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  1. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne December 17, 2007 at 7:10 pm |

    I met my now-husband through the now-defunct Swoon.com personals — turned out that 14 was my lucky number, because that was how many coffee dates I had before I had one that worked out. I think I had a second date with only one other person.

    The piece of advice that Swoon.com had that turned out to be really, really good was that you should try to meet (in a safe, public place) as soon as possible if you were even slightly interested, because e-mail correspondences will either (a) peter out with no results or (b) become so intricate that the person will never live up to your fantasies when you finally meet in person. And, of course, if you met the person and there was no chemistry/attraction, you hadn’t wasted weeks of e-mails.

  2. Ginger
    Ginger December 17, 2007 at 7:41 pm |

    Well! My ears were burning, I came to feministe, and…

    thanks for the shout out! I should have a new post up in the next day or so. More bad news, I’m afraid. At least I can laugh about it.

  3. Donna Darko
    Donna Darko December 17, 2007 at 7:49 pm |

    I met most in my classes or from the dorms. Geeky, huh? I’ve never met any person male or female through the internet and have been online four years though it seems like the best way to meet someone. You get to know someone much better through their words then meet them rather than meeting them then finding out what they think.

  4. Sean
    Sean December 17, 2007 at 8:00 pm |

    I’ve met quite a few women on the internet. None of them have really worked out–bet then none of my relationships with women I’ve met offline have really worked out either.

  5. spinsterwitch
    spinsterwitch December 17, 2007 at 8:02 pm |

    I’ve met both friends and my current partner through the internet,one way or another. The partner I met through craigslist and I have to echo Mnemosyne’s passed along advice: always make a date sooner than later in a safe place with a safe time limit.

  6. Elaine Vigneault
    Elaine Vigneault December 17, 2007 at 8:08 pm |

    My husband and I were set up on a blind date. We’re lucky it worked out. I think the main reason it worked out is because the friend who set us up set me up on two other horrible dates and I lost trust in her. So the third time really was the charm. She had something to prove.

    Here are some tips I wrote on finding the love of your life. Basically, figure out what you want, narrow that list down to the essentials, and then start hunting around and telling friends and family what kind of person you’re looking for.

  7. Thomas
    Thomas December 17, 2007 at 8:08 pm |

    you don’t have to spend enormous amounts of time going to places you don’t want to go to and doing things you don’t want to do in order to screen out people in whom you’re not interested

    I think the secret is to find people at the places that you do want to go to. If you’re trying to find a mate at bars, clubs, dating mixers or any of the other places people assume one goes to meet others, then you’re only going to find the kind of people that go to those kind of places to get picked up.

    On the other hand, if you participate in some activity and are a member of the attendant community, the people you meet in that community are much more likely to be compatible with you. For me it’s skydiving and amateur theatre but it could just as easily be sports, music, crafts or religion (provided your faith is okay with such things). I’ve found that courting is much easier, much less stressful and much more successful if there’s already some commonality between the two people beyond the internet and alcohol.

  8. roses
    roses December 17, 2007 at 8:09 pm |

    I met my first two boyfriends in classes. Once I graduated, I wasn’t sure where to meet people either, so I turned to internet dating. I ended up meeting my fiance on okcupid.com (which is really a great site to meet both friends and potential partners… lots of interesting people on there, I’ve found).

  9. Lotte
    Lotte December 17, 2007 at 8:21 pm |

    Most of my significant relationships over the last few years started online, either on Friendster or OkCupid. The only problem I have with meeting people online is that there are plenty of charming and intelligent people who are simply not very good at writing, and it’s difficult to distinguish between them and the dirt clods when all you have is plaintext.

    Oh, and the sites that make you choose a sexuality label annoy the hell out of me. I don’t identify as “bisexual,” but I am interested in dating more than just men. I guess “geeksexual” wouldn’t go over well as an option on the dropdown.

  10. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne December 17, 2007 at 8:34 pm |

    Ginger’s story reminded me that I did have one guy who was disappointed I didn’t put out on the first date, but he only told me afterward, not during the course of said date. So I guess he was a polite asshole. ;-)

    The partner I met through craigslist and I have to echo Mnemosyne’s passed along advice: always make a date sooner than later in a safe place with a safe time limit.

    G. still teases me that I gave him a time limit excuse (giving blood at the Red Cross) and then blew it off and we had a four-hour first date. (And yet didn’t so much as kiss until our third, but that’s a whole other story.)

  11. Donna Darko
    Donna Darko December 17, 2007 at 8:40 pm |

    Wait that’s not true. I also dated fellow activists most of whom were students.

    Craiglist and online dating seem creepy or risky especially as an “Asian woman.”

  12. Interrobang
    Interrobang December 17, 2007 at 8:57 pm |

    I am in a relationship with someone I met on Slashdot. It’s been three years. He lives in England, and I’m in Canada. We definitely broke the “sooner than later” rule, but it seems to be working ok for us. On the other hand, we graduated from e-mail to Jabber fairly quickly, and that’s real-time and a lot more like talking than e-mailing is.

    I don’t see why “individuals who speak in computer lingo” should be a deal-breaker, though. I’m a technical writer by profession; if I got completely away from “computer lingo,” I’d be out one of my native communication modes. (On the other hand, “computer lingo” may be how you say “AOL-speak” if you’re neither nerdy nor particularly cool.)

  13. evil fizz
    evil fizz December 17, 2007 at 9:06 pm |

    But coherent language would seem to me to be a minimum requirement, especially if you’re going through the Internet.

    You’d think that, but there is a reason I have a deep and abiding prejudice against people who refuse to spell the word “you”.

  14. Rosehiptea
    Rosehiptea December 17, 2007 at 9:08 pm |

    Oh, and the sites that make you choose a sexuality label annoy the hell out of me. I don’t identify as “bisexual,” but I am interested in dating more than just men. I guess “geeksexual” wouldn’t go over well as an option on the dropdown.

    If only it would. I put “questioning” once on a GLBT site that had the option but I’m not sure how that went down with the people reading the ad. I’m thinking of changing my mind and putting an ad back up but I’m just not sure it’s worth it.

    There is still some stigma on net dating. Some people who are really into the internet in general seem to think anyone who tries to meet someone from the internet is an idiot who is endangering themselves, which makes me feel a little bad to hear. I asked them where they meet people and they said “through my friends,” which I guess is great if you can do that.

  15. Amanda Marcotte
    Amanda Marcotte December 17, 2007 at 9:15 pm |

    Since my actual career is in internet stuff now, it’s hard to separate “net” friends from real ones. Prior to this era, I met LTB #1 in high school (7 year relationship) and LTB #2 at a punk rock bar (4 year relationship). I’ve dated a lot of guys, and it’s a mix on how I met them, but it takes a lot to get me to loosen up my ties to my status as “single”, so I haven’t had many boyfriend-boyfriends, but when I do get them, it’s for a long time. The current one I did meet online. Having a blog is sort of weird—once you meet in person, if he’s remotely curious about the real you, he’s going to know a lot by the time you sit down over beers and foods. But it obviously worked out well.

  16. Amanda Marcotte
    Amanda Marcotte December 17, 2007 at 9:18 pm |

    I just realized that I’m 30 years old, have spent a total of 13 years in monogamous relationships and still have managed to date literally dozens of men and sleep with a significant percentage of them. To be fair to my slutty ass, I did spend quite a bit of time with #1 seeing others on the side since he was jerking me around for a few years there. He got mad once, but had to admit that you can’t ask for monogamy from someone who you aren’t going to give your all to, emotionally speaking. If only I’d been as much a hardass about other things as I have traditionally been about what I need to be monogamous.

  17. SnowdropExplodes
    SnowdropExplodes December 17, 2007 at 9:42 pm |

    The use of “txt spk” I find a useful screen, simply because it tends to show someone who isn’t focussed and who isn’t that bothered about communicating. Poor use of written English in general, however, doesn’t tell me anything about a potential internet date’s personality so as long as I can actually get the intended meaning, that’s good enough. Some people are just better with the spoken word (another reason why meeting early is a good idea).

    online dating seems creepy and risky especially as an “Asian woman.”

    This I can definitely understand, since there is a tendency for people to assume a “mail-order bride” type of scenario when they see that combination.

    Oh, and the sites that make you choose a sexuality label annoy the hell out of me. I don’t identify as “bisexual,” but I am interested in dating more than just men. I guess “geeksexual” wouldn’t go over well as an option on the dropdown.

    My approach with such sites is choose the closest to what I feel I am, and then explain more fully in my profile text. Some sites allow you to check boxes for what you’re interested in (and one site I’ve used allowed gradations: “totally het; mostly het; somewhat het; bi; somewhat homo; mostly homo, totally homo”).

    As for the Nice Guyism, I’ve definitely seen it in action. Some people don’t ever seem to understand that, no matter how close a match you might think you are to the other person, they don’t owe you any kind of response at all if they’re not interested. Not even if you spent hours crafting your initial email. It’s the entitlement thing all over again.

    Incidentally, the best tactic I’ve found as a male on internet dating sites, is: “wait for them to come to you”. My most successful relationships (from a romance point of view; I’ve made some very good friends the other way) through online dating came when she sent me an initial email, and not the other way around.

    The “internet mask” thing cuts both ways; I’m shy about dating in general, and conversing online via email and instant messaging give me a chance to get through the awkward phase without sending out the wrong “body language” signals; then when we meet I can feel confident that we’ll have stuff we’re comfortable talking about and such. So for that reason, I personally would say not to rush straight into meeting; on the other hand, I have definitely found that waiting too long means that your expectations can become divergent so that you’re expecting to meet the person from your head not the real person.

  18. holly r.
    holly r. December 17, 2007 at 9:43 pm |

    Lotte- I can totally empathize! Why don’t they have something like “geeksexual”? I’ve been aware for some time that I, too, dislike having to check bisexual; and really, at the end of the day- I’m just on the lookout for a hot nerd.

    I do have one now, and we met on fucking myspace, of all places. But, that was in part due to the fact that he’d apparently seen me around at shows before, and wouldn’t come up and talk to me, and then could see we had some friends in common. So, that sort of helped.

    Linnaeus- I’d just recommend (but, I’m sure a friend has already) that you take your computer and books to the local hip coffee shop. Not that that ever worked for me.

    I find that it’s sort of difficult to meet people for dating post- undergraduate collegiate life. Or, people that are not 1 or 2 degrees separated. To the point that your exes are now married to each other?

    But, then, I do live in Kansas City. I guess we’re still rated as one of the (if not the) worst place(s) for dating.

  19. Jenn
    Jenn December 17, 2007 at 10:19 pm |

    I’ve stuck my toe in the online personals water, but I’ve only ever actually met one guy in person; I chickened out on the rest. He was nice; we knew each other for a couple of months before we met which was a good and a bad thing. It was good because we already sort of knew each other, so I wasn’t as weary of him as I might have been if we had only know each other a couple of weeks. However, it was bad because after our second date when things sort of hit the skids, it felt like a significant loss because I already cared about him as a friend.

    I’m thinking about trying it again in the new year, but I’m hesitant. Right now, I browse a couple of sites, just to see whats out there and it can be disheartening. The other day I saw a guy who seemed okay, cute, well-spoken (well-written?), and interesting, up until he mentioned that he wasn’t interested in girls who are just looking for money and status. That’s fine, I wouldn’t be interested in it either if I were him, but he then said that he felt compelled to post this warning, even though he had never dated or even chatted up a girl who seemed solely interested in the size of his bank account. Yeah.

    Also, as a chubby gal, I find the fact that on a fairly regular basis men seem to check “Slender” as the only body type they are interested in. Like almost everyone else, I have negative self-talk running through my head about my body somehow disqualifying me for love, and while I would rather know up front, for sure, that a guy I might be interested in wouldn’t be interested in my size sixteen behind, it can do a number on your self-esteem to see so many. Makes me wonder why I even want to bother sometimes.

    But then I read things like this post and I remember that I too have standards and should not allow myself to feel rejected by someone who I myself would probably reject. If a guy is only interested in dating a size six, than he isn’t the guy for me, but the simple fact that he seemed smart enough to write an interesting profile and funny enough to have made me laugh once while reading it can be enough to make me want to skip meals and run on the treadmill until I faint. I’m allowed to want the interesting and the smart and the funny, but how much would any of those things really be worth if they came with a constant fear that I would lose him if I gained a dress size?

    Anyway, thanks for the post…sorry my comment ate the whole section!

  20. Bruce
    Bruce December 18, 2007 at 12:12 am |

    Life is funny. My wife and I met online 10 years ago on an atheist chat board. We got married by a Unitarian minister in a pretty secular ceremony, and now have two kids with significant disabilities.

    A few years into the marriage, she became a born-again Christian and now teaches Sunday School in a conservative, occasionally anti-Semitic Southern Baptist Church. We are negotiating financial terms for our divorce (her request.)

    Internet dating and seeking out people with common values or interests, are neither a hopeless method nor a guarantee of long-term happiness.

  21. Hector B.
    Hector B. December 18, 2007 at 12:12 am |

    I was referred to as “ma’am,” as in “ma’am please,” and “thank you, ma’am.”

    Can any ladies here describe their idea of a “complete gentleman”? As I understand it, it involves calling the women you go out with “ma’am,” but there must be more to it. Frankly if I said one way I could tell I had met a perfect lady was that she called me “Sir”, as in “Yes, Sir!” and “No, thank YOU, sir,” all my friends would think I had lost my mind.

    He called back a few minutes later, half asleep. Strike one! Wake up before you call me, dude! He also had hay fever, so our entire conversation was punctuated by the sound of him blowing his nose. Strike two! Listen, I have allergies, so I can sympathize, but I try to clear out my sinuses before calling a potential date. “So where are you frub? PPPPPPFFFFFFFFFFFFTTTTTTTTTTTTT!!!!!!” Is not appealing. Blow your nose first!

    Hey, if you’d rather be single, just say so. Don’t make up arbitrary requirements for members of the appropriate sex and expect everyone to buy into them. The guy called you back right away, so that you could speak to him as you had wanted to do. Promptly returning phone calls is a characteristic of considerate people. If I can’t call you back till I’ve gotten over a cold, you won’t hear from me for five days. Blowing my nose clears my head for only a few seconds, and I always sound sleepy when my head is a mass of damp cotton.

    But, on the other hand, if you’re part of some eugenic breeding program, and you want to leave susceptibility to hay fever out of the Master Race, more power to you.

  22. Hector B.
    Hector B. December 18, 2007 at 12:29 am |

    Also, as a chubby gal, I find the fact that on a fairly regular basis men seem to check “Slender” as the only body type they are interested in. Like almost everyone else, I have negative self-talk running through my head about my body somehow disqualifying me for love

    This shows the advantage of meeting IRL. After talking to her at a wedding, I had a mad instant crush on the small dumpy sister of a co-worker. She was smart (and smart-assed), witty and funny and insightful, in other words, perfect. Unfortunately for me, she (1) had a boyfriend (2) with whom she was moving to a city a thousand miles away. But if I were filling out an internet profile for women I would be interested in, I would not check the “short” and “dumpy” boxes.

    Your body type is a dealbreaker only for those who are too shallow to be worth considering as matches.

  23. Holly
    Holly December 18, 2007 at 12:31 am |

    I got kicked off a prominent online personals site once for listing my gender as “male.” But hey, they probably would have kicked me off for listing it as “female” too!

    Those of us who the rest of the world finds troubling to categories are left with… CRAIGSLIST

    Oh well, it’s still fun, even if you do get a hundred weird loser responses for every one horrible blind date you go on where it turns out the person has noxious politics or turns out to be 19. For posterity, here’s my last amusing Craigslist ad, which was pretty popular:

    dangerous, surly valet seeks imperious, troublemaking princess
    I’ll carry your stuff, light your cigarettes, and refill your drink… but you’re going to have to pay for it back at home. You can be in charge all you want, and win every argument, but sooner or later you’ll have to be punished for being such a brat, you know. Don’t give me that shocked look, because you know you want it.

    Me: alternately dapper and rough, androgynous with great bangs and cheekbones, smart as a whip, queer as hell, radical politics, multi-racial mutt, lots of dirty innuendos, bites people, can’t decide what color to flag on any given day, likes to switch it up.

    You: kinky, bossy, femmey or delicately genderqueer, girls or boyish types or boys or otherwise, likes to fight back, enjoys sharp conversation and rowdy fucking, trans-positive, understands the difference between an imperious attitude and real ingrained entitlement, which is far less attractive.

    Your pic gets mine. No masculine dudes, couples, or bigots!

    Embarassingly, within hours of being posted one of my craigslist-slut friends found this ad, figured out immediately that I wrote it, and immediately sent it to someone I had been dating up until a couple weeks prior and said “hey, holly posted an ad and she’s obviously looking for YOU.” Oooooh redface.

  24. Phoebe Fay
    Phoebe Fay December 18, 2007 at 1:03 am |

    I’m one of those who found success with Internet dating… eventually.

    In my case, I was divorced and hadn’t been in the dating game for 14 years. Meeting eligible men seemed very different in my late 30s than it had in my early 20s. I was much stupider in my younger years, which made everything easier and more fun. The wisdom of age was a bit of a downer.

    Anyway, it took about three years, lots of dating sites, lots of coffee dates, a couple brief relationships and one broken heart before these here Internet tubes coughed up the perfect man for me. During that time, I learned to get more picky, not to settle for close enough and always always ALWAYS listen to my instincts. I wound up meeting a handsome, confident man who has the patience of a saint and the sexiest brain on the planet. We’re coming up on two years since we first met, and we’re happily shacked up together.

    I think being picky is the key. For myself, I’m intelligent, opinionated and competitive so I needed someone equally intelligent who can enjoy an opinionated, competitive nature. That requirement and a couple others ultimately ruled out 99.9 percent of the men out there, but it made finding the one-in-a-thousand very satisfying.

  25. Silver Owl
    Silver Owl December 18, 2007 at 1:21 am |

    Talking to people online is not that much different than in person, although it does require longer periods of communication and patterning watching. If someone is being untruthful it will show in their communication. People always fall back to their comfortable habits.

    Words used and not used, what gets emotes and what does not, what gets focus and what does not get focus. Yes even swear words tell stories about people when they write. Repetition. Different answers to subjects that have come up previously but have changed recently.

    Reading body language, which most people do instinctively but mostly do not pay attention to, is a skill that can be used in written communication. No offense toward degreed English, Literature, Journalists, Teachers and Professors but the use or non-use of correct syntax, spelling and word usage tell a lot about people. Not so much career training focus but life experience.

    For instance, if you do not call attention to a person’s spelling or usage of a specific word, they will habitually mis-spell or misuse that word because that is their habit. If that behavior changes without prompting, you know something is up. The same holds true with being extra careful and then falling back into comfort zones.

    The focus on constructing a sentence is always the main focus of writers, teachers, professors, lawyers, legal secretaries, tech documenters etc. That is because it is their career. They use it every single day. Most other fields do not have that kind of focus. It’s the old adage, use it or lose it.

    Take programmers many can code in 3-8 different computer languages on several different platforms and even more operating system versions. Most of our words are not even legit words in any spoken language and few people even want to understand but we know exactly what is going on. Many of us rarely write the “perfect” sentence and habitually jump into our career habits. Same thing applies to almost all people.

    Contractors in the housing, heating & cooling, plumbing, masonry, write differently than men and women in the financial industry, real estate, retail, banking and military industries. Each has their unique flavor.

  26. lisa
    lisa December 18, 2007 at 1:34 am |

    Just mutually ended a 5 mo relationship with a craigs list find. interestingly, one of the main challenges in that relationship was that we are such different people that it was sometimes difficult to figure out what to do when we spent time together! I might be romanticizing the notion, but I like to consider this a throughly modern relationship… when you’re meeting people online instead of at the farm next door or in mutual activities, you’re going to be engaging with people who are quite unlike you. I really like that aspect of internet dating, even though it can create more challenges in relationships.

  27. M.
    M. December 18, 2007 at 1:51 am |

    I met my husband on the internet back when it wasn’t cool yet. It wasn’t a dating site or anything like that. We just hit it off on one of the many hobby/social forums.

    Anyways, I feel the pain of the txt tlk, though I am very glad for it. It’s a wonderful screen. Offline, it’s hard to tell right off the bat how much a person cares about her/his professionalism and first impression, but txt tlk is like wearing a giant neon sign that says “I don’t give a flying poodle what people think of me.” It makes them that much easier to weed out. After all, if a guy can’t be bothered to make himself presentable when first meeting you, what hope is there for 10 years down the road?

  28. Ginger
    Ginger December 18, 2007 at 2:53 am |

    “But, on the other hand, if you’re part of some eugenic breeding program, and you want to leave susceptibility to hay fever out of the Master Race, more power to you”

    Hector, that really made me laugh ; )

    My point was, people should watch their manners. Be awake and able to speak coherently. If you’re half asleep and have to blow your nose during every other sentence, what kind of conversation do you think you’re going to have? When you’re putting yourself out in the dating market, you want to make a good impression. So, show good manners.

  29. Ginger
    Ginger December 18, 2007 at 2:59 am |

    I would also like to add, Hector, that you were sent to the wrong post. This is the post that Linnaeus was trying to link to:

    Not on the menu

  30. Ginger
    Ginger December 18, 2007 at 3:48 am |

    No worries. It happens to the best of us.

  31. Jabuka
    Jabuka December 18, 2007 at 7:18 am |

    I met my ex online, through ActForLove. Before that, I always met my boyfriends in big lecture classes, where we ended up either fighting about something political from across the rows of seats, or sitting together accidentally and spending the whole class making fun of the professor. (Mostly) good times were had by all.

    But then I moved back to Europe, first to a country I had never lived in in Western Europe. Western Europe was SO disenchanting. With my American accent fully developed and my American mannerisms an irritant to so many, I was hit on maybe twice in six months. Even in the country I grew up in, noses turned skyward.

    When I received aattention, it was usually of the worst kind –dumb-ass pervert sexual harassment, similar to what Jill has described in her travel posts.

    Then came the Eastern Europe move. The international community proved to be a wasteland for singles. Everyone was either coupled for life, or the kind of person we sad, sad OkCupid-ers know as the “Hornivore.”

    (For those who don’t know, here’s the description from OKCupid:)

    Half manly, half bestial, you act on instinct, and animal charisma smoothes the way. It’s unlikely you’re driven by much other than your own selfish, orgasmic requirements. Your appearance and personality have evolved for the hunt. Ass beckons, you oblige.

    But moving on. Yeah, the IC was and is a wasteland, so I tried online dating again. This did not work out, mainly because people in my field pretty much have to marry within the field due to its emotional peculiarities and itinerant lifestyle.

  32. Jabuka
    Jabuka December 18, 2007 at 7:37 am |

    Take programmers many can code in 3-8 different computer languages on several different platforms and even more operating system versions. Most of our words are not even legit words in any spoken language and few people even want to understand but we know exactly what is going on. Many of us rarely write the “perfect” sentence and habitually jump into our career habits. Same thing applies to almost all people.

    Ah, programmers, a special species unto themselves. Three words: date. with. caution.

  33. Olivia
    Olivia December 18, 2007 at 11:17 am |

    I agree with Elaine Vigneault’s tips for meeting your mate. I pretty much did the same thing and was intruduced to my husband by a mutual friends. The friends did such a phenomenal job at “matching” us that we were married 4 months later.

    I think people can sometimes be too shy about telling friends and family what they want. We (women especially) are told to relax and not talk about wanting a committed relationship or we’ll seem desperate. So we end up dating casually and perhaps wasting time or missing out on someone who might suit us better. I figure friends/family know you best so why not give them permission to help find a good partner for you. More eyes our there looking can make the search go quicker.

  34. Hector B.
    Hector B. December 18, 2007 at 11:30 am |

    Ginger — surrealistic is the only way to describe your experience. The main lesson to be drawn, I think, is to beware the self-described “true gentleman.” (Did he say, “Yes, ma’am” and “No, ma’am, BTW?) I wonder who he thought was on the other side of the table — it obviously wasn’t you. At least you got a story to amuse your friends with. (I tried reading it aloud.)

    And the closing line would be great in a satire of romantic movies: I picture a 19th century train station, before dawn, steam locomotives belching, Ginger silhouetted in a car window. Suddenly the true gentleman appears, too late as the train starts to pull out of the station. Not yet giving up hope, the TG runs after the train as it picks up speed. He finally reaches the car she’s sitting in. Unable to keep up, he shouts after the train, “So I guess a blowjob is out of the questionnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn?”

  35. Merope
    Merope December 18, 2007 at 11:56 am |

    Also, as a chubby gal, I find the fact that on a fairly regular basis men seem to check “Slender” as the only body type they are interested in.
    Hear, hear. Imagine what it’s like being a chubby (I prefer “rubenesque”) woman who’s also over six feet tall. I’ll poke through a few profiles of interesting people only to find that a guy wants a woman who is anywhere between 5 foot and two inches shorter than him. I actually spent a day cataloguing all the men 5’9″ and taller in my geographic area and their height preferences and concluded that, on average, men wanted a woman 1.3 inches shorter. Very few men specified “no preference”. (Being the total nerd I am, I correlated this with race and religion — non-whites tended to be less picky, but I couldn’t find any connection between religion and height preferences.) Height differences don’t bother me — most of the guys I’ve dated have been shorter — but seeing men pre-emptively turn me down based on height or weight is disheartening, to say the least.

    The book “Freakonomics” has a section devoted to stats on online dating. The most depressing statistic has stayed with me years after reading the book: in terms of garnering attention, being a woman with blond hair is “worth” the same as having a college degree. Yikes.

  36. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne December 18, 2007 at 12:23 pm |

    Also, as a chubby gal, I find the fact that on a fairly regular basis men seem to check “Slender” as the only body type they are interested in. Like almost everyone else, I have negative self-talk running through my head about my body somehow disqualifying me for love, and while I would rather know up front, for sure, that a guy I might be interested in wouldn’t be interested in my size sixteen behind, it can do a number on your self-esteem to see so many. Makes me wonder why I even want to bother sometimes.

    Honestly, I think that a good 70% (at least) of those guys check that off without really thinking about it. It’s the automatic social pressure to not find fat (or even merely chubby) women attractive. I wouldn’t rule out an interesting-sounding guy solely on that basis — let him read your profile, tell the truth, and let him decide whether or not to keep e-mailing. No skin off your nose if he doesn’t.

  37. Catrina
    Catrina December 18, 2007 at 12:28 pm |

    I met my husband online about two years ago, actually (Thank you very much, OKCupid), and had a couple of dating experiences from online before him, most of which were okay, and one which was a little scary. I’ve always been “shy,” that is, I don’t tend to go up to people I don’t know, or talk much before I’m comfortable with someone, so the whole online thing helped me recommend myself better to others through writing than I would be able to just out of the blue in a public setting. I never ever had any luck with liking a friend as more than a friend or anything like that. I’m also tall at 5’10 and fat, and I doubt that the bar/club/singles scene would have had much to offer me (funnily enough, my husband is about 5’6…I thought he would be freaked out by the height difference but it was never a problem–plus it means his face is closer to my boobs, which he seems to enjoy). Online dating let me be totally frank about what my body looked like prior to meeting someone physically so that we could even see if it was worth the meeting (and while I automatically wouldn’t contact anyone who had one or two necessities in body preference, I found that a lot of people who marked only “slender” as their preference contacted me and were happy to meet even after we had talked and I made damn sure they knew what I would look like). I would so rather be turned down online than to my face (and was wary of meeting someone only to see them disappointed in how I looked). I didn’t like to talk online too long before meeting though, just enough so we knew a bit about each other and would be comfortable talking face-to-face for a length of time. Just like any way of meeting someone, it works for some people and doesn’t work for others, and there’s no real way of knowing. I enjoyed it for the most part.

  38. jfpbookworm
    jfpbookworm December 18, 2007 at 1:11 pm |

    Complete sentences are, for me, necessary but by no means sufficient. The reason you get people who don’t do that is a combination of factors. One is the idea of “social spam” – some people decide that a low-effort approach in which messages are dashed off to anyone who seems remotely promising is best. The other is the “Myspace/texting culture” phenomenon – habitual use of the style can be a sign of group identification.

    As for Internet dating, I prefer OKCupid, but wish it would fix the problem whereby bisexuals can’t specify when they’re not looking for both genders – I’m sick of having to sort through all of the “I’m bi, but I’m not looking for men” (or “I’m bi, and my boyfriend and I are looking for another woman.”) The other problem is regional – I’m in a location with relatively few people my age, and the ones who are tend to be monogamously married. People who are single/available at 30 just don’t stay here.

    Of course, many of the online relationship success stories I know didn’t use a dedicated site (though the dedicated sites at least avoid the “am I out of line for flirting?” issue). I met my last girlfriend on Television Without Pity, and friends of mine met on a MUD dedicated to text adventures.

    Re body preferences: Again, I like OKCupid here. They don’t have a separate section for size/shape preferences (I think they might for race and religion though). I think most people who express such preferences don’t really understand their own acceptable range, and fill in what they think their ideal is. But some of the matching questions they use are things like “I could not date a person who was fat.” And not only do you get to agree/disagree, you get to specify what your ideal match would say, and how important the question is.

  39. nonskanse
    nonskanse December 18, 2007 at 1:16 pm |

    I don’t mind guys checking “slender”, it would probably help me eliminate them pretty quickly, since my emotional attractiveness preferences include “person is physically attracted to people like me” anyway.

  40. Ismone
    Ismone December 18, 2007 at 1:49 pm |

    I usually rejected men online who had very specific physical requirements, even if I fit them. Yeah, most guys would consider me slender, but I have weighed more, and if they would reject heavier me, or my sister, or one of my best friends, I am so not interested.

  41. Raoul_j_Raoul
    Raoul_j_Raoul December 18, 2007 at 1:49 pm |

    I tried internet dating several times but found it pretty disheartening. I eventually met my spouse through mutual friends. Like Merope, I was lacking a common requirement. I had/have a pretty low salary for my education and age. When the minimum income is 10-15 K more than I make, I’m not going to follow up with that person. I heard from several woman that income requirements was just to weed out slackers looking for a meal ticket which I am not. Still, it’s hard to have to bring up my income early in conversations to make sure I wasn’t wasting time.

    Another thing that was difficult for me is I’m pretty shy and adverse to asking someone out. Going on 99 dates to find 1 compatible person are not good times. The reality is most of them were not too horrible, but I still got a lot of anxiety about the whole process. Anyway internet dating (for heterosexuals) is even more gendered than meeting IRL, in my experience. Guys are very much the pursuer and women pursued. I not very comfortable in the pursuer role, so it didn’t work out very well for me.

  42. Ginger
    Ginger December 18, 2007 at 1:50 pm |

    Hector, I wish it was surreal, but I’ve had that happen to me (and friends of mine) before. It’s probably why I fell for the “perfect gentleman” line. In my gut, I knew that gentlemen don’t call themselves gentlemen, the way that truly nice guys don’t describe themselves as ‘nice’. They just are. It’s just that it’s been over a year since I’ve been on a date with a gentlemanly guy, so I ignored my gut instinct, with disastrous results.

    I picture a 19th century train station, before dawn, steam locomotives belching, Ginger silhouetted in a car window. Suddenly the true gentleman appears, too late as the train starts to pull out of the station. Not yet giving up hope, the TG runs after the train as it picks up speed. He finally reaches the car she’s sitting in. Unable to keep up, he shouts after the train, “So I guess a blowjob is out of the questionnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn?”

    Hahaha! I’d go see that movie – as long as he got hit by the train right after he said it.

  43. exholt
    exholt December 18, 2007 at 4:02 pm |

    I find that it’s sort of difficult to meet people for dating post- undergraduate collegiate life.

    I have had the exact opposite experience though part of that had to do with the school attended and the limited free time from overloading on classes, working part-time, and doing extra-curriculars/volunteering activities.

    I met most of my dates IRL through friends, college parties, and through taking post-undergrad courses while working. I have yet to try online dating…though I may consider it at some point.

    As for language being a requirement/screening mechanism, that may end up screening out otherwise intelligent and interesting people who may not have a great facility with language. I’ve dated otherwise well-educated individuals who were not the best writers and I’ve encountered too many people who had a great facility with the written word whose intellect and social skills were quite lacking in person.

    As for this quote:

    Ah, programmers, a special species unto themselves. Three words: date. with. caution.

    I cannot help, but wonder if this is another manifestation of American society’s prejudice against those who are inclined towards intellectual pursuits, especially those in the natural or technical sciences that I’ve commonly witnessed in elementary and junior high and that my friends, classmates, and co-workers witnessed/experienced in high school.

    While there are enough programmers who fit the stereotype of the socially mal-adjusted “nerd”/”geek” stereotype to give it some legs, this does not describe the vast majority of programmers I’ve met and yes, dated. As with all stereotypes, this one is insidious and IMHO, an indictment of our society’s messed up priorities regarding the place of education and those who are inclined towards intellectual pursuits, especially those in the natural or technical sciences.

  44. betsyl
    betsyl December 18, 2007 at 4:26 pm |

    holly, just break it to me gently that you don’t live anywhere near minnesota. i’ll live through the disappointment.

  45. Hector B.
    Hector B. December 18, 2007 at 5:01 pm |

    It’s probably why I fell for the “perfect gentleman” line.

    Ginger, don’t get me wrong; I think agreeing to see this guy made a lot of sense, especially because his willingness to drive to your area, to make it easier for you, was consistent with being a gentleman. What I thought was surrealistic was the huge disconnect between his self-description and the sketchiness followed by naked lust of his conversation.

  46. Marksman2000
    Marksman2000 December 18, 2007 at 8:19 pm |

    I needed someone equally intelligent who can enjoy an opinionated, competitive nature. That requirement and a couple others ultimately ruled out 99.9 percent of the men out there

    You’re more intelligent than 99.9% of men “out there?” Wow. Can I have your autograph?

  47. Marksman2000
    Marksman2000 December 18, 2007 at 8:26 pm |

    I cannot help, but wonder if this is another manifestation of American society’s prejudice against those who are inclined towards intellectual pursuits

    You think that’s bad? Tell a date that you’re a writer. Wait and see what kind of response you get with that one. Better off being a programmer. At least then you’re identifying yourself as an introvert with a steady salary who won’t go apeshit and drink yourself to death…

  48. exholt
    exholt December 18, 2007 at 11:05 pm |

    You think that’s bad? Tell a date that you’re a writer. Wait and see what kind of response you get with that one.

    Funnily enough, all the professional writers I knew from college and/or grad school never had any problems finding dates/marriage prospects.

    On the other hand, I’ve known plenty of programmers who’ve hit dating droughts in college and right after graduation because of the seeming widespread perception that their profession is a haven for “geeky” social misfits.

  49. exholt
    exholt December 19, 2007 at 2:22 am |

    Oh, sure. One can definitely go too far; I think it’s more of an issue of the degree to which you use your criteria rather than the kind of criteria you use.

    Agreed. This actually reminded me of an ongoing conversation I’ve been having with a classmate about how one’s use of language is often used by others as a marker of socio-economic status…and how its use determined how one is perceived and treated by others in many areas of one’s life, whether it is finding a date or a job in a particular industry.

    It has been one thing I tended to be conscious of as I saw this dynamic played out among high school classmates and co-workers where the person with the better written and/or spoken language skills was perceived as more intelligent and socially adept, even when that was not always the case.

  50. Jabuka
    Jabuka December 19, 2007 at 9:42 am |

    I cannot help, but wonder if this is another manifestation of American society’s prejudice against those who are inclined towards intellectual pursuits, especially those in the natural or technical sciences that I’ve commonly witnessed in elementary and junior high and that my friends, classmates, and co-workers witnessed/experienced in high school.

    While there are enough programmers who fit the stereotype of the socially mal-adjusted “nerd”/”geek” stereotype to give it some legs, this does not describe the vast majority of programmers I’ve met and yes, dated. As with all stereotypes, this one is insidious and IMHO, an indictment of our society’s messed up priorities regarding the place of education and those who are inclined towards intellectual pursuits, especially those in the natural or technical sciences.

    Oh, please. I would be one of the last people to belittle intellectuals. I was just making a shallow comment about programmers, because the ones in my life tend to be a bit…odd, and programmers in general do have a dating reputation for being quite peculiar in their personal lives. Then again, so do people in my field, just in a different way. In case you didn’t notice, I said many people in my field are “Hornivores.”

  51. Hector B.
    Hector B. December 19, 2007 at 10:56 am |

    According to a former co-worker, explaining why she no longer dated them, a male engineer is a person who, after painting a room, will subtract out the volume of the paint layers and tell you how much smaller the room now is. She preferred guys with a wider range of interests.

    American society’s prejudice against those who are inclined towards intellectual pursuits

    The number of women interested in my friend Al the software engineer skyrocketed once he got his law degree. I don’t think society considers lawyers unintellectual.

  52. Jabuka
    Jabuka December 19, 2007 at 12:37 pm |

    Exactly, Hector. That’s what I was getting at.

  53. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne December 19, 2007 at 1:45 pm |

    This actually reminded me of an ongoing conversation I’ve been having with a classmate about how one’s use of language is often used by others as a marker of socio-economic status…and how its use determined how one is perceived and treated by others in many areas of one’s life, whether it is finding a date or a job in a particular industry.

    I’m assuming you’ve heard of “U- and non-U English”, but just in case ….

  54. exholt
    exholt December 19, 2007 at 2:34 pm |

    I don’t think society considers lawyers unintellectual.

    Lawyers do have an intellectual cachet. However, I think its relatively high social prestige has more to do with the popular perception of it being a highly lucrative respectable profession with some association with genteel upper-class respectability. Moreover, from working as a paralegal in a few biglaw firms, “intellectual” would be the last adjective I’d use to describe most of them. My experience was confirmed by an uncle who has been a practicing attorney for 20+ years when he warned me about the “rampant philistine attitudes” of many in his line of work.

    Computer programming, being a relatively recent phenomenon, may have arguably have the high pay, but none of the popular associations with intellectualism or genteel respectability among those in the greater American public.

  55. n3rdchik
    n3rdchik December 20, 2007 at 10:29 am |

    As both a nerd and a nerdophile, I understand the caution against dating programmers and other IT staff – the successful tend to be a wee bit obessive about whatever (or whomever) we are doing at that moment. It suits us well – but many people are scared/offput at the level of intensity we have a periods of focus, and pissed off when they are set aside for a while to focus on something else – aka videogame or a work project. [/end stereotype]
    I’ve been married to a fellow nerd for 10 years – we met at a Roleplaying convention. We can mutally revel in geekdom. Who else rolls dice to see who gets to change diapers?!?

  56. Medicine Man
    Medicine Man December 20, 2007 at 7:58 pm |

    Funnily enough, all the professional writers I knew from college and/or grad school never had any problems finding dates/marriage prospects.

    On the other hand, I’ve known plenty of programmers who’ve hit dating droughts in college and right after graduation because of the seeming widespread perception that their profession is a haven for “geeky” social misfits.

    Try this one on for size Exholt. I’m a technical writer — with a background in software development. Talk about getting hit with the double whammy. :P

  57. Ismone
    Ismone December 20, 2007 at 8:21 pm |

    Marksman2000,

    ” ‘I needed someone equally intelligent who can enjoy an opinionated, competitive nature. That requirement and a couple others ultimately ruled out 99.9 percent of the men out there’

    You’re more intelligent than 99.9% of men “out there?” Wow. Can I have your autograph?”

    You’re misreading Phoebe Fay. She’s talking about someone just as intelligent as her who can also “enjoy an opinionated, competitive nature.” Let me tell you, they are rare. I know very few men (or women) who aren’t put off by debate. And I have to find the rare ones who aren’t, and who don’t secretly think I’m smarter than them just because I stick to my guns. Or hell, those who just don’t like conflict. I’m with one now, and let me tell you, he is one in a thousand. Or more. (Should stop writing on the innernets and go home to him.)

  58. exholt
    exholt December 20, 2007 at 8:26 pm |

    There’s different flavors of “nerds” too. I’m an historian, and we certainly are in our own particular way.

    Good point. Judging by my education and work history, it seems I fit both the “Historian” and IT “classifications” of nerdiness.

    Of course, that depends on the social context one is placed in. By the standards of my “computer nerd” friends in high school, I am only an “honorary nerd”. This was because I didn’t major in a mathematically intensive science/technical field, only took a few introductory level CS programming courses, and the fact I am not a hardcore programmer. Nevertheless, I do get some “Computer nerd” cred for having built/configured computer hardware since the MS-Dos days and for having passing knowledge of unix/linux command-line interface.

    As for being a nerd in the “historian sense”, I can claim that….though I have yet to meet anyone who would classify historians and aspiring historians as “nerds” per se. If anything, nearly everyone I’ve met seemed to have the notion that historians are well-educated socially adept people who could talk about a wide variety of “interesting” topics.

    It is one reason why so many acquaintances are taken aback when they find I have quite a few hardcore computer/engineering “nerd” friends. They cannot fathom how someone with a humanities educational background could have anything in common, or even stand being in the presence of “computer/engineering nerds”. They are even more shocked to find I’ve maintained long-term relationships and *shudder*, even dated a few of these “nerds”.

  59. exholt
    exholt December 20, 2007 at 9:36 pm |

    Try this one on for size Exholt. I’m a technical writer — with a background in software development. Talk about getting hit with the double whammy. :P

    Medicine Man,

    I’m sorry to hear about the “double whammy” I presume you’ve experienced.

    One can only hope that more people in our society are open-minded and aware enough to see the negative stereotype of those in math/computer/engineering occupations as geeky social misfits as the essentializing BS that it is.

    As both a nerd and a nerdophile, I understand the caution against dating programmers and other IT staff – the successful tend to be a wee bit obessive about whatever (or whomever) we are doing at that moment. It suits us well – but many people are scared/offput at the level of intensity we have a periods of focus, and pissed off when they are set aside for a while to focus on something else – aka videogame or a work project. [/end stereotype]

    My impression is that this stereotype of programming being a haven of excessively obsessed social misfits is mainly a North American and to a lesser extent, Western European socially conditioned phenomenon.

    For instance, such a stereotype does not seem to exist in China when I was there in the late ’90s nor does it exist among hundreds of Chinese international students I’ve chatted with from undergrad/grad school. If anything, programmers like others who majored/worked in math/natural science/engineering fields are often admired by university classmates and the larger public for their intelligence, hard work, and drive. From what I’ve seen in China and what those students continue to tell me, programmers and other math/science/engineering “nerds” never seemed to lack for dating prospects in university.

  60. Linnaeus
    Linnaeus December 20, 2007 at 10:49 pm |

    Dating is hard for a lot of people. There are enough stereotypes floating around that virtually anyone can have a stereotype used against him or her. I’ve been stereotyped as one who does nothing but read books and that wasn’t meant in a good way.

  61. Welcome to the wonderful world of dating! at Kindly Póg Mo Thóin

    […] reading some of the responses to this guest-post by Linnaeus over at Feministe, I decided that I’d give OK Cupid a try. It’s been a while since […]

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