Go ahead. I’ll just hang on here a second while you judge me.
Even if you’re not judging me, I think you are. It’s not that I don’t see the pragmatism in online dating. I have made all of the rationales in the last weeks. I don’t have time to meet new people, I’m set in my ways, etc.
No matter how I try to convince myself that it’s OK, I feel a bit sleazy. Like a guy who’s slipping out the door of an erotic masseuse with a stain on his trousers and a deliberately vague receipt.
Tinder is pretty straightforward, sort of like dating window shopping. I am only shown a woman’s picture, her proximity to my location, and her age. If I am interested in contacting her, I click on a Heart at the bottom of the page. If not, I click on a big red X.
I sort of feel like the Emperor of Rome choosing harem concubines. But the catch is that in order for me to be matched to a woman, they too have to click on my Heart. So while I have clicked 100 hearts in the last week, I’ve only been matched to six women. Since the sole catalyst between interest and disinterest rests on the value of one picture, I can’t help but feel a little rejected. I’m not making most people’s harem cut.
When it comes to pictures, I am at a disadvantage. In the first place, I am not classically attractive. I am funny, smart, and other things, but I can’t really convey that in a picture. Moreover, I definitely can’t convey that in a picture when I am to photogenic as Miley Cyrus is to reserved.
Besides my fourth grade portrait, I have one good picture. It was taken at the beach a couple of years ago and it’s in black and white. My belly is hidden by a plate of funnel cake and since it’s not a 3D picture, my butt doesn’t seem to stick out far enough to block boardwalk traffic. Everything seems to work in this picture – my hair is cooperating, my mouth is (miraculously) closed, and I only appear to have 2.7 chins. It is about the only photograph of myself that I have ever liked. How can I lose?
The first message I receive on Tinder:
R U Married?
I respond to the negative and wonder why on Earth this woman would ask that. Do I look like a married guy? Is she married and looking for a little strange on the side?
The next one:
R U Married?
OK, there’s a conspiracy. It starts to become clear that this Tinder is a place where people over the age of thirty come to scan prospective weekend dalliances. But then I get a third message.
R U Married? R U German?
This is a twist. Say anything you’d like about my looks, but I don’t look German. I don’t even look like a person who can do math, how can I be German? It’s at this point that I look at my profile picture. In the picture, I am wearing what clearly appears to be a wedding band.
Let’s review the data.
In the only picture I have ever liked of myself (since 1983) I look married. In addition, I used this picture as my sole representative on a dating site.
So instead of the relaxed funnel-cake eating gent I was hoping to convey to dozens of available women, I appear to be a cheating, scumbag married dude who was too dumb to take off his wedding band in his profile picture.
I wonder if that erotic masseuse takes credit cards.