More than a decade ago, I wrote an article about dating in Jacksonville where I tried various dating websites, speed dating and personal ads (it was the mid-2000s, people!). Last month, I decided to try it again but using dating apps.
The experiences were very different. But the end result … the same.
Originally published in Jacksonville Magazine, February 2018
As a single, never married woman, I’m used to being unattached on Valentine’s Day. I never expect to be greeted at the door on February 14th with a bouquet of roses or taken out to dinner at a fancy restaurant or handed a giant teddy bear holding a heart that says, “I Love You” (or, worse yet, “I Love U”).
Don’t get me wrong, I love being single: going where I want, when I want and not having to answer to anyone—or wondering what my significant other is doing. Every once and a while, though, I am curious about the dating world these days. So in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I figured I’d do some research and get back in the game.
One of the first articles I found was on the Huffington Post, and it described the five best ways to meet that special someone. Work was high on the list. (I, however, work at home, and the only two mammals who ever come inside besides me are my cats. )
Then there’s meeting people “out and about.” (Check my Facebook timeline, people: I can’t possibly be more “out” or “about.”)
Religion or hobbies were also suggested as possible dating mines. (Well, I’m not religious and I wouldn’t exactly call Netflix binging a hobby.)
That leaves two options: online (or an app) and meeting through friends.
I did date someone I met through match.com once, but that was a long time ago, like before there was an app for that. Or a smart phone to put it on. Not knowing any thing about dating apps, I consulted some friends and found out Tinder and OK Cupid were the most popular.
I set up my Tinder profile pretty quickly and figured out swiping left = “nope” and right = “like,” then accidentally “super liked” someone. From there, it didn’t take long to realize a fair amount of Tinder users aren’t looking for their soulmate but rather a “playmate.”
Like Mike, who’s in an open marriage and looking for adventure. [Not in the article: I accidentally “liked” this guy’s profile, and within minutes, he messaged me and asked when we could get together. I did not respond.]
Or DM whose profile explains he travels to Jacksonville once a week and is looking for “excitement” (his photo shows him standing in a hotel room wearing nothing but a towel … just in case you were wondering what type of “excitement” he was referring to). [Not in the article: You can literally see his excitement under the towel. Check the pic below.]
But for the most part, the guys seemed normal and by that I mean, fully-clothed, employed and genuinely wanting to meet someone.
Some of my favorite bio quotes:
• “I have a zero-tolerance policy for racism, turkey bacon, non-alcoholic beer and decaffeinated coffee.”
• “I do own and occasionally wear camo … It’s slimming.”
• Then there was the guy who claimed he’s “absolutely healthy” and going to live for 120 years.
I chatted with 13 men via the app with varying degrees of “success.”
Ben told me my profile photo looked like a drunk high school picture. [Not in the article: I did use an old picture, but it was not from high school. And for the record, I was drunk in it. Points for Ben for being so observant.]
Jeff did not care for my frequent use of cat-related gifs …
Thomas, on the other hand, offered to “cuddle and keep [me] warm” when I mentioned how cold it was.
And Cliff, after chatting for 20 minutes, wanted to meet after he got off work … at midnight.
OK Cupid wasn’t any better. In fact, I never even got to the part where I could chat with anyone since I couldn’t get beyond the hair color question (pink, not an option) or describing myself via a drop-down menu of stereotypes like club kid, yuppie, photographer, tattooed/pierced, diva, brogrammer (it’s a word; look it up) or sapiophile (yep, had to look that one up too because, obviously, I’m not one). For the record, I would have chosen “rock star.”
Slightly disheartened and seeking reassurance it was “them” and not me, I went on Facebook and asked if anyone had met their significant other through the ether, hoping to hear similar stories. Bad idea.
“Tinder and we have been disgustingly happy for two years.”
“Plenty of Fish 3 1/2 years ago and getting hitched in Italy in May.”
“AOL Florida chat room 23 years ago, 19 years married.”
Don’t even get me started with the woman who met her husband on MySpace.
Then the strangest thing happened. After that post, I had 10 men send me private messages complimenting me on one thing or another and indicating they would be interested in going on a date with me: 11 if you count the guy who would have asked me out except he thought I was a lesbian.
[Not in the article: One gentleman didn’t ask me out but instead gave me his “two cents worth about who you are as a person” based on my FB page. Among his revelations: “You seem to have an adventurous side … I’d guess you are fairly intelligent … You smile a lot which means you are mostly happy, however, I bet you can get very mean when you need to be … I’d say you were a bit OCD or ADD … You’re definitely not a couch potato. Or you are a closet potato waiting for Mr. Potato. … your match is probably a bit hard to find. I’m guessing you end up either best friends with the guys you date or you hate each other’s guts.]
Who knows what, if anything, will come of these unexpected invites. It’s still January as I’m writing this, so it’s entirely possible I could have a date come February 14.
I am not holding my breath, but if my potential suitor is reading this, please be advised I don’t want flowers or a stuffed animal for Valentine’s Day. I’d be more than happy with a case of Diet Coke or Costco-sized box of cat litter. Or if I’m really being honest, cash.