Everybody Calls It OkStupid

Online dating was my nemesis.

If you’re a 20-something living in an urban area who isn’t getting married to your college sweetheart, you’ve probably spent some time on OkCupid. I live with four other people. Men and women. Gay and straight. We all have OkCupid profiles.

My aunt met her husband online about 15 years ago and my mother found it shocking. “They met online!” she said. We cowered in fear, worrying our aunt’s throat would get slashed by some Craigs-List-esque killer. These days, Mom, your Home Depot salesman, and my best friend’s drug dealer are going online to try to find love in a world where everyone is lonely. Online dating has lost it’s embarrassing, desperate edge, entering the mainstream with an iPhone-friendly vengeance. Bloggers are already tired of blogging about it. Singles are filling their weeknights with mediocre dates and excursions.

Just imagine yourself scrolling. You’re a 90% match with BostonBrahm who has such a bad haircut you can’t meet him in public. You’re an 85% match with FlooFERN and none of his pictures look like they are of the same person. You’re a 77% match with SSSSToned who is kind of hot, but who, you suspect, is perpetually stoned. He also admitted that he is open to an open relationship. You’re aware your profile is impeccably written because you’re a writer who writes about herself. It makes you proud because you feel well-represented but also makes you want to die because you’re exposed. You wonder if your ex-boyfriends would have ever messaged you. It didn’t work out with them, so this is irrelevant, but you still care. You wonder what it is that men see in you off the internet that makes them want you. Is it just your looks? No, really. Is it just your looks?

In the great sea of the online dating pool, there doesn’t seem to be anyone worth meeting, yet you keep meeting people in the hope that you’ll meet someone who gets it. The process makes you wonder if there is something wrong with you. After looking at 117 profiles in one sitting, you wonder if love exists and if one of these people has the potential to ignite the hope that is dying inside of you. You go on a date with a guy who is nice, then call up your friend and complain. Your friend says, “Well, don’t you want nice?”

You’re not accountable. You don’t return the guys’ OkCupid messages or later, text messages. You, the most honest person in the world, learns to lie because not lying is way harder. The truth-teller-turned-liar feels guilty and wants to meet someone else from the internet who can help right the wrongs. You realize you’re desperate for a genuine human connection and that this desperation makes obtainment impossible.

Sometimes you meet someone you really do like and it’s great, but then something bad happens because bad things seem to happen more than good ones, especially when it comes to dating. You date for two weeks, or three, or for two months. This time, he’s the one who’s not accountable. He doesn’t return your text messages. He’s desperate for a human connection, too, but you’re not it.

When I first started going on online dates, I was always curious about whether or not there’d be a second date. I was always granted one, until, suddenly, after about the 10th guy, I wasn’t. I’d reached my threshold of toleration and wasn’t able to behave for two hours at a bar, looking at the door, taking extra-long bathroom breaks. I’d start complaining about my depression and how I didn’t have a job and how living in South Korea ruined me as a person. Guys I didn’t like stopped asking me on second dates.

I’ve met some great people on the internet and even when I haven’t liked them, I’ve never disliked them either. But yesterday, I went on a date with someone I truly detested and it made me think better of continuing to date online. Then I wrote a personal essay to try to make myself feel better. Hm…Did this work?

**Note: This essay was written in the spring of 2012. That summer, I met my boyfriend. Guess where we met? Online.

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