Tag Archives: okcupid

Death Cab for Cutie

10 Sep

After a Friday evening HAW date with a very pleasant lady who, despite sharing my interest in several areas, and being cute, just didn’t hit the right nerve with me, I got a hit on OkCupid Locals. Are you familiar with OkCupid Locals? It’s their mobile app’s raison d’être, allowing users to click faces (let’s face it, we all love clicking faces) of allegedly nearby Cupids, indicating that you want to meet up in the very, very near future without fuss or drawn-out written exchanges. Basically, it’s the Lazy Man/Woman’s online dating app. If someone clicks on you and you click back, a match occurs and you can then set up a rendezvous at a local Foursquare-indexed urban venue. (Local takes on a different meaning when you’re in a more remote location. In the Poconos [yes, I turned it on during vacation and damn you for judging] the pickings are slim; you’ll either be selecting between a Dunkin Donuts barista or a free spirited bisexual in rural PA an hour’s drive from your demands for instant first-date gratification.)

The girl who clicked on me seemed smart, grounded, and pleasant-looking, so I went for it. We met up for dim sum and had some interesting conversation. Even when the quick sting of face-to-face disappointment sets in, I can settle into the pleasure of just meeting another human being with a unique background, set of experiences, and outlook on all the interesting things—politics, sex, etc.—that are first date taboos. Sadly the dim sum, like the girl, did not live up to my expectations. When we walked out of the Chinatown dim summery, summer rain, despite the best prognostications, was coming down. I tried to help her find a cab to Williamsburg and, wouldn’t you know it, they all seemed to be somewhere else.

When we finally tracked one down on Bowery, she invited me to share it for the few blocks that would get me closer to home before the taxi turned unto Delancey and the Williamsburg Bridge. She asked him if he could drop me off at Delancey. The cabbie, squinting with a strange intensity, replied, “Why not?” almost throwing up his arms, off the wheel, as if we’d just asked him to jump out of an airplane with us on a whim. OK! I turned back to my date to make some pre-departure small talk.

“You want to jump? Then jump!” the cabbie continued. I looked at him in confusion. He was squinting even more severely than before, and moving his head with uncertainty, his hostile tone not matching the tentative body language.

“Umm, OK.”

“Where you going?” he asked.

“I’m going a different way, just let me out on Delancey.”

“Where you going?” he raised his voice, waving me off with the back of his right palm.

“Uh, can you just let me out on Delancey?” I said will less certainty, totally unprepared for this weird challenge.

“You want to get wet, man? Where are you going, tell me!” he howled.

I told him my cross streets, way west of there, and he quieted down with an “Oh.” He knew he couldn’t help me.

“Wow, this guy is really concerned with my dryness,” I quipped to my date. I looked at her face and she was as confused as I was. I was now a little bit suspicious that this guy might be drunk, crazy, or both, but I was also in a hurry to get home.

Attempting to convey my concern and bewilderment with arched eyebrows and a quizzical glance at her, I only seemed to put her off. “I’m just trying to help,” she murmured. We awkwardly asked him to stop at the F train stop on Delancey and he instructed me to make up my mind and be more decisive. I thanked him, hugged the girl, and jumped out of the cab.

I ran down the steps into the subway, wondering if, as a human being I had any moral responsibility to ensure the girl’s survival in this bizarre yellow cab and its officious driver despite having no interest in further interaction with the girl herself. I now also wonder if he wasn’t having a stroke, or at least a transient ischemic attack, when he picked us up. I didn’t even have her number since in this wonderful age of face-clicking catalog dating we set the whole thing up though the App. If I messaged her, she might think it was a casual follow-up perceive it as interest in another date. I might sleep slightly better at night, but now I might have to deal with subsequent exchanges. Calculating the odds of survival based on past cab rides, my conscience chose the “eccentric  cabbie” over “Travis Bickle.”

My moral quandary was soon dissolved in a sea of pixels as I started playing Slide Soccer on my iPhone while a guy on the opposite platform catcalled forcefully at a girl on the bench behind me. I lost to the computer on HARD, as usual. I’m sure she made it home safe and dry, fulfilling my parting wish, but I’m a little hesitant checking the local news this morning.

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Rejection Done Right

24 Aug

Last night I experienced an exhibition of the rare, considerate date etiquette I’ve long prescribed from my soapbox—and I wouldn’t believe it had I not seen it with my own eyes. There we were having a great second date. The girl, whom I’d found in the OkCupid catalog, was cute, funny, and had great stories to tell. We meshed really well from the first moment and I was sure this was going somewhere. (This should have been my first warning—never trust a good feeling blindly.) We had some great drinks and food on our second rendezvous, a totally informal hangout at a really nice Belgian restaurant. There I was, getting all starry-eyed and thinking with tingling anticipation about making out with her before the night was over. There was the check arriving at our table. And there she was fidgeting at my standard offer to cover the charges.

“I have a confession to make.” Well, I knew which way the wind was blowing, but I let her proceed anyway.

“I’m not attracted to you…Does that change your mind about the check?”

Now, in my younger, more naïve days, I probably would have pussied out and paid anyway, awkwardly spouting non sequiturs and fingering dried French fry bits until we could part with a disingenuous hug and smile. But fuck that, I’m now 32 (yikes!) and I’ve had my time wasted enough that I don’t mind cutting my losses. So I was only too happy to accept 50% as a severance. And, after a few moments of contempt for this broad, we actually went back to our conversation with minimal awkwardness, both relieved of our very opposite pressures—hers to reject me in ma very direct manner, and me to clumsily insert my tongue into her mouth in front of an express bus driver. She bought off her guilt with money—the price of honesty—and I would not feel like a sucker afterward.

To her credit, this level of sincerity, while off-putting and somewhat insensitive, is exactly the kind of female dater behavior I’ve endorsed on the pages of this blog. Having been out with someone 2 or 3 times who was only too happy to have me foot the bill only to tell me, chicken-shit style over text, that she didn’t want to mislead me as to her intentions, I would much rather accept this knockout blow and get up before the count of 10 than be sucker-punched in the head and mugged. So, ego slightly frayed, but my wallet not ripped off, I’m still standing. On to the next one!

Dating Immigrant: Trying Something New

10 Aug

About 3 months ago, I tore myself away from OkCupid, everyone’s favorite free dating site, to try HowAboutWe, an online dating startup that’s been around a couple of years but is still fairly new to the scene. I found it through someecards, one of the sites with which they’ve partnered (one of the many cool innovations HAW has been engaged in), and at first mistook it for an online dating site for fans of snarky greeting cards.  This, of course, is not far from the intended effect, which is to connect interest-based communities and move away from the user-blind “dating warehouse” feel of many established players, such as Match (which, by the way, is now leading from behind by ripping off similar concepts).

HAW instantly sucked me in, not only with a really slick UI and smooth as silk Ruby on Rails design, but the concept of immediately focusing your dating energies on the date from the get-go as and away from selling yourself with cheesy/generic lines to a cataloged list of faces and proclamations to “work hard/play hard.” To be sure, [as a guy] you will still find yourself selling yourself to a cataloged list of faces, but HAW makes it a heck of a lot more fun–and easier. For one, even when you encounter the many annoyingly threadbare profiles giving you absolutely no insights into the Jack or Jill you’re trying to cyber-woo, with the click of a mouse you can indicate that you’re intrigued by their suggestion to “have dinner at an underground supper club led by a secret famous chef,” “stomp around in some puddles on the next rainy day–then warm up in a cafe or bar,” “take a trapeze class, cause why not,” or, of course, “walk the Highline.” With 2 or 3 clicks, you can be a little more proactive and build you own date using the built-in Foursquare geolocator–and maybe throw in a zinger or two if you’re so inclined.

In the last few weeks, I’ve gone on several dates arranged through the site. As always, some noticeable trends emerged. Here are a few:

  • Generally, people seem more eager than elsewhere (e.g. OkCupids) to get offline and quicker to offer their numbers. This makes sense. You start talking about doing something fun together, rather than asking if the other person is having a good day or how their Midwestern hometown compares to NYC. And this is positive. If the point of the site is to get offline as quickly as possible, mission accomplished. (The side effect of this is that for people who enjoy a more epistolary start to romance, this might be a bit disappointing. To them I say, look to other sites.)
  • Because women likely get flooded with messages the same way they do on other portals, most guys will be tempted to spam ladies with quick date suggestions or just to click “intrigued” on the girls’ dates. This is ineffective and perpetuates an endless loop–girls with too many “intrigues” will inevitably grow weary and numb, and guys will soon stop paying even perfunctory attention to profile details. So it’s really on us to take a more strategic and deliberative approach. Filtering and combining date invitations with personal messages may be the better plan of attack.
  • Women (and perhaps men as well, though I haven’t looked) often post amusingly unfeasible date ideas, such as “Let’s omakase at Masa and then bungee jump off the Statue of Liberty while discussing poetry.” I’ve already written about this phenomenon, particular to HAW. I’m sure for many these may serve as ice-breakers or conversation starters, many users might be put off by someone whose first date ideas all list ideas that require a private jet or a secret society membership. On the other hand, these may also serve as good warnings against people who wouldn’t be good matches to begin with. Whatever the case may be, I urge those who take meeting someone, if not the site itself, at least somewhat seriously, to give their date ideas a bit of thought.
  • There seem to be a fair number of immigrants from OkCupid. This is not surprising, considering the similar audience and the OkC fatigue all of us awesome online daters have encountered at one point or another. HAW does not guarantee better results, but it can be a really refreshing splash of water that you need after going out with some lamos on OkC or not getting any traction with your messages.

In addition to a nice layout and a very well designed app (with small kinks that can be refined in future updates), I also love their agile approach to future improvements. User feedback is crowdsourced with total transparency, and the top gripes and suggestions are no doubt continually monitored and considered for adoption by the product designers and software engineers. Basically, what few complaints I’ve had (e.g., include a subscriber flag so paid members know they’re not throwing their “dating resume” into a bottomless well of lurkers) have already been levied.

Bottom Line

There are no silver bullets in online dating, and HAW is no exception. Success is ultimately based on your level of energy, decent photos, a profile with some semblance of personality, an open mind, and above all a lot of luck in finding chemistry. What HAW is doing better than anyone else at the moment, INMHO, is making the experience much more fun. It feels like a site built by real people, not corporate tools (the founders are childhood friends and former teachers, no less!). You might find your true love, you might find yourself, or you might find VD and sue the bastard. Whatever happens, you might definitely have some fun and discover some awesome new spots in the process.

Exploiting the Mismatch

20 Jul

Recently, I went on two first dates in 48 hours. There is nothing amazing about this feat. If anything, it highlights the futility of my recent dating marathon. The apposition of these two events are only notable because the girls in question were the shortest and tallest girls I’d ever gone out with, respectively. Saturday night was 4’10”, a cute-as-a-button apathetically Jewish chick from Long Island. The other was at least 6’ tall, a pretty Southern belle from North Carolina who shares a lot of my interests. (In case you’re wondering how this came to pass, the site where we met doesn’t list height and she had no full-body photos with context scaling [FAIL].)

Both were smart and interesting in their own ways. Yet both somehow didn’t hit the mark for me. As a bitterly lower-average height male, I frequently rant about women who dismiss dudes under 5’10” or so right off the bat. None of their explanations are ever satisfying. Some claim it is because they are tall and like to wear heels without emasculating a man. Others just state it straight up as a preference. So I feel a bit hypocritical rejecting worthy women based on their height.

But truth be told, it is an issue for me and, like Sir Mix-a-Lot, I cannot lie. Less so perhaps with the shorter girl, who presents more of a logistical adjustment (bending way down for a hug, having to contort myself god knows how in the sack, etc.). But with the taller girl, who’s clearly better adjusted than I am in this respect, I just can’t picture her wrapping her arm around my shoulder like a father patting his son on the back after some good “catch” practice, while jerks like me are snickering from behind. I just can’t.

So I beat on, Tweets against the current, in search of the perfect girl in my sweet spot height range (5’1”-5’7”).

Broken Record

12 Jul

Among the various frustrations that come with becoming a Serial First Dater (a most ignominious title) is the tedium of having to talk about yourself each time. Recently I went on a spur-of-the-moment date via OKCupid locals. (Background: I was lying in a park reading a book. She was lying in a different park reading a different book. We’re both vaguely and indifferently Jewish. She’s from SF, and I operate on the assumption that most girls from SF are awesome.)

We met up and of course she didn’t look at all like her pics. She was also a fake San Franciscan having only lived there through grad school (doesn’t count if you’re going to insert the affiliation into your screen name). Not the point. As a “nice guy” (the bar is low these days, based on what other dudes have reported doing in this situation), even if my date does not look to be the person she portrays in online pictorial spreads, I still follow through and hang out. It seems rude not to, and who knows? This chick seemed sane and had interesting experiences living abroad (Africa include, obviously, as she’s on OkCupid).

After an awkward attempt to pay for her own popsicle on the High Line (come on, ladies, I can afford a popsicle, and I don’t even expect lurid sexual favors in return), she said, “I don’t know anything about you. Tell me something about yourself.”

“What an intimidating request,” I replied. Not because I haven’t had to tell people about myself a million times, which all SFDs are proficient at. But at least let it come out naturally in the course of conversation. Maybe I was being extra reticent on account of my disappointment in her appearance. I don’t know. But suddenly faced with a direct request to summarize/advertise myself, I kind of went blank. I threw out some obligatory facts and mercifully we soon went back to just shooting the shit.

This moment once again conjured up my always dreaded hint of potential SFD burnout: self-description fatigue. We’ve already laid out some details in our profiles. Now, unless broken up by some truly amazing person/experience/conversation thread, an SFD is always at serious risk for falling into run-of-the-mill dates with 20-question safety nets and boilerplate resume recitations. I, for one, bore myself to tears having to hear my own life story dozens of times. To every new girl, I’m a new story, perhaps at times even an interesting one. But to myself I’m a broken record, like that one book a poor peasant reads to his children over and over because it’s all they own.

Even when I try to put new spins on it, twist and turn it every which way, change the wording, bring in new characters, there are only so many times you can tell your life story. The person I “love” most—myself—is also the person I’m most weary of. Such is life. That’s part of why we go out and roam amongst others, that’s why we look for someone else to love, as much as or more than ourselves. So we beat on, and we give our elevator pitch and tell our stories over and over, hoping to find someone whose story we want to hear more than our own, maybe even over and over. And then? We’ll see.

Why I Blogged

27 Jun

Everybody Hurts…Sometime

In January of 2012, I decided, mostly on a whim, to start a blog about online dating. This was no New Year’s Resolution or sudden epiphany that I was born to be a dating blogger. I wish I could say my hand was forced by destiny…that my mind was pregnant with blogorrheic nuggets of wisdom handed down to me by the gods of online dating themselves. No, dear reader. Alas, this electronic rag was first inspired by an experience most mundane—rejection.

The cute Jewish political operative and I had hooked up on OkCupid and exchanged some very bland and decidedly unbantery overtures to meet. Not only was she a Jew, but a Jew from Florida, which meant no escape from the late-December visit to the panhandle. Fresh off an ugly breakup and a string of fruitless first dates (yay, online dating!), I had no expectations when we met up at a South African wine bar in Hell’s Kitchen. She was even prettier than her pictures and I was immediately attracted to her. Over the next several hours and many glasses of Pinotage and Chenin Blanc, the chemistry was palpable and the night disappeared in front of our eyes as only those really great first dates can. Halfway through the bottle, we both had to pee, only to learn that the bathroom was overflowing. This led to a somewhat memorable experience of being ushered to their sister restaurant down the block by the bartender through pouring rain. With no umbrellas, it was a nice opportunity to take charge and wrap my arm around her in a most manly fashion.

When the night was finally over, we walked to the intersection of our parting and she congratulated me on being her longest date ever. Then, she punctuated it with a clear opening for a kiss. We made out in the rain, not quite Spiderman style, but pretty intensely, neither of us really wanting to go home. We both knew we’d see each other again.

We swapped texts and set up another date for the weekend. Lamely, I suggested we see a movie and get food later. (They can’t all be winners, whatareyagonnado?) On Saturday, screwed by Brooklyn’s ridiculous weekend subway changes, I rushed from the train to the train to the shuttle bus, back to the train, just to cut my lateness by a few minutes. I sent her texts and she was perfectly understanding when I met her just as the movie was starting. She looked great again and I counted the minutes until we could just let go again. After Young Adult (which was an OK date movie I suppose), a fabulously amazing and fabulously expensive tapas experience was followed by a perfectly divey bar. Not long after some beers, I volunteered to cab her home. We got into a car and started making out in the back. I didn’t expect her to invite me in, but she asked me to come up and “meet her cat.” (Oh, ladies, how I love your subtlety.)

Upstairs, after a quick tour of her charming Hell’s Kitchen apartment, we were back at it until we both started falling asleep in each other’s arms. She was sorry for not asking me to spend the night but she wasn’t quite ready, and I absolved her of any guilt. It was totally understandable. As I left, I texted that I really loved holding her. It was a totally uncensored but (I thought) fairly harmless expression of my feelings. I was feeling good again, all was right with the world, there was magic in the air. The Times Square fumes smelled better.

Over the next few days, I was really excited. I texted, I even called. But all I got in return were delayed and tentative replies, with lame and well-worn excuses about having a “crazy week.” It’s not that I hadn’t been rejected before, but not like this. Not after two awesome dates where two souls, as different as any other two, seemed so perfectly in-sync. Not after we kissed the way we did. Not after I’d met her cat, for chrissake! What the fuck did I do wrong? Was I a bad kisser? Was I merely kiss-raping a very timid girl the entire time? Was she seeing someone else who was just a tad more special? It didn’t matter. Her steely response (or lack thereof) was pretty clear. She blew me off without an explanation; I was no better than some loser contacting her online for the first time. I thought of confronting her for answers, but what would that do? So she could fire off some template sandwiching a firm rejection between telling me how awesome I am and that I would find someone great? For the first time in a long time, I was hurt. Truly hurt. Start-a-blog hurt.

 

Phone Screeners

30 Apr

So, have you ever been married?

Because I’ve spent so much of my dating career as an online dater (never an easy thing to admit but I had to clear my conscience), sometimes I come across phenomena that I can’t place as either standard dating behavior or a particularity of e-dating. Among these trends is what I call “phone screeners.” These are women who, despite understanding that online dating starts out online, insist on an interstitial screening by phone. (I can’t be sure of the other side, but come on, how many guys do you know that like to yap on the phone?)

Maybe it’s women’s greater affinity for “voice,” or maybe there’s something reassuring about getting the audio before the video (please weigh in with a Comment), but several women either requested or insisted that I call them before we met up. In a couple of cases, where it was a clear demand, I found it a really awkward requirement. There’s something kind of pathetic about bursting that bubble of warm feeling and flirtation that grows from written communication with a bureaucratic mandate.

At least two girls grilled me at length on my marital status, the presence of children, and my dating history. I was supremely annoyed given that this information had already been disclosed in my profile. On the other hand, one of them told me she’d been burned before when one or more guys lied about their availability and commitments to other ladies. Fine. It’s not that I don’t like talking on the phone. When you’re with someone special, having those endless conversations can often be really romantic. But when you haven’t met the person once, those 1- and 2-hour conversations really add up, and will seem less charming and enjoyable when you finally meet for that coffee and quickly realize your spider sense steered you wrong.

I’ll do the phone, but that’s where I draw the line. A couple of girls’ profiles that I’ve come across basically dictated that there would be a lengthy Skype video call prior to any face-to-face interaction. Bye-bye, next. If you’re so frightened by the very idea of meeting someone off the Web, then DON’T MEET PEOPLE OFF THE WEB. Go back to that bar, library, coffee shop, or park, and wait for your prince to come galloping over on his Razor scooter. Please don’t suck all the life out of the pre-rendezvous excitement by going through a series of dry investigations. Or, if you do, you might as well hire a private eye to shadow the guy around for a month or two before sitting down for that coffee.