Jean Barker

Online dating in the USA

2016-06-03 11:15

Jean Barker

I never really tried online dating in South Africa. I guess I was a journalist, so I just waited until a friend and I had had more than three beers, and began “dating” them. I guess it was pre-2010, and there were stigmas then.

There were advantages to this. I tended to date within my social circles, so most of the people I dated could spell, had some kind of ambitions, and weren’t racists or homophobes or terrible sexists. Even if their parents were, it’s not like I had to hang out with them too much.

But America was different. I came here as an older student. I am at least 10 years older than most of my friends. That’s a big gap when they’re in their twenties, and have never had a job, and you already have one successful career and one failed marriage behind you! So after a couple of disastrous attempts to “hang out” with younger guys, who seemed to think they should try toreplicate all the porn positions in one night, and who felt that sending wide-angled penis selfies to you on Facebook was “just being friendly”, I tried online dating.

Here, I dreamed, I would find maturity, maybe even passion, maybe a relationship that didn’t make me into someone I hated.

(Take Me Down To) Paradise City

Los Angeles is a sex addict’s paradise. It’s teaming with beautiful, promising people who were once the stars of their tiny town. Now, the daily failures of our movie dreams, and our willingness to do almost anything for good contact, or even a free drink, makes us insecure, and desperate for any kind of affirmation. This means there’s virtually unlimited supply of hookups, if you want them.

Just today, I’ve been offered at least 10 penises within a 10-mile range, which in LA is not going too far.

So, I made a few rules to avoid dating hell. I would only date writers (cause at least they’ll get why I can’t talk sometimes), or maybe lawyers (cause who doesn’t need a lawyer?).  Then, I had to avoid all The Types…

The Types

Having been back on OKcupid (who own Match, POF, etc, by the way) for a few weeks, indicating an interest in men - more because women are just too much trouble than because I don’t think they’re hot - I feel like every time most men message me, I can see their Type coming a mile off.

The Slut (18-35):  My “filtered” folder, in which any generic OkStupid message goes, is full of messages like this: “hi pretty one, i took my time to go through your profile and i think i love what i saw, we kind of have lots in common, i really want to know you better.” Or just “Do you like anal?” or “What are u doing tonight” or “How was your day”, or just “Hi”. These are actual messages from the past 24 hours. 47 of them.

The Liar (35+): This is the guy who wants casual sex, but thinks that if he offers a woman instant love, he’ll get her to enter his sad, lonely world. It’s going to be something along the lines of: “I see you have been hurt and abused, I sense it under your jokes and I know that I can heal you.” Heal me with what? Oh… I know exactly what you wanna heal me with. Yeah, no thanks.

The “Older” Guy: (50+):  He’ll always refer to himself as “older”, never as “old”. This is because he likes to date women in their 20s and 30s, and being older than that makes him feel young, even though he never does stuff young people do, like listen to new music, travel, or change his mind about things. He would be a slut if he could, but he can’t. He’s gonna need some freaky shit to make him go. You’ll ultimately get on better with his teenage kids than you do with him, because everything you say and do offends him in some way.   He’ll talk about his ex wife on every single date.

The Guy “inabox”: OKC’s reddit explains: If the name you originally entered is taken then you can become a “taco”, be “in a box”, or be a “dinosaur”. The reason he has inabox in his name is probably that his previous few profiles were blocked so many times, or had so many complaints, that he’s had to add that, in the hope that previous fans (who probably blocked him) can find him. Women tend to pick “Taco” for some reason, over “inabox”, and who knows who picks “dinosaur”. Heathens, that’s who.  

The Headless Whore: Their profile picture is of them, maybe, but only maybe because it’s always without their head… this allows them to post shirtless selfies, usually snapped in an expensive bathrooms or at overpriced LA suit shops, or at a swish hotel where they met a hooker once at 2am. They’ll tell you they’re doing it because they have a “high profile job” and fear exposure, but when you press them for details, they’re almost always cheating / married / both. I’ve never met one, mostly because I “get their number” before I get their number.

The Angry Paranoiac: Their opening message will say that you’re “Not like other women, who are…. [insert unwelcome personal history here]”. They lead with what they hate about everybody else on the site, in life in general. They will also want to know your country of origin, your job, your mother’s maiden name, and your zip code. They’ll debate things that haven’t happened yet, and never will… They treat agreeing to a date like signing a contract and will waste hours talking online rather than get a coffee. Also: How come every woman has betrayed them? What did they do to her? Why are all their exes “bitches”?  

The Unicorn Couple: They’re looking for a girl who wants to have sex with them. Usually, the guy wants to have sex with other women, but the woman doesn’t want him to leave her, so, somehow, they’ve made this plan that involves her being there, so she’s not left out. Of course, the guy - who approaches you first - presents this as a mutual decision. In a few cases, it is. Initially it seems promising, but then, the woman often doesn’t reply, or interrogates you. Yes, I considered this. It seemed a safe way to stay out of relationships, and yes, I’m a little bit bi. Verdict? Disaster waiting to happen!

The Intelligent One-night Stand: He’s easy to bed, and always wants to meet in a bar near his house. The conversation is about work, or life in general, but the whole thing feels like a job interview. You trade jokes and witty comments. He’s got a cool job, and he’s funny, and he’s insecure sexually, probably because he’s short, of small, or has some sort of sexual dysfunction. The idea is to get you to sleep with him as soon as he can, while promising nothing, because you won’t remember much about it, except perhaps how happy you were to call an uber.

Is there anyone else? Yes, I guess so. There’s the person you meet who makes you think that maybe, the world isn’t full of lunatics. You suddenly realize that they aren’t doing any of the things that make you call an uber/lyft. You even let them drive you home. And the kiss? It’s a conversation, too.

Of course, they may turn out to be just as insane as any other type, but at least the first few dates are encouraging.

Jean earned an MFA in Directing and Screenwriting and works in the LA film industry. She tweets as @jeanbarker and blogs pictures of signs and more, here. She will be back.

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