The Big Time-Sucking Black Hole of Internet Dating

by Tess Adair


Sometimes I think the best part of OkCupid is rejecting people.


Let me clarify...I hate rejecting people face-to-face, and I hate rejecting people once I’ve gotten to know them at all. But the skeezy guy who sends me a gross or pointless message because he happens to see I’m online at 7:00pm on a Friday? I love how easy it is to shut that down.


Occasionally I get a message that’s actually crude or offensive. Much more often I get “hey,” or “what’s up,” or “hey how are ya” or “hey how’s your night going” or straight up “wanna meet up.” Rarely is there any punctuation or capitalization (unless it’s completely randomized capitalization,) and considering that the messages are often comprised of four words are fewer, spelling errors are surprisingly common.


Quick shout out to the dudes on dating apps: if it’s after 7:00pm on any given evening, I have already decided what I’m doing that night. And it’s not you. Just, you know, FYI.


I would like to make it clear at this point that I almost never reject the “hey” guys without giving them a cursory chance. I will click on their profile. I will look around until I find the reason to say no. There’s always a reason. Usually more than one.


I start with the pictures. Does he (almost always a “he,” but I have gotten plenty of come-ons from a female profile who turns out to be a couple [or turns out to claim to be a couple]) have more than one picture? No? Can I tell what he looks like from that picture? Not at all? Bye.


If the message was crude or offensive, I might say something snarky back or just report them. (Also, if it’s crude or offensive, I probably didn’t click on their profile at all.) If it was one of the much more common pointless ones, I block and delete. No need to clutter up my inbox or potential searches with shallow idiotic “hey” guys.


After the pictures, I look at our percentage. Most of the “hey” guys are somewhere in the 30-70% match range. If the person in question doesn’t hit at least an 85%, I’m probably not interested. Enough of the questions I’ve answered on there are political or social, so if we’re not an 85% match or higher, he’s probably more conservative than me, either by a wide margin or in specific important areas. Still, a few of the questions I’ve answered are sillier and less important. If he’s under 65%, I probably stop there. If he’s between 65% and 85%, I check out the questions themselves. I’m too curious not to.


There are a few instant deal-breakers for me.


“Do you think women have an obligation to keep their legs shaved?”

“Do you believe there are circumstances where someone is obliged to have sex with you?”

“Who is smarter: men or women?”

“Would you prefer to date someone of your own race/ethnicity?”

“Do you own a gun?”

“Do you have rape fantasies?”

“Should evolution and creationism be taught side-by-side in school?”


You get the picture. Those are the most obvious ones. (Before the Internet burns me at the stake over the race/ethnicity one: I totally understand that a person from a specific culture or a non-western/white ethnicity might only want to date someone from a similar background. I’m not saying this answer makes them a bad person. I’m saying we shouldn’t date. Because if they are white and they answer “yes” to this, they are probably racist. If they are not white, then answering this means they do not want to date me, a white person. Either way...bye.)


There are quite a number of dealbreaker questions that are not so obvious, but honestly, most of the “hey” guys don’t even pass the basic version of the test. A “hey” guy thinks you have an obligation to make your body look the way he wants it to; he thinks men are smarter than women (which might explain why he thinks “hey” is a good enough come-on); he might own a gun and he might like to “pretend” to rape you; he definitely thinks his partner should be submissive and he probably says in his survey answers that she should like pain during sex. (Actually, he doesn’t care if she likes it. He likes it, and that’s all that matters to him.)


In short, a “hey” guy did not read my profile. He looked at my pictures. A “hey” guy communicated with his first message that he doesn’t really care what I want or think. He likes my face. And he didn’t think about it any more deeply than that.


[While I was writing this, I got a message from a 42-year-old who lives a solid 50 minutes away from me. He has 3 daughters and doesn’t know when to use “then” instead of “than.” He referenced the last paragraph of my profile. I am 95% sure that’s all he read.]


I was going to list a few of the less obvious deal breakers, but there are more than 15, and I don’t need to waste that much internet space.


My roommate sometimes marvels at how rigorous my screening process is, how many things I’ll hold against someone. (I think my mother does, too.)


But the thing is...I love rejecting someone right off the bat. Going on OkC is like an online version of going to a bar, combined with an online version of walking down a dark street alone. If you’re a lady-person, you ARE going to get cat-called. You ARE going to be harassed by creepy dudes. You ARE going to have to field a whole lot of bullshit, plenty of which is specifically designed to make you feel bad about yourself. Almost all of it is coming at you from dudes who don’t see you as an individual at all. So even if it’s not actually designed to make you feel bad, the cumulative effect of so many people declining to treat you like a human being is much the same.


And the only bright side to that? Because it’s all online, you have the power to SHUT THAT DOWN any way you want. That asshole who tells me he wants to rip my panties off and stuff them down my throat? I can make fun of his tiny dick and report him, and I don’t have to worry that he’s going to follow me the rest of the way down that dark alley and murder me.


It’s a small consolation, but an important one. So when a guy “hey”s me, and we’re a 45% match...I get a little enjoyment out of checking out how stupid and limited his profile is, and summarily blocking him without a word. It’s a power women don’t always have IRL.


But as much as I love the quick rejection, I hate the rejection that comes about after I’ve already invested. Even if I’ve invested something as small as a single response, or a single opener (yeah, whut, I’m a lady-person on OkC who makes the first move sometimes. Most of the time, actually.) There’s something so disappointing about allowing myself to be charmed by someone, allowing myself to build up some excitement over the thought of meeting them...only to realize that they kind of suck. (Or that “we’re incompatible,” for those who are worried about the theoretical feelings of people who will never see this.)


Sometimes you get tripped up. Sometimes even a system as rigorous as mine gets fooled. Sometimes you see a guy who’s around a 90%, and you leave it at that. But then maybe you notice that he’s a “5% enemy.” Until recently, I was inclined to ignore this. Then I clicked on the questions of a guy I’d already started messaging. For the record, he’s a 96% match but 5% enemy. I have no idea how OkC’s math works.


Curious about the 5%, I clicked on his questions and I filtered them by “unacceptable answers.”


Many of these are direct sex-based questions, so if you don’t want to read about it, here’s your chance to do a Charlotte and hightail it out of the room.


OkCupid allows you to add an explanation to your answer, but doesn’t require it. Where there was an explanation on either side, I’ve added it here.

The Questions:

When having sex, do you like to have your hair pulled?

Him: Yes, and hard!

    Explanation: Though I keep it short, so good luck pulling.

Me: No way.

(This, in itself, is not enough to be a deal breaker. This is a passive question. Fine so far. Personally I think hair-pulling is for 4-year-olds, but fine.)

If your partner needed lovemaking to always be gentle, would you be fine with this?

Him: No.

Me: Yes.

(I will note - kinda hate that OkC divides sex into strict categories of “rough” and “gentle.” This shows up in multiple questions. I don’t like rough, but I do like passionate. Not sure “gentle” covers that. But anyway, if given them choice, I prefer gentle to rough, so this is...not great.)

Do you (or would you) like to go hunting?

Him: Yes.

Me: No.

(So...I’m a vegetarian.)

If a partner asked you to have sex in a sex shop booth with others watching, would you?

Him: Yes.

Me: No.

(Okay, again, passive question. But...really? No hesitation there at all? I mean, do what you want with your own body. But we are definitely different people.)

Would being in the room with a couple of friends who are having sex bother you?

Him: No.

Me: Yes.

(Okay now we’re getting to a weird place. This wouldn’t bother you AT ALL, regardless of circumstance? Like, stone-cold sober, you’re cool if two of your buddies are just fucking in the corner while you’re watching Breaking Bad or something? Because if I’m ever in this situation, I sort of want a partner who’s as weirded out as I am. I mean, I don’t go to a lot of orgies, so I’m very rarely in a situation where this would be normal behavior.)

Do you like to watch sports on television?

Him: Yes.

    Explanation: I like to go see them live if possible.

Me: No.

(This is one that Momsie thinks I’m too picky about. But unless it’s the Olympics, pole dance, or UFC, I don’t want sports on in my house. Football and baseball and soccer can all GTFO. I might be persuaded to go see something live every 3 years or so, but alcohol would have to be involved.)

Would you date someone who kept a gun in the house?

Him: Yes.

Me: No.

(So we’re back to the more passive questions. But...I really don’t like guns. Or sports.)

Do you think you could ever enjoy being humiliated as part of a sexual experience?

Him: Yes.

Me: No.

(On the surface, this looks like a passive question. But it’s not. I marked it as irrelevant. Which means he’s the one who doesn’t like my answer. He finds it unacceptable that I would not enjoy being humiliated during sex. Nopenopenope.)

How many children would you ideally like to have?

Him: 3-4.

Me: 1-2

    Explanation: I’m not really sure yet. But I think I might want to adopt in the future. Maybe.

Would you be willing to adopt a child?

Him: No.

Me: I only want adopted children.

(This is where I get off. My reaction to these two is kind of combined, and I recognize that someone might consider it an over-reaction. My gut feeling is a low-burning anger that he wants to force some woman through 4 childbirths. OKAY I KNOW he never said he’d force it. But still, in his ideal life, some woman has gone through 4 childbirths for him. He wants 4 fucking kids even though he will never have to push one out through his genitals. HE’S NOT WILLING TO ADOPT but he wants 4 kids. Selfish as fuck and bad for the planet. At this point, I’m only okay with him as a person if he sincerely wants to be a stay-at-home dad for the rest of his life. [Even then I still find it kinda racist that he won’t adopt but whatever.])

Is art important to you?

Him: No.

(Do I actually have to write my answer to this one? Maybe he took “art” to mean literally only paintings hanging in an art museum somewhere. I took it to mean all forms of art, but okay. Even you not think it’s important that those paintings in that gallery exist somewhere? Does human expression only mean something to you when you personally experience it?)

Group sex (with 3 or more people):

Him: It seriously interests me.

Me: I have little or no interest.

(Again--I marked this question as irrelevant. He’s the one who only wants a partner who’s down with threesomes. And receiving pain during sex. And he wants her to rip her body open 4 times to give him genetic offspring. I can’t believe I messaged this guy.)

If you were to get married, would you want your partner to change his or her last name to yours?

Him: Yes.

Me: I would want them to make their own decision.

    Explanation: I am absolutely not changing my name for anyone, but if my partner wants to take my name, I’m down. (We’re all aware this is a tradition that comes from when women were property, right? Yeah, I’m not onboard with that.)

The last one was honestly the real deal-breaker for me. Of course, I’ve written these questions in the order in which I saw them, so it came after I’d already deconstructed everything else. But this answer just pisses me off.

I know someone out there will argue that a man might be a feminist and still want his partner to take his name. And my response to that is that it’s 2015. Do you not think that changing your name is a big deal? Have you never once questioned where this tradition came from? Are you okay with that? If you don’t know, why the hell don’t you? The internet is available everywhere, and it’s irresponsible to believe something without doing your best to know a little about it. So, worst case scenario--your head is so goddamn big you need to stamp your partner with your name like you own her. Best case scenario--you’re propping up an old sexist system because you either didn’t bother to find out where it came from, or because you don’t care.

Of course, there is one other thought here: it’s fully possible that I put way more thought into dissecting these answers than he put into giving them. But isn’t that the very problem? I’m looking for someone who puts the same level of thought as I do into everything. Thoughtlessness, to me, is almost as bad as intentional shittiness.

In short: I wasted a whole lot of time kinda liking this guy. Then I wasted a whole new chunk of time completely dissecting every reason I couldn’t like him anymore. Such is online dating.

Onto the next, I guess.