Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Almost Thirty in the Tech Age

at 8:06 PM
About three years ago I was lamenting the lack of acceptable singles in my area, and how hard it was to meet people outside of work now that college was over. He showed me a dating app he was using called OkCupid, explained it to me, and I scoffed at it.

He's now engaged to a girl he met a month on the app a month after that conversation.

I didn't cave for another few months. And then I dove right in to the world on online dating.

Let's backtrack. I believe that everything happens for a reason, and that life is all a part of a greater plan. Also, at this point I had been out of a serious (read: thought was the end game) relationship for about two years.

When I started online dating, I stuck to free apps. I refused to pay money for it. Recently, I caved on that, too.

It's just so hard.

I'm almost 30. Yes. I said it. I am turning 30 this year.

In the books I idolize, that makes me an old maid.

I know, nowadays everyone claims you don't need to be married at all. But I want to. I don't care if it's not "feminist" enough for you, but all I have ever wanted to be "when I grow up" is a wife and mother. Don't get me wrong. I love my job, and I don't plan to give it up. But I still want the rest. I am perfectly capable of living a life on my own, and even having children on my own. But I don't want that. I want a family. I want to settle down.

But I don't want to settle.

Teaching is a predominately female occupation. Dating at your place of work is precarious at best, dangerous at worst, and we've seen first hand how much drama it can cause within the past few years. That, mixed with the fact that I don't want to marry another teacher, narrows the playing field.

Where else do I spend most of my time?

Thus, online dating.

Over the years, I've used many apps and dating sites. Now, I'm going to review them for you.

OkCupid. Actually the best one so far, to be honest. The first I started with, and the only one I've even met guys through that I've actually gone on dates with. This app allows you to answer questions and allow others to see (or not see) your answers. The app claims to use these answers in some equation that gives you percentages of connection. I haven't really found those to be accurate, but it was interesting to see the guys' answers to questions before choosing to talk to them.
Also, it's an actually free app that allows you to both view profiles and photos, and communicate with other members, with no weird payment options. I think there is a pay option, but I don't remember what it does - it wasn't necessary. There were weirdos on there, yes, and random people from other countries who would message you to ask you to be their wife. But there were enough real people that I was able to go on dates with a few. Nothing came of it, however.

PlentyofFish was the worst app I used. It wasn't really their fault, I think. They just didn't attract the right type of people. Again, totally free, and you can see photos and communicate. No gimmicky "equation" or anything like that... But every single guy who messaged me was older than my dad. It was a real hit to the confidence. Like, why are these creepy old guys the only ones messaging me?!
They also claimed to have singles events, and I went to two! They were horrible. Don't go.

Tinder. Now, Tinder totally confuses me.
It is the only app I've used that requires mutual liking before you can even message. And yet I get the -least- amount of messages, and I've never met up with someone I met on Tinder.
Don't get me wrong. I get a tons of mutual matches. I have 124 matches right now. That means 124 guys "swiped right" on my profile (or more accurately, my photo. Because who actually reads Tinder profiles when swiping?). How many conversations do I have, though? 4. How many of those did the guy initiate? None.
124 guys thought "yea, I like her" and swiped right. 124 guys then made the decision "eeh.. but not enough to initiate contact!"
Now, I admit, sometimes I have that thought... where I see a guy and swipe yes, but then decide it's not worth my effort to start a conversation, but if they start one with me, I'll totally respond... It happens. But not 124 times.
So I send a message. Usually just "Hey" or "Hey there" because no matter how many times Tinder tells me "hey is for horses" and "hey is boring, say something real" I haven't even met these guys yet. What else do you say to initiate conversation? That's how I was raised. You start with salutations.
If they actually have something in their profile (most don't) or they have a cool photo, I will comment on that right after my greeting. But apparently that's not enough.
It's not enough that they saw my profile, decided they were interested, and got a message from me. 124 guys swiped right. 120 guys decided not to respond to my messages.
On other dating apps when people don't respond, you get the picture. Oh, they don't like me. Ok. Whatever. Move on. On Tinder, when they don't respond, I don't understand. It can't be "oh, they don't like me" because in order for me to be able to message them, they had to decide to like me.
And then! Even if you do start a conversation with someone, I've noticed a trend that if you don't make plans to meet up the same day the conversation starts, the conversation doesn't continue. It's like they give up. The handful of times I've made actual plans to meet up with someone from Tinder, I got stood up, or ghosted the day of our date. (Like today, which is why I'm on here, ranting about dating sites).
Yet, it's the best app for drunken nights of mindless judging.
Oh, one more confusing thing about Tinder. It uses your Facebook connections to show you people, and then puts the connections on the bottom of their profile with numbers. I think it's like six degrees of separation from back in the day. Do they see the same people below? Do the people who are shown below actually know the guy I think is cute? It adds a whole new level of potential stalking to the equation, too.

Match is obnoxious. They charge you money to even communicate with people. And if you pay (yes, I broke down and paid), you still have no idea if the reason the guy isn't responding to your message is because he doesn't like you, or because he didn't pay and can't read it! I've gotten absolutely no messages on Match. I can't believe I paid. It's really upsetting when I think about it too hard, so I'm just going to move on...

eHarmony. They use actual questions to find you similar people. But if you don't pay, you can't see their pictures. Now, this might sound shallow, but I'm not going to waste time talking to people whose picture I can't see. No matter what you say, physical attraction is very important. We're biologically programed to be attracted to certain types of people. A good mind is great, and I wouldn't date a pretty face that wasn't able to hold a legit conversation with me about deep subjects. But why do I have to choose either or?
I shouldn't have to.

Older generations claim that our generation is unrealistic. Before, people got married for stability, or because that was just the thing you did. Our generation refuses to settle. There are articles written about millennials who want "more." More than stability, more than just compatibility... we're looking for a "spark," for "the one," for ... for what? Do we even really know? 
People like to claim that Disney gave them unrealistic views of men, but that's not where we get it. We aren't going around searching for a prince. We get our unrealistic ideas about dating from romantic comedies. Chick flicks. We have an entire genre of movies about finding love in unpredictable ways. We even have movies like He's Just Not That Into You (which I'm currently watching) about how the stories in all those chick flicks are "exceptions" to the rule, and not actually true (of course the movie ends in an exception to the rule that makes you crave to be that exception). My favorite movies are the ones where the main characters fall in love with their best friends.

But to do that, you have to be friends first.

And currently there's this whole "friend zone" idea where once you become friends you can't date, ever. That's bull.  (But I've ranted about that enough to my friends, so I won't today).

So between chick flicks, and friend zones, and lack of settings to meet people, dating apps seem to be the only options left. Yea, there are a few matchmaking services out there like Tawkify and It's Just Lunch that aren't online-based apps. But they charge you outrageous amounts for just about the same services eHarmony supplies (I know friends who tried). The only plus to it is that you don't have to search through all the options yourself. You just show up.

What's the solution? I don't know.
But I'm almost 30. And dating at this age, in this age, sucks.


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