Not so long ago, I created a new account on ye olde dating site, OKCupid. I mostly did this to see all the links my friends kept sending me who were still using the account for dating: “Hey, check this person out. What should I say to them?” You know, general “I rule at dating and people need my help” kind of stuff. Ha.
I had a previous account there for about 8 years but I got rid of it about a year and a half ago. I was seeing two people fairly seriously at the time, and had a nice selection of more casual partners around, and it was mostly becoming more annoying than anything. The same dudes would look at my profile daily, even though I had turned them down. Ex-partners were stalking my shit and making me uncomfortable. Guys would recognize me out in the street or at bars and come up to talk to me, as though the fact that they saw me on the internet and thought I was hot was a thing we had in common instead of realizing how insanely creepy that is. San Francisco is really small, and after years of this shit, enough was enough.
This is not to say that it’s worthless. Or at least it wasn’t at one point. Of all the people I’ve dated, both seriously and casually, about a handful are people that I didn’t meet on there. Online dating just works for me. It’s a weird universe though. Which brings me to where I am now.
So I have this new profile. New name, new city (though just across the Bay, so not far away or anything). It’s been a year and a half. In that time I’ve moved to a different country and back, ended up in a serious, live-in relationship, lived in a few different parts of California, started and ended a job, gotten a dog, moved a couple of times in Oakland…I mean, I’ve done A LOT. Which shouldn’t come as a surprise to people who know me. So I make this new profile, I put up a couple of recent pictures to get to the right level of “profile completion” to have it be useful, list myself as “seeing someone”, which I am, and basically fill out the bare minimum information I can get away with. I think there were 4 complete sentences. And I’m only looking for “new friends.” Within the first couple of weeks of this I get messages from several different guys who knew who I was from my previous profile. Who even remembered my previous screen name. These are not guys I ever went out with, mind you. I may have exchanged a few messages back and forth with one of them, in which I repeatedly turned him down and told him he wasn’t my type. The others were people who had messaged me and I never even responded. One of them was a guy who I think I had made vague plans to meet up with but it never happened (and he actually remembered my real name. Awkward, especially because I REALLY don’t remember his.)
So I started replying. Mostly out of curiosity as to what they were going for. Did they think I would be flattered that they remembered me, even though I hadn’t wanted to go out with them? Did they really just want to “be friends” with this girl they don’t know who was very clear about being in a relationship? Pretty much “Yes” and “NO”. One of the conversations went like this:
Him: “Letter about how I remember you”
Me: “Letter basically saying: Oh weird. That’s pretty annoying. I’m certainly not looking for the same thing I was then”
Him: “Letter stating how he understood, and yeah that’s annoying, and how I seem really cool and he just wanted me to know.”
Me: “Oh that’s nice. Thanks:
Him: “Graphic depictions of the ways in which he would like to fuck me”
Yeah. Story of half of my “online dating” life. Dudes are really into sending me what I call “unsolicited erotica”. Most of the time it doesn’t even start with a conversation. It’s what they lead with. In my previous profile I literally had to ask people to not contact me if that’s what they were going to do. Does that shit even work? It’s like the online equivalent of “holla”ing out of your car window. But way fucking grosser.
After a few months of having this profile I’ve started using it for experimentation, mostly for my own and my friends’ amusement (I have a friend who has been talking forever of starting a blog that just showcases the creepy/gross/awful messages I get from dudes). So one week I’ll change my status to “single” and “looking for casual sex” and see what I get. Then just “single” and “looking for new friends only”. I’m sure you won’t be surprised that these result in basically the same type of messages, though the frequency is slightly increased in the “looking for casual sex” week.
There’s still a dude who looks at my profile every. single. day. Often multiple times. He did this for years when I had my old profile. Is it some way of asserting dominance? “Even though you’ve turned me down repeatedly, you can’t stop me from looking at you.” I mean, he has to realize that I would notice. Would anyone find that flattering and not creepy?
I wonder about these people. I came back after a long hiatus. They’re still there, just doing what they were doing years ago. Did nothing change for them in that time? They just sat there for years trawling through the same ranks of people, sending messages, hoping something works out, keeping people in the backs of their minds, thinking they get to lay some claim to them when they recognize them at a point in the distant future?
I’ve always felt a little bit like a different species of human. Socially, I’m pretty weird and a lot of “conventions” don’t really work for me. Dating was always something I enjoyed, mostly because I could do it all on my own terms. Being a step removed from that position, where I’m not seeking anyone but people are seeking me, has given me a whole new perspective on how conventional it really can be. On how there are so many men out there still thinking they will set the terms for me: “Want to be forgotten? I won’t let you. Want to be someone new? Sorry, you’re always the old you to me. Want to be left alone? I don’t want to leave you alone. Not interested? That’s too bad, because I still am.”
I don’t know how much longer this experiment of mine will go on. There are times I really do worry about my safety, about my ability to just exist in this small geographical area without running into one of these people. It could be a totally innocuous interaction, but I don’t even WANT an interaction, and if they can’t take “No” for an aswer online, can they do that in person? I’ve had to deal with those things before: Men (and it is always men) coming up to me and saying “Hey I recognize you from OKC”, men messaging me on OKC while at the same bar as me saying “I’m looking at you right now!” (yes, this really has happened), men coming up to me when I’m with a date/boyfriend and saying “I messaged you on OKC! Why did you never answer me?” (yes, this really has happened).
The unintentional hilarity of the messages I get might make me keep it around for a while longer. Maybe they do outweigh the sketchiness. I mean, where else does someone start out with “Idk how to say this respectfully but I do believe we should sleep together sometime soon” and expect there to be a chance of it working. I can’t afford to drink in the Marina guys, I’ve got to take it from where I can get it.