Saturday, August 1, 2015

Rite of Passage: Online Dating Blog Post

It's not easy moving on in your thirties.

From the ages of eighteen to twenty-nine, the assessment of your situation after a breakup (once the initial shock subsides) is invariably: "fuck 'em! I'm still young, and there's plenty of other people out there!" From thirty onwards, it becomes: "fuck 'em! I'm still...and, well, there's plenty of...huh."

I'm not young enough to hook up with girls at college parties or goth clubs anymore. (Not that I ever really did, but for a while it was possible.) All of the women in whom I had an inchoate interest during my twenties now have husbands, children, and/or homesteads they guard with shotguns. When I visit bars, the only thing I can comfortably talk about is the music and how much I hate it. Basically, I have no idea how to meet people at this point in my life.

So I signed up for OkCupid. It's funny how the most reasonable solution to a problem can sometimes also be the most harebrained.

I can't say I have much confidence in the service so far. It seems facile to imagine that the likelihood of occurrence for something so mysterious and complex as personal chemistry can be determined by feeding two peoples' survey questions to a computer and checking off the similarities—especially when some of the questions are so...well, questionable. Here, I'll give you some examples.

How long ago was your profile pic taken?
  • Two years ago.
  • Five years ago.
  • Ten years ago.
  • I have no idea who that person is.

Are looks important to you?
  • Yes, incredibly important.
  • Yes, extremely important.
  • Yes, absolutely important.
  • Yes, but only the other person's.

We're gonna level with you: all two thousand "Personality" questions are designed for the purpose of fitting you into one of five boxes. Let's just save some time and give you the opportunity to choose your box for yourself.
  • Artsy person (hipster).
  • Sciencey person (standoffish).
  • Party person (WOOOO!!).
  • Professional person (unctuous yuppie).
  • I like TV (dipstick).

Which of these words best describes you?
  • Pauciloquent
  • Lissome
  • Ovoviviparous
  • Unfuckable

Are you racist?
  • Yes.
  • No, just antisemitic.
  • No.

Come on. Aren't you just a teensy bit racist? You can be honest with us.
  • I said yes.
  • Okay, yes, but only passively, and it always comes out in a socially acceptable form.
  • "No."

What will you do if somebody actually looks at your profile and sends you a message?
  • Act interested and immediately scare them away.
  • Play it cool and watch my act backfire.
  • Exchange messages for a few weeks. Observe as one more opportunity for love and happiness slowly recedes with yet another effort at conversation coming to nothing.
  • Wait, what does "ovoviviparous" mean?

Which of these is sexiest to you?
  • Cartoon animals.
  • Cloying nihilism.
  • Formaldehyde.
  • The word "moist."

Are you ready for sixty consecutive questions about S&M?
  • Yes.
  • No.
  • Only sixty?
  • On second thought, I think I'll try ChristianMingle.

You can save the lives of all fifty people on the train by redirecting it to a track where a blind and deaf person is standing. What do you do?
  • Switch the track. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.
  • Let the train go. I couldn't make the choice to kill an innocent human being.
  • Let the train go. Maybe the blind person will date me.
  • Switch the track. Maybe the train will date me.

Concupiscent is to amorous as...
  • Mountebank is to duplicitous.
  • Meretricious is to specious.
  • Lambent is to umbriferous.
  • What the hell is your problem?

Did you sign up for OkCupid just to find someone to have sex with?
  • Yes.
  • No.

I'll ask again: did you sign up for OkCupid just to find someone to have sex with?
  • Yes.
  • I said no!


  1. I am one of those walking positive stories from OKCupid as I met my partner in there. Thing about OKC is that you decide how much or little you interact (you are not forced to answer questions) but answering questions is all about revealing something about yourself that transcends the purported question. For example, (though I guess this is actually obvious to you), most of the questions you show here are actually asking "do you have a sense of humour?", "how likely are you to take the piss on yourself?" and of course "do you have an ample vocabulary?"

    Questions are mostly submitted by the users themselves so they are trying to find out stuff that relates personally to them, from very particular sexual fetishes to personal views on controversial politics. Then again, you only answer those that you feel comfortable with, and more importantly, that you believe you can answer interestingly (commenting on your answer is rather important).

    It is precisely that choice of questions that you answered what sort of paints a mental semblance of the kind of person you are, and the more questions you answer, the more vivid the picture is. Not enough to establish a psychological profile or anything, but good enough to figure whether trying to carry a conversation with that person on a first approach will end in violent screaming within minutes, or worse, in awkward silence.

    1. I had my location set to Philadelphia for a while. And then just for curiosity's sake I set it to St Thomas.

      Apparently every woman on this island is my enemy.

  2. OkCupid is great! It's just, kind of terrible for finding actual love. What it ends up being is a fantastic source of weird situations and friendships that might, accidentally, turn into love.

    The questions are the worst part. The filling out a profile is pretty bad too. Since you're a guy you really don't need to worry about those things since the amount of unsolicited questions you get is pretty negligible. Just treat messaging people as a game. Write hilarious stuff. If they respond, and if their response turns into a relationship, great! Try pretending to be a psychopath. Most people don't play OkCupid this way, though, because most people are very boring. Trying to be lovable is so uninteresting. The only people you'll meet doing that are ego-maniacs.

    Ugggghhh... I guess you ARE looking for love, though -- or at least something mathematically identical to love. So maybe this isn't helpful.

    1. Huh. Maybe I'll just send unsuspecting women Captain Ahab quotes (or maybe Benji from The Sound and the Fury) and see how they respond. If they're intrigued, the better for Pat!

      Or I could offer helpful suggestions for revisions on their profiles. That will surely win me a place in their hearts.

  3. Due to recent, unforeseen and nigh-on self-esteem destroying circumstances I can regrettably concede that I feel your pain. I set up Tinder a few weeks ago. That's how low I've sunk. I had it for a grand total of 45 minutes; but I suspect it's way worse than OkCupid because it omits questions entirely and bases your soul-mate searching preferences solely on someones face. I think society in many respects has reached peak-vacuity. In fact, my latest post showcases a book cover I designed for a girl at work... a book based on a year of her dating experiences on Tinder. The more nihilistic side of me feels it will sell well.

    I do take some solace in listening to the lectures of Alan Watts and his advocation of harmony and love of the self... but it doesn't help having read his biography and finding out that bastard got laid all the time.

    1. 1) While everyone says Tinder is a dating app, and some number of people are indeed on the service looking for dates, it's really a hookup app. Physical attractiveness is the only quality most people are looking for in a hookup.

      2) What's the difference between trying to find someone through Tinder vs trying to find someone at a bar? You have even less information about that person at the bar, at least Tinder supplies you with a profile. Tinder only feels vacuous because we are used to online dating services that provide some sort of matchmaking algorithm.

    2. I would have already tried Tinder, but I have a safety net in place to prevent me from sinking that low: I don't own a smartphone.

    3. An excellent decision. Damn me and my penchant for technology.

  4. Your thirties are not that old, and hell there are college aged women chasing people in their 30s and 40s there (though whether that's worth pursuing is another matter).

    Honest experience, the site is good for meeting cool people and collecting weird stories, as well as having short term relationships and sex. Weirdly, and somewhat counter-intuitively, I've never had any success with conventional dating. You know, messaging a couple of times, meeting for coffee, asking interviewy questions, learning you both like the same shit. It's a very forced, awkward encounter that's never worked, even if it's safe and you're learning about each other. My best experiences have been relationships that have grown out of something sexual, or just in general weird dates where the experience matters more than screening to make sure they're a perfect fit.

    I guess filtering for the perfect date is just less effective than shared experiences where you grow together, if that makes sense.

    1. And thinking about it, I believe this is because filtering to see if someone shares your same love of books, your politics, your video games, your ability to quote Confederacy of Dunces without end doesn't matter much in the end. Some of it does, values do, but not to the extent that I think people expect, and coffee dates and match questions facilitate this kind of thinking. Whereas with shared experiences, you can get a sense of how the person thinks, feel how they feel, and really get a sense of what they're about.

    2. I agree that expecting questionnaire answers compatibility to result in a warranted and successful relationship, not to mention love is silly. What they are good for, though is to help smooth that important first date and give you an idea of the ease with which conversation may be kept alive.

      Also, it sometimes allows you to filter the really crazy/creepy ones.

    3. Yeah, that's why I'm still having a hard time engaging with it, even though I've had conversations with a half-dozen people. Most of the women I've dated in the last decade have been coworkers. I've heard people warning against dating the people you work with, but what better way to get to know someone than by working alongside them for a few months?

    4. I think people in general are wary of online dating until when they have a positive experience with it... and having negative experiences with is is as common as, well, having negative experiences seeking romance in any other way.

  5. I love you. <3 <3 <3 (That's about as constructive as my comments get.)

  6. Oh, Pat. Please do not ever sink to the depths of desperation that is Tinder. I'm stifling laughter (not at your expense) but at the algorithms that OkCupid produced your results. How many questions did you answer to register yourself as a liar?