A close fellow writer friend of mine and I joke that we should bring appearance releases on dates, as there’s a high likelihood that anyone who gets close enough to us might end up in an article. Of course I never use names, and try to keep anyone who enters my realm and hence possibly my online portfolio as anonymous as possible. In my first piece for The Style Con I mentioned comedian Marc Maron’s book Attempting Normal, and I’ll bring it up again as it was one of my favorite reads in recent memory and (Hi Marc, yes I am still available to appear on your WTF podcast) he holds nothing back when recalling ex-lovers, even describing half-assed hand job attempts. His book made me contemplate deeply how far I felt comfortable discussing others. Earlier this year I wrote of a break-up, and the damage caused by such action taught me an huge lesson in the delicacies of bringing others’ personal lives to the surface through my writing. It’s like walking a tightrope – especially as a love & sex blogger, as pieces are always more colorful, relatable, and interesting when filled with personal anecdotes. Yet you don’t want to hurt someone and lose friends in the process, as I once did.
Sometime this Fall when I was ready to start dating again I joined OkCupid. I had luck with it in the past, it was where I met my ex, and how I had my first experience with a chick who had flowing dark hair and exquisite breasts. I admit, my first time hooking up with a girl I totally compared boobs. Of course I found them lovely, but for a moment when we took off each other’s shirts I thought “Wow, I’m kind of jealous, your tits are so much bigger than mine.” Yet I digress. Perhaps, as a blogger with social anxiety at times, online dating seemed like a good fit, especially since until after the New Year I don’t have to work out of an office, and am working from home. I‘m like a black widow spider, sitting in her own web, clicking through photos and messaging potential partners like prey until they say something I don’t like and CHOMP I bite their head off and delete the message thread.
I went on a few dates, saving their phone numbers in my phone like you do at AA meetings, except rather than “Alice AA” or “Karen Klonopin” it was “Shauna Lip Piercing” or “Kent Wears Suits.” The most notable figure to emerge from this round of online encounters was someone who I first met in real life in a cemetery. Then two weeks later I found myself dressed up for a Zombie Prom in Minneapolis with make-up on my wrists to resemble a suicide attempt standing in a kitchen with freeze-dried bats danging from the ceiling as David Byrne’s voice floated through my head: “And you may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?”
Warning: Don’t join OkCupid, there’s weirdos like me on there.
This love interest, and our cemetery date, which I did write about, leads me to my karmic retribution for publicly discussing my love life. People begun recognizing me on OkCupid. I noticed it in about one out of every ten messages I received, a simple “Hey, do you write for Vice?” or “I think I follow you on Twitter.” Yes, being recognized on an online dating site is a major luxury problem. Don’t worry, I also have tales of suicide, addiction, and rape, but I’ll save them for after the holiday season.
I received a message recently that truly startled me. It read “Hey, I would love to take you out, how about a cemetery for our first date?” I know I am obviously a bit odd, and cemeteries are romantic in a way, but seriously, do I scream “corpses turn me on” or something? I replied, asking why he wanted to take me to a graveyard, and it turned out he was familiar with my article regarding meeting the man in a cemetery. This, the threesome invitations (I support couples seeking exploration, however “bi” on a dating site is not an equal sign for guest star), and the influx of unoriginal “what up” messages obviously sent to a mass number of women all raised my anxiety level to an eight and I clicked the panic button and deleted my account.
So if I ever want to date or get laid, what now? Can I pick up Twitter followers? Or…dun dun dun...dare I put on real clothes, leave my apartment, and allow life to flow and meet someone organically when the time is right?
I actually did meet a real live person in a real live setting. It seemed so retro and rare…like reading something I’ve written in print rather than a computer screen. You’re my fucking book deal, baby. I was discussing with him, the dilemma of how far to go when writing about your personal life, the dangers of dating me due to my miniscule public persona, and he said something truly groundbreaking:
“Why don’t you just write nice things about the people in your life?”
The concept had honestly never crossed my mind.
Simply because I am no longer using a dating site doesn’t mean I am anti-online dating, I owe a truly wonderful long-term relationship to it, and yes, it is a great method for sexual exploration, such as meeting threesome partners. You have a larger pool of candidates to browse from than at your neighborhood bar, and you can flirt while in bed eating an egg roll in sweatpants with Grey’s Anatomy reruns playing in another tab. Yet once you’ve interviewed alleged murderers, written about medical fetishism, and posed in your panties online you can’t use the same headshot on your dating profile as your writer pages and be totally shocked when someone recognizes you as the chick who goes on dates in cemeteries.
“I am weird, you are weird. One day two people come together in mutual weirdness and fall in love,” said Dr. Seuss. While I haven’t reactivated my account, In retrospect I don’t know why I freaked out so much about people recognizing me and having read articles about my personal life. If I like and trust someone in I meet in person, I open about my true self. While we are often warned to hold back personal baggage or oddities early on in a relationship, there is comfort in being open about them. Perhaps you shouldn’t admit prescription drugs you take/erotic massage parlor experiences/sexual abuse history all on the very first date, but if you are open with your weirdness, you’ll find a partner down with your weirdness, and as Dr. Seuss promises, hopefully one day fall in love in mutual weirdness.