Chicago doesn’t have poly speed dating just yet. Meetups are good for meeting folks, but that can sometimes get really meat market-y and weird, especially for people who have never been before. And it’s hard to meet people through other poly people if other poly people aren’t around.
So, the main conduit becomes online dating. Online dating sucks. And the more you use it, the more it sucks.
I’ve met exactly one person who has had any kind of luck with polymatchmaker, so I’m thinking that’s a statistical anomaly (although I wish it wasn’t). And there isn’t exactly a plethora of other sites that go out of their way to accommodate the needs of poly folks. So that pretty much just leaves OKCupid.
And OKCupid doesn’t actually exist. At least, not in the same reality that you or I live in.
It is really easy to take OKC way too seriously, especially if it exists in an isolation chamber of polyamory. Limited date options are even more limited. Trying to find people there, without any other context or way of interacting, could quickly escalate into cynicism and bitterness.
My limited experience there is pretty much in the same vein as other stories I have heard. I would send out messages and get nothing back. In fact I am currently dating someone who I sent a message to on that site. But it wasn’t until a year later, meeting in person at a party, that we actually connected. My wife received so many messages during the first week she had a profile that her phone would not stop chirping. And many of those were one line mass-produced spam that it was difficult for her to sift through them all.
The problem with both sides of these are expectations. Expecting people to respond and be interested because of the effort involved in creating a profile and sending out a message. Expecting the level of effort put in to automatically match the level of return. Expecting people to all behave the same way, or approach dating in the same way. It’s not possible. People are always different, or looking for something different, or putting a different level of priority into dating or meeting someone. And that isn’t something that can be found just by looking at a profile.
It wasn’t until I realized that OKCupid doesn’t actually exist that I started feeling better. Because OKCupid has nothing to do with real life. It is a land of pretend, where it is easier to be quiet than respond, even to the nicest of messages or the most welcoming of profiles. There are no obligations there, which is freeing but also frightening. And, at any moment, anyone can walk away from the site, for no reason other than their desire not to be there. And this is a good thing. Imagine if it was more serious than that? I would be completely untenable.
Putting any kind of real life value into those interactions is fruitless and harmful. I think that is where the frustration comes from. Because for poly folks, especially folks without a partner or without a date, it does feel like it is super important. We want to have these relationships, and we want it to be easy and fun, and work the way that our heads are telling us it should.
I remember telling someone right when I started using the site that I really needed to work on my stoicism. I needed to remember what was actually important in my life, and how this one thing was so far down that list that it was silly to give it more than a passing thought or two. But I had my head so far in it that I had a hard time remembering that. I wanted relationships so bad. I wanted to be out meeting people, and this was the only was I really knew how to go about it.
I hope for that zen level of perspective for everyone on that site. I hope it goes well for everyone. Just remember that it doesn’t actually exist.