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I'm a Millennial with No Online Dating Experience, AKA a Unicorn

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My name is Josh, and I have a confession: I’ve never tried online dating.

All right, that’s not entirely true. I’ve tried to set up an account before when a friend tells me about all the amazing people they’ve been meeting on Tinder/OkCupid/Farmers. (In truth, I don’t know anyone who uses Farmers Only, but they have such great commercials). The problem is, I get about halfway done — usually around the time you have to write something about yourself — and then a super gross feeling washes over me.

It’s like when you’re on a plane and the person next to you is sneezing, or when you watch a documentary about cockroaches in the dark. I’m fully aware that there’s probably nothing actually wrong with me, but I can feel the weird filthiness creeping through my body as I attempt to fill out an online dating profile.

In my mind, there’s nothing wrong with online dating. I’ve Tindered for men and women friends dozens of times, and often contribute to their other dating site conversations. But it’s just not for me. I’m sure there are thousands of perfectly good people who find the bulk of their dates through the Internet, and I’ve dated plenty of girls who previously found matches online. However, I simply can’t get past the mental hurdle of actually doing it myself.

“But you can learn so much more about the other person before you actually have to deal with them face-to-face,” a friend once told me, shortly before we went to a beer festival with a girl he’d met on Tinder.

It was at that moment I realized that I don’t decide to go out with someone based on what we have in common or how she texts. Sure, those things can help, but it’s all about the energy and that feeling in the pit of my stomach for me. I’ve dated girls who have very few interests in common with me, and it’s been great. The time I dated someone extremely similar to me? That didn’t work out any better.

After that was when I started answering the question “What do you look for in a lady?” with “Someone who excites me.” Don’t get me wrong, flirting on AIM was as exciting as anything in the early 2000s, but it doesn’t exactly give me the butterflies the way talking to a cute/awesome woman in person can.

Months later and from across the dinner table at one of those reasonably nice, trendy, healthy restaurants that serves things you’d never eat at home like quinoa and squash, a girl recently told me, “I’ve mainly gone out with guys I met online for the last six years or so.”

My first reaction was to grab her hands and exclaim “But you’re pretty!” I managed to keep it together, merely stating that we’d had different dating experiences. The shock in her voice when she asked me why I’d never been on an online date helped me realize what a unicorn I was. A single 20-something who’d never been on a Tinder date or set up a Plenty of Fish profile? Preposterous.

The next day, I was recapping the online dating conversation to an acquaintance via text, and she said something along the lines of: “Well, why don’t you do online dating? I know it makes you feel gross, but you’re a dude, you do plenty of gross things.”

“Maybe it just can’t handle my awesomness…” I sarcastically texted back.

Her frustrated response put the two obvious pieces together right in front of my eyes.

There’s no way to communicate deadpan sarcasm to a relative stranger via text or online message, and without snark and sarcasm, what’s the point of courting?

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