Revenge is a dish best served by someone else: The not so secret Dating Vigilante Taskforce

Hullo readers! Some updates from Washington, D.C., where I am pleased to report that more has been happening than me just hating on JDate. Well, actually, not a ton more. Mostly just me going on dates with Js from the site and then finding something about them to hate on.

tim gunn concerned

http://giphy.com/gifs/nervous-worried-stressed-iQA2hMPX88icM

Yup, hold on to your hat Tim Gunn, because there is a date post coming your way in a couple days, and it features  a whole litany of complaints, including some about what I consider one of most serious fashion faux-pas of our time.

Meanwhile, since I have your captive attention, I thought I’d use a few minutes on the mic to run an idea by you. What if: there was a way to discipline your dates and exes for not acting like they had any basic human decency or manners, without seeming like a total lunatic or having to bear the uncomfortable pain of conflict yourself?

kardashian amen

http://fiercegifs.tumblr.com/post/80909624140

I mean, if you’ve read this blog before, or ever dated for more than seven minutes, it’s abundantly clear that there are plenty of people who exhibit some pretty obnoxious or just plain mean and cowardly behaviors just lurking around on dating sites, waiting to pounce on a yet another sad, single victim. And I’m not talking about simple fade aways here. I’m talking about the more egregious stuff. For example, the unemployed former child star who shows up an hour late for any date that doesn’t involve a puppet. Or, the guy who strings you along for weeks, and then lets you know he has a girlfriend. Or the legit movie theater narc. The list goes on and on. Tonight, I had the (mis)fortune of running into one of Stucu’s worst offenders in the flesh, on my commute home. And that, my friends, is why this is on my mind.

Remember, J, the guy who had a girlfriend and knowingly let me use her toiletries to freshen up in the AM? Well, you probably don’t, but I do. As an avowed feminist, and aspiring bad ass, it KILLED me that I basically let this guy get away with 1) probably cheating on his girlfriend 2) lying to me and 3) making fun of the movie “Marley and Me, “which was actually REALLY EMOTIONAL AND MEANINGFUL. They loved that dog so much. And that dog loved them right back.

In fact, I’d be a liar too if I didn’t admit that over the past 6 months, there have been a few monologues rehearsed in my mirror where I tell J I know he’s a big lying cheater and that I have gonorrhea. (Don’t worry mom, I don’t have it. I don’t even know how to spell it. I had to use google because even my spell check doesn’t know how to spell it.)

gonnerea

Anyway, when I saw J today, getting off the metro. I totally froze:

anna kendrick

I barely managed to give him my trademark side-eye glare before I actually quickened my pace and headed to the turnstile, even though at that point he fully turned around and looked at me. (When I got home and looked in the mirror, I sadly realized I was rocking a creative looking side part and had magic marker all over my hands. So I am kinda glad the confrontation didn’t go any further).

I mean, the reason why I didn’t say anything is the same reason I don’t implement many of my revenge fantasies, or give some of these fools the talking to they deserve. I didn’t want to be this girl:

crazy

However, my (well-advised) fear of conflict/humiliating myself means that J gets to walk around this earth (or to be less dramatic, NW DC) thinking that he can just be a douche and no one will care.

Now, enter the solution: the secret vigilante dating task force. What if, I could enlist volunteers (presumably other scorned, righteous ladies and the odd sassy gay friend or two, of course), to deliver anonymous hate telegrams to J and the other creeps that have come before and after him:

i know what you did last summer

https://www.tumblr.com/search/Helen+Shivers

I mean, clearly leaving terrifying notes in someone’s home would be reserved for the worst level of offenders. But we could ask volunteers to implement a number of services, perhaps based on a sliding scale donation.

Back of the envelope calculations on pricing and services:

  • $10: We’ll send the offending party a facebook message from an untraceable source, calling out his bad behavior and concluding with a spooky, “we’re watching you.”
  • $20: We’ll up the ante and make the facebook message a public wall post (or tweet), so everyone can see what he did.
    • I.e. Hey there J, It’s about time that you stopped cheating on C (tagged) with petite, ambiguously ethnic girls you meet on the internet. #cheater #herpes
  • $50: We’ll triangulate social media data to pinpoint a time and location where one of our trained volunteers can confront this clown in person. (Add $25 if you’d like volunteer to be dressed in a fake sheriff’s outfit. Add $50 more dollars if you’d like the volunteer to throw a drink in his face).

Clearly, all the deets aren’t figured out yet, but you get the gist. I’m basically the new Mark Zuckerberg. (After all, at one time in my life we sported similar haircuts. AND, we both like to sit at our computers and scheme). Instead of facebook, I’d call it HATESbook. (I realize that name doesn’t make a ton of sense, but I could resist the rhyme).

So what do you think ladies and gents? (Though mostly ladies, because if you haven’t inferred it yet, this blog is pretty biased against men). You in?

Emily-Revenge

http://www.crushable.com/2012/12/03/entertainment/revenge-the-tv-show-season-two-winter-finale-sucks/

Oh be quiet, Emily Thorne. I think we can all agree you’re way more fun when you’re not sorry. Revenge can rock. Just ask these folks.

Why don’t they write back? Uneducated guesses and other opinions…

Tonight, as I was going through my inbox to prep a Message Monday post for you, dear readers, I realized that nothing noteworthy stood out to me.

Sure, there were plenty of lame/nonsensical things to choose from, such as:

jdate book

Brought to you courtesy of Jdate, of course. This message is extraordinary in that it manages to be vaguely creepy but also rather unintelligible. Is my “book” my picture and profile? And what would it mean to curl up and “read” me? 

dexter

http://giphy.com/gifs/T8jvJ9xndGayY

So, rather than craft our 100 blog post about how most messages leaving us shaking our heads in a combination of confusion and fear, I decided to dedicate this post to tackling a frequent question from fellow online daters.

Why don’t people return my messages?

Now, here’s the deal/my regular disclaimer that, at the end of the day, I have obviously no idea what I’m talking about. If I did know what I was talking about, I would be married to Prince William. (And I’d have a much better relationship with the queen btw. Grandmas love me.)

However, I do have some well formed theories why people don’t return most of the messages they get. I’ve sent my fair share of messages over the last year, and much to my dismay, some of them never got returned. I used to get pretty bummed by this, but now it doesn’t faze me at all.

tom h brush shoulders off

 

Based on my experience sending and returning/not returning messages, I share the following nuggets of wisdom with you about why people aren’t replying:

1. They are not attracted to your pics. OKC’s Nobel Prize Winning scientists (oh, what’s that? Not a Nobel Prize? Just a Gold Medal of Douchery for experimenting on their users?) have conducted research to prove what we already know. Online dating is a shallow pursuit, where most users judge other users on their looks. I mean, if you have NEVER met a person, heard their voice, or seen them interact with other people, pictures are the most concrete things you have to go on. And if someone doesn’t like the way you look in the pictures you’ve carefully selected, which I am assuming were taken on a good day, when you were a few years (or at least a few months) younger, in some flattering, low lighting (MINE WERE), they probably won’t be attracted to you in person. Sadly, we online daters don’t get the luxury of getting to know each other through late nights in the dorm studying and eating pizza, or dinner parties with mutual friends.  So, we make snap judgments. It’s by no means a good thing, but it’s a necessary evil. I am sure that some men don’t reply to my messages because they just don’t find me attractive. I mean, I recently suggested “an older version of Dora the Explorer” as the actress who would play me in a movie. While a surprisingly large proportion of men find this attractive, others don’t. And I’ve made peace with that.

dora again

 

If somebody can’t appreciate what you got going on, oh well. Just move on, and eventually, somebody will. (In the meantime, it doesn’t hurt to find an animated monkey to be your BFF and follow you around.)

2. You have some weird dealbreaker in your profile that they’re not willing to compromise on.

Remember our series on OKC question dealbreakers? There are just some things that you might put in your profile or in your questions that might cause another person to press delete. For example, let me remind you that I hate cats, and I’m deathly allergic to them. So if you write about your multiple cats on your profile, I’ll likely take a pass for my own safety (and the safety of the cats). Same goes for vegans. Or people who like Billy Joel. Am I missing out? Maybe. But that’s my choice. And it doesn’t mean you have to change. Unless of course, your profile reveals you are an avowed woman-hater or homophobe. Then, you should change, because you suck.

3. Whether people reply or not probably has very little to do with you. Now, this is assuming you write something a) SANE (so, not this) and b) vaguely original (no form letters) and c) more than hi. The majority of times I don’t reply to messages that would pass a basic normalcy test, one of the following is going on with me:

  • I’m traveling/working a lot and just don’t check them that often.
  • Due to the traveling/working, too many messages build up and I get tired just sorting through all the crap (see a,b, and c above), get discouraged after 10 minutes and decide to watch The Daily Show instead.
  • I’m sorta seeing somebody, and I want to see where it goes, but I don’t want to jinx it by disabling my profile.
  • I just had a bad date and I’m too demoralized/terrified/irritated to interact with other strangers for awhile.
  • I am messaging with a couple of promising dudes, and decide it’s not worth it to engage in additional pen-palling at that time.
  • I burned my mouth on a pizza bagel and got distracted mid-reply.

up squirrel

http://thebertshow.com/stupid-viral-video-alert-squirrel-tries-bury-acorn-dogs-fur/

The key takeaway here is that we’re all just really animals who have no idea what we’re doing. So you might as well message people who sound cool, because honestly, what do you have to lose? And just remember:

Thank you Stuart Smalley. for the Sunday night self esteem boost. Have a great week readers!

Flirts and other Fails: Jdate, the remix

Per usual readers, I have a confession to make. No, this confession doesn’t feature me deeply offending a date or flagrantly breaking my first date rules. Instead, I’m about to tell you something about which I am a bit more ashamed. But I have to tell you, because I don’t like secrets between me and the internet (unless it’s my search history after a night of binge drinking that includes things like “what to do about underarm fat?” or “what can I catch from a toilet seat?”)

Now that I’ve begun gradually embarrassing myself, I’ll just come out and say it:

I rejoined Jdate.

After all that whining and complaining last summer about how much I hated it, I decided to give it another go. Why, you ask? GREAT QUESTION.

I disabled my OKC profile shortly after my date with the Kid, because I just wasn’t feeling the dating thing.

larry david dating

http://www.buzzfeed.com/katieheaney/24-signs-dating-isnt-for-you#3qqsag1

But then, a few days ago, I decided I wanted to get back out there. But I wanted something new (ish). OKC, while still my favorite dating site, has allowed me to indulge in some bad patterns, which can be summed up in one run on sentence: I love to go out with guys who are cute BUT 1) not that nice 2) have a serious drug problem, or 3) I have nothing in common with, or 4) all of the above. This is what happens when you’re too shallow and make your decisions based on looks, folks.

Deterred from Match and Eharmony due to the horrific experiences of my co-bloggers, I decided I had, perhaps, been too hard on Jdate, and decided to give it another try.

After a couple days, I’ve learned that, of course, the problem was not that I was too hard on Jdate. It’s that I wasn’t hard enough on Jdate. It’s fertile soil for mockery and complaints, my latest of which include:

1. It is possible they don’t have a single engineer or web designer on staff. I mean after one year, it’s “nice” to know Jdate has  not improved its user experience AT. ALL. It still looks like it was created by a high school senior in 1999 who was experimenting with an early version of Javascript. Moreover, I can’t load the site on my phone half the time. It just half loads, and then freezes my new iphone 5. 

2. They still can’t figure out where I live. Even though you have to indicate your current city of residence in your profile, and, EVEN THOUGH I have marked 50 times that my preference is to see guys in the DMV area, my Jdate homescreen is usually populated with “Member Spotlights” featuring men (and sometimes women) from as far away as Columbus, Ohio. I am sure this is especially heartening news to those suckers out there who shelled out the extra $5 to have a “member spotlight” feature. 

3. They continue to run a fascist ship, uncomfortably reminiscent of some very dark times in our people’s history. When I rejoined Jdate, I decided to freshen up my username a bit. Turns out, if you change your username, you have to undergo a highly scrutinized review process (similar to a CIA level background check or when the Bar Association makes you submit character references). Until your new screen name is approved, Jdate assigns you a MEMBER ID, which is a nine digit string of numbers. Jdate, COULD YOU THINK OF SOMETHING IN SLIGHTLY BETTER TASTE than assigning me, granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor, an ID that involves a string of numbers? POOR TASTE, JDATE. POOR TASTE.

But my biggest complaint about Jdate right now is the presence of a stupid little feature called the “flirt.” Flirts are basically the equivalent of facebook pokes, but for single adult strangers, which makes them all the more sad.

Basically, flirts are something a Jdate member can send another  member to indicate interest without having to go through the trouble of typing 2-3 sentences based on the other user’s profile. Instead, Jdate crafts some dumb one liners that make you sound lazy or cheesy, or if you are lucky, both. Behold some examples:

flirt example 1

Wait? WTF? You are sending me a message to “get the conversation started” and your way of getting the conversation started is to tell me to do it myself? Does it get any lazier than this?

horizontal runningilltumblrforya.com

Or, there is this gem:

flirt example 2

Excuse me, but did you just ask me why I was still single (in a totally outdated, cheesy, Uncle Geoffrey-esque way?)

uncle geoffrey

http://gifsoup.com/view/4604861/hop-hop.html 

If I knew why I was still single, dude, I wouldn’t be on here in the first place.

Finally, they say there is no such thing as a stupid question. Unless of course, Jdate is generating the question. Behold:

flirt example 3

Again, WHAT IS HAPPENING? You are already writing me! That is presumably why we both signed up for this online dating service! How do I respond to this? With a simple, “Yes????” 

Now look, it would be depressing enough if these men were crafting these messages themselves. But what sets Jdate apart is that they actually craft these absurd pick up lines, and then encourages members to send them.

Do us a favor Jdate, and listen to Nina Garcia.

nina garcia

http://giphy.com/gifs/FExBzCja8eghi

No. Just no.

But in all seriousness readers, does one respond to these sort of things? I know guys are probably sending them because they are too scared/lazy/sick of being ignored to craft a personalized message. On the one hand, I don’t want to hold this against them, but on the other, I feel like I am worth at least a two uniquely crafted sentences. And, as you can see, these flirts are actually really hard to respond to, since the questions/statements are so senseless. So if you have advice for me, leave it in the comments section, and I’ll let you know how it goes.

Thoughts on the Okcupid experiments from three reluctant guinea pigs

Happy Friday, readers!

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.

ts rain

Source: gifstumblr.com

Sure enough, soon after the news broke, LSD received this fun email from Okc’s evil masterminds:

okc

janice

Source: meangirlgifs.tumblr.com

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 was scorpions, 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:

Pues no hay nadie perfecto..

Source: ffffound.com

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.

love is blind

Of the new conversations that were started in that period, people responded more often, and allegedly exchanged contact details more often. 

compared to a typical tuesday

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. 

convos in progress when pics came back 

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…)

have a lot of feelings

Source: perezhilton.com

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:

looks-v-personality

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.”

OH WAIT…

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?

profile-text-experiment

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:

  1. You can screen out a lot of crazy by looking at a profile. One of our mottos here at StuCu is “live every day like it will be your last because there is a good chance you’ll meet a murderer when you’re online dating and he’ll kill you.” Believe it or not, there are a staggering number of potential murderers (as well as womanizers, mentally unstable trainwrecks, perverts, and general fools) who actually just admit to being these things on their profiles. And no matter what a guy looks like in his pictures, if there are major crazy flags in his profile, I screen him out.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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

RYAN GOS PUMPING GAS

 

http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/15-insanely-sexy-pictures-of-ryan-gosling-pumping-gas#3qqsag1

Then my answer is YES YES YES.

Experiment #3: THE POWER OF SUGGESTION

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?”

burn

Source: www.goodreads.com

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.

okc1

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:

okc2

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:

okc3

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.

happy hour

Source: modernmagnolias.blogspot.com

 

Mmmmm happy hour. Focus, S.

Anyway, if Okcupid had instead polled the people involved in this experiment and asked what they actually thought of their match after four messages, or checked back with them a week later, then that data would be much more revealing and accurate. I suspect that for many people it just took that long for the other person to share some detail about themselves that horrified them (and that could have easily been discovered earlier if that person’s info. had been provided truthfully and accurately in the first place). Maybe five messages is how long it typically takes for people to casually reveal whichever of their answers are deal breakers, like that they hate gays or love nuclear war.

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):

dealbreaker

Source: modernmagnolias.blogspot.com

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.

 

pinky

Source: www.thedailytouch.com

Conclusion

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!

But then there’s the other part of me, the painfully single part who accidentally goes out with bros, cries in public after being dumped, and experiences fade aways on an alarmingly regular basis. That part of me is

not impressed

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.

drama

Source: www.huffingtonpost.com

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:

okc4

Source: http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2014/08/12/qa-okcupids-cofounder-on-the-growing-pains-of-data-science/

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.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Message Monday: Changes

This gem appeared in my inbox last week:

change a man message

Whoa. Way to lay your relationship concerns on the table before we’ve even exchanged one written word. Homeboy here just wants to make sure, before he spends $12-$30 buying me some drinks and mozzarella sticks, that I am not going to try and cramp his style.

Look dude, I understand, where this is coming from. Everyone I know over the age of 15 is walking around with a full on 3-piece luggage set filled with fears about repeating past relationship mistakes or strangers hurting us in ways we hadn’t even considered before.

emotional baggage

http://genius.com/annotations/for_profile_page?id=Huet99&page=2&user_id=283119

But just because I have my share of emotional baggage doesn’t mean I message guys on OKC and say things like,:

  • “Are you the kind of guy who asks girls out on a second, third, or fourth date and then just disappears?”
  • “Do you kiss like an aggressive bird who is trying to build a nest for his family before the wintertime frost?”
  • Do you have a girlfriend whom you murdered and stored under the floorboards, all while continuing to use her eye makeup remover wipes for ‘camping'”?

As much as I’d like to know these things before I go out with someone, asking them sounds crazy. And I don’t need any help sounding crazy, ok? I DO THAT VERY WELL ON MY OWN THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

 I was not going to respond to this guy’s message or anything, but it made me curious, and I had a feeling he’d make good blog material, so I meandered my way over to his profile to learn more about him. And what did I find?

change a man profile 1

change the man profile 2

SURPRISE,SURPRISE. What do we have here but another nice guy of OKCupid?? So nice in fact, that he harbors vaguely homophobic tendencies (his answers to questions are the top answers, mine are the bottom):

change a man question 3 redo

Also, a possible white supremacist:

change a man question 1 redo

Hmm, well maybe he is super smart. Oh, wait:

change a man question 2 redo

Btw, sir, Christopher Columbus called, and he wants me to tell you that even HE knew that. He also told me to tell you that you and I have nothing in common and that you would have change significantly if you even wanted to get through a beer together before I dumped mine on your head. #imaginaryconversationswithexplorers

Lastly, readers, I’d like to conclude this post with the higher level reminder to you that, despite what our dear friend might think, change is a good thing. But don’t take my word for it. Take his:

I mean, I actually just wanted to end this post with the musical stylings of Tupac, which is how I conclude all of my written work whenever I can. You’re welcome.

Another unicorn, and another act of bravery

Yes, you are still reading the right blog. Despite our frequent digressions these days into whimsical subjects such as mermaids, unicorns, and valiance, this has yet to become a website focused on writing GoT -themed fan fiction. Though if it does take that direction, I know K would be very proud of us.

So, during my faintly disguised brags about my Balkan trip in last week’s post, I neglected to mention one detail about the trip that would be slightly relevant to this dating blog: I went on the best first date of my life the night before I left for that vacation.

Now, I know I’ve claimed some good dates before. The truth is, most dates are either so mediocre or, so bad, that if I am on a date and we have a great conversation and physical chemistry, I am usually ready to call Columbia Pictures and suggest they make the modern day  romantic equivalent of “From Here to Eternity,” about what just transpired between me and a relative stranger.

here to eternity

http://77days.net/forum/index.php?topic=294.0

But this date truly blew the others out of the water. Really. If I could find a GIF where Deborah Kerr and Montgomery Clift were blown out of the water, I would have used it.

I did have high hopes for this date, because this guy was another unicorn. Not to be confused with S’s Good Message Unicorn, this guy was Good Profile Unicorn (GPU). I actually read his profile and thought, did someone make a fake profile filled with all the things I like? A few excerpts so like-minded ladies can drool…

GPU profile 1

Politics. Seinfeld. Random movie trivia. Sigh. And there is more…

GPU profile 2

 I love Bob Dylan. So much that I even made the ill-advised decision (like many college students do) to hang this over my bed freshman year.

bob dylan poster

Nothing like waking up for 8 am class and looking straight into the eyes of a stoned Bob Dylan blowing smoke into your face.

Anyway, this guy further certified his legitimate fandom by citing his favorite Dylan album, which is actually my second favorite album (Blonde on Blonde is the best. No contest). Plus, in addition to having some good, yet not pretentious, music taste (we’re ignoring the Ryan Adams thing, ok?) he also shared my serious devotion to “Almost Famous” which S and I quote to each other in a completely serious, un-ironic way on a weekly basis. Most recently, this:

Usually walking into a date with high expectations is a bad thing. And people don’t usually live up to their profiles.  But, GPU was BETTER THAN HIS PROFILE. In every single way. I mean, a half hour into the date, he revealed a strong affection for no other than the high priestess of this blog, Veronica Mars.

veronica blush gif

http://giphy.com/search/logan-echolls

He had seen the entire tv series, and could debate with me episode by episode, the characters’ strengths and weaknesses. He knocked my tried and true, Top Three Presidents question out of the park, by naming some of my favorites but offering creative rationales filled with facts I didn’t know. I could go on and on about GPU’s strengths all day, but I won’t, because there is, of course, a more complex story to be told here, and second it is legitimately making me sad.

Anyway, after the date he asked if he could walk me home and I said yes, and he took my hand and even though I abhor PDA, I could not have cared less. And then, a few blocks from my house, he turned and kissed me and my whole body felt like one big firework.

sister act joy

If you have read any of my previous entries on this blog, you know that I am not a romantic person. Nicholas Sparks novels make me gag and I abhor all pastel colors and prom songs. But I am telling you, when he kissed me, I felt like Sister Mary Clarence had just come to the convent and revived our choir. (I mean not because I am a nun. Because that rendition of “Hail Holy Queen” in Sister Act I is the most joyful thing I can recall). Anyway, we went back to my house, where we made out, but did nothing else (please refer to YOLO lesson learned #3 from last week’s post).

Before he left, he waxed poetic about how amazing I was and how “he couldn’t WAIT TO SEE ME after I returned in three weeks” and “ugh, it was such a long time”. But we’ve heard that before. Multiple. Times. So, I shut the fireworky romantic part of my brain up back in the deep dark place it lives, and let my cynical, practical thought process take over. Three weeks were going to pass and he was an attractive, smart, interesting guy who was online dating. It was unlikely I would hear from him again, despite his insistence we see each other ASAP after I got back.

But, when I got back, I gave him a call and we set up a date for a few days later. And that date was similarly excellent, though it did not top the first date. Because I’m pretty convinced nothing could. And he asked me what I was doing the upcoming weekend, and we made plans to see each other. And when he left, he kissed me goodbye and said, “See you this weekend, right?”

Now, as soon as my apartment door closed behind him, I got this weird feeling. And I still don’t know if i should call it general cynicism and fear or if I should call it instinct. But I felt like, wow, things are just going so 100% well. This cannot be real, right? Of course readers, I’d love to tell you my anxiety was misguided, and that all is well.

But instead, I heard nothing from GPU the rest of the week. When the weekend came, I texted him to see what was up:

tom 1

Now, those of you familiar with the world of online dating know that this is probably a lie. I mean,how bad can this cold be? Bad enough to render both your fingers and vocal chords useless so you couldn’t proactively reach out to me to reschedule? Still, I tried to remain optimistic, and I responded with an obligatory sympathy text and some times and dates to reschedule. And then…

crickets

whysoserious.blogspot.com

That’s right. Not a peep from GPU. The same guy, who had declared in my apartment, a few nights earlier, that he “could not wait to see me again.” And for the first time in a long time, I felt RUHL disappointed. First of all, I was dissapointed, because yet again, some guy had told me a bunch of things he didn’t mean. I felt stupid for getting excited about someone, despite my prior knowledge of my own experiences and the experiences of many single women I know, which prove that you really know nothing about a person after two dates (or even 15 dates), and so it’s silly to imagine anything else with him besides the present. And yet, we all do. Because getting excited about the possibility of someone SHOULD be part of the fun of dating, and, not to sound more and more like my sworn enemy Nicholas Sparks, but also the fun part of falling for someone. I was mad at myself for letting my guard down, yet simultaneously pissed that we live in a world so shitty, we need to all walk around with our guard up. Second of all (Oh my god, there’s more?), I genuinely liked this guy and wanted to get to know him better, and I was bummed I wouldn’t get the chance to do that.

After a weekend full of tears comingled with more pleasant summer distractions, I told myself to make peace with the whole thing and just let it go. 

But, then I remembered all the bold proclamations I made on this blog to YOLO. And to call people out when I felt like they were treating me unfairly.

I mean, regardless of what was going on with GPU, I felt like after the dates we had, and the fact that he asked me out again, MULTIPLE TIMES, that he owed me some sort of explanation if he was going to disappear. Veronica would never let someone get away with this.

veronica mars

 

http://sellthekidsforveganfood.tumblr.com/page/2

So, with the courage provided by some booze on a pretty bad date (more on that soon, don’t worry), I reached out to him a couple days later:

tom 2

I mean, believe it or not, the first link is very legit, because we had a very spirited debate about Larry and Piper and OINTB on our last date. (Again. Swoon.) But I didn’t want to send him that text and pretend that nothing weird was going on, so I just put it out there.

Here was his response:

tom 3

Before we give GPU credit for sending a mature, kind message, a few critiques:

  1. Again with the cold. This is 2014, and colds are common as they come, treatable with a variety of drugstore remedies, and do not prevent you from answering a text message.
  2. Don’t act like your moral compass led you “to be honest with me.” I literally demanded you tell me what happened, and then, and only then, did you respond.
  3. This could all be a lie. Like your cold.

Now, let’s put the criticisms aside. And cry, because this is a very decent thing to say to an almost stranger, and he identified such nice, genuine things about me, and, if he’s telling the truth, the timing really does suck. Because, even after a week of thinking about this, I still can’t get GPU out of my head. Look, despite all the complaining I do on this blog, I know I have a pretty good life, relative to most of the world. But at the same time, as I watch my Facebook feed fill with wedding photos of former classmates, and collect baby shower invites on my fridge, I wonder, will I catch a break? Is relationship happiness just a thing other people have, while I’m left to watch my own engagement unravel, and then online date unsuccessfully for over a year?

I realize this post just took a very dark turn, which means it’s definitely time to stop writing, since I intended to pat myself on the back for YOLO-ing, drop the mic, and go watch back episodes of Top Chef on Hulu. 

I mean, the fact remains that I am proud of the way I conducted myself during this brief affair. I was honest about my feelings, and I asked for what I needed. Did I get what I wanted? No. We all know that’s not how life works. (God I hate being an adult.) But there is nothing I wouldn’t have done differently. Except perhaps picked a hipper term for our summer than YOLO (which, according to my hip young colleagues, NO ONE USES anymore unless it’s on ironic bachlorette party tank tops). 

Almost 30: The YOLO approach to dating

Well hello again readers! It’s certainly been awhile. I’d like to tell you that’s because I’m successfully married by now, due to following the advice we dispense on this blog, but that would be untrue and I cannot tell a lie. (Like this guy. And George Washington). However, the reason for my absence is pretty delightful; I just got back from a whirlwind vacation in the Balkans. I’ll spare you the deets, since, much to my chagrin, S and D were not fans of my request to transform this blog from a dating blog into a “brag about your exotic vacation” blog. And let’s be real: that’s what facebook and instagram are for. So instead, I tip my hat to S and D for keeping the wheels of the blog turning while I jetted around Europe took lots of buses through mountain back roads.

Anyway, vacation gave me a lot of time to reflect on things. 

925419 - EAT PRAY LOVE

Good god. Not like that. No meditating or like, speaking to monks or spiritual nirvana or anything. But I did take some time to think about the way I interact with men and what I’ve learned after a good year and a half of being single. S and I have also been having a number of conversations recently about our “new” approaches to dating. I mean, we’ve been feeling pretty mature ever since we hit 29 and the next birthday on the horizon is the big 30. I think we’re hoping to feel less like GIRLS and a little more like SATC (though it’s usually more like Seinfeld).

Anyway, folks, here are some new things I’m trying this summer. I’d bill it as advice, but since I’ve obviously demonstrated by now that I don’t have, as we say in the business, a “proven track record of success,” I’ll call it experiments from which you are welcome to take or leave your own lessons.

1) Limit the texting. On this blog alone we have amassed a collection of memes and videos about texting, and how it makes us single people miserable as we navigate the dating world. I just googled “texting ruins dating,” and found this spot on article from the Toronto Sun. (BTW, should it make me feel better that texting and dating is an INTERNATIONAL problem? Cause it does. People around the world unite! Free yourselves from the tyranny of ellipses and emoticons!) 

I’ve always felt a lot of pressure to carry on a text message conversation with guys I’ve been on a couple of dates with.

This involves:

  • Obsessively checking my phone/not checking my phone;
  • Getting a Master’s degree in Emoji language (I mean, why say BE COOL when you can send a picture of a cute bee and and ice cube? And let the person on the other end try to figure out if you meant “BE COOL” or “striped ice” or “I am putting ice on my bee sting?”); and
  • Trying to craft witty responses to stupid questions like, “what’s up?” or “how’s your week coming?”

I no longer have time nor the patience for this nonsense. I’m a grown woman with a job and a mortgage rent for godsakes. I’m not saying texting is bad for everyone. It’s just that I’m sick of spending time communicating in a medium I don’t even like. Going forward, I am trying to use texts for two things: Making plans and sending articles/sharing information that is truly funny and relevant to another person. Eventually, I’m gonna try to graduate back to phone calls.

mindy texting

http://www.torontosun.com/2014/04/03/six-ways-texting-is-ruining-dating

I know Mindy, but YOLO. A lady’s gotta try an alternate approach.

2. Go for it. Drive to the basket. Swing for the fences. Run the ball. Kick the hockey puck. Sink the putt. (I mean do I know my sports analogies or DO I KNOW MY SPORTS ANALOGIES? I feel like a got 1-2 of them right.)

The point is, I am not sure where the pressure comes from, but a lot of times I feel like dating is a contest of just trying to care less. Care less if someone calls you again, even if you had a great date. Care less if someone disappears for a week and resumes texting you (DAMN THE TEXTING) like nothing has happened. Care less if someone says they really like you and want you to see again.

And the truth is, that’s so hard for me, because I care so much about everything I do in my life, and usually I show it. I’m a passionate person, with a lot of strong opinions. (I know this might be quite shocking to you readers. Hope you were sitting down). So if I like someone, I’m just gonna tell them I like them.

joey chandler love

http://www.mycandylove.com/forum/t30444,22-ooc-girls-vs-boys-semi.htm

OK, well, ideally, a bit more toned down than that.

In the opposite vein, but same sentiment, if I am confused about a guy’s behavior, I am just gonna call him out rather than watch him slip away unexplained. (Major props to S for inspiring this–please stay tuned for her upcoming post, unofficially titled “YOLO Part II.” The more interesting part. Since she’s already YOLO-ed)  

3. Don’t give away the “cookie” right away. WTF IS THE COOKIE? Bear with me for a sec. I recently read Steve Harvey’s, “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man.” It was recommended to me by a colleague, who wanted my expert perspective, as a trusted voice on love/dating/relationships.*

*Actually she gave it to me after listening to story after story of dating mishaps and said, “I hope this helps.”

Anyway, I am considering doing a full review of that book, but for now I’ll sum up my thoughts in a few short words: SEXIST. PIECE. OF. CRAP. Even the title is heteronormative. It’s full of stupid statements, including a Q and A section at the end where Steve Harvey and his ghostwriting team have dreamed up ludicrous questions that women allegedly submitted to him like, “What should I wear on a date?” and “Is it ok if I don’t like to cook?” (According to Steve Harvey, if you want a boyfriend, ladies, you best learn to cook).  You’re welcome readers. I guess you got a mini review after all.

However, there was one useful nugget I am trying that was loosely inspired by that book: Don’t sleep with a guy ASAP.

Of course, my reasons for trying this are very different from those presented by Mr. Harvey. If you haven’t guessed by now, the “cookie” is the delicate term Steve Harvey uses to describe sex. According to him, men are basically the equivalent of preschool students you might be bribing to sit still for a dentist appointment or something, and the only real power you have over them is a “cookie.” That, or men are cookie monsters.

cookie monster

http://giphy.com/gifs/whNK1SAMSQjwQ

Neither possibility is flattering. And, for the first time in a very long time, I found myself defending men. THEY CANNOT BE THAT SIMPLE AND STUPID.  Right? Male readers, please tell me I’m right.

But something about Steve Harvey’s advice stuck with me, and I have decided to try not to sleep with guys on the first or second date. When I sleep with a guy right away, I often muddle the process of getting to know them. There is a ton of physical intimacy ASAP, and yet, I don’t even know the person’s last name (well I do, because I’m an A+ internet stalker, but not officially).

Plus, as much as I’ve tried to deny it, sleeping with someone does make me more attached to them. And, I’d rather not feel so connected to relative strangers. 

Lastly, I have this hypothesis that the better you know someone, the better sex with them will be. And who doesn’t want to start something on the right foot?

That’s all for now readers. Hopefully you’re crossing your fingers for me and not shaking your heads about all the misguided assumptions I am making. Wish me luck as I unleash my YOLO resolutions on the DMV area and see what happens!

Stucu’s best date spots: DC Edition

Let’s face it. After a year and a half blogging about online dating, I’ve gone from considering myself a legitimate dating virgin to a semi-pro dater. Extrovert that I am, I love to shout about my self proclaimed expert dating status wherever I go: office party, family dinner, friend of a friend’s party, etc.  

big deal

http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/3qjz81

So, a question people ask me (and my cobloggers) pretty frequently is: “Where is the best place in DC/Philly/Boston to go on a first date?” So, today, I bring you this post (first in an LSD series) about my favorite DC date spots. A few disclaimers before I get to it…

  1. No one paid us to say anything. If there is one thing consistent about the ladies of Stucu, it’s that we know our own minds. As S put it this weekend when I asked if we had to follow any “rules” during a Painting with a Twist excursion (which was surprisingly fun by the way): “We’ll do what we want. Because that’s how we do.”
  2.  This is more of an art than a science. And by art, I mean that in the most Jackson Pollock kind of way. (God! Painting with a Twist just made me so in touch with the artistic community!)  Our picks are based on our own personal preferences and experiences.
  3. We’re working on our brevity over here, especially because we realize our readers come from all over the place (not just our three cities), so we’re limiting our top picks to three per city. If you’re interested in hearing even more opinions (because GOD KNOWS you don’t get enough of that on this blog already), shoot us an email and we’d be happy to discuss in more detail.
  4. We have a not so secret agenda here (honestly, what could be less secret than a public blog??) to get some great reader suggestions out of this. Please don’t pass up this opportunity to help us sound cool when we suggest potential spots, ever so casually, to our future dates.

So here goes…

DC TOP THREE FIRST DATE SPOTS

1. Beers and banterBoard room (1737 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009)

Remember that place I mentioned a couple of weeks ago? Where I’ve literally been on dates with five different men? Well, that place is called Board room and,  it totally deserves my business (and my date’s business).

First of all, it’s conveniently located near bus and metro (not to mention near my office and across the street from one of my BFF’s apartments). I can get there in 5 minutes from work and 15 minutes from home. And if my date lives in a remotely cool location (aka not the suburbs like SOME PEOPLE), he can get there quickly too.

But way more importantly, combining games and beer is a surefire way to make a possibly probably awkward conversation with a total stranger less awkward. Instead of starting with the usual getting to know you questions (So you’re from Ohio…how long have you lived in Logan Circle…did you watch the USA vs. Ghana game…), you can pretend to be concentrating on sinking your opponent’s Battleship.

Plus, there is the added banter aspect. I’ll admit that my preferred style of flirting is what my colleague calls, “playground flirting,” which means that I spend a lot of time teasing guys and challenging them to strange competitions. So, nothing helps me get my groove on more than making eyes over a Connect Four board. Unless it’s kicking some serious butt (I always do), in Scrabble, all while chiding my date for not researching two-letter words before challenging me to a match. (See, I like trash-talking so much I’m literally about to start flirting with myself on this blog right now).

2. Neighborhood classicMeridian Pint (11th St NW, Washington, DC 20010)

This place is even closer to my apartment than Board room. Score! But proximity is not the reason this bar gets the #2 spot on this list. (I’m lazy, but not that lazy). It’s not a dive at all, but it’s still just one tiny step below what I’d actually call a restaurant. I’d call it a friendly neighborhood pub, but I don’t associate pubs with very good food, and Meridian Pint’s nachos will knock your socks off. Plus, they have a killer beer list that not only results in drinking some delicious and hard to find things (Victory Dirtwolf, anyone?) but also is an instant conversation starter about beer preferences, a subject I could go on and on about at length. (Though, my expertise is really in shitty  low cost beers. One of the many things on my bucket list is to write my own version of this amazing list. And, btw, HOW DARE YOU INSULT YUENGLING, WILL GORDON OF DEADSPIN. I’M COMING FOR YOU). 

Plus, Meridian Pint has all the seating options you could possibly desire: outside seating for perfect DC days (of which there about 15 per year, and we will not see again until the end of this already humid summer), upstairs tables or bar for intimate conversation, and downstairs bar for some TV-watching and rowdiness. 

3. Cheese and ChocolateCoco Sala (929 F St NW, Washington, DC 20004)

I know, I know.  I’ve gone on record previously and said I don’t believe in eating anything on first dates. But this place is an exception. Coco Sala’s menu has a heavy focus on chocolate, complimented by lots of delicious dishes involving cheese and, more often than not, bacon.

bacon

https://www.distilled.net/blog/bacon-mouthwash-how-to-pull-off-an-april-fools-prank/

I know S, D, and I have all waxed poetic about cheese on the blog before. But don’t think I’ve introduced you to my personal holy trinity: cheese, bacon, and bourbon. And chocolate. And beer. And Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich. (OK, so not really a trinity at all, but give me a break. I mix up religious references all the time.)The point is, Coco Sala has a delicious menu of small plates that could only be improved by adding a slider that resembled Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich. Plus, the portions are small and delicate enough that you can try a lot of things without getting full, and without resembling this:

burgers

https://www.distilled.net/blog/bacon-mouthwash-how-to-pull-off-an-april-fools-prank/

(I want to retitle that image: L at Shake Shack after a long day).

Coco Sala also has some mad-flattering lighting which I desperately need after a long work day. And, it’s always crowded, but not too crowded, so you can feel like you’re somewhere cool and hip, but still hear your date speak.

That’s it y’all. I decided to wrap this up rather abruptly because even thinking about this place is making me want to defrost some brownies I may or MAY NOT have in my freezer and eat them while watching Orange is the New Black.

So that’s my DC Top Three! Readers, I’d love to hear yours, so don’t be shy; leave it in the comments! And stay tuned for the top three favorites of my Yankee sisters up in Philly and Boston.

Another Wastey Date and the Guy who Couldn’t Wait

Readers, I hope you picked up on my efforts to rhyme in the title. Iggy Azelea may have the market cornered on Fancy, but I’m still hoping to write my own rap, to the same beat, entitled: Clever.

But I digress. S promised you some date stories, and a date story from me you shall get. As I mentioned in a previous post, I had abandoned the good ole OKC account while I was dating Basketbro T. Of course, during the relatively short period of time  that passed between not checking my profile and then disabling it entirely,  I got some a few very decent messages from attractive and interesting seeming guys. As we know, good messages from cute guys on the internet do not come often (see: S’s explanation of Good Message Unicorn for a full treatise on the rarity of such occurrences). So, when I reactivated my account a few weeks ago, I messaged those guys back, knowing full well that it was unlikely I’d get a response since significant time had passed.

And I was mostly right. I only heard back from one of these unicorns. We’re gonna call this guy “S the Third” because he was the third guy I dated with the same first name that obviously, started with the letter S. (If you fancy yourself a sleuth and want to try and guess the name–WHICH IS ACTUALLY NOT THAT COMMON–please see the other posts  re: his predecessors, S1 and S2). Anyway, I won’t spend a ton of time describing S the Third, because he was a pretty typical DC prospect. Grew up in the DC suburbs, became a lawyer, major hobbies included traveling, Netflixing, and following DC area sports.

boring gif

http://isthiswhyimstillsingle.wordpress.com/

I know, I know, not the most interesting dude, but he was attractive and outgoing, and I am still a bit in rebound mode thanks to Basketbro.

The most important thing for you to know about S the Third happened on our first date. He and I met at a bar near my office that also happens to have board games. (Please know, I’ve been to this bar on dates with so many different men that, at this point, I feel compelled to slip the bartender a 20 just so he doesn’t shout, “You again?” or, “who is the new guy?” or accuse me of running a board game-themed escort service. Though, on second thought, a board game-themed escort service actually sounds like a brilliant idea. I could call it Connect Four Love. Or Battlestrip. The possibilities are endless!)

Anyway, S the Third and I met on a Wednesday night for Connect Four, Boggle, and flirty, competitive banter that involved wagering drinks on the outcomes of various games. We were having fun, which means we played a lot of games, which means we were racking up rounds of drinks.  I won’t even insult your intelligence by telling you the obvious consequence of these drinks, save to say at this point I am gonna go ahead and call “Buzzed not drunk,” the 2014 dating resolution equivalent of the Munich Agreement

drinking gif

http://isthiswhyimstillsingle.wordpress.com/

So when S the Third proposed sitting down for a pizza dinner at 10 pm, I was 100% in, even though I had to work in the morning. After splitting I devoured a sausage and pepperoni pie, I was adequately sated but thoroughly exhausted. It was almost 11:30, and all I could think about was getting into my PJs and reading in bed. (God, I’ve never felt older than I did when I reread the previous sentence. Thirty, here I come).

S the Third wanted to keep our date going, but was understanding when I insisted on going home. I hailed a cab, which pulled up next to me. I turned to S the Third and gave him a standard first date goodbye:  a hug and a thank you for drinks, dinner, etc.  But when I pulled away, and put my hand on the cab door to open it,  S the Third grabbed me and went in for a full on make out session! And my reaction was something like this…

seinfeld surprise

http://giphy.com/gifs/MH7QJh2JSWV4Q

The thing is, I had a good time. And S the Third was cute. So I wasn’t opposed to the first date kiss, in theory. But, there were several factors that made this kiss completely terrifying for me:

  • I hate PDA. And, while I know that a public first date kiss is inevitable unless you happen to be in someone’s car or house, I would prefer it wouldn’t happen on a busy street corner, with a focused audience that included one slightly impatient, middle aged Indian man who was driving my cab.
  • I am also really cheap frugal.  Those who know me well know that it was already enough sacrifice that I was taking  a cab  home rather than walking or taking the bus. So all my beer-addled brain could think about as this guy was running his hands through my hair and passionately kissing me, was, “Did the cabbie start the meter yet? How much do they charge per standing minute again? I need to get in this cab and get moving!!”

I must have confined my somewhat illogical panics to my head though, because  S the Third was not fazed. He followed up on our date by asking me out again, and we went out a couple more times before I realized, unfortunately, that, in the tradition of the other “S”s that came before him, that he kind of bored me and this would not be more to me than a fun fling.  But I thank him wholeheartedly, because after the Basketbro breakup, I needed to be flung a bit.

Date Rating: 7/10. I’d give the above described first date a strong score. It involved pizza, beer, and board games, and S the Third was good company. I just wish he’d have reigned it in a little when it came to the good night kiss. The make out cost me a whole 66 cents in cab fare.

Realness rankings: Date scenes from cinema classics

In case you haven’t noticed, the ladies of StuCu blog are pop culture DEVOTEES, especially when it comes to a good rom com, and especially especially when it comes to a good 80s or 90s rom com. Up to a year and a half ago, I formed my ideas of what dates looked like largely from TV or movies.  When I actually entered the dating world, I realized that, for better or for worse, some of those scenes were realistic, and some of them were as far from reality as one can get, which, much to the delight of my friends, left me shouting things at the TV like, “OH PULEEZE! GIVE ME A BREAK!”

So for your viewing pleasure this weekend, I bring you:

daytime realness

http://giphy.com/gifs/k7EfYv6OHGDSM

L’s realness analysis of some of our generation’s most treasured films. Realness rankings are as follows:

Not real at all-REALLY??

Real-ish-REAL

So real I’m getting PTSD from watching: REALNESS

1. Fever Pitch: If you haven’t seen it, go ahead and watch the trailer.

Now here’s what you need to know: that cute little scene at the beginning of the trailer, where they are exchanging witty banter, walking through the park on a crisp, winter day, that scene, is proceeded by a first date scene, where Ben goes to pick up Lindsay at her apartment, finds her sick to her stomach, and instead of leaving, spends all night cleaning up her vomit. 

REALNESS RANKING: REALLY??

Look, while there is no denying that Jimmy Fallon is a gentleman (I mean, have you seen him lip sync??), the truth is that no man, even him, would stick around to do that in real life. And no woman would let a near stranger into her home when she was feeling like hell and just wanted to spend the night with her toilet, sipping flat ginger ale. 

What would have been more realistic? She would have sent a text and cancelled, and he would never have ended up at her apartment in the first place. Best case scenario, they reschedule. Worst (and more likely) case scenario: they exchange a series of meaningless text exchanges and then someone disappears. 

2. Clueless: God bless Amy Heckerling for actually being the voice of our generation. Remember when Cher invites Christian over for a date at her house and all he wants to do is watch Tony Curtis movies (because he’s a really great actor)?

REALNESS RANKING: REAL

There are many elements of reality here:

  • Spending your post-date hours wondering “what is wrong with me?” in response to some guy’s behavior that actually has nothing to do with you? CHECK.
  • Obsessing about what happened to your friends? CHECK.
  • Finding out that you are dating a gay guy? I mean, maybe this only happens to me. But still…CHECK.

Let’s also take a minute to point out how much that Murray/Dionne scene on the freeway reminds me of my high school boyfriend teaching me to drive (if you replace the convertible with a maroon Buick Oldsmobile that only has one working door).

3. Bright Jones Diary: I wish I was talking about Bridget’s first date with Mark Darcy, but they never really have a first real date, unless you count the birthday dinner after the Eleanor Heany and Kaffir Aghani interview. But I’m not. I’m talking about her first date with that alcoholic, workaholic, sexaholic, commitment-phobic, peeping tom, megalomaniac, emotional fuckwit pervert, Daniel Cleaver.

REALNESS RANKING: REALNESS

Let’s review the story line, shall we? Bridget attends a party where she manages to feel like both a social outcast and a professional failure, leaving her self-esteem in shambles.

She gets drunk, and agrees to an impromptu date with that scoundrel Daniel Cleaver, where he basically sexually harasses her and insults her intelligence the whole time. They go back to her apartment, and she sleeps with him anyway. (Sadly, I can’t embed a link of this into the post, so you’ll have to watch her further humiliation here: http://www.miramax.com/watch?v=5seXBiYjpp5frUg4VgjMwQCo6dnnNGyX

They proceed to have an ill-advised fling that ends poorly.

Oh, Bridget, this is why billions of people paid money to read your diary. We feel you, girl. Cause we’ve all been there.

I refuse to end this blog post on a depressing note though. It’s the freaking weekend, it’s soon to be June, the flowers are in bloom, other obligatory pleasantries, blah blah blah. The point is, at the end of the day, Bridget gets Mark Darcy, who is delicious.

just as you are

http://wifflegif.com/gifs/449622-bridget-joness-diary-just-the-way-you-are-gif

REALNESS LESSON: We all deserve someone who likes us, just as we are. And he’s out there.*

*He may not look like Colin Firth and sound like a top human rights barrister though, so do keep an open mind.

Got any TV/movie date scenes that shaped your (possibly misguided) impression of romance? Leave it in the comments readers!