Archive | May, 2019

The (not) dating introvert, #3: OK Cupid and the digital dating problem

29 May

The ascent of the internet and social media has graced humanity with some pretty funky tools that make the search for romantic partnership much more interactive and accessible, particularly for socially shy people like myself. As we have seen in the last blog, that hasn’t helped me much. Today I will report a bit on recent experiences with online dating, and particularly about the platform of OK Cupid. Don’t worry; it’s not all doom and gloom. I’ll throw in some humour, and finish on a high note.

Digital Dating

Online Dating has been on my plate for the past decade or so, but I’ve only given it any serious consideration after I moved to Toronto. That has nothing to do with the city itself; I just felt a bit lonely, and one of my more travelled friends encouraged me to create a profile on one of his favourite sites, OK Cupid. And that’s already the long and uninformative story of how I came to have a digital portfolio on that particular dating website.

I’m a cheapskate, so free dating apps and websites such as Plenty-of-Fish or Tinder have definitely received some unwanted attention from me. I will tell you more about that in my next instalment of “Goemon disappoints himself”. Today I will focus on only one occurrence.

Port of Alesund, Norway

While we proceed with my account of the dating world, we may keep in mind that this is our ultimate goal. No, not a port in Norway; to become a cute couple!

OK Cupid

Just in case you have never encountered this particular website, I will give you a brief description of its framework. Well, if you know the site, the following passage won’t vanish from your view, but feel free to skip it manually.

OK Cupid is one of the better dating websites. In stark contrast to other dating portals you can create a profile, search the list of available candidates using various delimiters, and write messages back and forth without supporting the host financially. You can ’like’ other profiles, and if the people behind them like you back, you can write messages without limitations. Should you decide to pay for their services you gain the ability to see who has ‘liked’ your profile. Otherwise you just get to see the number of likes, and are left to wonder who might be the peculiar wisecracks who indicated interest in you, despite your outdated profile picture.

Profiles that you ‘unmatch’ usually don’t show up in your feed again, unless they belong to VIP members, or the algorithm thinks you ought to take a second and twenty-second look. This is a very diligent way for ladies to shut up guys they grew tired of. Chat for a few days, and when some cuter guy comes along, click the ‘unmatch’ button to never see each other’s profile again. (Unless that guy is VIP, so I guess there are multiple advantages in paying the website hosts.)

I ran the test, and ladies really receive a lot of virtual mail. It is quite helpful that suitors they have not manually ‘matched’ are not able to send words to their inbox. Otherwise they’d be swamped within minutes. You can send a short message to someone, so as to pique their interest in you, but after that greeting their profile disappears until they ‘match’ you.

I created a fake profile featuring a mildly attractive woman whose photo I gleaned from some random online fashion shop. Just your regular, barely beautiful woman. Her profile, which basically said “Hi, I am Sarah, and I like beeches” received 100 ‘likes’ within one hour of me uploading it. After half a year my own profile did not receive that much attention, which just goes to show how incredibly selective ladies get to be.

After barely one week my fake female profile had accumulated more than 1000 ‘likes’, and after two weeks that number had doubled again. Many of her suitors sent messages as well, although their creativity never exceeded the frivolous boredom of “Hey! Let’s skip the chit chat, and grab coffee some time.” I wish I was making that up, but this is literally the Copy & Paste attitude with which most guys try to fetch ladies.

And those lazy asses still win out against me! Every one of my messages is handcrafted, funny, insightful, and compliments on something specific to their profile. And still I receive less attention than the cute guy who puts her feet to sleep with blunt phrases like “I want to go out with you.”

goemon5-final-recordings-in-snow-1

Some of the best company I ever had. Amps don’t run away, you know.

Goemon5 on OK Cupid

Goemon5 aboard the ABC RypMeOff

Hello!

When I created my profile on that dating website, I was still naively excited about this technology. I hand-selected a few portrait photos, showing my marvellous moustache in various creative environments; I filled in every single text box with engaging descriptions of my strong characters suits; and answered some 150 multiple-choice questions, to improve my virtual compatibility with the seeking ladies.

After two months on that site I have ‘liked’ some 1500 profiles, and wrote some 600 messages, which wasted more than 100 hours of my precious time. Those were not the cheapo kind of messages. Whenever a profile revealed any kind of information, I made sure to respond to that. After a few weeks I became quite efficient at it, but it’s still work, especially when you get next to no feedback.

 

The virtual harvest

Here is the catch of my prolonged efforts, the result of 600 handcrafted, engaging messages: A total of 24 women liked me back. Two even ‘liked’ me before I ever visited their profiles, which just goes to show that miracles happen, and my portrait photos are not a complete turn-off.

Out of the 24 ladies who entered direct communication with me eleven actually messaged me back at some point. The remaining thirteen are dead weight in my feed; despite various efforts and invitations they never wrote me back.

Out of the eleven women that I had some kind of correspondence with two were so excited to meet me that they unmatched my profile just before we could set a date for said meeting. Four others wrote me back twice or thrice, and then migrated to the “dead weight” category outlined above. They are still regularly marked as ‘online’, which means they spend a significant amount of time communicating via OK Cupid, just not with me.

This could be utterly depressing, considering that I am actually a human being myself, and initially was kinda hopeful about this whole dating ordeal. You know by now that introverts are emotionally involved in just about anything they do, and even more so with issues involving social interaction. When one in fifty lassies likes me back, every single one of them becomes worthy of her own celebration. When more than half of them never interact with me in any way, those celebratory balloons deflate pretty quickly.

album-cover-take-2-2

Before you ask: yes, my profile pics are interesting.

Finally, Dating

That leaves us with five contacts that actually developed into dates. [This is the point where you break out into excited cheer and long overdue applause.]

I was surprised as well. 600 messages scored me five solid dates, with beverage, and face-to-face communication, and all. In and of itself that is a terribly inefficient ratio, but when you’re aging, lonely, and introverted you take what you can get.

Five dates does not sound like much, but it’s getting even less impressive when you consider that one of these ladies turned out to be a fellow scientist, who made it very clear beforehand that this was to be a friendly meeting, with no chance of romance in any of our quantum universes. To tell the truth, I have not heard back from her in three months, so it is difficult to tell how deep our friendship goes after the single meeting we had.

The other four dates went rather well, if I may judge so myself. We talked, we laughed, and compared our commonalities. Within 24 hours two of these four lassies told me that they had a nice time, and saw absolutely no chance of any romantic relationship between us. The third lady held back for a week, and when I asked her for a follow-up walk through the park to see the famous cherry-blossom trees she first rejected, and two days later ‘unmatched’ me.

That leaves me with one lady who I am now friends with. It’s a bit discouraging that she recently reposted a meme saying ‘hopefully five years from now I will still be single’, but I’ll even take that as a good sign. Afterall, we read and comment on each other’s Facebook posts, so she definitely enjoys my virtual company. Right?! I’ve been told positivity is key, so we better retain all the sweetness that this tiny harvest has boiled down to.

Fjord Town Geiranger

This photo has no relevance here. I just like Norway.

Conclusions

Alright, I promised you a happy bit, and Goemon always keeps his word. As I pointed out in previous posts on the matter, it is very difficult for me to talk to pretty women, if my intentions involve any kind of romance. That’s not just general introverted insecurity. (Or maybe it is – I am no psychiatrist.) Words literally drain from my mind when approaching a cute lass. Being able to score any date at all is already an achievement for me, and it would not have happened at this rate (four dates in two months!) without OK Cupid.

Now, if my somber self might get a few words in edgewise, I’d like to add that there are few things that I hate more than inefficiency, and this virtual dating thing is one of the least efficient experiences I ever had. Imagine you read the profiles of 600 ladies, and in direct response to their personal information you asked them out for coffee, and only five of them said ‘yes’ (for a 1:120 ratio; told you we’d be doing math), you would probably find limited consolation in the fact that four out of five women offer you virtual friendship in return for your efforts.

1500 profiles read and liked, 600 messages sent, 11 interactive responses, 4 dates with ladies who are “looking for something else”, one confirmed second date.

Alas, one out of six hundred women found me so sympathetic that she went on a second walk with me. Seeing that this is the only second date I ever had, we shall now celebrate and rejoice in the miracle of digital dating. The statistics of this endeavour remain terribly discouraging, but the quality company I received is worthy of at least some of the effort I poured into this.

Also, 47 people liked my profile, without me liking them back, which tells you that I have standards that preclude me from certain relationships. But I will tell you more about my prevalence against homosexual affairs with the ring bearer in a later episode. Today we celebrate.

 

The (not) dating introvert, #2: never been kissed

24 May Longyearbyen in Norway gives much time to reflect.

You have probably seen those silly memes proclaiming that dating for over-thirty-year olds is “just like regular dating, but everything is on fire”. And you probably thought: “Haha. Silly. Next!” Or you ignored it altogether. Maybe you even tried to read some rare truth into that statement. In that case I pity you, because there is none.

Or your reaction was similar to mine: ‘what the heck are you even talking about’? How and why anyone quests for a romantic relationship depends on character attributes and personality, not on age. Almost all issues that stand between me and a happy dating experience are related to society and technology. Age plays almost no role in it. In fact, you could rewrite that same meme for age groups of 40, 50, and 80 years, and its value would not change. Dating success does not depend on age. Don’t let any random internet post tell you differently.

 

Look at me go! I haven’t even hit on the main subject yet, and already I am ranting away.

When I hear people talk about their puny relationship problems I usually roll my eyes, and move on. If you ponder questions such as ‘how many partners can I date simultaneously’, or ‘after how many dates am I allowed to kiss’, I have neither pity nor advice for you. Because I would gladly trade places with you, solve your imaginary problems by applying human decency, and live happily ever after. Seriously, if you spend any time wondering whether or not it’s okay for you to cheat on your partner, you simply don’t deserve the relationship you are in.

Because this is me: 30-something years old, never shared a kiss, never had an intimate relationship, never had a second date.

I am not desperate, needy, over-the-top socially awkward, or suffering from a lack of hygiene. For all purposes of human interaction I am a perfectly normal person. I have a positively humorous attitude, and a deep, critically thinking mind. There are several recipes I can cook and bake from scratch, and I have the mental capacity to figure out more. (Or follow the guidance of a cookbook, if it comes to that.) Singer, songwriter, academic, intellectual, photographer, blogger, feminist, sportif, enviro-nerd, blaBla … this is starting to read like a dating profile, so I’ll cap it with “well travelled man with an academic mind and artistic compassion.”

 

Goemon5 aboard the ABC RypMeOff

Mug shot. Seemed appropriate.

In short, if that portfolio does not get me a second date, what will?

(Actually, it’s difficult enough to get a first date, but more on that in a different post.)

Whatever it is that women expect from their suitors, I don’t have it. I tried singing, poetry, or funny conversation. It never amounted to anything useful.

I tried building my physical strength, but genetics prevent any decent progress on the matter. Even if I had the time to work out an hour every day, any muscle mass that I could build up in two months would completely vanish after just a few days of neglect.

That is not even a matter of physical slack, but purely a genetic discrepancy. I bike and run almost every day; I just don’t have time to lift weights every evening. Imagine if I did have that time. If I laboured away all summer, I would have the same amount of biceps and abs as a normal person. (Yes, that’s pretty much the limit; I tried that approach when I was in the army.) Follow that up with one day where I’m too tired from work to do anything but fall asleep, followed by one day of travel towards some random field station or conference, and I will pretty much fall back to where I started. That experiment has been tried, repeated, and the disappointing outcome recorded in personal logs of physical depression.

 

I am not a man that women want to date.

You can keep your ‘that’s not true’ kind of pity to yourself, because my conclusion results from 30-odd years of experience. There is no way you could fully comprehend my situation without walking in my shoes for a decade or two. Considering that most men can’t keep it in their pants for a week you are not likely to ever comprehend my situation. Patronising me only solidifies my overarching judgement – that regular people have not the hint of an idea what dating is like for a male introvert.

Face it: the decision on who you agree to date is first and foremost founded on physical attraction. There is some degree of variability involved in that decision, but you generally don’t go out with someone without finding their visual appeal eye-pleasing. And my counterfeit is not pleasing enough for ladies to think “I want to spend time with him”, at least not in comparison to the competition among my bearded peers. I have seen the pictures of single men on dating portals, and I certainly don’t blame women for their decisions – some of those guys are incredibly cute. (Just wait until you find out how many wifes and mistresses they have beside you. What, you thought you were the only woman who fell for that crooked smile?)

The superficial attractiveness of my face and body is something I have very little control over, and I am not willing to change my hair style every other day until I find one that provides additional 8% of traction on the market of visual allure. That is to say: I am stuck with the body I have, and the best I can do is feel comfortable in it, regardless of how others may judge it.

Open sea near Honningsvag, Norway

Dating is a mystical and nebulous paradigm to me. Like Honningsvag in the morning.

The Experience of Others

The internet is plastered with people giving advice for singles of all ages and social groups. I have found that none of their proclaimed techniques and approaches work for me. In some twisted way I am not normal enough to create attraction with words or gesture.

Forget about those ‘super awesome advices’, such as ‘pick a fun or interesting activity for your first date’. That literally never got me any recognition. Whenever I invite a lady to see a concert, or cook a meal, or throw axes at targets [the object, not the discount chain], the response is, invariably: ‘No.’ No matter how much they gloat about wanting to see that particular movie, or “love to see a live concert every week”, whenever I bring up that subject it basically kills all communication. The firmest response I ever received was: “I am socially shy around people, so I prefer something low key for first date”, followed by me inviting her for coffee any time she’s free next weekend, followed by her promising to get back to me, followed by her blocking my profile.

That disillusioning incident pretty much sums up my date life. Even when I manage to establish contact (which is already difficult enough), and remain friendly and reserved in that word exchange, I still get rejected most of the time. And at the odd chance I do score a first date (1:120; I’ll show you the math next time), there is never a second date attached to it.

That is me: 30-something, never been kissed, never been looked at twice. (At least not by a person I enjoy looking at.)

Man, that would almost be depressing, if nihilism didn’t already preach the emptiness of all things pretty. Alright, here is a cheerful picture of a cat. See you in the next blog, for some funny numbers and anecdotes. Or we meet in the comment section below, if you feel like sharing in your own experience.

natashas-cat-popo-36

Yoga Cat is just one of my many willing photo motives.

 

21st Century Dating Problems: #1 – the male introvert

19 May The port of Reykjavik at night
Approaching the 40-year landmark, and still being single. For some people this may not constitute a situation worth acknowledging. People fall in and out of love all the time, so what’s one more piece of dead weight?

As you can tell I am still trying to justify the existence of this blog to myself. But there are a couple of topics that I want to talk about, such as ‘women’ or ‘dating’, in the 21st century. I know, for some of you that’s already setting off alarm chimes: singling out women as a blog topic – isn’t that sexist?! Yeah, kinda. By definition any unweighted discussion of one sex can be considered sexist, meaning as soon as you mention ladies having vaginas you can rank yourself among the world’s leading sexists, together with #TheDonald, and that creep who always preys on co-workers bending over at the water fountain. The borders of what constitutes sexism have become so transparent that no-one can ever be safe again from being called gender-inappropriate, just for stating that women bear children. So, in all honesty: if you read any verbal attacks on any gender into my writing, please read again, because I definitely don’t mean to offend.

OK, now that we have lost 98% of all readers to a) a trolling frenzy about sexism, or b) boredom, we might as well start on our actual conversation topic – me. Yes, I really am that selfish. There is no other person I know better than myself, so it just seems like a very obvious location to start with.

 

“Hi, my name is Goemon, and I am single.”

I really hope you just said “Hi Goemon”. Otherwise I will feel very silly and underappreciated in this virtual self-help group.

For some people being single is normal. Afterall, we are born with that condition. (Excepting twins, but they have other troubles.) Some people have wild sex adventures with random strangers every weekend. Others date one person a year, just to prove they are still capable of faking affection. Others live in a happy relationship with their (in)significant other(s). [Four groups in one sentence – feel the power of parentheses!] Those people have their own problems and will not be mentioned again. Remember: this is about me.

I am approaching the 40-year landmark. (No, I’m not telling how far.) At that age the average first-world citizen has already broken up with more people than they met in first grade, and are either happily married, or are trying to pay off that divorce lawyer. I haven’t had any of that, and I feel somewhat left out of what I consider an integral aspect of the human experience.

I never had any kind of romantic relationship, and not for the lack of trying. I tried most of the regular approaches that people use to appropriate a partner. So far, dating websites have only proved themselves a massive waste of time. And my attempts to date lady friends have only made obvious that women don’t want to be any more than friends with me. I’m actually happy with that. A good friend counts more than a failed lover. Ship-wrecked romance is not a topic you want to associate with any specific person. It makes conversations at dinner gatherings very awkward.

A sceneic view of Molde Fjord, Norway

On a good day this photo of Molde Fjord is a good approximation of myself: small islands, distant from main humanity.

The typical approach

I have not tried chatting up women in bars and clubs, even though society preaches those rooms as the number-one pick-up parlour. As an introvert I just can’t handle that type of situation. Many people still mistake this as “being shy”, and solve the equation by being “more outgoing”. Those people don’t know what they are talking about. I’m not just shy. I am introverted.

I don’t have problems asking a female songwriter for an autograph. I don’t have difficulties chatting to fellow pub visitors about the latest developments in the Spiderverse. And I love giving academic talks to dozens of people I never met before. I thrive on intellectual intercourse, and have no adversities about any kind of conversation with anyone.

Unless it involves me. That is literally the only topic I can’t handle in conversation. [You see why this blog is about me now, don’t you?]

 

I am an introvert.

I can talk to you about my political position, or the ontogenetic development of male genitalia. But if you try to talk about my personal feelings and thoughts, you will hit a brick wall. Don’t try to peak over it. Few people have ever caught a glimpse of the other side, and I am determined to keep it that way. And if you try to pry a hole in it, security will escort you off the premise, and add your name to a black-list of people who are banned from personal conversation.

Introverts don’t talk about their feelings. Not to you, or anyone else. If you think that’s a ‘problem’ that needs to be ‘solved’, I can’t help you. You can either accept me as I am, or go and play with other kids. There is no third option.

As long as I can remember I had difficulties talking to people, and I always interpreted this as shyness, while others thought I tried to be disrespectful and exclusive. None of that is true. I am a perfectly adorable humanoid, just like anyone else. (Except for Donald J.; he’s a lump of poo.) What prevents me from socialising with others is not shyness, but my inscrutable inability to present my own inner self to a public audience. It took me some thirty years to develop a work-around. It’s based on the understanding that social conversation is not about me, but about the general idea of being together, and sharing words. You don’t need to reveal yourself to be sociable. Just talk about the weather, if that befits you. That is already sociable. Be aware of your surroundings, though. Weather talk is really fun in Alberta; not so much in England’s capital.

A bar aboard the ABC RypMeOff

My work as cruise photographer involved loads of social interaction. I can do that, just as long as it does not involve me personally.

Where was I going with this? Oh, yes, the direct conversation.

No, introverts don’t usually do that, and I personally definitively don’t. I can’t talk to women if I have a personal or romantic interest in them. It’s like talking about my feelings, just in this case I am actually blocking my own attempt to communicate.

Telling a woman that she’s beautiful basically reveals that I like her. And personal feelings are something I don’t disclose to strangers. Not for fear of being rejected, but simply for the fact that I can’t talk about my feelings to a person I barely know. Thus, me telling a lady that she’s cute is equivalent to you telling the supermarket teller about the recessed growth of your anal cancer. It’s deeply personal, and therefore not done.

 

That’s really all I wanted to say. Just a brief introduction of me and my situation. I am introverted, and therefore don’t talk about my feelings, including who I do or don’t have any romantic interest in. Should your significant other try to knock any of these findings over your head, merely remember that this entire blog is about me. You don’t need to associate yourself with my problems. Unless you really want to. In that case – welcome to my world of wordy disappointment.

 

Also, here is a cool website about introverts, just in case you feel yourself alone with certain problems: https://introvertdear.com/what-is-an-introvert-definition/