Exchanges

I think I fall in love with the idea of people. There are so many things to love about people. Their quirks, the way they talk, how they structure their sentences, their passions and interests. Taking a peak into someone’s mind gives you a new perspective and opens up hallways in your own mind that were previously barred up. Different experiences, different lives. It’s like reading a book, except real life. 

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Why I Stopped Online Dating

I know it’s been quite a while since I’ve said anything about my dating experiences. So here’s a quick summary to catch you up.

A few real life dates happened. First one actually went really well. Nice restaurant, a few drinks afterward…good conversation. I felt awkward, but that’s a given. There were actually multiple dates with the same person afterward, BUT things happened involving the rear bumper on my car (among other things) that made this whole relationship not work out. 

I had only one date with Dude #2. You see, he told me about how he was super into fitness and how he eliminated most of the sugar from his diet. And he totally judged me for drinking sweet tea. I could see it in his eyes. No way, honey. I’m hardly a southerner, but I’m adamant about my sweet tea AND my sugar.

The real reason I got rid of my online dating profile is that I started exclusively dating someone else, someone I met through another online source. Of course, that didn’t really work out either. That wound is still a little fresh, so I won’t elaborate. 

Anyway, online dating got to be overwhelming. Flipping through profiles and reading messages took up too much of my time, and I have precious little free time available as is. I think I’m trying too hard, and the other people I was interacting with were also trying too hard. There’s no point in trying to force something that isn’t going to happen. Online dating might be an awesome resource for some people, and I may go back to it in the future. But it seems like guys in my age range who are using online dating just aren’t what I need. 

Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind at any time. 

Fervor

She had an unfathomable depth to her soul, as if all of the love and passion of the universe dwelled within her. Her tranquil surface did not betray all that waited beneath. Simplicity disguised the roiling ardor for life and for the living. The waters were much too deep and the undercurrent much too tenacious for a casual encounter, but anyone astute enough to face that ocean might share in the wonderment.

The Messages

I started out last week by talking about my own profile, which was quite the hassle to create. Now I feel like I should talk about the messages I’ve been receiving. The response to my profile has been overwhelming. Guys from all over (mostly within a 50 mile radius) have been messaging me. I’m not used to this ridiculous amount of attention, so I had to come up with a system for wading through the messages. So here is my Do Not Respond list.

  1. No profile picture. Um, hello. You seem really creepy when you’re faceless. I don’t care if you just joined, put up a picture before you send me a message.
  2. No pictures with a face. I don’t want a mirror shot of your abs. I’m glad you find yourself that attractive, but if you’re not showing your face, you look like you have something to hide. And maybe that silhouette picture makes you seem dark and mysterious to some, but to me, you just seem creepy.
  3. Improper grammar. If your message is a run-on sentence that makes zero sense, I’m not going to reply. I don’t want to need an interpreter to communicate with you. Example: “i im [name] just moved back home after 5 years in the marine corps, been back in town for a few month an it seems all the friends i had have either started families of their own or have moved out of the area. I’m looking to meet some new people. I’m kind of over going out to the bar every night an meeting the types thats attracted to that scene, don’t get me wrong i love going out an having a few drinks but its defiantly not an every weekend type of thing. id like to meet a genuine nice person an see where things go. i like four wheeling , hunting, walking my dog at shelby farms, an having a good ole time out in the middle of nowhere under the bright blue night sky where you can actually see the stars.” While the content here seems fine, writing “definitely” as “defiantly” is a major pet peeve of mine. Judge me all you want, but I can’t deal with that type of writing. Personal preference, I suppose.
  4. Way too intense, way too soon. Um, don’t send me a video of someone singing a love song to his fiancé. Again, can’t deal.
  5. Just saying “hey.”  This gives me NOTHING to respond to. I have to go through the person’s profile and dig up some information to start a conversation. Also, sending me “hey what’s up” repeatedly just irritates me. Example:ImageObviously, if I didn’t respond the first time, I’m not going to respond the second time. And I’m not going to feel bad about not responding. The first week my profile was up, I was getting about ten messages a day. I don’t have the app on my phone, so I only check when I have internet access on my laptop. The whole point of online dating is that I’m incredibly busy with school, so I don’t have a ton of time to have conversations with strangers. I have a screening system which may seem incredibly superficial, but I have to start somewhere.

So a good message that I’d probably respond to would include some mention of something I talked about in my profile, maybe a compliment, and perhaps the start of a conversation about a mutual interest. It doesn’t have to be long. Even just a simple question asking my opinion on a mutual interest would be fine. It seems only about 25% of the messages on OkCupid fit this profile.

Making the Profile

It took me hours to decide on a username for online dating. I didn’t want it connected to any of my social media accounts, and I didn’t want it to be super lame either. After hours (days, really) of debate, I still couldn’t come up with a good one. So finally I just picked something and went with it. I don’t feel like sharing at the moment, maybe later when I’m not still fully embarrassed by the whole situation.

Then I had to fill out this profile. OkCupid has a fairly extensive profile page, but I have no experience with other dating websites to be able to make a comparison. There are essays to fill out as well as basic information. It starts out with a self-summary. I went to this last because other sections ask for more specific details. The second section asks what you’re doing with your life. Since I’m in graduate school, this one was quick and simple.

The third section starts out with “I’m really good at.” Oh dear. I have to brag about myself? What is this nonsense? Everything comes across as hollow and/or stupid. I’m not good at anything someone else isn’t significantly better at. I’m 22 for goodness’ sake! Cut me some slack! This is too much. So I say something about being a good listener, friend, whatever. Because hey, I have been told I’m easy to talk to.

The next section is “The first thing people notice about me.” Um. What? How should I know? Most of the time, I don’t get noticed. I’m a wallflower. I mean, HELLO. I’m on a DATING WEBSITE. Doesn’t that say enough? So I make a snarky comment about being overlooked because of my height and mention that I have a fairly distinctive laugh.

After that comes the list of favorites. Which, surprisingly enough, generated a HUGE amount of messages from potentials. I never thought my interest in fantasy series (television and books) would draw so much attention to myself. Bring it on, fellow nerds. Really though, this sort of stuff is extremely superficial. If the only thing I have in common with someone is that we both watch Game of Thrones, what’s the point? While the plot is pretty intense, it’s not enough to base a relationship on.

The next three sections are pretty silly. Six things you couldn’t live without, what you do on a typical Friday night, and the most private thing you’re willing to admit. My answers were so lame I don’t even feel like sharing. Some people can be really creative and entertaining with these sections, but I can’t try to be funny. It comes across as stupid, and I can’t pull it off in real conversation.

Finally, there’s the whole “you should message me if…” box. This one was a toughie. I ended up putting in a disclaimer saying I would only answer a real, interesting message with decent grammar. While I probably come across sounding like a snob, I was getting too many messages to keep up with. And there’s no way to have a conversation based off of “how u doin.” So I thought I could at least spark some interest and maybe get people to try a little harder if they really wanted my attention.

That profile took a few hours to write, and I still tweak things here and there.

Adventures in Online Dating

Memphis has been an experience for me. It’s a new city with lots of new people, but I’m usually around the same people every day. I love hanging out with people who have similar interests and experience, but I wanted to branch out and have some more diversity. I just wasn’t really sure how to do it, since I’m not really involved with any social activities outside of grad school.

So, I signed up for online dating. It’s actually pretty addicting. Going through people’s profiles, watching the visitor count on your own profile keep climbing, fielding an absurd amount of messages…it’s a lot. I really think someone could write a dissertation on the whole experience of online dating, or even just one specific interaction on one of these websites! People are so very interesting. What I found to be intriguing was the variety of initial messages I received. They ranged from massive explanations of why I should be interested in this interesting/exciting/attractive individual, to extravagant compliments about my eyes (which weren’t entirely visible in the photos), to “how u doin.” 

So I’m thinking about starting a blog series on this whole experience! I’m not sure if anybody would be interested in reading about it, and I’ll probably change names because nobody wants their stupidity broadcasted across the internet (or maybe they do?). I probably won’t publish it on Facebook just to avoid awkwardness, but obviously, this is the internet. And I don’t hide who I am on this blog. So we’ll see! I’ll start with some pretty basic stories and see how those go, then I’ll move on to real life dates. Because hey, what’s life if you can’t get a good laugh out of it?

NSA (not the government kind)

Today I went to my first NSA meeting. The National Stuttering Association has local chapters that provide support and a safe environment for people who stutter. As a future speech-language pathologist, I’m very interested in stuttering. I recently took a fluency class (you can see me talk a little about it here), and I wanted to hear more from people who stutter and show my own support. I learned that going to these support groups at the local level and going to conferences at the national level have been a huge help to some individuals through the connections they make. A theme of “I’m not alone” continued throughout the meeting. Although only a few people attended, I really enjoyed my experience.

Any people who stutter, SLPs, or other individuals impacted by stuttering have experience with support groups or the National Stuttering Association?

Words

I think in words. My mind takes information in linguistic form, and this is probably why subjects like math and chemistry never came naturally to me. There’s a lot more to them than the words themselves. The problem with thinking in words is that I label everything. Everything stays in its own linguistic box. Unfortunately, people are more complicated than a combination of letters and spaces. I tend to think of myself in terms of current roles. Graduate student. Friend. Clinician. Single. But I’ve discovered that I don’t fit into that box, and the more I try to label myself, the more I’m at war within my own brain. Yes, I’m a daughter and a sister and a friend, a student and a single woman trying to be comfortable with that fact. But my goodness, I am so much more. I am passionate and capable of so much more than any label could dictate. I may be an emotional train wreck, but I have a great capacity for love and empathy. My bleeding heart may make some events tougher on me, but it also gives me this huge advantage in dealing with people. I’m intelligent, and I love learning. I’m neurotic and a little paranoid, but I have a good head on my shoulders. While I may hold myself to a ridiculous standard, I always manage to accomplish my goals.

And this is all just a mass of words, a linguistic description of an entity who is so much more than a label. I don’t fit in a box. No human does. My life does not consist of roles I serve in the lives of other people. I am a person unto myself, and that in itself is worthy of respect. Everyone deserves to be treated with compassion and integrity simply by virtue of being human. We don’t have to earn that privilege. Don’t take advantage of someone just because you can. People aren’t playthings; they have thoughts and feelings of their own. I’m learning to respect my own feelings and myself as a human. I don’t need to let people take advantage of me simply because I like to take care of people. I’m worth more than a bored text message, and you are too.

Challenged.

Sometimes taking a breather and ignoring the world is therapeutic. It’s not terribly productive, but getting into a relaxed state of mind is often rewarding enough. At this moment, I should be sleeping. It’s midnight on a Thursday, and I have class in the morning. Instead, I’m letting my thoughts spill out into words (hopefully in some coherent fashion).

Grad school is intimidating and completely different from undergrad. This may be due to switching institutions, or this may be true for all graduate programs. But this graduate program demands my time and energy nearly every day of the week. I received my first client after the first week, and classes are quickly adding assignments and exams.

It’s all rather exciting. I’m finally becoming a professional. I have no idea what I’m doing, but I guess that’s all part of it.