The internet is amazing. It brings you this blog, allows you to video chat with your grandma from across the world, and instantly offers you the full spectrum of pornography—from the most vanilla fare to stuff that could haunt your dreams for years. Ultimately, the internet is a tool, or rather a digital shelf supporting thousands and thousands of individual tools. And tools can be useful if they are right for the job but they can also get in the way.
For example, online dating is a tool.
And I mean tool in the worst way. As in “dick.” Fuck online dating. In the ear. By a midget wielding a rusty crowbar.
I can pleasantly converse about any topic you care to name, but if the subject of online dating comes up I will fuck everything up by going on a hate-fueled rant for ten terrifying minutes about how it’s the absolute worst, the destroyer of lives and self-esteem. This hatred has already crept into this very blog, and I suppose my court-appointed therapist would approve me exploring the reasons.
What sucks even more than my personal shitty experiences with online dating is looking around and seeing everyone else having such a great time with it. In my circle of friends and acquaintances I see casual daters swiping to get laid on the “hot or not” app and see folks get happily married pursuing romance on the matchmaking-style sites. I’m left to conclude that online dating isn’t the problem: I am the problem.
Online Dating = Online Shopping
I went into online dating with high hopes and misplaced assumptions. After all, I’m a tech-savvy guy who is good with words, and while I’m no Brad Pitt it’s not like I’m Steve Buscemi either. With a little humor I could introduce myself to the digital world and lay it all out there. It wouldn’t be long before my wit and charm would work their magic with someone compatible. A few thousand pecks and keystrokes later I had a flattering picture and a fun-but-accurate description. I was in business.
Man of action that I am, I started searching profiles and messaged ladies who caught my fancy. And there’s where I ran into problem the first: It’s awkward to send an email to a total stranger for the purpose of dating. For example:
Hiya! My name’s Ed and I just saw your profile and your picture caught my eye, then your sense of humor kept me reading. You seem nice and I’d love to talk sometime. How long have you been teaching?
Hiya! My name’s Ed and I just saw your profile and I think you’re hot and sound fun. You seem like someone I would totally have sex with, maybe even on a regular basis in a girlfriend/boyfriend kinda situation—who knows? Let’s get to know each other to see if that’s a possibility.
Some of you might call me an oinking pig for that mental model, but let’s face it. The whole point of dating is to find someone to have sex with. Even if your personal beliefs call for marriage first, fucking later, that’s still a critical part of the equation. Obviously a relationship isn’t only about sex but that chemistry, that physical compatibility is an important element. The animal parts of our brain that react to other people in person are just shut down when we’re stuck in front of a screen, so we switch from instinct to analyzing.
We go shopping.
And I hate shopping. Also, I’m a lousy product on a digital shelf.
Being a daydreaming creative worked for me a lot better in college than it does in my thirties or however I old I actually am. Most of the gals in my age range who find themselves single-and-looking have got pretty clear ideas about what they want.
“I’m looking for that special guy who takes care of himself, works hard and is responsible, but ready to spoil the special someone in his life. He should go to church but knows how to have fun! Extra points if he loves the outdoors and is a good cook. Needs to be tall.”
“I’m looking for that special guy who hits the gym 3-5 times a week, makes good money and has a lot in the bank—but is ready and willing to spend it on me. I want my parents to like him but not actually be the kind of guy they would pick for me. I want someone to take me camping and cook delicious dinners when not taking me out on the town. Needs to be tall.”
Jesus, I sound like an asshole in that “translation.” Some bitterness crept in, sorry. I’m not saying women are all gold-diggers or superficial, because my experience has shown me very much the opposite. But we’re talking about the online world, where all you can go by is a checklist of what you want. And the fact is that thirtysomething women aren’t looking for someone between jobs, who is carrying a few extra pounds, and who they stand taller than in heels. Who can blame them?
And assuming I don’t lie, I’m not gonna be appealing on paper. No lady’s guy-shopping list includes:
- A few pounds overweight
- Lives in a double-wide
- Drives an old Jeep
- Self-employed with wildly inconsistent income
- Watches Netflix while eating Spaghetti-Os directly out of the can
Just typing that shit out makes me feel like I should be escorted naked to the Red Keep while a pseudo-nun shouts “Shame!” and rings a bell. But there’s the twist: When I meet a woman in person I do just fine. I got a few things going for me besides being tall, you guys. I’m not bad-looking, can make people laugh, and possess my share of natural charm. I’m also respectful and don’t pressure, so we can have some fun and be friends—and I won’t try to remove a gal’s bra until she’s given me a clear green light. But try putting that on an online dating site and you too can enjoy your empty inbox and lonely Friday nights.
Fuck it. I’m not going to lie about who I am (except here on this blog, maybe) and I’m sure as hell not gonna change at my age in hopes I’ll match up to a woman’s online Dude Ideal. Trying to list the qualities of someone you’ve never met is some “Once Upon a Dream” shit straight out of Sleeping Beauty, and Disney wisely faded to black before they showed us just how successful a marriage might be between royalty and a girl who grew up alone in the woods. I would rather be surprised, find the someone I never knew I wanted, and maybe if I’m lucky she’ll decide her own shopping list isn’t that important after all.
At least I’m tall.