I know, I know, why am I still subscribed to their sad little e-newsletter if 1. I hate their site more than I hate opening my cable bill every month (sob, Comast, sob) and 2. I’m NOT EVEN A PAYING MEMBER? Valid questions, friends. The answer is that I love to open up these newsletters, hate-read the (usually) terrible headlines, cackle at eHarmony’s continued attempts to recruit me into their cult, and then press delete with a satisfying click of my mouse.
So I clicked on the above article (link here) with a self-satisfied smirk, ready to rip it to shreds, but damn it if it wasn’t kind of good. And…helpful. What sort of alternate universe is this, eHarmony? Is this a trick?
Single readers, if you’re finding yourself dreading answering the ‘seeing anyone special?’ question tomorrow, check it out. But I do have to say, if someone actually had the gall to ask me the third example in this article, which is:
“Aren’t you afraid you’ll spend the rest of your life alone?”
grab the stuffing and bounce. Because yowza, that shit is outrageously rude. Am I just naive, here? Has anyone actually been asked that question?
Also, I realized it’s no surprise that I enjoyed this article because it was written by an author who we’ve mentioned before, Sarah Eckel. Seriously, her NY Times articlesabout being single for most of her adult life are great, and super validating. Now I kind of feel like this post comes like a paid endorsement but I promise you, we don’t know the author (although if you’re reading this, Sarah, call us!) and this post is not sponsored (if we were going to monetize this blog, we w0uld not be partnering with eHarmony to do it).
I will say this: the awesome thing about having StuCu is that when I do get those annoying questions about my dating life, now I can just obnoxiously be that guy at a holiday get together and REFER THEM TO MY BLOG. Here’s a little script of what I might be saying tomorrow:
“Oh actually, Aunt ___/Uncle ___/cousin ___/neighbor who I awkwardly ran into in my parents’ driveway, it’s funny you ask because I recently decided to chronicle my failed dating adventures on the internet with two single friends–you should check it out! Maybe reading about all the shenanigans we’ve been through will answer your question!” *winning smile*
And then I’ll slip them our business card because yes, we actually ordered business cards.
Here’s hoping my fellow Americans out there have a wonderful Turkey Day, and for my single sisters (and brothers) out there, I hope the questioning is short and sweet. Now excuse me, but I’m home at my parents’ house and need to go get on this level…
I am really feeling my age lately, especially in the world of online dating. New sites and apps pop up all the time and it seems like every five minutes there’s a new fad: taking it offline, group dating, matching based solely on (possibly lewd) pics, and now connecting through people you actually already know. Through all these trends I have continued to just kick it old school with my tried and true Okcupid, but then suddenly I looked around and all my single friends were on Tinder, Hinge, Coffee Meets Bagel and God knows what other hip new services that I don’t even know about. I can’t keep up! I’ve just been sitting in a lonely corner of the internet, sadly connecting to AOL via dial up and thinking about popping in a Blockbuster VHS tape later.
That may be a slight exaggeration, but I do feel totally late to the party on a lot of these sites, particularly the social media based dating apps like Coffee Meets Bagel and Hinge. They’ve always made me suspicious, and in case you haven’t already gleaned this from our paranoid blog musings, we’re a naturally suspicious group here at StuCu. I just don’t like the possibility of my dating life being broadcast on Facebook (clearly I prefer to voluntarily broadcast it to the entire internet) or some app mining all of my pictures, post history and personal info. And I know I know, that’s “not how it works”, but I don’t trust that douche Zuckerberg. Never have; never will.
Great! Amazing! I signed my single self up. And then… promptly rejected pretty much every single ‘bagel’ they sent me. Seriously, the pickins were slim. First of all, most of my bagels (naturally) lived in NYC. Second, most of them weren’t even friends of my Facebook friends, so basically it was REGULAR ONLINE DATING except with a much tinier pool of guys. Eventually I got tired of looking at a lame match from Brooklyn every day at noon, so I started to just ignore my daily bagels. This went on for weeks, until:
Bahahaha. You guys, I was kicked off of Coffee Meets Bagel. And honestly, I respect that. I was on their site but totally inactive, just annoyingly taking up space. Good for them for escorting me off the premises, because mama deserved it. Now, if Coffee Meets Bagel worked as aggressively on recruiting some actual eligible single dudes for their site as they did on getting rid of the dead weight like me, maybe people would be getting dates. Just a thought, CMB. I’m full of ’em.
The other sosh meeds connected site I joined was Hinge, which at first appeared to be slightly less useless than CMB. There were actual matches within 20 miles of me! Also, having a way to confirm that my matches weren’t going to allow me to use their girlfriend’s beauty products or you know, murder me, was a delightful bonus. I signed up, but immediately noticed that the typical demographic looked something like this:
Back to my maiden Hinge voyage. I browsed through my alleged matches, swiped no on a handful of awful-looking/sounding youths before closing the app and ignoring it completely, for weeks, just like Coffee Meets Bagel. Then one day I was opening my Dunkin Donuts app to score free coffee after an Eagles win (the only thing football has ever done for me), and I thought huh, I guess I should get back in the ol’ Hinge saddle see what’s what. Lo and behold, I came across someone I was actually interested in. Which then made me realize that I had no idea how the app actually worked. So I Gchatted D for help.
This brings me to a comical display of my confusion/general cluelessness.
Jesus, now I know what my mom must feel like when she calls me to help her format an Excel spreadsheet (love you mom, but Microsoft Office is not your strong suit).
Then it hit me: I never even filled out a profile on Hinge, nor did I choose profile pics. What had this guy been going off of when he ‘liked’ me?
I clicked on my profile. The main pic was my Facebook profile pic, which was to be expected. Then I realized there were more pics of me, like at least 15 more, which again I did NOT pick. To my horror, I began scrolling through a gallery of vintage ph0tos (I’m talking almost a decade old) featuring yours truly at various stages of college pregaming, day drunk and red in the face.
Why, Hinge? Whyyyyy. I flagged poor D down again.
Never mind that ‘love your pictures’ is the tried and true pick up line of killers the world over, but why had this stupid app chosen such old pics anyway?? Even if some were my profile pics wayyyy back in the day, like any narcissistic millennial I have dozens of newer ones. And it’s my personal opinion that it should be a FEDERAL OFFENSE to post dating profile pics that are a decade old, let alone more than two years old. In fact, I should speak to L about hiring her vigilante task force to police this law.
Okay, I thought. Some dude messaged me, and he possibly thinks I look 10 years younger than I actually do, so even though I personally believe I look 900 times better than I did in college (seriously, it’s all about the eyebrow shaping, people), I should probably still address that. So I sent my Hinge match a message to the tune of ‘haha thanks, I’m new to this app and it totally chose weird outdated pics of me drinking in college/switching them up now/isn’t the internet a WHACKY place?’
Really though, goody two-shoes? Sailor? After partier? Midnight toker (cool it, Steve Miller Band)? LEISURE DIVER? Who would self report as any of these things with a straight face? Then I realized that everyone, literally everyone, was doing just that and putting these things on their profiles. So I figured, WHEN IN ROME, do as the youths do, and picked a few of the less douchey ones, figuring no one would care about which ones I chose, anyway. And then…
Witty little opening line, Hinge. Well played. Except it took me approximately 4 messages to realize that Hinge was writing these and not my matches. (In my defense, every opening line is different, so it wasn’t clear at first! I know. God, I’m old.)
Oh my God, these stupid tags. Here’s the problem, though: are we actually supposed to talk about being “r0ad trippers”? With a straight face? Because what does that even mean? Obviously I enjoy a good road trip every now and then, but who doesn’t? It’s like making a ‘pizza lover’ tag: unless you have some weird dietary restriction, it’s just assumed that you enjoy pizza, because only a serial killer wouldn’t. So thanks, Hinge, for creating the most useless faux-conversation starters ever.
That last comment. I….’ve got nothing.
So I know what you’re thinking: “it’s Friday, S, and I’m ready for happy hour. Get to the damn point. Have you actually gone out with anyone from Hinge?”
Fair question! The answer is a big fat resounding:
Literally what I’ve shared in this post is the furthest I’ve gotten with any dude since I joined. No dates, and almost no actual real conversations.I’ve gotta say, at this point I’m just going to take that as a sign that I should stick with what works. True, I haven’t actually gone on more than two Okcupid dates with the same person since…April (yikes), so whether that’s actually “working” is debatable. But here’s hoping that changes in my 30th year, and here’s hoping you all stick around to find out.
PS do any of you single readers out there use CMB or Hinge? If yes, leave a comment and tell us about your experience. Am I missing something? Am I doing it wrong? #old
We spend a lot of time on this blog mocking all the ridiculous things that men do and say to us. That doesn’t mean, though, that the three of us haven’t made our share of facepalm-inducing dating snafus. So I thought it would be a…humbling exercise to put my ass in the hot seat today and share a bit of my shame with you readers, especially since yours truly made a really smooth move on Okupid this past weekend. And by smooth, I mean painfully awkward.
If you follow us on Twitter, you may have seen a teaser for this post.
Allow me to set the stage: this single 29 year old was home on a Saturday night, dicking around on the computer while catching up on her stories, and signed onto Okc to check a (terrible) message. Yes, my life is super exciting and not at all sad!
After I checked my (terrible) message I decided to cruise for dudes. I came across a profile that I’d seen before and decided to shoot the guy a quick message. I paused momentarily, wondering how pathetic I was going to appear by messaging a guy on a Saturday night.
When I send someone a message, I try to zero in on one or two profile details that can be potential conversation starters. This guy’s favorite movies were almost identical to mine, and he had the following little caveat at the end:
Trading Places is an 80s movie that takes place in Philly and is a cult fave around here; there’s literallya bar named after the two main characters. Whenever I told people from the area that I’d never seen it they would practically shriek with horror and alarm.
Well, I finally got around to seeing it just last weekend, so I figured it was a perfect conversation starter, right? I threw it into a quick message…
…also inexplicably calling attention to the Saturday night thing, because I’m just so breezy and self effacing, and hit send. I was about to sign off Okc and continue on my merry way, when something possessed me to click on my sent message history. And that’s when I realized:
How did I not remember writing this? Was I drunk? Sleep-typing? Did I black out?
My favorite part about this whole thing is that I accidentally gave a stranger REAL TIME STATUS UPDATES on whether I’d watched a random 80s movie. As if anyone would care about that, let alone a guy who already received and made a conscious decision not to respond to a message from me. It basically looks like I said, ‘WELP, didn’t hear back but I refuse to take no for an answer, sir. I’m just going to keep blowing you up about this movie which I’m apparently obsessed with until you respond!’
Also, if by some chance this dude has his own dating blog where he writes about all the whackadoo girls he runs into on Okcupid, those messages are going to make an excellent post. You might even say I’m…trading places with the guys we skewer on this blog.
Apparently I left you all hanging withmy post from last week, because multiple readers reached out to me and my co-bloggers asking what happened with Grouchketeer. Never fear, my pretties. That was not the last I heard or saw of him, which for his personal safety was probably a good thing; no single woman should have to endure Mr. Sick AND a fade away.
Grouchketeer asked me out again a day or two after our fated first meeting, and I said yes. This time the itinerary was much more normal: dinner and checking out a pop up park in Philly that was about to close for the season.I joked the apparent normalcy of this date compared to our first one.
Well okay then! We made plans for Friday night at 7 (his suggestion). Grouchketeer lives in a Philly suburb, so I knew he’d be contending with some unique traffic driving into the city. But since he “worked from home” (possible euphemism for semi-funemployed) and could leave whenever, this didn’t seem like a huge deal.
The week leading up to our date, we did a bit of light text flirting. Grouchketeer seemed to be enthusiastically pursuing me, which was great because I liked him, but at times I thought it might be a bit TOO enthusiastic. For instance, it had come up in conversation that I work for the same (large) company as his brother’s girlfriend, and one day he texted me asking if I could look her up in our employee directory. Assuming he wanted the info. for something legit, I did.
Oh my God, Grouchketeer. Inappropriate. So inappropriate. At this point we had been on ONE date; I didn’t know his last name, and he wanted me to waltz over to his brother’s “live in girlfriend” (who PS works in a different department and different building than me) and say what? ‘Oh hi, I’m your boyfriend who refuses to propose to you’s brother’s date. We’ve literally met once to watch nude puppets prance around on stage. Anyway, he says we’d get along, so we should totally be best friends!’
Honestly it freaked me out a little bit that Grouchketeer didn’t seem to get why this was a completely whakadoo request to make of someone you’ve spent a total of 3 hours with. But I told him the idea made me uncomfortable, chalked it up to my date possibly having some light Aspies, and moved on.
Friday rolled around and I got ready for dinner like normal, until Grouchketeer called me at 6:30 and said, “I have bad news.”
Gentlemen. Please don’t call your date whom you’ve met once and say you have bad news, especially if your date is a confirmed Negative Nancy. The mind reels at the possible things that could follow that statement. Here are some of the options that ran through my head:
I can’t make it/I’m canceling/I never want to see you again (this is the most obvious and least upsetting option)
Just a heads up, I have a scorching case of herpes
I’m a convicted felon and I violated my parole so I just want you to know I’m headed back to the big house today
Grouchketeer: I’m stuck in some of the worst traffic I’ve ever been in in my life. I haven’t moved in 45 minutes and there are multiple accidents. It’s really bad. Just wanted to let you know I’m never going to make it by 7; I’m really sorry.
Me: Oh. (Internally: no parole violation/herpes. Score!) Well, thanks for letting me know. When do you think you’ll be here?
Grouchketeer: At this point honestly I think I should just go back home and wait it out for a bit. If I can’t move our reservation to later I’ll think of somewhere different for us to go. I’ll keep you posted on my ETA. Really sorry.
Me: Um, okay? Talk to you soon.
I hung up the phone, confused annoyed. Obviously shit happens, and Philly traffic is a clusterfuck. But at the same time, this guy was the one who suggested Friday night at 7, and it’s not exactly like he was rushing from his busy office job (or possibly any job). Also, WHY was he going home? I was too bamboozled on the phone to ask him how that remotely made any sense, but I wondered if he’d ever actually left his apartment or if he’d just called me from his couch in sweatpants while fully engrossed in a Law and Order marathon.
The other thing that annoyed me was, there’s a god damn regional rail line that runs right through his town and into Center City Philadelphia. Why couldn’t he just hop on the train? Was I not worth one six dollar ride on public transportation?
Then the Grouchketeer texted me to tell me he couldn’t get a later reservation at the delicious restaurant we were supposed to have dinner at. He promised he’d figure something else out, but I was already at this point on the rage spectrum:
Here’s the real problem: I was starving. I’d spent the day fasting in preparation for Dan Dan noodles, and now they’d been snatched away from me. I informed my date of this.
Yes, they’re blindingly delicious, Grouchketeer, but that’s no excuse. I stewed some more, until my roommate (cautiously, carefully ) pointed out that my supreme annoyance at this scheduling hiccup was probably 25% due to my date being a poor planner and possibly a liar, and 75% due to pure, unadulterated hanger. She advised me to have a glass of wine and a snack before things got ugly.
I did just that, for everyone’s safety and well being. And it worked! I was much calmer about the whole thing. An hour and a half later, when the Grouchketeer finally rolled up to my apartment (I had demanded that he pick me up at this point), I was feeling totally breezy. And slightly tipsy. ‘Where are we going?’ I asked nonchalantly.
Grouchketeer: I made an executive decision. No Old City… the parking is a nightmare and we’ll have to wait to eat. We’re going to a place in West Philly.
Me: Okay. Sounds great.
We drove, chatting amiably, until I noticed a duffel bag in the car.
Me (half jokingly): Going somewhere?
Grouchketeer: Oh. Yeah. My dad has a shore house in Wildwood, and I’m going to head down after our date tonight and stay the weekend. He’s away so I’ll have the place to myself, and it’s probably the last weekend of nice beach weather we’ll have until next year.
Me: That sounds amazing. I love the shore.
Grouchketeer: Yeah, so, uh, actually, I didn’t know if it would be weirder to say something now or in advance, but I wanted to invite you down, too, if you’re interested. I’m sure you have plans and I’m not trying to sound presumptuous, really I just mean you can come hang at the house and there’s a pool there, and a guest bedroom if, you know…yeah. I’d love for you to come with me if you’re up for an adventure.
I’ll admit it; for roughly five seconds this offer did sound super romantic and spontaneous. Boy meets girl, boy whisks girl away to the shore in a vintage Camaro for a weekend of hot sex and drag racing (yes, I was essentially confusing my life with a Bruce Springsteen song. We Jersey girls do that sometimes).
Then reality sunk in. First of all, I was sitting in an ’03 Toyota. Second, ONCE AGAIN, I didn’t even know this guy. My mood quickly shifted to indignant.
Who did this complete stranger think he was, asking me to befriend his siblings’ significant others and then proposing I spend the weekend with him 2 hours away? After one. date. Plus there’s the fact that he could OBVIOUSLY be a rapist or serial killer (which would explain why he stayed home to watch that Law and Order marathon–he was probably taking notes!) But even though my answer was clearly:
Grouchketeer had asked me very sweetly and earnestly (although I imagine most sociopaths have that look down) and I didn’t want to overreact and sour the whole date, so tried to respond as casually as I could.
Me: Oh. Wow. Thanks, but I have plans this weekend.
Grouchketeer:Okay, no problem. Was that weird of me to ask you that?
Me: Honestly? Yes, a little bit.
Grouchketeer: I’m really sorry, I didn’t mean it that way. You’re just really cool and I like spending time with you.
Awkward silence. So much awkward silence.
While we drove, I tried to decide how inappropriate all of this really was. Later that night, when I told L about the shore incident, she made a great point: clearly I liked Grouchketeer, but I was not that into him, and I might have (probably would have) reacted differently with a different guy. For instance if H, the guy who I had the best first date of my life with, had asked me the exact same question at the beginning of our second date, I probably would have gone full Born to Run fantasy and risked becoming a human lampshade in the name of having a spontaneous adventure with a guy I was into. And she’s so right. In dating, the same behavior can read as inappropriate or hot, creepy or romantic, annoying or charming, depending on how much you like the person. God, L, why are you so wise?
We arrived at the restaurant, a trendy restaurant owned by a Top Chef winner that I’d been meaning to go to for months (tragically/hilariously, D and I had had plans to eat here, but I had to cancel our reservation when he dumped me three days before we were supposed to go. Memories!) Cynical S was thinking: it’s Friday night, this place is small and super popular, there is no way we’re not waiting an hour plus for a table. And waiting at the bar would be no big deal, except my date was an effing tea totaler. I bit my tongue, though, and just went with it.
Turns out that Grouchketeer had the hook up. He knew the restaurant manager (a “friend of his” aka cute girl who was overly friendly to me, which made my spidey senses tingle) and we were seated almost immediately. We had a delicious meal and the kitchen sent us multiple dishes on the house. Once again, Grouchketeer proved himself to be a a severe mumbler and I ended up getting food on my shirt because I was leaning across the table to attempt to catch what the hell he was saying in the loud ass room. The manager who he knew came over to ask how our food had been, and he said something to her in THE LOWEST VOICE EVER and they both looked at me expectantly. At that point, tired of saying ‘Excuse me?’, I literally just said ‘Yup!’, smiled, and took a big swig of my drink. I’m sure I looked (and sounded) deranged.
After dinner, we faced another classic Grouchketeer dilemma: what. the. fuck. do we do if we can’t go to a bar? Again, was not ready to invite him to my place, and the park we had planned to go to was on the other side of the city and at the point getting ready to close. We were in kind of a dead area full of insufferable Penn students, so we decided to “take a walk”. The banter/chatting with this one was good, readers, I will say. Then my date announced he had an idea for what to do next.
Grouchketeer: Have you ever been to a hookah bar?
Me: Sure, before I was 21 and could get into actual bars.
Grouchketeer: There’s one around the corner. We should go.
Me: Okay…? Sure, why not?
So we went to a hookah bar, like a couple of 19 year olds whose fake IDs have been confiscated. It was mostly empty because again, hookah bar on a Friday night. We smoked (green apple flavor), enjoyed Turkish coffee and I proceeded to drop the powdered sugar on the Turkish delight all over my top, which was already looking unique due to my mumble-induced table leaning.
As painfully uncool as it was, there were upsides to the hookah situation. First of all, it was empty, so it was QUIET, which meant I could actually hear what Whispers Von Mumbleson was saying. Second, we were literally on a couch covered in pillows, which led to a very relaxed vibe that was conducive to chatting and flirting. We stayed at that place for hours chatting, smoking and drinking and chatting. Despite the weird start, date #2 was going pretty well.
Finally I realized it was super late and the owners were giving us the cut eye because we were the last people there. Once again Grouchketeer drove me home, and once again we made out in the car in the bike lane outside of my apartment and then said goodnight.
A few days later, my date asked me out a third time. Woot. He suggested we check out a neighborhood street fair with food, booze, and live music. Double woot. Grouchketeer mentioned he had “no schedule” so I should pick the time. The location was a bit of a hike for both of us, so we both planned to drive and meet there at 7.
I arrived at 7 and texted him to let him know I was there. No answer. He’s parking, I figured. 10 minutes went by. I got myself a beer and walked around.I checked my phone at 20 minutes, now officially annoyed. Was this dude seriously going to make me wait for the second time and not even say anything? And at least the first time I’d been in my apartment and could easily do other things; now I was outside in a strange area of the city with hundreds of people, wandering around aimlessly and alone like an idiot. Then I got this:
I waited 10 more minutes and asked how it was going.
What. the. fuck. I had parked in two minutes. I stood there, stewing with rage, until approximately 7:40, and then something inside of me snapped. And I did something I’ve never done before, readers: I left. I was so over this guy’s shitty behavior and being made to wait twice in a row, and I knew even if he’d shown up 30 seconds later I would’ve been so annoyed with him there’s no way it would have been a good date. So I said,
…and I bounced.
I texted Grouchketeer to let him know I was over waiting and was going home. Comically, five minutes later he texted saying he’d found parking. Clearly he hadn’t even looked at my messages.
FOR REAL, Grouchketeer. You asshole. Also, when I just went to screen cap his (bullshit) response, it was gone. Like, deleted out of my text history. I’m pretty sure I went to copy and paste it to L or D and must have in my blinding rage accidentally deleted it. It said something to the tune of “bla bla bla sorry but to be clear I said to pick a time where you wouldn’t feel rushed.” WHAT??
Here’s something I did find when returning to our texts for this post. I didn’t even see this when Grouchketeer actually sent it, because I was busy being an adult and being on time for my shit. If I had seen it, crimes might have been committed.
ejwqoidmoiewjrfekdmcklewjroi3remmngfnuoewjro oh my GOD. So this dude had all fucking day to take a shower because you know, “no schedule”, but he chose to do it 48 minutes before we were supposed to meet up, when he also knew he had to drive a minimum half hour to get there and fight to find parking. And then he actually tried to sass ME when he was wildly late. COOL PLANNING/MANNERS, BRO.
Anyway, as you can see above, there was not reaaaaally even an apology in that text from him; I remember that for sure. Since my rage level had officially returned to:
Yes, that was so long I had to paste two screencaps together. Yes, I know I made it sound like I’m busier than the president when in reality I’m usually on the couch watching TV. But it’s the principle of the thing. I don’t know what I was expecting after that (admittedly wordy) manifesto, but I certainly thought it would be more climactic than this:
Aaaaaaand scene. Literally those were the last words we said/wrote to each other.
I was so mad, you guys. And just disappointed. And while Grouchketeer had been really sweet and considerate at other times, be had been a real dick about this, which simultaneously made me feel vindicated for leaving and completely depressed because everyone out there is apparently the worst. A small part of me wondered if I should have just gone with the flow more, but in case you haven’t noticed, that is just not who I am; and if this guy couldn’t pull it together the second and third times he met me, it was only going to be downhill from there anyway.
I realize this was a depressing end to my run with everyone’s favorite trash kid. Believe me, I felt the same way; I think a first date as epically ridiculous as ours deserved a better, or at least more interesting, conclusion. So even though we ended on a sour note, I will always remember our time with Mr. Sick et al fondly, so I’m going to go out on a limb (or a stump-badumching!) and give Grouchketeer a proper, puppet-themed send off.
Date #3 rating: 0/10. I know the date didn’t actually happen, but I showed up (on time) so I’m counting it.
I’d like to kick off this doozy of a post by quoting…myself:
“If hell freezes over and a date actually makes a non-bar suggestion, unless that suggestion is ‘Tea Party rally’ or ‘anonymous orgy’, I’m going to throw caution to the wind and just say yes.” —S, 9/2/14
Will I never learn to just keep my mouth shut? It’s like I was asking the universe to present me with an insane first date scenario that I’d be forced to say yes to. And the universe did not disappoint.
Let me back up for a second. When I wrote the above line in myfall dating to do list, I’d been chatting a bit with a reasonably smart, cute and nice dude on Okc. We had no plans to meet up yet, but less than 24 hours after publishing my post, that changed. I have dubbed this guy “Grouchketeer”, and you will find out why later in this post.Anyway, when the Grouchketeer texted me this:
I thought, well look here; a challenge. Bring it on, good sir. Fringe Fest is known for being kind of….alternative, but how weird could this “idea” be? An art exhibit? A play?
Oh, it was a play. But not just any play.
I read that description approximately 8 times, thinking I just wasn’t getting it. Then as the words “explosive”, “frenzied”, and “anatomically complete” sunk in, along with, you know, “physically disabled”, I began to panic. Why did this guy pick this bizarre puppet show out of all the Fringe Fest events and all the things we could do in the world? What would this even entail? Would we be watching wheelchair-bound puppets have sex? Did this mean my date was into puppet porn? IS PUPPET PORN A THING I DON’T EVEN KNOW ABOUT?!?!?
Then another thought occurred to me: clearly this “guy from Okcupid” was L and/or D in disguise fully catfishing me for shits and giggles. Well played, co-bloggers. Well played.
Except L and D, while positively DELIGHTED to hear about this date proposition (a little too delighted, honestly), assured me it wasn’t them. They also reminded me of mycomically recent promise to be open to non-traditional datesand I was all, “I KNOW, DAMN IT, I KNOW WHAT I WROTE” in a howler monkey voice. Because I knew they were right. I had baited the universe, and the universe dared me to go back on my word. Hell, it triple dog dared me.
I had no choice, dear readers, but to stick my (proverbial) tongue to the (proverbial) flagpole.
So many adjectives, Gouchketeer. So many. And then he upped the ante:
Saturday arrived, and Grouchketeer and I met at the restaurant. He was just as cute in person (score), but had committed the classic single guy act of2+ inch height fraud. Dinner was pretty good, actually… he was witty and interesting, and the conversation flowed pretty well. One thing that made it more awkward was the fact that he was kiiiind of a mumbler. He was one of those people who would start a sentence off at normal volume and then sort of trail off as he talked. The restaurant wasn’t exactly quiet, either, so I found myself repeating, ‘What?”, “I’m sorry?” and “Excuse me?” an uncomfortable number of times, and homeboy would not take a hint to speak up.
Beyond the mumbling, there were a few…red flags.
Red flag #1: College drop out. He allegedly went to a few different schools, one of which was Ivy League so clearly he wasn’t stupid or lacking opportunities, but “hated it” and never finished. Oh, Philadelphia bachelors (without Bachelors–hiyooo).
Red flag #2: No actual 9-5 job. According to Grouchketeer, he did “a lot of things” such as: concert booker/promoter for a local music venue, had his own landscaping business…? and (drumroll please) was training to be a “rescue diver”. No, I don’t know what that means, either.
Red flag #3: Rest assured, there’s a #3, but it was revealed later in the date. Stay tuned.
So at this point I know Grouchketeer kiiiiind of sounds like a zero. Believe me, the same thought crossed my mind. But I could tell he was really smart. He was clearly self sufficient (didn’t live with his parents THANK GOD), loved to travel and had been all over the world, and had a lot of interesting things to say. And he was cute. So I ignored these flags for the time being and just focused on understanding what the hell my mumbling date was actually saying. And against all odds, I was actually having a good time.
Such a good time, in fact, that we both lost track of time and almost missed the, ahem, show (and what a…pity…that would have been). Unfortunately Grouchketeer realized what time it was (damn him) and we cut dinner short. While we waited for our check, I took the opportunity to ask what I had been wondering for the past week:
Me: So, can I ask why a puppet show? What made you pick that out of all the Fringe Fest events going on?
Grouchketeer: I don’t know, it looked like it could be interesting and also, I’ve always had a thing for puppets.
Me (thinking): Oh God. Ew. Does he mean, like, a sexual thing? So puppet porn IS a real thing, then. I KNEW IT.
Obviously my date must have caught the horrified/alarmed look on my face.
Grouchketeer: Oh man, no, not in like, a creepy way! I actually was a child actor for a few years. I was on Sesame Street, so I’ve always thought puppets were kind of awesome.
Who has two thumbs and has seen WAY too many episodes of Law and Order: SVU?
This girl. My date was trying to tell me about his childhood stint on Sesame Street, and mama’s brain went right to ‘puppet porn’. Not my most sane moment, readers.
Me: Oh! That’s awesome! What did you do on Sesame Street?
Grouchketeer: I was a member of Oscar the Grouch’s posse. We were like a spoof on the Mouseketeers.
Me: Oh my God, yes! I remember! You guys were covered in trash, right?
(Lest you think I’m exaggerating, check out a Google image of these poor, pathetic kids smeared with dirt, wearing low budget DIY t-shirts and trashcan lids ON THEIR HEADS.)
The Grouchketeers were basically Mugatu’s Derelicte campaign for kids, and my date was a part of this elite club. Maybe he had some sort of puppet Stockholm syndrome.
Okay, readers. Now that you know the origin of my date’s nickname, it’s time for today’s main event: the puppet show.
We walked, almost ran to the theater since we were late. I was secretly hoping the show had already started but alas, when we knocked on the door to the tiny, nondescript South Philly theater, they let us right in.
A woman handed us two programs and ushered us towards the entrance. “Don’t worry,” she assured us. “He hasn’t started.”
We walked in and found two seats in the back row. The theater was full, and by “full” I mean the 20 seats in the theater mostly had people in them, presumably all family members of the puppeteer or possibly people on equally bizarre Okcupid first dates. I was just opening my program when the lights dimmed and a booming male voice announced:
“Welcome to this evening’s performance of ‘Incongruous’. If you need to use the restroom, please do so now, as you will not be permitted to leave during the show.
We trust that you have had the chance to read your program and are well versed in the disabilities we’ll be discussing tonight.
Enjoy the show.”
Then, to add to the already uncomfortable vibe, someone came into the theater and TURNED OFF THE AIR CONDITIONING. In case you were wondering, here’s what the weather in Philly was like on the day in question:
So there I was, readers, trapped in a tiny box of death, sweating, barred from using the restroom, unable to see the program which was apparently required reading beforehand, on a first date with an ex-child star whose parents allowed him to be covered in trash in exchange for money.
Just when I thought shit could not get weirder, a man dressed in all black appeared on stage, and produced a puppet from behind a table. The puppet was a naked woman with one leg. He then produced a baby puppet and proceeded to make the mom breast feed the baby. Then he started to sing. A lullaby. In Spanish. This continued for an UNCOMFORTABLE amount of time. I’m not talking 30 seconds. Like, for at least 3 minutes we all sat there in sweaty silence, watching a puppet breast feeding another puppet while being serenaded with a creepy Spanish lullaby.
One piece of good news (the only piece, really): I glanced over at my date during this spectacle, and he appeared to be just as baffled as I was. He was literally mouthing:
Good, I thought. At least he’s equally freaked out and isn’t thoroughly enjoying this insanity.
Speaking of insanity, the puppeteer finally spoke, in a heavy accent. I understood maybe 20% of what he was saying. There were four different puppet…vignettes, and not for a million dollars could I tell you what any of them were really about. I can tell you the puppeteer flubbed his lines about 10 times and he kept trying to make the puppets do things (pick up a tiny coffee cup etc.), except their limbs were getting stuck… so he would literally break character in the middle of the show and say ‘sorry, hang on a sec’ so he could FIX THE PUPPET. I can’t.
The longer this went on, the funnier it was to me. The whole thing was so nuts, such an out of body experience, that it started to become straight up hilarious. Grouchketeer nudged me a couple times at weird moments, and we kept exchanging half terrified, half bemused ‘WHAT IS HAPPENING??’ glances and trying to stifle our LOLs. I may be the first person in the history of time to say this, readers, but that nude puppet show was oddly conducive to flirting.
The show continued, with puppet genitalia galore but mercifully, no actual puppets doin’ it. (Score?) There was a triple amputee puppet, a little boy puppet with prosthetics, a model puppet with short arms (at this point the puppeteer verbally reprimanded us for not reading our programs and knowing what the disability was called), and then came the piece de resistance: a gimp puppet in full S&M bondage gear. This puppet, called “Mr. Sick”, delivered the final monologue which was a truly unhinged amalgamation of political buzzwords. Literally it went something like this (clearly paraphrasing, please no one sue me):
Mr. Sick: YOU ARE SICK. I AM SICK. VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN, GMOs, CAPITALISM, ANTI-ABORTION LAWS, GLOBAL WARMING, THE MIDDLE EAST, ALL OF THESE THINGS HAVE MADE US SICK. WE ARE ALL SICK!
The lights came up. That was the end. There was stunned silence and then confused applause. Having had to pee for the past 40 minutes, I jumped out of my seat and ran to the bathroom, where I texted L and D this picture of my program as proof that I’d actually attended:
When I emerged, Grouchketeer was waiting for me in the lobby, looking appropriately sheepish.
Grouchketeer (chuckling): Well that was…interesting.
Me: Um, yes.
Grouchketeer: So wait, why were the puppets naked?
Me: Wait, you didn’t know they’d be naked? Didn’t you read the description before you bought the tickets? It definitely said they’d be nude.
Grouchketeer: I skimmed it, but I guess I didn’t read it carefully enough.
Me: Clearly you didn’t!
Grouchketeer: Yeah, sorry about that. Also, they’re selling Mr. Sick shirts over there with his monologue on them. I genuinely considered buying you one.
I was actually pissed that he didn’t buy me one, and I told him so, because I thought after such an insane first date experience I at least deserved a souvenir. I would have worn that Mr. Sick shirt with pride, readers.
We walked back towards the restaurant, giggling about what we’d just seen, quoting Mr. Sick to each other. Grouchketeer asked if I’d like to go somewhere else to chat more.
Me: Sure, sounds great. I know a few good bars that are right around the corner.
Grouchketeer: Oh, uh, sure, we can totally go to a bar, but I feel like I should just mention so you know… I don’t drink.
***Red Flag #3 Alert***
Ugh. So many red flags, you guys. I asked Grouchketeer why he didn’t drink, and to his credit he was very frank and forthcoming: he was drinking to the point of abusing alcohol a few years back, decided to take a break and realized it was the best thing he ever did, so just stuck with it. He assured me he had zero problem being around alcohol and was totally cool with others drinking, he just didn’t want to make me uncomfortable for being the only one doing it (I hadn’t even noticed he didn’t drink at dinner–I was too busy hearing about his days as a human trashcan).
So….that made the night take a serious turn. I mean look, everyone has their shit, and he appeared to be very open and mature about the whole thing, and it’s not like I’m some huge binge drinker, anyway. And I told him all those things. But honestly, what do two near strangers do on a Saturday night when they’ve already gone to dinner and watched naked puppets prance around on a stage? They GO TO A BAR.
I was at a total loss for what to do next; homeboy was not being invited to my place, and it was starting to rain. Luckily Grouchketeer suggested dessert (something mama is always up for), so we got gelato. And talked some more/LOL’d some more about Mr. Sick. Then he drove me home. We kissed a little bit in his car (he was a good kisser but we were literally parked in a bike lane with hazards on, so it was quick) and I said goodnight.
Phew. That was quite the marathon. If you actually stuck with me through this insane recap right until the bitter, booze-free end, I’d like to offer you an appreciative and frankly, impressed, round of applause.
Date rating: 7/10. Given the fact that I attended a nude puppet show with a total stranger, it was a surprisingly fun night. Despite multiple red flags, my date was smart, interesting, and cute, and Mr. Sick (bless his heart/bondage gear) gave us plenty of things to talk about.
Time for a little ‘where are they now/why the eff aren’t they posting new content’ Stucu update, with the help of my girl D.Grab your (slightly more appropriate than last week) pumpkin-themed beverage andtake a seat, dear readers.
One of us posted a fall dating to do list which included a goal to be more open to alternative date suggestions. Not four hours later, her resolve was tested when she was asked out on a…unique date. The activity? (Drumroll please…)
A puppet show.
I know what you’re thinking. ‘Oh, like Avenue Q!’
If Avenue Q were darker, creepier, more troubling and with less of a clear plot, then yes. Exactly like Avenue Q.
Translation: an epic first date post is on its way. Prepare yourselves.
Some of us are currently more excited about fall TV than boys:
One of us is moving! To the ‘burbs. (The ‘burbs is a generous description for where I’m headed)
Official announcement pending. In the meantime, we’re accepting submissions for a new tagline. So far the best we’ve come up with is: “3 single girls, 2 cities, and 1 podunk town.”
We’ve gotten some really insane, seemingly fake but apparently real media “requests” lately. First, from someone working at Larry King’s new show (didn’t even know he had a new show…congrats, Larry?) at the end of August:
Being the paranoid cautious single ladies that we are, our first response to an email like this is always: “who is trying to trick us, and why?” However, some preliminary stalking confirmed that good old Larry King does indeed have a new show on some network called Ora, and his verified twitter had posted this tweet:
So it seemed legit. Legit and totally last minute (we received this email at 1:08pm and they needed it by 3pm… when all three of us were you know, at our actual jobs.) Still, we quickly opened up a group gchat and got busy brainstorming questions and submissions because #priorities, and sent them off in the nick of time. And then… nothing. (God damn it.)
Next up, we received this delight:
WHAT???? My first thought was, “L is definitely NOT interested in this.” Followed closely by “WTF?!” (My first thought was, “God, I enjoyed the movie ‘Think Like a Man’ more than a white girl from South Jersey has any right to.’) Maybe it was the over-sized bottle of red wine that my roommate and I killed while watching, but to me this was a cinematic triumph.
Also, can I just point out that Gabrielle Union continues to be one of the hottest, most amazing leading ladies of our time? I’ve been following her career since 10 Things I Hate About You and Bring it On and…where was I? Steve Harvey? Oh, that’s right. Back to you, D.
I mean, first of all, we write an anonymous dating blog. National TV doesn’t seem like a great way to stay on the DL. Also, what is the premise of this/what’s going to happen? I fly out to Chicago for dating advice from Steve on how to find Mr. Right? Or Steve’s production team Steve actually assists in finding my Mr. Right? Is my Mr. Right in Chicago? Is that what I’ve been doing wrong all this time? Or do they come out to Boston my podunk town/Philly/DC and … what? interview potential dates? While I’ll admit that letting Steve Harvey give me antiquated and sexist dating advice while I parade my sad single self on national TV is tempting from a comedic standpoint, this is a no go.
We came so close to fame. Twice. Not necessarily a noteworthy or dignified type of fame, but fame nonetheless. (Stucu Almost Famous Tour 2014–coming to a podunk town near you!)
And here is our solemn vow, readers: if we ever do make it big, we promise not to let it go to our heads.
Narrow brushes with fame aside, all of us have been feeling a bit of writer’s block lately and would love your opinions on future content. What would you like to see more of? Less of? We all know that my mom thinks we should tone down the whining, but some additional (non-mom) opinions would be helpful. Leave us a comment if you can, or fill out this handy dandy survey:
This message is actually not as random/nonsensical as it probably seems. I mention in my Okcupid profile that 1. I kick ass at the music round of quizzo (I do) and 2. I’m always on the lookout for a good bagel place, since there seem to be none in Philly (seriously, where can a girl find a good bagel in this foodie town??)
So while this message was an incomplete sentence, at least the guy read my profile. And gave me a bagel rec! Could be worse.
Also, I can’t not respond. I know it’s a waste of time and who cares if a complete stranger is being a shady Mcshaderson and I should just move on with my life… and yet, I can’t seem to help myself.
Suck it, asshole.
I could just drop the mic and be done here, but this guy’s profile is just too good. Plus it’s Monday, and I can’t deny you lovely readers the lulz.
It’s like a computer compiled a list of the most cliched, stereotypical buzzwords about white suburban guys (literally including the phrase ‘white suburbanite guy’) and spewed them all over this profile. Football! Porn! War! Bacon! Beer! Cigars! It’s classic.
Also, our friend Joe Sixpack can’t count.
Also, orgasms and Splenda are equally important to him.
Oh, but he’s not done. Regular Joe decided to leave us with one final pearl of wisdom.
LOL INDEED. What. A. CHARMER! Good old Joe, just casually hanging out on Okcupid, being a married cliche, insulting the same women he’s looking to go out with. You really know how to make the ladies swoon, sir. Apparently it never occurred to you that 1. “a lot of us” are alone because we’d rather spend the rest of our lives with DVR and 12 cats than settle for the likes of you and 2. the only reason you’re not equally alone is because you’re already married.
Update: Turns out Regular Joe is maybe not the dim-witted cliche I made him out to be. Actually he probably (definitely) still is, but he was quoting a song by Dennis Leary in his self summary:
Thanks to our reader Chris for pointing this out, because obviously I had no idea. I mean, I post Dreamgirls clips on this blog; clearly I haven’t seen any early 90s Denise Leary music videos. But that line does sound like a complete joke, so it’s kind of a relief to know that it actually is. I still stand by this Message Monday, though, because 1. married and 2. unless there’s an accompanying skit about Splenda and orgasms (Chris, help us out!), this guy is still a tool.
Speaking of the end of summer, how much do you hate me for putting the word ‘fall’ in my post title? I’m like those ill-informed Starbucks executives who think people want to drink pumpkin spice lattes when it’s still 90 degrees out. I know I may be rushing it, but I’m just so. excited. for fall.
So yeah, mama’s excited to move on from all that (and to stop designing my date outfits/hairstyles around how much I’ll inevitably be sweating. East coast humidity is no joke, people.) Fall always feels like a fresh start, and it’s a great opportunity to hit the reset button on my tired dating practices. With that in mind, I’ve outlined my fall dating plan for you lovely readers because 1. posting it here will hold me accountable to actually do these things, and 2. I currently have no actual dates to tell you lovely readers about #datelessdatingblogger.
S’s Fall Dating To Do List
Update the ol’ profile pic–I have an assortment of cute pictures from this summer where I look arguably tanner than my pasty self has ever looked, and as we’ve covered previously, profile pics are pretty much the only things Okcupid users pay attention to. So why the hell haven’t I uploaded those babies? I’ll change that ASAP before I go back to looking like a Vitamin D-deficient basement dweller. Done.
Brainstorm new first date locales, and be open to unorthodox suggestions—I’m not saying I plan to retire my go-to first date suggestion, because it’s convenient and I love it. But there’s something to be said, I think, for throwing out a fresh location, mainly because at this point in my online dating…career… I have a lot of history in my standard bars. For instance, I couldn’t help but think, while being fist-bumped by the Good Message Unicorn outside Strangelove’s, that just over a year beforehand I was having the best first kiss after the best first date of my life. Right there in that very spot. Oof, was that depressing. Depressing and unnecessary. There are plenty of bars in the city and damn it, I’m going to try some new ones (I realize I have to actually secure a date first, but shhhh details). Also, if hell freezes over and a date actually makes a non-bar suggestion, unless that suggestion is ‘Tea Party rally’ or ‘anonymous orgy’, I’m going to throw caution to the wind and just say yes.
I really only started to think about this after reading L’s tale of downgrading her first date location and remembering that I’ve also pulled that move (making two out of three Stucu bloggers the worst!) Last year my ex, D, who was an unusually thoughtful planner, suggested go karts for our second date. I remember thinking at the time that this suggestion was totally random and weird (which let’s be honest it kind of was) so I pushed for a bar instead. But looking back now, all I can think is, what the hell was wrong with me?? A cute guy was attempting to plan shit, fun and different shit, for us to do. I should have done it! I should have capitalized on dating a planner while I could, loosened up and had some fun, because Lord knows I may be waiting a long ass time (read: forever) for that to come along again.
Try Hinge, because co-blogger D is having wild success on it–Okay, “wild success” might be a slight overstatement, but co-blogger D’s been thrown some seriously eligible bachelors in our extended social circle in the week that she’s been using Hinge, including a college friend of L’s who she and her friends refer to as “the one that got away”. Okay, Hinge. I’ll bite. Let’s do this (comically, I just tried to download the Hinge app while writing this and it made my phone semi explode. Foreshadowing?)
Don’t be an asshole about replying to messages and then complain incessantly about messages–Real talk, I will never not complain about messages. That’s just a totally unrealistic goal. But I am going to work on being a more decisive replier. Example: sometimes I will get a message from someone who seems kind of meh, and I’ll mentally earmark him as a ‘maybe’, but really I only mean ‘maybe if I’m bored or there’s no one else promising or I stalk an ex on social media and feel bad about myself’. L revealed a similar pattern of hers in her delightfully real post last week (seriously can we all tell how inspired I was be her realness?) As my girl pointed out, this is kind of a dick move, and if we’re going to call dudes out for being dicks, well, we’re going to put ourselves on blast, too. In the future, I’m going to try to give every message a simple yes or no, and move the hell on.
Stop taking everything so personally–If you online date, you know how easy it is to take “I’m not getting any good messages” and twist it into “I’m not getting any good messages…
In other words, just because it’s been a slow, shitty summer date-wise doesn’t mean this is about me. People have been outside, on vacay, enjoying the beautiful weather and living their damn lives. Everyone is on Okc and other sites less, and the people who aren’t tend to be looking for a casual summer fling/jump off. It’s been a slow summer for almost every single person online dating that I know, and if it hasn’t, congratulations/I hate you/please don’t tell me about it and just let me live in ignorance believing this theory. Thanks!
Continue to gleefully boycott and malign eHarmony–You didn’t think my to do list included giving that wretched site my money, did you? HA! I’ll see you in hell, Dr. Neil Clark Warren, before that happens. What I can promise is to follow up on my original post with some more hilariously awful things I encountered during my tenure as a fake free member of the site. Because as L said when I asked her if a second eHarmony post was overkill: “Hating on eHarmony will never go out of style, on this blog or in life”. Wise words, Lady L. Wise. Words.
Repeat the affirmation:your time will come. This is some serious zen shit, am I right? It goes hand in hand with one of my favorite quotes that I may need to have tattooed on my forehead by the time I turn 30: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” God damn, Teddy Roosevelt, not only were you a bonafide badass, but you also threw down some sage advice. Seriously, though, I have to stop focusing on what everyone else has (successful relationships/boyfriends/fiances/husbands) trust that things will work out some day, and just continue to do me. While I wait for someone else to do me. HAHAHAawkwardsexjokethatmymomwillread. Basically…patience. I need some. And now this beautiful song is in my head:
Lest you think I’m making a wildly ill-advised attempt to compare my silly little dating woes to the Civil Rights Movement, let me assure you that I really just love the Dreamgirls soundtrack. A lot. And I wanted us all to rock out to this amazing jam. So enjoy, maybe with a pumpkin spice latte?
When the story of Okcupid’s experiments broke a few weeks ago, the Stucu ladies were already in a bit of a dark place. Dating-wise, it’s been a wildly unsuccessful summer for the three of us, so it was total insult to injury when Okcupid plopped a big cherry on our shit sundae by announcing that we may have been unwitting, unwilling participants in some… experiments. If you haven’t read up on what happened, check out some of the coverage here, and here and here. Awesome. We appear to be dating in The Truman Show! Which come to think of it would explain a lot.
If you’re scratching your head after reading that and saying, “What the fuck?” then that makes four of us (five if we include Janis Ian). First of all, I’d just like to point out that this company clearly has a fetish for dehumanizing its users by comparing us to gross, thoroughly un-cute animals. In January it wasscorpions, now it’s large rodents. Okcupid, if you’re going to compare single people to animals, can you at least use cute ones? Or funny, nostalgic ones? These guys seem particularly appropriate:
Anyway, next time you have something controversial to tell us, maybe don’t let a 17 year old unpaid summer intern put together the “artwork” in MS Paint and fire it off to your users. You fools.
Before my rage bubbles over too much, let’s get to the point of this post, which is to share our thoughts on the experiments themselves (SPOILER ALERT: we’re not thrilled). If you’re Bill Nye or something, and want to read the full, original text about the experiments before you take our incredibly unbiased words for what they are worth, check them out here. Three of them, three of us. #winning.
Experiment #1: LOVE IS BLIND, OR SHOULD BE
Quick summary: for a period of time one day back in January OKC declared it Love is Blind Day and hid all user profile pics. What they “found out” shouldn’t surprise anyone. At all.
First, while profile pics were hidden, there were WAY less first messages sent, compared to a “typical Tuesday.” It looks like an average of around 3,000 messages per hour for the entire time the experiment was running, when it’s normally around 20,000 – 30,000. Essentially, most people didn’t want anything to do with Love is Blind Day.
Of the new conversations that were started in that period, people responded more often, and allegedly exchanged contact details more often.
I wasn’t surprised by this either. Far fewer conversations were started. So it makes sense that of the ones that were, they progressed further/faster. The people who participated in Love is Blind day were the very types who don’t place a really heavy emphasis on looks. Or at least the ones who don’t think they do. More on that in a little bit.
As an aside, while I had a depressing personal reaction to some of the results (see below), this is actually the only part of this experiment itself that bothers me. Are the people at OKC routinely monitoring the contents of all messages exchanged, like some creepy big brother matchmaker? Or was it just during this “experiment” to see what happened? I mean, I know I’m using their service, so I don’t expect that messages are totally private. But the idea that rather than just policing messages that people report as inappropriate, someone is over at OKC headquarters watching conversations progress and timing how long it takes for phone numbers to be exchanged, makes me never want to send another message.
Lastly, OKC kept track of how many of the conversations started during the Love is Blind period actually continued once profile pics were restored. The trend was overwhelmingly to abandon the conversation. No matter how deep into the conversation people were. Even after the exchange of 12 messages, there was still a more likely chance that the conversation would end rather than continue.
This is one of those results that surprises me, but also doesn’t. I mean, on the one hand, I don’t routinely exchange 12 messages with someone who I don’t find interesting. And yet, even those conversations that were going seemingly well tended to end once profile pics were restored. But, on the other hand, we live in a world that places a high value on certain kinds of physical attributes. So basically, Love is Blind day proved that the majority of people who claim “personality is more important to me than looks” are big fat liars. Because like I said above, those are the people who were much more likely to give Love is Blind day a chance. OKC users are big fat liars? That is SHOCKING.
I’d like to think I’m open-minded enough that if we were having a good conversation, but the person turned out to not be my type physically, I’d continue the conversation. i’ve responded to great messages from people whose pictures didn’t strike my fancy right away. Because, despite my tendency to form extreme crushes on total strangers (just last week I fell in love with a stranger on the T), physical attraction is also something that can build for me. Obviously, there has to be some baseline attraction. But much like a hot guy can become hideous based on his personality, a normal guy can become really attractive once I get to know him. And similarly, I’d like to think that there are others out there with the same outlook. But then I read about this experiment, and quite frankly, it made me super sad about the future of my dating life. I’m not especially attractive. Now, I don’t think I’m hideous either. It’s just that I would categorize myself as fairly plain. At least as far as looks go. I’m far from plain personality wise. I’ve got that in spades, and I like who I am. But if looks really are as important to online dating as they appear to be, then I don’t know why I’m bothering with this in the first place. Lord knows I get fewer messages, and go on fewer dates, than L and S. That’s never really bothered me before. I mean, we’re all different people with different tastes, living in different cities. And I tend to be more attracted to country boys (read: hicks), which is not the most populous type of guy in Boston. But then this “experiment” came out, and all I could think was, “well now I know the real reason I’ve been so unsuccessful.” (Oh man, D, now I’m sad. I’m going to resist the urge to throw out a patronizing “Ra-ra you are so amazing I wish we were both into women so I could date you right now”, even though that’s what I genuinely think. Instead I’m going to agree that the dating game can be a serious self esteem crusher. Show me a person who online dates and doesn’t go to this place at some point or another:
and I will show you a liar. Or possibly just a straight man (badum-ching!). Anyway, D, I just wanted to say I love you. Publicly. On our blog. And totally derail this post. Sorry, readers…)
Okay, I think I’ve gotten a hold of myself. Carry on, ladies.
I mean, the take-aways here are essentially: 1) virtually no one is interested in pictureless online dating; and 2) the world is a shallow place.
Experiment #2: SO, WHAT’S A PICTURE WORTH?
Did someone say shallow? L here, LSD’s admittedly most shallow contributor, ready to take on experiment numero dos. Basically, OKC asked a sample of users to rate other users’ profiles and pictures separately, and here is what they found:
In case, unlike me and S, who had a high school statistics teacher who was so amazing that his last name actually RHYMED with a deity, you have trouble interpreting scatter-plots, let me break it down for you: OKC users, by and large, rated people the same rating for looks and for personality. Now, this means one of two things:
1. People are truly as nice, kind, funny, and cool as they are good looking. Naomi Campbell is a good example of this. She is not only beautiful, but a really nice person.
That’s why she just hit Oprah with her cellphone. OPRAH, PEOPLE!
And before Gandhi passed away, “People Magazine” was frequently putting him on their “50 Most Beautiful People” list. I believe that Paul Wellstone will be remembered not as one of the most compassionate, progressive legislators of our time, but as 2008’s “Sexiest Man Alive.”
2. What’s that you say? The above paragraphs reek of sarcasm? You’re right, dear readers, they do, because the much more plausible explanation for this graph is that OKC users are just really shallow and care WAYYY more about what you look like than what you write in your profile. Clearly, the mad scientists at OKC had this hypothesis as well, so they decided to take their experiment one step further: Remove profile text altogether and see if users’ rankings of people differed at all from when they could see profile text. And sure ’nuff, what did they find?
Yup, same basic trend: profile text had very little to do with rankings.
Is this surprising to me? No. As the mastermind behind Tacosdelish, I’ve actually seen firsthand that many people could care less about what you put in your profile, or even what you say when you’re messaging with them. But does that mean that we should all give up unless we have really hot profile pics to post? Not at all, and let me tell you why:
A profile gives you something to message about. How many times have we complained on this blog about getting generic messages? Or messages just about our looks? Or messages that were actually intended for Angela Merkel? Your profile gives people the ability to start some sort of conversation with you, or, at the very least, make a witty joke before they ask you out for drinks.
Most people are just average looking. I’m not trying to pretend I’m better then the average OKC user. I didn’t message a single person or return messages on “love is blind” day because love is not blind. I am actually legally blind in my left eye, so I know what it is to be blind, and LOVE IS NOT. I need to be attracted to the person I’m going out with, and he needs to be attracted to me, or otherwise the date is a huge waste of time (unless we end up starting a book club or write a plan for world domination or something). Now, I know that attraction can develop over time, but I do think this is only true up to a certain point. That is why, when I’m evaluating people’s profiles and deciding whether to message them or message them back, I put them into one of three categories. (See, now do you understand why I’m the shallow blogger?) :
Category 1: I can’t get past his looks. The pics they posted are just not attractive to me. (15% of men)
Category 2: They look passable. This means they have at least one picture that I find attractive, and no pictures that scare me. (65% of men)
Category 3: They look super hot. Every picture they posted is attractive to me. (10% of men)
So here’s the thing. Most men fall into Category 2. (I actually think even MORE men could graduate from Category 1 to Category 2 if they stopped posting idiotic bathroom selfies or creepy pics of them in bed.) And, if you’re Cateogry 2, I read your profile to get more information. Because I believe there is a chance we could have a decent date/you could be the love of my life. So, if there is nothing in your profile, or if it is full of stupid adjectives and not so subtle digs at women, then I will GTFO and move on (sadly, I’d say more than HALF of the Category 2 guys weed themselves out this way). But, if we have even a little bit in common and you are not a She-Man-Woman-Hater, I’ll message you back.
Now, if you’re Category 1, I do just skip your profile and continue on my way. Sorry. I’m not as nice a person as Naomi Campbell, ok? And, Category 3 guys do get a VERY LENIENT read on the profile, and I’ve been known to go out with a couple Category 3 guys whose profiles have expressed thinly veiled chauvinism or some pretty egregious spelling errors. But this has almost NEVER turned out well for me, so honestly, I do this less and less.
The big takeaway here: Most of us look like average, Category 2 people, and so what people think of our looks is pretty subjective. So keep on writing those profiles boys. Unless of course, you’re so hot, you look good even when you’re pumping gas.
I actually asked L and D if I could take this one, because I think it’s the most brazen (and therefore, offensive) of the three experiments. While the first two covered looks and how much they matter (shocker: they matter a lot. I could have told you that, fools) this third one was about compatibility. Basically Okcupid attempted to figure out whether people’s behavior on the site could be influenced by being told they were “good” or “bad” matches when in reality they were the opposite. They did this by manipulating the match percentage of a sample of users and watching what happened. Here’s what the Okc nerds say about match percentage in their blog post:
“By all our internal measures, the “match percentage” we calculate for users is very good at predicting relationships. It correlates with message success, conversation length, whether people actually exchange contact information, and so on. But in the back of our minds, there’s always been the possibility: maybe it works just because we tell people it does. Maybe people just like each other because they think they’re supposed to? Like how Jay-Z still sells albums?”
Um, let’s leave Jay-Z out of this, shall we, Okcupid?
Anyway, I’ll come back to my thoughts on match percentage in a sec. For part one of this experiment, Okcupid told people with low match percentages (30%) that they were super compatible by making the percentages appear as 90%. Unsurprisingly, those people sent more first messages than those who saw the actual lower percentages.
Then they wondered, does this perceived compatibility cause people to actually hit it off and send more than just a first message?According to their data yes, it does:
Anyway, these results were stressing the Okc peeps out, because they basically suggested that their match percentage algorithm was worthless. So they flipped it and reversed it: this time around they told actual “good” matches (90%) that they were “bad” matches (30%) and saw the same general trend. Here are all the results displayed all together:
In summary, according to Okcupid, users can be influenced to message more often if they’re told they’re a good match, and less often if they’re told they’re a bad match. Unsurprisingly, people have the best chance of hitting it off if they appear to be a good match and actually are a good match (bottom right number).
My one real beef I have with the experiment itself is: for bad matches who are displayed as good, why is four messages considered some magic number of compatibility? Okcupid had this to say about it:
“The four-message threshold is our internal measure for a real conversation. And though the data is noisier, this same “higher display means more success” pattern seems to hold when you look at contact information exchanges, too.”
True, four messages technically constitutes a conversation, but you can’t then conclude that those people actually hit it off. I’ve exchanged four messages with plenty of dudes and decided that I actually hate/could never date them. Same goes for exchanging contact information… if I had a dollar for every time I seriously regretted giving someone my phone #, I would have enough to cover happy hour later today. Which would be awesome.
Also, not to get all ‘big brother is watching/NSA is listening’, but I’m with D on that last quote from Okc about “looking at contact information exchanges”. The idea that some 23 year old statistics nerd may be reading my messages to see whether I exchanged phone #s with a dude is gross. And creepy. And gross.
So, regarding experiment #3, my first takeaway is that dudes appear to actually look at match percentages, which given the two above experiments and L’s own experiments with Tacos Delish, I wasn’t entirely sure about. Hurrah! Second, I’m not surprised that people can be influenced to some extent (as you can see we’re not talking huge numbers here) by match percentages. Because, if I may remind the nerds of Okcupid, match percentage is not some random, arbitrary number. If you really want to get nerdy, check out their formula for calculating it here. Basically the number is representative of two people’s answers to questions and how important or unimportant they consider the questions to be. The Okcupid people themselves insist that some of these questions are a very reliable predictor of compatibility. Some questions are stupid and meaningless (I hate camping and horror movies, but they’re certainly not deal breakers), but others, likes these, are pretty big deal (you can literally mark them as ‘mandatory’, and I do):
Yup. A guy’s answers to these matter to me just a smidge. It’s true, a 30% match could probably make me laugh, or we could have off the charts chemistry or even really like each other. But at the end of the day, if he answered his questions truthfully, we’d still disagree on some fundamental things, and odds are those things would become an issue somewhere down the line.
Now on the flip side, a high percentage is no guarantee that I’ll actually be into the person. I look at a guy’s stats (age, location, education level, height etc), then profile and pics. Then match percentage. Then if we message, he could be ass numbingly boring, or reveal that he has only a basic grasp of the English language, or be mean-spirited. Or we could meet and have zero chemistry. There are a million different reasons why a 99% match could still not be the guy for me, but the point is at least I know when I message a 99% match (or even an 80% match) that we’ve presumably cleared the hurdle of agreeing on things that are important to both of us. In short, it saves time. Unless, of course, you’re an Okcupid guinea pig, and like I said above, I have a sneaking suspicion that these poor souls came to the exact same conclusion, just not as quickly. Such is the life of a lab animal.
I’ll admit, there’s a part of me, the secretly nerdy psych major part, that finds this all fascinating. We spend so much of our time on this blog being utterly baffled by people’s behavior, so anything that may shed some light on why people do what they do is, on some level, really cool. People are cool! Human behavior is fascinating! Science! Discovery! Progress!
That part of me thinks that online dating is hard and confusing and ridiculous and soul crushing enough without some Harvard BA in applied mathematics fucking with my user experience for sport. Yes, I realize that I signed a “user agreement” and it basically says Okc can do whatever they want with me. And I think it makes total sense for Okcupid to study the data they already have (and they have plenty) to draw lots of interesting, informative and helpful conclusions. Experiment #1, while stupid, was at least clear cut. Everyone realized what was happening. Nobody was being deceived. Experiment #2 was more deceiving, for sure, but still an A/B test (two versions of something with info. included or left out).
But when these assholes start changing match percentages, now people are just straight up being lied to and that’s when I hop onto my soapbox. Because you, Okcupid, an online dating service that people use to meet their significant others, may have legitimately prevented people from crossing paths who would have otherwise seriously hit it off. Many of us, LSD included, are using your service to hopefully meet the person we want to spend the rest of our lives with, sparing a lot of time, money, misery, humiliation and heartache in the process. Maybe that sounds dramatic, but if you were looking for a blog free of drama and ended up here, you clearly took a wrong turn somewhere.
Believe it or not, Okcupid, we’re not thrilled to sign onto your site day after day and cruise for thoroughly undatable sociopaths and illiterate weirdos, while our friends get engaged and married around us. It sucks. It’s the worst. And your comical disregard for that fact is not only infuriating, it sort of makes me want to stop using your site and go elsewhere. Except as we’ve covered pretty well here…. there is. no. elsewhere.
Plus the site’s arrogant, flippant tone throughout this whole thing (go reread that email above), combined with the way they’ve been dressing it up as if 1. if we’re on the internet period we should expect to be lied to in the name of research on a daily basis and 2. it’s some benevolent way for them to help us have a better experience, is also totally gross to me. This WSJ interview with Okc co-founder Chris Rudder sums it up pretty well:
Blech. Sure, Chris Rudder, we’re in control, but we base who we interact with on certain criteria. And if we’re given the wrong criteria or you withhold information from us, then that control is a fallacy. Don’t patronize us, buddy. Also, you’re lucky, so lucky, that a Stucu blogger didn’t wind up in one of these experiments, because you and our poor readers would probably never hear the end of it.
I realize that compared to other Message Mondays, this one is pretty harmless. It’s polite and to the point. It contains zero, insults,sexual propositions, or terrifying back woods date scenarios. True, ‘what is your fav color’ is a more appropriate question for a 5th grader texting his first girlfriend on a school night than a 38 year old man messaging a potential date, but in the grand scheme of things, this is not so terrible. Apparently this guy wasn’t satisfied with his first message, though, because he quickly sent me a follow-up:
Again, nothing blatantly insane, but here’s where this became MM-worthy. Ignoring the fact that there’s no mention of my profile whatsoever, so it’s unclear if he even read it. Good sir, would you go up to a woman in a bar and start listing your stats and self proclaimed attributes right off that bat like this? Is that how we’re striking up conversations these days? More importantly, the entire reason you HAVE A PROFILE is so you don’t have to fire off this info. right off the bat. It’s not 1996 and this isn’t an AOL chat room; the internet has evolved past the need to throw A/S/L out there, and thank God for that. I know you’re (allegedly) 38, single, 5’9 1/2 (ahem 5’7 tops) and have no kids, because you put all that info. in your profile. You know what else you put in your profile? The second part of this message, essentially:
Here’s the other thing that annoys me (besides ‘I’m honesty’…really?). L and I often lament the many Okc profiles we come across that are filled with useless adjectives. I realize that when writing about yourself it’s damn near impossible not to throw a handful in there, but lots of profiles I read contain pretty much nothing but this one part of speech. The thing is, listing personality descriptors doesn’t actually paint me a picture of who you are, for a couple of reasons. First, more often than not it comes off as self congratulatory and obnoxious. Second, it’s way too easy to exaggerate or lie. If there’s one thing we’ve confirmed on this blog time and again, it’s that the internet is full of liars. It’s frighteningly easy to say whatever you want about yourself, and most of the time I have no way of verifying this info. until we go out. I said most of the time, because if you’ll recall, last year L wrote about an amazing (since discontinued–boo) blog that took down dudes who claimed to be “nice guys” and then immediately contradicted that statement elsewhere. If you’ll also recall, today’s Message Monday claimed to be “open-minded” in his message to me, but his answers to some choice questions beg to differ:
Which brings me to my third issue with adjectives. Even if you genuinely believe you are all of the things you say you are, we may (and probably do) have very different definitions of the words themselves. What you consider “romantic”, I may consider cheesy or even creepy.
What you consider “open-minded”, well, see above. What you consider “easygoing”, I might just consider lazy.Sidenote on this one: if I see one more profile where a guy describes himself as laid back or easygoing, I’m going to flip a table.
I would estimate that 7 out of 10 single men on Okcupid use one or both of these adjectives in their profile, and I actually think that may be a low-ball number. News flash, single straight men of Okcupid: there is no way you are all actually “laid back” and “easygoing”. Do you possibly mean that you’re “lazy as shit”? Because that’s more believable. But easygoing in that pleasant, amiable, positive way that you clearly mean? Nope. Not buying it. Basically, if you’re using either of those adjectives to describe yourself, you’d better be this guy:
Here’s a good rule of thumb for profile and message writing, guys (and single people in general): use the same advice that your 7th grade English teachers (presumably) gave you.
Give me something, doesn’t have to be a novel but something, to help me learn some actual information about you. If you have a full time job and are in grad school working towards an advanced degree, that shows me that you’re ambitious. If you babysit your niece and nephew and take them on fun day trips, that shows me that you’re caring and trustworthy. If you share a self deprecating anecdote about yourself, that shows me that you’re down to earth. Also, bonus: it actually gives us things to talk about! Because currently what I have to go off of is “likes movies and traveling” (who doesn’t?) and “claims to be trustworthy” (who doesn’t?).
Anyway, stepping off that soapbox and back to the subject at hand, my “open-minded” Message Monday victim. Here are some more gems from his profile for your viewing pleasure:
Again with the adjectives (and grammatical gaffes). Stay focused on what? Maintaining the least informative Okcupid profile of all time?If so, A+, sir.
Getting a littttttle redundant up in here. Also, I’m choosing not to comment on “chivalry” in the interest of keeping this post short, but ugh.
Welp, better add “the inability to count or follow directions” to the list. That’s three things, you fool. Also, inquiring minds want to know, do you consider yourself to be a positive or negative person? I’m not sure, since you haven’t mentioned it.