June 7, 2012

From 2009 to 2011, I joined many of my peers in looking for love on OKCupid. I didn’t meet The One, but I did pick up a few life lessons along the way.

I am capable of talking to anyone for an hour.

This is something really valuable that I took away from my OKC experience. I went on date after date, and almost always knew right away that I hadn’t met my soul mate. But each time I sat back, had a beverage, and managed to make conversation for at least an hour.

On one date, I met a young man at a coffee shop near a local adult education center. “I once took a class there,” I said, to start us off. “Me too!” he replied. “Oh cool, what did you take?” I asked. He put his head down like he’d made a mistake and muttered, “Oh… assertiveness training.”

Despite the fact that he’d pointed out his biggest weakness within twenty seconds of meeting me, we had a very pleasant time. I learned that he was a libertarian and that he liked techno. I shared my political views and love for music that doesn’t suck. At the end, we hugged and parted ways.

I’m grateful for this skill, and it’s served me well. I came to think of each date as a low-stakes interview, which gave me confidence in subsequent actual interviews. Conversation is easy, if not always stimulating! The gift of that knowledge is something that I treasure.

I have a ridiculous capacity for hope.

Despite going on date after date and being disappointed again and again, I still managed to expect, each time, that this guy would be different. We’d exchange a couple messages, I’d laugh a few times, and before we’d even arranged to meet up I’d be picturing the stories we’d tell at our dinner parties — “He messaged me about SUGAR RAY!” I’d say, and everyone would laugh. Then we’d put on “Fly” and dance in celebration.

As my OKC career lengthened, I learned to at least pretend that I didn’t believe anything would ever work out. But secretly, I got dressed for each date with the air that this might be a night I’d always remember. The power of desperate want is strong, my friends.

It’s a small online world.

Here are some scenarios that took place during my OKC life:

1. A guy messaged my friend Laura and asked her on a date to the local Asian supermarket, in all caps. Like this: “DO YOU WANT TO GET DINNER AT THE SUPER 88.” Period, no question mark. She didn’t respond. A few weeks later, the same guy messaged me, using the same words and punctuation. I, too, ignored it. Later that week, Laura was at work and overheard a new male co-worker chatting on the phone. “Yeah man, I’m meeting this chick at the Super 88! It worked! I dunno though I might blow it off.”

Had to be the same guy, right?

2. In post-online dating life, I regularly see a guy who I went on one TERRIBLE date with. It was maybe the worst of all my OKC dates (involving long silences in which I wracked my brain to come up with new questions to ask), and I’m not proud to say that afterward I simply ignored his text and phone call. I’m SORRY, but I just couldn’t. Luckily, we now go to the same gym at the same time, so I get to avoid him in person nearly every day! Our relationship has definitively evolved.

3. I originally went on OKC after ending a mini-relationship with a guy I quite liked but didn’t LIKE like. Guess who showed up in my list of matches on my very first day? Yes. Yes, it was him. He “poked” me, and then proceeded to immediately find a long-term girlfriend on the Cupid. I offered him my congratulations and continued to toil in online loneliness.

Alcohol is misleading.

On one of my last OKC dates, I met the guy at my favorite bar on a Wednesday night. He was one beer in, and challenged me to catch up. I love a challenge! We soon realized that it was trivia night, and rather than join in, we decided to drink to combat the noise level (it made sense, somehow) and make fun of the announcer. I was pretty sure this was the guy for me.

We carried out our plan. Before I knew it, it was 11:30 and I’d had five twenty-ounce beers. I thought he was GREAT. He was FUNNY, and sweet, and a smoker but I TOTALLY didn’t mind — I even followed him out of the bar on his smoke break so we could make out. Finally! I’d met Him!

I drove to work the next day elated, pumping music in defiance of my insane hangover. He texted me — hmm, the text was sort of spelled wrong, but whatever — and we made plans for the weekend. Hooray!

Needless to say, our connection was not QUITE as strong when we met up for our sober second date. Was he high? Was he always so whiny? Jesus he smelled like smoke. I smiled and pleaded exhaustion to cut the night short. Ah well, it was fun while it lasted.

In conclusion, OKCupid might not find you love, but it will afford you the opportunity to practice valuable social skills and examine your own patterns of behavior. Although my account has been closed for a year, I continue to be a proud and supportive alum of The Cupid. To the current incoming class: Have fun! Good luck! Get drunk, but not too drunk! Most importantly: Take good notes.

Relive the pain with me on Thought Catalog.

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