January 31, 2015

Not the Sweet Life: The Reality of Online Dating

In the San Francisco Bay Area, there seems to be something for everybody. Just as likely, there's someone for everybody as well it seems. But for me at least, that seems to be a lesser issue that stems from a far greater and graver issue it seems, especially these days.

When I first initially started dating, I was young, I was naive and I wore my heart on my sleeve like most people usually do whenever they meet someone they really like and like how most young romances end, I've had my heart broken several times and I've learned and always am constantly learning how to cope with it. Although the adventure ended there, it didn't mean that there wern't going to be any more adventures in the future.

Something odd happened along the way. I had done well on my own for four years or so until the day I got my second tattoo. I remember my friend Danielle sitting in the easy chair in my room telling me, "Hey, you should try okcupid. I know you've been kinda lonely lately and the last thing it sounds like you want to do is the bar scene." So I signed up, head in a mist thinking, that I'm going to have so many opportunities to meet people and so on. It wasn't like I was a stranger to online dating altogether. Actually, my first encounter with online dating was with a site that no longer exists. It was something odd like shop-a-guy or something like that. It allowed women to pick and choose which guys they thought were worth talking to and then allow them to talk to them. I met one girl, that was really it.

Ok...Cupid

At first, the opportunities were great. I met a fair amount of normal people. People who wouldn't seem like they'd cut you open and pickle you or something heinous of that matter. I had met three exes in that sort of golden era of online dating for me. Here, racial boundaries were broken and everything was go. What right did we, the users, have to be picky? Why else were we online in the first place then? So I went in tentatively. I personally had the understanding that this wouldn't be a long term thing, it was just "only a try" I told myself. Why the hell not? I mean, I deserve a chance to date as much as the next person.

I created a profile after a short internal debate with myself and uploaded some decent pictures. They wern't flattering, but they wern't hideous either. I answered a few questions, and after awhile, I fond myself two hundred questions deep.

The first ex, we dated for three months. It was okay at best. In the morning, we'd wake up together and she would have no eyebrows and that would freak me out for a second. She taught me the value having a place away from the parental units but I botched it up. When we broke up, we had a spat over wanting to go have food truck dinner in Richmond, a town noted for crime and I had my reasons not wanting to go there. Mostly because I valued living. She however grew up in the suburbs of Concord not quite grasping the concept of a drive by.

The next ex was from Norway, she lived in San Francisco (still does actually) and while I still recall the freezing cold nights trying to fall asleep in her tiny basement apartment below Mt. Davidson, something hadn't quite clicked. We still talk now and then, mostly not now, and maybe only just then. The third ex was the end of normalcy I think in the world of online dating. She was cute, worked a few jobs and we enjoyed each other. My living situation at my parent's place at the time made it far too difficult for her to cope with what was going on in her tumultuous life. So we broke up, I cried a bit and then I got back onto my horse. However that horse suddenly would have two heads or maybe was missing a leg for no reason.

I went back to OkCupid in March of 2012 and I don't think i've had to deactivate it since. Even it knows how long i've been around, even offering me a moderator position eventually. But everyone i've met, somehow, never moved beyond the first date, something seemed to give since then. One girl was merely in it for the food, another proceeded to stalk me for a few months before she got the message. There was a complete lack of organic growth from any of these interactions, for a lack of a better word, and because of that, when I met my friend Bella, it seemed to click a lot easier in person than on a computer screen. But Bella and I never dated, we had fun one or two times, but that was about it, when I knew it wouldn't go any further, it hurt a little. Whereas meeting a rando and realizing there's going to be nothing more than that, didn't feel a thing. Not that was for a complete lack of emotion, but the build up begins at the first date, it's too dependent on the first date.

In 2013, I moved back to Berkeley to finish up some classes, but I figured since my best success comes from living near campus as opposed to my parent's house, this would be a good opportunity to see what happens. Right out the door, I had caused a rift between myself and my roommate over a freshman girl. That since has been mended over. There was a sophomore girl I was really interested in, but she wasn't looking. She apparently had finished being in a relationship. So I got used, it wasn't bad, but it wasn't what I was looking for.

So after four months of trying to date on my own, I turned back to OkCupid, and the next thing I knew, I met up with someone at midnight and I thought it was going to be a walk and talk, she on the other hand apparently was drunk and just wanted to touch my penis in a jungle gym at the park. We persisted for I forget how long, until one day, in the middle of bed activities, she started to cry, put on her clothes and ran out the door. I asked her what was going on and she felt "she couldn't be with me because she started to have feelings for me." That's a big blow to the ego if there ever was one.

So it's been back to OkCupid again, except now, i'm not trying as hard. I didn't know if I wanted to give a shit about the quality of people I know I would meet, but I'll try.

The Game Changer

Lately, there seems to have been an obnoxious plethora of new apps for people to date, how to date and who to date. The big one lately has been tinder, but a splinter faction that emerged has been bumble, some I can't even remember the names of. Other apps like Lulu warned women about certain men, but didn't have a control against vandalism and the fact that as a potential date, a man could lose out on all future opportunities for a long while just because one date went bad or didn't click.

Many of us are expecting to find someone perfect and hopefully some of us will, but the unfortunate part is we're not wanting to put the work into it anymore. We're sort of expecting to find every single detail up on the wall on a dating site or Lulu and it will tell you, but how much can you trust this information that comes to you second hand? Personally, I have no idea what my Lulu says, but I've heard that a few others have and some of them had scathing reviews for no apparent reason. There lay the problem.

There is a moment of relief you feel when you purchase something on Amazon to read the reviews later and all of them are positive. You pat yourself on the back, say you made a good choice and then move on. I can't speak for women who rely on Lulu, but is that how it happens? I can get it to the extent where you could potentially be going out with a hoarder or a guy who always calls his mother before making a decision, but you've effectively knocked a key part out of the dating game which is to learn about one another and make the choice yourself.

I tried to escape the gravitational pull of OkCupid for awhile so I tried Tinder for a bit. For those of you who don't know, Tinder is an app that involves menial labor to make your choices in love. For those users who really couldn't care about making an informed decision about whether or not to swipe right (for a like) or left (for pass), a few ingenious people decided the best thing to do was to literally create an artificial finger that did nothing more than merely pressed a button over again, most likely on the like side.

While there is a certain lack of romance involved in this process, some people tell me it kinda worked for them. I have yet to see conclusive results. I had for awhile been talking to someone about fifteen miles from me, and on the day we were supposed to meet, she suddenly disappeared. Not a single trace. I tried calling but that didn't do anything. It was... odd to say in the least. I am talking to someone, but I have yet to see how this one current one pans out.

An Element of Race

I first encountered the article in 2012 saying how race has a major role in the responses that people give and send and up until that point, I had enjoyed relative success regardless of being an Asian male. I only had become more frustrated at online dating based on my race after the article itself and it suddenly put in my mind how much more complex I had to make things for myself.

According to the statistic, Asian men between the ages of 21 and 25 (which I belonged to at the time) were the lest likely to illicit any sort of response from women of any race. A statistic which for obvious reasons made me kinda sad. Well, when I say kinda, I mean more infuriated. Up until that point, I never bothered complaining about the amounts of white men with asian females I would see scattered here and there but when the gender roles were switched there was a larger, much more disparaging difference. In terms with people of my own race, I belong in a very, tiny minority. Asian guys who prefer white girls.

But here was an article saying "here's the hard facts, it's hard for you as is, and for you especially it's going to be harder." I couldn't remember a time when I ever dated an Asian person, it wasn't that I didn't have Asian friends, but it was the feeling of being jammed into a conformity of having to date a certain subtype of people and to understand that I need to fit the statistic. Rarely if ever will you find an absolutely accurate statistic but it's there for everyone to see. I wonder how exactly people of other races viewed the article.

Still, rather than being pushed aside, i'm still there. People tell you're a good person and you take that to heart. It's just more complicated in the realm of online dating when suddenly you have a set standard you have to conform to. Which as you may guess I rather not do.

Sitting Back, Putting My Feet Up

So while the pursuit of romance is not necessarily a priority, I've taken the road where I don't care what a statistic will tell me what will happen to me in my dating. I've got one working out potentially and whatever fate has in store for me, and take my hand as i'm dealt it.

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