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by Hayley Rafner

Is online dating still taboo? Not so much. In this day and age, it has turned into a norm. But still, it’s hard not to flinch when you ask people where they met their fiancée and they reply, all too bubbly, “Online!”

When presented with the idea of online dating, if your mind immediately goes to a fat, middle-aged bald man with nine cats and a collection of Star Wars memorabilia (still in its original packaging), you’re not alone. And you’re probably not wrong. There’s a stigma attached to online dating: Those who cannot do it in real life, do so online.

Maybe your social skills are a little out of tune. Maybe you don’t really know how to be super awesome in real life, but you really shine behind a keyboard with your favorite feline in your lap. Boy, are you in the market for a good online dating site.

However, it’s not always the case. I know there’s nothing wrong with me. I’m not socially inept and I can carry on one hell of a conversation. So my intent when signing up for one of these sites was not to find a man because I couldn’t go out into the real world and find one myself, it was because I didn’t know anyone, I couldn’t get in anywhere because of my underage-ness and because I just wanted to give it a run. I always say I’ll try anything once.

When I first moved down to San Diego three years ago, I was low on friends and even lower on any romantic interests. Sure, there was a guy in my English class who was pretty cute and he just loved the smell of my Suave coconut shampoo, but was he really boyfriend material? Our constant conversations about ex-girlfriends with sugary-sweet names constantly trying to talk to him told me he wasn’t so much what I was looking for.

When a friend told me about a free online dating site, I thought to myself, “Why not?”

I signed up. However, what followed were a slew of bad dates, guys begging to hook up and tons, and I mean literally tons, of bad grammar.

I’d sign on every now and then to messages from guys named “DatBoi619” or “DatGuy69,” at the same time. I would give almost everyone a try, attempt at conversation and try to get it to go somewhere other than “Whats up.” (period, not a question mark) or “Do u text? Whatz ur #?” More often than not, it would eventually fade away and nothing would come of it.

Every now and then, I’d meet with a guy. Most of the time it was an awkward sit-outside-Coffee-Bean-and-not-drink-coffee-but-instead-just-have-a-meaningless-conversation kind of date. I was always adamant about meeting in public. Maybe its just because I’m a 20-year-old girl living alone in San Diego, but I was never into simply inviting someone to my place right off the bat.

That, apparently, is not something most guys think about. They’d laugh, scoff, even write me off completely when they weren’t automatically invited to my apartment after emailing back and forth for two hours. When they asked me why and promised they weren’t going to take advantage of me, my response would always be, “Well, I’m sorry, but I just have to make sure you’re not a rapist first.” And I meant it.

Three years later, I still haven’t had any real luck. I’ve maybe gone on two enjoyable dates. But every single guy I’ve talked to has turned out to be a creep, totally weird or just interested in hooking up.

What will it take for me to just delete my account? Apparently not some a—hole pretending to be two different people in order to see which character I’ll go for.

I’m an eternal optimist. I always believe I’m one guy away from finding Mr. Right.

As my 21st birthday approaches, maybe its time to hang up the fins and stop swimming for guppies. Maybe its time to be a big girl and go meet people for real. At a bar. Or a restaurant. Or a club. Will the venue really change the type of guy I meet?

And as I sit here and wonder about the reputation that goes along with online daters, I wonder if it exists for a reason. Maybe all of these guys I meet are online for a reason. Hell, maybe I’m online for a reason.

But I don’t plan on deactivating anything. After all, interacting with these douche bags has almost become my favorite and most preferred form of entertainment.


– Hayley Rafner is a journalism senior