By Kathryn Martini
I’ve been in a committed relationship with one person or another for most of my adult life, and when I allow for breakups and recovery from breakups, I realize I haven’t had a lot of dating experience. Currently I am two-years post divorce from my ex-wife and one-year post breakup with my ex-boyfriend. For the first time, really ever, I am taking the time to dip my toe in the dating pool and wade through the selection of single people congregating on the multitude of online spaces.
As a nearly middle-aged bisexual woman open to dating both men and women, my options should be vast—after all, not eliminating half of the population would seem to lend itself nicely to a plethora of potential sweethearts.
I downloaded Tinder on my iPhone, and then got to work on my OKCupid profile. It was, of course, way too wordy and has since been edited several hundred times. The Tinder profile was easier—short and sweet with the best photos I could find on Facebook, which wasn’t a small task considering my serious lack of selfies. As I sat at the nail salon having a pedicure with my friend Crystal, I swiped and swiped and swiped—nearly always left, until Crystal grabbed my phone from me and started swiping for me. Luckily the “un-match” button is available; otherwise she’d have had me married to some dude named Tim who was 6’5” whose hobbies included hula-hooping and Burning Man.
My first Tinder date was a resounding success, until a week later when he informed me that his ex-girlfriend was moving to Portland and they were moving in together. My second Tinder date, also positive, was even followed by a second date. The first red flag flew: I asked him what he was looking for relationship-wise and he replied, “Expectations lead to disappointment.” The second warning sign: He began sending messages asking me to stop by on my way home from work “for some fun” or inquiring if I had plans on Friday night, at 4:30 on Friday afternoon. Then after a few, “Hey sexy u want 2 meet 2night?” messages, I decided Tinder was much more of a social experiment and entertainment app than a tool for finding true love.
After a deluge of messages on OKCupid that streamed in shortly after activating my profile, I began to grasp the dynamics of online dating. One of my first observations was that there are a lot of men out there who obviously don’t understand that we are a modern society and live in a metropolitan area. Women don’t rely on men to bring home dead animals to eat—we have grocery stores and Costco; the fact that one out of three profile pictures show men holding up various sizes of dead fish baffles me.
I realized that having drawn-out virtual conversations is not a good idea. If you are interested in someone, plan a coffee or happy hour date. Make sure you have plans immediately after so you have a reason to bail; you will know almost at once whether or not you want to see the person again. When you spend too much time messaging and chatting, the context gets skewed. You may start to really like the person over text message and then meet for the first time only to realize that his photos were heavily Photoshopped and in reality he is six inches shorter than his profile states, with pointy ears and a tooth-gap. For some people this may be acceptable—I am shallow enough to admit that for me, it is not.
Aside from putting together a coffee-table book of Dead Fish Pictures, I thought I would include a primer for those who may be considering making an online dating profile, a “Dos and Don’ts,” if you will. Some advice: 1. Putting pictures of your children on your dating profile is weird, creepy even. No one wants to date your children and if you think it makes people think you’re stable, you’re wrong. 2. Car selfies and shirtless mirror pics, just don’t. 3. The photos of your truck or motorcycle are equally a turnoff. 4. Ladies, stop with the cat photos, seriously. 5. Grammar: It’s important, and 6. If you send someone a message and that person checks out your profile but doesn’t respond, take the hint that he or she is probably not interested—otherwise a return message would have been sent.
I’m not sure where my future online dating adventure will take me, but I can be certain it will continue to, at the very least, give me plenty of fodder for stories.
Kathryn Martini is a writer in Portland, Ore., where she doesn’t fish, hunt or own a motorcycle.