Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Why I gave up on online dating despite wanting to date


I'm not that great at meeting people in person, and I'm much better at writing what I think and feel than saying it--which is why I have blogs instead of a YouTube channel, ya know? So a while ago (and by 'while' I mean 'several times over the last several years') I thought, "I should try online dating". My friend met her husband that way, and he's wonderful and they're happy and strange and perfect, so why couldn't I do it, too?

But, a while later, I gave up. I just can't do it anymore. And here's why.

The stress-factor is too high
It's hard for me to keep meeting new people, even if I'm only meeting them through a chat box. It's also hard for me to go looking for new people--it feels predatory in a really skeevy way, judging people and weighing pros and cons. And there's a constant, constant low-level fear that someone will turn out to be a killer or an abuser or a kidnapper, and it's very stressful, reading profile after profile, trying to see if someone sounds rapey. I'd much rather believe that most people are good, but that's not something I can afford to do when I'm looking specifically for love like that.
"Looking for love" is totally stupid
I've come to the conclusion that you can't force it. E and R worked because they would have worked anyway, not because they met online and went on a date. And I'm not E or R, and I can't expect a repeat performance of that. Plus, looking at people's profiles specifically to see if they'd make a good mate feels needy and hollow, and is not at all how I want to start a relationship.
Matchmaking is hit or miss
And, unfortunately, you never can tell whether it's a hit or a miss until you're in a room with them. And then mostly, it's miss. Someone reminds you too much of the specific tics and quirks of your brother. Someone else is too forward. Someone else is too broken. Someone else is totally not how his profile described him or his interests.
And then there's the whole thing about the "numbers game"; I tended to talk to one dude at a time, trying to make it work, but more than one guy I actually spoke to was talking to lots of girls, trying to make lots of them work, and that means lots of "sorry, I've found someone" messages--or no message at all, and just silence.  
Stupid names and illiteracy
Vast, disturbing quantities of functional illiteracy. I'm okay with not being as educated as I am--I'm over-educated, really--but a total lack of punctuation, capitalization, complete words, AND thoughtful sentences? Combine that with intentionally calling yourself by some macho, pushy, idiotic handle, and I'm just done.
False sense of relationship
There seems to be an idea that if you exchange a few messages, you're dating. Or, if you get along well in your messages, everything else is a foregone conclusion. Or, there's the idea that you know someone--and then you find out they're different in real life, no matter how great they seemed in writing, and then there's all this stuff they never mentioned--baggage, hangups, weird opinions, behavior strangeness, lack of effort. This isn't how relationships work, and I can't be the only one putting in an effort to be fully honest. It puts me at a disadvantage, and that's a power struggle that shouldn't even exist, but does.
Concentrated weirdness
I met some nice guys. But I met many, many, many more who were bizarre. Most of those, I never even acknowledged. Guys who couldn't write a sentence, but thought so highly of themselves that they were basically trolling my profile. Guys with really strange ideas of how girls and guys should behave toward each other. Guys with previously-formed opinions that were so wildly different from mine that they were just ick from the first line.
And then, also, lots and lots of middleaged men who already had kids and didn't want more, and who were carrying around so much baggage they were being crushed under it. Guys who were lonely to the point of desperation, and starting to sound borderline crazed. Guys who were less experienced than me, and it's obviously because they were so awkward around people that they were probably needing help of some sort--which I can't give them--and which they weren't admitting to or coping with. 
 And, you know, the kinks. Like, can't two people just maybe decide they'd like to have sex once in a while? And if that's the first thing you put on your profile, it's so not going to be with me.
Far too much cut-to-the-chase, in the bad way
Which brings us to this: the vast majority of these guys I didn't even answer were of the 'hey, I don't need your name, let's just meet somewhere' sort, and that is so gross that I don't even. What life produces a guy who thinks just any old stranger will agree that that sort of thing is a good idea? Not one I want to deal with.
The wrong market
And ultimately, I think I was just a chunk of meat in the wrong market. First of all, I don't want to be a chunk of meat. Second, I can't afford to pay 35-40$ a month just to see if maybe someone might want to date me--I get that for free right where I am. And third, the guys I met were just not my sorts of guys, with only a few exceptions. They had totally different interests, hobbies, backgrounds, philosophies, life goals, education levels, opinions about everything, that no matter how great the algorithm said we'd be, not one matched up that way did a single thing for me.
 And it was exhausting. So I called it quits. I'd rather be alone than be a piece of bait in a tank full of predatory and mostly gross guys. I'd rather hope that I meet someone at the bookstore or at a con or in a coffee shop, than go specifically looking for him on one of those sites. I'd rather never meet the person I want than slog through more and more and more people who make me question the sanity of the culture we live in.

But I did learn from it all.

  • I learned what I most definitely do NOT want in a match.
  • I learned what I DO want, through how much donotwant I got from those guys.
  • I learned what I will and won't make allowances for.
  • And I learned that matchmaking is totally not my thing.
Your mileage may vary. In fact, I hope it does, because that means I was just doing it wrong or looking at things wrong. Do you have better stories? Tell me! And if you have worse ones, tell those, too, and we can commiserate.
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