Expectations Vs. Reality: Online Dating
Scenario: Receiving messages
Expectation: I’m barely going to receive any messages. I mean, it’s not like I’m getting proposed to in grocery store checkout lines and being randomly upgraded to first class just because I’m beautiful. Full inboxes are for the kind of people who are always fighting the suitors away in real life. I know that I’m not a monster or anything, but I know where I stand with things. Maybe the occasional note from a cool guy in my city who likes the same movies I do, but that’s about it.
Reality: So I do get a ton of messages, but 90 percent of them are horrifying! Basically, after I sift through the piles of incoherent requests for sex that seem to be spammed to anyone in the tri-state area with a vagina between the ages of 18 and freshly dead, there is not a lot to choose from. There are the guys who are wearing fedoras in their profile pictures and clearly cruise the MRA section of Reddit from time to time and vaguely insult me in their opening lines, there are the guys who manage to make a passing reference to my breasts in an otherwise complementary mail, there are the guys who seem to not quite understand whose profile they just looked at — and then there are the normals. If I only count the normals, though, my original estimate of “not a lot of messages” is rather accurate.
Scenario: Arranging dates
Expectation: It’ll be totally low-pressure to go from messaging to proposing a date — I mean, we’re both behind computer screens, we’ve already gotten to know a lot about each other, and talking things out is something we can do at our own pace. Asking the other person out is going to be easy as cake!
Reality: Oh, shit, I really like this guy and actually want to ask him out but we’ve been, like, cyber-flirting for about four days now and he hasn’t offered to buy me a coffee so basically he hates me and is only using me for my cyber-body and I should just keep going on with this adorable “I could care less, I am so inundated with requests for my time that I can’t even keep track of who is asking me out anymore” schtick going indefinitely. But maybe he just really respects me to the point that he doesn’t want to back me into a corner with a proposed date and is waiting for me to make the first move and I’m basically turning him away and I guess we’re not going to get married after all and I’ll just throw these monogrammed towelies with our initials on them that I got at Pier 1 because life is no longer worth living.
Scenario: Meeting in person for the first time
Expectation: Please don’t look too different from your pictures. Please don’t look too different from your pictures. Please don’t look too different from your pictures. Please don’t look too different from your pictures. Please don’t look too different from your pictures. Please don’t look too different from your pictures.
Reality: So you basically do look the same, but what I actually should have been worried about is our chemistry when we’re both safely behind our laptops transforming into real-life spark when we’re in front of each other and have at least an hour and a half of dinner to sit through. So basically when we actually meet, it’s either going to be really awesome and we’re going to have a near-endless amount of things to talk about because the matching criteria were shockingly accurate, or we’re going to stare blankly at one another while we mush our food around our plate as we remember that even though we’ve been “talking” for a week, we’re still basically strangers and having hot pictures and similar taste in movies does not mean we’re going to be overcome with passion when we actually meet up.
Expectation: Who cares, dude? We only really know each other in a completely isolated context, and even though we went out a few times, you didn’t have a chance to integrate yourself into my life to the point that it would be difficult to remove you from it. After all, my friends haven’t even met you, so there won’t be the awkward line of questioning or having to be reminded of you everywhere I go or see you again at house parties. It’ll be fine.
Reality: I LOVED YOU. Look at this chain of messages we exchanged, we basically conceived a child between us on this email thread, and you’re going to sit here and tell me that you’re not interested in furthering it just because you “didn’t really feel that we were right for each other” after going out with me twice?!? How could you know that after only two dates?!?! You haven’t even met my AWESOME FUCKING FRIENDS. Someone else sent you a wink, didn’t they? It was probably that girl with those professional-looking profile pictures (Who puts headshots on a dating site?? Sociopath.) and like a 98 percent match. Fine, enjoy your new life with her, I have your profile to stalk/obsess over for the indefinite future, so I’m good. I don’t need you, just every bit of information about you I can cull off the internet. Enjoy your life, asshole.
Scenario: Telling people where you met
Expectation: We’ll just lie about it and say that we met at the location of our first date, it’ll be way more romantic and people won’t judge us about it!
Reality: Okay, after a certain point, saying that you just randomly met someone while standing in line at a Starbucks is kind of a stretch — especially when pretty much everyone and their mother is on OKCupid trying to come up with a meet cute story. Fuck it, we’ll just tell them we met on the internet like the bridge troll recluses we are.
A | A | A
It started with a right swipe, a little green heart. Tinder of course.
Though I acknowledge and appreciate the differences in human experiences, and while your heartbreak is (and always will be) uniquely and completely your own, I must urge you to consider that I have been where you are.
With his hat cocked back, body tilted away from his cane, and right forefinger pointing directly at his audience, Joseph Ducreux commands the attention of those viewing his self-portrait.
I was born in 1990; he was born in 1973. I’m 23; he just turned 40.