Guy meets girl

There is a narrative to online dating.

Guys go onto online dating sites, and they go through thousands of profiles, sending messages out to the women they like. They wait for messages to come back, and hear a resounding silence. They have to send out 100 messages for every response they get. They feel invisible and unappealing. Women, on the other hand, are inundated with messages. They suffer from too much choice. They spend so much time emptying their inboxes that they never have time to do anything else. They feel like an interchangeable object, the reward for successful completion of the OKCupid quest. “Turn in 100 rejection tokens to receive your Girlfriend.”

This narrative is, like many cultural narratives, UTTER BULLSHIT.

First off, all women do not get hundreds of messages. Every time I update my profile, I get a few people swinging through to check me out. My last update was two days ago, and in the 24 hours after it, I got thirteen visitors to my profile. Three of them sent me messages. I’m going to quote all three messages pretty much in their entirety:

1. Hi there
2. Hey you seem interesting , I want to get to know you better. We should meet for coffee / drinks
3. Hey my name is Kevin. How are you doing today.

The only change here is to the name, which I changed. All punctuation is as it arrived.

For every message I receive, I check out the profile. Sometimes the message is interesting all by itself, but often (as you can see) it’s really just saying “I exist! Come look at me!” So I go to these profiles. Here is what I see:

1. “I am a sociable guy and ready to meet people from all walks of life. I am caring and have a good heart . I like hanging out with my friends, bike riding, walking around Boston, watching sports and just being outside when the weather is really nice. I am looking for someone to share my interests with. There are so many other things that I want to do but would be nice to share those activities with someone. I keep fit by going to Planet fitness at least four times a week; however I strive to get to five”

2. “It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing. It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love for your dreams for the adventure of being alive.BTW for those who love dogs , I volunteer at a humane society as a dog walker ;)”

3. “My name is Kevin Douglas hi I am single and I have a 4 year old son named Leo. looking to meet someone new and to be able build a life with that special someone”

Number 1 looks interesting enough at a glance, so I send back a “Hi.” I’m going to let him put in more effort if he wants. He sent me an “I exist!” and I am sending back an “I see you!” If he wants a conversation… we’ll see where it goes. The other two just make me roll my eyes. Tell me something about yourself! I don’t want a vaguely man-shaped thing stuck on my life. I had one of those. I got rid of it. I want to be able to feel something of the person behind the keyboard. I need to be able to see something of who you are, either in the message or the profile.

For the record, and for comparison, this is what my profile says:

“I write letters to elected officials, and I write posts about feminism and equality on Facebook.

I no longer fit into the elaborate Renaissance and fantasy gowns I wore in college, but I still have a tiara I wear around the house, and a lap harp I pretend I’m good at playing.

I have three kids, and I watch Star Wars, Doctor Who, and MasterChef Junior with them.

It makes me sad that I no longer have the time or the social circle to play GURPS.

I haven’t written fanfic in nearly two years, and this makes me sad, but not quite sad enough to start writing it again.

I can argue at length about just about anything, and am very rarely without an opinion.”

So, sitting back and waiting for my milkshake to bring all the boys to my yard is clearly not working. Instead, I spend a chunk of time every day or two skimming profiles. I narrow my field down: men ages 30-44, within 15 miles of me, online in the last week. Sometimes I add other search terms, for fun. Author names, “nerd”, “geek”, “Avengers”, “punctilious”, “Obama”. (Seriously, it’s a fun game.) I skim them, rejecting anything without a picture (sorry!) or where the guys aren’t single. I read profiles. I look for something about the profile that jumps out at me. Most of them, there’s nothing. I move on. Some of the guys look absolutely fantastic. I write a personalized message.

“:)

I almost just want to leave it at that. You are the photo winner of the day. I saw your profile pic and just lit up. Awesome. It looks like a ton of fun.

(Dude was in SCA getup — full plate armor. Swoon.)

“Hello, world traveler! You have a great set of pics, and a REALLY great set of favorite books. Do you travel on business, or for fun?

Good music choices, too. Have you ever listened to Laura Love? She’s a self-described folk-funk musician, who plays bass and sings. She’s got some really fantastic stuff. I’ve been toggling this week between her, Mary Black, and Vance Gilbert for car listening.”

“I saw your comment about NaNoWriMo. Did you ever finish? Are you planning to do it again this year?”

My response rate on OKCupid for the last 3 weeks is 14 messages sent, 1 response. The single responder has not been giving me a whole lot to build on with responses, and I suspect we’ll lose steam before we get to an in-person meeting. He seems a little lackluster about the whole thing.

I really wish we could ditch this narrative about women having it easier than men. The real message behind it seems to be, “Women have it totally easier than men if they just play the game exactly the way men expect them to play it, don’t allow themselves any standards, and don’t care about their safety or happiness.” Which, yes, we all know. But (shocker!) women want to have agency in their own lives, too.

I am feeling discouraged this week.

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3 thoughts on “Guy meets girl

  1. I feel ya! I ventured over here from the good Dr’s site. I have to giggle at your OKC experience because it is pretty much spot on to what I have experienced there. You really have to sift through the responses, because if you are looking for quality, it is going to take longer to find. That is just the mind frame I’ve put myself in after realizing that the vast majority of respondents either fell outside of the criteria that I set specifically on my profile or they simply were vulgar/unresponsive within the first few messages.

    Quite frankly, it baffles me that so many of the guys who have responded to me seem to be totally lacking in basic conversational back and forth skills. I always want to say: “If it’s not something that you’d go up and say to a stranger on the street (or if it’s not something you’d want a stranger saying to your sister/mother/female friend), it is probably not something you should be saying to me.” As is true with the internet in general, I find that anonymity causes guys to say things they wouldn’t say in person. Look… I get that talking via message on the internet means that it isn’t always easy to convey what you want to say, but it isn’t exactly rocket science either.

    It also baffles me when guys put things in their profiles like: “I like movies and music.” -_- Who DOESN’T like movies and music??? And then when I ask for specifics, they basically repeat themselves. It’s silly. Sex is like an endgame for some of them, and it is frustrating because it genuinely feels like they just want a meatsock to put their penis in. So many of them come across like they could care less about what I have to say or who I am, and it’s sad. At least if they cared about respecting me as a person, they might be more likely to achieve their goal (hopefully by being genuinely interested and not just faking it).

    I’ve actually started viewing OKC as a giant social experiment because it actually functions better as a social experiment than it does as a dating site. I get that internet dating traditionally means people with less people skills, but it has become more mainstream over the years you’d think it would have gotten better…

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    • Yeah, it’s the sex-as-endgame feel that bothers me most, too. It really feels like these guys are saying, “Which of these women are acceptable enough for me to want my penis in them?” and then pursuing the least effort path to get to one of them.

      I was actually thinking specifically about sex today, because I have a date scheduled for tonight (with an OKC connection!) and I was wondering, “Hm. How would I feel about sex with this guy?” This is not something that I think about a lot. And I basically said I’m holding to an absolute no tonight, but… it occurred to me that if things went well, it might be a regretful refusal. I’m not opposed to sex. But I don’t want to be Tonight’s Masturbation Aid, either, you know? And I think it’s a lot easier for guys to have “good sex” than women, because the social narrative around acceptable sex is very male-gaze.

      Which may wind up becoming a full post here sometime, especially if I wind up with any exciting bad-sex stories.

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  2. “It really feels like these guys are saying, “Which of these women are acceptable enough for me to want my penis in them?” and then pursuing the least effort path to get to one of them.”

    This… So much this. It is the ‘pursuing the least effort path’ that bothers me a lot. Like if they tick off the boxes of: “did this, did this did this,” they think they will automatically get into my pants. Just… NO.

    I hope that your OKC date went well. I too, have set into place my own personal standard about not having sex with an OKC date on the first meeting, but honestly, a lot of my decision on that has to do with feeling truly comfortable before I have sex WITH ANYONE, and I rarely EVER feel that familiar with anyone after meeting them for the very first time. I know for me, that’s mostly a personal preference. I have to connect with a person on a mental level as well as a physical level for me to be truly attracted to them.

    Reminds me of a OKC date I went on a couple of months ago… It actually was a really fun date, but the guy kept trying to pressure me to go home with him. The thing was, by physical standards, I should have liked him. However, I felt nothing. No true attraction to him. We had some very different values and life experiences. He wanted to open a club (at 35, which should tell you something). He was interesting to talk to, but it didn’t seem like he wanted to connect with me, so much as he wanted to tell me his life story and show me his expensive car so he could impress me and then take me home. It baffles me why guys think that is impressive. Anyway, he tried again at the end of the night to get me to come home with him. I politely declined and neither of us contacted each other again.

    I’m slated to have another OKC first date with a different guy a bit later this week. We’ll see how it goes…

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