The very first column I wrote for this paper, way back in October 2017, was on the ubiquitous dating app known as Tinder. It was a decent column (obviously – otherwise they wouldn’t have asked me to keep writing). But I feel confident in saying my writing has improved quite a bit since then. And no wonder – I’ve written 152 columns for this paper so far. (Hopefully I get to write infinitely more.)

But you know what hasn’t improved since then? Dating apps. I downloaded two of them again recently – Tinder because it’s got the biggest market share, and Hinge because my mother tells me at least once every week that Pete and Chasten Buttigieg met on Hinge, and wouldn’t I like to meet someone as nice as Mayor Pete? And I would! Longtime readers may know I’ve been single for over a year now, and quite frankly I’m tired of it. I’m lonely. I want someone who thinks I’m pretty to spend time with on a regular basis. (As you can see, my ambitions are vast and deep.) But it’s hard to “meet people” when you are a natural introvert who can’t drink alcohol and who lives in a rural area. Add in a global pandemic, and I’m left with no options but to go back to the smartphone pit. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad, I thought to myself. After all, when Mom reads the weekly New York Times Vows section, she points out every couple who met on a dating app. So surely there must be some chance of success.

Then a man messaged me to say “Aren’t you a bucket of big league chew?” and suddenly dying alone didn’t seem all that bad.

“Just put yourself out there,” my mom said. “You’re so cute and charming.”

“When I was your age, we had to get dressed and go out to bars if we wanted to meet someone. You can just sit on the couch in sweatpants,” she added. (For the record, my mom got married at 25. Not that I’m comparing us or anything.)

Since I am bisexual, apps show me both men and women, and one thing I can tell you for sure is that women put a lot more effort into their profiles than men do. As a woman, you stress over what pictures of yourself to include – you want to make sure you look nice, but not too sexual. What to write for your little biography? Should you say what you’re looking for? If you say you’re looking for a relationship, that scares off every man under the age of 35, but if you say you’re looking for something casual, you’ve boxed yourself in.

And then the men’s profiles are full of typos and pictures of them holding dead fish. Seriously, I don’t know why men keep holding up fish they’ve caught in their dating profile pictures. Is it a caveman-like instinct to prove that you can provide me with food? And why are men so bad at taking pictures of themselves? Pro tip for anyone taking a selfie: Angle your camera from above, not below. It doesn’t matter how handsome you are, aiming the camera up your nostrils isn’t flattering.

I know “fish pics” are an automatic swipe-left (aka: rejection, deal-breaker) for some women. Personally, I don’t have any interest in fishing, but I do have a great deal of interest in sitting by the lakeside with a good book, which seems compatible with fishing. Photos of dead deer are a definite deal-breaker. I respect Maine’s heritage of hunting, but a dead buck with its tongue hanging out doesn’t put me in a particularly amorous mood. (If my dog had a Tinder account, she would probably have a different opinion.)

Typos, unless they are made by someone for whom English isn’t a first language, are what bother me the most. Not because I’m a nitpicky English major, but because of the lack of effort they imply. I’m out here putting in time and effort to craft a desirable image of myself and you can’t even bother to do a double-check of your own profile? Of course, women are always expected to put more effort into themselves than men in pretty much every aspect of life, not just dating.

Maybe I’m too picky. I blame my dad, who told me to never settle. (Once a litigator, always a litigator.) I like to think that I’m a modern, independent sort of woman. I’m low maintenance. I have a job to provide for myself, and a dog for unconditional love and devotion. I don’t think asking for a little conversational effort makes me a hopeless romantic with her head in the clouds.

Romance may not be dead yet, but I think it might be lost in the woods somewhere.

Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a Maine millennial. She can be contacted at:
[email protected]
Twitter: @mainemillennial

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