Tag Archives: online dating

Where My Girls At? (No, Seriously, Where Are They?)

25 Sep

Child Idol

When I was a little boy, my family members, especially mom, grandmas, and other female members, got in the habit of telling anyone who would listen (and those who wouldn’t) that I would one day become a ladykiller. “Look at those eyes,” they would say. “Why, he’ll be married before his older brother” (who is significantly older). And silly though their exuberant encomiums were to my precocious ears, they somehow persisted, even into the troubled teen years when the wheat is separated from the chaff with the jagged thresher of social order and reality slaps you around for fun.

Fast forward two decades, and their compliments now sound like feeble charity, if not downright fraudulent. You lied to me, Mom, you lied! On the eve of the holy day of Atonement, when the power of history and guilt compel even infidels like yours truly to refrain from casting aspersions on the ones we love, I cannot but look back on their pollyannish prophecies and shake my head. What the FUCK? Where are all those conquered hearts?

Here I am, thirty-two, somehow miraculously single, blogging about my online dating misadventures—the short victories and crushing defeats. Small bubbles of evanescent joy popping at the surface of a cauldron boiling up with disappointment. Has Cupid’s arrow missed so many times, piercing friends and foes alike in his eternal crossfire with fate? Where is that lothario spirit the parents had been hinting at for so many years? Am I to join the Hall of Shame along with the other legendary busts of my time—Greg Oden, Michael Olowokandi, and Darko Milicic? Where is that kavorka?  What empty curse is this? What unfulfilled promise?

No one has a way of accounting for the future. The child who hears his parents boast of wildly unrealistic feats must one day take responsibility for his own life and his own identity—warts and all—and accept what he is and what he is not. He must navigate the inimical terrain of dating and relationships and all the bullshit they introduce—personalities, awkwardness, infatuations, attraction, availability, rejection, chemistry, and not least of all, timing—without learning to hate everyone who doesn’t give him his way while gaining the confidence to push aside anything that gets into it. He must never forget how good it felt when it was really good and embrace it when it comes again. And he must keep going, because life does not stop for whiners.

Whatareyagonnado? I look back on my twenties, most of which were spent fretting about what was to come. And, you know what? Things aren’t too bad. As my brother once said, “You still haven’t made any major mistakes.” Sometimes that seems hard to believe, but then I’ll wake up, find a tray full of peanut shells on my bed, and don’t feel the least bit guilty about it. Sure, in the back of my mind, I keep hoping my scot-free days of singledom will one day soon be behind me, and I’ll suck up the last incriminating shreds of bacheloresque indiscretions with my cordless hand vac, but that won’t stop me from enjoying my freedom while I have it. One day soon I’ll happily hang the chains of coupledom on their familiar grooves and swing them as I whistle down the street. And then, suddenly, my parents won’t be liars anymore. After all, one mom’s ladykiller is another woman’s lovable dork.

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”).

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.

The Countdown

12 Apr

Was it so hard to tell me, jerks?

In the sometimes too-predictable world of online dating, there are those pleasant surprises when the script gets thrown out the window, and two people enjoy a totally spontaneous, organic connection full of laughs, meaningful glances, and prolonged silences pregnant with ineffable feeling…Unfortunately, most online dates are nothing like that. Instead, they go something like this, at least for me:

  • T minus 3 days: Date/location set.
  • T minus 2 days: Phone numbers/other means of contact exchanged.
  • T minus 1 day: A text confirmation is dispatched. Hopefully the other party confirms.
  • T minus 12 hours: I make sure my teeth and hair are brushed, hygienic products and olfactory enhancements applied, presentable clothes worn.
  • T minus 6 hours: I remind myself to resist that pile of onions in my Halal cart order lest I risk social suicide.
  • T minus 1 hour: I look in the mirror to make sure there’s not a giant booger hanging out of my nose, or a big splotch of toothpaste on my chin. If there’s toothpaste, I remind myself to check that at T-12 hours and curse all the people who have seen me throughout the day who chose not to point this out.
  • T minus 5-10 minutes: I arrive on location comfortably but not pointlessly early. If I’m at a bar that fills up quickly after work or on a weekend, I have time to grab some seats, which she is sure to appreciate (or, at least it solves a minor but unnecessary first-date problem of awkwardly waiting for basic comfort while you’re both sizing each other up).
  • T minus 2 minutes: I peruse the beer/wine list, preparing myself to wow her with my vast knowledge of spirits. At this point I may also start to wonder if those weird angles in her photos were intentional.
  • T plus 2 minutes: I throw a glance at my watch and a few at the door, curious about how she will make her entrance and how I will appear to her. This might also be a good time to check on a few near-certainties (is my fly zipped, etc.).
  • T plus 5 minutes (pre-smart phone era): I start to get annoyed, checking my watch and phone more frequently.
  • T plus 5 minutes (post-smart phone era): I feel slightly more relaxed, launch Words with Friends or Draw Something.

Date Late

  • T plus 15 minutes (pre-smart phone era): I am now fully annoyed at not getting a heads-up, wonder if this will finally be the time I get completely stood up, start to get annoyed when I’m asked if I want to order a drink for the 3rd time, contemplate passive-aggressive text, decide against it and end up calling or texting to voice my concern as casually as I can muster.
  • T plus 15 minutes (post-smart phone era): Getting frustrated with a bad board in WWF or not being able to guess what my friend’s squiggly lines are supposed to be. Forget all about date, fail to register vibrating/ringing of phone as she sends an SOS after getting mugged in the adjacent alley.

Date On Time

Showtime: You size each other up nervously, hug or awkwardly shake hands, and proceed to judge one another physically for a few seconds while ignoring what the other person is saying. If you’re both satisfied, a lovely evening may commence. If one of you is much happier than the other, one of you will be really frustrated very soon and the other will have some grievances to air with the friend who thought this was a good idea. If both of you are equally dissatisfied, you might be on your way to a beautiful friendship.

Image

Yelp Dating Spam

1 Apr

They've gotten to you, too, Yelp!

The beginning of the end! They’ve gotten to Yelp! Sweet fake pic of the girl from the O.C.

Time to Get a Watch

31 Mar

Set your clock to: Punctual

Punctuality: it’s not just a river in Egypt. Wait, that pun makes no sense. In any event, I’m someone who’s very careful about keeping appointments, sometimes to a near-obsessive degree. If I have a doctor’s appointment at 4, I’ll be there at 3:59. If I have a conference call, I’ll be there on the dot, not a minute later. Whenever I schedule a date, I make sure to be there at least 5-10 minutes early. It’s not starting to sip our drinks at exactly 7 PM will directly determine the success of our relationship. But when you don’t have much to go on meeting a person face to face for the first time, impressions are important, even if people often mis- and over-interpret everything that happens on a first-date.

On the dating scene, punctuality very quickly reveals itself. If I’m running late, I usually call or text to get word of a brief delay out to the other party. So I’m not perfect but I try to be as considerate as possible so the girl doesn’t think that I’m not taking our meeting seriously. Plenty of girls that I’ve met are as good or better than I am. More interesting is the roughly 60% of women who are either lax in scheduling or wishy-washy in being on time.

With certain women, I would postulate, being on time is paradoxically a social faux pas. Times and appointments are for reference only, kind of like a weather report. We don’t spend time obsessing about the weather (excepting cases of extreme disasters), so when we check the forecast and see rain in the cards, we might grab an umbrella; most of us aren’t going to then drape ourselves in a raincoat and put on giant galoshes. This is how I feel many people treat date appointments. My dates have arrived anywhere from 5 minutes (totally venial) to 2 hours (she “didn’t realize” we were keeping our originally scheduled time and I was in a forgiving [horny?] mood) late.

Somehow I feel like if I kept a girl waiting for more than 5 minutes without forewarning (or even with if it goes beyond the 15-minute mark), they would not be so understanding. It’s kind of like being late to work. Of course, the trains can often screw your commute. But knowing that you should be able to exercise judgment and take appropriate measures (e.g., leaving earlier) to insure yourself against unpredictable factors. If you throw yourself to the whims of the subway schedule every morning by cutting it close, you’d better have a cool boss. Otherwise, you’re jumping without a parachute. Why would you take dating less seriously? Does being a girl impart some sort of endearing quality to being late? Is that what “fashionably late” means? Maybe I’m a little neurotic, but when someone is stranding me for 20 minutes or more, the vexation totally spills over and can change my mood from excited anticipation to annoyed resignation. If you kept your friends/family/employer waiting or flaked on a job interview, would you expect the other person to brush it off?

Then there are the people whose lives are full of drama, or so they’ll have you believe. The week is always “crazy” (most frequently used female brushoff, too). There’s always some vague and ambiguous reason to reschedule or a mysterious and unspecified obligation (which could be anything from a sick cat to banging some other dude, who knows?). There’s always a crazy boss, a last-minute audition, friend drama, etc., etc., etc. All of our lives, especially a city as manic as New York, are busy and fraught with unexpected challenges. But when we want to meet someone, we make the time and we handle it like adults. We can do better than approaching it with the emotional maturity of a 17-year-old blowing off their college class to smoke a bong or go skinny-dipping in a local swim hole.

Ladies, be kind, mature, and responsible. Do your hair for an hour if you must, but don’t bandy it as an excuse. If you want to be taken seriously and treated with respect, give it back. Get your ass in that bar stool on time!