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Monday, April 15

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Dating Thu Oct 27 2011

Chicago Dating 2.011: Match in the Midwest: the Art of Polite Judgment

Previous Entry: The First Date
Next Entry: The Second Date

My original Match profile was rejected not once, not twice but three whole times. I have to say, that third time stung a bit. I thought there were relationship experts somewhere at Match headquarters who were reading my profile, tsking and muttering "This poor girl doesn't have a chance," before giving my profile the big rubber "REJECTED."

Finally I figured out my profile was rejected because I had wrote the word "shit" in my profile...twice. Apparently swearing isn't online dating approved.

Perhaps ironically I recently rejected a potential suitor because he said he was raised "somewhat" religious and therefore never swore or ate candy bars. I felt bad, but sometimes I need a fucking Crunch bar.

The first few weeks on it was not this easy to press the thumbs down button on some winkers. So what if all their pictures are self taken either in mirrors or Mac books? Does it really matter if they are currently living with their parents while they finish their associate's degree at "Lakewood Colage?" It could be cool that they tatted their own legs rights?!

I soon learned if you never say "hell no" to some profiles you will end up with a barrel full of "maybes" who have lots of "inner beauty" or "character" or the worst, "potential." Of course being born, bred and instilled with an innate and burdensome sense of the Midwest manners, this "hell no" actually becomes a bit more of a "that is super sweet, thanks so much but no, no thank you."

Outright rejection may seem slightly cruel and not in the spirit of the Midwest politeness but the best thing you can do for all parties here is just say no. If you aren't giving a thumbs up on someone's online profile there is very little chance that those thumbs will suddenly fly skyward after a date. And that familiar if not still sharp sting of rejection will hurt more the longer you drag out your incessant need to "be nice."

And, folks, it has to be true honest rejection not some "let's be friends" bullshit. It is not polite to pull the friends card unless you seriously want to be friends; not like Facebook occasionally poking friends, but real life, old-school friends. If, in an effort to be polite, you end up just lying to make something less uncomfortable, you aren't being polite, you are being a cowardly dick.

Although manners seem to be the pride and joy of the Midwest, one of our very few claims to fame in this fly over zone, politeness really isn't something we should be using as a regional motto. Being nice is often just an excuse to get out of an uncomfortable and potentially awkward situation. The Midwest should really be known as the region where people hate awkward situations so much they make up an entire manners rule book to get around potentially confronting the reality of life.

Because life is awkward, like seriously uncomfortable, down to you sweaty toes kind of awkward. And, let's be honest, online dating is awkward, and nerve-wracking, like prescription-strength-deodorant-needed kind of nerve-wracking. Basically life is a big sweaty mess.

But the more honestly you can face this reality with and accept it, the easier it will be to say "Those videos of your cat are super adorable but I really don't want to spend the next hour listening to all the potential Halloween costumes you have for him" or go with a simple and honest "I'm sorry but I'm just not interested." This is not rude, this is polite judgment.

If more of us had the cojones to shed the puritan shackles of manners and just be honest, kindly honest, I think that we would all start appreciating the awkward realities of life a bit more and realize there are worse things than a little slap of awkward (such as the insistent pummeling of denial).

The beauty of online dating is it, at least potentially, creates an open and honest virtual world where you can advertise your true self, or at least a PG-vulgarity-free version of your true self. And that self, will then be judged against what someone else is looking for in a partner. With a little bit of bravery, judgment is rendered with a flirty wink back or a definite by polite "no thanks." Online dating potentially creates a world where we let go of manners in favor of reality and prospective love.

Of course, I have not escaped this whole experience without being judged myself. There are a fair number of winks that have gone un-reciprocated. But I'm surprisingly refreshed by this terribly efficient method of evaluation and judgment. I guess one of the biggest lessons of Match is true politeness is just quiet honesty with yourself and others.

If you have any stories of your own to tell about a particular date you had to reject or of being rejected yourself, feel free to comment below or email

I have to admit; I'm getting a little overwhelmed by all of the Match-ness. The familiar pattern of reciprocal winking, followed by 3-5 emails with carefully placed allusions to cool pop culture icons and then on to the ceremonious exchanging of phone numbers, all to reach the glory of a two-hour drink date, well it is just getting a little wearisome.

So I signed myself up solo for a CitySwarm adventure in the form of a BYOB ghost tour. CitySwarm is an organization that arranges group outings in Chicago. From brewery tours to dog walking to kayaking down the Chicago River, the group has a bunch of different options for urbanites. Unfortunately I was the only one of my bus tour that decided to do this whole Cityswarm thing solo. Luckily two very lovely young ladies allowed me to pretend to be their friends for the night and thus I wasn't sadly drinking my juicebox of wine on the bus alone. Note: There is something sadder than drinking alone. It is drinking on a bus full of people alone.

Although the trip did not spawn any future dates, it was fun, and drunk and a good way to break up the pattern. I plan on sporting a friendly partner next time but all around well worth it.

Previous Entry: The First Date
Next Entry: The Second Date

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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