Love & Sex

Dating In The Digital Age

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So it’s no surprise that in the digital age, the internet has become a prime spot for social mixing, as more and more people are letting their guard down and dipping their toes in the online dating pool. I vividly remember my freshman year of college and how easy it was for my girlfriends and I to date. It was like a buffet of eligible bachelors. We would mock those who had to resort to sites like OKCupid or match.com to find a guy, because well- if I may be completely blunt, it seemed a little desperate. My thoughts specifically were that any girl resorting to the internet for a date was just delusional; her goal was to recreate some sort of Meg Ryan Tom Hanks You’ve Got Mail rom-com scenario, setting herself up for inevitable disappointment, and the only reason the guys signed up for dating sites were because they were closet murderers, perverts, and pedophiles who somehow managed to escape the wrath of Chris Hansen on the To Catch A Predator. In my eyes, looking for a date online was basically asking a random, Silence of the Lambs obsessed freak, to go all Buffalo Bill on my ass, and last thing I want is some nutcase to regulate my lotion use, so he can eventually turn my cute face into an ottoman. So yes, under the naïve assumption that life would always be like college and I would always find myself in a sea of potential suitors, initially my mind was completely closed to the idea.

It wasn’t until graduating from college, that I realized how slim the pickings really are in the real world. After exhausting the bar scene, my friends and I each ended up secretly creating our own profiles, just to keep our options open and see what was out there. Now it’s become such the norm, that most of our girl gossip brunches revolve around our most recent message exchanges and dates. Currently, I don’t think I know a single girl out there who hasn’t attempted to set up an online dating profile, and go out with people they meet on an app.

Okay Cupid, Where Are You?

Most people I know start with OKCupidWhy?

Well for one thing, while upgrading the account costs a minor fee, all the basic features needed to find a match are functional within a free account. Also, the profile building process involves answering a long questionnaire, which is really like taking one of those fun, hysterical beauty magazine quizzes, ultimately culminating into a foundation for finding matches with similar interests and values. You can browse other profiles for potential matches, anonymously “like” other users, and send and receive messages faster than email. Overall, it’s really simple, user-friendly site, designed to weed out the crazies, uglies, and imperfect matches for you in ways that trolling bars with beer goggles can not.

At least, that is its intended purpose is anyway.

While I’ve known a few couples that have successfully connected via OKCupid, it’s more common for me to hear about people’s series of fleeting escapades, each one more ridiculous than the last. I have been fortunate enough not to met a Buffalo Bill/ Craigslist killer type, however, this site has had a tendency to present me with a very particular “type” when it comes to presenting me with potential matches. Of course every guy has their own story, but there also seems to be some strange overlapping commonalities between them. Maybe it’s coincidence, or maybe I’m just a magnet for this kind of person, but the basic arc of almost all my OKCupid relationships goes as follows:

  • Initially eager, he will blow up my account inbox with messages, even asking for a first date after only a few exchanges. Most of the time, I try to continue with online and phone exchanges for a couple of weeks, before agreeing to meet up, in order to thoroughly screen them myself (it’s New York City, and a girl can never be too careful).
  • On the first date, we go out for a nice dinner, where he spends a majority of the time talking about how great his mother and sisters are, gushing over the strong women in his life, so much so it almost appears he is overselling how respectful he is of women. He even describes himself as a feminist, while simultaneously insisting on picking up the bill for both of us. This is initially impressive, until after a few drinks, when he is practically begging to have sex on the first date (and I’m sure that is something he did not learn from his mother and sisters).
  • Also, on the first date, he will ask me out on a second date within an hourpromising and exciting, right? Wrong. This offer for a second date is immediately followed by a long speech about how they aren’t “looking for a relationship”, automatically setting up this “friends with benefits” dichotomy, even before I’ve decided if he is worthy of sampling my “benefits” to begin with.
  • He compliments me a lot, and always manages to minimally steal a kiss on the first date.
  • IF he is employed, he works in a technical fieldusually something IT related, film editing, or sometimes a D-grade light or sound engineer.
  • He is always allergic to cats, and uses that as an excuse for me to always visit him at his place.
  • He lives aloneeither in a studio apartment, a converted basement, or a converted garage…. And by alone I mean, the place is either directly connected to his parent’s home, OR his parents own the property. Either way, he has never had to pay rent a day in his life, which is great for him, but when I meet a man in his late twenties who has no clue how to write a check, strikes me as a wee bit odd.
  • He has a soul patch or some other form of unflattering, outdated facial hair that he thinks is incredibly sexy.
  • He calls and texts every day, like I am his girlfriend, despite also constantly reminding me that I am not.
  • He continues planning eclectic dates for us; exotic ethnic food restaurants, breaking into an abandoned building, rollerblading, the ballet, concerts for bands you don’t recognize, spoken word poetry… all things that are fun, but he makes these plans without ever considering my schedule or inquiring about my personal interests.
  • When I try to plan something to do for the two of us, he blows it off.
  • He’ll compare me to his exes, describing them as psychos, with elaborate stories to back that assessment upfreely sharing all the nitty gritty details of every tragic heartbreak. He will then proceed to describe the craziest ones who inflicted the most emotional brutalization, as the epic “love of his life”. He cries in my lap, and I have no choice but to comfort him and wash his snot off my clothes in a public bathroom.
  • He’ll be really into what is considered ‘nerdy’ board and card games, like Magic the Gatheringboth online and in person with other gamers. Though they will claim these games are not a priority, occasionally I will be invited over under the impression we are going to cuddle and watch a movie, but then get stuck sitting on the couch reading the magazine as he makes his “last move”. Because I don’t know the rules by heart and he doesn’t have the patience to teach me, I am invited to watch, but never play.
  • Around 3 months he’ll tell me I’m unlike any girl he has ever met, because I’m laid back and the antithesis of clingy. Even though he still doesn’t want to have a title or to be exclusive, he lets me know he hasn’t been dating anyone else and doesn’t want to. I tell him I’ve been dating other people, because we are not exclusive. He says he is ok with it, but makes a face like he is not.
  • He starts using pet names like “babe”, which I hate. When I tell them I don’t do pet names, he stops briefly, only to come up with a more stupid alternative later, like “Boo Boo Bunny Cheeks”. He still has anxiety about using the “boyfriend/ girlfriend” labels, but also can’t bother to refer to me by my actual name.
  • He farts in public and find it hilarious, but if he overhear even a subtle toot of mine while I’m in an actual bathroom, it’s considered a vile crime against humanity.
  • He thinks aliens are real and makes you watch hours of YouTube videos of suspected UFO sightings.
  • He barges into to the bathroom to pee, after I’ve closed the door to brush my teeth in privacy.
  • He attempts to hold conversations with me while they are on the toilet, through the bathroom door. He claims it makes him feel “closer to me”.
  • He’s a stoner.
  • He drinks exotic, dark beers often. Sometimes it seems more often than water.
  • His compliments are now restructured into subtle criticisms. Example: You’re hair looks fine, but I think it looked better with whatever you did to it yesterday.
  • He doesn’t text or call as frequently as he used to.
  • Exciting outings transition into more nights inalways at his apartment.
  • When we do go out, he spends the entire time reading Reddit.com on his phone.
  • He offers to give me one of his extra external hard drives to back up my computer, as a birthday present.
  • He often discusses his previous creative ambition to become a successful DJ. The little space he does have in his apartment is cluttered with old turntables and records that are collecting dust. I question to myself if he has ever really spun anything in his life.
  • His bathroom is a nightmarealmost empty bottles of designer impostor cologne, a streaky toilet bowl, empty old spice deodorants he never threw away, a rusty razor, uncapped, squished out toothpaste, weird, random hairs that you hope are facial and not pubic, dust, and too many of those little orange pill bottles to count, clutter the space from room to ceiling. It’s so gross I keep my toothbrush in a Ziplock bag, Despite being filthy, when I ask to keep a couple spare tampons in his bathroom, he gets uncomfortable. It’s another vile crime against humanity that makes him want to gag.
  • I’ll have a really bad day and try to vent to him, but at the smallest sight of my vulnerability, he dismisses it and changes the subject to himself. I cry quietly to myself in the bathroom and get over the day on my own, as he plays video games with the volume turned all the way up.
  • He is surprisingly good in bed, but feels a compulsion to occasionally stop and double check to make sure you “aren’t falling in love with him”. He is totally oblivious to the fact that his arrogance coupled with a subtle undertone of insecurity and mommy issues is quite the turn off.
  • He is still an active participant in the Star Wars vs Star Trek debate, and can quote everything from which ever of the franchises he is in more support ofsometimes even during sex. Againhe is oblivious to the fact that this is also a turn off.
  • He meets my friends, who are all lovely to him in person, but secretly find him obnoxious.
  • His friends start to get to know me, often accidentally referring to me as his girlfriend. This freaks him out and is somehow my fault. He either gets angry and picks an argument or starts to withdraw, until I reiterate I’m not into labels either. He chills out, but continues to refer to me as “babe”.
  • Around 5 months, he warms up to the idea of succumbing to the label, as he hasn’t had the urge to date anyone else. I never explicitly commit to the idea of formerly being his girlfriend, but I don’t totally reject him either.
  • He watches Sex and the City reruns or something on Bravo with me, but insists his feigned engagement in my shows comes with a price of his choosing. To him, watching one of my shows is the equivalent of watching ten of hisand his show of choice usually of the Sci-Fi or Anime genres, which I am not a huge fan of.
  • He can’t cook, but loves my cooking, so insists I do it all the time instead of us going out anymore.
  • He starts suddenly canceling dates at the last minute for things like Comic Book Conventions, Avian Watching groups, and Amphibian Enthusiast lectures… you know, because birds, frogs, and other grown men in costumes are all way more interesting and important than human companionship (aka getting some sexy time action).
  • Around 8 months, he suddenly decides we were never compatible and that he was never really that into me to begin with. Rather than have a rational discussion and parting amicably as friends, he holds his feelings in, only to unleash it when Icompletely oblivious to his sudden change of heartpresent him with a kind, thoughtful gesture or gift, like ordering concert tickets or baking him cupcakes with detailed icing drawing of his favorite Pokemon characters. I do something thoughtful, and he sees that as the opportunity to try to end the relationship by suddenly becoming really angry and aggressive. Clearly, the unexpected gift clearly triggers some feelings of guilt, but rather than civilly articulate what is really going on or saving the dramatic outburst for a more appropriate time, he attempts to drive me away by being deliberately cruel, verbally humiliating and degrading me. He snaps, emotionally shuts down, and then abruptly exits. I usually never see or speak to him again- that is until a few months later, when he realizes I still have his spare external hard drive and he demands I send it back to him. (I never do).
  • I end up more surprised than hurt about his sudden about face, but realize it’s his loss. I continue dating in hopes that this pattern doesn’t repeat again.

So, in a nutshell, OKCupid has delivered unto me kings of contradiction. They are inconsistent, selfish little boys who enjoy playing games, all while hiding behind a façade of mysterious complexity. It’s not like I’m unaware of the pattern- every time I enter into something new, I always try to improve upon my own behavior and be more conscious of the red flags, but I still somehow always end up trapped in this Groundhog’s Day scenario. Somehow I keep ending up with a minor variation of the same thing, all with the same 8 month expiration date. Clearly I said or did something to really irritate Cupid and this endless series of melodramatic, emotionally unstable, insecure, immature, nerds is my punishment.

Needless to say, I’ve moved on from using OKCupid. Maybe one day I will go back and give it a try again, but the predictability of the fallout has currently sucked the excitement dating for me. I think the site is fun if you’re interested in just going on dates and meeting new people, but it hasn’t proven to be successful foundation for fostering a healthy, long term relationships, in my experience. Don’t fall for the honeymoon phase kindness; keep it to a 5 date max with each OKCupid guy, then move on before you find yourself becoming invested in his life. Unless you are Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail, this is not the place where you will find your future husband.

Ladies, we want to hear from you! If you have had any interesting, romantic, weird, funny, online dating experiences, share with us below!

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