Why It's Time to Leave Online Dating Behind For the Real World

Online dating is full or paranoia and self-consciousness. It's time to jump back into dating that starts IRL, no matter how awkward it is.

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Men have ruined online dating for themselves. If you don't believe it, just open one of your female friend's OKCupid inboxes and gaze upon the thirst that's sent her way. There are men who approach online dating by parroting catcalls they've heard on the street, or by starting a conversation with icebreakers about their dick, or her butt, and the possibility of an interaction between the two. We hear about these online dating nightmares all the time. Women are sick of it. They already get enough of it IRL.

Maybe the Internet lets these guys believe they have the license to behave like cretins because the consequences aren't the same as they would be if they'd acted like that in person. These digital brutes are made up of innuendo-droppers, dick-pic-ers​, and the men who try to differentiate their profiles by calling themselves "nice guys." Literally. It's in their bios. These self-proclaimed sensitive types manage to find the best mix of condescension, self-pity, and White Knight sexism to make any girl wish she could go back to ignoring an inbox full of horny guys. These "nice guys" always find a way to make it all about themselves:


In the days before the Internet, our forefathers used a system of real world wooing that look something like this:


And the steps to get there went something like this:

The Chance Encounter:

1. Notice attractive female in public place.

2. Introduce yourself to said female without being a complete asshole.

3. Converse with said female.

4. Ask for her number.

Or, the Set-Up:

1. A friend or family member sets you up with a friend or family member of theirs. (This isn't a family member setting you up with another family member, except in the Southern United States and portions of Appalachia.)

2. You go on a blind, awkward date with this person.

Or, the Hook-up:

1. You meet a female in an environment where you are both under the influence of alcohol and/or you both haven't gotten laid in a while and/or you live in a godless sex-fueled dystopia like New York or Los Angeles.

2. You make love fuck.

3. The next morning you evaluate whether you would like to attempt to extend the relationship beyond fucking.

Are these systems perfect? No. They each have their own level of awkwardness, and they require dropping your comfort zone. But you didn't have to spend hours reading the tea leaves of profile pictures and personal quotes. You just went up to the person and chatted to see if you were vibing with each other. If so, you let time take care of the rest.

Lists and short bios can't replace body language and physical chemistry.

We've created an online environment where women are (justifiably) paranoid, and men looking for a relationship will carefully filter their profiles to be as bland as possible. Their profile pictures are taken in front of brick walls by their one friend who took photography in high school. Their favorite films and shows in their bios are just the "right" ones. (Isn't it amazing how everyone loves Arrested Development and Breaking Bad?) We pepper our profiles with quotes that aren't too confrontational, and lines that are uplifting, but neutral. (Everyone loves the beach.) 

Lists and short bios can't replace the body language and physical chemistry you get in real life. And that is what we need to return to. Forget the pictures, the texts, or whatever online persona you crafted for yourself. Have the courage to introduce yourself to someone, look them in the eye, and start things there. 

When you meet someone on the street, there's an easygoing excitement to whatever comes next, whereas meeting someone online comes with a "this better be worth my time" feeling. Despite all the pressure and expectations, the first time you meet someone in person, it won't really be a "date." There's only so much that chatting online can tell you about a person. You don't really know each other. 

This, folks, is the pre-date. 

For the uninitiated, here's what a pre-date looks like: Last summer, a woman and I chatted back and forth for an hour on Tinder before she decided I wasn't crazy, and we agreed to meet. I suggested we get a drink. She told me she doesn't drink alcohol on work nights. I suggested coffee. She said, "Sure." Then she canceled. Twice. I gave up. A week later, though, she hit me up having decided that we should go for ice cream. Where would we be getting ice cream? At the Cold Stone across from her apartment. Nothing says romance like a bunch of pimpled teenagers flinging frozen "creations" at you while singing out of tune. Sadly, no whirlwind romance ensued.

Forget the pictures, the texts, or whatever online persona you crafted for yourself. Have the courage to introduce yourself to someone, look them in the eye, and start things there.

Another pre-date happened at a bustling cafe. It was prime brunching hour with no seating available. We were invited to sit on milk crates in the alley next to the restaurant (how bohemian). We both had somewhere to be, so the date felt like we were playing speed chess. We just repeated everything we had already typed to each other. When our time was up, we both half-heartedly suggested we do it again sometime. But I think we both felt that meeting up again to tell each other about ourselves for a third time wasn't appealing.

Pre-dates are filled with rehashing every single thing you typed in chats, which neither of you were paying close attention to anyway since you were busy swiping left or right onto someone else. You aren't really having a conversation—you're evaluating each other to make sure you're getting what you signed up for. You have to demonstrate that the person you showed them in those flirty chats is indeed the real you. If you get past the non-date, you may actually get a real date. If not, then it's back to swiping right, hoping for the next faceless conversation. 

Good luck on your next non-date, fellow singles. May your chats be inoffensive and your profile picture non-threatening. Me? For now, I'm sticking to dating women I meet in person, so they can see the real me—no matter how awkward that might be. ​ 

Brenden Gallagher is a contributing writer. He tweets here.

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