Monday, March 31, 2014

Ask Reticula: I Feel Pretty

Dear Reticula. Last week, I found myself googling 'best dating sites to not get raped.' Seriously. Because, you know, I want to meet new people, but being raped? Not even close to making my bucket list. That's why I'm boring and have never had a bar hook-up. Or hitchhiked. Or gotten stunningly drunk around strangers. God, I AM boring! Sigh. Anyway, you need to hear about this and give me WISDOM.

I got on this dating app that feels like a Hot-Or-Not game, but then people MESSAGE you. Or they don't, but if you say they're hot and they say the same about you, the App goes all Price is Right crazy with 'Congrats! You have a match! Go forth and embarrass yourself!' Okay, it might not say that last part, but...yeah. So, after a week, I need advice. I get a face (might not really be his face), a name (same), an age (again I say, same), and the number of miles from my current location (GPS don't lie, yo!). What happens if these guys want to talk to me? WHAT IF THEY DON'T? Should I feel rejected before the games even begin? What do I say/type if they want to talk to me? I need ice cream! Help!

I Feel Pretty

Dear I Feel Pretty,

I was hoping you’d steer me toward the rape-free dating sites. Right off the bat I’m discouraged to find out they don’t exist, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't get out there and try to find your man. Let me answer your letter in 2 parts.

Part 1. All of those things you said make you boring simply make you smart. I’ve sought out a significant number of ill-advised adventures in my life, but I’ve never done any of those things never done most of those things. And the hitchhiking was decades ago, back when I thought I was invincible.

Here’s the thing: You’re not boring just because you don’t put your life and your vagina in danger. Doing so would be stupid. So which do you want to be? Boring (by your definition) or stupid? Please choose boring. Rape is not fun.

You can play plenty of dangerous games and still stay in control. So my wisdom about your boringness is that you redefine it. Make a list of those things that make you unusual, appealing, and exciting. Focus on the things that make you not boring, and play to those strengths.

If you really want to experiment with being a stupid bad girl, enlist a wingman to go to a hotel bar with you. She can stay sober and watch from a safe distance while you get shitfaced with a bunch of strangers who are in town for a convention. You’ll never have to see them again. Go crazy.

Or, let's say one of your strengths is acting. When you do meet someone, play out your fantasy of meeting a stranger at a bar, taking him to a hotel and fucking his brains out. Wear a wig. Bring your handcuffs. Get dressed and slip out of the room while he’s still sleeping. Take the cash from his wallet and leave him to pay the hotel bill. Don’t forget to tip the bellboy.

Or play out the same fantasy hitchhiking. Make sure the guy who picks you up is the guy you want to play that game with. You can go all kinds of directions with that one.

There’s nothing wrong with bad-girl fantasies, nor is there anything wrong with playing them out as long as you do it under your own control. Leaving that shit to the vagaries of real life isn’t the way to go.

Part 2: My first reaction to the dating app is that it seems a little like choosing a dog from a puppy mill. It also seems like the most shallow way possible to meet someone (although I love your clever description. You kind of did my job for me). From what I understand, you sit in your yoga pants on your couch scrolling through one photo after another until you find a face that appeals to you and click it. On the other side of the city, a guy is sitting on the toilet scrolling through photos of women until he finds one that appeals to him and clicks it. If you both click on each other, you get a chance to text each other and see if there’s enough chemistry to chance a meeting. Is that right?

I too would be concerned about the bait and switch. In fact, I would expect it. Even more though, I would be concerned that I would click on the only 10 guys who were even remotely a possibility and none of them would click on me …. which would then lead me to believe nobody had clicked on me, even though it’s possible every man on the site except those 10 guys had clicked on me. Maybe your best bet is to click on every one and not leave it to chance, because with this app you’re only going to get one chance as he scrolls by.

Also, you’d better post a really great photo, but one that portrays just what you want to portray. Too sexy and you’ll get a bunch of guys who just want to get laid. Which, if that’s what you’re looking for … OK, then. For me, there’s a difference between a bootie call and a date. But if your photo makes you look like an Amish housewife, you’re probably going to get zero action from men who drive cars.

I have to admit, my initial reaction when I consider doing something like this myself is simply one of defeat. I take the worst photos. I have friends who are professional photographers who have sworn they could take a good photo of me. So I get my hopes up and let them take the photos, and then I never see them, nor does the friend ever mention them again. This has happened more than twice. And this is one big reason I haven’t completed the process on any online dating site. Whatever the word for anti-photogenic is, I’m that. I see no reason to scare a bunch of men away from me.

It's so bad one professional photographer who was trying to take photos of my family told me she hated me. She meant it, and I didn’t blame her. Even cute kids couldn't save me.

However, I think you should put up your best head shots and let the clicking begin. What have you got to lose? …. OK, let’s not talk about how many crazy fuckers there are out there and how hard they can be to shake out of your life. A lot of people simply aren’t normal. And sometimes refusing to date a guy once you’ve made contact is as bad as dating him and then breaking it off. Either one is likely to go whack job on you. Nobody said this would be easy though.

In fact, most women say it’s excruciating, and then again  some eventually find bliss. So, yes, 99% of the men you see as you scroll by might be lying assholes, and you might will get your feelings hurt. Only you can decide if it’s worth looking for the few guys who really click with you. (Get that pun?) And out of those you can narrow it down even further to the ones who aren’t married or in a relationship, or raging alcoholics, or unemployed and still living with their mothers. Or all of the above.

The other danger is that you’ll scroll right on by the perfect guy because he put up some stupid selfie of himself letting his dog lick his ears. Or wearing one of those hats with the beer cans and straws. Or with his ex-girlfriend, only he cut out all except the side of her face that was pressed up against his. Or with no shirt on in a sexy pose that’s not sexy. From what I’ve observed, a lot of men don’t give much thought to how they present themselves. And maybe they don’t deserve to date, given that. Or maybe they’re fine in person, but a failure at dressing themselves up for the dating sites.

All I know is, I get emails from one dating site that I joined just enough to look at photos and to get emails suggesting I pay the money to really join. I get an email with 5 choices every couple of days, and most of the time I skim it and delete it with what I suspect is a horrified look on my face. The grim staring expressions, the weird beards and hair (at least comb your hair if you want to get a second look), the photos that were obviously taken 25 years ago (you’re lucky you don’t have to worry about that), the bathroom selfies.

And then there are the names! Here are some from just one email: rascalmydog, coolnotbadfor58, GhengisJohn, and BrattyBoy57. Some women may be looking for a dog or a murderer or a brat – seriously, a brat? what are we, 5? – but I’m not. Unfortunately most of the photos don’t make up for the names.* The choices are discouraging, but I suspect you’ll have a better selection.

And yet, all that to say this: Fuck, no, you shouldn’t feel rejected. Especially if you’re on a dating app that gives guys one chance to choose you from the photo that’s one of many they scroll by while they’re watching a football game. You can’t take this shit too seriously. They don’t know you.

But let’s say a guy, or 2 or 4 or 10, contacts you. Well then, let the games begin. If you’re interested, text him back. Be yourself, and if he’s a good possibility, you’ll know it. If he’s not, be honest and tell him you’re not feeling it. You don’t owe anybody your attention if you’re not feeling any chemistry. This is your game to play your way.

And then if you want to meet him, take the proper precautions. Let at least one friend  know where you’ll be. Check in periodically. Go someplace public. All those common sense rules that we all know and should follow.

And if you feel discouraged – and you will – definitely eat ice cream. You are pretty. You do deserve someone wonderful. And even if the search takes a while, you can have some adventures along the way, gather some good stories, maybe make some friends. (Although that’s not likely. Men aren’t looking for friends. Most of them want vaginas.)

Good luck. Stay safe. Let me know how it goes.
And keep feeling pretty!

*I’m still debating whether I’ll put up photos as examples in future posts. While it seems like bad karma to mock anybody when I have already said I’m a photo failure, some of these guys are really working against themselves. One guy who keeps popping up has the most ridiculous facial hair, and I guess if he likes it that’s what matters, but I wouldn’t go out with him. There might be someone else out there for him, but I’m not her.


  1. You should have a "Dear Reticula" column. Seriously. I would read it. It would rock.

    1. I would do that if people sent me questions. An advice columnist without questions is like a poet without a rhyme.