It’s like an addiction. Each morning I wake up and before I even get out of bed, I check my dating profile. My eyes adjust to the glow of my cell phone or laptop–whichever is closest. When I see that cute pink line hovering over my inbox, my heart flutters. I click on it and hold my breath. The night before I was having an incredible messaging thread with “benofleisure.” If I had been typing more excitedly there might have been, quite literally, sparks flying. Here was someone who got it, who could see right into my soul. We had so many shared interests it was remarkable. We hadn’t talked about meeting up yet, but since we had been talking for days, I was sure that this message would fulfill my hopes. It was time to meet and see if we meshed. But, my heart fails when I see that it’s only a message from a stranger that irritatingly says, “hey hi, your pretty :).”
This is a common problem. More often than not, to find a decent match users have to sift through underwhelming messages in hopes of locating one kernel of shared attraction–more than just looks.
OkCupid messages replace flirting with emoticons, horrible grammar and bad spelling. I sit and wallow remembering a time when it was easier, when I was able to meet someone in person, when there was chemistry. But since moving alone to a place thousands of miles from home, it’s a little harder. I ask the ever-present question aloud to my empty room, “Why do I do this to myself?” But I already know.
In the world of texting, tweeting and status updates, online dating is easy and becoming more mainstream. And it’s tough to meet organically anymore when you’re always in classes and studying, when grad students always travel in packs and it’s frowned upon to date my TA (or previous TA). Dorm life on campus isn’t much better for connection; everyone just retreats to their boxes of solitude. Enter: OkCupid.
But how do you describe yourself and create a charming, witty representation of your personality in less than 1,000 characters? How do you make it clear that you aren’t in this just for a wild fling? Personally, I don’t think I can handle one more person’s profile whose self-summary reads, “low maintenance, easy-going and fun single who likes to be spontaneous and looking for a little fun.” Also, apparently everyone is active and loves the outdoors. Shouldn’t they all be hiking?
We can’t all be avid hikers. Some of us have other interests–like baseball, Hemingway or whiskey. Though OkCupid is nicknamed OkHookup, the website tries to be more in-depth. Match percentages are based on personality-survey questions like, “In a certain light, would a Nuclear War be entertaining?” and “Which is bigger: the Earth or the Sun?” I once had an ex, whom I met on OkCupid, tell me (while we were breaking up, mind you) when it comes to dating websites, you get what you pay for. OkCupid is free.
After this realization, I grew tired of the run-of-the-mill profile I had before and decided to make an absolutely ridiculous one with only pictures of me eating food and drinking. It drew a lot of buzz and got some good feedback (not to mention a major boost in my confidence), but I could only stomach so many messages of, “So, I see you like to put things in your mouth.”
All in all, my standards are pretty high–partly because so many attractive, driven and incredibly smart people surround us everyday at our school. Online, people only want a hookup, don’t have a job or only like you for your tattoos (okay, that’s probably just my problem).
However, that being said, I still wade through the emails, sort through the profiles and keep trying, because I want more. I need more than a casual hook-up; I’m tired of only talking about music, movies and food. I believe that it‘s out there somewhere. Or maybe I’ll take my own advice and try talking to a grad student. Maybe.