Adventures in Online Dating: An Introduction

Though I, like all good Millenials, know that I am a special snowflake, I have not allowed this obvious truth to delude me into believing that I excel at all things. I know where my talents lie–writing, editing, passive aggression–but I also know areas in which I have little to no talent: organized team sports, basic (and not-so-basic) math, putting together fashionable outfits.

But if there is any area of life in which I have shocking lack of talent, it is getting dates.

To make things simple (see: lack of math talent), let’s assume I have encountered 1000 boys/men I would consider, in the most inclusive sense, dateable (i.e., single and interested in women) during my dating years (which we will say started in sixth grade). That was September of 2001, meaning I am 13.5 “dating years” old at this point.

I dare you to guess how many people I encountered in real life in those 13.5 years asked me out on a date.

(No cheating. Keep your eyes on your own papers.)

Ready?

One.

ONE. One person–one. person.–in thirteen and a half Godforsaken years met me in a normal, not-meant-to-find-romantic-partners setting, saw me, and thought, “Yes, I would like to take that girl out on a date, and I shall ask her accordingly.”

That is not an impressive batting percentage, team. I really think 1000 is probably an underestimate of the number of potential guys I could have dated–again, operating just under the “must be single and interested in women” premise–but even if 1000 is accurate, that one person represents .1% of the population. POINT one percent. Woof.

I have spent approximately 13.5 years analyzing this situation (is it my face? My hair color? My body? My personality? My interests? Do I just the crappiest luck out of literally everyone, ever, in the history of humanity? Am I not actually a special snowflake?! 😦 ), but no one likes self-deprecating navel gazing in Blogland or elsewhere, and in my experience (of which I have plenty), engaging in self-deprecating navel gazing has yet to lead to anyone beating down my door, professing their hidden love for me, never mind, you know, a date.

But you know what has led to dates? The Internet.

Oh, the Internet! My best friend! See, the nice thing about the Internet is that it lets me get through my awkward stage without having other people around to witness said awkward stage. For as long as I can remember, I have always taken a very long time to get comfortable in a new setting. It usually takes a few go-arounds for me to get my bearings, and then–only then–do I feel confident enough to contribute to the conversation. In real life, this makes things weird for everyone, because you know what’s super uncomfortable? Having this new girl sit in the corner by herself and not say one word. It’s awkward for the people there and it’s awkward for the new girl (that would be me). But the nice thing about being online is that I (or anyone else like me) can get through that let-me-lurk-around-and-get-my-bearings stage without everyone else having to witness it. ALSO, the Internet lets me write, which is just fab. Writing I can do, no problem. Talking? Not so much, unless I’m really comfortable (or tipsy 😛 That’s not exactly a normal state of being for me, however.).

I’ve been online dating, in one capacity or another, since November 2012, and while initially this was insanely embarrassing, I have definitely gotten over it by this point. Here’s the thing: despite the fact that I am an Independent Woman who can take care of herself and doesn’t need a man, that certainly doesn’t change the fact that I want a man. I want a boyfriend who will turn into a husband who will turn into the father of my future kids, and I’m not ashamed to acknowledge that, nor do I think I lose any feminist points for acknowledging it.

My life circumstances, however, are not exactly ideal for meeting just a dateable boy, period, never mind any a boy who could progress through those various levels of Bethany’s ideals. There are exactly two single men in my office, neither of which I have any interest in even seeing outside of the office, never mind dating. They function well as work buddies, and that’s exactly where I’d like to keep our relationship forever. Though I’m straight, I found a church I very much like in a predominantly gay area of Chicago, which means that the VAST majority of boys at church are themselves in the market for a boyfriend, if they don’t already have a boyfriend. I literally know of one non-married straight guy in our entire congregation, and though I know he’s straight, I don’t know if he’s single or if he even has any interest in dating ANYONE, never mind me specifically. My hip hop class is almost all girls (and one gay guy, who obviously is not future boyfriend material for me), and while there are guys in my breakdance classes, it strikes me as incredibly unlikely that any of them have any interest in asking me out, since, you know, I’ve known all of them for anywhere between eight months and two and a half years, and not one has in ANY way expressed ANY sort of romantic interest whatsoever. There are four guys in my running group, all of which are married. When I’m not doing one of those above things (working, churching, dancing, or running), I am generally 1) commuting 2) sleeping or 3) reveling in the few hours of my week where I can be at home and just chill. Not exactly conducive to finding a boyfriend in real life, even if I DID have a better track record in that department.

So I took to the Internet, as one does. Whether or not I’ve been successful at online dating I suppose depends on your definition of success. If you define “success” as going out on dates, overall I have been wildly successful. Since starting, I’ve gone out on real life, meet-in-person dates with 15 different guys, which, assuming all things are similar, is 14 more than I would’ve gone out with had I stuck to my previous method of “continue existing and hope for the best.” If you define “success” as “ever speaking to any of these people ever again,” I have been…far less successful. Haha. I *almost* went out on a second date with one guy, went out on two real dates and one fake date with another guy (more on that later), and too many dates to count with a third guy, that third guy being the infamous now-ex-boyfriend who launched a thousand (or, you know, three) angsty blog posts. But again, that’s more than I ever got out of real life.

As the responsible blogger I am, I know it is my duty to publish my obviously-not-biased-or-tainted-by-my-own-personal-experience review of everything I do, as that was part of the contract I signed (and, as we all know, I’m all about following Good Blogger Rules, like utilizing a 1:10 picture:word ratio in every post, keeping any and all personal problems off my blog, and never rambling. Oh wait…). To that end, I’m launching a brand new series so I have something to write when I don’t run races or have anything to say about my weekend: Adventures in Online Dating. It will last…all of three posts, so don’t get too excited 😛 (Or do?!). Originally I planned to start it with this post, but then this introduction turned into a 1300 word missive, so here we are. Haha. But get SO STOKED. There are inspired metaphors, witty commentary, and general lamentation coming soon to a computer near you!

adventuresinonlinedatingraphic

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13 thoughts on “Adventures in Online Dating: An Introduction

  1. Love it!!! I’m currently only using hinge, and only swipe, I don’t send messages, so after having it for 3 weeks I’ve gone on zero dates. But I’m pretty okay with that, my schedule is very similar to yours, in that the men I do see, that are single, if they haven’t asked me out yet, there’s probably a reason why. And whatever, they’ll find the special snowflake they’re looking for, and I’ll find the snowflake that’s meant for me. But I LOVE reading about other people’s online dating.

    • Well, I’m happy to accommodate 🙂 It took me a long time to have any desire to send messages rather than waiting for guys to send me messages. Sometimes it works, most of the time it doesn’t (sending messages, I mean). I guess I kind of figure if he’s not interested after reading something I had to write, he’s probably not worth my time anyway. (Defense mechanisms like that work great in online dating haha).

  2. I feel like we have such similar personalities it’s almost scary. Every time you write one of these posts about you, I’m like “wow, I could have written that myself.” YES to it taking a long time for you to feel comfortable in various settings resulting in you sitting and not saying anything. It’s really hard. YES to literally only being asked out by a very small percentage of people despite having interacted with 1000+ guys in my “dating years.” Right now, I might be in a relationship, but I still consider that sheer luck and it’s only because of November Project. Self-deprecation is my specialty. So yes, you’re definitely not alone. I have tons of friends who have taken up online dating after having no luck in “the real world.” For some of them, it has been wildly successful. I don’t know if I would feel comfortable with it (which is crazy given that I meet lots of random strangers online via blogging) but it has become so much more mainstream in recent years and if something doesn’t work out with my current relationship, I might consider giving it a shot.

    • I love this 🙂 It’s so nice to find that there are people who get you, you know? I think for me, I’ve spent SO MUCH for my formative years online in one capacity or another (I used to be really active on forums, and then I was really active in Facebook groups, and then I fell into blogging), so for me, online dating is kind of just a natural next step, though with a WAY different kind of pressure. No one goes into blogging with the expectation of meeting someone, where you obviously go into online dating with that kind of expectation. But once I got used to it, it stopped being a weird thing for me at all – kind of like having friends all around the country who read my blog stopped being a weird thing!

  3. You’re too great. I loved every word of this and I’m so glad you’re giving this topic the time and attention it deserves (not jamming it all into one post — that’s probably what I would have done haha). I can’t wait to read more about your experiences and learn from you. Online dating in any form terrifies me!

    • Oh gosh, if I had tried to put all of this into one post, I legit probably would’ve written at least 8000 words. Ain’t NO ONE got time for that (or a desire to read all that!). Hopefully I’ll show you that online dating doesn’t have to be a scary thing at all 🙂

  4. Love this! Always resented online dating for a while because I preferred guys to just be bold and come up to me in person and I try to be open minded about meeting people out in public. But the appeal is definitely there; I just wish it was easier to scan it out for people looking for genuine serious relationships and not just for hookup convenience.

    • Believe it or not, I’ve found if you’re pretty clear about what you’re looking for, you can usually avoid the hookup-seeking crowd. At least that’s been my experience. I would DEFINITELY rather meet someone in real life, but since that’s (clearly) been quite the challenge for me, I figure this is a good option in the mean time 🙂

  5. Late commenter here – loved reading this!! I feel like I’m in that transitory phase when it comes to online dating – I WANT to try it (and have once successfully) but something is still holding me back because maybe I’m still subconsciously old-fashioned or something? Who knows. I’m so happy to hear your success stories though! It’s super encouraging to read and I absolutely CANNOT wait to read all about your adventures!! I adore reading/hearing about these things 🙂

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