The Dating Jungle: A Taxonomic Index

I am not a doctor. I do however sometimes say things like, “as a doctor, I recommend that you smoke/drink/jump off of this,” much like any respectable physician would. I’m also not a sociologist, but much like any respectable sociologist would, I very much enjoy observing behavior. For example, whenever I go out to a bar or a club, I have the overwhelming urge to go sit in a corner with a notepad and record observations of interactions. I should probably look into that, but for now, I’m going to pretend to be the Jane Goodall of the bar scene. Lately though, my observations have focused not on the bar scene, but on the wide world of online dating. You would need a team of massive proportions to sift through it, and I’m sure someone somewhere has amassed just such a team. But on my own, and in the interest of furthering our collective understanding of society, here is my work thus far on classifying the madness.


While there are some normal, interesting, men in the online dating pool, who don’t look as if they live under a bridge and scare children and eat goats in their free time, they are few and far between. Let’s call them, the unicorns. Or maybe Manicorns. There are also the non-Manicorns, or as I like to call them, everyone. Now, I’m only talking about guys here, because that’s who I choose to date, but I’m fairly confident that both Manicorns and every other group here transcends any and all barriers. With that said, everyone falls into the following groups, no exceptions (wouldn’t it be fun if life really worked like that?).


1.  The Honest Douche—he’s an asshole, but he’ll tell you that upfront. He’s always down for a little sexy snap chat, and when that’s all you want he’s great to have around, but don’t expect to spend the night. As long as you take him at face value and don’t try to Beauty-and-the-Beast him (i.e., wait around for your love to change him from a monster to a prince) then you’ll be just fine.


2. Cheater—He’s out there, friends. Oh is he ever out there, and he knows what you want to hear because it already worked on his girlfriend. He’s available at really weird times and mostly during the week, and his place looks a little off—two pairs of matching, different sized sandals lying around, a little haphazard but not dirty. If you’re lucky though, sometimes he stages a big scene after he’s slept with you to avoid sneaking around further, and to assuage his guilt. If you pretend you’re watching a fireworks show, it’s fun to watch other people implode.


3. Stage Five Clinger—he wants a girlfriend, like now, a couple of minutes ago even. He’s sure you’re the one after looking at three of your pictures on the internet, and he really feels the need to express how much you mean to him after texting sporadically for maybe a day and a half; you really just make his life so much better. And for the love of all that is good and holy, you run for the fucking hills. Do it. Do it right this second and don’t look back.


4. Well Meaning But Lost—the ones who don’t want to a girlfriend, but do want someone to watch movies and hold hands with and sleep with on the regular. Basically, they want to have their cake and eat out its friend too. They frustrate the hell out of me, but it’s probably because this is the category I fit most easily into, and we’re often bothered by that which we’re most like, right?  If you want my opinion (as if I’d hold it back even if you didn’t) they want the stability without the work, and let’s face it, you can’t pour a foundation without breaking a sweat. If you want to feel comfortable and fulfilled with a person, if you want them to care about you, if you want to care about them in that way that makes your heart feel like it’s growing in your chest right then—like the Grinch must have felt just before the frame around his heart broke wide open—if you want a girl to be there to comfort you, and catch you when you fall, you have to give her a place to plant her feet firmly. How can that happen when you’re telling her not to tie you down? Side note: Polyamory is of course excluded from this, as it’s a lifestyle choice that attracts like-minded folks, and my motto is, if it makes you happy (and no one’s dying) then rock on. Get yours. Do you. These guys though, don’t identify themselves as poly, they’re “mostly monogamous”, which as far as I’m concerned means, “monogamous as long as the girl I’m keeping on the line is around.”


5. Running On Empty— these guys are really sweet and fun and funny and well read, and have absolutely no self-confidence. They really should, because whatever it is that they’re self-conscious about, typically drives them into other interests, which makes them a lot more interesting than your average bear. These guys are epic in the personality department, it’s really just their own hang-ups that end up hanging everyone else up too. For example, there’s one guy on the dating site that I use who has sent me three messages—always a ‘first’ message, as if we’ve never talked before, and never a follow-up. The first said, “Are you only attracted to tall men?” No “hi”, no “do you also enjoy long walks on the beach?” no comment about my stance on the Back To The Future movies as it’s outlined in my profile. I think I said, “I don’t mind if you don’t”, and then never heard back. The second message, months later after deactivating and reactivating my account, read, “Are you only attracted to professional types?” I think I responded with a joke about how several of my exes have lived in a van at some point in their lives (true, depressing fact), and never heard back. Then, after another de/reactivation cycle, another inquiry after my height preferences, to which I again replied, “I don’t mind if you don’t”. But of course I mind, not the height, but the lack of confidence. Is it a secret that we’re all just faking it till we make it? That is what most of us are doing, isn’t it?


I don’t know much, but here’s what I think; life is this vast, mysterious, complex collection of expanding and contracting and decaying matter and swirling energy, all perpetually changing and shifting in a never ending balancing act. I’m not sure what it all adds up to, but I do know that there’s a hell of a lot try and figure out. And if, as many of my hippie friends say (and as I really would like to believe), we are all made from love, then good god, that shit’s pretty complicated too.

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