One of my side projects this week (which hasn’t been on the side nearly as much as it ought to have) is putting together an online dating profile. It’s not so much that I want to get myself A Man! Right! Now!, as I want there to be a complete, pre-existing profile for when I decide I’m ready. Or, at least, that’s what I’m telling myself.
I realize that everything on the internet is, to some degree, a calculated and self-conscious self-presentation, and a dating profile is no different (nor is a blog, for what it’s worth). I hate the profiles that say, “everything people write on this is a big lie, but I’m just going to tell the truth even though it probably means you won’t want to meet me.“ That’s bullshit; I think I’m interesting, and worth knowing, and genuine, and I want to present the most accurate portrait of myself possible so I can find someone that meshes well with me, but I’m also going to try and portray those facts in the most positive light possible. But I find myself stumped with some of the basic questions about how to present myself, and how to deal with what I want and don’t want in a romantic partner.
The first question was how to describe my sexuality. The site I’ve been on the most does not allow one to simply leave that field blank, but also only provides three options: straight, gay, or bisexual. I identify as queer, but am not really in the market for dating anything but men. I don’t feel like describing myself as straight or bisexual is entirely honest. I mean, I’m not straight, but I’m not sure I would describe myself as a “practicing” bisexual. Adding to that, I want to be able to rule out guys who refuse to include bisexual women in their searches (because I’m going to assume it’s based either on homophobia or the assumption that all bi folks are cheating sluts — kind of like what you see here:
But neither do I want to be included in a poly couple’s search for a third or have a potential partner assume I’m down for threesomes just because I’ve fucked girls in the past. After getting a couple too many views and nudges from open couples, I’ve decided to go with “straight”, but it still feels a little uncomfortable for me.
Talking about employment and income is even more scary for me, since I currently have none. It’s not that I’m chronically unemployed, by any means. One could argue, however, that since leaving graduate school I have been chronically underemployed, and this current decision not to immediately take another job waiting tables is actually an attempt to remedy that situation. Still, who actually wants to date someone without a job? Who doesn’t see unemployment as a big flashing warning sign? I admit, I look at those things when they are listed, and I make decisions based on them, even if they may not match the typical opinion of certain jobs or income levels. And I don’t want to date someone unemployed either. I’ve left that one blank, for now. Hopefully it will change sooner rather than later. And in any case, it’s something I’d rather discuss in person with a prospective partner than just list based on the numbers and available choices of a dating profile.
I know, I’m totally all about fitness these days, and the times when I exercise the most and am the most fit are the times I’ve been happiest with my life. Still, I get wary when I see a guy whose profile says he works out 5 or more times a week. Never mind that I do the same thing right now, somehow it’s a turnoff to me, and I‘m worried that I might appear that way to someone else as well. I think part of it is connected to the image of the corporate yuppie guy who has a schmancy Equinox membership and loves to spend every morning or evening there and is totally obsessed with appearance, which is decidedly not what I am looking for. But the semi-hipster indie guy I’m looking for still needs to be in shape, so what am I so worried about? Wouldn’t I rather be with someone who will go running and/or rock climbing with me and *also* take me to the rock show afterwards? And if 2 of my 4 photos show me in a rock climbing gym, aren’t I kind of skewing to that demographic anyway?
Physical attraction is a little bit easier. I don’t have to say as much about what I want and don’t want as long as there are pictures, but I’m still uncomfortable admitting to myself (let alone the public) that I have racial preferences, or physical preferences, when I’m not the slightest bit uncomfortable admitting that I have strong preferences when it comes to intelligence or political outlook. At a certain point it’s valid to accept that you like what you like, but I think you also have to question why you like (and dislike) what you do, and whether those reasons are fucked up. The race thing is the most problematic for me, although I will admit that as someone who wants to date people also into the indie rock/pop music scene it’s a given that my dating pool will be dominated by white men, and it’s not like I’m ruling out men of color with similar interests, or that I have never been attracted to or with men of color. Still, although it’s not a dating guideline or requirement by any means, the preference is not something I want to admit publicly, and I’m even uncomfortable doing it here. I also don’t want to use a man of color as an exercise in exploring or attempting to alleviate my own racism; at the end of the day I have to just go with my gut when I’m checking out profiles, and not date someone just because it might be “good for me” or some crap like that. Kinda did that with the last boyfriend and it wasn’t a good move.
Ultimately, I think all the dating profile stuff is a crap shoot, and you just have to talk to people to decide if you want to meet them, and meet them to decide if you want to see more of them, etc. I just want people to want to meet me, and have the ones who want to meet me also be the kind of people I want to meet. And if nothing else, it’s a good writing exercise to construct and edit a self-description, so even if I don’t get a date I can see it as a positive. And if I ever do get a date out of it, it’s sure to make its way into this blog, so I’ll keep you posted.