I’ve recently submersed myself in the world of internet dating. Or, internet stalking, depending on how you look at it. I’ve shied away from the whole internet thing in the past because it seems so impersonal. Swipe right. Swipe left. But what I failed to realize until now is just how much there was to learn from the whole experience.
I joined one of the lesser “prestigious” dating sites. Meaning, I didn’t have to fill out a 34 page questionnaire, nor did I have to pay a bloody dime. Score. (“Free” online dating has gotten so expensive!) I won’t tell you which site I joined, because, duh, how embarrassing if you tried to look me up (as opposed the one trillion strangers who are currently capable of looking at my profile).
I made as honest of a profile as I could highlighting my love of sunshine, books, and reading. I gave myself a cheesy, yet noteworthy username and put on a variety of pictures. For my main photo I chose a recent photo of me on a hike with little make up and my hair wind-blown. I cannot lie, it was a test. I wanted to see how I would fare among all the “boob shots” and Kardashian wannabe’s I was in competition with.
I chose “treehugger” as my personality and “dating, but nothing serious” as my intent. The messages flooded in immediately. I got a lot of “Hey beautiful”. I have to admit, I was surprised. Some messages were sweet and well thought out. Others were short and to the point, like the words “Let’s date” followed by a phone number. Yep, that happened. I shouldn’t have been surprised to see the only thing written on his profile page was “looking for women to make babies with”. Charmed, I’m sure.
One man seemed very intent on meeting me but explained that he was heading to a remote cabin on an island for two weeks and would I like to join him there for dinner? I am not making this up. I wanted to ask if I should bring the duct tape or if he already had a large supply. My friend said to make sure I told her the location of the cabin so she could find the tiny pieces of me he had dumped in a well. Fish bait? No thanks!
The thing I wasn’t prepared for was how the whole thing would truly mess with my head. It was as if the logical part of my brain turned off and my Pavlovian programming kicked in. Every time I heard the little pinging notification I couldn’t get to my phone fast enough. I couldn’t wait to see what Hansmdud101 had to say. What if he was the one?? What if I didn’t respond fast enough and he found someone he thought was the one my mistake. Before I even opened his message I was picking out a wedding location and naming our St. Bernard.
The other thing I wasn’t prepared for was how people’s actions never seemed to meet with their words. I assumed that if people took the time to make a charming and creative profile, and took the time to peruse other’s profiles, that it was because they actually wanted to meet people. You know, in person. Like a date. I was totally mistaken. I spent entire days responding to questions about myself, where I liked to hang out, what my interests were, even made tentative plans. Only to find the guy had all but disappeared by the next day, never to be heard from again. It begs the question, wtf? Did they chicken out? Were they stringing me along for their amusement? Did their wife get home? Ugh. Not funny.
I started to realize that some guys were put off by the fact that I had put I was interested in “dating, but nothing serious” rather than “looking for the love of my life on this crummy site”. Because apparently “nothing serious” actually means “DTF” (one night stand ready) and not “I’m not necessarily looking for my husband but am interested in meeting people who seem nice so we can meet in a public location and see if we have a friendship connection that may lead to something else”. It became clear that I needed to adjust my “intent” one night when a guy messaged me suggesting I drive an hour away to meet him so I could buy him drinks. Seriously? I wanted to say. “You must have missed the part of my profile that read – single mom of 3 and broke AF.” But, those are the things we’re told not to include on our profiles.
I decided there are only two kinds of people on this site. Those who want to procure a wife. And those who want to hook up. Oddly enough, none of them actually want to meet in person (other than the odd cabin murderers). So, I changed my intent to “Want a relationship”, hoping it would attract some better guys than I had been attracting so far. Couldn’t hurt, right? Guess how many messages I got after I changed it. None.
Clearly, I don’t speak internet dating. Please excuse me while I go delete my profile.