Current studies show that three out of five gay couples meet online, a staggering statistic when compared to the only one in five heterosexual couples who meet the same way. It appears as though society’s majority sentiment toward homosexuality has forced us into online dating communities and gay bars, the only two places where heteronormative social rules have deemed it probable for us to meet potential mates. If you’re not the type to seek out LGBTQ social events like a women’s happy hour or Go Gay DC’s LGBT Meetup group, then chances are, you’re meeting women online.
Whether by choice or by the lack there of, the fact of the matter is, it’s 2013 and everyone is doing it. The online dating industry has boomed into a billion dollar business that has a far-reaching impact on many, including my lady-loving self. With over seven years of successful—and sometimes not so successful—online dating experience under my belt, I proudly begin my three-part series on my adventures in online dating.
What began as an apprehensive perusal through Craigslist’s women for women section transformed into a thriving OkCupid account with more hits and misses than a Britney Spears album. I have met beautiful women, crazy women, intriguing, interesting, and complex women—all women that I would never have the opportunity of meeting in my day-to-day life. It’s exciting to meet someone for the first time to hear her story and connect. These are the wonders of Internet dating.
As only karma would have it, there are some woes as well. I believe if we follow some pretty basic rules, we can alleviate or altogether avoid these woes and embark on a safe adventure toward finding the right fish in the sea.
I’ll never forget the first time I met a girl online. I had just relocated to D.C. to begin my graduate coursework at American University, and after spending the majority of my adolescent life in the closet, I decided it was time: I was going to meet a woman. It didn’t take me long to discover the woman for woman section on Craigslist, and after clicking through a plethora of disturbing pictures and neurotic posts, I settled on a seemingly attractive and mentally sound girl of Swedish descent and after about a week of messaging, agreed to meet up at the bar of her choice on a Friday night.
Here is where I learned my first lesson in online dating: always research the public place at which you agree to meet.
After hailing a cab, I give the driver the name and address of the club that my online date had given me: Camelot. He flashed a sheepish grin and we were on the way. Little did I know what kind of club this actually was. When I approached the entrance, a burly man in a nice fitted suit who could have easily passed for a secret service agent welcomed me. He whispered something into his earpiece and opened the door where I was immediately greeted by two cheeks splitting a pole.
I was in shock. Not only had I never met a woman online before, but also I had never been to a strip club either. I thought about turning around, but that irrational feeling of obligation to go through with the meet up swept through. I walked up stairs and there she was, an admittedly attractive blonde, amidst a throng of men who were buying her drinks in exchange for her flirtatious attention. I had 2 Bud Lights like a true lesbian in training, thanked her for her time, and quickly made my escape. Scarred, but not deterred.
After taking a few months off, I decided to try again. This time, with OkCupid, a free online dating site that I heard had a relatively large amount of lesbians and bisexual women. Here is where I learned my second lesson in online dating: scrutinize profiles and pictures like a sleuth.
Most of us simply read the “about me” section and quickly glance through the rest of profile, selecting that one interesting fact you’re going to lead with when you message her. Well, ladies, this isn’t going to get you very far from height and weight to income and relationship status, I have found myself in certain compromising situations for which I was not prepared. I learned the hard way that if a girl doesn’t post pictures of herself from the neck down, then she’s probably exaggerating when she lists her body type as “athletic” or “average.”
Which brings me to my third and final point for part one: It’s not just the information they give; it’s the information they omit that we need to pay special attention.
I remember the time I met a girl at Nellie’s Sports Bar for happy hour. After messaging for a few weeks and viewing her pictures, I felt prepared for the meet up. When I got close to the front door, I picked up the phone to call her. Up ahead, I saw what appeared to be a small child picking up her phone at the same time: it was my date. Why didn’t I remember to check her height listing? Because it wasn’t there. At an adorable 4’9″, I immediately knew it wasn’t going to work romantically; however, I went through with the date and made a great friendship connection. And in the end, a friend connection is always a win in my dating black book.
I’ve always considered myself an adventurous person. I like to take risks, travel the world, and see what’s out there. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with online dating. After all, if done right, it can be a fun, exciting, and worthwhile experience, most certainly worth some of the woes.