Online Dating Taught Me I Might Be A Trash Person

By Laura Wheatman Hill | March 15, 2021
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I’m a 35-year-old straight lady and I’m on the apps during a pandemic. It’s a jungle out there…and I don’t just mean the facial and body hair situation, though I also mean that. It’s new to me as I became single for the first time in my adult life during the pandemic and never had the pleasure of app dating in my previous life as a literal child.

I like to think of myself as a loving, kind person, but as I started my journey of app discovery, I am noticing some patterns within my choices on who gets a swipe to the left or to the right, who gets a heart and who gets a fast “x” exit. These are not legitimate red flags, but they do paint a picture I’m not overly proud of.

  • I go for guys with pretty solid careers
  • I go for taller dudes
  • I’m pretty picky about facial hair

Now, while we’re all allowed to have our own personal preferences when it comes to attraction and dating, I felt that I was sorta ashamed of myself for my judgments of people which sometimes made me feel like a giant, gaping asshole.

Am I a classist for only wanting to date someone with a “good” job? What is a “good” job to me? I’m a teacher but I wouldn’t necessarily say being a teacher is a particularly luxurious occupation. Am I a gold-digger? Do I need a sugar-daddy? Am I a snob?

Is it a problem I’m not going for shorter dudes? After all, did I not just reject a man with a very good career because he was my same height? Have we not evolved as humans past such base qualifiers as height? No. We have not, and the science is on my side. The science, despite certain people’s assertions otherwise, does not lie.

As I studied my own patterns further, falling down into a rabbit hole of self-doubt and self-hatred, I thought about WHY I choose what I choose.

I don’t want to fall in love with someone in grad school or with an unestablished professional life because I’m divorced and can’t exactly pick up and move my kids if my new boyfriend gets a job far away. I don’t want to get my heart broken over proximity.

Also, I’m not all that financially stable myself, coming out of a gnarly pandemic divorce into a job market that isn’t exactly booming for women, especially moms. I can’t take on someone’s debt, bills, or other expenses—I have to look out for number one…and her brother. Virtual piano lessons don’t pay for themselves.

I go for taller dudes because, my whole life, I’ve struggled with body image issues and tall dudes make me feel less fat. This speaks to systemic women’s body issues and misogyny. It’s the mens’ fault, not mine! This isn’t fair to the perfectly nice petite men of the world, but maybe if every other profile didn’t say they want someone “fit,” I wouldn’t feel so self-conscious about our BMIs touching. I like exercise, but my metabolism likes me how I am and isn’t too keen to change in a significant way. Maybe if I hadn’t been told by society, my peers, and my ex that my body wasn’t good enough, I wouldn’t look for bodies that make mine look small.

Now, the facial hair. I’m not going to tell you I’m keeping it particularly groomed these days in terms of my own body. My leg hair is luxurious and keeps me warm at night in lieu of a bed partner. But, man, do I get judgy about facial hair on men. It’s a double standard, and I admit that.

Here’s the thing: facial hair ties into my “have a good job” hang-up because someone with wild and crazy facial hair is less likely to have a traditional (read: stable) occupation. Also, your whiskers and mane tell me about your interests. Someone with a ponytail longer than mine probably does yoga on the weekends and takes hikes that will make my seasonal allergies flare up. I’m just not as adventurous as dating apps make it seem like I have to be. Also I have very sensitive skin and can only handle so much chafing. I’m okay with a pandemic beard. I’m okay with a groomed longer cut. But, just like I’m planning to sheer my wooly gams if we ever do meet in person, I hope you take some care with your overall appearance for my sake as well.

And, sorry, but if you have a soul patch, I’m out. This is not the early 2000s and it is not okay.

So, while I can try to get over my body issues and date a gentleman closer to my own height, and I can try to be more flexible about the job they’ve chosen or the hair they’re rocking, I think it’s okay that we, as full-grown adults, own our personal preferences, acknowledge systemic biases, and give ourselves self-compassion.

I’m not terribly proud that I can’t love someone even if they have a neck tattoo, but I also know myself and I know that I’m never going to get on the back of your motorcycle, and I’m never going to join you for whatever “van life” is. I like walks, foods, books, and snuggles. That has to be enough these days, because this world that we live in is darn exhausting.

I expect there are things about my profile that are dealbreakers to the men who see it. Maybe you’re intimidated by my Jurassic Park knowledge. Maybe you’re not into mom-bods with sensitive skin. Maybe, after a year in quarantine, you want someone to travel the world with you and you know I can’t pick up and leave. Fine.

Let’s not waste our time thinking we can change who we are. Let’s meet where we are right now: at home, on the computer, slightly hairier than normal, and feeling a little out of shape. If you can find someone who loves you or even likes you despite your pandemic obsession with your house plants, and you can be gentle and forgiving of their new found affinity for cross-stitch, go forth and date. You have my judgmental-but-working-to-be-better blessing.

Images: Jordan Beltran / Unsplash

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