To this, Emily I would add the following:

As someone who has been on and off online sites since 1998 (and yes, there were two eight-year relationships that happened in that time frame so it wasn’t all bad), at nearly 67 I also have a take on this.

That chasm of which you speak is also exacerbated by those coupled friends, who in my case often have been married for more than fifty years or thereabouts. Not only do they not play any online games, the whole experience of online dating is utterly beyond them.

I have had my share of good and often foul experiences. However those same very well-meaning folks offer me dating advice that might well have been useful back in the 1960s, when they were still on the market, but they have no basis in a swipe-left world. They cannot relate to understand the spoken and unspoken rules, the breathtaking level of dishonesty and the affronts that people visit on one another.

To wit: as an athlete in my later sixties I have the body of a woman in her late thirties, and plenty of photos that speak to what I do with it. Adventure travel for example. Given the widespread and deep dishonesty that infects these platforms, most men who catch my eye (read, athletes in their fifties) assume the photos are a lie. Those men I do meet are gobsmacked that I do indeed look like my photos, including those sculpted arms. That speaks to how often we mislead.

The other piece is, of course, rank ageism. I am dismissed more to my age than my photos, in part because people cannot imagine that a woman my age can look the way I do, so it’s either photo shopped or my younger sister (don’t have one). Or people just can’t imagine hanging with someone so fucking old. There is also a widespread assumption that all the photos are old, that someone my age wouldn’t still be flying, diving, skydiving, kayaking, hiking and doing all the things that I actively do in the world. While this kind of confirmation bias exists in plenty of other arenas, in online dating, it’s very widespread. If it doesn’t compute it can’t be real.

To your point, were that man or men to meet me at a cocktail party it would be a whole other conversation indeed. This is what swiping left has cost us. As you point out, a friend introduces someone he’s vetted for you. That creates a window that doesn’t exist online.

And, conversely, I have found repeatedly that the lie is prevalent on the other side, when men post ancient photos that show a slim, trim, fully-furred man, who shows up at least sixty pounds overweight and the rug has disappeared. Or is glued on. I am so gun shy about bullshit profiles any more that I am just a bit jaded, as are many others.

Such things inform those of us who these days continue to peruse, and often dismiss, a great many profiles. I dismiss men out of hand because they can’t write, spell or they clearly want a poke, or are trolling, or are separated and therefore not available.

And, not to leave out our overseas IT friends, all platforms are infected by scammers, whose fake profiles and obvious smarmy outreaches still manage to separate the lonely from their savings. In fact, they use the “trusted friend” approach to get you hooked in. That we continue to get suckered probably speaks more to desperation than to how slick they are, but they are slick.

Like all social media platforms, any time you open one up to the general public you will get pond scum, sewage and the criminal element. That said, on very rare occasion, you might find a real human with a real education who has a real life with real photos who is worth getting to know. And, whose presentation doesn’t send you shimmying through the bathroom window.

Been there.

I don’t have the answer. I am in mid-flirt with someone who linked with me on a few other platforms, which validate my claims. I limit that access, having been attacked against a car by a guy I was convinced was one of the Good Ones. There is no formula.

The waters are choppy, deep, dangerous, and cold. I don’t fit the algorithm, as evidenced by what Match et. al. send me as “perfect matches.” Dear god. Please.

While convenient, online dating, especially for those of us who are outside the marketable parameters in some ways, is dysfunctional in many ways. But boy does it give me article fodder for my humor writing. For that, at least, I am grateful.

Written by

Horizon Huntress, prize-winning author, adventure traveler, boundary-pusher, wilder, veteran, aging vibrantly. I own my sh*t. Let’s play!

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