I must admit when Abby first asked me to guest spot on her blog I was beyond thrilled and honored, and then the panic set in. Her request was for me to share my single lady insight on dating, specifically my experiences with online dating. So, here goes...
I recently found myself single after 3 years of being in a serious relationship/engagement/short lived marriage, but that's another story for another day. I knew I wanted to get back into the dating scene and relive my lost early 20s but had no idea where to even begin. I don't exactly live in a thriving metropolis with a booming night scene, I instead live in a farmhouse 20 miles from the nearest city and I would hardly call Kankakee the kind of city I'm looking to find a man in. I work 40 hours a week on top of finishing my Master's so free time and socialization aren't exactly a daily occurrence. A good friend suggested online dating to me and my gut reaction was disgust and sarcasm (let this be a sign to all of you, never ignore your gut). The site she suggested was OkCupid, it was easy and it was free, two major selling points.
The online dating world is essentially a crash course in marketing. You have to reduce yourself to a one page profile and hope the words you put on it are enticing enough to hook you the man you're looking for. OkCupid asks you to answer a minimum of 100 questions, "to up your matching accuracy", and these questions are everything from the type of food you eat to what date you expect sex on to how serious you take astrological signs. Apparently, OkCupid thinks these are things that make relationship magic.
OkCupid has these amazing search parameters that allow you to specifically search "matches" by everything from ethnicity to height to religion to location and more. In theory, you could plug in your perfect man to the search parameter, hit search and Voila! you may find him and if you're lucky, you'll have above an 80% match. My first brush with OkCupid love matching "should" have been amazing, he was an 80% match to me and seemed to be amazing. His favorite movie was Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, he was a black hipster with a good job, we had the same music tastes, everything was going great until I figured out HE WAS CRAZY. After 3 weeks of "talking", he started to hint at being in love with me (red flags everywhere) and I started to hint at how freaked the hell out I was. As funny as it all is now, it's actually quite scary IRL. It all came to a culmination on Super Bowl Sunday, I was hanging with Abby, and cray cray boy was trying to convince me to hang with him. When I said no, he turned into a begging/pleading stage 5 clinger. The next day when I told him how annoyed by this I was he turned into an angry, accusing stage 5 douchebag. I have a strict no douchebag policy, so I bid him adieu. He was my first OkCupid experience and I had a few more after that. There was the south side Chicagoan who tried to entice me into a sexual relationship (no thanks, I'm good). There was the guy looking for a casual dating relationship, as he needed support because he had a baby on the way (um, really?) and there was the skinny, white farm boy who played accordion and worked on all organic cattle farm. Disclaimer: most of these people I did not meet in real life, I just exchanged messages with.
After 3 months of online dating and venting about my fallouts to Abby, we have coined the term OkCrazies and we affectionately refer to everyone on that site by that name. In theory it may be a great way to meet people, however, I've only encountered two versions of OkCupid matches: those who wish to marry you and those who wish to bone you. I fall into the 1% of people who is not outright looking for either of those options so I'm going to have to say that online dating...maybe not so hot.
In all honesty there appear to be some really cool people on OkCupid, these people are not located within 100 miles of me, they live in places where there are more coffeehouses than grain elevators and more Costco's than Casey's gas stations. The thing I have definitely noticed is that I have not really encountered the online dating situations that everyone fears. I've met three people in real life after meeting them online and they all were exactly as advertised. They weren't secretly balding or six inches shorter than they said, they were what they portrayed themselves to be. As far as single lady dating goes, I'm just going to have to say no to online dating. It's original appeal really came to me because I'm a closet introvert. The idea of being able to sit in my house and "date" by never actually encountering social situations was really appealing, but there is something to be said for a concept being too good to be true. Online dating is sketchy, super sketchy, and I don't recommend it. However, if you're like me and you just have to try everything once then at least be safe about it. I had all of my first dates in very public places and I never let anyone know a lot of info about me, I also never added them on Facebook/twitter.
Abby and I have had many a discussion on dating and I must say, I think she lived vicariously through my ridiculous online dating adventures. I'm so glad she did though because then I had to put up with all the ridiculousness and she just got to learn the lessons through me. I bet she didn't expect me to learn one from her though! I have learned that online dating is too much effort. You're putting yourself out there and you're not going to get what you want, no matter how hard you try. What a person sees about you based on a one page profile is not even a tiny speck of what you are in real life. I'm pretty, I have interesting interests, I have witty remarks and on paper I'm probably somewhat appealing, however, in real life...I'm amazing. I have a crazy laugh. I smell good. I have silly facial expressions and witty one liners. I absolutely love people and I listen with my whole being when I'm around them. Those aspects of my personality will never be accurately portrayed on a dating profile. Those aspects of my personality are the ones I want someone to fall in love with me for so it's ridiculous to try to do that online. I realize now that I just have to live my life and do what I'm doing and not expect anything from my love life. Abby says she can't wait until I meet the man that completely knocks me off my rocker and takes all the control from me in a good way. I'm taking Abby's mom's advice to look cute everywhere I go so I can have a "meet-cute" at the gas station or coffee shop or who knows where, but it won't be online. That's for dang sure!
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Can you see why I love this girl? (she legitimately does smell good ALL THE TIME). This post was awesome! I hope I can have more guest posts from single lady's out there, I've already got a few in mind!