According to match.com, 40 percent of single people in the U.S. have tried Internet dating. I was one of them. When I signed up, I shared my real height, age, and true likes and dislikes. I even used my non-Photoshopped photos. In other words, my authentic self was pretty much exposed to the World Wide Web.
After a few days of getting messages from stereotypically weird and creepy creeps and weirdos, I began to rethink my mating experiment and lamented the fact that I was quite possibly also a creep or weirdo.
Then, just as I was contemplating deleting my profile (an option that I considered daily), I received an email from a potential match. This photo was different—It didn't make me scream or want to vomit. In fact, it made me smile. This guy was hot. His message was pretty hot too.
You have a great profile. I noticed you like Beach House. What do you think of their new album? I love it.
You might say this message is lame, but if you've ever entered the world of online dating, you'll know that 90 percent of the messages you get are begging for hookups or talking about how nice your ass is, even when your ass is conspicuously absent from all photos.
Needless to say, I eagerly wrote Julian back the next day.
Yes, I love Beach House. But the new album is just OK. Miss the old stuff. Did you go to Pitchfork?
Three days later, Julian finally wrote back.
Yeah, I went to Pitchfork. It was cool.
No greeting. No sign-off. Sure, the message was brief, but that didn't mean he was necessarily over it, right?
I wrote Julian back one more time.
Yeah, hopefully I can go next year. I hear it's one of the best festivals in Chicago. I'm kind of new to the city, so I'm not too familiar with the music scene. Maybe you have some suggestions? ; )
I know, I know. The winky face was a bold move, but what did I have to lose? Apparently, everything—since I never heard from Julian again.
The rejection sucked, but what I realized hurt the most was that I knew the exact moment that interest was lost. With online dating, the moment in which the flame is extinguished is marked to the minute.
Clearly, Julian lost interest when I mentioned that the Beach House's new album was just OK. Notice how the following email was very abrupt and didn't even mention my feelings on the album?
What this made me realize is that I didn't want to know—I don't want to know—when someone loses interest in me. I actually prefer going out on real dates and then never being called again. At least then there can be various explanations for this sudden absence. Perhaps an old girlfriend popped back into his life. Or maybe he died in a car crash. Both of these scenarios are better than a guy ceasing conversation with you because you didn't like the new Beach House album.
In fact, one benefit of real-life dating is that I still get to live in the fantasy of "it's not me, it's you" rationalizations. With online dating—and specifically in Julian's case study—the reality is that it was me (and Beach House's crappy new album).
Jen Kim is a RedEye special contributor.
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