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My Facebook status for the night: So I’m on some dating sites for a hot minute for an article I’m writing if you happen to see me there. (And as somebody who has been married for so long that I can’t remember how long I’ve been married – since before the advent of app dating – it’s ridiculously entertaining. Though husband not amused.)
That’s right, I’ll admit it, I’m not embarrassed. I was a 32-year-old online dating virgin. My husband and I met in college in the 2000’s and tied the knot after two years of happy courtship; two kids followed in quick succession (I’m from the South, and those are the marching orders we’ve heard from our youth). I was one of the original Facebookers, a participant back when it was exclusive to people in select colleges. I got my first cell phone in college—a pre-paid dinosaur with a bulky black antenna good for chewing on that I only turned on when I needed to call home. So needless to say, all this technology-driven romance was is a foreign notion to little old me.
I set out to pop my cherry and find out how all the hip youngsters get down these days. After sending my husband a quick text asking if he felt okay with this venture into the unknown and receiving the reply, Do whatever you need to do. I trust you. I created alternate social media accounts, picked several promising sites, took a deep breath, and signed up. I included a recent photo, a selfie taken with my fancy DSLR in the mirror that included the camera itself. I cropped out my large-ish forehead, and who was left was a slender, attractive blond whose image I felt pretty good about.
I started by playing with Tinder, the notorious “swipe right” dating app where one is presented with an endless succession of eligible bachelors to make a snap judgment about with one photo. Swipe left to say no thanks or right for you’re kinda cute. Tinder gets a bad rap for promoting a superficial approach to dating based on appearances, but I found it no different than the snap judgment that we make of one another when walking around in the real world. I know within three seconds of meeting somebody if I’d ever consider sleeping with them (if I weren’t so married), and while I’m sure there are some pheromones at play, most of my decision is based on visual cues.
While flipping through potential candidates, I found I swiped right based on appealing facial structure, a big smile and what this person was doing in the photo. Body type wasn’t a factor; I wanted friendly and kind with a cute face, and somebody who looked outdoorsy like myself. An automatic left-swipe sentence was given to anybody shirtless (unless they were standing in front of a waterfall), anybody drinking in their cover photo (Really?! That’s the first impression you want to convey to somebody? Alcoholism?), guys who weren’t smiling or looking at the camera, or a photo that didn’t show their face (Like feet propped in front of a campfire… because I don’t have a foot fetish).
It felt fun, like video-game fun. And when I matched with somebody, I felt a little giddy, like I’d won something. It felt addictive.
And then my husband and his friend Andy walked through the door. We live on a mountain, and they’d been rock-climbing up the hill. “Look, I’m getting matches!” I squealed. That’s when my husband’s demeanor changed. “You’re on Tinder?” he asked.
“I cleared this with you!” I said, “It’s just for work, and it’s fun!”
And then somebody messaged me. “I got a message!” I squealed. “What do I do?”
Andy, a seasoned Tinder veteran who met his current girlfriend on the app, sat down at the table and gave me some pointers while several other matches chimed in, lured, no doubt, by my absence of large forehead. Most of them started by talking about the weather, which had just turned frigid. “I’m staying warm by the woodstove!” I told my admirers, “And I just saw a bear walk by! I thought they’d be hunkered down in their caves by now.” You know, just doling out some expert flirtiness, no big deal.
“You’re actually talking to people?” asked my husband, growing warier by the minute.
Our kids were at their grandmother’s for the weekend and my husband and I had plans to go on a dinner date, but after Andy left, he sat down on the couch and switched on the television. I was on a roll, so I kept “working.”
Next I tried a 90’s style chat room, which seem to be making a comeback. This was more my style. I know chatrooms. I can rock out some hot chat. Being a writer can certainly help one make a stellar online impression.
Interrupted from the couch, I heard, “Where are we going for dinner?”
So we set out on our real-life date, which is rare for a couple with two little ones. I always enjoy my husband’s company. I relished a burger and some gingery hard cider while the conversation turned to his alarm at how it felt threatening that I was talking to other men. I brushed it off, and we moved on to dessert and wine.
On the way home, I checked my Tinder messages to see that some more had trickled in. It turns out one guy was only interested in setting up a threesome with he and his wife, another guy I’d been chatting with disclosed he was under five feet tall and yet another had replied with an appealing “when I get the chance, I do nothing as often as possible.” Laziness is just so darn appealing in a man.
“You’re still on that thing?” asked my husband.
And then the argument ensued, fueled by a bit too much alcohol. It got heated. I don’t remember much of it, except that it ended with my deleting all my dating profiles and a make-up romp in bed.
And that was the end of that. Apparently, monogamy and internet dating don’t mix. Who knew? But I’m walking away wiser. Internet dating is fun, but not for the faint of heart. Or married people, for that matter.