Friday, December 31, 2010

Online Dating Fatigue: A Serious Medical Condition

Every few weeks, after putting in so much effort and getting what seems like little return, I contract a little-known disorder called ODF—Online Dating Fatigue.

Online Dating Fatigue
Online Dating Fatigue: A Serious Medical Condition

Online Dating Fatigue, or ODF, is a rare but serious medical condition that affects the heart and brain of males and females who actively participate in online dating for 1 month or longer. It is described as a severe frustration with the online dating process and a period of abandonment of the dating website in question.

Online Dating Fatigue may last anywhere from 1 day to 3 months, possibly longer if left untreated. Doctors classify ODF as mild, moderate, or severe:

    Mild
    A tired, ache-y feeling, followed by a closing of the sufferer's laptop or turning off of the sufferer's desktop computer. May return to online dating in approximately 1 to 7 days. Does not require treatment.
   
    Moderate
    A frustrated, head-bang-y feeling, followed by an angry, passive-aggressive Facebook update about how annoying online dating is. May return to online dating in approximately 1 to 2 weeks. May or may not require treatment.
   
    Severe
    A mixture of anger and hopelessness, followed by a feeling of certainty that either the sufferer will die alone or that he/she is never going to do online dating again. If the sufferer is ever to return to online dating, treatment is required.


Causes

It is difficult to pinpoint the exact series of events that leads to a case of ODF, but the condition is generally preceded by a concentrated period of effort put into online dating. Concentrated effort may be defined as any of the following:
  • hour of slogging through profiles and blurry pictures
  • sending out flirts, winks, and emails
  • writing and rewriting the sufferer's profile to portray oneself in the best light possible
  • searching through albums to find the best pictures of the sufferer
If this concentrated effort for a period of a week or longer yields little to no result, the sufferer is likely to contract ODF and may require treatment.

Symptoms

The following are common symptoms of ODF:
  • Feeling defeated, as though all one's efforts are futile. 
  • Irrational desires to hurl electronic objects at hard surfaces. 
  • Listlessness and the urge to curl up under the covers and never come out. 
  • Wishing, either aloud or in the sufferer's head, that online dating never existed or that the sufferer had never participated in it.
Treatment

Occasionally the symptoms of ODF will clear up on their own, given enough time and cocktails. The sufferer will return to online dating. However, in severe cases, time and cocktails just aren't sufficient, and additional treatment is required.

Talking to fellow ODF sufferers may help one find relief from ODF symptoms. Knowledgeable advice and venting are known cures for ODF. Going to bars and bookstores and restaurants without dating success may also cause sufferers to find that the only other place to find single, (questionably) eligible matches is, in fact, online.

But the number one cure for severe ODF cases is to hear just one success story of someone who has met his/her girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse/sex partner online.

Because one vague, far-off ray of optimism is stronger than months of trial.

Sometimes we forget why we do it. Why we put ourselves through the humiliation, the stress, the hours upon hours of scanning through profiles and pictures and sending out flirts and winks and messages. Because in the end, we're hopeful. Even if we hate to admit it. We're optimistic that somewhere, somehow, he or she is waiting. 
And he might just be one click away.


For treatment on a related dating disorder, see Chronic Dating Fatigue.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Date Night Rewind: Connor the Condescending

Note: Names have been changed to protect the innocent and promote alliteration.

ASS Profile

Dating site: Match.com


Fake name: Connor

Age: 31

Job: Some sort of psychologist, works with kids. Has a PhD.

Appearance: Way tall. Like a full foot taller than me. Okay-looking, nothing special. Dark hair and very round-framed glasses.

Location: The city. I live in the suburbs. I am no city girl, though I am getting better at it.

Time: Late August

Connor's profile was nothing special, but from his pictures (most of which were far away... see I WANT TO SEE YOUR FACE) I wasn't repulsed, so I sent him a quick message. He responded flirtily, making a joke about my user name (still TheEditrix at the time). I returned with some questions about him, his job, etc. since I still knew so little about him. Rather than answering any of my questions, he said he would rather tell me in person and that we should talk on the phone.

I thought that was very abrupt, as I like to see if a guy and I at least have anything to say over email before moving to the real world. The person isn't really real until you hear his voice. (See The Importance of the Voice.) Despite thinking that was kind of weird, I gave him my number, and he called me the next day.

Like everything else about him so far, his voice was, well, mediocre. Deep enough, very deep actually, but there was a dull quality to it. He very much sounded his age, which, at 8 years older than me, wasn't a turn-on. He had a nice laugh, but he mumbled, and I had to ask him to repeat himself on more than one occasion. We had an okay conversation, but I found myself tuning out.

He proposed going out that weekend. Again, rather hasty. But I was so taken aback that I agreed. (Note: This is the part where my story starts sounding like a 20/20 special about young naive girls meeting older men on the internet and getting raped and killed. [Disclaimer: I did not, in fact, get raped or killed. I probably wouldn't be blogging about it if I did. But girls of the world who are reading this, don't do what I did. Might not have such a bland ending.])

We decided to meet for Thai downtown. He chose the place. We were going our kind of late on a Sunday, around 8 p.m., so I asked him to call the place to make sure it didn't close early. He said he would call me back if there was a problem. Having never had Thai food before, I went to the website and perused the menu. While I was on the site, I checked out the hours... and what do you know, it says the restaurant is closed on Sundays. I waited a minute or two, as he said he would call me. When I didn't hear from him, I started to worry, as I am apt to do. So, rather than risk the awkwardness of arriving at a restaurant to discover that it's closed, I called to tell him. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Hey Connor, sorry to call you again. I went to the restaurant's website, and it says they're closed on Sundays!
Connor: Well, I called, like I said I would. They're open til 10.
Me: [babbling confusedly] Oh! It said on the website they were closed. I guess the website isn't up to date. I was just worried when I saw the website, so I wanted to call you and make sure.
Connor: I said I would call. I called, and they were open, so I didn't call you back. Like we agreed on.
Me: ...
Connor: ...
Me: Oh, um, well it wasn't like I didn't believe you or anything, I just went to look at the menu and I happened to see the hours, and I was worried when I saw it said it was closed. Sorry. Didn't mean to second guess you.
Connor: Oh.

So we're off to a great start.

I get there mostly on time, find a ludicrously expensive parking lot right near the restaurant, and I see him standing in front of the restaurant. On his Blackberry, typing away. Fine.

Me: Hi Connor!
Connor: [not looking up from phone] Oh hey. [type type type type]
Me: ...
Connor: [finally looking up] You ready?

We go into the restaurant, and I tell the hostess there's two of us, and she starts to walk toward the table area, which has about 5 open tables, and that's just what I can see from a quick glance. Connor stops her, says, "We have a reservation for two under Connor." She gives him a slightly annoyed look, goes to the reservation book, scratches off his name, and leads us to the exact same section of open tables she was headed toward originally. Reminded me of a Futurama episode that goes like this:

The main character and her date enter a restaurant.
Restaurant owner: Table for two? Right this way, please.
Date: [pompously] We don't have a reservation, but as you can see, I'm the mayor's aide. Table for two, please!
Restaurant owner: ... Uh, okay then.

The dinner conversation doesn't fare much better. We're talking about my job as an editor, and he asks me, "Isn't there some sort of machine or software that can do that?" It's perfectly acceptable to summarize my career as "so easy, a computer could do it." I feel for the Geico cavemen.


After dinner (he paid, at least), he proposed going on a walk around the city. It was dark, and I wasn't really interested, but sometimes I don't know how to say no. So I said yes. Luckily for me, he wasn't a murderer or rapist, or at least chose not to act on those urges, and I made it home safe, having lost only a couple of hours of my life.

Image credits:
http://pvanhoof.be/
http://nikkigsblog.wordpress.com/
http://futurama.wikia.com/

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Importance of the Voice

The first phone call is a big thing for me. Before I tried online dating, I never realized how much a guy's voice mattered. I'm usually more of a visual person than an auditory person, but a guy's voice is a big factor in determining if I'm attracted to him or not. When you meet someone (you know, in the normal way), you meet the entire package... looks, mannerisms, behavior, voice are all bound into one identity. It's hard to separate components of someone's personality. The only time a voice is really noticeable by itself is if there is a huge discrepancy between looks and voice. Like if a big burly guy has a high, squeaky voice, or if a buxom blonde has a tinny, whining voice (a la The Man With Two Brains).

But when you meet someone online, you don't get the whole picture all at once. You get a picture, a few if you're lucky, and a few paragraphs about him, or at least how he has chosen to portray himself. It tells you some superficial information about him, maybe a little something deeper if he's a good writer (or if you're a good analyzer), but you won't get a real idea of who he is until the two of you speak. Of course, the first face-to-face meeting will tell you much more, but you will at least get a sense of his personality and larger identity.

There was one guy awhile back (one of my first online dating experiences) whose voice ruined it for me. He seemed really nice, and he was cute. We had great email conversations, and I was pretty excited to meet him.  The first phone call finally happened, and when I heard his voice, I almost sighed in disappointment. It just completely turned me off. Still, I gave it a shot and met him, but it was to no avail. My emotional disconnect with his voice was mirrored in my feelings about his personality, too. The voice just says so much about personality.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

First Impressions: User Names

Subtitle: What's in a Name?


When I first signed up for JDate, I thought really hard about my user name. The instructions said I should pick something that says something about me, and warned me to think very carefully, because I would not be able to change my user name later.

I wanted something clever but informative. Something that would stand out. Those who know me know how much I appreciate acronyms and alliteration. After much thought, I decided upon NoisyNightOwl. I stay up late, and I'm a talker. And it's an alliteration. I realized only later that it made me seem overly chatty and lazy.

eHarmony doesn't ask for user names. They just use your first name.

Match.com requires user names. Again, when I signed up for Match, I thought and thought. Finally, I came up with TheEditrix. I thought it was smart and sexy, a feminized version of my job as an editor.

Brutal truth time: I haven't gotten a very good response on Match.com. 90% of my emails have gone unanswered. I've seriously revised my profile 20 times. Though I haven't actually counted, I don't think I am exaggerating. I've changed my pictures, worked on the writing, and still I get next to nothing. It was only when I received an email from a guy "joking" that he was nervous about my user name because he wasn't an S&M English nerd, that I started to worry that my user name was part of the problem. I then received an email that ended with "I know I'm not the best at grammar... no need to go all madame editrix on my ass."

Really? I mean, I know guys' minds are always in the gutter (usually mine is too), and I obviously saw the connection between editrix and dominatrix. But it didn't occur to me that it would actually scare guys off... I thought they would think it was sexy.

I started to wonder what other girls used as user names for their online dating profiles. Instead of "Woman searching for a man," I chose "Man searching for a woman" so I could see the profiles of my competitors. It's what any ambitious company would do. (The various ladies I perused were probably somewhat confused when saw TheEditrix as one of the people who viewed their profiles.)

Were there similarly clever, informative names? No. Quite the opposite. The vast majority were names like Shelly2345. CaliforniaGirl8. Shoelaces94. Boring, unimaginative, impersonal identities. There was the occasion creative name, like Dangerouspiece and HistoryRox18. But most names were some variation on their first names or feminine adjectives.

So, I caved. I gave in to convention. It hurt my heart to conform and "dull down" my fabulous personality, but online dating is ALL about first impressions. If my user name scares guys off before they even click on my picture, there's no chance of them getting to know me. As some friends and coworkers said to me later, if someone already knows me, TheEditrix is funny and sexy. But since they don't know me from Eve, I have to go with an innocuous name so I can get their foot in the door. So now I'm PJgirl27. Once they know and love me, THEN I can pull out my Madame Editrix costume and red pen whip.

Just kidding...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Advice for Men: Profile Pictures

Subtitle: I want to see your face


Look, I'll be the first to admit it. Despite every profile proclaiming to hate the "superficial" bar scene, online dating is just as superficial. Your picture is the most important part of your profile. Anything else—likes, dislikes, intelligence, humor—is secondary. It's a fact of life. Like it or not, you have to be attracted to a person to date him or her. Of course, I understand that you cannot necessarily tell if you're attracted to a person based on a two-dimensional picture. The way I approach it: If I feel there's even a possibility I could be attracted to the guy, even if the attraction is not immediate, I'll give his profile a closer look.

Is online dating based on appearances just as much as real life? Of course it is. Do I reject profiles because I don't find the man attractive? Yes. Does that make me a bad person? I think not.

That said, men, please put some thought into your picture. Or rather, pictures. All of the dating sites I've been on (JDate, eHarmony, and Match) allow you to post multiple pictures. Match allows up to 26 pictures.

You would think that gives you more than adequate opportunity for me to ACTUALLY SEE WHAT YOU LOOK LIKE.

What does that mean, exactly? It means I want. To see. Your FACE.

What do I not want to see?
  1. I don't want to see 10 zoomed out photos of you performing extreme sports. You can write  about your snowboarding adventures in your profile. I'll believe you. I promise.
  2. I don't want to see shots of you in a row with 8 other people. Especially if it's far away. I don't know you. I can't always tell which one is you.
  3. I don't want to see a picture of your dog by himself. Okay, so you like animals. I'm not thinking about dating your dog. At least BE IN the picture with your dog.
  4. I don't want to see 15 pictures of you wearing large sunglasses. I CAN'T SEE YOUR FACE.
  5. I don't want to see a blurry shot of you holding your cell phone to a mirror. Really? You don't have a single photo of you taken with an actual camera? 
I understand the rationale behind these types of photos. You want to show the range of your interests and personality. If you must include a sports photo, a fraternity photo, a sunglasses photo, then you must. ONE of each. You have 23 more opportunities for me to see your eyes, your smile, your hair, your... let me hear it... FACE!

Seeing your body is nice too, but for me, and I think for most girls, the face is the most important part of determining if I'm attracted to you. One more request: please smile. Maybe it's macho to look all serious and angry and emotionless, but it doesn't make me see you as a fun guy with an irresistible smile. There are some things I'll take your word for—like your mountain biking hobby or your pet shih tzu—but not your sexy blue eyes or your love for laughter.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Online Dating by an ASS

Online dating. More accepted than ever before. Everyone knows someone now who met his or her significant other online. In the 90s, anyone you "met" through the internet was assumed to be a 45-year-old creeper targeting young naive girls. Though it hasn't completely thrown off the stigma that it's only for desperate, ugly, creepy, or painfully shy individuals, you can now admit to someone that you've tried or continue to try online dating without the fear of facing a pitying or disgusted expression.

I have joined the online dating community. Rather, make that communities. Over the past year and a half, at different times, I've been a member of JDate, eHarmony, and Match.

I am not desperate, creepy, ugly, or painfully shy. I'm no D-CUP. What I AM, however, is an ASS: astute, social, and single.

Astute: I'm smart and fairly insightful—I notice things. I'm an editor by profession, and thus quite detail-oriented... a nice word, as my boss says, for anal.

Social: I'm not shy. I go up to guys and tell them they're cute. I have no problems in a large group, and I really enjoy being socially active. Yet here I am, trying to meet people online, because I'm still—

Single: Obviously, I am not currently dating anyone.

Maybe this will read too much like a college freshman's thesis statement, but in this blog I intend to share my musings, funny stories, dating adventures, and advice about online dating. I love puns and acronyms that spell funny things. I also love irony and sarcasm, and I find other people's stupidity hilarious. In online dating it's not hard to find.