And you thought getting picked last in gym class was mortifying. Try spending nine months on nearly every single popular dating site known to humanity and getting nothing but radio silence in return. That’s what happened to writer Patrice Bendig, 25, who spent nine months looking for love online. The Philadelphia-based writer recently shared her online dating “debacle” in a recent essay for xoJane.
Bendig talks to FLARE about the perils of modern dating, cruel commenters and her plans for online dating redemption.
Why did you decide to write about your dating life—or lack thereof? I wanted to see if other women had similar situations and wanted to get better results. I knew I couldn’t be the only person [that this had happened to]… And apparently, my online dating debacle struck a nerve. I’ve received emails and countless comments thanking me for sharing my experience. A lot of them said that my story made them feel less alone.
Why did you go online? Within the past three years since I graduated college, I moved back home, from New York City to Philadelphia. I didn’t have a social group anymore and I was really never into going out to the bars to meet people. That’s fine for some people but it’s not my style. I figured [online dating] would be a way [to meet men].
How many sites did you try? I joined eHarmony, Match.com, ChristianMingle, OKCupid, Plenty of Fish—I tried every variety.
How long were you online? About nine months. I started at the end of December-early January and just recently pulled myself off.
In your essay you said you messaged about 40 men in total. You didn’t get any replies? Out of the whole nine months, I didn’t receive more than five unsolicited messages.
Did any of them turn into dates? No. That was the thing that was really jarring. The guys who reached out to me weren’t what I was looking for—based on the 60 seconds I spent on their profile. And that’s what I learned: you only have about 60 seconds to pitch yourself.
What was wrong with them? Their interests didn’t really resonate. I wasn’t physically attracted to them. It’s not that they were bad-looking men. I’m sure they were great guys; it just wasn’t a great fit for me.
Did you reply to them? I didn’t.
Do you ever think that those guys could write the same rejection essay you did? Yes! And I would really like to hear a guy’s perspective. There were some comments on the xoJane article from guys who said they went through similar experiences… the feedback I got really changed my perception of online dating. It really made me think hard about the whole thing. Now I can see their side and how it might feel that I didn’t respond.
Would you go online again? I feel like there’s ways, tips and tricks that I have now that I could use to position myself better. I think maybe I was going about it wrong. It’s not about changing who I am, but just describing myself better. The readers had a lot of great feedback on positioning myself. My friend who wrote my profile for me meant well but I have a degree in advertising and communications, I should be able to sell myself…[the profile] didn’t paint who I really am. It didn’t explain who I am to a stranger.
But could it ever? I wonder if the whole idea that you have to have a solid brand to attract someone online is kind of flawed, too? It definitely is flawed, and I feel like no matter what I write—even if I write the best profile ever—no guy is going to get a full sense of who I am in 60 seconds. I feel like if I want to play this game, if I choose to be part of online dating, then I have to find different strategies, and I respect that as someone who works in marketing. I’m really interested in making these tweaks. I will go back to online dating and see if they do help. I’m planning to do it in the next week or so and I’m planning on sharing my results. But now I’m also really focusing on being more social in general. I’m going to more networking events. I’ve scheduled some meetup.com groups and classes on topics I enjoy. I can’t just rely on online dating and I don’t think anybody can.
What do you think was wrong with your profile? I think it doesn’t show what I’m really about. I’m not just somebody who ‘watches Netflix, likes movies, is addicted to my niece and likes my highly intelligent cat.’ As much as I love my highly intelligent cat and niece, maybe that’s something to work into the conversation [during a date].
It didn’t show that I love photography, that I love going to offbeat events like a mushroom festival, and that I like trying new brunch places around Philadelphia or that I like attending random classes that I find on Grouphot. I didn’t really share things I wanted to do with a potential boyfriend.
Were there any downsides to writing about your datelessness? There was a lot of body shaming—I was shocked. Ninety per cent of the xoJane comments were really great. But then there was the ten per cent that were really mean. For example: “She hasn’t gotten any replies because she’s fat.” “You’re fat and your profile is off-putting.” “Fat girls are revolting.” Initially those comments shook me and triggered every insecurity in my body. I watched the comments roll in, and I just sat there crying my eyes out.
What are you looking for now? I really want to meet guys and date. I’m open to anything. It’s not like I’m looking to settle down in the next year. God, no. I just want to date to find out what I like and what I don’t like. You never know when you’re going to run into the person you’re going to spend your future with.
What’s your type? I would love to date someone like Leonard from Big Bang Theory. I think he’s fantastic. I absolutely adore him. I love the cute, dorky guy who is intelligent and loves weird stuff….you know who else who would be absolutely perfect? What’s his name…the guy from How I Met Your Mother, the one married to Lily.
Jason Segel? Jason Segel! Jason Segel would be my perfect guy.