Gone fishing . . .

I joined Plenty of Fish… wait, let me rephrase that… My girlfriend signed me up for Plenty of Fish against my will several months ago. I had always been skeptical of online dating sites: partly because of all the horror stories I’d heard, partly because I’m not confident in humankind enough to believe there aren’t creeps out there and mostly because digital dating just doesn’t seem natural to me.

Despite my reluctance, I picked a few photos for my profile and wrote up a quick “About Me” section. It felt so weird talking about myself, basically advertising myself to my target audience. And like in the real advertising world, I knew many people outside of my target audience would see my “marketing message” and think it was meant for them (more
on some of the crazy messages I’ve received later).

The day I signed up, my roommate and I spent the evening “shopping” on the website. It was almost like any other online shopping we do, for shoes, clothes, etc. A picture would catch my eye, and so I’d click into the profile to read about the guy. I’ll admit it’s fun, but it’s definitely a weird feeling.

Within a couple days, other fishers (guys) started writing me. I felt overwhelmed and flustered with all the messages from complete strangers. And I especially felt torn as to what to do with the messages from guys I wasn’t interested in for one reason or another. Do I respond? And if so, what do I say? “Thanks for writing, but you’re too short.” Or, “Thanks for all the compliments, but I’m looking for a guy with a job.” Is that better or worse than hearing nothing at all? Based on the greater number of misses than hits I received, I ultimately decided not to respond to the guys I wasn’t interested in. I truly felt bad, but later on my decision was confirmed as the right thing to do because I finally worked up the courage to actually start “approaching” guys myself, and let’s just say I’ve had my fair share of ignored messages. Kinda hurts the ego, not gonna lie.

Since signing up, especially in the beginning, I’ve received messages from guys spanning all walks of life. And the messages they choose to send me are equally diverse. Some have written me poems, ones that I can only assume are copied and pasted into messages for every girl they write. Some have written novels that even a longwinded writer like myself struggles to get through. On the other end of the spectrum are effortless one-liners, or even a lone “hi” or smiley face, as if that’s supposed to spark conversation. Some guys will at least start off with a question, but they neglect to actually look over my profile to see their question has already been answered. Just as I suspected in my initial hesitation for joining, there are a fair share of creeps and pervs out there: I’ve been propositioned for a threesome, I’ve been offered money for sexual favors and I’ve been given details on what guys would like to do to me. Needless to say, I didn’t feel bad not responding to any of them.

Of the guys I did respond to, two have lead to dates. Although I won’t go into too much detail on the guys, the dates went great. The first one involved biking around Santa Monica, stopping for drinks, dinner and dessert. I just didn’t feel any chemistry between us, and I can only assume he felt the same way because we never really started talking again after. The second date was drinks and apps at a cool gastropub, also in Santa Monica. Again, I think it went well: we got along, good conversation. But by the end of the date, I knew there wouldn’t be a second date; just some cultural barriers that I think would make it too difficult. Unfortunately, I think the guy left the date hoping for another, because he texted me incessantly for weeks after.

Once again I was in an awkward position of not knowing how to respond. How do I tell him I’m not interested? I never came to the answer, so I just briefly responded to his texts every once in awhile, hoping he’d get the hint. Unlucky for me he did not and ended up texting me in a drunken rage (assumed) one Friday night that I “suck” and have a “fake attitude,” oh and that I owe him $20. I took the out and told him not to text me again. He said he “for sure wouldn’t,” but only after texting that he thinks I’m “ridiculous” and I wasted $50 and two hours of his time. Just two weeks ago he requested me as a Facebook friend – as if! I promptly declined and blocked him from ever contacting me again.

Even guy friends who admit I needed to be honest with him can’t believe the audacity. I’ll just take the experience as a lesson learned: insist that I pay for my half (he wouldn’t let me) and don’t worry about saving a guy’s ego.

Just recently I learned that my good friend signed up on Plenty of Fish. We spent a good hour detailing our experiences, swapping stories and recommending “fish” to one another – whether for a good match or a good laugh, like the guy who details his shaving preferences. She has more experience on dating sites than I without significant success (i.e. many of the horror stories I’ve heard in the past have been hers), but her positive attitude and popularity on the site have encouraged me to spend some more time fishing. Sure, I put my bait out there, but I’ll never catch anything if I’m not paying attention to my line. Wish me luck!

Note: This other fisherwoman, my roommate (who just joined OKCupid) and I have decided to document our experiences in the hopes of writing a book, so stay tuned!

Published by lindsayeholloway

Writer... editor... environmentalist... athlete...

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