I had no qualms about going on a date with a Trump voter, but things soured fast when the subject of race came up.
I try to be open minded when it comes to dating. I’ve dated men of all different body types, career paths and ages — including one guy a couple of decades my senior. Friends see pictures of my ex-boyfriends and accuse me of fucking with them. Maybe that’s because many of my friends aren’t as amenable. There’s my friend Lucia, who is 5 feet tall and won’t date anyone under 6 feet. Natalie won’t date anyone who lives over the Richmond Bridge or through the Caldecott Tunnel. Sure, I have my preferences — has to have integrity, can’t be a rock climber — but ultimately I’m looking for someone who pots my honey, be he Tiburonian or hairy backed.
So why not go out with a Trump voter with a shirtless selfie?
Here’s a common online dating scenario: I’ll see a blurry group photo of the back of a bunch of rock climbers’ heads or a playa-party pic showing mask-clad Burners and think, “Which one is he? Is that his sister or his polyamorous companion?” Then I’ll scratch my head and sweft. I understand that people who post these pics think that group photos and activity shots show that they have interests and friends. Everyone has interests and friends. But I like to see a clear shot of a guy’s face — his clothed body — and not much else.
I did it. I vanquished my addiction to dating apps. I deleted Bumble, Coffee Meets Bagel, Match, and Tinder from my phone for probably not forever. Dating sucks. What sucks suckier is spending too much fruitless time searching for love on a dating app. I found that I needed to search, swipe on, and sweat over dating apps multiple times a day.
I received the last message from the last guy I was chatting with from a dating app on Sunday night. He offered me a drive-by snuggle. I’d say this offer is absolutely consistent with my experience on dating apps. 99% wanted some kind of relationship of convenience (sex) and the other 1% did something like having a drag queen deliver me a custom cake on the first date.
Lots of people have had good luck with dating apps. I was not one of them. Not this time. Maybe next time? For now, I’m focused on friendships, loving myself (retching sound), and doing stuff so that I can meet new people in a way that commodifies me less. I’m doing all of this in a push up bra. JK, I don’t own a push up bra. JK, I actually do.
What are some things that I might do when I get that itch to swipe? Distracting oneself for free is a challenge. Writing is free and all-consuming (even a big ass brain would struggle to look for dates while writing). Same with reading. I challenge you to read (with comprehension) and swipe at the same time. Exercise is good (heal ankle goddam you!). Bad ideas include drinking, watching anything (TV, sports, movies) because I’ll swipe during lulls, and any tasks such as cleaning, during which I’ll find any excuse for a break.
So far, so good. I used to spend awhile each morning in bed looking at dating apps, which is now somewhat replaced by narcissistically checking my stats, but I am getting up quicker than I used to. My friends are supportive. They have been telling me for a long time to stop giving my magic away (not a euphemism). I’m dick pic free and I won’t miss reading “You baby” the next time I text some rando “What are you working on today?”
I am so very lucky to have amazingly talented friends! My friend Lindsay wrote this guest post that made me feel so much better about my success rate on dating apps.
Swipe right, nothing.
Swipe right, nothing.
Swipe right, more nothing.
What are you doing wrong? Nothing. Sure, in theory, dating apps are about compatibility. But in reality? They’re about the numbers.
In the olden days, young people had to venture outside of their homes and offices to meet other singles. Can you even imagine the time they dedicated to this quest? Fortunately, times have changed. Now you can check out an endless stream of strangers from your living room, the laundromat, or the elevator at your office. No longer do we need to dedicate time to getting ready, getting to the bar, and then camping out for the night. Nope. Five minutes waiting for your bus, 5 minutes while walking the dog—and all of this in whatever damn outfit you please.
We’re in the wild wild web of dating now, so why not steal moves from the pros? There’s an entire profession out there dedicated to maintaining online profiles and sending messages to strangers. Who are these pros? Digital marketing specialists, of course. Oh yeah, it’s time to market yourself.
Lesson One: Your Profile
Optimize your profiles to resonate with your target demographic. Know what you like, and figure out what attracts those matches. Does that bikini pic lead to hook ups or long term relationships? Test it. Keep tweaking your profiles until your matches fall in line with who you’re looking to meet.
Lesson Two: Conversion Rates Email campaigns are a big part of digital marketing. Email campaigns are pretty much the marketing equivalent of your daily dating app activities. Think about the entire population of an app as the potential follower base for your “mailing list.” Your subscriber list are the people who have opted-in, in dating terms: they swiped right.
Do you know what percentage of mailing list subscribers will actually open the emails they receive? According to MailChimp, depending on industry, it’s only 17 – 28%. Crazy, right? In other words, if 25% of your matches are even reading your messages, you’re ahead of the curve. You can also apply this to how many matches are messaging you. Let’s be honest though, sending the first message is the hardest, so your goal percentage should realistically represent that.
Okay, so then how many reply messages should you expect? Mailchimp puts the average, depending on industry, 1.3 – 5.4%. Seriously. If 2 in 100 matches reply to your message, you are very desirable. The matches who don’t respond? It’s not you they’re ignoring, they’re just giving in to their lazy digital habits.
Lesson Three: Effectiveness
This is the most important lesson to be learned from the marketing gurus. Your time is valuable, so don’t waste it! One easy way? Streamline your process. In marketing it’s all about testing.
You can play the swipe right no matter what game, but there are more effective methods. The goal isn’t to get more matches, that’s a waste of your time. The goal is to get the right matches, the ones who are most likely to convert. Don’t forget, convert means something different to everyone. A date? Someone to go to Coachella with? Life partner? Dog walker? It’s up to you.
You’ve already optimizing your profile, next up: optimize your messages. Come up with three introductory lines and send them, in equal measure, to all of your matches. Which one works best? Use that for everyone. Copy, paste your way to more conversations, without wasting time scrutinizing profiles or second guessing. The best part? This is all testing, and you can always change your line. An unresponsive match isn’t a rejection, it’s just data.
WeWork’s own Sarah Gerber of Twenty Twenty Studios is an amazing photographer. I love my new head shots! Sarah writes on her website, “we believe you matter and, consequently, that your story needs to be told.” I hate having my photo taken but Sarah made it fun. Sarah’s awesome husband David, a professional coach joined us and helped me smile more naturally by reading me quotes from the Simpsons.
Guys, get rid of those awful mirror selfies on your dating profiles and go see Sarah. A killer photo is essential if you want to meet the person of your dreams. Then when you’re successful, Sarah can take your wedding photos too. Her wedding shots truly tell a love story. They’re not fake or posed.
I’m hoping to team up with Sarah to throw a big singles party where you can mingle and have candid photos taken for your social profiles. What do you think? What’s your story?
I have a first date at lunch tomorrow. Day dating is something pretty new to me. My first dates are usually at a bar after work. He’s a professor at Berkeley and we are going to have poke bowls next to WeWork. We’ll have only one hour for the date. It seems like there are pros and cons to day dating.
My friend L had a breakfast date at 9 am on a Saturday. I forgot to ask her what she wore, but I assume the dress code was casual. It seems like a breakfast date would be time limited similar to my lunch date. It probably takes 30 minutes or less to eat a bagel (a lot less if you’re me). At 9 am I can’t imagine the line outside Beauty’s in Oakland is too long but I’ll factor another 30 minutes in for that. L went above and beyond making first date conversation for at least an hour after they were finished with breakfast but decided to cap it at 2 hours.
Her date wasn’t ready to go. He’d driven from San Francisco and seemed disappointed that she didn’t suggest a follow up activity. I don’t spend that much time talking to people I know over breakfast but he wanted more. At this point I would have felt very uncomfortable but L agreed to walk around a bit. No alcohol involved, it’s broad daylight, we’d been out late the night before, it just seems awkward.
Possible pros to day dating include limited time (except that didn’t work out so well for L); dress code is work wear in my case (I won’t have to put together an evening appropriate get up), and there will be no expectation to hook up. I don’t know but it just seems like it’s going to be weird. Mostly that’s because there will be no liquid courage and I’m shy. Now I sound like an alcoholic.
I wouldn’t go on a hike with a stranger but playing tennis might be OK for a day date as long as there was an opportunity to talk (talking on a first date is an essential for me). I have friends that rock climb and that seems like a good day date. Maybe taking a class of some kind would be fun? There’s always day drinking.
Addendum: I just had my own breakfast date before work. We were both up before 6 am so it seemed like a good plan. That’s right, I will have had both a breakfast and lunch date today. There was bacon! It was not awkward.
Racism is alive and well when it comes to online dating habits, or so said OkCupid creator Christian Rudder back in 2009. He published data on his blog correlating response rate with ethnicity. A now defunct Facebook dating app called Are You Interested (AYI) riffed on these findings and ranked men and women from most to least dateable based on ethnicity. The idea that Asian women are “most dateable,” and Asian men are “least dateable,” has worked its way into our collective consciousness. Most people I’ve met even 7 years later are aware of this data and I hear it dropped into casual conversation about dating all the time.
I asked my friend Brian to share his experiences out there on the prowl as a “least dateable” Asian male.
Sarah: Did you know you were “least dateable?”
Brian: I didn’t! But now that I’ve been told, it isn’t that shocking I suppose.
Sarah: How do you feel about it?
Brian: Given the stereotypes out there about Asian guys, it doesn’t really surprise me but I certainly don’t feel least dateable! Haha!
Sarah: Please describe yourself and what you’re looking for in a date.
Brian: I have a couple of hobbies I’m really passionate about, I’m also really into a couple genres of music – my life seems to revolve around these things. I tend to look for a date that has similar taste in music – in my experience, women who enjoy the same music as me tend to also live a similar lifestyle and hold similar values to mine. I also try to look for someone who is deeply passionate about something – if they do, at the very least, they can relate to the deep passion I have for my hobbies and we can share them with each other. On a lighter note, I consider myself “white girl basic” most of the time.
Sarah: How do you get dates?
Brian: I just ask! People often give very long, complicated answers to this question and I refuse to believe that it needs to be. Just get over being rejected, it’s going to happen once or twice – or a dozen times? You need to keep moving forward (cue Disney soundtrack).
Sarah: Which ethnicities do you date the most?
Brian: Asian women. Specifically Korean and Chinese. I know I’m racist. I’ve had crushes on Caucasian women but it wasn’t mutual.
Sarah: Are you concerned that someone might not want to date you because you’re Asian?
Brian: Not really, usually the sentiment is mutual. It does come as a shock when an Asian woman doesn’t want to date me because I’m Asian, but I’ll save that psychoanalysis for another interview.
Sarah: Does it make you want to run away or do you want to somehow prove to them that their stereotypes are wrong?
Brian: I’m not one to shy away from confrontation and I always love a challenge – I don’t see it as proving them wrong, but if I can expand their mind and show them something new about Asian men, then I’d say its a win!
Sarah: Have you ever had the opposite experience where a woman wants to date you, particularly because you’re Asian (I like Asian guys because I have positive stereotypes. Asian guys are smart, nice, and family oriented)?
Brian: I haven’t – at least, not that I’m aware of. But I’ve had plenty of women say that I’m not like most Asian guys they know.
Sarah: When you’re out, how do you recognize when a woman might be someone who doesn’t date Asian men?
Brian: I have to flip this question around a bit – it’s all about attitude right? Rather than take a survey and cross off all the women who wouldn’t date me, I look for the women who would! It goes back to shared values and for me – music preference. Music is the language that everyone understands.
Sarah: What do women think they’re getting when they date Asian men specifically?
Brian: My friends and I like to joke about Asian guys being PAMs = Passive Asian Males. I think a lot of women think all Asian guys are PAMs. Majority of the time they’re not wrong! But trust me, the Asian guy that approaches you at the bar/club/coffee shop/on the street/at the park/while walking your dog is unlikely to be a PAM. They are more likely to be your coworker or your girlfriend’s lame partner. #justsaying
Sarah: What are some overtly racist things you hear on dates? Has a woman ever said to your face that Asians are cheap and have Tiger Moms, for example (most racist thing I could think of that I’m willing to bet some people believe)?
Brian: Wait, why is having a tiger mom a bad thing? Going back to what I said earlier about the Asian guy who approaches you in public not being the stereotypical PAM, I think the stereotypes I hear are much different from the ones that cover the general population of Asian males. The stereotypes I hear most are:
“Asian guys are too feminine/girly/or simply not manly enough”
“Asian guys are too skinny, I can’t be with someone who is skinner than me!”
“Asian guys can’t speak English/can’t understand their chingchonglinglong” (I hate this one the most btw)
“Asian guys are short”
“Asian guys are alcoholics”
“Asian guys are all mama’s boys”
“Asian guys have small penises”
“Asian guys only date Asian girls”
“Asian guys are good at math”
Sarah: Talk to me about penis size. I know some girls that think Asian guys have glue stick dicks. By the way, my ex was Chinese and his was really big. Has a woman ever commented on your Asian penis?
Brian: I hear it all the time from people trying to be funny. This stereotype sucks and I bet it has the most to do with the OKCupid stat you mentioned earlier. But at the same time, every Caucasian woman I’ve spoken to that has dated an Asian guy has said the same thing: “the Asian guy I was with wasn’t small.” Again, I think it goes back to what I said about the average Asian guy with the balls (pun intended) to approach you in public – chances are, he’s comfortable with his package. I’ve had women tell me their last partner was tiny – not sure if if this the same? But it hasn’t been an issue for me so far. And for the record, glue sticks will double in size – just twist the bottom!
Sarah: That’s really funny! Say more stuff about penis size please.
Brian: Real talk, some women just need a huge penis for satisfaction and if that’s the case, I think they’re gonna have a tough time finding someone with what they need regardless of race or ethnicity. I haven’t had anyone like me for my penis so I can’t really comment on that, but if we’re just talking about her enjoying the sex we had? Sure, that would totally make me like her more. Knowing that I was able to make her feel great is a definitely a turn on for me.
Sarah: Describe the best and worst date you’ve been on lately.
Brian: Personally, it’s all about the connection we have. If I have a great connection with the other person, it is difficult to hide it! Conversation will be very natural like two old friends who haven’t seen each other in a long time. I think there is a lot of excitement around discovering common values and interests another person shares with you. Sure the food was great, and many other things went very well also, but doesn’t that go back to sharing the same interests and values? The worst/awkward date I went on recently was at a whiskey bar with a girl who didn’t really drink beer or enjoy whiskey. She knew I liked beer and whiskey and that is why we ended up there. I totally had a great time, but I know she didn’t. We also never made a real connection that night so we didn’t see each other again either.
Sarah: Any dating advice you’d like to share?
Brian: It’s cliché, but just be yourself – let your freak flag fly and lay your crazy out for people to see. With the power of the Internet, it’s easier than ever to find a mate that shares your level of crazy. Embrace it! Own it! I think crazy is good. I personally gravitate towards the crazy ones – but now that I’m older, I realize it’s bad for my health. A psychology professor I had used to always say, “it’s the people who don’t talk to themselves that you need to keep an eye on.”
Sarah: Anything else?
I really hope “PAM” becomes a thing. I’m not sure when my friends and I started using the acronym or even if one of us came up with it, but it would be great to hear it from a stranger some day. If you’re a woman who thinks all Asian guys have small penises, just go sleep with a few of them and find out for yourself! Stop wondering! =)
I should also add, plenty of Asian women have told me the last Asian guy they hooked up with had a needle dick – so ladies, YMMV.
Stay tuned for this interview’s companion piece, “Most dateable?”