13. Boring Ryan

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Number thirteen…

Let me introduce you to Boring Ryan. There isn’t much to say about him, honestly. We didn’t get much into the “getting to know you phase.”

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Now let me clarify. From a very early age, I was told that “only boring people get bored.” The lady who said that was one of the most inspiring and influential teachers I know. Boredom can be incredibly productive, mind you. Boredom has a purpose. It puts our minds in a state of desire for new stimuli. Initial boredom can propel people to bring out their creativity and imagination. My only qualm is when people perpetually complain about being bored. Where is their drive for adventure? Why must they always look to someone else to fix their boredom? Why is your boredom only fixed through others entertaining you?

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I’m not above playful banter. But I know nothing about Ryan. I’ve never met him and we haven’t had any conversation of substance. He was not a fan of my observation.

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I grabbed the screen shot moments before he “unmatched” with my profile. Had I not been actively on my phone, I would have never seen his response at all. Honestly, his response doesn’t even deserve to be picked apart piece-by-piece. He does not know me well enough to assert I was “looking for something serious.” He never asked. I never said.

This is a subset of current dating culture, though. The kind where any small amount of possible rejection insights an explosive reaction that puts blame on the other party. I’m not sure whether he would have reacted similarly had this interaction been in person. But the fear that it might happen sits in the back of girls minds every time they get hit on in public, or catcalled, or even just approached by a stranger.

I stand by my original statement. He’s boring.

 

14. Bad Teacher

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In fourteenth place… we have the Bad Teacher story brought to you by Andrew. It started as a normal conversation. Certainly nothing to write home about.

 

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Nothing out of the ordinary. Just regular small talk to wade into conversation intended to get to know someone.

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“Thanks.” I acknowledged the compliment. In general, this is something with which I tend to struggle. I don’t know how to take a compliment and in that regard I’ve always felt socially awkward. Perhaps it’s social programming or widely held societal standards or just my inherent awkwardness at times. But it’s there. So, I acknowledged the compliment and tried to move on.

 

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I wasn’t buying his story, but I wasn’t intending to call him out on it. I had barely started talking to the guy. Back then, when I first started the online dating venture, I wasn’t nearly as bold. Before I could even ask him clarifying details about that particularly ambitious line of work, Andrew once again redirected the conversation.

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It was at this point my sassy side started to shine through. In general, I think this type of conversation is frustrating. There are so many implications with the “hot teacher” archetype. Regardless of my students’ assessment of my appearance (by the way, gross and I don’t want to know), they learn. I am just as vivacious with speech in my classroom as I am online. I really don’t accept any nonsense in my class. But the implication that is perpetuated by the “hot teacher” role, especially when used to flirt here, is that a student may have a chance to be with that teacher. Absolutely unacceptable, unprofessional and uncalled-for. And so icky. My profession is my passion and my livelihood. It is not some sick, twisted fantasy.

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And once again here, accept the compliment and move on. My frustration is building, though. I clearly am not engaging in this line of conversation. So, once again I try to pivot to a more appropriate topic.

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Yes! Okay! Now we have something in common. I love Game of Thrones– a show on which I could spend hours discussing. This will be perfect to expand our conversation.

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Annnnnnnd… there it is. Again. I grew up playing baseball (no, not softball–perhaps a rant for a different post). Three strikes and you’re out, buddy. It’s time to shut this down. Clearly he isn’t picking up the fact that this raunchy teacher-talk isn’t going to happen.

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Thanks, Andrew, for the conversation. Hopefully he learned at least one thing from this teacher: pick up better on social cues. On to the next…

 

15. No Chill Logan

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In 15th place… No Chill Logan.

Logan has this name because he literally has no chill.

Logan, like many others, initiated contact by utilizing my love of mathematics. Typically, my profile always has a math quote from some professor. This accomplishes two tasks: 1) communicates my passion for mathematics and 2) scares away (some of) those who aren’t the brightest bulbs. Logan, however, was not dissuade by my passive assertion of my intellect.

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All things considered, he probably would have been better off to just go for the pick-up line. Clearly there is one from Google buried in his opener. And pointing out that he “isn’t smart enough for it” wasn’t going to be doing him any favors. But, this is not why Logan made the cut in the tournament…

No, Logan made it to the Battle Royale of the top 16 because he has no chill. Note the time stamp on the Tinder message? 10:36pm.

I do not know what made Logan believe that responses to Tinder messages needed to be favorable and immediate. Somewhere in his mind, though, he believed that I should have responded to his message right away. Not even 12 hours later, he sent a follow up message… on a completely different dating app!

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Seriously…? No wonder this lad is single. He has no chill and some control issues to say the least. I don’t appreciate guilt or negative communication being used against me to try to manipulate a conversation. I cannot imagine it works in his favor very often, either.

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He apologized, in case you were wondering. And while I appreciate someone taking some ownership over their actions, I have no interest in associating with someone who instinctively jumps to hateful speech or manipulative tactics.

In fourteenth place is… Bad Teacher.

16. Self-Deprecating Danny

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In 16th place… Self-Deprecating Danny.

When the internet is your venue for meeting people, you get to be anyone you want to be. You set the stage for who you are and what you want to attract neatly wrapped up in a nice little bow. The online profile through which you market yourself is the place to put your best foot forward.

But… unfortunately, not all users understand what is the best way to portray their personalities. Some things for me can be major turn-offs. For example, describing everything you don’t want in a partner publicly on your profile says, “I’m a negative person and I will find ways to be critical of you.” Or posting mostly photos of you cuddled up to various women says, “I want to have my cake and eat it too.”

On Tinder you can tell if someone has “super liked” your profile before making any decisions. It’s a tool Tinder created as a means to pull someone back into the terrifying void of swiping, mostly. But, this feature can be incredibly helpful. Many “super likers” are blatantly weird. Easy to say no. Sometimes, though, I give people the benefit of the doubt when looking at their profiles. Maybe marketing and branding just aren’t their fortes. So occasionally I will overlook the red flags and swipe right just to see what happens. Ignoring small details on a profile happens most often when the party in question has already expressed interest and I don’t have a huge reason to reject.

[Enter Danny].

Danny extended the “super like” gesture. I perused the profile and only saw the above mentioned profile qualms. His profile gave off a negative vibe by describing what his partner should not be. And he had multiple pictures with female friends. All in all, not the biggest reasons to reject someone before giving them a chance. So I said yes.

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Oh Danny… Not your best opening line at all.

You get to be anything you want to be! You can display the utmost confidence upon meeting someone because you don’t have to conduct the interaction face-to-face! And yet, his first point of contact was to inform me that nobody likes him. The lack of confidence is underwhelming to say the least.

The rest of the interaction was him asking me questions on how he should modify his online dating interactions. I also gave him some tips for his profile to potentially draw in a larger audience. (He vehemently defended his profile and rejected all forms of constructive criticism I offered, by the way).

When he asked me out, I made it very clear that I was not interested–though I thought the feedback and dating coaching should have been clear already.

Up next… 15th place.

Battle Royale: Tournament of the Worst Variety

Online dating isn’t for everyone. Most of the people that do participate probably should not. For one reason or another, I have had far too many interactions with those who should not. I’ve always wondered: which of my interactions is literally the worst? So I created a tournament and pitted the cringy against the ignorant. The crude against the oblivious. Who will win? Stories already shared like Dave & Buster’s or FICO? Or will there be an ultimate cringe-champion story not yet told? Find out in the countdown of the top 16 most ridiculous stories of my online dating history.

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So… We Swipe Again

When I first started online dating in 2015, I had some pretty hard and fast rules regarding the profiles I would say “yes” or swipe right on. When it comes to photos specifically, I use some loosely guided rules to govern my interactions.

  • Shirtless photo? Pass.
  • Photo with a bunch of women? Pass.
  • Photo with kids? Pass.
  • No photo at all? Hard pass.

 

This one particular person had a profile photo that seemed incredibly arrogant.
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Hmmm… I do not appreciate being told what I care about. I also do not appreciate being told that money is the only thing I could/should care about. That being said, I took a screenshot of his profile to humor my friends and swiped left on this money-centric male.

 

Fast forward a year. Whose profile do I come across but Ryan FICO?

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I couldn’t pass up this opportunity. I just couldn’t… I still had the screen shot in my phone. I just had to congratulate Mr. FICO on the increase in his credit score. Taking a chance, I swiped right. It was a match!

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He responded with amusement. I volleyed back with my typical sass.

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Alright. I concede that finding entertainment value from online dating is precisely how I maximize my online investment. I do, however, take offense to the stereotype about females in general. Not enough offense to react, but just enough to irk me.

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We continued to interact for a while. We even exchanged phone numbers. At one point we were talking about our list of flaws. For me… Well, I’m abrasive and intimidating. I have trouble saying no when people ask me to add to my ever-expanding list of responsibilities. And I have this thing where I don’t give up on people even when it becomes parasitic to me. He also responded with a list of his flaws. (Pardon the messages being out of order).

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None of these are particularly life-altering. I did throw a red flag up when he said he typically tends to get bored of people quickly. Not an ideal quality in someone who is looking for a mate. I rolled my eyes at blaming his “high IQ” on this particular flaw. My intellect is rather high, but I don’t see people as disposable or boring because of it. In fact, my gifted teacher taught me something I still quote to this day– only boring people get bored.

The longer we talked, the less I was interested. His arrogance went well beyond the surface of a FICO credit score profile picture. It wasn’t long before we stopped communicating.

Fast forward a year. I was recently single and looking for some entertaining distractions. Look who popped up in my line of swiping. None other than Ryan FICO. Though I wasn’t interested, I still am an opportunist.

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Once I’ve made up mind, it rarely gets changed. I am open to many people but I trust my gut instinct. And my gut said very clearly “this guy is not the one.” While I respect intellect, financial knowledge and a sense of humor, I have no interest in arrogance. Confidence, sure. I just don’t care to interact with someone who expects you to earn their attention. Hard pass. We never met in person.

While Tinder is still downloaded, I almost never launch the app. Recently, though, I got a notification on my phone saying I had a new message.

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Update: I goaded him into checking his credit score one last time. In case anyone is curious… for the first time in this three year swiping game, his score went down.

 

As Awkward as You Seemed…

The Beginning.

I wasn’t intending on you being that awkward. Sure, you seemed like you were
“playing the game.” Someone must have told you once that responding too quickly meant you had “no chill”, that you would seem too needy and desperate. But there is also a length of time where that response lag is blatantly obvious. And you were blatantly obvious….

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I ought to give some point of reference here… My profile is filled with adjectives. These adjectives on this particular site happen to start with the letter “p.” Passionate, perceptive, etc. His initial interaction was totally fine. Nothing like the communications I’ve received from others. So, I responded. Granted, if you’ll look at the first point of contact, it was almost 2am. That’s ridiculous. Even then… I responded with nothing but favorable reactions to his message and profile. All was going well.

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I even followed up after this message. I did my part and invested into a person that seemed like we had similar values.

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His profile seemed genuine. He seemed sweet, caring and completely open to beginning a relationship. Perhaps too much thought went into his profile for me to really buy-into the idealism he was selling. But, I allowed myself to be hopeful. If I lost my hope, what was the point of searching anyway?

But he waited… five days to be exact.

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I’ll give him credit, he did ask for my phone number. And I gave it to him. I responded within 24 hours and gave him my phone number. How did he proceed? Oh with another app message of course… He definitely didn’t use my phone number. Instead, he used the app to tell me his own. I’m not the most *subtle* so I took some initiative and messaged him first.


The Middle.

Maybe I should have called it quits there… perhaps I should have read the signs that awkwardness was inevitable. But I gave him the benefit of the doubt and proceeded to text anyway. The average time between responses from him was about 36 hours.  Finally, I was able to get him to nail down a time to meet. It would be later at night, at 9:30 pm. It worked out for him because he had athletic activities and it worked for me because I would be leaving out-of-town the next day.

I am obnoxiously time cognizant (a fact I had told him prior to setting this date), and was 15 minutes early to our date at Dave and Busters. He, however, was not as aware of the time. He preempted his late arrival with a text letting me know he was running behind schedule. I waited until 10pm before he showed up…

Alright, he was late. But he had volleyball prior. Perhaps that’s what held him up? Either way, he had promised to make it up to me. Who was I to write him off already before he even had a chance to make good on that promise?

We went into Dave and Busters after a quick hug. For those that don’t know, Dave and Busters is like an adult arcade. Games, drinks, and prizes galore. He led me to the machines that fill the tokens onto a play card. After a couple of swipes, it was quite obvious the magnetic strip on his card was not being read by the machine. Not a problem. I took my card out and loaded the money he had originally intended to buy onto his play card and we headed to the game floor.

Don’t get me wrong… I have nothing against paying for a date. I am 100% equal opportunity buy-in as far as first dates are concerned. But this interaction just added to the overall awkwardness of the evening.

We played some games. We had a decent time.

I do have some issues with sensory processing, though. Too much light or noise or stimuli will trigger for me the mightiest of migraines. Dave and Busters is like a mini version of Vegas. Step inside and be throttled into an arena of lights, sound and casino-esque adventures. I mentioned a few times that the sounds were too much for me, but he didn’t seem to understand I would have preferred to talk elsewhere. Maybe I was being too sensitive? So I continued on as planned through the date.

We sat down at a trivia machine. My domain. I love trivia. We even found a set of tickets printed and left behind by another trivia player. Unfortunate for them, but definitely our gain. I won several rounds before we decided to move to another location.

Up until this point, each of his shortcomings were not deal breakers in and of themselves. Initially he tried to play it cool with delayed responses. Then he was late to the date. His card wouldn’t work. And his communication skills were less than adequate. All of these small things could be chalked up to circumstance or coincidence.

But then it got awkward…

I followed him towards the back of the building to the prize area. We had plenty of tickets compiled from the games of the evening and we even had the paper tickets left behind at the trivia game. Perfect. We can pick something out to commemorate the evening. But then he stopped. He did not enter the prize room. We just stood on the outside looking in. I was waiting for his cue since we would be using his play card. Though I technically paid for the date, and subsequently the tickets, I didn’t want to presume we would use the tickets. Maybe he saved all of his tickets to get a grand prize. So we waited…

And waited…

Then a girl around the age of 12 walked up to a machine near us to check the balance on her own card. Totally normal. He walked up to the girl and the following interaction took place:

“Hi little girl. Want these?” He then threw the tickets at her and ran away. Literally. He walked faster than he had the entire evening in the opposite direction towards the front of the building.

At this point I could not keep my thoughts to myself.

“That was weird,” I said.

“What?” he replied.

“‘Hi little girl. Want these?’ That was weird.”

He attempted to justify his wording by saying he was a being precise. She is a little girl. To which I informed him that just saying “Hey, want these?” and waiting for a response would have been 100% less awkward. There was no need to address her as “little girl” nor was there a need to throw them at her and run away.

Alas, he conceded. I think they longer he argued the more ridiculous he realized he sounded. Or at least I hope that was the case.


The End.

Quickly he changed the topic to divert from the awkward interaction. Instead he pivoted the conversation towards me. Asking about me was a good strategy: change the subject, focus on her.

I proceeded to tell him about my job. I am a teacher and one of the classes I teach is an inclusion class. This means that half of my students are general education students and half are special education. Each special education student has an Individual Education Plan to help them access the curriculum to the same degree as everyone else. For reference, this class still learns grade-level content. The class is not any slower or lesser than any other general education class. I just have the support of a special education teacher and we co-teach the material.

To further clarify, these students are ones who can access the curriculum when given supports. These are not students who need intensely modified materials or who are not as capable of learning the same amount of material. Students who have higher needs for my content, or academic content in general, would typically be placed in other settings. One such setting is a resource class. This is highly modified material of grade-level standards. In this class, students probably wouldn’t be exposed to the same volume of material either. Another setting is called self-contained. This would be an environment where students are placed for the entire day in all academic areas. These are lower cognitive functioning students than the ones that would be placed in an inclusion classroom.

Nick asked, “Is it difficult teaching retarded students?”

I almost lost my mind. Seriously? Although I explained to him, in-depth, how the classroom works he still had the audacity to use that word. I called him out, of course. But just like defending his use of “little girl” he explained why using “retarded” was appropriate.

All the rationalizing and justifying I had done for him throughout the night was gone. The “maybes” or “buts” or “perhaps” flew right out the window. I looked at my watch and mentioned the time.

“It’s late. It’s already 11 and you have work tomorrow.” I was on break from school and traveling to see a friend. But I made it clear that the date was ending because of him, not for my own personal convenience.

After walking me to my car, he told me that the next date would be on him since I paid for this one. All I had to do was text him when I got back in town if I was still interested in hanging out.


The Epilogue.

Moments after I got in my car I received a picture message from him. It was a photo of the Red Bull he apparently had brought me to “make up for the fact that he was late.” Where he got the idea I like Red Bull is beyond me. Perhaps he got a deal at the gas station on the way to the date, potentially the cause of his late arrival, and decided to give me one. I never did get that Red Bull… And I never messaged him for another date. To his credit, he never messaged me again either.

He really was just as awkward as he seemed.

Horrible First Lines: How to Not Start an Online Conversation

When looking for love online, I’ve heard some of the most ridiculous attempts at opening communication. Sure, I do actively pursue a meaningful connection through internet-based means. But I am also realistic about the kinds of encounters I open myself to when using avenues such as dating apps. I’m realistic because I have experienced first hand the attempts some men make at initiating a conversation. Some crude, some rude. All unacceptable.

All of the following are real first-liners guys have used to open conversation with me.


The Insult

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If you’re looking to start a conversation with me, do not start with insults. You are opening yourself up to a conversation for which you are completely unprepared.


The Pick-Up Line

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The pick-up line is not always a swing and a miss. But, if you are going to commit to something so cheesy, at least bring your A-game. Would it kill you to spellcheck?


The Emoji

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We all know what that emoji means… and this is the laziest way to go about it. Spoiler alert: second impression was also not impressive.


The GIF

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All things considered, saying hi in a gif is not the worst thing in the world. I would just appreciate slightly more effort. Maybe a question or a fun fact about yourself. “Hi” does nothing more than put the pressure on me to provide substance.


The Politics

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I understand that having equal footing in political ideologies is important in a relationship. Just don’t start with tackling that beast. Ask me about my favorite color or if I enjoy the sunset more than the sunrise.

Besides, does he really even want to know my answer to that question?


The Try-Hard

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Since neither of us had exchanged words, I do not see how I was playing “hard to get.” Needless to say, his attempt at a shortcut into the world of “outrageous flirting” did not go as successfully as he had hoped.


The Proposal

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I mean… at least he knows?

Pro-tip: if your end game is legitimately finding a spouse, do not scare him/her off with an opening-line proposal. At the very least learn their last name!


The Desperation

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Even back then, I could not pass up an opportunity to offer feedback. His approach was an exclamation of relief that does not translate well over text. I offered him plenty of advice, by the way. From opening lines to profile improvement plans. He got defensive and wrote off my feedback. I was just trying to help him find someone else to be interested (as I was no longer). Oh well!


 

Dating is hard. And striking up conversations with a total stranger could led to embarrassment and disappointment. It could also led to something great. So, here I am, trying to not give up hope in this muddled world of online dating. Until that day, my sassy side will pervade my online presence.

Disappointment and Disgust: an almost mistake

I wish I could say I was not cynical. I wish I could say I trusted easily. But, life experience hasn’t quite led me down the road of a Disney-princess naivete’.

Let me back up approxiately a week. I was swiping on Tinder and came across an interesting profile. Despite my lack of interest in dating a teacher (I myself am in the world of education and have found the whole thing unappealing), I swiped right on a man whose profile says he is a high school history teacher. We matched. I kept swiping.

His opening line was a sad attempt at a joke. I responded with my usual brand of sass and the conversation progressed. Come to find out, he left education for reasons I’m sure most educators in the current climate would understand. Okay, so not a teacher. I can totally handle that. Then I find out he is also a member of the National Guard…

It truly is difficult to explain how much this realization was humorous to me. No matter how much I avoid active duty soldiers, they seem to find me. I have nothing against them. I have dated quite a few. But never do I seek out a man in uniform. It just happens to be the most common theme of man the universe keeps throwing my way. Obviously since I am still single, those men haven’t worked out in my favor; but, I digress…

Consistent messaging for nearly a week had me wondering why he didn’t ask for my phone number. I am neither shy nor subtle, so I pointed that out quite clearly. I must’ve stolen his thunder but he relented and asked for my number. Some quick messages were exchanged before exhaustion caught up to me.

The next morning, I decided to use my newfound information (his number) to do a bit of my own private research. Sounds sort of creepy, I suppose. I have just found that knowing a bit about a person through their online presence helps me gauge compatibility. Plus, meeting strangers is a dicey proposal. I’ve found it best to arm myself with the most information. Safety in knowledge.

His profile popped up on Facebook after a quick search of his phone number. It didn’t take long to ascertain from comments and photos that he is, in fact, married. Now, those who know me know I have zero respect or tolerance for infidelity. Vehemently so. That choice has never been one I’ve been capable of understanding. So, I’m glad I found this out sooner rather than later. Saved me some trouble and heartbreak. On to the next.

But he messaged me. How could I resist?

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This was it. This was the moment he would set out to convince me the marriage was over. He was unhappy. She had left him. They were getting a divorce. They were separated. This had to be the moment.

It was not that moment.

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His response made me even more upset than if he had tried to return to my good graces. It was cavalier and flippant. How could anyone be so casual about this?

I struggle with the idea of sharing this information with his wife. I’ve taken screen shots of his profile and our conversations. I could easily reach out. But, as difficult as it is, I don’t really think it’s my place to get involved in their marriage. He does not seem particularly intelligent or like he is going out of his way to hide it. She will find out eventually. I will not be the person to get in the middle of a relationship, let alone a marriage. And how dare he put me in that position in the first place.

Simply walking away was not an option though. Not for this sass-and-opinion-filled lady.

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K. Bye.

 

Online Interactions

I like to ask people when first getting to know them the following question:

If you had to describe yourself using only one word, what would it be?

You’d be surprised how boring some of the responses can be. Many men like to say “driven.” And while that is absolutely a good quality, I think it says little about the man I’m trying to get to know. I am not interested in a man that isn’t driven. Been there, done that.

I would never ask someone a question I wasn’t willing to answer myself. This is sage advice from my mentor at work. Reciprocal self-disclosure, if you will. My word? Sassy. Over the course of my encounters with online romance, my sassiness has been unleashed, typed, sent and thoroughly documented. Screen shots for days.

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“come cuddle”…Opening line courtesy of Patrick from Tinder.

Call me old fashioned, but even though I have searched for love in the vast expanse of the internet, I am still looking for a meaningful connection. In fact, one of my best relationships started with swiping right (a story for a different post). Sure, perhaps I am naive to think that men should try to get to know me before asking me into their bed. But that’s just the kind of girl I am. So yes, my sass comes out in full force if they open that door.

While not all of my conversations are sass-laden, I have captured the hilarity and shared with my friends the countless conversations that are beneath the efforts of a Mr. Darcy. But many are just too good to keep to myself. So, I present you with my online interactions…