Recently a friend convinced me to try a couple of online dating sites. While I like to think it was a desperate attempt to divert my sheer animal magnetism in another direction lest it consume her entirely, it was more a friendly suggestion to help get me out of my sports bar/game store cycle of social gatherings. Not that there’s anything wrong with the people I’ve met at said sports bar and game store. Or sports bars and game stores in general. Or sports. Or games….
See, this is why a dating site might be a bad idea, because I’m clearly terrible at introductions,
Anyway, with some constant but helpful prodding from my friend, I wove my way through the labyrinth of profile creation on a couple of sites: OKCupid and Plenty of Fish. The age/sex/height thing was pretty easy, but the first hurdle was describing my physique. I love the tap dance here. You’ve got slender, thin, athletic, the basics, but when it comes to those who are carrying some extra baggage, things get downright poetic. “Overweight” is at least pretty straightforward. “A few extra pounds” offers way too much wiggle room, both literally and figuratively. “Curvy,” well, yeah, but that also leaves one begging for specifics. I know just flat-out asking for your weight is the way of madness, but at least it wouldn’t force you to look down at yourself and think, “Am I indeed abundant? Ample? A little extra? Round?”
Then came a bunch of daunting empty boxes with seemingly simple requests like, “Tell us a little about yourself,” or, “What do you want people to know about you?” or, “How do you forever want to make your first impression on this site and don’t screw it up or you’ll end up on a Tumblr somewhere.” To which I bravely responded, “In progress, check back later.” Partly because I didn’t want to bore my friend with some deep soul-searching session, but mostly because I had no idea what the hell to write beyond, “I have all my fingers and toes and obviously have command of the English language.” Why that can’t be enough I have no idea.
Then came the questions. Lots and lots of questions, requiring answers in some variation of most like me/somewhat like me/least like me/are you kidding. Of course, these are what these sites use to gauge potential matches, so these were clearly the most important questions I would answer since my SATs. They covered the basics, like how you feel about kids, what you want from a relationship, do you have a lot of friends, is there a dismembered cheerleader in your closet, things like that. Some of them were a little ridiculous — why yes, I want to be with someone who is shallow and self-absorbed, can you help me out? — but at least OKCupid gave me the option of deeming such questions irrelevant to my search. I’d like to think anyone actually answering yes to those kinds of questions gets a polite email from the site suggesting they stick to trying sports bars and game stores.
Finally, I added a few pictures, clicked Save, and plunged onto the market. I almost immediately started getting hits from Plenty of Fish, seemingly living up to its billing. But it definitely felt like quantity over quality. I don’t want to say anything mean, but it seemed like a lot of women were being incredibly generous with their ages. I’m no spring chicken, but I don’t look like I’ve worked in an Appalachian coal mine either. Maybe in their rush for companionship they slipped on their way to the “5” key and hit the “4” instead. I’m willing to give them that benefit of the doubt. But, generally dissatisfied with what I was seeing, I left all those fish to happily swim on their own.
OKCupid’s been faring somewhat better. It does have this amusing ranking system where it shows your compatibility percentage for being a match, a friend, or an enemy. Why that last one is there I’m not sure; maybe it’s to appeal to the self-loathers out there, who I guess need love too. Or hate, as the case may be. But there has been this maddening trend of suggesting as matches people who don’t actually match up with me. At least, not at a percentage I would call a match. I know batting .300 is pretty good in baseball, but nobody’s swinging any bats here.
And I have gotten tired of one phrase I keep seeing in profiles over and over again: “I love to laugh!” Really? That was worth mentioning? That seems like that should be the default position. I’m going to assume that if you’re any kind of breathing, thinking human being, the idea of laughing is not something that’s abhorrent to you. That you don’t rush past comedy clubs for fear of catching a stray chuckle. That you don’t laugh and then go home and curse yourself in the mirror afterwards. Lead with something better than that!
Says the guy whose profile still reads, “More to come.” But hey, there wasn’t any box to check for “Hypocritical.”