So I went back on OkCupid this week. On my computer. I deleted it from my phone before Christmas, when I deleted Grindr and Scruff and Tinder. OkCupid had become just another place to swipe, to audition an infinite stream of faces, instantly choosing which of my fantasies to project on to them.
Most of the guys would get my rejecting-them fantasy, kind of like the Resting Bitch Face I’ve perfected over 20 years to ward off undesirables. Resting Bitch Face is also a wall to take cover behind, a safe space to strategize about guys.
That’s the beauty of these apps: The safe space is virtual. Among the dozens of faces I reject in an hour, there are some I reject because they’re too hot, too out-of-my league. Not that I’m really able to make a relationship happen with anyone in my league, either. Still, it’s safe to assume anyone with a six-pack or biceps bigger than an apple is a fruitless pursuit for me.
Then there are the ones with that rare synergy of hotness and get-ability, at least it seems. Clearly, something’s wrong with my barometer. Or maybe I need a whole system overhaul.
People keep asking if I’m dating anyone and why don’t I try online dating. (“Try?” That’s a laugh. I’ve been online dating since before it was socially acceptable.)
But when they say that, they mean actual getting-to-know-you-getting-to-know-all-about-you online dating. For at least a year or three, I’ve felt like, “Who has the time?” But without even the possibility of sex for the last seven weeks (who’s counting?) since I deleted Grindr, et al, I am what the French would call “hard up.”
This could be a good thing: Desperate for sex, maybe I’ll be more open, right? Attraction is a valid, real thing. Maybe overstimulation or overexposure has been getting in my way! Now that I’m not in the sext racket, I might be able to find something real in actual online dating.
So I log into my OkCupid account, view my matches and, without any conscious effort, immediately settle back into my well-honed process of vetting. I click on faces that fall into my desired range, then check the stats to see if the details fit the fantasy I’m constructing, and also that they’re not religious or stupid.
Then on to the rest of the pics: Are they too fat to fuck? Too perfect to get? Too skinny to enjoy? Are they trying too hard? Not hard enough? Are they wearing mandals? The wrong jeans? How’s their hair? What about body hair? Too much? Not enough?
I do this for 20 minutes or so. Or maybe an hour, or—I don’t know—three hours? Profile skimming is a major time suck so it’s hard to say.
Some automated messages pop up informing me that people I’ve “liked” have “liked” me back, followed by a few messages from people reaching out, trying to connect. I’ll get to those later, this is still the field work. Intake processing comes next.
Wait, whoa. What am I doing? This is just like what I do on the cruising apps. I need to leave the virtual meat market and get to know guys as people. But, like, does that just mean ugly guys? Guys who went to college? Only guys who write me first? Jewish guys? Without superficial criteria, I have no way to sort the masses.
On the other hand, with superficial criteria, I fall into an endless cycle of cruising and using. Yes, using. That’s the key word. Is it about coffee rather than drinks? I don’t drink anyway, but I like a late-night bar meeting, because it’s more likely to lead to sex. Dinner is bad for a first meeting. I keep relearning that message and it bears repeating: mutual attraction online is not a guarantee of enjoyable dinner conversation.
Okay, so maybe coffee.
Argh, there are already too many men in my inbox. But I make the effort to write back to a few of them in the midst of my cruising. I log on from my phone—not through the app, just on the Web. I pick one guy because he’s in my neighborhood. And another is a doctor. (You’re welcome, Mom!)
Okay, like they say, one step at a time. I might not be able to make an overnight transition from Grindr whore to hubby, but at least I can try.