Online dating is awkward. As the world’s most awkward person, I should know. But there is one thing more awkward than the awkwardness of online dating.
Seeing someone you actually know on an online dating site.
Ohhh… so awkward.
Now I’m sure there are some unwritten rules or some sort of code we should all abide by when you see someone on an online dating site who you know in real life (IRL). So I’m going to write them, so they are no longer unwritten.
The rules of seeing someone on an online dating site who you know IRL:
- Pretend you didn’t see them.
- Ignore it forever and never talk about it.
But are these my rules? Of course not.
The complication with the situation is immense. First of all, you actually know this person. I have encountered past classmates, current co-workers, and long forgotten acquaintances on eHarmony, Match, and OK Cupid, and I feel like I always go through the same process: curiosity, excitement, and shame.
Let’s break it down, shall we?
The My Process
The very thing about online dating is that there’s a small fraction of anonymity, so seeing a person who you actually know on an online dating site is like seeing a beaver frolicking through a meadow. Sure, you know it’s possible, but you’d just never expect to see it to happen.
Now, when I see someone I know, it’s like when your teacher would set your test face down on your desk and tell you not to flip it over until everyone was ready. I know I’m going to get caught if I do it, but I really want to know what the test says. (I’m a huge nerd. This is such a nerdy analogy.) My point is, you can see who’s checked out your profile, and if you click on their profile, this IRL person will 100% know that you were looking at their online dating site. And this could get super embarrassing.
Obviously I do it anyway.
So once my curiosity has overcome me and I click the profile, it’s completely overwhelming. I am now looking at this person’s innermost desires and thoughts. These are things you put out there when you’re looking for a mate. They’re not the things you’d just tell someone you went to algebra class with. But I must know! Is this person a total weirdo? Is he looking for love with a fellow Trekkie? Are all of his profile pictures of him shirtless flexing his muscles? Looking at these profiles makes me feel the same way eating a king size Snickers bar makes me feel — super satisfied and a little disgusted with myself.
And then comes the shame.
This is when it sets in what I’ve done. I’m clearly not a real forward-thinker here. I realize this person who I actually know is going to know that I was checking out their profile. And either (a) we’re going to have to have an awkward conversation, or (b) we’re going to pretend it never happened, but both know it did happen and it’ll always be a little bit uncomfortable. Again, I’m super awkward already, so adding a little awkward to the pile seems like a fair trade-off for this caramel drizzled hunk of gossip.
I want to take a minute to break down the real life people I’ve encountered on online dating. I can’t reiterate this enough. I actually KNOW THESE PEOPLE.
The Guy Who Forgot He Knew Me
I think this has only happened twice, and it’s been fun both times. These are guys who I went to high school with. We never were friends, but maybe we sat at the same lunch table or I borrowed a pencil in biology class. The best part about this encounter is that somehow I remember that we’ve met before (which is a miracle in itself because I have the memory of a 15-year-old Cocker Spaniel), but he doesn’t! And better yet, he messages me to introduce himself! It’s like Christmas come early! I can dig through all of his online dating baggage without the “shame” step of the process. It’s okay to look at his profile, because he looked at mine first and STILL didn’t remember me! I feel like I should be disappointed that I didn’t make more of an impression on this person when I sort of tangentially knew them, but I’m not disappointed. Not at all. Thanks for the free pass, old sort-of friend.
The Middle School Crush
One day, I actually encountered my middle school crush on an online dating site. And this was one of those nasty crushes. The kind where you write your first name with his last name, and name your giant monkey stuffed animal after him (seriously). I thought this kid and I were destined to live out the rest of our days together as middle school sweet hearts. If only he knew it, too.
And then one day, he pops up on my Match pages. Whaaaaaat?? Single, all these years later!? You better believe I took a swan dive into that profile. I was like, pushing people over to click that link. And I’ve got to say, his profile didn’t make the middle school grade (which, for some reason, weren’t letter grades… who came up with that?). I guess such high expectations based on his dreamy hair and killer basketball skills made for crushing disappointment later in life. Two days later, I saw that he had viewed my profile, too. I guess our future children just weren’t meant to be.
I think this one was the worst, just because I clicked before I thought. I work with this person. Regularly. And now I know things I just didn’t need to know. Why? Why…
I also had a friend from high school message me on OKC to ask if all men would be subject to appearing on my blog. No (insert your name here), they won’t. But you did. You’re welcome.
Now, I guess this just goes to show that we’re all looking for love. Or maybe the take away is that we never know people as well as we think we do. Because, boy… I wish I could un-see some things I’ve seen… from people I ACTUALLY KNOW. Is there an “unfriend” button for real life?