Friday, October 9, 2015

Your Resident Single Friend: Passing notes in class would be easier

I got an email this week from the online dating site I belong to letting me know that "successful" people who have been part of the site for the same amount of time as me (14 days, 18 by the time you read this) sent and received more messages than I have in the same amount of time. I assume this information is supposed to be motivational. I want to believe that this company cares and that the person on the other end of that email was sitting in his/her cubicle thinking "This email will be awesome! It will push those shy/unsure/socially awkward guys/gals out of their comfort zone and help them find their matches and get out there in love!" And then a bluebird landed on their desk and a group of squirrels brought them coffee.

I may be a bit cynical.

I was not motivated by this email. Instead, it made me feel bad. I get it, writing a good email is hard. Intention and tone are challenging and mass emails are even worse. The message is clear: you are not trying hard enough. This email made me want to cancel by subscription and tell this company exactly where they could place that email. Signing up for online dating is stressful enough; why would they want me to feel bad about it in the process?

Back in March I decided I would apply for Date Lab and create an online dating profile. At the time, I only applie for Date Lab. I thought I'd see if I was one of those Date Lab people who immediately got set up with someone or if I would be one who would get matched five years later. I'm guessing five years later is my fate. Anyway, since I had done "the work" of applying for Date Lab I basically had the answers to my profile ready but I didn't move forward with part two of this plan until fourteen-ish days ago when I decided to throw caution to the dating wind and get online.

For someone like me, an introvert with a lot of very specific likes and dislikes who has not had great luck in the dating world, creating an online dating profile is like that dream where you show up at an important presentation completely naked or only speak gibberish - terrifying and ridiculous. It's outside of my comfort zone.Yes, I can talk to a group of employees or museum visitors about my personal life or whatever we're discussing. I have a shared experience with those groups so the interaction is different. Online dating is all about putting yourself out there and creating an image of yourself that is truthful while still be exciting and captivating. You have to stand out and sparkle in some way. Introverts are not great at sparkling. I don't want to lie in my profile (a helpful article in The Washington Post this past weekend assures me that lying on profiles is a myth). While I don't have to use my name in my screen name or even share incredibly identifiable information (although some people do), it's still about talking about myself in a self-promotional way that I'm not very good at. I just want to be myself as this post on Quiet Revolution suggests. My friend Jordana offered a "recommendation" of sorts to add if I wanted to; she described me as "Wes Anderson witty" and as "an organized dreamer." I may or may not have used one of those phrases in my profile. Mostly I want to come across as fun, quirky, smart, and date-able.

I believe I've accomplished that to some extent. In my first day on the site, I received three photo likes (I'm guessing it was because of the dinosaurs in the background), a profile like, and an email from someone who's screen name left something to be desired. Seriously, using "yolo" in any identifying way is a bad life choice. I couldn't take him seriously so it was a delete on my end. I've done my daily check in of reading matched profiles and liking guys I found funny or interesting. And that's about it. I have not emailed, winked, or done any of the other things that feel suspiciously like a more expensive form of passing notes in middle school. And the site agrees; I'm not working to my full dating site potential. I'm not being "successful" and outgoing like those other members. I guess the fear of being rejected is strong even in a somewhat anonymous online world. Sad but true.

Of course I have not given up. The process is far too entertaining to give up and I am hopeful that it will at least lead to meeting a gentleman or two. Nicknames have been fun: "yolo" guy, Spaniel guy (he emailed me about walking his dog in the rain), decoupage guy (I told Jordana I would email him because his profile made me laugh for the right reasons rather than say, the terrible grammar or wildly inappropriate screen name), and possibly has a secret family guy (all of his photos feature a different woman with no explanation as to her identity - I assume it means he has a secret family). I was also matched with someone who I know...kind of. I don't know him well and I'm fairly certain he wouldn't recognize me out of context (we're work acquaintances). I feel like this can only get better; eventually the job search-like quality of the search will become actual communication.

What I'm most comforted by is the support I've received from my friends. There is a group at work who I refer to as "The Ladies Committee." If given access and permission I'm certain they would do all the rating, liking, and winking for me but I have not allowed that. Yet. I hope they'll help me agonize over an email when a potential date arises (because that's what girls do) and keep me from going on painful dates (or at least only a few of them). Two of my friends would like to be present on dates just in case or to be able to interview them. There was some discussion around communications equipment like ear pieces; a bit much but the sentiment is appreciated. One of my guy friends even told me that he would never do this and admired that I had but myself out there despite the awkwardness and potential for disappointment.

As I said back in March, the key to being successful (or at least trying this whole thing) is being comfortable with yourself. I know I'm awesome (just telling the truth). There is someone out there equally awesome who will appreciate my awesomeness.

And dinosaurs. He'll have to appreciate dinosaurs.

The photo that got the likes.

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