Belle’s Misadventures in Online Dating, Part I
Feb 12, 2016
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.