finding love electronically.

Recently I’ve decided to try the online dating thing. I’m still very unsure how I feel about it. On the one hand it is a great tool to meet people that you otherwise would likely never meet. You get to see the basic facts about a person – age, height, occupation – and the various flattering photos they decide to post of themselves. In the best case scenario they have a great description of themselves in their profile that is catching to you and makes you want to message them. On the other hand it is a little awkward and weird.

I started compiling a Word document of my favourite first messages that I have been sent thus far. I was struck by these messages not for their eloquence, intentional humour, or wit but rather for their downright strangeness. I knew that at some point online dating was going to give me great fodder for a blog post as it has for many other bloggers before me but I had no idea how many weird things I would have to share so soon. I have copied these messages exactly as they were sent to me with absolutely no edits made:

  1. Why short hair? You seem like you’d be all set with a large mane.
    I wasn’t sure if this was funny or offensive so I went with both. How many times have I mentioned the cutting of my hair and the sudden interest men had in hair that I no longer kept on my head? This man has never even met me. He hasn’t ever known me with long hair. He clearly very much likes long hair which is fine for him. However, making it sound like I am just a little bit incomplete without my “large mane” is not going to win you points. Or a message back.
  2. I my name Norbert I am 31 year and like to go fishing,workout and I am nice And I am on my own I live in Canada for I was three years old
    I work on computer and network
    I am assuming that English is not Norbert’s first language. However as fond as I am for a man from abroad I am also equally, if not more so, a fan of periods and commas.
  3. U looking good girl.and I wanna put it on u baby
    Well thank you, you gentleman, you! Just one question: what are you putting on me? Please tell me it’s Louboutins.
  4. Effin luv ur teeth… weird right……? Ohya!!
    Why don’t we just leave it at weird and forget the “oh ya”?
  5. Hey!
    I love hanging out with friends and family and think they are important. What type of movies and music do you like? Do you like traveling? I love going for wings at a pub or whatever restaurant. Can you make me cinnamon rolls? I freaking love them!!!! I love humour and can be pretty sarcastic/humorous! If you would like to chat send me a message
    I call this the eager beaver. You see, he just didn’t know when to stop. Too many questions, too many statements, too much of so many things. I can already envision the millions of text messages and phone calls I’ll receive when I’m on the subway and have no service to be able to answer. You know, just sending them to make sure I’m okay – not a clingy thing at all. No, sir.

With these messages I’m working my way towards what I suppose we can call the thesis of this blog post: how do you come across as genuine, natural, and an ideal mate when there is a screen in the way? What is it about online dating that so many people look down on but yet still so many of us do it?

I had a conversation with my aunt the other day about online dating and how when she had done it there was still a bit of a stigma surrounding it. A lot of people lied about how they met when they had met online to avoid the awkward stares and conversations from their friends. In the last few years, however, online dating has seemed to take off at the same rate that other social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn have. It makes sense, though, since isn’t an online dating site just another form of social media? We are posting our best sides, tailoring our profiles to the people we wish to see them and message us, and leaving the rest on the sidelines. It is only natural, then, that in an age of hardly being able to fit in properly without some form of social media to keep you in the know that more and more of us are turning to the internet to find our perfect match, as well.

Personally, the most difficult part of online dating is creating a profile that showcases the qualities I want people to know while maintaining a level of mystery but still being truthful to who I am. We all know how difficult writing a resume is – if we use the Jerry Seinfeld analogy that a first date is an interview (which it very much is) then your online dating profile is your cover letter. You better make it good. I think my profile is decent only because I didn’t take it too seriously. That may have been a bit of a defense mechanism in all honesty but it also shows my quirky, sarcastic side that I wouldn’t be able to hide in person so I’m not going to try to do it online. Yet I read it and I still think there’s so much less I can say but still so much more. You see, the difference between the cover letter for your dream job and the cover letter for your potential future boyfriend is this: when you’re writing the cover letter for a job, you know who you’re writing it to.

If I could say the same about the potential future boyfriend I wouldn’t be on an online dating site, would I?

There are so many other things I could gripe about when it comes to dating online – that it feels shallow, like window shopping since it gives you the power to dismiss anyone you don’t find instantly attractive. You might not do the same to that exact person in real life because they might have a certain je ne sais quoi about them that completely changes how you look at them. Or maybe they’re just not photogenic.

But while we’re on the topic of photos, can I please take a second and do a mini public service announcement to the men on dating websites out there? Yes? Okay, here it is: Please put your shirts on. Congratulations, you have many abdominal muscles. You also have very well-defined biceps. I can see that because you are standing alone on a beach flexing and holding a football. You look very masculine and in very good shape in that photo. But, to be honest, I don’t really care. If we had met at a bar I shouldn’t be privy to such a display so soon. It also makes me instantly think that you are slightly self-involved with not much else to show for yourself.

You see the problem with online dating now? Instantly my brain has dismissed someone as being selfish, shallow, and egotistical because I saw his nips. He wasn’t even able to defend himself or tell me all about the fantastic book he just finished or album he discovered.

And I’m sure I have been dismissed by men as well for one of my photos or a line in my profile or because my humour doesn’t translate online.

And I’m sure that I have messaged back and forth with someone who is actually completely wrong for me and if I had met him organically, that is to say in the real world, I probably would have gotten a vibe off of him instantly to tip me off. Sometimes there seems to be nothing wrong with a person except for the fact that you irrationally do not like them. You just don’t click. When you’re online you don’t get that in-person feeling, that thing that makes you look past that weird quirk they have or their slightly large ears.

Add to all of this that most of the time you spend so much time sending messages that the conversation has exhausted itself before you have even decided to actually meet in person. All of a sudden a man is asking about what I do for work and what I do for fun and if I have siblings and if I’ve travelled and what type of sandwich is my favourite and then, well, there really isn’t a reason for us to go on a date anymore, is there? If I decide to continue this online dating thing (which I’m still very undecided about) I think it comes down to the length of conversation you have with someone being very short before asking to meet in person. We have already decided if we find each other attractive, we have already decided if there is something in each others’ profiles that piques our interest – why don’t we save the better conversation to have over a cup of coffee? I think, ideally, we would share only a couple of messages before one of us says, “Let’s grab a drink.” And then I will say, “I should find a clean shirt.” But hopefully not actually to him.

We have ended up doing so many things electronically that it is no wonder so many of us are turning to the internet to find our relationships as well. It seems a natural progression, oddly enough, to go to something decidedly unnatural in order to form a human bond. I think every girl, at some time or another, has an idea in her head of a chance meeting with a dashing stranger that sets off a whirlwind romance that’s a little Meg Ryan and a lot John Hughes but we all know that it probably won’t be as romantic as we wish. Is the next best thing really meeting someone online? We are finding love electronically but this may not always transfer perfectly into real life. Let’s face it – I can be way cooler online than I am in person. And I can say all the right things in a message to someone and meet them and have them be utterly disinterested in anything I have to say.

In all this talk all I have come to realize is that I am just as unsure and confused about the whole process as I was before I started writing. In all fairness to the online dating world, however, I am also unsure and confused about dating in general so maybe it doesn’t all have to do with the internet connection. It could also be me. Maybe. Possibly.

I’ll think about it.

In the meantime, though, please boys, seriously, put your shirts on.

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4 thoughts on “finding love electronically.

  1. michads says:

    A few guidelines I’ve found as well.
    1 – must have multiple pictures, sounds shallow, but anybody could take one good picture.
    2 – pictures must be recent. If they look like they are from 10 years ago, the person is supposed to be 35-40 but looks 25-30.. Red flag
    3 – if pictures are actually pictures of pictures…. Red flag.

    Could you guess I’ve tried it? Lol

    • caitycakes says:

      Hahaha all very important guidelines as well! You definitely hear some online dating horror stories out there of people not being/looking anywhere near what they portrayed themselves to be.

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