Friday, February 01, 2013

OKstupid


i’ve recently come to understand what so many internet daters already know: joining a dating website does not make dating easy. if anything, it makes it ridiculous. it’s been three weeks since i joined OKCupid (renamed OKStupid), a literal meat market where men are displayed like questionable meat products, flash frozen in glass cases for my consideration, where strangers have messaged me, “hi, how r u” — some of them shirtless, others illiterate, one a bisexual woman and one man who asked my bra size — three weeks of feeling more alone than ever before.


i have not gone on a single date, because nothing has gotten that far. the handful of men i did start a correspondence with were quickly discarded once their messages turned too stupid and/or sexual. i’m frankly stunned by the amount of men who think that reminding a woman that they want to have sex — an unremarkable fact understood by every adult — is the way to make the sex happen, when, in fact, it does exactly the opposite.

i’ve actually come to prefer it when a profile just lays it out there by being overly sexual, usually under the guise of flirtatiousness (though i did see one that read, “message me if you want to fuck,” which i found refreshing). those are better than the creeps who camouflage as seemingly decent guys, like that one landscape architect who lived in my neighborhood (just what i need right now!) and appeared cute, thoughtful and mild-mannered and then engaged in a messaging session with me that mentioned my boobs no less than four times.

(note: i realize i listed “big boobs” in my attributes, which seems like an invitation to discuss them, but their inclusion is really a litmus test to weed out the lotharios, and so far it’s working quite well.)

that guy was quickly dismissed because in this digital minefield, all red flags are fatal. even a pink flag is fatal. and if other indicators seem suspect, a white flag that may have been washed in a load with one red object can be fatal. this endeavor shall be run entirely on instincts, and i make no apologies for this. i admit to being extremely picky, which is probably the reason i’m failing at internet dating. but after 20 years of non-internet dating (except for those three months back in 2004, searchable in the archives), i have a good idea of what will and won’t work for me. 

and why shouldn’t i be picky? this is my life. i want to like my reality. it’s better i end up alone than with a bad match whom i still feel lonely next to. trust me, no one is more aware of the possibility that i’ll end up alone than i am, so spare me the stories of your spinster aunt patty and her cats.

at 36, i already know the odds are stacked against me, yet i refuse to settle, because at 36, i also know myself pretty damn well. still, i don’t doubt that i’ve passed on decent guys just because they had goatees. or maybe they listed “weekends in vegas” among their likes. or maybe they were actors. or listed their favorite book as “The Alchemist.” or they lived in Brentwood. 

it is superficial and no doubt makes me an awful person who deserves to die alone. three weeks in, my profile already reads “replies VERY selectively” in red letters. i know internet dating is a “numbers game,” having heard this from countless people, but i have neither the time nor desire to go on 100 bad dates before going on one good one. i’ve decided to use OKStupid as more of a supplement to my dating life than the main lifeline. i prefer to meet men organically and if OKStupid brings me only a handful of dates a month, i’m ok with this. less than a handful is also ok.

plus, i’m trying to avoid the “overdater syndrome.” i’ve seen it too often with both male and female friends of mine, who spend too much time on dating sites, enduring the requisite parade of stupidity, and then begin to make sweeping generalizations about the opposite sex, with the women interjecting, “ugh, MEN!” any time a story about a man acting foolish is being told, and the men shaking their heads and adding, “that’s because all women are crazy,” when the fool in question is female. 

i’ve also seen it on countless profiles — this speaking to the bad experiences, where men write to the “liars, the fatties, the bitches who don’t write back,” where people assume everyone is fake and fixate on the deal-breakers over the attributes. to survive in the world of online dating is to have low expectations that need constant reinforcement, as hope can be a dangerous thing when one’s heart is on the line. so it looks like i’m fitting right in.

i hate the way i sound talking about this. i really do. and i know i’m about 10 years late to this roast. this post is so dated, this story so tired and old. trashing online dating is about as cliche and uninteresting as it gets. but considering that i only bought an iPhone a year ago, i’ve always been a bit of a “late adapter.” and here i am arriving late to the school dance only to complain about the music.

i don’t want to be at this dance. most of the time i’m standing around awkwardly and looking down at my shoes. i can’t bring myself to dance with anyone, but still feel compelled to stick around to see if it gets interesting because i know it’s worked for others and i know i’m not giving it its rightful chance. i want to dance. at least, i think i do. it’s just been so long, and the truth is that i feel a bit rusty, a little wobbly on my heels, and also extremely nervous.

plus, it’s never been this much damn work before. love has always hit me like a train and dragged me along its tracks. i’ve only known chemistry that overwhelms and leaves me at its mercy until i can’t see past it. the last time i felt this way was eight years ago when i first started dating Mo. our first date was on a wednesday and by the weekend we were inseparable. in those early weeks, i would throw up before meeting with him, not because i wanted to, but because my wiring had become unhinged and my organs were shifting. i couldn’t eat, sleep or focus and finally landed in bed with a miserable flu that confirmed my suspicion that it was really love. 

i don’t doubt that i’ve done everything in my power to prevent these feelings from returning, and for all the right reasons that rational people would warn against them. i know should keep my head screwed on straight. i don’t want to run the risk of falling in love with the wrong person. i know i should start as friends first with someone new and then ease into it.

that’s no doubt the healthiest approach, though it’s not the one that ensures i’ll stay rapt and dedicated because unless i feel that train make contact, it’s easy for me to be dismissive on the basis that nothing is holding my attention. love has never been a choice for me, especially one laid out neatly in thumbnail images and personal details that read like an ingredient list.

some days, i think it’s better that i just remain on my own. i’ve grown fond of my independence by now and have moved past the idea that i’m searching for my better half. if i learned anything in 2012’s Year of Solitude (and sad, sad celibacy) it’s that i can be happy on my own. i can make all executive decisions about my life without needing to consult anyone and feel confident in my choices. i can feel great about my achievements without relying on someone else’s approval to validate their worth. these were lessons i needed to learn.

other days, there is a longing for someone to sit beside me and hold my hand while we watch TV together. those are the days when i notice how seldom i cook elaborate meals anymore, how empty the bed feels when i get in and out of it, how my heart sits securely in my own chest doing nothing more than pumping blood.

that’s when i enter fantasyland and begin to romanticize the past or envision a future where i wake up next to some tall, smart, handsome, funny, kind, thoughtful, interesting, aggravating, odd, curious, confusing, hairy, smelly and delicious beast who complicates my life in a way that i don’t mind. there’s no fear in this fantasy, no fear of opening up or being vulnerable, of not being able to make compromises that i haven’t had to make in years, no fear of getting it wrong or failing again, of committing to someone who ends up disappointing me, or worse, gets disappointed by me.

then i turn my head and see my dogs snoring beside me, realizing that i’m alone on my couch on a friday night with my phone in my hand and no one to call, so i’ll jump on OKStupid to search for prospects in the same way i search for products on amazon before getting overwhelmed in 10 minutes, closing my laptop, sighing heavily, and then getting up and moving on with the rest of my night. 


7 comments:

Kronner said...

I ignore girls who list THE BIG BANG THEORY among their favorite shows.

Peter Lyons said...

This is awesome Milla!

Anonymous said...

Interesting blog! What I am about to write only partially applies to this blog. It is based on your footprints on the web. It may be an indication of how twisted and messed up I am as opposed to anything out of the ordinary with you.

Do you ever wonder if exposing too much of your soul would be detrimental to any potential relationships? Call me old fashioned but I like a bit of mystery. If I were to meet you, I would know so much about you already... so much of you is on the web.
Some men may be comfortable with that but I presume most will not be. I expect a thirty something woman to have experienced certain things. I don't expect her to be a virgin as I am not. But do I want to know so much about them by doing research on the Internet?
I know you're quite extroverted... you probably take comfort in sharing and commiserating. I'm probably in the other extreme... I wonder if there is a happy medium somewhere in between.
Call me a pig, a chauvinistic, or old-fashioned but when I read your blog, I'm intrigued to meet you, have a nice conversation with you, engage in word play, banter, show you how educated, intelligent, and worldly I am. But will that be enough for a long-term relationship give what I know about you?

Anonymous said...

Milla,

I'd like to know your thoughts on what wrote.

Milla said...

i appreciate your question and have given this topic plenty of thought over the years. (you're certainly not twisted or chauvinistic for asking. perish the thought.) i recognize how keeping a blog where i write about my relationships can be a turnoff for some men. simply put: those men are not for me. and that's ok. i'm not aiming for the lowest common denominator in my dating life where i appeal to a wide variety of men. i'd much rather cast a small net and focus on quality individuals who are comfortable with my public footprint, as there is a great chance that they may become a part of "the story" if they stick around.

yet if i find someone who is adamant about not becoming part of that story publicly, then i would respect that. i made some mistakes about privacy early in my blogging, but have since learned when i should keep my mouth shut. the blog contains about 10% of my actual life, with the remaining 90% lived privately so it's not as much access as it seems. there is plenty of backstory that is just not appropriate for the internet. and what i have deemed appropriate is more about me than anyone else. with a few exceptions, the men have stayed anonymous and i don't bash them here. i simply report on my own feelings. the men have to trust that what i write will be fair and accurate and i'm not above running things by them before i post.

the funny flipside to this is that i've received quite a few date invitations over the years because of my blog, with men saying they don't like the public nature of my life despite being drawn to me because of it. i'm never quite sure how to respond to that. all i know is that i don't ever plan to quit blogging. it's part of me in the same way my friends, family and dogs are. we're all package deals, and this corner of the internet is a small part of my package. it won't appeal to everyone, but i don't need it to. i only need it to appeal to the right one, and if he's really right for me, it will.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your openness. I was not implying that you would divulge information about the people in your life or that you're indiscreet in any way with what you choose to share.

I get that you may not be interested in someone whose views are similar to mine (the narrow cast if you will). That said, I wonder if the extra openness would attract the wrong fish to the net. Or perhaps scare off some who would otherwise be completely beguiled by you (that would be perfectly within the realm given what I read) once they really got to know your other 90%. At any rate, I suppose you’re the best judge of that since you have had people in the past who had expressed interest based on your blogs.

Once again, I’m just thinking out loud. I have proven it to myself repeatedly that I am an ever receding pocket of authority on the topic.

Milla said...

appreciate the discussion and your viewpoint. i think it's hard to say conclusively whether the blog has been a help or hindrance. all the men who have asked me for dates after finding my blog (just a handful) have seemed decent, so i'd like to think i'm attracting like-minded people to this space, but i'll never really know about what i'm repelling.

in any case, dating is tricky, blog or no blog. i know my single, blogless friends are suffering through it to the same degree that i am, all keeping the faith that things will work out as they should. personally, i'm glad to have a record of my journey. it'll be fun for me to read one day. cringe-inducing, too, i'm sure.