Dates & nuts
The art of online artifice
I had proudly avoided the online dating scene for years—until recently. While several of my friends have met their significant others on dating sites, it’s just not for me—I much prefer meeting men in person and determining if there’s any chemistry right away. So I like to think of my rejoining the dark side as some sort of leap year celebration. But if we’re keeping it real here, it’s less of a leap and more like violently throwing myself from a cliff. To put it very bluntly: the freak flags are flying, and so are the dreaded penis pictures.
Are you still with me? Good! Welcome to “Dates & Nuts,” where I will chronicle the trials and tribulations of people trying to find “The One” in a funny little place called Rochester. Please note that I’m by no means an expert. I’m just a single, sensible broad who has spent a number of years going on a lot of dates with potential suitors. I can also write a complete sentence; know the difference between their, there, and they’re; and manage to crack myself up on a regular basis. Maintaining a sense of humor is of paramount importance if you’re planning on joining the online dating ranks.
My opinions about online dating are based on previous experiences. Years ago, I found eHarmony to be the sloppy equivalent of taking a Myers-Briggs personality test. Conversing with matches was like being on an interview for a pharmaceutical sales position every evening. Match.com seemed to be a better fit for me, and I wound up meeting about fifteen different guys. Some were okay, a few were appalling, and none really lived up to the online hype in person. One called me by another name, and I even met someone who was a different race than he specified. I decided to take a respite.
On dating sites, people frequently misrepresent themselves (a term known as “catfish”), often lying about their height, age, and body type. Recently, a potential suitor told me that he was available for texting, sexting, and all forms of electronic shenanigans. When I enlightened him that I wasn’t about to make the same mistake Vanessa Williams did in college, he countered with, “people want to see what they’re getting.” I contemplated texting a picture of my middle finger to show him what he’d be getting but opted to take the high road.
I’ve noticed men using outdated pictures with more aesthetically appealing hairlines and fewer chins. Women tend to post filtered selfies, with more cleavage, and slimmer versions of themselves. Upon reviewing the written content, it really goes downhill fast: myriad spelling and grammatical errors; negative comments about drama and games; lengthy lists of unrealistic expectations; and lame quotes from deceased celebrities, authors, or Carrie Bradshaw. Messaging varies from endless texting with no real intention of ever meeting to very direct requests for sexual favors.
Enter the latest dating application, Tinder. I’ve been referring to its use as “Riding the T,” because it makes me feel very metropolitan. For the uninitiated: users indicate whether they find someone attractive or not by swiping right or left, respectively. Both parties have to swipe right to begin conversing with each other. While this could be perceived as bad for some, I think it’s great because I’ve received a lot of unwanted attention on sites where there is no control over who can initiate contact. I’ve chosen to block any creepers who send messages like these:
“I want to love you so deeply. Like you’ve never been loved before.”
“I believe I’ve met my vaginal equivalent.”
“Wanna take a hike somewhere close by? It’s a great way to get to know someone.” (No, thank you, sir. I think I’d prefer not to reenact a scene from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.)
Of all the options, Tinder does feel the most organic, which would explain its popularity. Similar to socializing at a bar or a party, you see an attractive person across the room, approach, and start conversing. I happen to be an excellent party guest. This could explain why, after two weeks on Tinder, I amassed over fifty matches and went out with six different men. It was, in a word, exhausting. None were worth seeing again. I did manage to earn the title of “Tinder Wizard” from several friends. (I may have picked up some online dating street cred.)
Here’s the most important dating game advice I’ve gleaned so far: be honest.
Stacey Rowe is a freelance writer based in Rochester. In her new series, she’ll be exploring dating and romance (or lack thereof) in the digital age. Stay tuned for the next installment, where she’ll capture the male perspective through the eyes of her “brofriends.”