March. March is the month of dating. So I told myself in January and February anyway. But now that March is here, the prospect seems daunting. Does one go to bars and stand around looking available? Does one respond to cat callers on the street? Does one ask out a co-worker and hope it doesn’t end badly? None of the above appeal to me in the least. So, being a single twenty-something lady, I find myself faced with the temptation and terror of the online dating world once again.
A few years ago, I experimented with OkCupid because it was free, and well, investing actual money in online dating seemed like a poor choice before I knew what it was all about. So I joined the site, uploaded three decent pictures of myself, crafted a sweet profile, and went about the business of answering some of the hundreds of questions that help the site determine compatibility with possible matches. And just like that, messages filled my inbox. 10-15 a day! Imagine the thrill!
But look, I’m an academic. My first impulse is always to look for the catch. This impulse of course, is not common to all academics. Consider the case of The Professor, The Bikini Model, and The Suitcase Full of Trouble. This is the love story of a lonely but brilliant physics professor at UNC Chapel Hill and his fake girlfriend who gets him jailed in Argentina for four years on drug trafficking charges. And there’s always Manti Teo’s fake dead girlfriend which you can’t have missed. You may have missed this autotune masterpiece though. You’re welcome.
Anyway. Some pitfalls for online dating based upon my personal experience.
1) You love information and you think information gives you power.
OkCupid provides tons of information if you are willing to spend enough time looking. You get sucked in, and often you find something seriously creepy, or just downright sexist (nice guys of okcupid). Then your faith in humanity plummets.
2) You can fill in all the gaps.
This guy and I have sent each other messages back and forth. I know he likes Battlestar Gallactica and Iron & Wine. I know he has a college degree. Now’s where the fun begins. I start imagining us watching BSG as our future baby lies asleep peacefully in the other room. I assume we share values and sleeping habits, beliefs about friends and work, hobbies and food preferences. But I don’t actually know. I have just invented a person who does not exist. Talk about unrealistic expectations.
3) People on the internet lie more than people not on the internet
It is true that trust is a fundamental part of any relationship. But the internet just makes it so easy to stretch the truth. Maybe you post pictures that are a few years old. Maybe you exaggerate about your salary but just a few thousand dollars. OR MAYBE YOU FORGET TO MENTION YOU HAVE A WIFE.