Online dating, beta-style

Finding a soulmate is perhaps the most sacred and momentous of human pursuits. That’s why we invented computer algorithms to match us based on arbitrary criteria.

Finding a soulmate is perhaps the most sacred and momentous of human pursuits. It’s an undertaking that requires dedication, persistence and an undying desire to meet the “right one.” Or, you can just use a dating-site algorithm and save a lot of time.

A female coworker told me she’d recently joined a dating site.

“How’s it going?” I asked.

“Not good,” she said. “I think I’m going to delete my profile. I’ve only been on one date so far, and it was horrible. He didn’t ask any questions or try to get to know me. All he did was stare at my chest all evening. His mouth was hanging open like a disgusting caveman.”

“Maybe he was impressed by your sense of style,” I suggested. “Some guys appreciate fashion. Especially when involves cleavage.”

My coworker glared. “The worst part, though, is that I keep getting e-mails from creepy guys asking to see pictures of my breasts. They’re not even interested in me. They’re only interested in my body.”

To which I responded, “Hey, what’s the problem? You should be grateful they’re interested at all.”

To which my coworker responded by throwing a stapler at my head. So I was left not only with a splitting headache, but also an opportunity to re-examine my chauvinistic tendencies.

But I had to sympathize, because I’d had a similar experience on a dating site several years before. Only nobody had asked to see pictures of my body parts. (Which was a good thing, because I didn’t know how to zoom on my iPhone.)

When signing up, the site asked me to answer a series of personal questions so it could pair me with compatible women. I answered as honestly as I could, going so far as to admit I was a smoker and that I didn’t like to exercise. (I’ve long since given up smoking, and I even bought an elliptical … although I haven’t yet assembled or actually used it. But one out of two ain’t bad.)

I then set my search parameters to 17 zip codes, so the system would generate a high number of matches.

The system returned zero matches.

So much for honesty. I turned to Plan B and did what all women-seeking men do:

Lie.

Did I smoke? Nope. Only when I was on fire.

How often did I exercise? Eight days a week, day and night. Why, at the moment, I was lifting a weight with my left hand while typing with my right. That’s how dedicated I was to fitness.

What was my life’s goal? I admit, I had never thought about this one before, so I resorted to the old cliche of “I hope to leave the world a better place.” (Which I’m sure I will, because I’ll be dead. And then the world truly will be a better place. So I wasn’t lying on that one.)

I redefined my search, and the system returned page after page of potential matches. I started scrolling through them, overwhelmed by all the beautiful women.

The questions started circling through my mind in an endless, nerve-wracking loop: Would one of these women become my future wife? Was Applebee’s a decent enough restaurant to take a first date? Would a woman mind paying for our evenings out until I found a job? Should I ask her if I could move in right away, so I could get out of my parents’ basement?

As I sat there fretting, my e-mail started blowing up. Message after message poured in.

Oh my god! I thought, my stomach knotting in fervid excitement. Here they come, feminine swarms descending upon the handsome bachelor. (With chiseled muscles and a sizable package — two touches I added to enliven my profile. Minor embellishments, though, I assure you.)

I opened the first e-mail. “Jessica wants to close communication with you,” it read.

My heart sank. “Closing communication” meant that the woman wanted to remove me from her list of matches. Once communication was closed, we would never be able to see each other’s profiles again. It was the online equivalent of “I have a boyfriend” or “Get away from me before I pepper spray you in the face, you freak.”

I clicked through the rest of the emails one by one.

“Madeline wants to close communication with you.” “Rachel wants to close communication with you.” “Debra wants to close communication with you.” “Lilian wants to close communication with you.” “Sandra wants to close communication with you.” “Charlotte wants to close communication with you.” “Every Female Human Being on the Face of the Planet wants to close communication with you.”

“No!” I screamed, pounding on the keyboard, as the profiles disappeared one by one from my list of matches, like heavenly stars fading in the early-morning light. “Please God, no!”

What had I done wrong? Had any of these women even looked at my profile before blindly dismissing me as a potential suitor?

But then it hit me: they weren’t reading my profile. They were merely looking at my profile photo.

And that right there was enough to turn anybody off. I mean, c’mon — it’s my face. People usually throw up a little bit in their mouth when they first see me.

I knew I should have left the placeholder blank.

Finally, I got to the last e-mail. My heart already crushed, I opened it, expecting the worst.

“Molly wants to communicate with you.”

What? I wiped the tears from my eyes. What was this? Could it be? A woman actually wanted to communicate? With me?

As in, like … exchanging dialogue back and forth?

I shuddered. Was I even capable of undertaking such an onerous endeavor?

I sat there for a moment in utter disbelief. It was surreal. This situation had never happened to me before. I was more accustomed to getting pepper-sprayed in the face and calling it a night.

Finally, I regained my senses and messaged her. “Hi Molly. Thank you for communicating. How are you?”

She messaged back. “Good! How are you?”

I struggled to come up with a witty reply that would show off both my sharp intellect and my rugged masculinity: “Fine! What are you up to?” (Clearly, I couldn’t quite pull it off.)

She messaged back. “I saw your profile, and I thought we might be a good match. I wanted to get to know you better.”

“Perfect!” I wrote to her. “I’d like to get to know you better, too. And on that note, could you please send me a picture of your breasts? You know, as sort of an ice-breaker?”

A moment passed. And then I got another message:

“Molly wants to close communication with you.”

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5 thoughts on “Online dating, beta-style

    1. Allen Post author

      Hey, that’s a clever idea … and it also demonstrates that online dating can be a fowl experience for some.

      Luckily, as a guy, I’ve never been asked to provide photos of body parts … although I have been asked invasive questions like “What’s your favorite movie?” and “Do you enjoy outdoor activities?” When someone pries into your personal space like that, it’s a good time to close communication.

      Sigh. I wish I could figure out why online dating is so hard for me.

      Like

    1. Allen Post author

      Ha! Thanks, Paul. I think I’ve gotten that same reaction from the few women who’ve looked at my dating profile. 🙂

      Like

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