Shameless selfie: a necessary part of an online dating profile.
I’m very dateable.
I’m not ugly (I’ve always been a few pounds heavier than the average, but I’ve grown to carry it well, and I have a unique face), I’m smart, I don’t have problems making conversation (although I am awkward in my own charming foot-in-mouth way), I have very specific interests, and I'm very much ON the market.
But I’ve NEVER gotten attention from guys.
At least, attention that isn’t along the lines of: “Jesus, you sure talk a lot,” or “Why are you so loud?” or “Stop telling me about podcasts, I’m begging you.” This isn’t a self-pity thing. I know that guys my age have yet to figure out that I’d make a rad girlfriend.
In February, I decided I was tired of my litany of unrequited crushes. I was tired of feeling like the dumpy friend in the group. I was bemoaning this to a friend in her thirties (because that’s a normal thing for an 18-year-old to have, right?) and she recommended I try OkCupid.
“There are definitely people around your age on there. I can’t vouch for their attractiveness or anything, but it’ll boost your self-esteem, if nothing else.”
I figured my friend probably knew what she was talking about -- she has the same body type I do (short, big boobs and hips, “curvy” without being plus-sized) and the same interests (podcasts, stand-up comedy, music I’d call “dictionary rock”). And to be honest, my self-esteem about my looks had ended up at 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea depths after 18 years of zero percent interest from the male population.
So I threw myself into this Internet adventure. I took my own sweet time writing my profile, trying to be honest without letting my self-loathing shine through.
In case you doubted how cool I am.
Of course, as anyone who has ever looked at an online dating site knows, a lot of eligible bachelors’ profiles are SUPER GRODY.
I saw more typos, fedoras, boring “interests” (Oh really? You like “movies” and “music” and “friends”? Are you sure you aren’t actually a stick figure I drew and threw some generic words at?), and “nice guy” logic than I had ever prepared myself to see. Amid all this though, there were plenty of guys who seemed cool and interesting. I messaged a few.
Two hours or so after posting my profile, I had a dozen messages, and they kept rolling in as time went on. They’ve ranged from creepy copy-pasted poems to generic greetings (guys: why are you sending “hi” “sup” or “how’s it going?” as a standalone message? Are you trying to deter women from messaging you back?) to a “25-year-old” offering to be my sugar daddy (who DEFINITELY just wanted to murder me) to a couple that were less skeezy.
take your cheesy generic-ness elsewhere, sir.
Age-wise, there was definitely range. The median was probably around 22, but one of the messages was from a dad-type. Not just like, he was old enough to be my father (he was). But he was an ACTUAL FATHER. Of a human child. What about me screams “stepmommy material”? The fact that I can't buy alcohol?
GET OUT. LEAVE. RIGHT. NOW.
As the days went by, this pattern continued. While I wouldn’t even consider responding to most of these poorly-spelled sketchy messes of messages, it felt good to be consistently told that I’m pretty/hot/cute/beautiful. I’ve never gotten that before (outside of well-meaning female friends and sweet gay boys).
You wanna know how to charm a girl? Insult one of her favorite movies.
Initially, I only told Sam, a first tier friend and the sweetest of the aforementioned sweet gay boys. He's never online dated, but he was open-minded and supportive about the experiment. Slowly, I told other friends. I got a mix of responses:
“You’re going to get murdered.”
“Why would you do that? Guys here [at Northwestern] are all over nerdy girls.” (Yeah, if they’re dainty and look like Zooey Deschanel.)
“Oh! That’s…great? Good for you?”
No one had even thought about joining OkCupid. This weird feeling of trailblazing uniqueness only fueled my desire to continue.
This seems like some sort of code intended for a spy. Who is it telling me to assassinate?
Of the guys who I met up with in person, I had some dud dates. One guy who I saw a few times ended up being crazy and terrifying. But they aren’t all like that, and it’s not worth letting those ones scare you off.
I feel like this was either written by A) a character played by Denis Leary in a ‘90s movie or B) the Unabomber.
Ultimately, OkCupid helped a weird teenage girl languishing from lack of romantic attention gain some self-esteem, and something close to dating experience.
I’m taking a few months off from it right now, and I’m still single as always, but this kind of singledom feels more Murphy Brown than Martha Dumptruck. I’d still LOVE to meet a guy in the regular, IRL sort of way, but it’s nice to know now that there are plenty of guys out there (in Internetville) who are interested in my “type” (I thank Daria for disseminating this interest among guys).
Before OKCupid, I had grown so accustomed to friends who had never been without boys crushing on them telling me “I’m SURE there are plenty of boys who like you. It’ll happen soon!”
And it turns out, with some extra work and changing my expectations, they were sorta kinda right.