Online dating is awesome and awkward and definitely bizarre. I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina a little more than a year ago, and I can’t rely on the ole “meet your friends’ friends” approach, since most of my friends are new here, too. Nor can I try the “meet your coworkers’ friends at Happy Hour” deal when it comes to finding dates, since I work from home and my coworkers are my microwave and my sofa and the occasional bug that sneaks in. So, OKCupid and Match it is!
I’ve met some really nice guys on online dating sites. Really and truly I have. But I’ve also realized that online dating lands you in the midst of situations unlike anything you’ve experienced in your life, and certainly ones you wouldn’t encounter through other mediums of dating. These include but are not limited to:
Getting messages from someone who could realistically be friends with your parents
Match tends to draw an older crowd. As a result, I frequently receive messages from people who probably have more in common with my dad than with me. Last month I almost deactivated my account when a potential suitor was older than my pops and put together this eloquent message: “U r cute.” If that’s what dating was like, I didn’t want any part of it anymore. There was just no need. (But then I got back in the ring for another round, of course.)
Realizing that very few people understand the English language
Speaking of “U r cute,” online dating makes you come to terms with how rare a grasp of the English language is these days, apparently. It’s gotten to the point where someone actually gets points for using the right “there” or “your.” This is the world we live in.
Going out with someone a few times and literally never hearing from them nor seeing them again
Typically you exchange a few days’ worth of dating site messages and texts before going out with someone. Then you see them once, maybe twice. In some cases, that will be the end of that. This is a weird feeling. You spent time getting to know this person. You asked about their job. They asked about your hometown. You sat across from them at dinner, or as you drank several vodka tonics, and then nada. Maybe this was your choice, or maybe it was theirs, or maybe it just kind of fizzled naturally. But it’s still strange.
Interacting with the same people as your roommate
One time a guy came to pick up my roommate for a first date. He looked familiar, but I couldn’t place him. You can imagine my surprise when the first person who popped up on my OkCupid match suggestions was none other than the gentleman who had darkened my doorway to claim my roomie. Insert “It’s a Small World” song here.
Going on a date with someone who isn’t who they presented themselves to be online
Inevitably when you’re online dating, you’re going to get into a Catfish-esque situation. Maybe not a full-blown Catfish deal per se, but you’re going to show up to meet this person and they’re going to look significantly different than their profile pictures or be markedly less on your wavelength than they seemed via text message. Don’t get discouraged. It happens to all of us. And it’s not always that person being deceptive, but the deceptive nature of online dating in the first place that trips us up. It’s hard to know what someone’s really like until you meet them and sometimes our imaginations get the best of us.
Choosing from the same suitors as your friends
Along those lines, when you live in a small-ish city and are friends with many single ladies (put your hands up!) then eventually you’re going to run into an overlap in the dating pool. Which is funny when you send your girlfriends a screenshot of a profile populated strictly with shirtless selfies, and you can all laugh together about the ridiculousness. It’s not as funny when you have to start calling dibs. But, either way. We’re all in this together.
Lauren Levine is a freelance writer who blogs over at Life with Lauren. She’s written for Thought Catalog, The Huffington Post, USA Today, Bustle, and other fun places. She loves blooper reels, Emmy acceptance speeches, iced coffee year-round, and defending her obsession with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West as a couple. Tweet her (preferably nice things) @lifewithlauren1.