Experiment #5.1: Let's play Online Dating

It's good to be in love... 
OK, I couldn't help it. For those of you who know me, I'm a serial monogamist (this is at least what psychology textbooks tell me) and I've had a string of book-ended long-term relationships since I was 20. In a miraculous break of freedom, I stopped dating and started living a life sans romantic relationships. The past year has been such a breath of fresh air - I've realized that I'm kind of in love with myself (ego boost to the max!).

Space Physics Dream Girl ... at least this is how
the dating site world seems to see me

I've also realized, that I want to find someone who can keep up with me and I can share the backpacking, the travel, etc. with,  and I have this crazy idea of one day having children... It's easy to meet people while traveling, but essentially impossible to date anyone seriously. Hence, I have decided to give online dating a shot just to see what would happen. This is turning into a multi-part experiment, so here's part 1:

Test: Is online dating even worth it?

Wow, he sounds great, yeah? 
First I tried an App called "Coffee Meets Bagel". The premise is that you get one pair a day, and sometimes you get bonus bagels if CMB is happy with you (re: you talk to lots of losers and CMB makes money because they pay extra to 'shower' you with attention). CMB advertises that it appeals to 'intellectuals' (re: hot doctors). Sounds great, right?

He immediately deleted his account
after sending this?
Mixed signals? 
At first it was - I was totally astounded by the caliber of men I could (A) attract (my milkshake brings all the boys to the yard!) (B) choose on the site, like a buffet. I loved being able to choose suitors like a McDonald's Dollar Menu - I'd like someone who is 6'3, an engineer, and loves to backpack. Wait, there's 20 of those? OK, I want the one with dark hair and good abs... what a great deal this value menu is :D. I went in with a very clear, well stated list of my priorities: I wanted someone I could do my hobbies with and then if they were smart, kind, etc. were all secondary considerations.

But ultimately it wasn't. At all. It totally sucked. The guys I attracted either saw 'space physics' and decided that we must be soul mates ("I always loved space too... that's why I became an accountant") or were just lame ("I don't know, I like Netflix and Sundays a lot").   Sure, I had a few good ones in there, but it always fizzled out before we actually met up. This was largely my fault - I just didn't care enough. On these apps, you're usually connected to 2-4 guys at once, and I just found myself repulsed by most of them and trolling the rest.

Seriously quality men here
I also realized something about myself while using CMB - I could make myself 'like' anyone who fit a few key requirements. I truly am an optimist - I looked for things to like about the guys and ignored the things that were obvious red flags. Once I found those things to like though, that was all I saw.

After the 6th or 7th guy I did this too, I realized I wasn't doing myself any favors. I was wasting my time with guys who were never going to be a good fit ("I really like everything to be clean, especially my girlfriends"). This was a minor epiphany for me: like holy cow, no wonder I was always in a relationship... I made them work when there was not a whole lot there. Eek.

I found this oddly attractive? 
At this point, I decided I needed to go whole turkey on this thing if I was going to do it; so I went with the gold standard of online dating: OkCupid (OKC). OkCupid works by the more time you spend on the site, the more people view your profile. So it's entirely determined by your effort (and well, your pictures and the male:female ratio in your area). OKC speeds up the process tremendously... in fact, I was totally overwhelmed my first night. Within seconds, I had tall, backpacking friendly men clamoring on my door (well, OKC profile page).

We all knew I'd get some tall-fetishes...
Once again though, I found myself dragging my feet. While I had no problem going on dates with men I met while traveling at bars and what not, I just couldn't bring myself to go on dates with the guys on OKC either. Conversations stalled... I was really hard to hold for more than a day and the ones that lasted more than a day usually were because I was trolling the guys (I'm a jerk, OK, I know). It wasn't about 'finding someone good' - there were lots of legitimately great guys, I just couldn't push myself to make the effort to meet them in person.
This is pretty typical

It was also totally overwhelming... I would get about 30 messages a day, most opening with "Space science?!" or "you're beautiful". It was like this constant barrage of uninteresting men who were just waiting for me to make things interesting for them. Not. Attractive.

Another observation (other than my dating failures) from OKC was what I actually wanted in a relationship according to me. Unlike CMB, the opening pick up line on OKC determined whether a girl would respond to you or not, so most guys put a lot of effort into theirs. Interestingly, I was totally turned off by guys who liked me for being a space physicist (pfffft) and used that as their pick up line (usually they just ended up getting trolled). In fact, I was more likely to respond to someone who said "You're actually not that hot" than someone who said "Space physics? That's so cool!". I'm pretty sure that means I have low self esteem or something.

Found a winner!!
Conclusion: Online dating is totally worth it, but you have to want to do it. You can't just casually online date... it takes work too. You have to screen through the bad and find the good, and this is non-trivial. However, I find the success rate to be just as good as meeting random people through activities, so it's worth a shot :)

Stay tuned for the follow-up to this experiment where I've actually tried to meet some of these guys and see how it goes...!

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