Maybe I’m old-fashioned, or maybe it’s biology. Either way, it’s not happening.
First of all, I’m a terrible judge of character.
I once made the mistake of saying that to someone I was dating, not realizing it could be taken the wrong way until he frowned at me, offended. Although, maybe he actually took it the right way, now that I think about it. He turned out to be kind of a dick. Like I said – terrible judge of character.
When I was taking a little breather from my relationship recently and doing some traveling, a friend talked me into downloading a dating app. Just dip a toe in the water and see who’s out there, she urged. Guys outside New York City are so much better, she promised. No more self-absorbed Peter Pans, or married men trying to pass themselves off as single when they’re looking to have an affair. Deep down, I knew I wasn’t interested in anyone else, but my curiosity got the best of me, and before I knew it, I was swiping left and right (mostly left) while all my Words With Friends games timed out.
The app my friend recommended requires women to make the first move: that’s the hook. Men can’t message you unless you both “like” each other’s profiles and you’ve sent them a message. This cuts down on the “hey baby, you’ve got such a great smile” cold-openers from guys who look like they’ve been living in their parents’ basements for the last 20 years, which is a bonus. The downside is, you’ve got to decide who to message, and come up with an opening line. Plenty of women might be into this, but I am decidedly not one of them.
However, a 2015 OkCupid study showed that when women initiate contact, rather than waiting for men to message them, they’re more likely to get a response, and also more likely to land a hotter guy. OkCupid researchers found that when women end up having a conversation with a guy they contacted first, he’s an average of 6.6 percent more attractive than she is. (How they gauge this “attractiveness” quotient, I’m not clear – OkCupid says it’s a combination of “having nice looks, engaging photos and an intriguing profile.”)
Even if women select the best from their inbox, it’s likely they are settling and going on a date [with] someone less attractive,” explained OkCupid’s Jimena Almendares. “More importantly, because very few women message first, those that do stand out.” Almendares said women were more than twice as likely to get a response then men were when they send the first message.So I put my trepidation aside and forged ahead.
The first guy I exchanged messages with seemed content to simply respond to anything I asked him, without ever asking me anything in return. But he was all right, I supposed – his picture didn’t make me cringe in horror, like most of them did – and his replies were polite and typo-free. I asked if he wanted to talk on the phone sometime, and he said sure. I gave him my number, and he said thanks. I told him a specific time when it would be a good time to call, and he said okay. Crickets. A few days later, the good-time-to-call-window having passed, I tried again. Do you still want to chat sometime? I asked. Yes, let’s talk, he said. No explanation as to why he hadn’t called before, but okay. Great, I answered. You have my number. I never heard from him.
I was mostly relieved – I really didn’t want to meet anyone – but I was also kind of puzzled. This guy seemed to genuinely want to talk to me, but it was as if he was incapable of reaching out; he could only respond. Was this the kind of guy I was going to find on a dating site that requires women to take the lead? Because I wasn’t into it. I like a man who knows what he wants and takes the initiative to chase after it (I mean, me). I’m not saying I want to be dragged back to anyone’s cave by my hair, but I like being sought out.
Turns out, there’s a good explanation for this. Dawn Maslar, author of Men Chase, Women Choose: The Neuroscience of Meeting, Dating, Losing Your Mind and Finding True Love, says women are biologically destined to hang back, while men are designed to pursue. She boils it all down to the relationship between the egg and the sperm: women release only one egg per month, while men produce millions of sperm. The egg hangs out, waiting for all those little swimmers to make their way to her, and when they do, she only lets one in, then shuts the door on the rest. Basically, according to Maslar, women are our eggs, and men are those swarming sperm. Would an egg ever go after a sperm? No. So there you have it. Biology as romantic destiny.
Against my better judgment – and Maslar’s advice – I kept on swiping, gamely sending out messages to pretty much any guy who looked like he might be even remotely okay. I reminded myself that I hadn’t been particularly into my wayward boyfriend initially, either. It wasn’t until after our first date that I realized he could be the one for me. (A first date that he asked me on, after messaging me first, obviously.)
One guy asked me, “So, what else do you do when you’re not picking up guys online?” Ha fucking ha. I’m not “picking guys up online,” I wanted to say. This stupid fucking dating app makes women message men first, idiot. Rather than responding, I deleted him.
Finally, I ended up with an actual in-person date. Only, it wasn’t really a date, as I explained to the dude before we met up. I told him I was in a weird place, not exactly single, only in town for a few weeks, blah blah hedge hedge, but that we could go for a run together and just see if we liked hanging out. He said this sounded good, so we set a time to run. But then, the night before, he messaged me to ask, “is it okay if I just call it a date anyway?” Yeesh. “Lol” I responded. “Whatever makes you happy.”
If there are any guys reading this, let me just say – if you make a running date with someone, it’s good if you can actually run. But honestly, I blame myself for the whole thing. I really am a terrible judge of character. Although in this case, it wasn’t exactly his character that was the issue. Some people don’t look great in pictures, and I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, so I assumed he’d be slightly better looking than his picture suggested. Rookie mistake.
When a short, round, troll-like man approached me at the park, I tried to hide my dismay. How had I picked this guy out? What was wrong with me? We’d been running (“running”) for less than a quarter of a mile when he said, “don’t take this the wrong way, but how did someone like you end up on a dating app?” My thoughts exactly, buddy, I thought. I was so clearly playing in the wrong league, it was laughable – except, I kind of wanted to cry.
When I got home, I deleted the app and had a little talk with God. If there’s someone out there for me, I informed my higher power, he’s going to have to find me. I’m done.
Luckily, after my summer of wandering, I came back home to my boyfriend’s arms, where I belong. But I learned a few things about myself while I was away, and this was one of them. Maybe it’s biology, maybe I’m old-fashioned, or maybe I’m just hopeless at knowing who’s good for me, and what I deserve. But if I ever find myself single again, I’m not making the first move – and no matter what happens, I’ll never, ever ask a guy on a date.
Image via pexels.com.
Comment: Do you prefer to make the first move with guys, or do you want to be pursued?