About the Experiment

Friday, September 26, 2014

Week 5: Looking for Love...?

Usually at the start of Matchmaker weeks I have a phone call with the Matchmaker about how they think we should revise the OkCupid profile.  My brother Greg is the Matchmaker for Week 5, and we started a phone call to revise the profile but I had to leave for a concert (Andrew Bird at the Hollywood Bowl!).  Greg said he would write up what he thought should go in the profile, and I could look over it (we created a shared Google Doc because we're nerds).

Later that night I read over what he'd written.  In the last section of the profile, "You Should Message Me If," Greg had written:

"If you’re up for being part of a dating experiment where I really hope to fall in love."

I literally said "GAH!" out loud, like something had jumped out of my computer screen at me.  

And then I thought about it.  I mean...I guess I'm hoping to fall in love, generally.  It'd be great to find love/a serious relationship through the experiment, but I'm trying not to expect to meet the love of my life this way.  I don't want that to be the measure of the experiment, like if I meet "Mr. Right" then it's a success and if I don't meet "Mr. Right" the experiment was a failure (and I'm dying alone).  I feel like the experiment has already been beneficial: I'm learning about myself, my family and friends, dating, boundaries, compatibility, and more.  I hope that the experiment is not just educational for me, but can help the Bachelors and anyone reading the blog to think about and discuss dating/romance/love.  

So if I am (I guess...kinda sorta...) looking for love, should I say that I'm "really hope to fall in love" in a dating profile?  My first thought was that it would scare away guys, so it's interesting that my brother, a straight male who uses OkCupid, would be suggesting this.  We talked about it and he agreed that it might be a bit much.  He said he was trying to show vulnerability and emotion, because to him the blog was coming off like I was doing the experiment out of idle curiosity instead of a serious intention to find a relationship or love.  This surprised me, as I've tried to be very genuine and honest, and why would I date other than to find a relationship or love?  

Talking about the experiment with Greg reminded me that guys have many of the same concerns and suspicions about dating as women do.  I'm so used to the narrative that "women just want love" and "men just want sex" even though I know both of those aren't necessarily true (especially since I'm female and have a tough time saying I'm looking for love).  Greg said that some girls date out of boredom, or because they want guys to buy them things.  I usually date Project Guys, aka broke guys, so I've never understood dating to "get stuff," like fancy dinners or presents.  I've probably dated out of boredom, but I never want to be with someone just for the sake of being with someone.  I want to be with someone because I really like spending time with them, I like the way I feel around them, and I feel like we both help each other learn and grow.  And I think that's what most people want, regardless of gender.  

Revising the profile also showed that Greg and I sometimes see things SO differently.  Growing up we seemed like polar opposites: he had his nose in a book as much as humanly possible (even while walking or brushing his teeth), was a computer programmer and was on the Robotics Team; I was a writer, musician, and did every art form from theater to photography.  I felt like other people would try to put us in boxes: Greg was the "smart one" and I was the "creative one."  Luckily we never really bought into that and neither did our parents.  Greg and I are both smart, and both creative.  He enjoys creative endeavors: he's a designer as well as engineer, he goes to Burning Man every year and spins fire poi.  I also did well in school: taking AP & IB courses in high school, and graduating from high school and college with honors; I've even noticed that every Matchmaker's version of the profile says something about my brains.  As we've gotten older I see more of how similar Greg and I are, and how our different ways are two sides of the same coin.  

However, at times our differing viewpoints made revising the profile very challenging.  For example, Greg sees the phrase "dating experiment" as cold and uninviting, whereas I see it as fun and playful.  He's concerned that guys will see themselves as guinea pigs in the experiment, so he was often trying to emphasize vulnerability in the profile.  To me, the "experiment" part of it actually takes some of the stress off.  I'm a perfectionist, and when it comes to dating I get anxious about picking "the right guy" or "the right first-date outfit."  But an experiment is about trial and error: you try something, and if it doesn't work you try something else.  You don't have to get it right the first time, you learn and build your data set as the experiment progresses.  If the first round of an experiment doesn't go well, I doubt a scientist would eat a pint of ice cream and say they will never do an experiment again.  They'd figure out how to make the experiment better and try again. The experiment makes it easier for me to lean into the vulnerability, to see good dates or bad dates not as "success/failure" but learning opportunities about what makes a date "good" or "bad" and how to make dating the best possible experience for me and my dates.  

Greg is the first Matchmaker who has experience using OkCupid to message girls, so he had a unique perspective.  He was very focused on including details that a guy could send me a message about, because he gets frustrated by girls' profiles that don't give him good message opportunities.  For example, if the profile says I'm a "life-long learner" it doesn't give a guy much to send me a message about.  But if it says, "I’m a life-long learner - have you ever wondered where the phrase “get down to brass tacks” came from? I did too and asked the Google machine" then a guy can send me a message that asks "Where does the phrase 'get down to brass tacks' come from?"

I asked Greg about what kind of guy he thinks would be a match for me, and he said he didn't have a specific type of guy in mind.  After thinking for a bit he said, "Guys who are adventurous, at least somewhat stable and not particularly flakey...a little wild, but not to the point of being undependable."  I can agree with that.  I've definitely been with guys who are adventurous but not stable, and a few guys that are stable but not very adventurous.  Guys that are adventurous but stable, a bit wild but also dependable, seem to be hard to find.  

So let's go, OkCupid, give us your adventurous and stable!

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