I love solving mysteries, which basically just means I’m really good at Googling stuff. If I could be hired to be a professional stalker and/or private detective, that’d probably be the best job in the world.
So naturally, I love the MTV show Catfish, which is essentially all about solving online romance mysteries.
It’s a compelling show, full of interesting plot twists and real life* drama. (*it’s not 100% real of a show, but hey, Nev is like a modern Aladdin, so no one’s complaining.)
Online dating seems to have a pretty shaky reputation, thanks to shows like Catfish and multiple crippling stigmas. We all know someone who knows somebody who was harrassed online by total creeps or went on a date with a girl who said she was one thing, but turned out to be something else.
Despite recent stats that over ONE-THIRD of all relationships beginning online, I’d say that if we’re being honest, a lot of people are still kind of wary about it. We don’t completely trust the idea of meeting someone online.
Point of the Experiment: Why are people afraid to online date? What are people REALLY looking for on these sites? Why do people respond the way they do?
So with all that in mind, I decided to try online dating & see what the fuss was all about. But in order for me to TRULY answer my hypotheses, I couldn’t just be on ONE website. No, no, no. I needed to be on basically ALL the popular ones, just to get my feet wet.
1. Eharmony: “eHarmony is more than online dating. Meet singles prescreened for compatibility instead of just browsing personals.”
2. Match.com: “the number one destination for online dating with more dates, more relationships, & more marriages than any other dating or personals site.”
3. OkCupid: “The fastest growing free dating site for singles.”
4. Seeking Arrangement: “we are the number one website for those seeking mutually beneficial relationships. we are a matchmaking personals for successful and wealthy benefactors, and attractive guys and girls”
5. Chemistry.com: “we use the latest research of world-renowned biological anthropologist, Dr. Helen Fisher, to predict which single men or women you’ll have relationship and dating chemistry with.”
6. Christian Mingle (tried by my experiment partner, Katie): “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4
Objective: I wanted to try each site to the fullest (but without paying money), so often I would do the free trials and see how it went from there. Some sites were totally free, which definitely helped. Contrary to popular (cough, my sister’s) opinion, I did not do this to “find the one” or even look for a relationship. Nope. I just wanted to try it. This is how I live now. ha.
A semi-ashamed selfie for posterity
Not going to lie, I didn’t really tell many people about this experiement. I was totally afraid everyone would either:
a) judge me
b) think I was totally desperate being single
c) think I was just doing it for the attention (cough, my sister)
d) all of the above
That was my biggest “online dating stigma” to conquer–the idea that you only online date because you’re totally desperate and can’t find anyone to date in real life.
But upwards and onwards into my experiment!
I tried Match.com’s free trial after hearing success stories from of my own IRL friends and it’s definitely the best PAID site. A good rule of thumb when online dating: if you’re serious about finding a relationship, you should pay for a site. The people on there are a bit more legitimate, because DUH, they’re spending the money. The profiles are extensive, but not as good as OkCupid’s, believe it or not.
- A 42 year old man “knew he was too old for me” but “enjoyed reading about me and loved my smile.”
- Talked with a guy who looked a lot like Zach Braff, but then he started asking me about porn preferences so…that ended.
- THIS GUY–I’m 97% sure his profile is fake. He winked at me (yeah, totally a thing) and didn’t have a profile picture…and then updated it & only added one photo (always a warning sign for Catfishing). Another online dating tip: DON’T TRUST A PROFILE WITH JUST ONE PICTURE. Just because people surely have more than just one picture, y’all.
(aka girls looking for sugar daddies)
If you’re just as creeped out as I am about the “mutually beneficial relationships” part of the tagline for SeekingArrangement, don’t try this dating site. Exclusively for “Sugar Daddies/Mommies” looking for “Sugar Babies,” I first heard about this site from an Miami NewTimes editorial piece about the dangers of Sugar Babies online prowling for rich men. The article was fascinating, as I never really knew how committed these people were to something VERY akin to prostitution, in my opinion.
On this site, you can fill out a profile for free (Sugar Babies are ALWAYS free, the site boasts) and then wait for around 24 hours for your site to be approved. Your name is never revealed, but you’re given a number “Sugar Baby F 8458945” like it’s some sort of sexual Hunger Games or something. You can specify the amount of money you want from your SD per month or leave it “negotiable” (which was what I did, naturally). The website itself is poorly designed and hard to navigate, which I found strange coming from the “top sugar dating site.”
While there was the thrill of having a profile on such a “scandalous” dating site, it was a pretty boring experience. There must just not be many Sugar Daddies near me or something–I think in total less than 20 people viewed my profile for the week I had my account. Only a few people messaged me or winked at me (dating site staple). Everyone though made lots of money (according to their profiles haha) and would give at least a few thousand dollars to their potential Sugar Baby per month!
- This one man who wanted me to be his “muse.” Uh….
- I just got generally pretty sketched out by the “mutually beneficial” bit. I just…no.
- Anddd a 51 year old married man looking for a secret girlfriend…
Lesson learned from SeekingArrangement: No…just…no.
PART TWO COMING SOON: EHarmony, Christian Mingle, Chemistry.com, and my FAVORITE: OkCupid