And those are the nice ones.
How, in the middle of a pandemic, can singles safely meet other singles?
When our options are largely limited to the virtual, how in heaven’s name can we meet authentic, kind, trustworthy humans?
We’ve heard it before: that online dating apps allow — even enable––false personas. Photos can be outdated or outright fake, the personal details fudged, the profiles aspirational instead of reality-based.
Yet we humans are hopelessly optimistic. (Or simply very, very lonely?) So we pay the $19.99 or the $23.99 membership fee [or whatever it costs] to run yet another risky experiment with our hearts and minds. Because if we don’t front that fee, we don’t get the perks: we are shut out from text exchanges or knowing who “liked” us first.
I have paid those membership fees. As I’ve described in an earlier article about a month-long foray into Tinder, I’ve run these experiments before. I have spent far too many weeks on Plenty of Fish, OK Cupid, Zoosk, Match, Farmers Only and Hinge (“the dating app meant to be deleted.”).
After doing my darnedest to find menfolk on every one of those blessed platforms (and failing miserably), in a fit of momentary insanity (I just finished watching the Netflix film Love, Guaranteed), I signed up for the last major app: Bumble.
I was operating on the maxim that “you can’t step into the same river twice.” I had evolved as a person, so perhaps others had, too? Given that my geographic coordinates had changed, perhaps a new demographic would reveal new treasures?
As some wise person (I forget whom) phrased it: my picker is still broken.
The ex-con was my second “like” after being on Bumble for less than ten hours in Portland, Oregon. The mansplainer was my first “like” after returning to Bumble for a few hours in Berkeley, California.
Yes, Dear Reader, Bumble is a great place to meet ex-cons and mansplainers. Within the same month! In different cities!
And no, Dear Reader, we are not speaking of men who belong to a specific ethnicity or class or age. We are speaking of men who advertise themselves as “compassionate.” “Empathetic.” “Sensitive.” Men seeking long term relationships. Men who do not drink or smoke or do weed. Men with full-time jobs and lovely homes.
Men who, during the initial conversations, appear to be going out of their way to acknowledge and accommodate the difficulties women face in navigating dating apps. Men who quote major philosophers and employ multisyllabic words. (Oddly enough, both types: both the former felon and the “wildly successful” psychologist/mansplainer championed Buddhism.)
Fortunately for me, the “tell” (the reveal of the true self) for the Bumblers came through in the first few hours. But those are hours of my life I will never get back.
How did it play out? In each instance, after lengthy explanations of how they followed the Zen teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh (a spiritual leader and peace activist) or aspired to be a good and compassionate being (a bodhisattva), the moment these Bumble suitors were presented with an instance where they could demonstrate loving kindness….they chose anger instead.
For the ex-con, it played out when I gently pointed out his habit of interrupting me. For the psychologist/mansplainer, it occurred when I stated that I had love in my heart for Trump supporters.
I suppose I should be grateful for how rapidly I can get posers to reveal their true selves.
Um. But, actually? I am weary. Bone-deep weary. If I were to speculate on why our lives intersected, I would guess that my role was to hold up a mirror, and give those pseudo-Buddhists an opportunity to truly see themselves. But that darn mirror is very heavy, and my arm is tired.
I will forget these men: much sooner than later. Still, as another wise person noted, “you may forget what someone said, but you will never forget how they made you feel.” And right now, I feel pretty rotten.
However! I’m the type of gal who digs deep: who prefers to get at the root of a problem, rather than just dealing with the above-ground symptoms. When I thought about the commonalities linking all of my internet-based experiences, the take home lesson appeared devastatingly straightforward.
I will not discover the type of human I want to date on an app.
If we are seeking people of integrity — i.e., people whose profound beliefs, statements, and actions all align — they are rarely to be found within a superficial medium.
It’s that simple.
Thank you, Bumble.