“Dave, make a profile.”
“Sam, this is internet dating, the worst and most mocked institution in the world.”
Sam, my earstwhile colleague, wasn’t having it.
“You haven’t had a date since you got out of college. What have you got to lose?”
Sam was nice enough to not mention that my last girlfriend had broken up with me, and started dating one of my best friends two days later, the day after he’d broken up with his girlfriend. People were right, I needed to start dating again.
So three years ago I made an OKCupid profile. I needed more dating in my life, and I really didn’t have anything to lose. I got tips on how to write a decent profile from my female friends, as well as my male friends who’d had more success on the site, and I went at it. I know one guy who married a woman he met on OKCupid, and Sam is going to marry the woman he met on OKCupid. (We’re all waiting for them to finally get it over with.)
Lets talk about me for a moment:
I’m not bad looking. I work out and keep in shape. I’m a martial artist who knows his way around Chang Quan Kung Fu, Wing Chun Kung Fu, and a few weapon styles- hence the “Kung Fu Dave” moniker. I’m also a hardcore D&D geek with LARP experience, an anime geek, and a video game aficionado; I’m armed with a Masters in Writing Studies, a sharp wit, and apparently no capacity for romance.
How do I know this? It turns out that my end of the personality spectrum leads to really, really interesting people in my high match percentage range. In short: If you’re above a %50 match with me, you’re insane.
Date #1: You want to go to Longwood Gardens? On the spur of the moment? And I’m paying for the tickets? And the meal?
I sacrificed my cell phone under the light of a full moon, and promised myself: never again. I don’t care how cute you are, I wasn’t doing this twice.
Date #2: She was a Judoka, which meant that she threw people around as a sport. We had plenty to talk about. We had Chinese food and she smiled a lot, and seemed to enjoy my sense of humor. She never took another call or message from me.
Date #3 – #5: “Hi! Hello! How are you?! We’re incredibly awkward! So long! See you never! …these are really good dumplings though.”
Date #6: She and I were both fans of anime, and Avatar: the Last Airbender. The movie we were planning to see ended up getting canceled due to a freak snowstorm. We grabbed coffee next door, had awkward conversation, and about a half hour in she checked her phone, and suddenly got a text saying she had to head back to her apartment. I suspected that she really didn’t like me very much.
Date #12-24: This happens to me a lot. We both liked a bunch of the same movies and shows, so we thought we’d get along just fine. The problem was, when we both ended up actually on a date, we had nothing to talk about, no chemistry. We were out for an hour, and neither of us had any intention of talking to each other again. This describes twelve of the dates I went on in that period. Sam commented that whatever I was doing, I was doing right, as I was getting more dates than anyone he knew. I felt proud of this, but did not comment on the fact that I was getting dozens of first-dates, all of which were a complete disaster.
Several things were quickly occurring to me as I went through date after date: firstly, I wasn’t nearly that funny. If the women I was dating were laughing at my jokes, it wasn’t because they were funny. It was because they were nervous as hell, and I wasn’t doing anything to make that better. There was no chemistry, nothing fun or interesting about most of these dates. It was like having a root canal for an hour at a time.
Date #25: I stared at her as I asked:
“Wait, you didn’t read my profile?”
She said, “Nah. But you’re in my age range, so it should be fine.”
That summed up the night.
Then Date #26 happened.
Date #26: She was kind of perfect. We spent hours at dinner, discussing Doctor Who and the wide world of science fiction. We had that thing that had been missing from every other date I’d been on: beautiful, beautiful chemistry. We laughed, we had fun, but it turned out she might have been heading to Arizona next week for a teaching job.
I have the worst luck, don’t I?
Date #27: Doctor Who Fan turned down the job! We went out on another date, just going out for drinks in Manayunk. Manayunk, in the language of the original natives of Philadelphia, means “a place to drink by the water.” And boy did we drink. The date ended with to-go boxes of pancakes and making out by the riverfront.
That should have been the end of it. We should have been dating on a full-time basis and that should have been that. But I didn’t call her for two weeks. I don’t know why I did that, but I think on some level I was afraid of being that close to another person. Or maybe it was the way we’d suddenly progressed to something more hot and heavy than I was ready for. I’m bad at emotions, and I know this, but seeing as the entire point of the process was to be in a loving relationship with someone who was attracted to me, I wonder what was really going on in my brain around that time? Then again, until that date we’d pretty consistently stayed in touch with Facebook and texting, and that stopped on both ends.
She invited me to her favorite bar a week after we got back in contact. She used the opportunity to introduce me to her new boyfriend. Stay classy, Dates 26 and 27!
Date #28: I hadn’t gone on an OKCupid date in about six months. She and I met for coffee at the local Starbucks. She was a med student, and unfortunately a completely boring human being. Neither of us had any attraction to the other, but we very politely parted ways. She deleted her account the next day.
Date #29: We had a lovely date where we went out to a great Thai restaurant, followed by ice cream at a Hope’s Cookies. We had chemistry, which I’m not used to getting on these dates, and we talked about all kinds of things for hours on end. The date ended with a kiss, and I felt amazing.
She put me off on another date for a full month and then told me that she’d started dating someone else.
A simple “You were nice, but I think I could do better.” would have done the trick. It would have hurt for a few days instead of a month of waiting to find out when we’d see each other again.
What I have learned from dating on OKCupid:
- If someone you’re interested in has hobbies that match yours, DO NOT ask them about those hobbies if you’re a man. Women will assume that you’re trying to assert authority or dominance even if you just think it’s really cool that they also study a style of Kung Fu, or like the same manga. It doesn’t matter how cool a thing you have in common is, it will make them disregard your message.
- If you’re not dating someone who you have things in common with, you’ll probably just go out for an hour, and resolve that neither of you want to see the other again for the rest of your adult lives.
- I’m a quirky, lovable mess. Everyone I’m matched with is also quirky, but not so much lovable. Usually just a mess.
- Knowing what you’re actually ready for in terms of relationships is important.
- Sam managed to find a girl who wanted to study martial arts, liked anime, manga, video games, and other incredibly geeky things. I ended up getting more bad dates than anyone I know. Why is he so lucky?
- There are men who discuss their levels of “Game.” I do not understand Game. Game is that thing that other people play. I’m busy trying to figure out Pong while other people are getting happily married and having a good time.
The most important thing I learned, however, is that I can be repeatedly punched in the self-esteem and keep moving forward. I’d love to give you all a better conclusion than that, but I’m too busy swiping pictures on Tinder. Someday, I’ll have another date with someone that leads to something more. I know I will, and that who knows, they might even share some of my interests! There might even be chemistry.
So I keep trying. And so should you!