12 January 2007

Online dating translations, part 1

While anticipating dipping my little toe into the adventures of dating after 12 years, it's interesting to me what has become of the world of internet dating. In the early days, the internet was basically a place to send and receive emails, look at porn, and the only people who posted online were skeevy perverts with few social skills and presumably an arrest record. It was reminiscent of the times when pagers and cell phones only really belonged in the world of doctors and drug dealers... no one could be trusted if you picked them up online.

Now it's a bit different. Actually, it's a lot different. When you look for potential mates online, the outline of the guy is right there in front of you: Relationship history (single, married, separated, divorced, "complicated"), sexual orientation (m4w, t4m, m4m), baggage check (have children, want children, do they live with you), education /literacy level (grammar, spelling, writing skills), music / movie / book preferences, hobbies... and you can even gawk at his photos without worrying about making too much eye contact, as you would at a bar. Of course everything is up for negotiation, and factors like age, income and just about everything else can be misinterpreted or an outright lie. But assuming at - barring some serious psychological problem - they are apt to tell mostly the truth, the only thing missing, of course, is the interpersonal interaction. So all you have to do is read, and you know everything you need to know, right?

Well, not exactly. I'm learning slowly but surely that what you see is not exactly what you get when it comes to online representations... and I'm not just talking about the "interpretive" ages, "estimated" heights, "approximate" weights, or the "oops, I checked the wrong box" marital status. No, no... ladies... there are some much more subtle clues on this than you might think. I liken it to the real estate listings, where everything is "prettied up" in order to sell at the highest price. For example, when searching for an apartment, cozy means don't sit on the toilet before you close the bathroom door or you'll bruise your knees, and pre-war charm means running water may work 30% of the time, and on a good day you might get a lukewarm shower.

It is the same with online dating, my friends. There are statements that say one thing... but mean something entirely different. And so here, ladies and gentlemen, is the first installment of my "Online Dating Translation Dictionary" for your perusal, amusal, and rebuttal...

No Baggage Please
What men think they mean: Please, I'm a nice guy, don't be a whack job.

What men really mean: Once you start complaining about anything, I'll blame it on PMS, your past relationships, or your need for anti-psychotic medications. I've been in a relationship where the woman complained, and I hated it, so all I really want is a life-like sex toy that talks, but has nothing to say. Once you start having emotional needs indicating that you're human, I'm outta here. And you shouldn't have kids. Period. And you should never mention children. Ever. (Except perhaps when you tell me that I'm so perfect that your life is fulfilled and you can't imagine messing up the stunning sex we're having by doing something so annoying like procreating.)

I'm A Sports Fan
(There are several variations to this statement, including "I'm a huge [insert random sports team here] fan" or having the username that resembles anything like sportnut, giantsfan, or touchdown74.)

What men think they mean: I'd love to meet a woman who enjoys watching the game with me and would appreciate season tickets as a gift for their birthday.

What men really mean: I might like you. But only if you cease to exist entirely when my favorite team / sport is on TV, or when I'm at the game. You cannot ever, under any circumstances whatsoever, accompany me to any games, sports-watching parties, or sports bars unless you are: a) a professional cheerleader and can demonstrate your skills on a bar in stilettos during a halftime wet T-shirt contest... and win, b) can chug cheap beer from a funnel as fast and with as much tolerance as my ex-football-player friend, Scott who weighs 290 pounds, or c) have all the names of the teams, players, positions, coaches, and have the sport's history and rules memorized, but will always defer to my expertise when we disagree on a point.
You are not allowed to complain at any point about my absence during said events, even if you are in the process of giving birth to our child during a game. If you do complain, then I will break up with you because you are a bitchy nag who doesn't understand my needs.

Looking for someone to have fun with!
What men think they mean: I'm looking for someone to have fun with!

What they really mean: I'm looking for someone to have fun with... until I get bored with you. At that point, I will leave you because: 1) You have failed at meeting my entertainment needs, because I have the mental capacity and attention span that almost rivals that of a 4 year old with a severe case of A.D.D. who is high on candy and Coca Cola. 2) Once the sex is no longer mind-blowingly amazing, and you stop jumping my bones and trying to give me blow jobs every time we're together, I will go find something else to play with because you're boring in bed. 3) I can't commit. To anything. Ever. Even doing this online posting is already boring to me and I won't log in to check my account for weeks, at which point I'll try to log in again to see who has "winked" at me but won't remember my password, so fuck it... the site was lame anyway and only had dorky, loser women on it who didn't know how to have fun.

Ready to Settle Down
(This also has several variations, including the ever-popular "looking for mrs. right" line.... my personal favorite.)

What he thinks he means: I'm ready to settle down and get serious.

What he really means: I went out drinking last weekend, and three days later, I still have a killer hangover. I can't do this any more, man! Plus, I can't remember the names of the last six girls I slept with, and that's beginning to be embarrassing because I'm reaching my mid-thirties, and I'm verging on the "old guy who picks up chicks at the bar" now instead of the "cool, fun guy at the bar" that I used to be. All my friends are in long-term relationships, engaged, or married, so I think I should settle down, but deep down, I really don't want to. Unless, of course, you're good enough for me so that I won't ever be attracted to anyone ever again. This means, of course, that you have to stay young, hot, sexy, happy, fun, energetic, chatty, flirty and have a kick-ass body every day... for the rest of your life... even when you're 65... and worship my body even when I turn into a 65 year-old overweight couch potato who still thinks he can drink like a 22 year old. Otherwise, I'll leave you when the hangover quits and I've decided that I'm "looking for someone to have fun with!" (cross-reference previous entry.)

Looks great in a formal dress, but also comfortable in jeans

What he thinks he means: I'd love to have a woman who can carry herself well in any situation.

What he really means: You should look great, no matter what time it is, how early the alarm clock went off, or how much sleep I didn't let you get last night. You should be able to keep up with my breakneck walking speed while wearing 6" heels, and not complain about it when we arrive. You should wake up and need approximately 36.3 seconds to go from dead asleep to walking out the door in perfectly coiffed hair, clothes, and style. (Noticed that I left off makeup - you shouldn't need any ever. Unless it's maybe some red lipstick that won't smudge or wear off during the 6 hour party.) You should be able to switch seamlessly between a formal gown and horseback riding on the beach in Negril without ever having raccoon-eye mascara smudges or sweating unattractively. If you ever DO have raccoon-eyes or bad breath, I'll break up with you because you're getting to be too high-maintenance. (After all, the Bond girls do this all the time... so why can't you?)

(to be continued...... )

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