So yeah. Online dating. I’ve been doing it awhile, and I’ve become rather jaded: the possibilities of false advertising are just too vast.
Exhibit 1: Classic misrepresentation
Early on in my online career, I agreed to meet a nice guy. Tall, blond and coherent – seemed like a promising first date. However, when I showed up, it was evident that his profile pictures were at least 5 years out of date. He looked like a wrinklier, faded version of his profile.
Exhibit 2: Complimentary identify misappropriation
Soon after I first joined POF, a guy messaged me to tell me I was the most “beautiful fake ever”. Confused, I asked him to elaborate. He replied I was obviously a fake, as he had seen another profile with the same pictures. Skeptical, I asked him for the name of the other profile.
Sure enough, out in New Jersey, there was a profile using 3 of my pictures. The profile was charming: Angelica376 liked to cook, had 2 cats but promised she wasn’t a cat lady, enjoyed cozy nights in and strolls in the park. And she was 3 years older than me – which irritated me: there is an unwritten code of honor which stipulates that if you steal someone’s pictures, you can’t imply they look older than their actual age!
I wrote to Angelica376 and asked her to please stop using my pictures. To my bewilderment, Angelica376 replied that I should be ashamed of myself for trying to pass myself off as being her, and that she would report me to POF as being a fraudster.
I didn’t bother explaining that she made no sense. I reported her to POF, who took down her profile and that was the end of it. And while I was slightly freaked out, a vain part of me was rather flattered that my pictures were considered attractive enough to steal.
Exhibit 3: Poor long-term planning
This one time, while I was away for business for 2 weeks, a really cute, smart guy messaged me on POF, and before I knew it, we were writing each other 40+ messages a day (yes, my productivity suffered at work. But it was for a good cause: true love! No doubt my bosses would understand.) This level of written interaction continued throughout my trip and into my first week back in Montreal. I was a little confused why he didn’t make any concrete plans to meet, but I wasn’t too worried, as it was clear this guy was into me by the sheer volume of messages, and I was having a lot of fun with our smart banter. We graduated from POF to texting and emailing, and our communication got more varied. We talked about values and politics and favorite movies. I was amazed at how easy it was to open up to this beautiful man, especially because I normally hate small talk, and my experience on POF led me to believe the more pretty the boy, the more lewd & superficial the conversation.
At the end of my 2nd week back in Montreal (4th week of written correspondence), he made concrete plans to meet up on the following day. Finally! Before I had time to finish daydreaming about what I would wear, a whole 10 mins later, he wrote to me that he’d changed his mind. He didn’t actually want to meet me, because I was too superficial – he knew I placed a lot of importance on the physical aspect of a guy and he didn’t like what that implied about my values. The end.
I was pretty confused, and wrote him a polite version of “WTF?”
And then, because it was a Friday night, and I was working late at the office after working 4 consecutive 60-hour weeks, I lost all my sanity, and cried for 20 mins. I indulged myself in grandiose degrees of despair at ever finding someone, disgust at online dating, and regret at having let myself be even slightly vulnerable. Then I snapped out of it, and realized that I was slightly overreacting – just a wee bit.
An hour later, around 11:30pm, he called me, and confessed that the pictures on his profile were not actually of him, but of his brother-in-law (allegedly).
He tried to convince me to meet up with him ANYWAYS. He explained he’d been man enough to own up to his mistake, which was rare in the world, and that he had felt terrible because he didn’t expect to actually meet someone he liked online. Faced with my silence (I couldn’t risk speaking, for fear that he’d hear my hysterical giggles), he primly reminded me that no one was perfect in this world, and I should not consider myself above him and judge him as unworthy. Furthermore, this was only a small deception in the grand scheme of things, and I should practice forgiveness. I replied that I didn’t judge his imperfection nor consider this not-so-white-lie as being unforgivable. Rather, I deemed us permanently incompatible due to his poor long-term planning skills: did he not realize that by using someone else’s pictures he was setting himself up for awkward situations upon meeting the girls that he liked? It was the ability to think ahead that I particularly valued in my potential dates.
Faced with my stand-fast refusal to meet up with him, he pointed out that while I had been chatting with many boys during our 4 week correspondence, he had been limiting himself to only 2 girls, myself and another, and focusing actually getting to know us and building the foundations of a relationship. I replied that I completely agreed with him – he had only been dishonest with 2 people, while I had been honest with many. And then I hung up.
You can’t make this shit up. The world of online dating is many things, but romantic is definitely not one of them.