I’ve been single for the better part of the decade that I have lived in New York.
To clarify, I’ve been single, not a saint. There’s been the usual mixed bag of snogging, groping, texting, sexting, and unrequited anguish. But throughout all of this, I never had a boyfriend.
I had “situations” or “guys I was talking to.” I wish I could romanticize it like some of my friends who have savored the drama, but I’ll be real -- it sucks hairy balls, you guys. It’s left me hungry for a real relationship.
If I were a construction worker, I’d be all hollering at passing dudes, “Daaaayum son, I want to become emotionally intimate with that ass!” Or, “You look like you got potent sperms and a desire to settle down and make something real and laaaasting!” And then those guys would get teary-eyed and their friends would put an arm around their shoulders and say something like, “Ignore her, you know what emotionally mature women quickly approaching 30 are like.”
To that end, I threw myself into the Internet dating arena. I wasn’t meeting anyone at work or at play, and me trying to chat up people in bars is comically awful. (Example: “Nice slacks, friend.” *falls off of barstool*)
I’ve got several -- well, three -- friends who met their husbands that way, and it seemed stupid and deliberately willful of me not to at least give it a go. Still, the romantic in me, that core belief that I will lock eyes with someone in life and just "know," railed against online dating.
That romantic in me? The one who tempered her reasonable expectations about dating with the odd lingering fondness for kismet and destiny? She was killed by online dating.
She is gone forever. Her ashes scattered after a Match.com “the Stir” event where the fun singles activity of the evening was preparing and cremating a metaphorical corpse.
I started off with OKCupid because it was free and I am perpetually broke. Very quickly, I learned that you get what you pay for -- a fetid pile of garbage.
I started saving some of the crazier messages I received. I quickly discovered that there was a whole category of dudes who only wrote the word “hi” and that they were to be avoided.
I went out on a handful of dates. They were the usual bad Internet date fodder, true cliches: the guy who was 20 years older than he claimed, the dry drunk with rage issues who lived with his parents, the humorless foodie who’d lied about his height, and the scary close call -- a guy who pinned me to a wall, all the better to inspect my tonsils with tongue, which was the temperature and texture of freezing cold canned mushrooms.
But I didn’t give up. I took hiatuses. I regrouped. I tried the paid sites. I spent all this fucking time being honest on eharmony.com only to be REJECTED BY A DATING SITE. (Don’t worry, guys, I went back and lied on some of the questions and made the cut -- YAY.) I signed up for Match.com and paid out the ass to be systemically greeted with the only thing worse than comically awful messages -- radio silence.
You know what’s fucking worse than being on a free site where a bunch of creeps are all, “Lol, can i feck ur titties?” Being on a site where the guys care enough to pay out to meet potential romantic partners and not one of them wanting to feck yr titties. That’ll make a girl think, I’ll tell you what.
I’m not on any of the paid sites now. Because I don’t need the monthly reminder courtesy of my bank statement that I haven’t met anyone. I have, this time, kept the OKCupid account open. I don’t know why. It’s probably the ghost of my optimistic romantic self that maybe still believes that if I’m on the site, some cool guy is too.
Or at least, that’s what I was thinking until I was greeted with this simple, succinct message this weekend.
I don’t know what’s more fucked about that message -- the fact that he felt so strongly that I was ugly that he had to email me and let me know, or the fact that he thought that was OK. It didn’t send me under the covers to rock in the fetal position.
I didn’t believe him. I didn’t particularly care that he thought I was ugly. I might have in the early days, but now my perception of the Internet dating beast has changed -- this guy wasn’t a potential suitor telling me I lacked the sufficient qualities to make his crotch snake stir. He was another type of creature, one I was sadly familiar with -- he was a goddamn troll. And as such -- easier to shrug off.
I put the dude on blast, posting a screenshot of his comment on my Facebook and emailing it out to friends. Their reactions were predictable and awesome; I felt great, in no way moved to interact with the ass, and ready to go about my day. Then, something changed -- albeit slightly.
A colleague, another single lady with an OKCupid account, looked him up. She sent me a message decrying his general asshattery and pointing out that his profile was ridiculous. She emailed me again a short while later. After seeing that she’d viewed his profile, he sent her a message.
He was, she said, much nicer to her. She said with disgust, “Do you want me to tell him he’s unattractive?” My stomach felt like lead. I wanted to say yes, I wanted to unleash the furies, I wanted to verbally eviscerate him.
But I didn’t. Because it’s what he wanted. Because exacting revenge means he matters. Because it would be so easy. Because it would leave me feeling jittery and small.
“He sent me a nicer message.” That was upsetting. It made the guy human. It made him a person with tastes and preferences. It made him someone who wasn’t trollishly ranting at me for their own amusement. It made him a man who found me wanting and who thought I needed to know what I lacked.
“No,” I said. “Don’t bother. He isn’t worth the headspace.”
Because at least I knew he was already taking up too much of mine. Exhibit this article.
It remains the last dating account I have open, and since I’ve consistently struck out, I feel like no one can say I haven’t tried. I worry about myself. I worry that I won’t meet someone. That I’ll become bitter and cold. That I won’t have kids, that I won’t find something I can build and create with.
But what do I do? Should I bite the bullet and cancel the account? Keep it open and start an awesome Tumblr of all the shit-tastic responses I get, you know, art from pain and sorrow? I worry that closing down the account means giving up on the idea of meeting someone, and that idea makes me unspeakably sad and panicked.
But maybe it’s a door that needs closing in order for something awesome to happen. What do you think? What kind of weirdos have you encountered in your online dating exploits?