What I Learned From My 24hr Online Dating Experience
Let me preface what led me to this moment in which I, Maggie McMillan, confidently independent woman and outspoken advocate against desperate single girl stereotypes, had made not one but two online dating profiles and took them down within the same day of their creation.
I am a Christian college graduate. This means that my college was basically a IRL dating site; everyone I know is in the lamest whitest relationship possible and are very serious. I’m actually very glad for all my friends who found someone who makes them happy yada yada yada but dear god, going on my social media is a minefield of sepia-colored pictures of intimate bliss in a variety of locations including in front of brick walls and in front of meadows and that’s it.
As I roll my eyes whenever I see these, it starts to dawn on me that I’m super alone. Like very alone. Like, making snarky jokes at couple pictures out loud while sitting in a car after nannying or on my parents’ couch after an accidental Modern Family marathon …ALONE.
I’ve got several good reasons for this though:
-I didn’t date in high school because high school boys are actually puppy dogs controlling a human suit of hormones and they’re idiots. I also hate my hometown, and dating here feels like a death sentence.
-I didn’t date at Taylor because I was fundamentally creeped out by Pick-A-Dates and forced opposite-sex interactions in which marriage was ALWAYS the immediate goal.
-I didn’t date abroad because it turns out French sexual aggression just wasn’t for me. (Also I didn’t really ever know what people were saying so I just vaguely smiled all the time; I think some people thought I was simple-minded).
-I didn’t date at Gordon because, as my old roommate put it, guys at Gordon are aggressively unattractive (but that’s okay because it’s their minds that matter). We had about three objectively handsome guys at our school; one had the dorkiest name possible (I’m convinced you just can’t be romantically interested in someone named Dunston or Sheldon or any other dorky name), one was dating a friend so he didn’t count as an individual at all, and one I think I just made myself think was cute because I was that bored. I also just failed flat out at getting to know guys at my college. It probably had something to do with the fact that I’m a feminist, which to Christian guys means you’re a lesbian. (This is a real thing that happened to me).
So here I am, post-grad and single.
BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE.
Let’s add on the fact that I’m only 20. Yes, even though I have a degree, going to bars or places where alcohol is served and young people hang out is a pretty uncomfortable situation for me. I recently went out with with Rae and some of her friends; I technically wasn’t allowed by the bar but my plan of action was to blurt out that I wasn’t drinking because I was pregnant in the possibility of someone asking to see my I.D. Don’t worry, that super dorky plan never came to fruition. Anyways, yeah, normal social outings are a no-go until two months when I’m 21, in which point, I’ll probably not partake because I hate noise and the people that often go to meet singles at bars.
Also, who the heck is in my age range? I’m not interested in people numerically close to me; most people are still in college at 20, getting to be idiots and not having to choose what they want to do with their lives (stay innocent, you naive summer child). That means I have to date up, which is okay by me because that’s appropriate for my maturity and experiences, but you kind of have to be suspicious of like, a 28 yr old, willing to date a 20 yr old. (Unless it’s Andy Dwyer and April Ludgate).
So, I’m realizing that I’m not meeting anyone the conventional way. My friends aren’t setting me up, probably because they can’t sell me to any of their single friends. For example,
I have this great friend named Maggie. You’d love her! She watches a concerning amount of Bollywood movies, she’ll likely tweet about your interactions, and she has a super unwarranted superiority complex! Wanna date her?!
I didn’t meet anyone through college or church. There’s no adorable meet cutes happening around me, unless you count avoiding eye contact with people from high school in the local Starbucks or being mistaken for someone else at the library by a confused elderly man.
So I’m thinking to myself, “hey Mags, you’re never going to meet anyone. All you do is work and lament about living in Indiana. Let’s be proactive. You know you want to casually hang out with someone; no one else you know will do a puzzle with you and frankly, they’re tired of you asking them. You’re a funny, self-confident, modern woman. Take a tip from Aziz Ansari and put yourself out there! Just see what’s on dating sites; plenty of your friends are on Tinder. There’s no stigma! Hey, maybe you’ll even get some free Chipotle out of this!”
Why the heck not?
So I make one on Plenty of Fish. I read that it attracts younger people who aren’t divorcees looking for a midlife crisis and it’s not as superficial as Tinder. I put a vaguely funny description up, a picture that hides some of my face so I can’t attract murderers with some weird forehead M.O, and then go through some profiles in a “Like or Dislike” activity to supposedly find me the man of my dreams. It was like Tinder swiping but somehow lamer.
After about four minutes, I made myself stop clicking through the random strangers’ photos and sorting them into categories. I had to stop, because I realized that I was enjoying it way too much.
Out of the 50+ guys I rated, I only “liked” one because I think he had one of our Labradoodles in his photo and just wanted to asked if it was from CVL.
I was able to say “no” to all of them for diverse reasons that I realized I was finding way too humorous.
First off, the majority of them are, in a nice way, repellent physically to me. But don’t worry, there’s someone for everyone. I wish them luck.
Then I “disliked” anyone who asked for hook-ups and I quickly realized that my definition of “casual” (as in, I talk to you when I feel like it but just know I’m most likely in sweatpants) was much MUCH different than online dating lingo.
Then I said no to the shirtless gym pics. I just feel like it’s a really insecure thing to do, even for a Herculean cross-fit god who puts “protein shakes” as his god-honest hobby.
Then I said no to bathroom pics. It’s not a MySpace account you made in seventh grade. Have some respect and go find some freakin’ natural light.
The list went on and on. Soon, I was just making dumb jokes to myself as I was sifting through what increasingly became the who’s who of human garbage.
I stopped when I realized that some people were really really serious about finding someone to marry right now; they were looking for an answer for their loneliness or waiting for their best friend they didn’t know yet. I really really wasn’t looking for that, and I kind of felt like a jerk for making such light out of it.
Then I see I have messages. Most are “hey, how’s it going?” (geesh, have some imagination), some are nice and full of compliments, but then there’s this one.
Hey, just a random question for you lol hahah. Would you be interested in being in a relationship in which you would physically walk on my back for me? Just for fun lol lol.
Ew, ew, ew. I wanted to pour bleach on my eyes. I realized that this wasn’t going to be the last creepy message I would get if I continued with this site. I didn’t even want to muster up the creativity and creepiness to imagine what newfound horrors could potentially await my inbox, so I deleted the account.
I realized though that it was kind of …fun. What if I could guarantee that I’d be safer from gross messages? What if the site would tell me who I would not be interested in and match me with a better algorithm? Isn’t there a happy medium between Tinder hook-up culture and auditioning for The Bachelor? Anyways, so within two minutes, I have an account on OKCupid.
I put the same vaguely funny bio, the same vague picture, and answer the supposedly soul-baring questions that will find me My One.
As I’m looking through these new crop of guys (many of them were the same as POF by the way), I realize that 1. I’m having less fun not getting to click my disapproval away like the last site and 2. I really do not like these matches. Am I really 68% compatible with a guy whose bio says “I LIVE FOR BIG TRUCKS AND BABES”? What do I even want with a 73% compatibility with a “sales associate” from Cicero?
WAIT, THAT’S IT. THE ANSWER ALL ALONG!
I. DON’T. WANT. THIS!
I spent a 24 hr period with a dating profile and I had wastefully checked it maybe 6 times during the day. Think about everything else I could’ve been doing! Crafting a clever tweet, reading CNN, smashing the patriarchy. What a waste!
If I want to date, I’ll do it with my own intentions, not because I feel societal pressure to. I don’t like feeling like if I’m not consumed in a job or experience, I need to be actively searching for someone. I’m about to go live in Romania for crying out loud! Why would I want to start a long-distance relationship! I don’t want to feel like I need to be at the same pace as that random engaged acquaintance on Facebook. It’s not the Game of Life; it’s not like I’m barred from opportunities until I “STOP TO GET MARRIED”.
Besides, the only one who cares about my relationship status is my great-grandma who asks me every time I go see her. And you know what, Betty Lou? I don’t really think it’s that much of anyone else’s business.
So what did I learn?
I’m not the type to online date. I make everything into a joke, I get creeped out when anyone makes a move (thus thwarting the dating part), and I’d never actually meet up with any of these dudes in real life unless I told my friend to hide in the restaurant with us because I saw Taken at a very impressionable age.
I really don’t care about keeping up with anyone (even the Kardashians!). I’ve rarely done typical things like other people have, so why do it with relationships and intimacy?
Just make yourself happy and content in your present circumstances. That’s the only thing that matters.
Even if I become a Bridget Jones-esque spinster aunt who is buying their nieces and nephews uncool clothing in aspirational sizes and making everyone look at pictures of my fish at age 50, I’d rather do it with integrity than sell myself short.
Listen, does anyone know a single, normal, moderately funny, non-smoker between the ages of 21-26? Hahaha just kidding, that would ruin the point of this entire post. (but really? asking for a friend….)