Online dating’s stigma has diminished significantly over the years. That phrase used to evoke images of pedophiles and creepers prowling the internet, but now it seems all the kids are doing it.
I myself decided to give it a try when one of my best friends told me that he found his current girlfriend through it. He’s quite the ladies man so he clearly didn’t need online dating. From what I’ve heard the girl sounds like an awesome person, not at all a cat lady or whomever you’d expect to find on the sites. I didn’t have anything going on so I figured might as well give it a shot.
There’s many options when it comes to what site to use (Ashley Madison anyone?). I went with OKCupid as I recalled their blog popping up on Hacker News a while back. They publish all sorts of hilarious metrics based on data they’ve gathered from users. I didn’t mind becoming another one of their guinea pigs.
OKCupid has done a great job with first-time user experience. It was extremely intuitive to set up a profile, and just as simple to start finding matches. They even help break the ice by telling the other person when you view their profile, essentially provoking you to take action.
The online dating ride was quite a rollercoaster for me (and none of that weak Canada’s Wonderland business. Serious stuff like Cedar Point). The first time someone messaged me of their own accord, I went berserk with happiness. I didn’t understand why someone would do such a thing. The first time I messaged someone and they didn’t respond, the first time someone stopped responding after a bit of interaction, and all the other situations that ended in dead ends upwelled all my insecurities. Am I not good enough? What am I doing wrong?
I showed some friends the messages I had sent and they pointed out that I didn’t at all sound natural. What I had written sounded nothing like what I’d say in real life. I was trying way too hard to be what the other person was looking for.
Fastforward a month or so, someone agreed to go on a date with me in real life. I did a double take to make sure I didn’t misread and jumped out of my seat and did a little dance.
From the overall experience I came to understand that I just had to be myself. I know - such a cliché - but some things people tell you over and over and it still doesn’t really click til you figure it out yourself. There’s plenty of people out there that will appreciate me for being me. There’s really no point in getting hung up on the little things. Non-response didn’t necessarily mean I did something wrong. It just meant that not everyone out there is looking for the same thing. It’s really not a big deal that I didn’t get “chosen” by every person out there. After all, I just have to find one that does choose me.
I’m sure most of the lessons I learned others have learned through regular relationships. I’d like to blame my not having done so on going to an engineering school void of girls, but that’s actually not true. I’ve begun to put myself out there more now, joining clubs on campus and actually talking to people in them. There are girls! They do exist, I promise.
I’ve since deleted my OKCupid account. I figure I’m doing alright meeting people from school in the meantime; it’s better to not rely on the bootstrapping. Online dating certainly helped boost my confidence, grow socially, and get a foot out the door in meeting new people. It was an interesting experience and I would recommend it to anyone with an open mind. There really is no shame in trying. In the end, does it really matter how you met your significant other? It just matters that you met them.
An unexpected side effect: you list your body type on the site and I felt guilty for listing myself as “average”, as I felt quite out of shape. I wanted to make sure I didn’t disappoint when I met someone in real life so I got back into that exercise-and-eat-healthy diet. Since then I’ve lost 15 pounds, I can run/bench more than I ever could, and for the first time my immune system isn’t completely shot during exams (I guess they’re technically not over yet, so fingers crossed).