Whether I was arrogant or just ill-informed, I’ll never know, but I thought everyone knew about online dating. We live in an age where information about medical conditions lives on the same page as information about the circumference of a Kardashian ass. Everyone knows everything now, right?
Nope! There are living, breathing time capsules of human beings who have never engaged in online dating because they’ve never had to. They’re called couples, and my new favorite hobby is scaring the bejesus out of them. Not with online dating horror stories, but with cold, hard facts, the kind that will eventually lead to online dating’s downfall. But not yet. For now, the beast still lives. And here’s what coupled-up people don’t know about it:
1) There are people on online dating who are....wait for it...NOT SINGLE.
Did you think everyone on online dating was actually available? Oh, you neophyte you. I know you think it’s just us sad lonely types flipping through OKCupid while waiting in line at the deli while you peer over our shoulders, but you’re wrong--your kind does this shit, too. Your kind even uses family holiday card photos as profile images.
At first I was shocked when I saw wedding photos, pregnancy announcement photos, or photos of just couples being couples used as online dating profile images. It really affected me. I was (among other things), so offended for their partners. That’s where I started. Then I started screenshotting photo after photo of these husbands, these family men, and I began to get mad for someone else--me.
So you’re telling me that not only are some of the men I see online not available, but even after I find one for myself he might still be on this shit? What are we doing here?! This reeks of unfairness if not insanity. And sometimes I purposefully match with these heathens just to give them a piece of my mind. I’m not above it.
So yes. You don’t know it, but online dating takes all kinds. Even kinds that are not single. They’re the rotten fruit of online dating and we want this world sprayed for bugs. Now.
2) Online dating is not easy. It’s not as challenging as say, a Bar Exam, but it’s up there. Non-singles love to toss out this suggestion as a quick fix to the “problem” of being single. “Oh just go online, my cousin’s friend from work met her husband that way.” And while it’s true that one in five relationships begin online, that’s still only one in five, and that’s still only relationships that actually start. This doesn’t speak to the hundreds of thousands of us on online dating who have nothing to show for our efforts.
I’ll admit it’s not exactly a story that tracks. You do something, you put effort in, you get results. Online dating is one place where that is not true. You can put effort in constantly, endlessly, and still get nothing. Online dating doesn’t “work” the way you think it does. It’s not a solution, just an option. An option with no guarantees save for the guarantee that people you don’t want in your life will email you, say horrible things to you, make you feel uncomfortable and unsafe, and then slither back into their internet lair where no one can find them and hold them accountable for their actions. Do you miss being single yet?
3) Numbers. OMG but you’ve matched with soooo many people! But have you noticed that of the 350 men I’ve matched with in the last year, only 17 have said hello to me? Only 3 have said hello back to me after I made the first move? And I’ve only met 4 in person? You think it’s an ocean full of fish, but when you get down to it, it’s more the size of a cereal bowl.
There is far less interaction on online dating than people realize. Yes, matches happen all day, every day. You “like” someone. Six hours later they “like” you back. Ninety percent of the time this is where it stops. There are no messages exchanged, no dates planned. There’s just nothing. Everyone is waiting for everyone else to make the first move, so more often than not nothing happens. So why did you like each other in the first place?
4) Role Reversal.
Yell at me as loud as you want, but I think the guy should make the first move. I will always think this. For years. For years I’ve done the emailing, the asking out, the date-setting, the place-picking, the time-setting. I’ve thrown the slowest softballs you could ever ask for. I’m over that.
So I encourage. I exude positivity and potential and I do everything in my means to let a guy know that he needn’t fear rejection. This isn’t going to hurt. But they don’t. They don’t ask you out. But they’ll still email you. They’ll still interact with you. They’ll still wait for you to do everything. Tell me how wrong I am, go for it. But in 2013 I went on no fewer than two online dates per month because I did all the work. In 2014 I went on four total. Because I stopped doing all the work. It takes patience to run these little experiments but that’s not a virtue I’m shy on.
Anyway, ladies, I hope you’re not shy and I hope you don’t mind making the first move. Because like it or not, you’ll have to.
5) Intention. And here’s the rub. Women go on online dating to date. Men go for vagina. There. I said it. Heavens me I feel better. You try slamming an ocean of women with their intentions against a fleet of men with their intentions and what the hell do you think is going to happen? NOT MUCH THAT’S WHAT.
Those that have been coupled since the online dating app boom don’t understand this. This is a mystery to them. To them, dating apps are video games. They’re fun. Or they’re funny. Because they don’t need them. They don’t rely on them to meet new people because they already met their person, long before the first line of code for Tinder was ever written.
Online dating is the modern-day TV dinner. Why slave for hours cooking every component of a full meal when you can pop a tray in the oven for minutes and be done with it? Invention! Progress! Hurrah! But eventually we saw that TV dinners weren’t good for us. They were impersonal and void of healthy effort. They were full of crap we didn’t want inside our bodies. Online dating is (somewhat literally) the same. It’s an invention that’s supposed to make meeting someone easier. But that doesn’t mean it’s good for us.
I say to thee, coupled people, we love you. You are our friends. Our colleagues. Our baristas. It’s not your fault you don’t know about this stuff. In fact we don’t want you to know. We want you to live free of it. We want you to use your phones for things like Uber and Soda Crush. Like normal people. We know you don’t get it, but you do get us, so maybe the best way to support a friend who’s online dating is to just be supportive. Be an ear, be a friend, be a bottle of wine just a little earlier than happy hour should start. We’re all craving face-to-face contact, and while online dating doesn’t quite deliver, dear friends, you certainly do.