The most private thing I’m willing to admit: I opened an OkCupid account.
Last May, roughly a week after graduation, I made my big move to Portland. An exciting prospect for me because a) I have never lived outside of California, b) I would soon be starting my internship for a publisher I deeply admire, and c) Portland is supposed to be awesome. Also, considering I knew no one in Portland prior to moving there, it was another opportunity to start from scratch and reinvent myself. The last time I had that chance was four years ago when I first left for college, a chance I consider to have blown due to my crippling shyness. Thankfully, I’ve since been able to step out of my shell since then and can now introduce myself to strangers and hold a casual conversation with them without wanting to cry first (sort of).
However, this is the problem I’ve run into: How do you meet people outside of work and school? Every friendship, relationship, and acquaintanceship I’ve ever made were done so through either the classroom or the workplace. I’m out of school and don’t plan on returning anytime soon, and the job I have doesn’t give much opportunity to interact with other people. While I have matured enough to be able to talk to people, I can’t find a proper setting to utilize my new found skill.
At a friend’s suggestion, I decided to open up an OkCupid account as a way to meet some locals who could introduce me to the city better. At the time, this option made absolute sense to me considering every other aspect of my life existed online. I found my roommates and current apartment through Craigslist, communicate with my boss regularly through e-mail, stay connected with my friends back home through Facebook, as well as contribute to the Fear Girls and manage my own blog. It only seemed fitting that I should find friends online, too.
It’s part of the reason why I don’t feel ashamed admitting that I have a profile on this site because I didn’t have any romantic intentions with it. A bit of a paradox considering OkCupid is primarily a match-making/hook-up site, but it does give you the option to claim on your profile what type of connection you are looking for: new friends, short-term dating, long-term dating, long-distance pen-pals, activity partners, and casual sex.
What’s been unfortunate about trying to find friends on a free dating site is that very few people on there are looking for friends. They are looking for dates. Or, probably more accurately, they are looking for a fuck buddy. It’s what’s led me to compare the site to going out to a seedy nightclub or bar on your own. The only difference is that instead of having some greasy guy with a sole patch coming up to hit on you, you receive them as messages from the comfort of your home.
The sad part from that last one isn’t that this guy probably copy and pasted this line from someone else and sent it to every girl’s profile, but that he and I are a 75% match.Fortunately, those were the worst of the messages. There were a few more requests similar to that one (apparently opening up a dating profile is the universal sign that you want to get jizzed all over), but none were bizarre like any of these colorful characters. Still, while I’d rather keep my distance from some of these people, it did make me curious as to what the benefits to online dating are. While I can understand that finding a boyfriend/girlfriend can be difficult, if all these guys want is a lay, why not just go to a bar and find it in person?
Some of the answers are obvious. Don’t have time to go out. Too shy. Too broke.
However, the answer I’ve found to be the most satisfying is that online dating allows for instant gratification. You can pass judgment quickly and blaze through whether or not he’s cute (though photographs can be misleading), where he’s from, what he does, common interests, etc. “You’re a photographer? How cool! Oh, you like Dave Matthews? FUCK OFF!”