On Dating, and Managing Expectations.

When it comes to dating, I was something of a late bloomer. Not out of any desire to hold off on my part, but mainly due to a lack of interest from other parties combined with an intermittent case of situational shyness. Nerdy high-school me expected college life to provide a panacea to my dating woes, but alas, attending a well-known party school filled with conventionally attractive counterparts didn’t do much to up my game. It wasn’t until I studied — and eventually moved — abroad that I started having luck with the opposite sex.

After stumbling into not 1, but 2 ‘dating unicorns’ (a.k.a men I actually met out in the world via mutual friends, not via an online dating service or app), I eventually realized that those situations, while ideal, could be few and far between. A number of my girlfriends, old hands at the Tinder-Bumble-Hinge scene, convinced me to set-up profile on the various apps once I moved back stateside, and I’ve toyed with using them ever since.

While I do have friends who met their significant others via dating app (interestingly, most of my friends who have found love via app identify as queer: but, I digress), for the most part, the various apps seem to yield opportunities for casual dating in addition to a plethora of hilariously awkward, sometimes scary text exchanges.

Indeed, a friend of mine recently posted on Facebook that she received a text from a strange number. It was a man who had seen her profile on Tinder. Not matched with her: just seen her profile. From her ‘About Me’ blurb, he found her Instagram handle, which led him to her website, on which he found her resume, which boasted her phone number. He decided that this high-level detective work allowed him to message her, completely randomly, when she had not herself communicated with him in any way. Welcome to the dating game in 2017, my friends.

My experiences — while sometimes vulgar — have thankfully not been nearly as frightening as my friend’s. They have however, been overwhelmingly hilarious. Take, for example, a man I’ll call A. I matched with A when I let my friend C take control of my swipes (the way in which you can approve a potential match. Swipe right for yes, left for no) during a girls’ night in. Her tastes run markedly different than mine (perhaps because she’s in a long-term relationship, and for her it’s all in good fun), and while I religiously read each and every profile blurb, she swiped purely based on physical attractiveness.

So, C swiped right on my behalf, and matched me with A. His profile read as follows:

Let’s get shitty on ribeye and scotch. Or in your case, prosecco.

Once we were matched, I couldn’t resist responding to his totally ridiculous opening gambit. Our conversation was perhaps as interesting as you might imagine:

Bumble Conversation Part 1Bumble Conversation Part 2Bumble Conversation Part 3

Look, I don’t mind men with whom I disagree. That’s the point of dating — finding the person that’s right for you. That being said, if anyone bothered to take more than a cursory glance at my profile, they’d realize fairly quickly that ‘aspiring housewife’ is not currently a part of my plan.

Thanks to A and our fascinating conversation, I established a new control question for my matches. This way I could control the narrative. My first match to encounter this question was G. I can’t say it went anywhere, but I can say it was memorable (warning for language and sexual insinuations):

Bumble Conversation 2, Part 1Bumble Conversation 2, Part 2Bumble Conversation 2, Part 3

Poor G — he really had no idea what he was getting himself into. Look, to be fair, I don’t think online dating is a bad thing .One of the worst first dates I ever been on was with a man with whom I was set up by a colleague. Having an online dating presence doesn’t make a person uninteresting, unattractive, or uncool. Oftentimes, however, it does allow people to flout social niceties in the name of ‘getting to know one other’. Some of the ways in which men casually ignore a woman’s dignity and sense of comfort are startling. Of course, that’s not new to online dating. What dating apps change in this regard is accessibility. Now, fearing aggressive, annoying, or aggravating men isn’t limited to the public sphere. It can happen in the morning before work, on the weekend when you’re lounging in your sweatpants. The ‘ding’ of an incoming notification can mean the start of a lovely conversation or the perpetuation of harassing behavior.

To be fair, most dating apps do a fair job of monitoring and policing inappropriate language and behavior. You are allowed to unmatch with someone without justifying yourself. You can easily report lewdness or poor conduct. The thing is though, once you’ve been violated, it can’t be taken back. That creeping sense of wrongness, of unease, stays with you, even when the conversation has been wiped away.

None of this is to say that dating apps don’t work. Like I said, I have friends for whom it’s been very successful, and I myself have had an enjoyable date or 2 with men I’ve met via app. Unfortunately, for every good date there are a lot of incredibly bad ones. As much as it was fun dipping my toe in the online dating waters, I think I’m ready to wait it out for another ‘dating unicorn’. There’s something about meeting in person that’s just a little bit more fun.

–S

Day 39: February 9, 2017

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