Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Someone Explain Dating to Me

Sometimes I think it's hard being in a long-term relationship because I don't know what "swipe left" jokes are supposed to mean, but then I remember about stories like this.

What I don't understand about these stories is that I know I've been on very few dates, none of them with strangers, but I interact with men every day! I have male friends and acquaintances, male classmates and coworkers and relatives. Some of them are weird or mean or dumb, but none of them seem to act like they were raised by a random assortment of YouTube videos in a tent in someone's backyard. Some of my interactions with them are bad, but it's never like someone's filling out a Mad Libs sheet with all the shittiest nouns, verbs, and body parts they can think of. But those dating stories are so common! How? Why?

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OKCupid messages I have received in the past 7 days:

"do little dicks make you laugh?"
"Good morning my dominant mistress"
"Holy sexinesssss I m horny"
"Sorry if this seems rude, but are you into bdsm"
"I saw on your profile that you aren't interested in couples but if you should ever want to be with a "normal", clean open minded bi racial couple please keep me in mind Hope we can have a chance to know each other"
"older guy for 1 on 1 and also threesomes with another lady! interested?"

All of these were first point-of-contact messages, sent apropos of nothing. Considering retiring from all forms of social interaction semi-permanently. I have come to the conclusion that everyone on the internet is insane. The other, more disturbing conclusion, is that it's not them, it's me, and normal people respond to these sorts of "conversation starters" with hearty good cheer. I fear that way lies madness.

Edited to add: I am listed as bisexual on my profile. I don't feel that putting anything else on there is honest, but it unfortunately pulls in a lot of couples that see a picture, see "bisexual", think "bisexual" means "super horny, polyamorous and/or into group sex", and immediately launch into propositioning.


hahaha omg I can't believe that in the context of the other ones "Sorry if this seems rude, but are you into bdsm" seems so normal. Like, okay, yeah, his compulsion to think about nothing but his dick made him completely overlook you as anything but a sex object, but at least the thought entered his mind at some point that that might be rude, and that people should apologize for rude things.


@Lauren_O'Neal Also I accidentally deleted this comment and had to retype it. *brushes shoulder off*


@TheMnemosyne Yeah, I list myself as kinky on mine, and I get a lot of people assuming that means "easy".
I have made this complaint a lot, and an ex-boyfriend of mine explained that basically, dudes see a picture they like (they MIGHT read the profile, but not always) and they send a proposition message. It's a "cast a wide net" approach to dating. If you say "nice shoes, wanna fuck" to 100 girls, 99 of them will probably say no, but one might say yes, and all you need is one, especially if you invested very little effort in your approach.
So, I think the answer is, it's not you, it's the system.


@Lauren_O'Neal yeah, tl;dr between my experiences on OKC and having a cable package that contains Investigation Discovery, I am fairly certain that everyone on the internet is a crazed sex murderer.

I'd say "secretly a crazed sex murderer" but most of them seem pretty upfront and open about it. No secrets there. "I'm into sex murders, you game, girl?"

[internal screaming]


@Blushingflwr My friends have advised me to take "bisexual" off and make two different profiles, one gay, one straight, but I feel that's both dishonest and...ugh, mentally exhausting. You know what, it's probably easier to just get a dog.


@TheMnemosyne I wouldn't go that far. Depending on where you live, there are cool people on OKC, you just have to weed through all the losers. I have gone on a few OKC dates, and the dates themselves were okay, even if they didn't result in good relationships (one of them was a rebound that helped me get out of a shitty relationship AND connected me with my current friends group, so that turned out alright). I've had better luck dating people I know as friends, but there are obviously some risks and problems there too.


@Blushingflwr I've toyed with the idea of hiring a professional matchmaking service, but that seems even stranger.

I like the idea that someone is going to take time, get to know you and what you like/don't like, and then say "Hey, I know this person I think you'd really get along great with!" because it seems more natural and normal - but on the other hand, the idea seems sad. I have to pay someone to be my friend to introduce me to their other friends? Ugh, what.

I don't know. Nearly all my friends are married at this juncture, and I'm eternally the third (fifth, seventh, ninth) wheel. It's been a struggle. But I've been doing the OKC thing for three months now and my hope has flagged severely.

sulpicius subuculus

@TheMnemosyne those ARE crazy. but they also make me think - as someone who's never used okcupid, so grains of salt etc. - that a lot of people now just take the craigslist approach to dating. which is to say, figure out what you want and throw out appeals to anyone who might meet that desire. need a table? any table you see listed on craigslist will be worth the 15 seconds it takes to send an email to the seller and offer a lower price and request delivery. if it works out, great! if not, you've only lost 15 seconds.

eta: i realize that it's sad, and i think it's telling, that i couldn't explain what i meant without comparing a romantic prospect to a piece of furniture.

Gristle McNerd

@TheMnemosyne I knew I was doing something wrong! I usually just go "Hello, you seem nice, let's chat" or something like that. Maybe I should try the approach you describe; if everybody does it, it's got to be fairly successful, right?


@TheMnemosyne Ugh, and yes. Also bi, put it on my online profiles, and 98% of the messages that weren't dick pics or long and misspelled essays about what the message senders wanted to do to me (which had the look of being mass-sent to multiple women, as well) were the male part of straight couples lookin' to get nasty. One time a guy straight up lied to me that he was single and then when we were getting midday coffee (yeah, I stopped with nighttime dates real real fast) on our first meeting, he was like, "hey, so it was actually my wife that wanted to get in touch with you," and I was like, "well then she should have contacted me her damned self," and then left. Dating=ugh.




I'm now worried my fiance is going to leave me because he read all those stories and realized that by just being a normal fucking human he could date everyone.

It's like the negging is done for you!

up cubed

Possibly unpopular opinion- skip the free dating sites. I had very normal experiences on HowAboutWe. In addition to the fact that people are paying, it might also be a older demographic or early adopters.
I think a lot of people use Tinder and OKC as a way to bolster their egos, not as tools for reasonable communication. It sorta ruins things for everyone else :(


My theory is that since we surround ourselves with friends who have certain characteristics in common, we tend to forget that people out there are very very different from us. Sort of like how, when you're a kid, you kind of think every family is sort of like yours and you don't realize the broad spectrum of dysfunction that exists - or that your family is actually really weird and you just realized it.

The Internet gets rid of that filter, so you end up in contact with people you'd never hear from in real life because you'd be too busy running and shrieking. I get a lot of messages like that because guys out there actually think it's okay to start conversations online with those types of messages.

Honestly, I prefer those over the guys who have learned to hide their creepiness enough to get to a first date. These are people that if I ran into them in person before they asked me out, they'd trip my creep-antenna so hard, but if they've figured out how to mask it in the Internets, I don't find out until I meet them.

Tl;dr, am grateful for friend bubble of awesome friends who do not message people by soliciting them for sex.


@commanderbanana Which doesn't mean I don't routinely fantasize about finding some of those guys in real life and pouring gasoline all over them and lighting them on fire. Not saying I do, but also not saying I don't.


I might be in the minority, but I thoroughly enjoyed my OKC experience. It was my hobby for a long time. I totally got my fair share of creepy messages, but in general they're harmless enough and easy to ignore. Is it ok for people to think it's fair to send them? No, but I'm not the one who comes across as a sleazy jerkwad. My face isn't attached to that message when it's screen captured and shown to others.

In fact, I've made some pretty awesome guy pals out of it.

I went on a lot of dates, and all of the bad ones have turned into really interesting stories I like to casually throw out when talking to other people. One of aforementioned dude pals I met on there used to call all the guys I dated "The Island of Misfit Boys".

I can now casually drop out in conversation, "Hey, did I tell you about the time I hugged a heroin dealer?" or "Let me tell you about the time I went on a date and brought my friend to cockblock him" and nothing compares to foot guy. (I will just leave that dangling there for you to wonder about.)

And, cherry on top, I met my current boyfriend through OKC. He's pretty great.


@Statham Yes, but as successful action-movie star Jason Statham, online dating is bound to be different for you.


@Statham Me too! Silent majority? I did my fair share of kvetching while on OKC but overall my experience was actually pleasant (and/or my memory is terrible and it was awful, but I've blanked it all out).


@adorable-eggplant @Statham Ditto. All the online dating hate makes me a little sad, not the least because I think it's the only dating I've ever done. (Minus one or two guys.) I don't think I've ever gotten more than a handful of creepy emails, and while I do get quite a lot of vague emails clearly mass sent, I also get a lot of personalized emails about my profile. It's led to some fun dates and some funny-after-the-fact stories, which is all you can ask for. (Outside of a lasting relationship, I guess. ;))


@sydwi I gotta know what you are doing. Because I am clearly doing it wrong, or I live in a portion of the US with a very high whackjob ratio.


@TheMnemosyne I think it's nerdiness. I think I get the guys who keyword search for their favorite geek shows and hobbies and find my profile. It's not across the board, there's been at least one guy I did go out with who wasn't fandomy, but I think it accounts for a lot. So maybe adding in keywords to attract certain types drowns out the whackjobs?


@Statham Another OKC success here! I got the normal creepy/practically automated messages, but I also met some interesting people, a couple of whom I'm still friends with on facebook, and one of whom I'm married to.


@TheMnemosyne I've been through the OKC loop a few times, and the first few were not as successful. The most recent couple of loops I've made it clear that I am also looking for friends, and if they wouldn't be comfortable with me being anything but a romantic interest, then we're not going to work out. I also put it out there point blank that I'd ignore anyone with a picture of a naked torso or a creepy message.

My current boyfriend and I actually wound up hanging out as friends because we were both seeing someone else more exclusively. So, that made getting to know one another easier since I think we were both slightly less invested and more open to just being ourselves.

I also message dudes I'm interested in. I will go on and message anyone I want with no remorse. If I message 20 and only half reply, that's still 10 dudes I thought were appealing in the first place.


@Lauren_O'Neal It is a huge turn on for most men.


@Statham I am pretty sure foot boy used to call my place of work and masturbate while he asked the poor hapless hostesses about their shoes.


The creepy, weird, sent-to-100-people-at-once messages are one thing. Like another poster said, they're easy enough to ignore. It's when you actually vet someone through normal enough messages, and when you meet him it turns out "freelance writer" means "I write a Sex & the City recap blog [and it's surprisingly hard to make money off of it]." Also, sidenote, for all who are in LTRs and aghast, not all dating is like this. But online dating is a breed of horror I cannot, unfortunately, endorse.

Inside of a dog

After YEARS of reading the Awl, this is the post that finally got me to register so I could comment.

I spent about a year and a half on an OK Cupid binge, and I wondered the same thing. Like, where do these guys even COME FROM?

It got to the point, by the end of said binge, where my goal was simply to meet a guy who seemed like someone I might meet in real life. Actually, I remember calling a friend after a date and gushing to my friend that he was like people I met in real life. Literally *gushing* over the fact that he was someone I could picture existing outside an OK Cupid date.

Online dating really lowers your standards.

I have two theories about the "where do these guys come" from question:

1. Most of us actually meet a fairly limited circle of people in real life. At work, we meet people who can hold a job, many of whom have actually spent the time to develop skills and experience. Socially, we meet people who have been vetted by our friends. If most of your friends are sane, low-drama people, then their friends will be too. Same goes for volunteering, hobbies, etc.

2. People act differently on dates and on the internet than they do in "real" life. Put both together and you get a big ole mess. Something that occurred to me when dating is that you see people as their id (desire for sex and intimacy) battles with their ego (desire to look like a normal person). Some people can manage that tension, some people really, really can't. The crazy stories come from those who can't.


@Inside of a dog #2 is spot on. Existential crises galore.


@Inside of a dog Dude. This did it, this totally explained dating horror stories to me. Especially the id/ego thing. Like, yeah, I get that we have sort of self-selected social circles, and that explains part of it, but there are SO MANY of these stories that there has to be some overlap, you know? *Some* of the coworkers or classmates I have totally normal interactions with must be acting like badly programmed cyborgs in the context of a date. That id/ego comment goes a long way toward explaining how that might happen.


@Inside of a dog I KNOW RIGHT.

I had to remind myself that the people sending these messages have (probably) lives, relationships, jobs, etc. in real life. It reminds me of this Onion article: http://www.theonion.com/articles/seemingly-mentally-ill-internet-commenter-presumab,33570/


@Inside of a dog - I think this is especially true.

I also think there is a weird / terrible result of the system (for hetereo cis folk) where it is almost entirely dudes who ask out women...

Dudes get very used to rejection, if they are capable of asking women out at all. Even the nicest, suavest, hottest dudes I know have been rejected more times than they can count - as it should be, since not everyone is magically for everyone!

At the same time, dudes have virtually no experience being on the receiving end of even the most polite/proper-place-and-time/non-creepy/almost-but-just-barely-a-no unwanted come-ons or pick-up attempts or whatever.

So the people asking other people out are no this giant mass of people who are super comfortable with getting rejected even when they are nice (which, again, I'm not saying is wrong, dudes shouldn't get a "yes" just because they weren't scummy when asking), who also have no idea at all what it is like to have to do the actual rejecting. It can even seem like receiving unwanted advances and rejecting them must be easy, since it happens so much.

Which, even without all of the layers of straight dude privilege which further complicate matters, makes dudes susceptible to being terrible if they don't think about what their behavior must seem like to those who have to endure it.

With online dating, it becomes so much easier to ask people out, so much easier to deal with the rejection (nobody else even knows it happened!) and so much harder to sympathize with the rejector (they're just three photos and a pun about their foibles!) it just starts to accelerate and get worse.

Plus, every time a dude here's a story about how women also get like, a billion dick pics a day (ugh that must be THE GROSSEST) they start to feel like "Well, I only *talked* about my schlong, i didn't whip it out or anything, so, A+ Classy Motherfucker right here!".


@leonstj (not saying of course that i think any of this justifies it or makes it okay, obviously dudes need to stop acting like jerks and just, like, be nice & non-creepy)

Inside of a dog

@Lauren_O'Neal Glad I could help, though it's a pretty dubious knowledge specialty to have: all the ways that online dating is fucked up.


@leonstj Being a woman trying to date dudes was super annoying. I was never shy about rejection. If they weren't feeling it, then cool. So I went for it. But 80% of the time it totally weirded guys out if I asked them out in person or they just would not respond when if I messaged them. Guys who did respond just assumed I was a slutty slut. After a while, I just started to internalize the slutty slut thing.

Anyway, most of my dating was in the late 90's/early 2000's, so I wonder if things have changed.

dracula's ghost

Whenever 20-somethings feel sorry for me for how old I am (I teach 20 somethings for a living so this happens basically every day) I just think about shit like this and feel incredibly relieved and joyful and also, lets be real, I feel sorry for them, and so the tables are turned and it's the circle of life

one time I ran up a phone bill of $400 talking to my long distance boyfriend during college, that's how old I am. In my day you had to pay GOOD MONEY to creepily harass someone from afar

if my husband ever leaves me I will meet boys the old fashioned way, which is to comically drop a stack of books right in front of them and then bash your faces together when you both go to pick them up


We should just all put hairpin as an interest in our online dating profile so we can find each other, imho.


@leonstj Not a bad idea. I got a lot of mileage out of being ruthlessly honest profile (just a hair shy of take/worst, deserve/best) because why not. Having a weirdly specific list of likes & dislikes helps the winnowing process, or finding process, something more hopeful, perhaps.


I met my current boyfriend on OKC last winter. Prior to him, I had been off and on the site for three or four years, but never really experienced the "net casting" effect. (aside from the odd "hey babe wassup") Maybe I'm not hot enough to garner widespread attention, but I never averaged more than a few messages a month. Generally I would message interesting guys and either get ignored, or chatted with until one of us lost interest.

The interesting thing was that when I moved to my current town for grad school, I went on a bunch of dates with VERY high match percentage guys--we're talking in the 90s for most, if not all, of them--and they were ALL duds. No horror stories, just not good matches. I lost faith in the system for a while and stayed off OKC until winter break, when I was bored in my off time and decided to see if anyone new would show up on my radar.

Lo and behold, current BF messaged me. He was only a 60% match (ordinarily well below my preferred match threshold) but he was super attractive and seemed smart, thoughtful, and into me. Needless to say we hit it off.

His experience was fairly similar to mine in that he had dated a lot of high matches but never stuck with any of them. We concluded that no one actually knows what they want in a partner and that you should probably totally disregard OKC's matching algorithms when looking for a partner.


@nocturne This makes me want to fill out an OKC profile and make my boyfriend fill one out and see what our percentage is, because I bet it would be much lower than 90%, even though we've been together 6 years and are super compatible. Like we don't really have any interests or hobbies in common, we have different tastes in movies/books/music, etc. I mean, we'd definitely be above 50% because we have some big general things in common (same end of the political spectrum, both don't care about religion, etc.), but I bet it wouldn't be THAT high.


@nocturne Yes, this was my experience too! I've never gotten the deluge of "hi hottie" messages, I guess because my pictures weren't good enough? And I also went on dates with high-match dudes, one was even a 98% match!, and they were all a bust. (Sidebar: my highest match, on some 99% ish, is a friend of mine whom I would never, ever, EVER date.)

And then I found my sweetie's profile, and we were like an 80% match maybe (which is the lowest match percentage of anyone OKC date I went on), and we've been together for 1.5 years, and it's really, really wonderful. So that algorithm may not be the be-all/end-all.


@nocturne I think it was on another thread here awhile back where someone recommended ignoring the match number and paying attention to the enemy. That helped me a ton. I'll totally go out with someone if we only match at 70% or so if our enemy is less than 10 or 15%.

Harris, Emmeline

I find OkC mostly shit in a banal way, sometimes shit in a disturbing way, sometimes kind of OK and sometimes just delightful, viz recent 2 month relationshiplet that was small and perfectly serious but the opposite of traumatic. But but but - Jumping on here late just to say I just read Sara E's 27 untrue reasons you're single, and I feel massively massively better about my singleness, OkC and all the rest of it. It is the antidote to 'UR HOTTTT' or silly messages asking you whether you prefer chocolate or chips from the fedorati. Thank you Sara! Good luck fellow OkCers! May we prevail!


this was interesting experience! I've never gotten the cool message like: "hi hottie" , I think because my pictures weren't handsome enough? And I also went on dates with high-match ladies, one was even a 99,99% match! she is Nurul,i want to say like Sydwi: (Sidebar: my highest match, on some 99% ish, is a friend of mine whom I would never, ever, EVER date.)
It was vey Naughty

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