There is something wrong with men today. I am not being sexist when I say this, or speaking theoretically. The effect that porn – and the prevalence and mainstreaming of it – has had on sexuality, dating and the way men now relate to women cannot be overstated.
I’ve lived through the advent of cell phones, internet dating, Tinder and the avalanche of swipe-app dating it created, and hookup culture. As a single woman looking for a partner, I am affected by the ubiquity of hookup culture almost as much as a college girl. I think the only way to avoid it would be to stop dating entirely and never give another man my phone number. I’m not at the point of wanting to do that, but sometimes I feel like I’m getting close.
To recap, in the past year I’ve tried Tinder, Bumble, Coffee Meets Bagel and eHarmony with zero success, if your definition of success is finding someone I could have a lasting relationship with.
Maybe it’s all about luck, like one of my readers recently suggested. If so, when it comes to online dating, I’ve had very, very bad luck. Maybe it’s because online is not the right way for me to meet someone. I believed this for many years after continual dispiriting experiences. After the Year of okCupid, in which I went on 25 first dates and zero second dates, I swore off online dating forever.
However, after three years of going on a lot less dates and averaging one mini‑relationship per year that generally lasted about two months – maybe three if you counted the amount of time we kept in touch before he broke up with me via text, just disappeared, or admitted he’d started sleeping with someone else – I decided I had to go back online to widen the field of potential men.
It worked, and how! Once I got into the swing of Tinder, I was easily going on three to five dates a week if I wanted to. I had more second dates than when I was on okCupid (and yes, more than zero is not a high bar to reach), but still mostly met guys who wanted to hook up.
I also had a lot of guys make and then cancel a second date when it turned out they wanted the second date to consist of coming to my apartment with a bottle of something and I declined that less than tempting offer.
As we know, Tinder and Bumble provided quantity over quality, Coffee Meets Bagel provided a couple of bad coffee dates with so-called Bagels (yet oddly the vast majority of men on that app are Asian, not Jewish, so it really should be called something like Sake Meets Ramen), and eHarmony provided almost nothing but a $120 charge on my credit card.
So it’s back to real life for me. I’m not saying I can’t or won’t meet someone online, but I’m tired of putting in so much effort for so little return.
Conventional wisdom says the best way to meet someone of quality is through friends. This makes sense, and lots of people I know who are in happy relationships met through mutual friends, at dinner parties, etc. So when a friend of one of my neighbors asked me for my number the other day, I was happy to give it to him. We’d met before and he was friendly and had a British accent. Like most American women, I’ve always been a sucker for a British accent, which instantly makes its bearer two points more attractive on a one to 10 scale. Idris Elba is my fantasy man, and while my neighbor’s friend was no Idris, he was black and British.
The friend texted me almost immediately. When he said I should invite him over sometime, it was not a good sign. This type of initial communication is evidence that even among 40-year-olds, hookup culture has supplanted dating. And yet I didn’t rule him out based on that alone, thinking I could steer him onto the right course.
However, this ship soon made it clear he was intent on steering himself straight into the rocks. Next this British gent sent me a text apropos of nothing saying: “If I get anywhere near you in this state I’m peeling off your clothes and eating YOU for dinner.”
I responded exactly what I was thinking: “Whoa! How’d you get so super aggressive?”
I shouldn’t have responded at all.
A few texts later he sent me a video. I was afraid to watch.
I shouldn’t have watched it at all.
When I did, I was so overwhelmed by the site of vagina that I didn’t really process what it was a video of. Because it was shot up close, I assumed it was a video of a woman touching herself. Why the fuck would he send me that?
But it was worse. The faceless woman in the video was not touching herself, she was dispelling air from her vagina to put out a candle that an unseen man was holding in front of her.
I kid you not. Could I make this shit up?
Within an hour of giving my neighbor’s divorced friend, who was father to a 13-year-old child, my phone number, he had texted me the most disgusting thing a man had ever sent me. And that’s saying something.
Why would he do that?
I’d been interested in him enough to give him my number and respond to his texts, and he’d used that as an opportunity to send me creepy soft porn.
You’d assume that at that point I’d simply block him, like so many men before him, and not dignify his video with a response.
But that would be letting him off too easily. I wanted to say something, for myself, and for every woman and girl who has ever been the recipient of an unwanted dick pick or vag video.
“I can’t believe you sent that to me,” I typed. “You’re actually the first guy that ever sent me something like that, and it’s so lame, especially considering we’ve met multiple times and have a mutual friend.”
I saw the iPhone typing dots and waited with a mix of fear and anger.
“It’s a bad joke.
Some girl sent it to me.
It’s just as disgusting as a dick pick.
Guys have to put up with this shit too.
But I didn’t bother to write that back, I just blocked yet another gross dude on my phone, this one from real life.
Maybe aiming to meet a Full Package Man was setting my sights way too high; I couldn’t even find a non-troll, online or off.