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Politicole: What’S To Love About Online Dating?

By NICOLE BURROWS

AFTER chatting with one of my good friends recently, I decided to look more closely at the world of online dating. And by “look more closely” I mean sign up with a few online dating sites and see what comes of it.

Of course, I’m not willing to subscribe to the paid versions yet, not before I see just how this whole thing works and what exactly I’m getting myself into. I already suspect there is a lot that is not straightforward.

I chose four sites: Match.com, Zoosk, Elite, and Steve Harvey’s Delightful. The last in that list is actually where the online dating discussion started and I dared myself to satisfy my curiosity.

Right off the top, they want your money. They’re all, firstly, money-making schemes, no matter how much they talk about wanting to help you find your “soul mate”, your “perfect match”, your “one true love” ... which is really not why I’m here checking them out, anyway, because I don’t believe in that stuff.

I’m looking around because I’m a busy person. My time is mostly spoken for by writing/freelance jobs here and there to keep myself busy and productive. But I think I could stand to meet some more people. Isn’t that the least of what you get with online dating?

But what kind of people? They all say they have the best, most scientific algorithms to help you find the person most suited to you ... and I guess I’m testing that out for the next few weeks ... if I can stay interested long enough, or if I can tolerate the constant email updates, nearly 20 every day, easily.

I at least want to tune in long enough to see how badly they want me to become a member, by offering me a deep discount on the first month’s subscription when I decide to delete my account. Otherwise, no deal.

The monthly subscription rates seem to range from $29.95 per month to $69.95 and up per month, or less per month if you are willing to dish out a chunk of money for three, six, or 12 months at a time. A couple of the sites will show you who may be “interested in you”, but some sites won’t show you anything about the people who supposedly want to meet you unless you dole out the moolah first. But they all send you notifications all day long, attempting to lure you into finding out who all these people are they keep finding for you to date.

“He sent you a message!” But you can’t read it without subscribing.

“You have 3 new admirers!”

“He is interested in you ... he just winked at you!”

“You have new partner suggestions! Subscribe now to view them!”

“Your profile has been visited! Subscribe to see by who!”

“He likes your photo!”

“You have a new SmartPick!” (Totally incompatible when you see him).

“You have 24 new matches!”

“You’re someone’s favourite!”

“He just made you his favourite!”

“He wants to meet you.”

“He’s into you!”

I always believed this type of service was for desperate people, which is turning out to have a ring of truth to it. For starters, who are these people, especially on Delightful?! I keep hoping that they are holding out to show me the best they have to offer, because the men on their site look scary for the most part. I mean, not to be superficial or anything, but I at least want to find you attractive if I’m thinking of dating you. You have to be attractive to me, or else we have no need to get to know each other better. Which is a whole other thing because once you reach a certain age you pretty much don’t want to get to know people better at all, which takes you right back to a limited dating pool.

Well, anyhow, at this point I’m thinking this couldn’t possibly be worth my money if I were to sign up. Many of the candidates are leaning towards inappropriate. The majority of them are just hideous. And maybe that’s why they are online looking for dates? Don’t misunderstand, I don’t just mean they’re physically unattractive, but the inability to type 10 coherent words is not enchanting.

At least half of the men on Delightful take mirror selfies and use them as their profile pictures. First of all, Steve and his crew need to ban that - no mirror selfies - as profile photos. Mirror selfies tell me a few things. They tell me you took very little effort to be bothered about how you present yourself to women. They also tell me you may be a little more vain than you need to be. They also tell me there’s a good chance that you may be a little less heterosexual than you realised.

Please don’t ever be interested in or try to talk to me if you take mirror selfies. They cancel you out right away. If you have to take a selfie, at least learn how to do it so it doesn’t necessarily look like you did, and that you certainly didn’t need the help of a mirror.

Other big online dating turn-offs are the men who have profile pics with shades on. You having shades on does not tell me you are cool or look hot. It tells me you probably are fugly and you very possibly have such extremely low self-confidence about your physical appearance that you have to mask your face. Now, one photo with shades on if you’re on vacation on a beach or skiing in the snow-capped mountains is acceptable, but for goodness sake don’t let it be the only photo and not every photo.

Which leads me to my next point. You can’t just have one photo. How do I know what you look like in your natural habitat? One photo will not tell me what I need to know. Show me what you gat and let me decide if I want it. Plain and simple. The reverse of that is those guys with 15 photos. Enough already ... I appreciate the effort and I get (maybe?) what you’re trying to do, but it comes across as a little bit self-obsessed if you show me yourself from every angle.

Next thing, no naked pics. I don’t need to see your bare back unless you are a swimmer or a diver, or bodybuilder in action, and you popped that pic in there to complete the story of you. Your profile picture does not need to exhibit your chest hair, all the way down to your navel.

Another no-no? Those photos where you so obviously crop yourself or someone else out and then use what remains as your profile image. Like the guy who literally blacked out (with marker) the face of the girl he was in the photo with. Really? I mean, how hard is it to have someone, even a random stranger on the street, just snap a shot of you?

You probably shouldn’t use your full real name in online dating, but you can’t call yourself “slacker”, “a1 lover”, “the hit man”, “hot love“, “jus chilln“, or something else cheesy or misspelt and expect returns from sensible, classy, educated women. But maybe that’s the catch right there; they don’t want or expect a response from that kind of woman, even though they rant on about it in their bios.

And another catch, the big thing about Delightful - no ethnic diversity. The site is, so far, predominantly of black men (for women). Now, here’s my problem. Black (Caribbean, and some American) men have always been my preference. Not because I aimed for it to be, but because I grew up in an environment where that was the pool of candidates and where my extremely handsome uncles with their chocolatey smooth complexions were my first examples of beautiful men. So I’ve only ever dated black men.

But now I think it’s time to diversify. Maybe I need to gravitate away from my longstanding preference. Really, what has it gotten me so far? Egos and trouble. Yeah, yeah, all men have egos and can be trouble, but you know just how brothers be acting like they came straight outta heaven to your doorstep, and you couldn’t see all their luggage for all that heavenly glow around them when they showed up. I’ve dated black men and never looked back - and I’m single and 40.

Add to the mix, I’m a mixed chick. And my reality is, like one of my best friends used to say, I should probably be with someone who is mixed, too, at least two or three generations back. Because it may be more compatible a situation to date someone who has had similar life experiences and has a similar world view to mine, similar tolerances, more exposure to multiple ethnicities. But if I can’t have that, maybe I’ll date a white guy. I never dated a white guy ... I’ve had crushes on white guys, but never dated anyone Caucasian. Or, I’m willing to try Latino/Hispanic, Indian, Asian ... Essentially, I’ll step outside of my norm, my comfort zone, if I can meet someone who is so obviously compatible with me.

I can’t help feeling, though, that I still prefer the old-fashioned way of meeting someone new - a friend of a friend or family member introduces you. You know, so there’s some sort of recourse on a person’s background. In reality, you can’t swear for anybody. Even your own family’s tastes can be sketchy, but at least you can rely on the fact that somebody knows well enough, in a close-knit community, “who his people is”.

There are so many unstable people in this world. I’ve had my fair share of narcissists and borderline sociopaths. They can look really good on paper or in photos, but their true selves are very unattractive and, frankly, horrifying.

I am particular. But I’m not unreasonable. Is it too much to ask that an eligible man not be crazy, have great hygiene, is physically attractive (to me), is not short, is straight, is courteous, is successful in his chosen work, graduated college at least once, is actually single, too, and does not have children under 18? I never thought that last criterion would even be relevant to me, but I know now that I don’t need to get with anyone with whose children I am going to have to compete for time and attention. It’s called self-awareness. I know that’s harder to come by - a man with no children under 18 - when you’re over 40, but I have to keep it real. I am not clingy, but I need quite a bit of time and attention ... and affection. And if he can’t give it, then he is most definitely not eligible enough for me.

After only a few days, I’m inclined to believe this online dating thing is also not for me. Too many overly eager men who keep sending requests are a major turn off. A lot of it just mimics eighth grade romance. It might be easier to take my chances with Facebook friends - for free.

People are hardly genuine in person, how can we expect them to be in online dating?

And I think that right there is ultimately what will cause me to pass on this. People lie about themselves to your face and under the best of circumstances, so how can a dating algorithm tell me who is my “perfect match” when they can’t even tell who’s lying?

• Send email to nburrows@tribunemedia.net.

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