I just recently (as in, like, three days ago) embarked on a journey of internet weirdness and joined a dating site. I’ve had a few false starts with these things in the past (i.e. letting the sleazy creeps scare me into deleting my profile after about 5 minutes). But it’s actually not such a bad thing to do if you’re a shy lil flower who finds it hard to meet people in real life. This is what I’ve learned so far:
It can be overwhelming.
SO many people join these sites, which means there are crazy amounts of profiles to sift through. Lots of people will view your profile, a good chunk of those viewing will “like” your profile, and some will send you messages. Being bombarded with information from so many different humans at once has made me want to dig a hole and stuff my head into it ostrich-style. Since joining, I’ve actually said, out loud, multiple times, “Whyyyyyy do you people keep talking to me? Go away!” Then I remember, you joined a dating site, you fool; you brought this apocalypse of desire upon yourself. Congrats.
There are actually cool folks to be found online.
In the midst of all the crazy, I’ve actually connected with a couple of decent guys already. This does not translate into DEAR GOD, YES — THE SEARCH HAS ENDED. Nope. Far from it. But I definitely see the potential for good friendships to come out of this if nothing else. And in London, where you apparently need to be out rioting and grinding in a gaggle of people before anyone is convinced you’re actually having a good time (a guy at the BFI called my night boring last Friday when I told him I’d be spending it watching the Hitchcock/Truffaut film. A guy who worked there.), it’s nice to have someone you can occasionally shove into the faces of passersby and scream “See? I’m out with someone! I’m having fun! SEE?!”
The creeps are still out there.
In the name of research, I really wish I’d recorded all the user names I’ve encountered thus far containing the words “dick” and/or “naughty.” I only search through the profiles of people who’ve already liked mine to begin with, so I won’t even venture a guess as to how many other “naughtybigdick”s and “miis0horny”s and “pussydestroyer”s make up the entire site (These aren’t real usernames. Then again, they probably are.), but I think I can say with total confidence the answer is “a lot.” (Come to think of it, that’s probably a username, too. A bit on the subtle side. I might actually talk to that guy…). But to be fair, the creeps aren’t just the people who send you messages asking if you “punish bad boys” (yes, this happened). I also count as creeps the guys who don’t listen when you point out that the two of you aren’t looking for the same thing. Yes, I’m interested in friendship. No, that does not mean “friends with benefits.” Yes, I enjoy sex. No, I don’t want to have it with you.
It’s important to know and STATE exactly what you want.
If you were my shrink, I could give you a (semi-long) list of reasons why I still fight the urge to be the kind of person who accommodates others more often than not. I am fairly laid back when it comes to a lot of things, but I’m talking about putting your own needs/wants aside so as not to seem “rude.” Now that I’m closer to being a grownup, I’m willing to shout it from the rooftops: BE FUCKING RUDE! OK, fine, you don’t have to be a jerk about it (if you don’t want) but whether you do it politely or with brick-bashing harshness, tell people what you want! Otherwise, how will they know? You know how folks say “life is short” and “time is precious” and all that? That includes YOUR life and YOUR time. Being clear about who you are and what you’re about saves time. Which means it saves lives. Like your life. Which is precious. Damn clichés.
Picky is protection.
This goes hand in hand with the above point. In my first attempts at online dating, I set my parameters wide. Like, ages 21-50 wide. I was worried that if I didn’t try to accept every type of guy that I might miss out on the right one. Now I have a much better idea of what I want & don’t want, and what I’m willing & unwilling to accept. It’s actually a huge relief to have a more precise picture of what I want because it automatically cuts out everyone who doesn’t fit (and saves time 🙂 ). There’s nothing wrong with being picky. It means you won’t settle. Of course, I’m gonna pick my battles and not stamp EVERY guy’s forehead with a big, red UNACCEPTABLE. But it really does make life easier when you can say “no” with confidence, and not let the possibility of missing out keep you bogged down by a bunch of nonsense.
Finding the right person is still hard.
Is it easier for a shy person to meet people online? Yes. At least it’s easier for this shy person. However, “the one” did not magically appear on my computer screen sporting a unicorn-glow as soon as I uploaded my profile. It’s tricky navigating the interwebz and picking out people who might actually be compatible with you. Yes, the algorithm is supposed to handle that for you but, as one of the guys I’ve met said, the compatibility percentage can be majorly misleading. You have to use all of those likes and dislikes and “I want”s and “I don’t want”s to exclude the glaring “no”s, then you examine what’s left and hope you make a genuine connection with someone. There are so many people in this world, and every single one of them is different, which makes finding the person for you that much harder. Hopefully, after all the naughty boys and big dicks, it’ll be worth it in the end.