I deleted my online dating profile last week. I had 22 days left of my subscription, but it’s been dicey from Day 1, so I decided to go out on my terms.
When I signed up, it was for many of the typical reasons others take the plunge:
- Single, no immediate prospects, wanted a Mister.
- Seemed like an efficient way of casting a wider net for someone I might not bump into organically.
- Pre-screening added an element of safety.
- Got to come up with a cool Username.
The Fish Started Biting
I was bombarded that first month with “Flirts,” “Likes,” daily site-picked matches, and looky-loos. Every day was like my birthday.
Too bad only a few took the time to actually read my profile to see we had as much in common as rocks and tears, and isn’t compatibility where it all begins? In hindsight, I should’ve just posted pictures, a Pinterest board or a Wordle instead of polished sentences.
I got over six hundred Likes and Flirts in all, and I’m still not sure what that means because 568 of them never followed up with a real message (more than “Hi” or “What’s up?”), which didn’t inspire faith I was dealing with grownups.
The twenty or so times I was “Favorited” seemed similar to being added to an Ebay watch list or Amazon cart to buy later, or not, and although I haven’t quite come up with a way to describe the dozen men who viewed my profile Every Single Day and never sent a message, their behavior messed with my mind too.
I know these things because the dating site sent me “alerts” whenever my profile got hits (no matter how benign) until I shut off that annoying feature. I preferred to check in once a week to see who had sent me a “real” message and go from there.
Not all attention was good attention, so there were immediate throwbacks. Too old, too young, too short, too weird conversation, gentlemen I already knew, and WTFs. These other general governing preferences helped thin the herd too:
- Within 5 miles
- Funny, Interesting
- Fairly new to the site
- Equally yoked (health, spirituality, income, disposition)
- Good spelling, light on ALL CAPS (pet peeves I seem unable to overlook)
- No partially-nude photos
Processing My Catch
- Some of them fell off the hook after a couple rounds of messages. I tried to chock this up to short attention span—another bright shiny hook—but still felt very disposable.
- Some I chatted with on the phone. All disastrous. Worst were the ones who fired off fifty questions, asked for drink dates after 10 p.m., or who said they’d looked at my full-body shot on the highest magnification possible (a lot), robbing me of my innocence and time I could have spent making guacamole and watching cute romantic comedies with dreamy endings.
- Some I met for tea dates. When fishing, you never know what you’ve got until you’ve pulled it all the way up, so after ending three lengthy pen pal situations with gentlemen who seemed comfortable relating entirely over email and text, I graduated to flesh-and-blood to instantly check for chemistry or crazy, and make sure I hadn’t hooked up with some prankster teenage boy. The high point of all of these dates, though, turned out to be choosing a favorite little coffee shop with a fireplace overlooking a fountain.
The Sixteen, I called them, showed up shy or overbearing, smoky, creepy, high, failed-relationship wounded, self-centered or Boring, and one did this weird, fidgety thing with his hands like he was juggling invisible tennis balls.
It is a wonder I have not lost the will to date.
Too, in a year of online dating roulette, I was called another woman’s name, asked to go exclusive after one encounter, rejected for being too thin (I’m not), and stood up by the same man who “Flirted” with me again online a month later as if I was a brand new prospect.
It was time to go.
I think I am still trying to connect, just not online. It’s too crowded, too teenagey. If I got almost 600 bites, other women did too because with more choices, it’s easy to Flirt here, Like there, and ping pong around as though your hormones are still settling.
I think I am not so much fishing anymore, as I am open. Scrolling back through my love life, all of my misters were caught on the run—taking a class, shopping, getting dinner, beachcombing, or simply walking across the street to get somewhere I was going anyway. When I least expected it and didn’t make too big of a deal of it. So, I’m rolling back to that.
Still, from my online meets, I learned about Van Gogh and Miles Davis, and got an armchair glimpse of a few places left on my travel list, so it wasn’t a total wash. Maybe the larger point wasn’t to catch someone, but to show up, do me and hope for the best whether or not I ended up reeling in The Big One.