The Online Boyfriend Store

Jul 24, 2013 by

          Until this past Saturday, I had made little time for online dating. Since creating my Match and OKCupid profiles just over two weeks prior, I had spent no more than a collective total of three hours on these sites. To explain, not only do I write The Happiness Experiment, I live it. I’m usually out after work and on weekends and writing late at night, leaving online dating sad and alone at the sidelines of my life. However, knowing that dating is one of my priorities, I decided to specifically set aside time for it. I had already secured a coffee date through Match without exerting much effort, so it seemed worth my attention.

          Thus, I spent Saturday morning and afternoon going through the profile thumbnails of every guy within my preferred age range (24 – 28) on Match that lives within 50 miles of me. There were exactly 2000. Aware of my own pickiness, I selected a realistic number with the intent of sending messages to that many guys. I felt that a defined goal would force me to dig deeper than the pictures and prevent me from disregarding people too quickly. That number was 25. By the time I had ran out of options, having scanned through all 2000 potentials, I had sent messages to 21 guys, some of whom only remotely interested me. Finding four more was not happening. In retrospect, I could have purchased a one-month subscription to Match, as opposed to a three-month one, given that I’m already out of options a few weeks in. Hopefully, Prince Charming joins Match at the end of the summer, making the additional expense worthwhile.

          Overall, the process was boring, exhausting, and demotivating. So far, I’m not a fan of online dating. I want to like it, but searching through a couple thousand options to find only 21 that seem promising – representing a 1.05 percent interest rate – is discouraging. If I can’t find a boyfriend online, where guys are paying to find girlfriends, where the ef am I supposed to look next?

          What makes online dating most frustrating is the lack of spark, typically triggered through face-to-face interaction. Personally, I would choose a cute guy with charm over a hot guy without it. Social confidence can make an average guy suddenly sexy. Unfortunately, character is difficult to judge online. Many people aren’t detailed when completing their profiles. When they are, they tend to list attributes to describe themselves without supporting their claims. When creating an online dating profile, it’s much more effective to demonstrate personal attributes, rather than to simply state them as supposed facts. Everyone says they’re funny, honest, kind, confident, hard-working, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. How am I to know if a guy truly is who he says he is if he doesn’t prove it in the short timeframe between me opening and closing his profile? In the limited characters available, guys need to show me who they are and make me believe them. To do so, they need to succeed at the difficult task of validating their qualities through words alone. For example, if a guy thinks that he’s funny, rather than saying so, it’s better that he illustrates his humour. One of the most entertaining profiles that I came across was created by a guy who posed five yes or no questions which, based on their answers, led girls to one of two conclusions: (1) “I’m sorry. I just don’t think we’re Romeo and Juliet material” or (2) “Send me a message. It would be great to learn more!” I found this amusing and unique, making him standout (though I am not his Juliet, due to being directed to Conclusion 1 as a result of answering no to Question 3: “Do you like dogs?”). Clearly, he’s a funny guy, and he didn’t have to say it; he demonstrated it. Most people don’t do this, leaving me to resort to looks as my primary bases for judgment.

          On a positive note, I have been impressed by the messages that I’ve received from online guys. Surprisingly, they are reading my profile. I didn’t expect this. I wrongly assumed that guys would skip over the written details of my profile and focus on my physical attributes, as they do in bars and clubs. While every girl loves to hear that they’re beautiful, I’d take genuine interest in my personality over sweet nothings whispered in my ear. Below are excerpts of guys’ profiles that I’ve enjoyed and parts of messages that I’ve received. (Note: I’ve dedicated less time to OKCupid than Match because OKCupid is free, eliminating time pressure. However, I am particularly impressed with the quality of messages that I’ve received on OKCupid, which have tended to be more engaging than those that I’ve received through Match. This may be because OKCupid profiles allow for more detail than Match profiles, giving OKCupid guys a little more to work with.)

Match Highlights:

  • The best tagline that I’ve seen: “Stage 5 clingers need not apply.” I literally laughed out loud.
  • My favourite line within a guy’s profile so far: “I just haven’t found ‘the one’ yet. What can I say? I can be a really picky SOB! But hey, just maybe you’re the one holding my yellow umbrella.” For those who don’t watch How I Met Your Mother, get on it! It’s so popular that it’s the first thing that comes up when typing “how” into Google. For those who do, I’ve been looking for my Ted since I watched the first episode. By the way, I’m not impressed with the chick who was casted to play the girl with the yellow umbrella. She’s totally Ted’s type, but a little too mousy/not good enough for him (I’m very protective of my favourite fictional characters). She better have one kickass personality.
  • Some guy wrote to me in Italian! I didn’t understand the message nor did I care for the translation. Need I repeat that he wrote to me in Italian?
  • “I actually laughed out loud when I read that you resort to being a tourist in your own city to appease your need to travel. Any trips planned in the near future? I am heading to Iceland for two weeks in August. Ever been?”
  • “Hey Maria, I’m loving your view on life.”
  • “You’ve mentioned my favorite restaurant. Grand Electric is so good. I love the Baja fish taco.” Friends, the Baja fish taco is awesome! Obviously, the online dating world agrees.
  • “Wow, travelling like you do sounds amazing.”
  • Clinger alert: “My ideal partner is someone who enjoys spending time together and being with each other and won’t put everything before me.” Oh boy, this one needs a hobby.

OKCupid Highlights:

  • Want to turn a girl off? Start your profile like this: “Wizard: a specimen of extraordinary ability.”
  • “I would definitely be interested in exploring some food trucks if you can make some suggestions!”
  • “You seem full of energy and positive attitude.”
  • “Most people are afraid of spiders and mice, but birds? Just a little unusual!”
  • “Where would you like to go most if you hopped on a plane right now?”
  • “Wow. You’re stunning! You’re actually so beautiful!” Okay, this is a physical one, but who doesn’t love to see that?
  • “You seem fun to be with. We have a few things in common. I love to travel and explore new places. I just came back from a trip. What parts of Europe do you want to see next?”
  • Eat St is awesome! My dream is to travel and hit up all the food trucks they feature on that show.”
  • “When’s your next trip to NYC? I went for New Year’s Eve a couple of years back, but I’d love to visit again soon, while it’s warm out.”
  • I was a little irked by this one: “I read your first sentence and fell in love with you!” I’m not going to lie though; I replied to him because he’s from NYC. He did ask me where I’d go if I could travel anywhere in the world. That’s almost guaranteed to get me to open up to anyone. Well played creepy New Yorker, well played.

General Observations:

  • Guys in pictures with kids and babies are my weakness. Is this ever not hot? Guys who exploit their little brothers/sisters, nephews/nieces, or cousins to attract women are brilliant.
  • If there is a picture of a guy travelling anywhere, I will most likely click on his profile.
  • Boys, the sunglasses need to go. They’re deceptive.
  • Guys talk about their jobs a lot!
  • I’m weary of guys in costumes. Maybe the picture was from Halloween, but what if it wasn’t and how can I know for sure?
  • Any mention of zombies, and a guy will probably never hear from me.

          Although I wasn’t interested in most of the guys I’ve come across so far for varying reasons, with the most typical disqualifiers being age and physical unattractiveness (I’m just being honest), it’s nice to know that there are guys out there who would be genuinely interested in getting to know me. All shouts of “You’re hot, bra!” (there’s a reason they call it the douche district) that I’ve received over the years do not add up to the value of just one of the messages I’ve received online. They don’t even come close to the one “bite me” with an accompanying wink that I received from an online guy. In fact, I’d give them all up for no tradeoff at all.

          Despite some disappointment in online dating, probably due to my highly particular standards and low levels of patience, I’m glad that it’s an avenue I’ve decided to try. It’s another action in dating that could lead me to someone amazing; and, if it doesn’t, at least I’m taking advantage of a variety of resources on the path toward my goal.

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