would be lost on me as I’m probably emotionally incapable of being in a relationship at the moment.
So after spending a good few weeks on this site, I began to realise this wasn’t actually FUN. Sure, there was some novelty for the first few days when you are faced with about 15,000 guys who are all vying for your attention. And don’t get me wrong, I had some great conversations with some nice guys, but it felt weird. What was also bizarre to comprehend was that some of these guys had been on this site (and I’d say other dating sites) for a few years. YEARS! It’s like frequenting the same bar, every night, for YEARS, waiting for ‘the one’ to walk in. Rather depressing isn’t it?
No thanks. Whoever said online dating was ‘fun’ was a liar.. I’ll stick to my real world interactions please.