The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Edited by: Kavya Gupta
We all have a small, shameful part of us, no matter how much we deny it, no matter how evolved and grounded we purport to be, that possess wistful fantasies about those scenes in those movies we all watch but would never admit to. Or, at least, would only admit to watching under the pretence of doing it ironically.
It’s that part— probably located somewhere in the recesses of my heart, or perhaps tucked behind my stomach, anatomists are still debating— that is, beyond all better judgement, harbouring a radical, ill-advised hope that the person is out there, waiting in the wings for that perfect moment to reveal themselves to me.
You know, the person, who, apart from bearing a striking resemblance to 2008 Zac Efron and Chris Pine (Princess Diaries 2) and Andrew Garfield (punk, skateboarding spider-man), is witty and intelligent and charmingly self-effacing and, above all, demonstrates a particular appreciation of just how witty and intelligent and charming I am.
They’ll be inexplicably drawn to me, whilst I am leaning against a tree, basking in the mid-morning sun, reading something just esoteric enough to lend me an immediately perceptible air of uniqueness and intrigue. They’ll be compelled to strike up a conversation, opening with a wonderfully clever remark about the author, which I will answer with a slightly cleverer remark.
And the rest will be history…
But, after enduring almost 20 years of waiting under trees for their long-overdue arrival, I can’t help but admit, it’s getting a little lonely.
I can barely type this, by the way, without feeling that stomach-flipping, sweaty-palms inducing, itchy-skin nervousness that always, without exception, accompanies the thought of admitting to the world I want a relationship. Because that is the ultimate act of sacrificing my carefully-guarded projection of a person who is entirely self-sufficient and content.
That is why I absolutely cannot make a profile on a dating app.
And, it is not just that. I’m far too loyal to my imagined fantasies. There’s just nothing cinematic about swiping across a phone at 3 in the morning, nursing a bottle of blue gatorade close to my chest, wearing a pair of, shall we charitably say, ‘well-loved’ sweatpants.
But, as the person maintains an impressive commitment to being notably absent from my life, I fear I may have no choice but to take the plunge.
I’ll soften the blow by exploiting my position as a writer for HerCampus, naturally.
I’m writing an article about online dating. And I’m a great writer and every great writer writes what they know. And so in order to do justice to this article, I simply had to make this profile. This will be a purely fact-finding mission, thank you very much.
Armed with my shaky lie, the last bastion of defence to safe-gaurd my feeble pride, I begin.
I enlist a tribunal of friends, some seasoned veterans of online dating, others just as new and naive as I, and we collect on my bed, hunched over my phone. Sitting elbow to elbow, we carefully consider my photo gallery, curating a selection of exactly 6 pictures of me.
It is an undertaking that requires our prolonged and complete attention.
This, of course, is not simply a question of selecting 6 flattering pictures. They all must be flattering, that is a prerequisite. But they can’t be too poised or refined, lest potential matches think I’m vain or overly obsessed with my appearance (and therefore insecure) or, for that matter, too quirky or silly, like I can’t take myself seriously (which, once again, betrays my insecurity).
I can’t project any image or particular aesthetic too strongly, either.
There’s a picture of me sprawled across an armchair in a poorly-lit, smokey room, a leather jacket draped over my shoulders, a t-shirt with an album cover of a band I don’t actually listen to plastered across the front, tucked into a pair of dark jeans. I think I look, for lack of better word, fairly cool. I definitely felt cool.
But is that what potential matches see, or do they see a girl desperately trying to project the image of being cool?
Surely, we all understand this is all a performance. It is a very conscious act of curating our gallery, the angles, the aesthetic, carefully crafting what we hope is the most attractive version of ourselves. What do our choices of what to project say about us?
This is an app made almost entirely of lies, right? We all must understand that? Or is that too pessimistic? At the very least, it’s carefully selected versions of truths.
And that’s just the pictures. The app asks me questions about myself too— my hobbies, interests, the kind of music I listen to. I can’t even begin to disseminate the endless ways I’ve scrutinised and analysed my responses, reworking them, changing the phrasing, crafting multiple different versions of myself.
Perhaps I’m overthinking this. In fact, I know I am, as was gently explained to me by my very patient, very exasperated friends as they retreated out of my door, calling it quits half-way through the second hour of creating the profile, 4 questions in.
Truthfully, I haven’t made much headway in the process of profile creation since. But, hopefully the act of writing this article has made me confront my worries and insecurities, and I’ll be able to resume soon… maybe.