Dearest Rachel –
There are times when I have to remind myself that I shouldn’t be pinning too much hope in this whole online dating thing; it’s just for entertainment purposes (and maybe for a little something to write to you about). Other days, it’s perfectly obvious that’s what it is. Yesterday was one of the latter days, although I may get some of the conversation wrong in the process of relating it to you, since the girl deleted her profile immediately afterward, so I have no record of it. But still, let me see what you think of this.
I’ll be honest, I ignore it a lot of times when I’m sent a smile from one or another profile online. Actually, ‘ignore’ is probably overstating things; since I don’t like having that red dot on my app, I check out every profile that sends me any sort of notification. There are just several criteria to which I’ve resolved not to respond to. As a general rule, I don’t concern myself with the list of likes and dislikes; my assumption is that those can be dealt with later, and the needles moved at that point (consider me and sports, after all). But I’m not about to go out of my way to encourage a long-distance relationship, for instance – while at the moment, I’m already dealing with one in Yvonne, that wasn’t intentional on my part, and in any event, I don’t want to add to that list – and there are certain denominations that I consider to be compatible, and others that aren’t. I know that our church has quite a few lapsed Catholics who found God here where they didn’t there, but if they’re identifying as such online, I don’t expect them to be willing to surrender that faith easily. People used to fight wars over that sort of thing once upon a time, more’s the pity.
And so, when I got a smile from this one person (let’s call her ‘Jennie’ because that was her profile name – and unlike Ruby I didn’t… well, that’s getting ahead of the story), I checked her profile out. Baptist, okay – you were Baptist, after all, and indeed, the whole group at Wesleyan was specifically so – but in Birmingham, Alabama? Why is she looking at me, a thousand miles away? Are there no good men in Dixie? Yeah, no.
I should also admit that, while I don’t generally like to think of myself as this superficial, there are some profile pictures that I look at and find myself almost looking for a reason to pass over them. I wish I could say otherwise; you’d think that, with my vision as it is, I could overlook most shortcomings in appearance by simply doffing my glasses. Besides, I am not now, nor have I ever been, an Adonis in my own right; it’s not my place to be picky about appearance. Besides, one has to admit, someone who’s catfishing wouldn’t use such an unappealing photograph to lure potential marks, now, would they? You’re pretty much guaranteed an authentic person in this case.
With all that being said, this was such a profile that really didn’t appeal to me. It’s actually a fairly run-of-the-mill situation; I get smiles from others all the time, and (as long as I’m on the app) I will look through the new profiles, and send smiles to a few people out there myself. Jeff warned me to brace myself for rejection, but I don’t consider this lack of response to necessarily be that, as such. And I don’t think that, by passing over a profile, I’m rejecting someone outright; it’s more a case of just not having a reaction to them at all.
But then, something strange happened; she sent me a message.
Actually, that’s not the strange part. While I’ve learned that the typical etiquette toward communication (at least on this dating site) tends toward waiting until both of you have sent smiles to each other before initiating conversation, that’s certainly not a hard-and-fast rule. Indeed, I’ve seen some profiles that literally spell out, “don’t bother sending me a smile; write me a message – a real one that isn’t generic enough to go to just anyone.” I give her credit for realizing what the standard interaction is like, and requesting interested parties to reach out to her in a different manner. Still, I’ve sent messages without a smile prompting me – and I’ve received messages that were unsolicited by smiles as well. But this one was different. Rather than a standard “Hi” or “Hello” type greeting, she asked “Did you sleep well last night?”
This is not the typical way you expect a conversation to start. At least, not with a total stranger.
As I had already dismissed her profile, I certainly wasn’t going to answer such an odd question and start up a conversation. That’s when she poured a little gasoline on the fire: “Are you ignoring me?”
In truth, I was, but I don’t mind telling you that I didn’t appreciate being called out for it. It isn’t as if I’m required to speak to everyone who addresses me, any more than they are to me in turn. But I couldn’t let this go unanswered; and besides, I was curious about her in-your-face form of address. So, she won this first round, I suppose, in getting me to talk to her, but she’d hurt her (admittedly already slim) chances by predisposing me to consider her somewhat hostile.
When confronted with her over-familiar manner of address (I actually asked if she knew me from somewhere and I had forgotten – maybe this was Ruby, trying to use a different profie to seek me out for all I knew, although the pictures definitely said otherwise), she adopted a more apologetic tone, and admitted she hadn’t meant to come across that way. Her text bubbles were full of that same suspicious syntax that I’ve pointed out to you before. Still, bad grammar and the occasional misspelling are one thing, and reasonably forgivable (I’m sure you’ve noticed it in these letters, as I don’t always edit everything I write, especially if I’m in a hurry to send it out before I forget what I want to say), but when Certain Words are Randomly Capitalized, that’s deliberate, and weird. I know what I said about “why would a catfisher use such a homely photo?” but this seemed to have a lot of the usual earmarks otherwise. She mentioned how she wasn’t getting any younger, and that most of the men out on this site were just looking for one-off flings (which, again, given its intended demographic, seems inappropriate, but yeah… guys can be like that), and asked for my phone number, so as to communicate outside of the app.
As I’ve said, this is not the sort of behavior I want to encourage, and in any event, I had issues with the idea of a long distance relationship. She responded by saying that shouldn’t matter – we could call each other up, after all – and that she was willing to relocate. Considering that her profile also indicated having kids that occasionally lived with her – not an dealbreaker, but still problematic – I found that hard to believe. At this point, I went into vague detail about the fake individuals that I’d already met online (to which she countered about how on the phone, she could prove herself to be more than just a series of text bubbles from just anyone), even going so far as to mention my reaction to the app’s safety rules, before having to reluctantly admit that no, I wasn’t going to give her my number. I did wish her the best of luck in finding someone else nearer to where she was…
…but I don’t know if she even received those well wishes, as she completely disappeared from the app. That seems to be the sort of thing a catfish would do – to disappear before being blocked or reported – not that I had any intention of doing either, as I had no proof that she was like that. A bit aggressive and slightly obnoxious, but that proves nothing. And such are the conversations from day to day, honey. It would be funny if it weren’t such a serious endeavor. Regardless, I’ve got to keep myself out there, I suppose, and deal with this sort of thing as it comes up.
In any event, wish me luck, honey. It seems I’m still in need of it.