I have met men from online, long before it was called online dating. Back in my day (I say that the same way your 90-year-old grandparent would say it) it was called chat rooms (my day being the late 1990s and early 2000s). I remember signing onto AOL, waiting to hear that horrible dial up sound, and then the all familiar “Welcome”. I used to spend hours in random chatrooms, talking to boys, flirting, and planning dates. I was cautiously reckless in my youth; I could have been kidnapped, and murdered a number of times but I guess I was always lucky. There was comfort in talking to these guys online for days and weeks. I felt like I got a good sense of who they were and if I lost interest, I could just block them from contacting me. I didn’t have to give over my phone number to a total stranger before I could ask them the questions that I was sure would prove they were upstanding citizens. So, when I grew tired of one boy, to find another I would go back to the chat room and meet someone else.
Fast forward 4 long term relationships, almost 2 decades of fuckbuddies, and countless flings later. The comfort of online dating is still, despite the much bullshit I’ve encountered, a safe place for me.
People who would hear my stories first hand would say; “You’re such a beautiful girl how are you still single?” or “On-line dating is for weirdos” or “You should try meeting a man at a bar or something” or “Try doing something that you like-maybe you’ll meet someone there.” So, I started going to bars, no one, that I was interested in, ever approached me. (By the way, it’s kind of hard approaching a girl in her group of male and female friends). I like to write, so I started taking writing classes at GWW, no one looking to date there. I run a lot; but no one is going to see me while their huffing and puffing to the finish line, tap me on the shoulder, and ask me for my number. So, I started getting to my races a little earlier and lingering around after to socialize- still no luck. I went on hiking trips with friends and joined local hiking groups – no luck. I went on chartered ski trips and water park trips, put my best foot forward, and still – no luck.
After trying to meet someone IRL with no luck I resorted back to my old faithful. I gave my faith and money into these apps the way a church goer gives tithes. I found peace in the algorithms of the apps and I had faith that if I kept paying and random-handsome-man paid, that our paths would cross and it would all be worth it. Since nothing else worked, this had to work. I kept telling myself, one more time, just one month, just one week. That blind faith pushed me to illogical logical scenarios as to why I should continue to pay.
1- I work in fashion, and since most men were either gay or married; online would weed out those men, and deliver to me men only interested in getting to know me.
2- The fact that I’m hard to approach. I have an RBF (Resting Bitch Face) and tunnel vision complex. I’m not scanning the crowds for men to give me the “eye” to flirt. And, if an amazing guy happens to catch my eye and actually approaches me, I get extremely nervous and the awkward flood-gates open up. Lastly, 9 times out of 10, I’m too much into my own head to pay them attention and I often word-vomit an, “I’m sorry- I’ve got to go” OR “I’ve got a boyfriend.” (Which has been a lie for over 3 years now)
3- A false sense of security. On two occasions, when I did give my number to men I met IRL they didn’t go so well. One, I had to have the cops call and threaten him to stop harassing me. The other, opened up the flood gates on his very fucked up life during the first conversation and proceeded to cursed me out because I didn’t want to visit him at his hotel room, after his sister kicked him out.
4- I figured it was a way for me to meet men that I, otherwise, would never cross paths with. Random-handsome-guy lives in Brooklyn while I live in Manhattan. The probability of us crossing paths IRL is highly unlikely. However, if I just trust the algorithm of the app; it will align our digital stars and connect us.
I had to keep hope that he was out there; with just another subscription and a swipe away. I applied the logic of lottery- you gotta be in it to win it. So, I did exactly that and jumped all the way in. I downloaded every app I had heard of: Badoo, OKC, Tinder, Match, Hinge, Coffee Meets Bagel, Bumble, POF, and Zoosk. I uploaded a few carefully selected images, and wrote a witty yet compelling profile; hoping, and praying, that the man of my dreams would see my beautiful smile, read my carefully written profile, and would come to the conclusion that we were meant to be. PIE ON FACE! I poured hundreds of dollars into various subscriptions assuming that paying would give me better odds. MORE PIE ON FACE! Eventually I said, I give up. After a traumatic-life changing experience (which will be divulged in a later post) I had finally given up- I was done with online dating.
It finally hit me that, on my quest for love, I was not going to find him online. So, I deactivated all my accounts, and deleted all my apps. This lasted for a solid month. Then, when I went to delete some 500 spam emails, there were a few notifications from Zoosk, claiming ‘this person wants to meet you- say hi!’ or ‘Mike sent you a message- log in to see what he said’. Against my better judgement, I signed back into the app only to see a heart emoji, an auto message, or another the subscribe to see what he said message. And there I was- sucked into the black hole of left and right swiping again. I said it jokingly to a friend of mine, but on a certain level I really believe that I became addicted to dating apps. Constantly chasing the high that I have yet to have. Will he be the one? Will he? Left swipe, right swipe, read a profile, send a few messages, get ghosted or bored with small talk, then onto the next.
In the morning, when I wake up, I grab my phone, my toothbrush, and my bath towel and head to the bathroom. During my morning pee I’m checking my connections, views, possible matches, and I’m frantically left and right swiping my life away. Waiting for the train is no different. With a podcast or music playing in my ears, my thumbs are left and right swiping. At work, when I go to the bathroom, I’ll tuck my phone under my arm, and once I’m seated, I’m left and right swiping again. I baby wipe my private parts, flush the toilet, wash my hands; and go back to my desk hoping that during my next bathroom break I’ll have a message from random-handsome-guy; it’s exhausting. When I don’t have any apps on my phone, I find myself picking it up and looking for a notification that does not exist and feeling a little bit of my soul ripped out of me each time. My fingers (mainly my thumbs) feel restless when there is no swiping going on. I mean, other than hitting the space bar on a key board and giving a thumbs up, what are thumbs good for? Their sole purpose in today’s tech-boy society is to open up your phone and swipe. It’s as if I can feel my thumbs losing muscle memory when there is no dating app on my phone.
There is rehab for alcohol, sex, drugs, etc. If there isn’t already, there should be one for online dating.