It seems it doesn’t matter where you live—meeting people is hard. So as more and more of my single friends turn to online dating, I’ve decided to give it a go myself, even though it weirds me out. I don’t even mean because of all the crazies on the sites, though there are plenty of those. The real issue is that, for someone like me who overthinks everything, online dating is rife with opportunities to second-guess yourself and all of your life choices.
First of all, I struggle getting past the profile creating part of it. How do you sum yourself up in a few sentences or a few lists of things you like? Writing about myself in this way is one of those things like writing thank-you cards or cover letters that make me feel like Geneva should take back my degree because I just can’t write. Here are the types of blurbs I come up with:
Shy is when you’re nervous around people you don’t know. Quiet is when you don’t have much to say, period, no matter how comfortable you are around someone. I’m both. I have a suspicion that I would probably work best with someone who has ADHD and a big mouth, to balance me out. That, or someone who wants to be a hermit with me.
I enjoy various aspects of certain sporting endeavors. [Read: I do not care about sports at all but, like Rory, I feel compelled to pretend I mildly do. I tolerate them, at least. I went to a few hockey games in high school. Never made it into the rink, but the snack stand and foosball table were pretty fun.]
My life is books, but I don’t enjoy talking about books.
I have aspirations to travel and do all those outdoorsy, active things you see celebs doing on Instagram. But mostly I watch TV in my spare time.
You see why this is problematic??
So if this is how I come across on a dating website, how am I supposed to figure out who, among my potential matches, is going to be a cool person and who is going to end up being a serial killer? All the guys seem similar at a glance. Here are basically your options, based on bios:
- Hey I like drinking, sports, I’m pretty chill (you see why I feel compelled to fake an enthusiasm for sports)
- Let’s have sex immediately
- I’m a personal trainer (read: I’m here for sex)
- Live life to the fullest
- Work hard play hard
- I’m this tall
- I’m not going to waste time figuring out which sorority girl you are
- I hate drama (read: I attract dramatic girls and am probably a little dramatic myself)
- I’ve been on here so long that I’m going to write an ironic bio making fun of the above clichés
- That’s my niece, not my child
There are a few exceptions to the rule. I saw one said something like, “Hey, let’s crash office Christmas parties together,” and he got an immediate yes. (He also had a picture of him with a cat, which helped.) (Sidenote: one of the neighborhood cats has decided that it’s time for me to become a crazy cat lady and has started hanging out in my yard all the time. I’m equal parts offended and delighted.)
Another guy called himself the Ice Prince and was looking for someone to “help him embrace the darkness.” This guy lives 0 miles away from me. (HELP.)
Here are your options based on pictures:
- Here I am at a bar
- Here I am at a bar with all my (hotter than me) friends
- Here I am smashed between two girls at a bar, to show you where my priorities lie
- Look at me at the gym—I’m a personal trainer, remember?
- Look at my abs
- Look at my tats
- Look at my beard
- I travel
- I’m a musician
- I’m nerdy
- I love dogs (read: look how sensitive I am)
- I love cats (read: your crazy cat lady tendencies won’t bother me) (jk)
- I love my mom
- I love my not-child
Again, there were some exceptions. On ChristianMingle in particular, my options included a guy who couldn’t have been more than twelve and a guy dressed as a leprechaun, plus a lot of old men with no teeth even though I set an age limit.
“But Kelly,” you say, “some sites have you fill out a quiz so it can find matches for you based on your personality and values.”
But how many couples say that their S/O ended up being the exact opposite of what they thought they wanted? Or if you value humor, how do you know what type of humor this person has? You can’t capture things like that in a quiz.
But okay, I’ll indulge you. Let’s say you start talking to some of your matches.
Most conversations go pretty much the same way: you talk about interests, you talk about jobs, you talk about what you did that day, all with a sprinkle of wit. Rinse, wash, repeat. There’s nothing wrong with this; it’s what you have to do to get to know someone. But with online dating, you have to have this same conversation so many times with so many people. Because chances are, he’s talking to twenty other girls and is going to find his favorite, and if it’s not you, you’re going to get dropped. Or you’re going to realize he’s not a good match and drop him. It’s a lot of effort and generally not a lot of payoff.
Even if you do find someone you connect with, there’s still the fact that this person is a complete stranger who, by the way, might be a serial killer. It seems crazy to put all this energy into getting to know someone you’re not even sure you’re attracted to in real life. Sure, you like a few of their (best) photos, but what about the way they move, their voice, the way they interact with friends, how they treat their little sister? And personalities come across so differently over texts. Once I spent months IMing this guy a mutual friend wanted to set me up with, only to realize that in real life, he’s nothing like he is online. Cyrano happens, people.
But say you decide to take the plunge and meet someone in person. And say you actually do still like them. Do you keep things going with all the other guys you’ve been talking to? Because he’s still probably going to keep talking to all the girls, right? All dating, online or in person, is like this. I realize that. But in online dating, the pool is bigger, and so it becomes really easy to look at people as 2D and expendable. There’s always that potential of finding something better out there, and those new match and new message alerts are more addicting than flashing casino lights to a gambler. It makes it hard to form attachments to any particular guy—no matter how much you may like a guy, you know that he’s talking to who knows how many other girls. You never know how much to invest in a particular relationship, and so it gets tiring.
And the more tired everyone gets on the site/app, the more cynical we get, and the less we’re all willing to put into a potential relationship. So everyone is halfheartedly swimming around, sending random messages with very little hope of anything going anywhere.
So why even bother trying? Because, as President Snow says, “Hope, it is the only thing stronger than fear.” There’s this tiny chance that somewhere in this seeming wasteland of a cyberworld hides our soulmate, and that one spark of hope is bigger than the fear of wasted time and of awkward dates and apparently even of being murdered.
Have you tried online dating? Am I doing it wrong? Feel free to share stories or tips if you have them!
What I’m Listening To: I’ll be Your Reason by Illenium (feat. Eden)
Stranger Boy (Mashup: The Weeknd – Starboy x Survive – Stranger Things Theme) (C418 Remix)