Yes, I’m outing myself. I’ve used online dating sites. I said it.
For approximately the last year, I’ve wandered in and out of these sites. I’ve activated and deleted my accounts more times than I care to admit. And yes, “accounts” is plural because once you try one site curiosity kills the cat and you must know if the next site will be any better than the last. And let’s stop pretending that one site is different than the next. They’re all the same because you see the exact same people whether it’s Tinder or Bumble or Plenty of Fish, or OK Cupid or whatever other stupid named sites there are. As taboo as we pretend it is, it’s the way of the world these days. If you’re single, you’re most likely on one of the hundreds of dating apps. Whether it’s for a hook-up, a time-suck, looking for a friend, or genuinely looking for a relationship, it’s mainstreamed and from what I understand, this can be a legit way of meeting someone. Plenty of my friends met their significant others on these sites.
I just can’t seem to get on board.
I guess I should interject here that I’ve never gone out on an actual date with someone I’ve “matched” with and I’m about to explain why. I started to write this a year ago and when I began to list all of the horrors of online dating, the only thing I could emit from my brain was the word “everything” and I just didn’t think that would be helpful to my readers.
So, here. I’m trying again.
Horror 1: Confusing Pictures.
I’m starting with a big one. I’m not even talking about possible cat-fishing or the this-isn’t-really-me pictures or this-was-me-ten-years-ago pictures. I’m talking about pictures that make no sense. This could be a whole blog post in it of itself.
Why, men, why are you posting pictures with a ton of other people on your profile? I cannot tell which one is you and if your friend is better looking than you I might just swipe right so I can ask you his name. We get it. You have friends and you’re not pathetic. Ok. Great. But I’m on these sites to window shop. That’s why we’re all here so let’s not muddy the waters. If you don’t have a decent picture by yourself, for God’s sake ask a friend to take one. And make sure it’s not blurry. There are so many blurry pictures on these sites that I’m convinced most men are drunk most of the time. And speaking of that, if you basically advertise that you’re an alcoholic, you’re going to attract the same so don’t come back on the site 6 months later to complain about “not looking for drama”. You are what you attract, friend. Your “life of the party” pics might be the problem.
While we’re on the subject, why are you cozying up to some blond with big boobs in your profile picture? What makes you think this is a good idea? Is this so we all know you’re desirable? Or that you used to be? Either way, you just lost all chances with me. I don’t want to have to ask if that’s your sister or your daughter or whatever. It’s a bizarre way of trying to attract someone to talk to you. Women are inherently jealous creatures so this is really not starting off on the right foot.
And Jesus Christ, what’s with the all of the pictures with fish? I understand we live in Florida and many of you love boating but guess what? I don’t want to see a picture of red snapper. That’s not hot. At all. Not to any woman, I don’t care what they tell you. Sure, there are women who like to fish but no one wants to see 5 pictures of dead fish. That’s not a deciding factor of whether or not we would like to get to know you. It’s an automatic no. Try to also get one picture without those sunglasses, too. Everyone looks better with sunglasses on. And hats. If you’re bald, it’s ok. Be proud of that.
Lastly, stop with the attempt at creative pictures, please. The side profile selfie with the serious face or the bathroom selfie with the toilet seat up in the mirror reflection. Oh my God, please stop. Be aware of your photographed surroundings when posting pictures. You’re trying to get a date, remember? No one wants to see where you take a shit.
Horror 2: Dick Pics.
I feel like I shouldn’t have to elaborate on this but it keeps happening so clearly men just don’t get it. Dicks are gross. Just stop. Unless a girl advertises something like “I want to see your junk before we actually meet” on her profile, just don’t do it. If you start dating someone or you have a mutual conversation about it, that’s one thing and might have it’s acceptable place but if not, I can assure you that less than 1% of the females online want to see your man parts as a first impression.
A side note here- if you’re rockin the dad bod, don’t post shirtless pictures. It’s totally ok you have a dad bod, especially if you’re a dad, because I’m sure you have a glowing personality, but please, have some self awareness of how you look. If you don’t work out a few times a week or if you jiggle at all, that might be a turnoff to some. Or most. Just have some wherewithal.
Horror 3: Messages.
You have to start somewhere when you meet someone online, I get that. But the first messages always seem excruciating especially when they begin with “Hey”…and that’s it. The guys I message back usually say or ask something about what I wrote in my profile. Anything about my profile. At least pretend to have read my profile. Or maybe say something witty. But those who start with nothing get nothing.
Guys, here’s a tip: most women, especially my age, are looking for a little bit of intellect and a whole lot of caring. Ask a question or two about my life. Don’t make the conversation one-sided all about you, which seems like such a foreign concept to most men. And if you’re just there to hook-up, be clear about that in your profile or first thing in your message. It would be much easier to move past the uncomfortable messages that way.
And can we move the small talk along, please? Like, get to the point a little. Don’t wait 24 hours before answering my question because I can see you were online and read my message 20 hours ago. Either you want to have a conversation with me or you don’t and if it’s flowing maybe we can move it to the new-age first date of a phone call? Or a text message at least? I don’t need an online pen pal and these messages breed even more insecurity sometimes.
Which leads me to my next point.
Horror 4: Competition.
There are hundreds of people to choose from on these shithole sites which means we all have a ton of competition. We all know we all have an inbox of messages that we can choose to answer or not. We have to hope that our pictures and our messages and being as “ourselves”as we can be behind a keyboard is good enough to get to the next step of meeting someone. I think this is the toughest part for me. We are all presenting only a small portion of who we are on these sites. Our best pictures (well, in some cases), a list of our most endearing and attractive characteristics, our best foot forward. It’s unnerving to know that as I receive a message from a guy, he is most likely sending out several others. It’s like survival of the fittest out there. It’s kind of bullshit and so very shallow. There’s something so concerning to me about meeting this way because once you are in a committed relationship with someone, you have hundreds of other women at the click of your finger. Temptation is always lurking. That last comment is probably just coming from a very insecure place but it’s a big issue I have with this new, online age of dating. There was a lot less temptation with beepers.
Horror 5: People You Know.
Living in a very small town, this is a tough one. I know so many people on these sites. I shouldn’t be at all embarrassed because they’re clearly on there, too, but it’s still…weird.I’ve tried to make it as least weird as possible and just tend to the elephant in the room by saying hello but that never gets a great reaction, to be honest. And if I don’t know them, someone I know knows them or they know my ex or some weird shit. It gets even more weird when you see someone that you know is in a committed relationship and is just on there for the dirt factor. It’s all very unsettling.
So, there it is. The horrors I’ve found in online dating so far. I could get super nit-picky and discuss grammar, text speak (It takes about .05 of a second more to type “you” instead of “U”, by the way), or the problem with calling yourself a “number 1 pick”, but I think you get the gist. The online dating world is for the fucking birds. It has it’s moments of being entertaining but, my God, it’s exhausting. If you’re married and you have no earthly idea what the hell I’m saying here, good for you. Stay married. Don’t ever, ever, ever get divorced. Single can be a scary place to be.
I will say this, though: I’ve swiped right quite a bit… just in case there’s a chance that I can meet your dog.
(This post originally appeared on Vanessa Nichols: Mind Dumping in Yoga Pants)
About the author: Vanessa Nichols is a single mom living in southwest Florida. She is a lover of yoga, the sun, and travel, a student of life, and an advocate of kindness. A small business owner, Vanessa writes in her limited spare time. Check out her blog or find her on Facebook and Twitter.