One major difference between online dating and “real-world” dating is the smorgasbord effect: The impact of signing onto a dating site and being immediately bombarded with hundreds of photos of eligible singles. It can be overwhelming — out of all of these people, whom do you message? How many hours a week are you realistically going to dedicate to sifting through your inbox and responding (or not)? You can be looking at one profile, and there are six more “similar” users right in the lower corner. So you click and click and click and click and there’s a seemingly endless stream of strangers who potentially would get naked with you. It can make even the calmest of us a little manic. I’ve certainly been known to come home from having a cocktail or five and binge on OkCupid until I slam my laptop shut and don't sign on again for a week.
But the volume of work one has to put in to online dating still doesn’t justify omitting punctuation and turning your entire message into one enormous run-on ADHD sentence, like this young man on Match:
are u looking for a boyfriend? tell me more about im michael im 25 and i live in ohio im really romantic i love holding hands and cuddling and kissing i love the outdoors i drive a jeep i take flying lessons and im a cashier at a grocery store i dont go to college cause im focusing on work also cause its too expensive also i have a cool family too i also like going on road trips i like going to the beach i like the outdoors i like sports mostly basketball i like going on vacations too. also my birthday is september 12th when is ur birthday? also u want to text? also i have a pic just text me and i’ll send a pic to u
my number is *** *** ****
Also take a breath! Also maybe break that paragraph up into a few sentences!
Paragraph-long run-on sentences aren’t the only sign that a fella needs to pop a Ritalin before he shoots off a romantic communiqué. The total stream-of-consciousness message is another sign that perhaps his life would be improved with some prescription drugs, or maybe a little yoga or meditation:
Congratulations, you came up in my matches!!!!!!! I know right, you’ve been waiting for it! You can call everyone, let them know. Tell your friends about
it. You’ll have to girl talk for at least five hours tomorrow about it. I mean, what are the chances!
Ok, so I like to laugh and make everything into a sarcastic joke. It happens, right?
Now. I could write a resume. Tell you all about me. Like I am applying for the position of the guy you are going to hang out with on Friday, or whatever. But
that would be boring and dull. I might fall asleep doing that.
Wait, I could list out interrogation questions! Ask you things like what you do for fun? or maybe something really deep… something like. “So where are you from?” You’d swoon, realizing that I care about where you are from and
thus ‘where you’re coming from’. You’d get “all a flush” at my wit, right?
Oh, I know, I could just delete all of this and type “Hey wazzup? Saw your profile. Ur cute! hit me back and we can chat” That would probably work
best. I mean, that’s what everyone does right? So it MUST work! Shouldn’t it?
How about instead, I do this. I am intrigued by your profile, and think it could be worthwhile to find out more about you. You know, talk, and answer those age old questions, like:
“Is she a total basket case in hiding?”
“Will I fall asleep sitting next to her when we hang out?”
and don’t forget…
“Is she just a guy with fake pictures, pretending to be a girl?!?!?”
So lets interact! Sound good? Glad to hear it! Lets get creative…
WE’RE GOING ON A ROADTRIP!!!! So where are we going and why?
WAIT, NO, LET’S GO RIDE BIKES! LET’S PLAY CAPTURE THE FLAG! LET’S LISTEN TO – OMG IS THAT A SHOOTING STAR?!?!?!
Uncle on the “allow me to tell you every single thing that is going through my brain right now.” A couple of sentences focused on one or two topics are really all you need. Which is exactly where this OkCupid lady also went wrong (note from your humble correspondent: See, it’s not just men who are terrible! Women can also be the worst.):
its say essay geez…mlookn for ah strong handsom hardworkn man…honest kind caring funny dependable…smart trustworthy ndependent biggg heart & cock:)…
m ah strong smart stubborn ndependant gal:D…cute hardworkn good cookn funny & silly…ima big ole babee somtimes:)… What I’m doing with my life mtryn to liv geez…check by check somtimes with ah lil xtra…my moma past away rite during thanxugivin n ibeen npieces since tho idont sho it… I’m really good at ilove cookinggg omg:)…uname m on it…lovelovelove chinese food eek :D…m ah english major n writing is my thing tho mso good with words ilike talkn shit so much my eyes rbrown…always havn fun with me arts ncrafts ya… The first things people usually notice about me mis ojos y mi boca… Favorite books, movies, shows, music, and food any books on writing essays poetry plays…all scary nfunny movies ask me iseen em all…music is my bf<3…foodddd omgggg icould write forevrrr…idont hav cabl which is cool bc tv sux these days especially all that reality bullllshit…love me som fag porn mm:)… my moma my God my cats nturtle…my hands my nintendo nmy pen… I spend a lot of time thinking about evrything all th time iswear my mind nevr rests…ikno ah lil bit about many things…try me…
There are a lot of things to hate about this message, but the one that stands out is “m ah english major,” which I assume means “I’m an English major.” English major? Really?
But it’s fairly clear that her mind, dull as it may be, in fact never does rest. Which is fine, except when you’re sending men long messages on Plenty of Fish that basically amount to a bunch of ellipses punctuated by “Cock! My mom died! Cooking yum! I LIKE TURTLES!”
Being a hopeless romantic, though, I really do believe that there is someone out there for everyone – including the young English major who can’t even focus long enough to end her sentences with a proper period. I mean, this kid must be close to legal age by now, right?
If you've got your own online dating horror stories, drop them below, or submit them anonymously.
The A(n)nals of Online Dating is a weekly column about How We Date Now, from the proprietor of the website of the same name, showing off the best of the worst internet dating has to offer.
Illustration by Leslie Wood