Saturday, November 23, 2013

Some thoughts on dating apps

Disclaimer: every photo and conversation in this post was screenshotted or quoted from my Tinder account. Although these are not my photos, they were posted on an online dating app, thus becoming public information. I did not Google “bad dating profiles.” These are all real men that I was paired with. Just want to cover my bases.

I never thought I would ever try online dating. Not because there is anything wrong with trollin’ for cuties on the web, but because the process of online dating does not jive with my love language. Have you ever taken the 5 Love Languages quiz? If not, you can do it here. Well mine are Quality Time and Words of Affirmation. I also enjoy a little Physical Touch. Because I value Quality Time and face-to-face interactions, I struggle with the thought of meeting people generically online. It feels awkward and forced when I strive for genuine, organic connections. I say this to in NO WAY insult those of you online dating. I know it works for some people, and I have heard dozens of success stories just like everybody else. But up until recently, I thought I was not one of the people who would have an online success story (and I don’t. Keep reading.)

But after two of my girlfriends who are a few years older (hi Rach!) joined Tinder last month, I figured I’d try it. Plus, it’s free. And I’m poor and don’t prioritize my dating life (which has been pointed out to me by some very tactful gentleman that I met on Tinder).

After a few weeks on the app (and deleting it a few times), I have compiled the following list of tips from my personal experience on Tinder.

1.    Learn how to spot creepers
This is perhaps the most obvious and the most crucial piece of advice I can offer. Some men are pretty blatant with their intentions.

No thanks.

Are you kidding?

Others are a little more subtle. The creepiness comes out in messaging, not in their pictures. I can’t post a picture of the most creepy conversation starter I’ve gotten because I deleted the app for the first time almost immediately after this encounter:

Him (midnight on a Wednesday. I was obviously asleep): “wut u up 2?”

Me: (no response, am sleeping)

Him: (12:30 am on Thursday morning): “u seem like the type of gurl who likes 2 get naked n start a revolution lol”

Me: (no response, am sleeping)

Him: (2:00 am on Thursday morning) “u there?”

Me: (no response, deletes app)

Others will lure you into conversation only to attempt to weed out information about you in a creepy manner by asking questions like “where r u?” or “where u work?” Something as simple as asking what I’m up to that night can turn creepy when asked repeatedly.

Him: What are you up to tonight?

Me: Meeting some girlfriends for happy hour, how about you?

Him: Where are you going?

Me: Not sure yet. Do you have anything fun going on tonight?

Him: What are you doing later? Where are you and your friends going?

Me: (blocks creeper)

You’ll quickly learn how to spot these gentlemen, and in a perfect world, the creepers will have creepy pictures that will skeev you out and not waste any of your time messaging. But if you have the unfortunate experience of talking to one such creeper, learn to block. Did you hear that? Don’t be afraid to block. Who cares if they take it personally, you will literally never meet them. Are you hearing me? BLOCK when in doubt.

My friend, Rachael, came across this gem.

2.    You better like texting/messaging (and I don’t)

This is my biggest problem with the online dating world. I hate texting. I really do. I was in a long-distance relationship for all four years of college, and that meant I was constantly texting with my partner, making me less present with those I was with. I cringe when I think back to this aspect of my college days because I know I was probably mentally absent for important conversations and events because I was busy glued to my phone texting my boyfriend. I was probably THAT girl that everybody hates. Never again.

I refuse to have conversations over texting, and if I think the matter at hand requires more than a few quick texts to make plans, I will call.
Not that texting is bad. I love a good secret picture of a random stranger doing something weird. Or a tidbit about my best friend falling down a flight of stairs in front of the boy she likes. But I can’t handle having the get-to-know-you conversation over texting, and that’s basically what online dating is.

You message back and forth online to determine if it’s worth exchanging phone numbers. Hopefully, you have such titillating message conversations that one of you asks to take things offline and into the real world (texting on your phone, rather than messaging within the app on your phone). You then proceed to text back and forth “getting to know each other” until hopefully, the texting is so thrilling that you decide to meet in real life. This, my friends, is called a date. And then you’re on your own, no screens, no buffers, just two people meeting in a restaurant/bar/coffee shop to share a beverage or meal.

Sometimes it is just that simply. Other times it is not. I’m about to share a personal, mortifying story that happened to me this last Wednesday. I believe this highlights how my lack of messaging (or terrible taste in men) led me to get blown off.

Apparently, since I hadn’t messaged him since Sunday night (our date was on Wednesday and it’s not like he messaged me during that time, either), he assumed I wasn’t interested in meeting with him and/or forgot me. I’m sorry, but I have a life, buddy, and I’m not going to spend day and night messaging with you about nothing until we meet in person (and what if we have nothing to talk about since we messaged about it already?!)

In his follow-up message to me the next evening (also known as 24 hours after he forgot about our date), he used the incorrect form of "your" and if I wasn't mad that he forgot about our date, I am now. Which brings me to my next point...

3.    Don’t trust anyone who uses too many online abbreviations and doesn’t use correct grammar

I’m sorry, but you are (hopefully) an educated man who is fully capable of using complete sentences and words, with correct grammar. It is a HUGE turnoff for me when guys use abbreviations like “u” and “2” and “ur” and “c” in the place of “you,” “to,” “your”/”you’re,” and “see.” Nobody is simply so rushed that they can’t use complete words. Online speak is for parents and grandparents who think that how us “kids” talk online. Messaging like this makes me think that you are lazy, and I’m not interested in someone so lazy that they send me messages asking get-to-know-you questions in under ten letters.

Maybe I’m a crazy person, but I am a huge stickler for grammar and can’t handle people who don’t know the difference between “your” and “you’re” (Ross Gellar…anyone?), “too,” “to,” and “two” and “their,” “there,” and “they’re.” It’s just really not that hard to understand the difference. It’s just not. If you can’t figure that out, I won’t last more than a few messages with you.

4.    Pay to online date. It determines the seriousness of the people you meet on there.

This is crucial, based on my experience. I downloaded Tinder because it was free, and at that point, I didn’t think I had anything to lose besides my time (and according to some, my eggs). Plus, I figured it would be a good way to test out the online dating scene and see if I like it without having to pay money or sign up for anything. Between me and my two far more attractive friends, we have had ZERO success meeting great people. Sure, we’ve met some nice guys, but none of us have gone on second dates with people from Tinder. What I’ve concluded is this: by paying to online date (and ensuring that he has paid too), you increase the datability of your prospective dates. Sure there are some great guys who do Tinder (send ‘em my way!) and some douchebags who pay to online date, but I think that generally, if you pay some moola, it suggests that you are more serious and committed to finding someone awesome.

And to put it bluntly (sorry Dad), lots of the guys on Tinder are looking for sex and sex alone. They want to be fuck buddies with a girl who is DTF.

And seeing as how I am not, I was largely unimpressed with the quality of guys on Tinder.

5.   Be cautious of guys with babies/dogs in their profile pictures. They know how to lure girls in. I love babies. And I love a man who loves babies.

I also know that many guys have figured out that girls like guys who like babies/dogs. Although some guys are probably pretty genuine with it, I know (from experience, unfortunately), that some guys will choose pictures they know girls will swoon for simply to make them swoon. Certainly, this is usually harmless and charming (“I want girls to know I love my niece”) but it also feels pretty fake when you ask who the adorable baby in his profile picture was and he responds, “Oh, I don’t know, some baby at a family wedding.” Or you ask what his dog’s name is and he responds that he doesn’t have a dog; the dog in his profile picture is his uncle’s and he can’t remember its name. It has come to my attention through my time on Tinder that guys will deliberately choose a picture of themselves with a tiny person or cute animal that will lead women to believe that they are caring, sensitive, or a family person simply to catch their attention. 

Also, there are some guy who post pictures with their rats kissing them on the cheek. Ew.

It’s been a fun experiment, but like all good tests, I think I’ve failed enough times and need to throw in the towel. I hope these tips are helpful, and if it saves just one woman from wasting time on a guy who is only DTF, it will be worth sharing my humiliation on the internet.