Swipe Me Off My Feet

You’re a grown ass woman, do what the hell gives you life, but don’t expect online dating to be a Katherine Heigl rom-com every moment.

It’s two a.m. You’ve just woken up in a strange bed. The sheets are disheveled and the pillow beneath your head has lumps, unlike the smooth one at home. A little chill sweeps up your back, probably because your clothes are crumpled on the hardwood floor below. You turn to your right, there’s a head.

The head is lying on a pillow, appearing severed, but attached to a submerged body under mismatched sheets.

You wonder, how the hell did I get here? Who is this? Then his name pings into your mind: Sailor74. You realize that’s the only name you know...is that bad? Does that make me a bad person?

The answer your grandmother would give you is yes, but the answer I’m going to give you is hell no.

Online dating has changed a lot in the past twenty years and thank God for that. It used to be a space where it seemed only the anti-social and perverted would congregate to find a date. Now those same people are still lurking the sites, but so are you. According to the Statistics Brain Research Institute (SBRI), out of the 54,250,000 single people roaming The States, 41,250,000 people have tried online dating in hopes of finding their equally lonely counterpart...that’s a lot of profile pages.

What does that say about how we’re dating each other now? And what does it mean for the future of how we form these romantic relationships? Smack dab in the middle of the hookup culture, online dating is making classic romance (real flowers, candles and Prince Charming) only exist in pieces of fiction.

I partially blame the guys you meet.

The Guys You’ll Meet Online

With a little less than 55 million people online looking for love, according to SBRI about 52.4% are guys, who come in three unfortunately avoidable varieties...I’m sorry in advance.

 The Creeper (drawing by Kiri Samanich)

The Creeper (drawing by Kiri Samanich)

The first is The Creeper. Let’s not pretend that every match you get on Tinder is going to be Prince Charming riding up in his Chevy Camaro to drive off in the sunset. The odds are, he’s probably a creeper. The coveted Urban Dictionary defines creeper in many ways —from Edward Cullen to the old guy staring at young girls in a bar— but they all have the same idea. This is the guy who is constantly viewing your profile, the guy who lurks in the background, the guy who sends you the offensive message, “So can I come over tonight?” Ew. You may not.

On top of all of that, we have to deal with the horrors of profile pictures. When it comes to The Creeper you can always spot him when he appears. If it’s not his insanely awkward selfie that raises the red flag, your women’s intuition always tells you the truth.

Kiri Samanich gives a hilarious retelling of her nightmare made reality while dating online in Italy. As she learned, truly horrifying profile pictures are just an innocent swipe away.

“I was just casually swiping through Okcupid profiles, which is always an emotional rollercoaster between amused and disturbed, when I landed on, what I believe should qualify as the eighth wonder of the world—a man in doggy style stance, a theoretically seductive face peeking back over a traffic cone orange painted body, and a scarcely covered orange ass, front and center, man thong and all, painted like a jack-o-lantern.”

These men are a dime a dozen and you shouldn’t let them deter you from your aspirations to date online. Just because there are mosquitoes doesn’t mean you stop going outside, right? Instead, take each one in stride, hone in on your clap back skills, and put them in their place, or just rise above them and block their asses. Either way, it’s nothing a little Raid can’t fix.

 The Narcissist (drawing by Kiri Samanich)

The Narcissist (drawing by Kiri Samanich)

The second is The Narcissist. You can’t miss this jerk off. He won’t let you. He’s the one who takes the bathroom selfie sans shirt or uses the artistic shot his art school friend used for their portfolio. I’m sorry, this is OkCupid not GQ. If he messages you first, it’s because he feels you’re perfect for his arm or bed. If you message him first, he might not message you back. Why? Because somewhere in his mind he thought as a guy he could be very selective.  

Men on Tinder have been known not to be very selective, swiping right for every girl to increase their own chances of a hookup. But when we deal with The Narcissist, we’re dealing with a guy who is twisting evolutionary psychology.

When dealing with evolutionary psychology and Charles Darwin’s sexual selection,women are wired to be far more selective about who they “mate” with. Men? Not so much.

According to Darwin’s in The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex, it all goes back to reproduction. Men innately want to be with as many women as possible to ensure the survival of their species. Now that survival isn’t in the picture, his sexual drive is still there and translates to a less selective process when picking sexual partners, unlike women who are more selective due to what’s at stake.

The Narcissist changes that. He chooses his “mates” very carefully. He is all about himself, what you can do for him, and what that means for his image. If this guy ever pops up as a match, quickly delete him. He may look as delicious as a fluffy ball of carnival cotton candy. But like that summertime treat, you realize there’s no substance and end up with a stomach ache in the end... Just move on.

Last is the Magician. He's the guy who looks perfect online. His profile picture is flawless, he reads obscure Russian Literature, his dog is his partner in crime, and he’s a chemist at a beer brewery by trade. Online, this guy may be the most interesting man in the world. But you meet him, and he doesn’t even look related to the guy in the picture, or he looks like the guy but you hang out and realize he’s a snoozefest.

This has happened to me so many times it’s nauseating, and it’s happened to many others.

Former online dater Carly Russell encountered a Magician herself in Alabama. At first, Carly thought he made a decent if slightly intense impression. That is, until he began asking completely inappropriate first date questions.

“On the second date, we went out for coffee again and walked around Homewood. He revealed that he had been married for two years, told me how the Pixar movie The Incredibles was actually a cautionary tale about only dating people of your own religion... I'm very passionate about interfaith work, so that put a rancid taste in my mouth. Then he inquired about my virginity before proposing [marriage]. It was out of the blue, essentially ‘I'm looking for a wife, and you'll do,’” said Carly.

You’ll probably be fooled at least once. Men are awkward, what else is new? Still, the worst type of Magician is a liar. A recent Global World Index (GWI) survey of 47,000 online daters found that 30% of the users on Tinder are married and another 12% are in a relationship. According to SBRI, men are mostly lying about their age, height, and income. So how do you sniff out the con artist?

 The Magician (drawing by Kiri Samanich)

The Magician (drawing by Kiri Samanich)

If you think he’s already in a relationship, ask him to do things spontaneously and look at his ring finger. If he keeps up the excuses or has a tan on his ring finger, he’s taken. If you think he’s lying about his age, ask to go to a bar late at night. He’ll have to show ID to get in, and then you can create a convo awkward ID pictures so you can sneak a peek. If you think he’s lying about his height, send each other pictures (if you’re ok with it), and look at him in reference to the average height of things around him. If you think he’s lying about his income, bring your own money if you go out. #1 RULE: Always bring your own money! Don’t expect him to pay for the date and find out he can’t pay his way, let alone yours. The key to beating The Magician is be one step ahead of his tricks.

So let’s say you’ve met someone nice, he doesn’t raise any red flags like the guys above, and you honestly feel like he’s someone you can trust. I like to call him The Unicorn.

The Unicorn is why you’re online. He’s the guy who makes it all worth it in the end. You think that through all of these trolls you’ll never find him, but there’s a chance you will. It’s been done before, and it could happen to you.

The most important thing to remember about online dating is that you should never let it change what you want out of a relationship and how you want to date. For many women lately, those lines are starting to blur.

How We Let Our Phones Rule Our Dating Lives

Think back for a second on how your parents met. At a mutual friend’s party? At work? Did they grow up together? Chances are they met without having to deal with any sort of technology, and their parents definitely didn’t have to deal with choosing between Eharmony and OKCupid.  

Our generation is going to change that. As products of the ‘80s and ‘90s, the hookup culture has the easiest access to like minded sexual individuals, and there’s no sign of slowing down.

By swiping left and right all day long you’re killing your chances of creating those meaningful bonds you originally set out to make. How many have you made lately?

Now, don’t get me wrong, some of us live in the moment. And if you’re cool with meeting and screwing the hot thing at the bar with the knowledge that’s all it was and will be, I say nail him. But if that’s not what you want, and you’re not about the wam-bam-thank-you-ma’am life, don’t be.

As we swipe and text we’re not forming bonds with people because we’re not emotionally attaching ourselves to anything concrete. Many times we’re making a connection with a picture before the person. 

When you date online, you potentially run the risk of giving up the things you want from a relationship. A site like Tinder has the social understanding that it’s all about the hookup, which can make it extremely hard for someone who is looking for more than that. Although you may be going in as innocently as possible, somewhere down the road you find your intentions may start to change.

I’ve been on Okcupid, Tinder, Plenty of Fish, and Coffee Meets Bagel, and had a very, very brief stint on Black People Meet. Each site gave me a relatively similar experience, but as I let myself sink into this hole of swiping and starring profiles, I found my expectations of men had dropped from bad to worse. I treated every relationship I started as a temporary arrangement, whether I really liked him or not, and I turned myself into a serial dater that I never was before.

In my mind, it was easier to delete a number from my phone than someone from my life.

What We Deserve Out of Dating Online

These online dating apps are essentially a distraction. They’re making us lose forget that we started swiping right in hopes of making a real connection with someone.

As much as we are all for rocking out to an independent woman anthem, based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs we will eventually long for stable relationships. According to Maslow, once you’ve reached your happy place, after you’ve got enough sleep and eats, and live in your Barbie dream house, you’ll probably still long for a Ken doll to call your own. You can try to let your ego run your life, but soon enough your id and superego will catch up with you.

Since it would seem that nobody is meeting each other solely in person anymore, how do you keep yourself from being another subject to the trend?

For one, set your standards higher. You’re a lady, so make the man work for what he wants! I’m not saying play hard to get, but don’t make it easy for him. Don’t invite him over to chill, because we all know what that means, unless that’s your end game. Instead date him, go explore places together, stuff your faces with junk food at a carnival, create experiences and make memories to share. After a while, maybe you two can “chill.”

Secondly, don’t compromise. That means, don’t compromise your wants and what you’re willing to put up with. You don’t know this guy from Adam Levine, and if he’s worth anything he’ll respect your values from the beginning. Stick to your guns and the right guy will show you his.

And lastly, have a blast. Please don’t take this whole online dating thing too seriously. When you do, that’s how you end up being overly picky and searching for things that are wrong with him before giving him a chance. Everyone has minor flaws. Instead of going out, meeting new guys, and continuing your search for The Unicorn, you’re in the house just swiping on your phone, eating a pint of Phish Food while The Real Housewives plays in the background, and how losery is that?

In all honesty online dating is a numbers game, and the point of it is to create a space where you can filter through and meet guys to create relationships with real ones— away from your phones and laptops. It’s those experiences where you get to know someone face-to-face, learn to love their quirks and enjoy the beginnings of something meaningful. You can’t do that from a phone.

Are you a Tinderella? Share your swipe right success stories in the comments! 

Feature illustration by Kiri Samanich