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Belle’s Misadventures in Online Dating, Part I

I never cared much for dating.  As a teenager, my nose was too firmly planted in a book (or in the air, depending on who you ask) to be googly-eyed about boys.  As an adult, the last thing I wanted to do at the end of a long work day was sit in a darkened bar and make small talk with a perspective suitor.

I was perpetually single, but it didn’t really affect my social life.  I found my job, my friends, and my extracurricular interests wholly satisfying.  And in D.C., solo time was easy to fill–a stroll through a museum here, a movie at the Landmark there.

Then, I relocated to a city where free time is more plentiful, everyone in my age cohort is married, and cultural diversions are nearly non-existent.  The hours felt longer, emptier.  And if it’s possible–given the District’s oft-discussed, much maligned male-to-female ratio–the dating pool seemed shallower.

After a decade as a dedicated non-dater, the thought of diving back in felt like someone wanted to hand me a jar of fissile nuclear materials. Sure, I can hold that for a minute, why not?  And like many life changes, the biggest stumbling block was figuring out how and where to begin.

So like any good blogger, I started on the Internet.

eHarmony was like the piercing pain experienced while skinny dipping in Alaska, in February. Every morning, I logged on to inspect the catch-of-the-day.  And every morning, the service failed to find even one college-educated man, aged 28 to 37, who was taller than I and a non-smoker.

‘X is a great match just outside of your settings’ means ‘X is 43-years-old, 5’2″ tall, and lists vaping among his hobbies.’ No, seriously, that was one of my actual “matches.”

Over time, I realized that the kindly-looking old man from the eHarmony TV commercials was a modern day Fagan.  He forced his adorable granddaughter to pick my pocket of several hundred dollars, and then left me holding my laptop in the air begging, “Please sir, may I have some more (matches)?”

Knowing that eHarmony didn’t have enough users in my area to yield decent prospects, I decided to go in another direction.

Match.com. Holy Mother of God, what a disaster.  Like the Hindenburg explosion, only with more fire and fewer survivors.

You know when you drop a new puppy into a room filled with other dogs, and they all rush up to sniff her?  That’s what happens when you set up a new account on Match.com.  I posted my profile at 9:00PM on a Friday night and by noon the next day, I had hundreds of winks, favorites, and messages (no exaggeration).  Here’s a sampling of my favorites.

“sup? u hottt”



“yo gurl sup?”


“I went to GU too. Did we have sex in the bathroom at Taffy Jack’s?”  (For the record, I’ve never been to Canada, and I met that guy one time after my roommate puked in his car.)

It took me ten minutes to realize that for men, Match is a numbers game.  And I was never particularly good at math.  Sifting through the rough to find the diamonds felt like a sisyphean task.

Utterly demoralized, I put a Krazee Straw into a bottle of wine and phoned one of my younger, still-dating friends for advice.  She suggested I try Tinder.  I asked if she’d eaten lead paint chips as a child.  But after some basic instruction on the fine art of swiping right (and 2/3 of a bottle of rose), joining Tinder felt like a good idea.

Or at least, less like a bad idea.

Join me next week when we discuss, how I found love on Tinder (spoiler alert!) and offer some tips on how you can too.  Share your bad online dating experiences in the comments.  And have a safe and happy Valentine’s Day weekend.



  1. Jess says:

    This was hilarious. As a married for 15 years 35 year old, I constantly tell my husband he better not die soon because I would have no idea what to do….Can you imagine my post? Widowed mother of 5 with transracial kids, seeks someone who doesn’t mind 24 hour craziness and a house that is never clean or quiet, I’d be single for the rest of my life! I’ve watched a few friends re-enter the dating pool in our 30s and oh my goodness, it’s madness.

    February 12, 2016/Reply
  2. Rachel says:

    This is amazing! I laughed out loud several times because my experiences were nearly identical. I found my current boyfriend on Tinder as well…

    The thing that irked me most about online dating, when I finally was fed up with throwing my money down the drain – I saw 95% of the profiles I saw on both Match and eHarmony on Tinder – so – I could have met the same fellas for free.

    I look forward to reading the rest!

    February 12, 2016/Reply
  3. Kitty Non Grata says:

    This post cracks me up… and reminds me of my own online dating experiences in DC and overseas. Try online dating as a Foreign Service Officer! (I wrote a spoof post on it a couple years ago on own blog.) I tried for a few months, but I ended up meeting someone in person around the same time who I ended up marrying. Go figure. I do think actively trying online made me more open to meeting people in general, so I’ll give online dating credit where credit is due.

    February 12, 2016/Reply
  4. Addie says:

    This was a highly entertaining post! I tried eHarmony as well but there must be more desirable matches using the site in the DC metro area because my experience wasn’t as bad as yours. One 3 month relationship started from that site and he was a perfectly nice guy but just not the one. There was also one complete nut case, who I left at the restaurant in the middle of our 3rd date when he went completely crazy on me, and of course a bunch of duds. I’m genuinely interested to see what you have to say about Tinder because I would have had the same lead paint reaction you did.

    February 12, 2016/Reply
  5. Anu says:

    I wouldn’t knock it till you try it, I met my fiance on Tinder we had been dating for two years before he proposed, and are now planning our very big Indian wedding for October.
    I dont recommend throwing caution to the wind or to think its a sure bet, all the rules for online dating apply, doubly for Tinder.

    February 12, 2016/Reply
  6. MWH says:

    I have so many bad online dating stories I don’t even know where to start! One of my favorites was when I was living in NYC and a guy from Queens was talking about taking me to a diner for disco fries. I can’t however do the story justice. However, I did meet my husband on eHarmony! We were married in December. So, I did have luck on the site, I bet a part of that is that I’m older. You can check out our story, in the Post…

    February 12, 2016/Reply
    • Addie says:

      Loved your story! I started keeping a list of every first date I went on when I first joined eHarmony so that when I meet the one I can say I kissed x number of frogs in order to find him. I’m at 35 right now!

      February 12, 2016/Reply
    • Shelley says:

      That was such a great story!!!

      February 14, 2016/Reply
  7. Heather says:

    I didn’t try either of those. I tried OKCupid which is the free version of those higher end websites. I had both experiences you experienced on there and decided enough was enough. I have tried Tinder as well with no luck. Looking forward to see what tricks you did to get a good guy!

    February 12, 2016/Reply
  8. Cait says:

    Do I sense an engagement announcement coming?

    February 12, 2016/Reply
    • Belle says:


      February 12, 2016/Reply
      • Crystal says:

        ^^^ *dies laughing* You’re the best.

        February 12, 2016/Reply
  9. Emily says:

    So happy to read your story. I know you’re a very private person about your life and your anonymity, and after reading you since 2008(!) and knowing you didn’t date, I am very happy for you that you’ve found someone that will help make you happy after already having such a fulfilling life!

    February 12, 2016/Reply
  10. SM says:

    Probably the most reassuring advice I got when job hunting was that you only need one “yes”. I feel that this advice is encouraging to those of us that are demoralized after going on bad dates. Personally, I am trying to focus less on the end goal of marriage/relationship and attempting to stay in the moment when meeting a new guy. We only need to go through enough bad dates to land on a good one!

    February 12, 2016/Reply
    • Valerie says:

      So true! Although I have the reverse problem: I managed to keep going on more dates after a few bad ones, but job hunting was/is terrifying. I get rejected or ignored for a couple positions and I’m ready to crawl under the covers for a whole day. Like dating, though, I have to keep putting myself out there professionally, and all it takes is one good match.

      February 12, 2016/Reply
  11. Rachel says:

    I’m glad you had a good (great!!!) experience on Tinder! Sadly, in DC it’s a nightmare…I’ve been on Hinge and Bumble, too. Slightly better experiences, but haven’t had your luck…maybe soon? Congratulations 🙂

    February 12, 2016/Reply
  12. Christine says:

    I too hated eHarmony and Match, but I did have success with OkCupid. The format was so much more easy going, which worked better for me. I ignored or blocked the creepy/tacky messages I’d get, and whenever I didn’t have a decent conversation going with someone I’d skim my suggested matches to see if anyone interesting popped up, and that would last me another 1-2 weeks. One the guys I found going that turned out to be the one 🙂 But I had some friends on the site at the same time who had terrible luck–because that’s such a big part of dating, as with the job search–luck and timing. So good luck to anyone out there who’s on the hunt, and please don’t stop being yourself or put your life on hold waiting for “the one”!

    February 12, 2016/Reply
  13. Caroline says:

    I met my husband on Tinder. True story… looking forward to reading yours!

    February 12, 2016/Reply
  14. Sarah says:

    Haha I love this! I tried OKCupid (“hey gurl can i have pix of ur boobs?!” x54546268) and Tinder before it was acceptable to tell people you were on it (had two very awkward hookups that were less than exciting, then was stalked by one of those guys…not OK)…

    …but then I met my husband on Match! And he is wonderful and perfect and we are celebrating our 1 year marriage anniversary this weekend. So, some work for some people, some work for others, I guess 🙂

    Love seeing the occasional picture of your beau on Instagram. He looks perfect for you!

    February 12, 2016/Reply
  15. Datingsuck says:

    File a Better Business Bureau complaint for your money back based on their fraudulent advertising. I got my money back

    February 12, 2016/Reply
  16. Datingsuck says:

    ooops on eHarmony

    February 12, 2016/Reply
  17. Heather says:

    Oh online dating… I hate it and I love it. I became truly single for the first time in… my life, really, this past May and dove right in to Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge.

    I’ve come out with plenty of hilarious stories, only one disastrously awkward date (I should have known from the fact we went to the same high school AND college and I had never even heard of him that things were not meant to be), and lots of pleasantly nice dates. Though, I’ve found in the DC dating pool, that it’s almost impossible, besides for aforementioned awful date, to find someone who you haven’t already met or don’t at least know at least 10+ people in common with… and actually I’m more than okay with that. References make it seem so much less intimidating.

    Pineapples and Pearls

    February 12, 2016/Reply
  18. MCW says:

    This was very funny, thanks for sharing! My sister and a friend both met their very serious boyfriends on Coffee Meets Bagel. If (although it’s looking more like when) my sister gets engaged I plan to buy them coffee and bagels.

    February 12, 2016/Reply
  19. Ellie says:

    As another non-dater, I’m really happy you’ve found someone (there’s hope!) and that you’re sharing a bit of your story about how you did it here. Thanks!

    February 12, 2016/Reply
  20. Leigh says:

    Match is the worst. Just terrible. It made Tinder look good, and I had awful luck with Tinder. I met my boyfriend on OKCupid, though, right as I was ready to give up, delete my profile, and just get like five more cats.

    February 12, 2016/Reply
    • Valerie says:

      Leigh, I think I had a very similar experience. One man on Match in DC lied about his age on his profile, but said it was fine “because he feels 41, not 52,” and chose to only date women between 25-30 “to match his youthful spirit.” A guy on Tinder asked (before we met!) if he could write me a postcard during his trip to Paris, which I stupidly agreed to–giving him the PO Box of a local guy friend, of course, not my home address. I got seven handwritten letters, which would’ve been somewhat romantic if he hadn’t followed up with increasingly aggressive and rude texts to schedule our first date. When I politely declined, he turned verbally abusive. I ended up reporting him to Tinder and considered alerting his employer/the police if he initiated any other contact. In all fairness to Tinder, though, I’ve also met a few guys that I’ve stayed friends with even those there wasn’t romantic chemistry.

      Two months after the Tinder creep, I met my current BF of a year on OkCupid. I think if I had deleted my OKC profile, I would’ve adopted a few dogs (am allergic to cats).

      February 12, 2016/Reply
  21. Sydni says:

    This is one of my most favorite posts! This describes my experience on both sites to the exact point. My favorites might be the 34 year old guy who spent the entire first (and only) date talking about his high school football career or lack of career. Another great one was the guy who after the fourth date came back to my apartment and proceeded to get jealous of the obviously fake tulips I have on my kitchen bar when he thought another guy had purchased flowers for me…These are just a few of many horror stories I have. Thankfully a great guy just came along naturally, but I am so happy you had good luck on tinder!!!

    February 12, 2016/Reply
  22. Madi says:

    Oommmgggg this is so awesome!!! Ahh! Love it. Thank you for sharing, and I don’t want to wait until next week!! Eeekkk!

    February 12, 2016/Reply
  23. Lauren says:

    I haven’t dated in 6 or 7 years, I’ve lost track, and I don’t want to think too much back on that last relationship!

    I can’t wait to hear more about your experience on Tinder. I would like to try dating again, but I don’t know if I want to try it enough to actively seek it out (if that makes sense).

    I’m happy for you. And thank you for sharing- in an internet full of over-sharing, you always keep it classy.

    February 12, 2016/Reply
  24. Shannon says:

    You’re the second blogger (Design Darling) to blog about finding love on Tinder in the last two weeks…if I was single, I’d go for it solely based on you two.

    February 12, 2016/Reply
  25. Darrian says:

    I love this! My guy and I met in Tinder nearly a year ago now. I love finding other Tinder couples since it gets such a bad rep! But I mean, when you’re a single twenty something in a city with virtually nothing to offer, what’s a girl to do? Can’t wait to read more!

    February 13, 2016/Reply
  26. Kathleen says:

    I found love on Match.com, but only after I limited my prospects to Masters and above for education. I am 5’1, so height wasn’t a variable. I got very lucky and married one of the guys I met on Match. Best of luck!

    February 14, 2016/Reply
  27. amanda says:

    Can I suggest Bumble? It’s the female-friendly version of Tinder wherein only the girl can initiate the contact. I have never tried Tinder but I hear that women get barraged with messages (like your experience with Match), so you might prefer Bumble. I hear from ladies who’ve used both Tinder and Bumble that the dudes on Bumble are of a higher caliber. I’ve gone on a lot of dates with decent guys on Bumble so I personally vouch for it. Just my two cents!

    February 15, 2016/Reply
  28. sbe says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! And, Belle, I’m not sure if you were trying online dating when in Montana, but if so, than yeah…Match in Montana is like online dating with the Montana State Penitentiary System, ugh. Hardly anyone with a degree, men with advanced degrees you can count on one hand in any age group, and it feels so very yucky to be contacted by that certain type of man here. Hmmm…glad to hear that you eventually lucked out!

    February 15, 2016/Reply
  29. Erica says:

    Thank you, just thank you for your candor. Such a relevant issue in so many women’s lives. I appreciate your vulnerability.

    February 15, 2016/Reply
  30. Jo says:

    Glad you are discussing this.

    February 16, 2016/Reply
  31. Shelley says:

    What a fun read! Thanks for sharing your experiences. My sister-in-law met a great guy on an online dating app called Muzmatch , it’s dating site for Muslims looking for love matches. It’s been over a month now and she seems quite happy.
    Can’t wait to hear more about your experience with Tinder.

    February 16, 2016/Reply