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Adventures in Online Dating, Part 2: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

“What’s a pretty girl like you doing on Tinder?”

A couple of weeks ago, I dove headfirst into the world of online dating in the spirit of curiosity, journalism, and disillusion with traditional dating. After all, a recent article on Jezebel reported that 23% of people met their spouses online, indicating a rising popularity of the activity. At first, my initial impression of the experience was amused, but not entirely impressed. DateMySchool was unfruitful in dating prospects due to the low participation of people in my immediate area. I got a handful of messages from guys in other cities that were friendly and insignificant (read: disappointingly normal and unamusing) but I didn’t reply to any. DMS also charges a monthly membership fee, making it immediately less appealing, which probably explains the low numbers in college students.

On the other hand, the past few weeks have seen much more Tinder activity. After all, this is a free mobile app, so it’s much more likely for people to be on it. However, this means you’ve got a very wide range of people to talk to.

Like guys who think rap lyrics make good pick up lines.
(By the way, Tinder suggests things to say to start the conversation. This suggestion just happened to fit.)

But that made it pretty easy to filter out which ones I wanted to answer, and I did find a number of decent guys to talk to and even a couple to meet up with (I have a date this week!). I have to admit, this is a much more efficient way of dating: say you go through the pictures of 25 guys in ten minutes and selectively choose eight that you like. You start chatting with these eight and decide you want to continue talking to three. In less than an hour, you’ve found three potential suitors within a reasonable distance from your location. And that’s being picky. You’d be lucky if you found even one potential suitor by the end of an entire Friday night.

Obviously, this addictive app can turn into a very bad habit when you’re supposed to be studying, which defeats the purpose of using online dating to save time. As I had heard before I downloaded it, a large part of the reward factor comes from the compliments and attention you get from your matches. However, I came to the saddest realization the other day; someone messaged me “You are the hottest girl I’ve ever seen.” Now, I have a healthy amount of self-image and self-confidence, but somehow I feel like my truly deserving of that superlative is incredibly unlikely. And then a light bulb came on: every guy who calls me “beautiful” or “hot” is probably telling five girls the exact same thing. I know the whole experience is largely for fun, rather than truly making relationships, but I couldn’t help but feel… less special. And I don’t need that. So I stopped talking to the more shallow of my suitors.

But I kept the harmless ones (yes, that’s still only 25 letters).

A recent episode of “Catfish”: The TV Show featured a couple who met on a site called Plenty of Fish. For further research, I made myself an account to see what it was all about. POF is a free service that seems to work like several dating sites combined. First, it attempts to use a “matching algorithm” to find your matches on both basic and deeper levels. POF also offers a feature called “Meet Me,” similar to Tinder, where you indicate whether or not you would like to meet each person that pops up.  

After a couple of days I got several uneventful messages, but like on DMS, I didn’t feel compelled to answer any of them – until I got one that was different: “What kind of stuff do you write about?” I usually don’t include very much in my profile description, but I’ll always add a line or two about how much I like to write. In two weeks and dozens of messages across three dating services, this one guy thought to read my profile and ask about something that’s important to me.

So I messaged him back. Now, I’m not saying he’s “the One” or anything, but it’s definitely nice to be reminded that there are some pretty good guys to be found online.

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Michelle Tin

Notre Dame

Michelle graduated from the University of Notre Dame in May 2014, where she studied health sciences. She was honored to be the assitant editor of HCND for her senior year, and hopes to stay involved in one form or another even after graduation!Michelle can be reached at [email protected] or with the personal contact form.
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