Fish in a barrel: It's time to crap on online dating again

Posted at 9:00 AM Feb 19, 2010

By Andrea Grimes

Every few months, when the man-well dries up, I get it in my head that maybe this time, online dating is the way to go. And it absolutely never, ever is. Because I should and do know better. I like spontaneity and friends-of-friends and making eyes at the seafood counter guy at the grocery store, not walking into a bar knowing the guy I'm about to meet screwed up their/there/they're in one message and how awesome could he really be, then?

But one of my fellow Dolls--whose identity shall remain hidden, so we'll call her "KiSusMerJiTolNi"--has had actual good luck with online dating, specifically OKCupid, and so I always find myself running back into the tepid arms of the OKC. But over the past few weeks, we've both gotten some ridonk messages from dudes that have had us laughing as hard as we were crying.

Look at this barrel of fish! Let's shoot them.

In an IM to KiSusMerJiTolNi, who is a smoker and lists herself as such on her profile--with no preceding introductory message or wink--some guy pops up with, more or less, this: "I like everything else about you, but you smoke, and I don't like smokers." What kindness, letting KiSusMerJiTolNi know that, if she would only quit smoking, she could bask in the glow of love from some guy she's never met and probably isn't even interested in. Thanks for not being passive aggressive, man we've never met.

And speaking of passive-aggressive, I recently got a message about my love of tomatoes (which I talk about at length on my profile, because I really love tomatoes). What did it say? It was my very first interaction with this guy, and he sent me just one line: "Tomatoes, huh? I hope you buy organic." I mean, if I can't be scolded and flirted with in the same breath, I don't want to talk to the guy, amirite ladies?

Then, while it's nice to get a compliment from a guy in a message, it's also nice for him to tell you exactly what he doesn't like about your appearance, too. Because every good relationship starts off with a vague criticism of the object of your affection, right? Some guy who lives several hundred miles away from me sent me this: "You have the most beautiful hair ... when you wear it down." Oh, dude! You had me at "I take dating advice from Mystery." Be still, my pattering heart.

But perhaps the most bizarre online dating messenger of all is the guy--and this is specific to OkCupid--who is in no way a match but who messages and harasses you anyway. If you're not on OKC, the deal is this: based on your answers to a bunch of questions, they match you up on a friend/love/enemy level with other users. In my experience, it's at least accurate at matching the friend bit, as the guys I've been out with have been high friend matches and are almost always dudes I'd like to hang with, if not date, in real life. And I presume this goes for other daters, as well. And if, for example, I wanted to date someone who was the opposite of me, that would come across in my match levels. As it is, I want to date someone who is kind of like me, and so if you're not, you won't have a high match rate with me.

So why is there some shaven-headed Three Doors Down Republican guy messaging me to ask me out for a drink? You don't have to get very far down in my online profile to realize that I am a commie-ass pinko hipster liberal who isn't interested in religious asshats from the suburbs. (Yes, I am a snob, because when you online date, you have to be. I don't have the time or inclination to be generous to every other guy who winks at me, and I expect the same from dudes.)

So what gives, friends? If any Dolls have thoughts on the mystery of the non-match who won't leave you alone, please post them in the comments. And please, feel free to relive your most asinine online dating message moments with us.


Beth said:

This isn't exactly a dating message moment, but instead an actual "date." A friend of mine decided that this eharmony match she had wasn't really a match for her, but was perfect for me. So she gave him my e-mail.

He seemed normal. I need to stress this. Normal. And when I finally gave him my number, he sounded normal.

So I eventually agreed to meet him for a drink, because we all know that the drink is how you meet blind dates when you aren't sure you want to commit a whole evening.

Met him. He again, seemed normal. We had perfectly pleasant conversation over a couple of drinks, for about an hour, and then he asked if I wanted to catch a movie. Since he seemed normal, and it was Wednesday, I said sure.

I excused myself to use the restroom, did my business there, and as I was walking out of the ladies room, I heard this sound not unlike either an evil villain in a cartoon or a leaking tire.


I turned around, and there was Mr. Normal. Standing in the doorway of the men's room. With his um, appendage out. Waggling it.

"The coast is clear in here," he said. "Come on in."

Nonplussed, I said the first thing in my head, "Uh, not that kind of movie." Not bright, I know, but I did turn around and leave.

He called me the next day to see if I wanted to go out again.

Ethan Moore said:

Four out of the last seven weddings I've been to were for couples who had met online. Two met on eharmony, one via yahoo personals, and I think the last was indeed through OKCupid. It works sometimes.

Vitorio said:

No crazy stories (my OkC profile is generally fallow), but three anecdotal data points from friends who I know use/used OkC regularly.

Guy #1 is an apparently serially successful OkC dater. I think he said he dates exclusively via it, and it's always someone new every time we talk. He's an artist and works insane hours so I'm not sure when or how he'd meet people otherwise.

Guy B is better looking than Guy #1, a triathlete, lives downtown and works normal hours, but never got any further than a handful of messages exchanged with anyone. There's a certain amount of internet-specific game you have to have, I think. He never had any trouble in person.

The Girl dated regularly via OkC, and met her current expected-to-be-fiancee-soon boyfriend there. She said something similar about matches, that she found she needed a 90%+ "love" match to get anyone worth more than just hanging out with.

BorgQueen said:

Wow, hearing these stories and experiences... I need to print them out and keep them handy somewhere so whenever my bf pisses me off and I fantasize about packing up my shoes, my Star Trek DVDs and the cat and leaving his ass, I can take a peek into the world of online dating and get over my momentary insanity.

Not an online date but in high school I went out with this guy who took me to a pretty nice restaurant and proceeded to stick his gum under the table when the food came. Maybe not the worst date ever but it still sticks (haha) with me and grosses me out.

Alkad said:

I've actually had some success, including a relationship that lasted about a year, through online dating, though it's mostly been more interest specific sites (which provides a nice, built-in starting point for conversations). That said, two points:

First, the mystery of the non-match "flirter." It's playing statistics. If you send messages to enough people, eventually someone is bound to talk to you and look past your huge, glaring faults. So no, most likely they don't look at your profile beyond gender, age, and *maybe* location, instead just sending out a random missive in the hopes you'll respond, just like they did to every other female on the site.

Second, you may have it bad as a woman, but just try being a young, bisexual male on a dating site, and admitting that. Doesn't matter if you say that you're only interested in guys around your age and location, or that you want a relationship - you will get some of the creepiest messages from the nastiest guys in all parts of the world (if you're a contemporary of my grandfather, live in Australia, and I have to use urbandictionary to figure out what you're demanding with no preamble? *shudder*)

Red said:

I recently signed up for OkCupid and haven't had much success (men must not find my fascination with cheese as hilarious as I do. Their loss), but I did get a guy message me and ask "What Disney princess do you most identify with?" Ugh!

manobon said:

Alkad- that's Exactly the experience I have! It's like, "Didn't you read the 'only if you live in/near this city' part?" A half-country away is not near!

Though, it's either that, or Really young females that message me with, "Comic books? Comic Books!" (that has happened thrice, with three individuals)- I'm sure they can find some dudes who are into comics at their high school.

Alkad said:

Hey now, Red - it may've turned you off, but I know two or three women (adult and college educated, no less - one is working as a geneticist, for instance) for whom that would've been a HUGE enticement to at least chat with the guy. That approach goes back to tossing out messages to everyone and seeing what sticks, maybe?

Sara said:

I date almost exclusively from OKC, and I've had great luck with it! We're talking in the range of 2-3 dates a week, and I'm seeing about 10 different guys and girls at the moment, two of them for more than a month. I've found the match percentages to be right on- I don't even look at people less than 80% anymore, and the 90+ range is preferred.

I think the person who mentioned internet-specific game is totally right- I've known some people who can really find great people, and those who can't seem to find anyone they're even interested in meeting for drinks.

Josie said:

I was lucky enough to find one person with whom I really hit it of on OKC right when I started using it, but after that it got worse and worse...

I have one guy who constantly sends messages even though I've never responded to any of his (not even before I knew he was the keep-sending-messages-even-when-there's-no-reply type).

I had one guy who saw that I play video games on my profile, and immediately messaged me, "I bet you play Wii." Gender stereotypes? I'm so turned on.

And then, because of experiences like that, I put that I'm feminist on my profile (because if they can't deal with it, we aren't going to get along anyway). That got me a "Hello my beautiful feminist," which was so, so creepy, and now most of the messages are along the lines of 'You're feminist? Well what do you think about THIS!" as if it's their job to try to trap me in an inconsistency. The "I bet I can prove you wrong" mating call gets me every time. -.-

Also, after having posted that I'm feminist and liberal, and indicating on my profile that I don't want children, I had a guy message me and ask why "all women who don't want children are psycho, stab-you-in-your-sleep liberals." When I responded telling him that it was a sexist, ill-advised comment (I should have ignored, but couldn't help it), he proceeded to tell me that his right to free speech meant I couldn't tell him I thought his comment was both wrong and offensive (which led to me explaining to him that I, too, was entitled to free speech, etc., etc.). The strangest part was that he was actually trying to hit on me with that comment...I think he was expecting me to jump in to try to say, "But you can like me! I'm not like that!"

Paco said:

I think the weirdest thing (for me) about OKC was the number of polyamorous couples on there, that always seemed to match up well with me (90%+). I'm not knocking it, but that's not really my... um... thing, and it's kind of weird when all the girls you supposedly match up with have a link to their bisexual boyfriend's profile in their profile. All my other deviant behavior probably lumps me in that category, but I guess I'm just old-fashioned in that whole "I'm a straight dude who'd just like to meet a straight chick" thing.

Oh yea, and seeing people you know in real life on dating sites... it's like an internet walk of shame.

Andrea said:

OHMAN you guys I just got another awesome one! From a 51-year-old man:

"HST was an awesome guy; my ex-gf (your age btw) had a couple of his books and would read me passages."

CREEPTOWN, population THAT GUY. Thanks for letting me know you have experience dating people half your age. That doesn't in any way freak me out.

LeeboZeebo said:

If I might ask, did you respond to these comments, or completely ignore them? I have a friend who has had the same experiences I once had with dating websites, which is that we would spend a great deal of time seeking out women who we felt seemed compatible, and after some deliberation, sending them what essentially amounted to a "feeler" message. Something referencing a common interest, in an effort to strike up a conversation. 99% of these messages were never replied to.

It's very easy to feel like you're completely alone in the dating wilderness, so - to play devil's advocate a bit - I'm wondering if you explained to any of these gentlemen that you were not interested, or perhaps even why you weren't interested. It may very well be that the guy who messages you about organic tomatoes is genuinely just trying to see if he can simply strike up a tomato conversation, possibly on the pros and cons of organic. He almost certainly has no clue he offended you, and thus he may try a similar tactic on someone else because he quite genuinely doesn't know not to.

Andrea said:


I never respond to messages from men I'm not interested in, period. It's a waste of time, and very often gets some variation of "You don't know what you're missing, you stupid bitch!" in response to my response.

I have, on a few occasions, responded to men whose messages were so offensive or asinine I felt like they needed to know what they were doing was counterproductive, and again, the response has been hostile. So I simply don't bother.

Tomato guy and hair-down guy were both men I wasn't attracted to to start with, so I didn't feel any inclination to have any conversation with them. There's nothing they could have said differently that would have made me interested in them, because in order for me to be attracted to them, they'd have to be literally an entirely different person. It's not my job to help the guy get dates with other women. If he sucks at dating, his friends and exes need to help him out.

Crymsen said:

In reference to LeeboZeebo. I am the mentioned friend.

I've really only taken part in OKC as far as dating sites are concerned, and it's been horrifying. As you mention OKC offers these statistics of likely-hood that we're going to be compatible in some form or fashion. So I sort searches by proximity, match percentage and start browsing. I find someone that interests me and read her profile, which under her "You should message me if" section "If you want to" or "You're not just looking to hook up".

So I compose a thoughtful and polite message about some interest from the profile, perhaps where she's interested in travelling next etc., only to be ignored. I, in fact, know it's ignored because OKC shows you who's visited your profile. So it's pretty obvious when you send someone a message, they end up on your visitor list and you never hear back.

I am in no way under the delusion that someone is REQUIRED to respond, but honest to god, why bother being on the site if you're not looking to meet people? I'm not asking intimate questions, I'm not asking to meet up behind Denny's to bang, or to go get married. I'm just trying to start a conversation, based on information you've presented to the public. If that topic isn't interesting of relevant to you, then who's fault is that?

This happens often enough that I've become very jaded about OKC's community. I have the impression that many of the women there are more interested in rejecting advances and conversation than pursuing friends or relationships. My theory being that they participate in the site to make themselves feel more important or exclusive, be damned those that are using the site for it's intended purpose.

My .02 anyway...

LeeboZeebo said:


That's really interesting - and I agree with you on the concept of guys responding to information and education with hostility as being both counterproductive and juvenile. I'd viewed it as an opportunity for enlightenment. Much in the same way that I immediately try to meet and interrupt homophobic or racist comments (i.e. every single time I hear somebody say "That's so gay" in a conversation), I assumed it would be similar to assert that a guy who is terrible at initiating conversation might need to have his attempt interrupted and he might require a bit of education. If a person doesn't understand that what they did was wrong, it seemed logical to assume that the individual would take a moment to reflect and possibly alter the unwanted behavior in future endeavors.

Of course, I obviously failed to consider the "macho coefficient" which assumes that any attempt at correction is a direct challenge to the safety and value of the testicles. Or interprets any negative comment as a diatribe against penis size.

I fail to consider the "macho coefficient" quite a bit.

Have you ever read Norah Vincent's "Self-Made Man"? It's a really interesting account of a woman who passes as a man for an entire year and breaks into societally accepted male dominant areas. There's a chapter in there on dating - specifically, internet dating - with Vincent writing her interpretations of both the feminine and masculine perspective. Vincent makes it very fascinating and compelling to read.

Andrea said:

Crymsen -

Here's the deal: I'm not using OKC to have a nice conversation or to meet good-hearted people. I'm on it because I want a hot date. If I am not interested in even meeting up with a guy, I'm wasting his and my time by messaging him. I have many friends of all sexes/genders, and I don't need more of them. I do need and want more people to sleep with. The fact that I am incredibly picky about who I do sleep with is one of the reasons I even consider online dating--it's once in a very blue moon I ever meet a guy I'm sexually interested in, so I figure I might as well cast that net wide and far. That doesn't mean I have to nibble on every fish.

You write: "I am in no way under the delusion that someone is REQUIRED to respond, but honest to god, why bother being on the site if you're not looking to meet people? I'm not asking intimate questions, I'm not asking to meet up behind Denny's to bang, or to go get married. I'm just trying to start a conversation, based on information you've presented to the public. If that topic isn't interesting of relevant to you, then who's fault is that?"

It's the person sending the message's fault, not mine. It's not that the topic of conversation isn't interesting, it's that the person wanting to talk about that topic isn't interesting to me. Just because I love to talk about homemade salad dressing doesn't mean I want to do it with every person who messages me.

The nice thing about OKC is that it warns you about people who reply selectively. And I'm sure that that warning comes when dudes send me stuff.

Nielle said:

My screening process is MUCH more selective now after going on a very expensive dinner date with a guy who told me AFTER dinner (which we split the cost for) that he wears women's underwear (bras too). I've had a guy on OKC tell me I look like I'm in my 40's when I'm in my 30's (really? hmm let's try to figure out why YOU are still single).
I've had messages that solely consisted of "hey, what's up." To which I rarely reply. C'mon, if you are speaking from your weiner, chances are you can't muster up a complete sentence. If you used the lump on top of your neck, we're off to a good start. Do I sound bitter? No just tired of the slim pickings of people that message me there. Glad some of you have had luck!

Crymsen said:


Fair enough, but OKC also has categories of interests "Friends, relationships,..." I figure that people should apply settings according to what they actually want. I assume you've set yours up accordingly. But that may be a large assumption that people are good stewards of the information provided on a profile.

I can appreciate you unwillingness to reply to people you're not interested in, to tell them you're not interested. But, from my point of view it's being a jerk to someone because you're afraid they'll be a jerk. *insert something about two wrongs...*

I like hearing your point of view though, thanks for response. It would seem that everyone's in consensus that online dating sucks, but perhaps the points of suck-a-tude are gender specific?

Vitorio said:

I'm pretty sure most women are listed as "replies selectively," which may ultimately not help, since who wants to talk to the girl who talks to everyone? You want the one that no-one else can get (despite the fact that you probably can't get her, either).

OkCupid maintains a blog with actual data mined from their users explaining what sort of profile pictures and what sort of messages are (statistically) more likely to get responses. The posts are always long and filled with graphs, but it's fascinating reading (warning: I write a lot and work with graphs so that may just be the day job talking):

Paul said:

Also OKC (heh, my phone wanted to use POX) allows you to browse invisibly. It's possible they're doing that.

But it's like sending out job apps. A lot of times you're not going to get replies, occasionally you'll get a message or two, and other times you'll hit off something awesome. If you're worried about the responses you're getting, run what you're doing by your friends and ask for advice. It could be something you're doing, it could be the people you message aren't interested, or it could be something from the mystery box.

Just make sure you pick yourself up and try again.

JenX said:

HA!! I was actually pretty successful with online dating...been married just shy of a year, and already 6 months pregnant, lol.
But, yeah, I had A LOT of those same problems with the idiots on OKC. Most of them were creepy old men, into "polyamoury", wanting a "3rd". Or, guys you can totally tell never left their house for anything less than a new special edition comic ONLY AVAILABLE IN STORE. Or a new twist to Cheetos.
A friend of mine, however, managed to use her OKC experience to create some pretty hilarious artwork with all of the penis shots sent to her by the various men of OKC:

hotrodgal said:

Crymsen & LeeboZeebo -

I used to respond to everyone who wasn't super creepy in their message to me on OKC because I thought it was the polite thing to do if I was not interested in someone. My friendly "Thanks for writing, but I don't think we have anything in common/I'm looking for someone closer to my age/whatever nice way I could say not interested. Good luck in your search though!" got me a lot of really rude messages calling me every name under the sun and telling me how I thought I was better than everyone else, etc. I even reported a few people for their messages, that is how awful it was. Sure, some guys appreciated the reply, but the ones that didn't made it not worth trying. Therefore, I no longer reply to anyone that I am not interested in talking to. If that's rude, well it is certainly better than being berated for trying to be polite.

Paul said:

... I'm going to regret asking this, but how often do guys send women pictures of their dick if you can get enough to make a website with art using it? Seriously, WTF.

hotrodgal said:

While I have had some luck in the past with online dating (including the last guy I was seeing for a few months), mainly what I get are creepy messages from guys either WAY older or WAY younger than me who obviously have not read anything I actually wrote in my profile. And of course, the guys in open marriages looking for a third or the ones just looking for sex or the obvious nigerian con artists. I also like the guys that visibly add you to their favorites list but never message you at all.

Of the guys I have gone out with from online, there have been some real winners. One guy was busy at work and told me to pretend he was on a submarine and would call me when he came up for air. And my favorite, the sociopathic semi-gay ex priest. A good friend of mine went out with a guy from online who told her on the first (and only) date that he liked to wear diapers and was in fact wearing tham at that moment, and liked to be diapered after sex. I figure that beats even the gay priest story.

lisas said:

I once dated online, here's my fish: a dude called me padawan in his second message to me. It wasn't enough to be condescending, he was Jedi condescending. This is my lightsaber, sir. IN YOUR FACE.

bobby said:

1. sometimes i send out the "feeler" messages referenced above. i don't want people to respond just to be polite. i only want them to respond if they are interested. i agree, it would be a waste of time for someone to respond to someone they weren't interested in. it would also absolutely send the wrong message. if i get a response, i assume the person is somewhat interested, and not just upholding some sort of social norm. if they don't respond i just assume they aren't interested. no harm done. you are not under any obligatoin to explain why you aren't interested in me. what i'm looking for is a person who is.

2. One time I got an IM from a girl who saw that I had "writer" in my profile. Her IM just said "write what?" We chatted a little bit, but nothing ever happened from it. Months later I get online one morning and she has messaged me again. same message. "write what?" that was her introductory statement. again. i think she had forgotten she'd already messaged me. it was kind of funny.

Sara said:

My exploration into the world of internet dating was very, very brief. I'm liberal, well-read, like comics,science fiction and video games and therefore was only matched up with guys who looked like they stepped out of the Matrix. No thanks, not my thing.

However, one of my closest friends met her now future husband on and they are perfect for each other, so I guess they work for some people.

Tania said:

I met my husband online. Not via edating but via social networking. Although I was very sceptic about the whole thing from the very beginning, it did work.

Katie said:

Friends have had moderate success with online dating--actually, I met a good friend when he and I realized our friends had met online and were dating--but I am creeped out by the seemingly normal guys who want to meet up (the first time) for dates that sound like the premise of an episode of Law & Order SVU. Thanks, but I'm not interested in running ten miles or riding bikes to God-knows-where with someone I've never actually even seen. I don't want to assume that everyone on there is a scary rapist, but, well, I don't know until I've met them, right? I wouldn't be offended if they assumed the same thing about me.

More recently, I added to the "Message me if..." section something about having a woman listed among your favorite authors or musicians. To me, that's like the smallest feminist gesture imaginable, yet I get called out on that by self-described liberal men like it's some kind of RADICAL NOTION and a personal attack on that one guy I've never met or seen the profile of. Get over yourself and go read Margaret Atwood or something!

Andrea said:

Case in point, Crymsen and LeeboZeebo, this is a conversation I had with a guy this morning. Apparently my initial response was not fast enough (I was on my iPhone) and I committed the heinous sin of not being interested in him. I didn't realize, clearly, the huge favor he was doing me by IM'ing me.

Dude: are those huge cats
Dude:or are you a gnome?
Dude:(or perhaps both? all three options are pretty great)
Dude:ah no answer, as if I don't know you're there by the profile view.
Dude:typical cowardice of a journalist. ;)
Me:Thanks for the IM, but I'm not interested.
Dude:oh well
Dude:that excuses basic etiquette
Dude:and still no comment, no concern for netiquette or what you could have done.
Dude:lemme guess!
Dude:you didnt touch the internet until the 21st century.
Dude:one of the great many leeches brought here by the removal of the education and expense barrier.
Me:Please leave me alone. I'm not interested in talking to you. Thanks.
Dude:of course you're not, you're threatened. thats what Americunt journalists do, they hope others take action so that they don't.
Dude:if you're not interested in talking, you should turn off the IM feature.
Dude:or learn how the other features work.
Dude:you know. KNOW WHAT YOURE DOING before doing? crazy concept, eh?
Me:I am interested in talking, but not to you. You are abrasive and kind of stupid, apparently. Please leave me alone.

A perfect example of why it's often better to just ignore someone than to try and be polite.

Alkad said:

Now I'm seriously curious - ARE your cats enormous?

Andrea said:

Ha, Alkad! This is the photo in question:

Alkad said:

Ah, so it's just the camera angle making them look bigger, like many of the unsolicited cock pictures guys on these sites distribute.

Also, whoa you're cute! I'm not sure why you'd need a random guy on the Internet telling you that, but it's a service I'm happy to provide.

LeeboZeebo said:


That is highly annoying. I do see your point.

And side note, those cats DO look huge.

Paul said:

Yeah, I don't think that's just a camera angle trick. Those cats look pretty damn big.

Andrea said:

Well, Whiskey (the tabby) really is massive. 17.5 lbs. Sake (the Siamese) is only 8lbs and actually quite small.

jackie collins said:

what does bringing fish to the bar is easier then shooting em in a barrel mean?

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