If you have spent any time on Facebook, you probably have seen the ads on the side bar or in the middle of your newsfeed for anything from Match.com to christianmingle.com. I have seen such variations as athletic singles, farmers only (no, I am not embedding the links to these. You can use google). They would entice you with "meet someone with the same characteristics as you!" I don't know why I would want to meet someone who has the same characteristics as me. They would be crazy.
After seeing all of these ads, I felt like this:
If I could figure out how to block those ads, I would.
I thought that I would never join a dating site. But after being single, not having any free time with coaching and training to go out on a regular basis, I figured I would give it a whirl. (Here is an article about the difficulty of maintaining a work/life balance as a teacher). At the suggestion of a friend who told anecdotes of his success and how easy it was, I installed this app on my phone called Tinder. The basics of the app are simple-load in some pictures from Facebook, and the app uses your GPS location to give you people who are within a certain mile radius of you. You can either select a little heart to say yes (yes to what, I don't know), or an "x" to say no (which I guess means no, I am not interested in you). If both individuals select the heart, then a chatting function is enabled between the two people.
This means that the app is effectively a meat market. The more attractive you are, the more "hearts" you get. You can write a few lines about yourself, and I occasionally read those, but often they don't contain much information other than "I like having fun!" What does that even mean? Who doesn't like having fun?
Who doesn't like fun? Probably Squidward.
So after clicking the heart symbols on a bunch of women, you wait. Sometimes, when you click the heart, they will have already done it for you, and you get a notification saying that you can now chat with this person. So what do you say?
I would typically avoid statements like "Hi!" or anything of that nature. That doesn't start a conversation. I tried a bunch of unusual questions or punny jokes, with varying success rates (hence, the opener to this post). Why unusual? Because I wanted to see what they would think, and it was a way to build a conversation. If they seemed interesting, I could ask other, more typical questions. Here are some of my most successful (in terms of response rates) questions/jokes:
"Your best friend gets kidnapped, and your only chance of raising the ransom money is to win a game show. On which show do you stand the best chance to win?" This question had my highest reply rate. Answers ranged from Survivor, to Legends of the Hidden Temple, and Guts (yes, the Nickelodeon shows from many years ago).
I had to look up what you won from this game show-apparently things like a cd player and trips to space camp. I am not sure how much your friend is worth, but hopefully he/she is worth more than a cd player with 30 second anti-skip technology.
"Two bucks in your pocket as you walk home from a night out. What do you get to munch on from a corner store on your way back?" Everything from roasted salted almonds to water.
"You win a $100 gift card that is only good for products found in a skymall magazine. What do you get?" Gnomes, robes, harry potter wands. This, when responded to, lead to some entertaining conversations.
Overwhelmingly, I would have to make the first contact. I have no idea what other rates for other people are like, but my guess is that 95% of the time, I started the conversation. What does this mean? Not sure, other than I guess that men are supposed to make the first move in the internet dating game.
Now, for the chatting bit-my takeaway from it was that you had to be "always on". What I mean by that is you can't delay sending a response back. If you are involved in a conversation, you can't stop to focus on your work, not respond for a few hours, etc. If you do, then the opportunity is lost. Heaven forbid you don't talk for a day. Your chance is over. Oops.
If you find yourself interested in someone, you have to move from the chatting function on the app and into textual relations. This involves the asking/exchanging of numbers. This is just as awkward as in real life. Finding out what is the appropriate amount of time to chat within the app to share your number was tricky, but once you do it, you are committed. If you give your number out, and don't get a text or phone call, game over. You can't return to the chatting function once one of the parties has the other's phone number, that just is desperate.
If you have reached the point of exchanging numbers, then you have a decent chance at actually meeting the person in real life. AHHHH TERRIFYING. Not really, if you have any social skills. But almost always entertaining. From this app, I have gone on a few dates. Takeaways from them:
1) Most people don't look like their photos. In the words of Nate Dogg (RIP), "Look real close because strobe lights lie." Of course they are going to pick the best looking photos of themselves. That's why my photos are of Brad Pitt. Close enough. The first person I actually went on a date with was definitely way more attractive than her photos-out of my league attractive. The rest varied dramatically. It is also hard to tell how tall someone is from photos.
2) You have to know why you are going on the date, and some idea of what the other person wants. If you want a relationship out of it, and the other just wants a hook-up, then both people are going to go home unhappy.
3) Have a plan to do something after the date if it is going well. Why have a definitive end time to a date? If places are still open, then take advantage of it.
My opinion of the whole thing? It is incredibly difficult to build something organic from nothing. I gave it the old college try, but I think I am going to go back to enjoying training, coaching, and teaching, and worrying about trying to entice women later.