What I Learned Through Online Dating

 Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

Like the MTA and big ass sewer rats, dating in New York City can be pretty awful. Back in early 2014, I was having terrible luck meeting and dating quality guys, due primarily to a very intense schedule that comprised mostly of going to work, the gym and then home to catch up on my shows. Like most of us, I had an Olivia Pope obsession and felt the need to focus my energy being annoyed at her and Fitz more than trying to find a real life relationship.

On the off chance that I would drag my ass out to be social and attempt to mix and mingle, I’d run into dudes who felt like they were God’s gift to Brooklyn and Harlem, USA-- more interested in sipping overpriced Jack and gingers and holding up the wall than engaging in real conversation.  Perhaps they were also trying to concentrate on their breathing as to not bust a seam on their ‘could that be any tighter’ button down.  I was, as best as I can put it, not with the shits and quickly became over it.

One evening, I was bitching to my cousin about how I was ready to become the proud parent of several kittens or puppies in the near future, and he suggested that I “join Tinder and thank him later”—his words, not mine. Later I almost ripped him a new one because it didn’t take long to understand what a good number of people join Tinder to do--- hint- it ain’t to start a knitting circle.   Anyway, over the last two years, I’ve joined and deleted Tinder, OkCupid, and Soul Swipe (aka, Black Tinder) multiple times. Outside of the fact that Soul Swipe sounds like a pact that’s made with Satan himself versus an actual dating app, I had a very interesting time on all three. Before you ask--- no I was NOT paying my good American coin to join a Match.com, BlackPeopleMeet.com, eHarmony, hell, Christian Mingle— All of the apps I joined were free.99.  Here’s the 5 things that I learned during that time.

1. No one is different online than they are in real life- even if they’re presenting an amazing Internet version of themselves, once that materializes into a series of dates, you’ll eventually learn things about them that you may or may not like. Online dating doesn’t instantly create a vacuum for the creeps or, on the flipside, well dressed, well-spoken professionals. Disclaimer— the most well put together, multiple degree toting folk can be creeps too. Trust me on that one.

2. Some people are actually looking for love- While dating apps usually get bad reps for being hookup sites only, many men and women have looked to technology to find real love. *cue Mary J. Blige*. A 2012 eHarmony marriage and satisfaction study revealed that of almost 20,000 people who tied the knot between 2005 and 2012, 35% had met their spouses online.
Considering all the other places you can meet potential baes, —bars, through mutual friends, religious centers, that’s a large percentage, which I’m sure has only increased since then.  Quite frankly, it’s becoming a more convenient way to filter through folk and save time.  No one can tell me that swiping left or right based on pics, mutual friends, grammar (major key, judge if you want) and a snapshot of credentials from the comfort of your onesie, sipping boxed wine at your leisure is not the ultimate come up.

3. I learned what I liked-  Like Black lives, dates matter. And variety is indeed the spice of life. If nothing else, online dating gives you options, honey. And you’ll quickly begin to understand, what works for you and what doesn’t.  For example, I thought I wanted a traditional man, when what I really wanted was a gentleman. Yes, they can be two different things.  I learned that when I found myself defending a woman’s right to wear what she chooses, and it not warrant any kind of inappropriate behavior towards her, to a ‘I wear a bow tie everywhere I go’ head ass, self-proclaimed traditionalist Negro. As you can probably tell, he wasn’t for me. He also happened to be a butthole. So there’s that. 

4. I get overwhelmed…quickly--If you are remotely attractive or, to be fair, even if you’re not, you’re likely to get inundated with requests and messages—OKCupid’s model allows anyone whose demographic you fit (female, within 30 miles for example) to pop up in your inbox like “aye girl, *insert cheesy pick up line*. It can get to be too much. At some point, my anxiety would kick in and I’d stop responding altogether or just delete the app. Not only that, but the idea of having to respond to that many messages, even of people I found interesting, made this seem like a daunting task. While Tinder and Soul Swipe make it so that you have to match in order to make contact, when that finger getsta swiping, child? Lord knows what will happen. Thank goodness for the un-match option.

5. There’s nothing to be ashamed of—I used to tell myself that I wanted a better story to tell my grandkids about how I met their granddaddy, then, “and baaaaabbby, the way your pop-pop slid up in my DM’s, was so smooth, the rest was history.” I was annoyed. I wanted a cute story—like, I was running to catch my train on a stormy day and he put his umbrella over me because mine broke in the wind, flashed me a set of pearly whites and we talked on our way to work. I got over that, because fairy tales only occur in Disney movies and movies starring Idris El-bae.  Online dating isn’t as taboo as it was when it first arrived on the scene, and hell, since we do everything else on the internet, dating isn’t something to be all uptight about. How else are you supposed to meet folk if you stay in the house?

I’ve had my fair share of Internet romantic experiences-- some great that didn’t work out for one reason or another, some… weird, some straight up bad, and yes I’m still single. To be honest, I’m unsure if the good Lord has blessed me with the emotional bandwidth and patience that it takes engage in a courtship at this point in my life.  But I’d recommend anyone looking for a new romance to at least try online dating-- don't worry--there's less of a catfish thing happening than you would think. Do it with an open mind.  You might be surprised.