Why I’m Not “Online Dating”
Guesssss who’s still single??
Good guess. And actually I just had a birthday, so I suppose we need to find a new name for this 30 and Single series. I have an idea up my sleeve that I may share soon.
But hey, we’re overdue for a new post in the series. So today, I thought I’d finally share my current thoughts on one of the oh-so-popular topics that always seems to come up in conversation: online dating.
Although let’s be real — it never just “comes up”. There is a very specific, strategic, seven-word question that the world seems to have agreed is the politically correct way to approach the topic. It is always said in the most casual tone anyone can muster. And it usually comes up instantly after telling someone you are single. And it goes like this: “Soooo, have you ever considered online dating?”
(As though every single person has never considered it. As though it hasn’t been around for a decade. And as though it is clearly the guaranteed path for how to become un-single. As though….alright alright, snarkyness=squelched.)
No, I always respond politely when people ask about online dating because I know that the question is well-intended. And I agree that it’s a reasonable question, since online dating is quite the modern marvel of the last decade. I just did a Google search for some statistics, and this site says that over 41 million (million!) people in the U.S. have tried online dating. I believe it. Tons of my friends have tried it. Many of them have successfully met some really cool people online. And I even have a few friends who married their “matches”…and I think should totally become those cute couples on the commercials.
I’m also one of the millions.
I EHarmony-ed twice right out of college after moving to a new city, I hopped on and off Match a few times over the years, and I have kept an eye on (but never signed up for) all of the zillion other online dating sites that have popped up since. There were at least a handful of decent dates come out of my time on those sites. But guys, I have to tell you — I just don’t think it’s my thing.
Let me be clear, I have absolutely nothing at all against those who love online dating. Many of my friends are on various sites and apps right now and are having great experiences, and clearly 41 million people have found it at least worth the try. But something about it just never quite clicked for me. It took me awhile to admit that to myself and to other people, mostly because I thought it would be great if it could “work”. But I’m now totally ok with that fact that it’s not for me. And when someone presses for why I’m not OK Cupid-ing or Tinder-ing or EHarmonizing my way through these single years, I have also learned to articulate a few reasons.
So I thought I’d share five of those today for any inquiring minds who might want to know why I’m not online dating — especially for any of you married folk who might wonder why some of your single friends (who might still want to be in a relationship) are intentionally passing up all of those available fish in the online sea. Or also for any of those available fish who might relate. :)
5 Reasons I Don’t Dig Online Dating
1. I don’t like “shopping” for guys
Most of my friends will agree that when you very first begin the process of online dating, it pretty much seems like The Absolute Best Thing EVER.
I mean, it seems like it should be a slam dunk! Begin by expanding your pool to tens of thousands of single people. Then narrow those down by marking the appropriate check boxes — Age? Check. Height? Check. City? Set that zip code or radius however wide you’d like. Kids? Yes/No/Maybe. Religious views? Multiple mark. Ethnicity? Smokes? Drinks? Previously married? Eye color? Exercise frequency? Pets? Salary? Political Views? Education? Checkcheckcheckcheckcheck. — and then VOILA. The perfect eligible bachelors should all pop up, and then all you have to do is sort through teeny thumbnails (with yes, countless examples of the 10 photos not to post for online dating) and choose the ones who seem perfect for you — right??
Well, obviously, that’s not usually the case. Sure, I’ve met a handful of cool guys online, and ended up dating a few. But in my experience most of the “results” that popped up definitely didn’t feel like “matches”. Oh, their profiles and emails and one-liners definitely made for some spectacular stories to tell my friends. But most were definitely not matches.
But you know what? That part I didn’t totally mind. No, I was surprised to realize that what I disliked most about the selection process was actually filling out the checkboxes and window-shopping for guys. (Ironically, in my organized little brain, the very thing that initially appealed to me about online dating.) I don’t know, something about it just felt super unnatural to me. And uncomfortable. And confused. And really judgy.
Mostly, the whole process just confirmed that I simply don’t really want to be the person who is deciding what the perfect checklist looks like for me. Sure, I have things I’m looking for in a guy. But if I’ve learned anything from watching so many friends get married over the past decade, it’s that the spouses they end up with almost always do not perfectly match the checklists they had going in. And thank goodness they didn’t, because those people usually end up being the perfect matches, in that perfectly imperfect, wonderful way that life seems to go. I kind of want that too.
So I don’t know. I’m not against narrowing down the field, but the detailed checklists just don’t feel like the way I’m going to find my “match”.
2. I don’t like turning guys down
Ok, this may seem like an odd one, but hear me out.
I think the thing I was most unprepared for with online dating was how many people you end up turning down in the process. When I was on EHarmony (and they may have changed the process since), you were sent a few matches a day and then had to decide yes or no on all of them. Day after day after day. When I was on Match, my little inbox was pretty quickly overwhelmed with emails (and those awful “winks”), ranging from the cut-and-pasted form emails (yes), the creepy one-liners (90% of the time having to do with eyes, or completely sexual), to legit emails from guys who were and were absolutely not what I would call matches. So if you’re active on an online dating site, you generally find yourself having to sort through yes’s and no’s every single day.
Of course, that has to be a part of the process. And yes of course, it’s awesome and a total honor to have people interested in you. And yes of course, it’s totally ok to turn down people (especially the creepsters) who you know won’t be a fit.
But here’s the thing — I’m pretty sure that most people sign up for online dating wanting to say “yes”. That’s why I signed up, but the yes/no ratio was not in my favor. And after turning down the 20th, or 50th, or 100th person who contacts you — even if you have full confidence that they are indeed “no’s” — it can start to wear on your heart in kind of a backwards way. And you start to feel guilty about saying “no’s”, especially to people whose intentions are good. And you start to consider saying more “yes’s” just to balance out the “no’s”, even when that’s clearly not the best idea. And the whole idea of online “yes’s” and “no’s” just starts to seem unnecessary if you’re not going on many good dates.
Anyway, it’s something I didn’t expect about online dating, and it was not fun.
3. I don’t like my bright and shiny (and VERY public) profile
In the world of online dating, it’s ALL about your profile.
Everything hinges on it. It is how the algorithms sort you. It is people’s first impression of you. It is where you can be as honest (or not) as you’d like. It is where you can share as many updated (or not) photos as you’d like. And it is basically your modern day calling card for all things YOU.
And good grief, those profiles are hard to write.
I mean, we all have a little experience with profiles nowadays thanks to Facebook. But most dating sites don’t let you off the hook with just your age, occupation, alma mater, and hometown. Oh no, profiles or “personal inventories” can take hours to fill out and write. And in addition to a million checkboxes, you usually have to fill out open-ended essay questions on things like an “about me” section, “about my date”, “for fun”, “my idea of a great date”, and other enlightening topics.
Many of my married friends have remarked over the years that writing profiles “sounds like so much fun!” But if you’re the one writing it about yourself, it pretty much just feels super awkward. Basically, you’re trying to present yourself to complete strangers in a way that’s positive but not braggy, open but not overly vulnerable, attractive but not vain, confident but not cocky, etc. etc. And of course, you have to select the perfect photos to match, since statistically your cover photo is what makes people actually “click on you” or not.
Clearly from my attempts doing this for myself, and reading hundreds of profiles of others trying to do the same, this is no easy feat. And in trying to sound all bright and shiny and wonderful, things just get awkward.
OH. And let’s not forget that most online dating sites are all very public. Anyone who logs into the site can usually read your entire profile, and anyone who grabs a screenshot will have it forever. ANYONE.
4. I don’t like the creepsters
On that note, as a single girl, I have to say a word about the creepsters. Because believe me, they are there creeping around on every online dating site. Most of them are probably the harmless, garden-variety awkward types who think a one-liner about your “hot bod” is exactly what a woman wants to hear. But a little too often, you run across a profile or get an email from someone who gives you (the wrong kind of) goosebumps.
For example, one of my friends just told me about a guy who reverse-image-searched her on Match, and told her that he had tracked down where she worked. (Noted: never use work photos!) Another friend had a guy photoshop her headshot onto some p-rn. Another had a creepy guy recognize her from a photo and approach her at a bar. More commonly, I’ve just heard of many people show up for dates and find that the person was either creepy or not at all who they said they were (or how they looked in their photo) online.
Yes, I know this is par for the course on any public sort of website. And people should always be extra cautious when meeting any sort of strangers from the internet anytime. But the reality is that I intentionally don’t put myself in situations in my everyday life when I have creepy guys hitting on me, so it seems a little strange to be intentionally opening myself to that online.
It’s not something that’s a deal breaker for me with online dating. But as a single girl, it’s definitely something that puts me on guard.
5. I haven’t found any guys online who I’m REALLY interested in
Ok, bottom line. The main reason I don’t dig online dating is simple — there have just never been many guys on there who I really wanted to date! Granted, if there had, it might have made all of the above reasons feel more worth it. But man, I never had the best of luck.
Sure, there were a few guys I met who were decent matches. But for the most part, none seemed like great matches. That could be due to a hundred different reasons. But I can’t help notice that I’ve had much better luck over the years meeting guys who are more my “type” in person, usually through other friends. This usually feels way more comfortable as well, versus a blind date with a stranger from the internet who I’ve just emailed with a few times.
I’ve had many friends have great luck online though. So you can blame me for being picky. But if you ask me, it just hasn’t been the right timing, the right guy, the right me, the right whatever yet. And in my mind and in my heart of hearts, I have peace about that. Sure, some days it’s hard. But I have realized that I’d rather have a hard single day than a hard evening out on a date with a guy I met online and probably didn’t really like all that much, after having met him through a process I really didn’t like all that much. And frankly, online dating takes a lot of time and emotional energy. And if there aren’t matches happening that feel like actual matches, I have other things I’d rather be doing and people I’d rather be spending time with.
So, nothing big, I’ve just decided it’s not for me. And if that means I stay single a little extra longer, then that just means you’ll get more of these posts on the blog. (Just kidding. Or maybe not.) ;)
Again, these are 100% my thoughts, and I love that everyone has different feelings and experiences on this topic. So if you’ve ever tried online dating, I’d love to hear how it’s been! (Ooooh, or maybe we should swap stories of crazy online dating profiles or emails or dates you’ve had! Those are kind of the best…)