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Following a romance in my early twenties with an older man who, I eventually accepted, was simply at a different stage of life, I went through a series of short relationships of varying significance.
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Over the following months, I would play with this slightly: I variously described myself as a dreamer, book lover, learner, educator, and writer, someone who views the world with a glass half-full of optimism and a dash of sarcasm.
I noted that my friends describe me as “sincere and hilarious,” “fun to do things with,” and “a great trivia partner.” I peppered my profile with jokes and references to climbing, yoga, learning, eating all of the things, and drinking all of the drinks.
My filter settings are pretty generous—if you have a compatibility rating of higher than 70 percent, are of at least “average” attractiveness, and send more than a three-word message—“Hey” and “Yo girl” are not acceptable—your message will make it to me.
(Filters are common—especially for women, who often receive a high number of lewd or casual messages from spam profiles, and generic messages from men who send the same note to a swath of profiles.) Of the 708 messages I received over the next fourteen months, 530 ended up in the filtered inbox, which left me with about one message of decent-or-above quality a day.
Meanwhile, online, I could decide between sites with free memberships, such as Plenty of Fish; paid sites with an older, more earnest clientele, such as e Harmony; niche sites such as and Gluten-Free Singles; and many others, all slightly differentiated by price, demographics, and objectives.
I signed up for Tinder and Bumble—two apps with simple interfaces that invite users to swipe on pictures of people they find attractive—as well as Ok Cupid.
Theoretically, the online world offers greater odds of finding a partner than does a chance meeting at a party.
Being online is like going to a party without encountering all the people who trap you in boring conversations.
It made me feel that I was more likely to find someone with whom I actually connected—not just another pretty face.