Online Dating

I've been using internet dating sites in one form or another since I was sixteen. I started with the teen quiz and meet-people site eSpin.com known at the time as eSpinTheBottle. When I used it, you'd click on a picture of a bottle and it'd pop out a random teen near you. I gave blow jobs to one boy who went to high school in the next town over and (unbeknownst to me) had an identical twin brother who I later ran into. Now THAT'S an awkward story for another time.

I've used AdultFriendFinder, I've used eHarmony (long ago and very briefly), I've used Craigslist. When I went to school in Rochester, I posted an ad in casual encounters in the women-seeking-men section. All women's ads were flagged for some reason, so the ad was only up for about 45 minutes. I received 150 replies. Out of those, I met one guy with whom I had lovely sex and spankings. The variety of emails I got were mostly hilarious and the endeavor was worth my time even just for the lolz.

These days I highly favor OKCupid, the entirely free, a little bit nerdy, and very well-done dating site. It's inclusive of queer sexualities and open relationships, which is a huge plus in my book. (The next step is gender inclusivity...hint, hint, nudge, nudge.) Also, there are lots of hot people in my age range on there, which helps.

In this age where we do so much on the internet: social networking, sharing pictures, chatting with friends, everything, it kind of makes sense to date online. I much prefer it to picking people up in bars or clubs. (Although the whole friend of a friend at a party/dinner/whatever thing still can't be beat; they're pre-approved!).

I like the fact that we all get to have a profile, so there's something more than physical appearance upon which a first contact is based. In a bar, I know for sure that someone's only approaching me because I look hot. If they're writing me a message and engaging with something I've written about myself, starting a conversation that's relevant to me, I know they're interested in more than my appearance. And if the message is just about how I look ("hey, ur gorgeous, wanna chat?") then I can ignore it without worrying that I'll be harassed or insulted for turning the person down. If someone is a douche online, I can just block them. It makes the weed-out process so much easier.

I think most people who use online dating feel similarly; it's all in the approach. If you're an online dater and want to send successful first messages, it can seem like mastering a delicate art. (Sadly, the burden of approach online is on men just as much as in real life, which I of course fly in the face of, ha!) I think it actually comes down to the same principles that apply to all approaches: be polite, engage with the person's profile and stated interests (in real life, engage with someone's humanity not just their body), and ask questions that can start a conversation.

For really good tips and info on online dating, and on human relationships in general, check out OKCupid's blog OkTrends. The very nerdy-cool people behind the site like to sit around and aggregate all the data from the site they've got at their fingertips. They've come out with some really fun and interesting info on how people date and what's most effective in terms of first messages and profile pictures. It's a very, very fascinating body of work.

2 comments:

Julieta said...

Hey!
I just read this essay, thought it was brilliant, was going to post it on Facebook, and then worried what some of the people who might see it there would think (read: mostly family). Still, I have to share it somehow, and knew you would appreciate it. I thought the point she makes, about "sluthood" needing a supportive community, was particularly insightful. Without further ado:
http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2010/07/26/my-sluthood-myself/

Hope all is well,
Julieta

Paradox said...

Julieta-

I was actually already working on my post on sluthood when you posted this, so I wanted to publish my post before I published your comment. It was definitely a very excellent piece by Jaclyn, thank you for sharing!

On living, loving, learning, and fucking with the materials I've got at hand.

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