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Tinderp Tale #13: I’m Still An Asshole, But You Already Knew That

Okay, let’s talk about attraction.

It’s kind of hard for me to specify what I find attractive without feeling guilty, because I think what shapes my (and many other people’s) perceptions of attractiveness is a bunch of toxic, oppressive bullshit we internalized from being force-fed Western-white-supremacist-cis-heteronormative-ableist-sizeist beauty standards all our lives.

“You like white guys,” a couple of friends have (half-jokingly) accused.

Um, excuse them. I used to passively like or meet up with guys who happened to be primarily white, but now that I’m much more sociopolitically aware I have overcorrected to make up for my internalized racism and unconscious bias by vocally and explicitly preferring guys of color.

When I first started out on OKCupid, the racial breakdown of my (16 total) dates looked like this:

  • 62% White
  • 19% Asian
  • 13% Black
  • 6% Multiracial

tinderp 13.1

Which actually isn’t that bad for someone with internalized racism!

So once I got off OKC and gave Tinder a shot with my new militant racial justice lens, the stats looked like this, 12 dates in (percentages calculated based off 28 total dates–OKC + Tinder combined):

  • 39% White
  • 32% Asian
  • 18% Black
  • 7% Multiracial
  • 4% Non-white Latino

tinderp 13.2

See, Oscars? That’s how you stop being so goddamn white. Be open and intentional about who you wanna fuck with (in your case figuratively, in my case literally) and don’t let your implicit biases turn you into an accidental white supremacist.

Anyway, at this point in my dating exploits, white guys were certainly not my type.

“Hipsters,” said my friend Darcy. “You’re attracted to guys who look like hipsters and then you become immediately repulsed by them when you find out they’re douchey, or whatever.”

“No! Well…” I thought about the most attractive guys I had been on dates with. I mean, sure, they wore trendy, fitted clothing and occasionally put on ironic or condescending airs about low-brow culture and routine work life, but… “Okay. Maybe,” I admitted.

So what, I’m attracted to dudes who dress well, and maybe that includes a plaid button-down and some degree of pretension. Sue me!

It’s difficult to really pinpoint anything else though. This is where the toxic, oppressive bullshit comes in; stuff that I have recognized is likely problematic and will take ongoing time and effort for me to sit with, reflect on, and change as necessary. I have a tendency to be attracted to dudes who are on the thinner side, but not too skinny; they need to be sturdy enough that I could assess their ability to give me a piggyback ride with full confidence. I am unbearably heteronormative and I’m not attracted to guys who showcase stereotypically or traditionally feminine physical attributes or mannerisms; but I am also not attracted to guys who showcase hyper-masculine physical attributes, personality traits, or mannerisms. (This especially applies to the way a guy speaks or sounds, as many of my friends know.) Okay so what the fuck are you attracted to then, you might be wondering. If I had to quantify my personally ideal mix of (binary) gender expression for a prospective male dating partner, it would be approximately…70% masculine, 30% feminine. (Keep in mind, this is purely physical. Personality-wise, 100% feminine please.)

As you can see, I am arbitrarily particular about the physicality of the guys I go on dates with, which okay yes, has been somewhat of a factor in why I have not had much success with dating. A couple of friends have (half-jokingly) accused me of being shallow. But I take into account other shit, too! Jeez. It’s not just about looks. As has been made clear by previous dates, I will immediately stop liking you if you are completely ignorant about rape culture, if you make unfunny jokes about lesbians, if you express a preference for virgins, if you are a white dude and justify racial preferences in dating, or if you play devil’s advocate.

No wonder I’m going to die alone!

tinderp 13.3

In the meantime, however, I just needed temporary rebound dick.

Okay, not literally, actually, because in the winter of 2016, I was too sad and self-hating to be horny. I just needed some male company that would make me forget about the asshole who devirginized me. I was swiping frantically on Tinder, trying to line up dates that would hopefully ease the pain of being fucked over by a trash dude.

I ended up matching with a guy I will call…Francisco. Francisco had an actual bio with substance, which is a rarity in the cesspool of Tinder. (Okay, so maybe I don’t remember specifically what was so substantive about his bio, but…whatever!) Unfortunately, he also had shitty pictures (DUDES WHY DO YOU ALWAYS DO THIS STOP DOING THIS I SWEAR I’M GONNA START UP A BUSINESS WITH MY FRIEND LAURA TO FIX YOUR WACK ASS DATING PROFILES), but it seemed like he had the potential to be hot, so I clung to that.

Francisco was sweet in his messages to me. He complimented me on a poem about capitalism that I wrote and posted on my Instagram, which had never happened before with a random dude from the Internet. So when he asked me out to drinks at Starline, a bar/restaurant/venue in Oakland, of course I said yes.

tinderp 13.4

Someone who appreciated my writing, recognized capitalism as an oppressive system that should be dismantled, and didn’t seem like an asshole? I was all in!

Well, until I wasn’t. I found myself once again crying in my office at the end of the work day, because I was still stuck in the pain inflicted by The Asshole and I didn’t know how to get out of it. This time my coworker Jakki was there to witness my embarrassing meltdown, but she was being very nice and non-judgmental about it while I sniffled and ranted and looked at the time and bemoaned how I was too much of an emotional wreck to go on a date tonight plus the scarf I was wearing smelled kinda funky but I had to keep wearing it because my outfit didn’t work without it so hopefully he wouldn’t notice the smell since I sprayed Febreze on it ugh omg did I have to go on this date I should have cancelled when I had the chance but now it’s too late and in fact I really should be going over there now oh fuck I’m gonna be late ok bye Jakki see ya!

The bar was incredibly packed when I arrived, several minutes late. I took a moment to survey my surroundings. Francisco had texted me to let me know he was already here, but I didn’t see anyone who looked like what I thought Francisco would look like. I got the sense that this was a bad sign. “Learkana?” asked a stranger now blocking my view.

“Oh, hi!” I said, smile plastered on. Francisco looked…well, he looked like this was going to be another disappointing night. It’s not like he Catfished me–I could see the resemblance. But he also was just…burlier and plainer than I expected. Don’t be a shallow asshole, I told myself.

Francisco asked me what I wanted. I got my usual cider, and we both sat down at one of the small tables by the entrance. I remember enjoying the conversation. We talked about our families, our jobs, our passions. He asked thoughtful questions and was a good listener. I could tell he was into me. He spent a good while talking about his niece and how he wanted to make sure she knew about feminism and the strength of women, which I recognized was an attempt to impress me. On occasion, he would ever so briefly and gently put his hand on my leg or the small of my back.

In one of these moments, I looked at his hand touching me, and then I looked at him. I thought to myself, This guy is sweet and sociopolitically aware. He likes me. He’s not ugly. He’s probably good in bed because he probably cares about the sexual pleasure and wellbeing of his partner, unlike some asshole I know. So why not let this happen?

But I just couldn’t see it. “It” being a future with him. A future in which I felt more than vague detachment at his hands on my body. A future in which I made out with him and felt aroused. A future in which we laid naked with each other and I didn’t want to leave the bed. It wasn’t there, and I wasn’t going to force it. Every subtle touch from him spelled out trouble instead of possibility. A part of me was sad. Sad that I couldn’t feel anything for this guy, who didn’t seem like an asshole, because I was hung up on a guy who was. I finished my drink, wondering how to end this.

tinderp 13.5

By the time he walked me to my car, I still didn’t know. He asked me for my number. I smiled, flustered, and told him I would message it to him. He took it in stride, said good night, and walked away. I got into my car and cried again on the drive home.

The next day, I sent him a lengthy message explaining that while it was great meeting him, I didn’t think it would work out because I was still recovering from a really bad dating experience. I told him that meeting up with him made me realize I needed to focus on myself instead of dating. He said he understood, and wished me well.

I unmatched with him and felt terrible. Part of what I said was true, but mostly, it was a lie to cover up the fact that I wasn’t physically attracted to him.

I wonder if men feel this bad about rejecting women based on their appearances. Do they inwardly chastise themselves for being shallow? Do they spend a majority of the evening trying to convince themselves that their date is attractive in a certain light, a certain posture or gesture, a certain circumstance?

Looks aren’t everything. But they are something. Yes, my perceptions of what constitutes attractive is most likely rooted in fucked up desirability politics that I’ve unconsciously internalized over the course of twenty-five years, but that couldn’t be undone in just one night. And as much as I felt guilty about rejecting Francisco based on his looks, I also thought it would be even shittier of me to continue seeing him while secretly still finding him unattractive. I would never want someone to date me in spite of my looks, so why should I feel obligated to do so? One could argue that attraction takes time, but as my dating exploits have demonstrated, time has never been on my side. I understood that much. Time was primarily allocated to chasing our dreams or chasing stability, traveling, and fortifying ride-or-die relationships with loved ones already in our lives, not hit-or-miss dates arranged on millennial dating apps. I was giving and getting scraps, and suffering as a consequence of it. But reframing the situation was beyond my capacity at the time.

I should have quit Tinder at this point, but I had no real intention of doing so. Being a shallow asshole on a dating spree wasn’t the greatest or healthiest coping mechanism, but it was the only one that gave me a sense of control, even if the reality was me spiraling out of it.

tl;dr Learkana is emotionally fucked up from losing her virginity and goes on another meaningless date in an attempt to fill the void in her heart and her vagina!

Now it’s time for…

RATE THAT DATE VENUE!
Venue: Starline Social Club
Rating: ***
Review: Honestly, I didn’t stray too far beyond the entrance of the bar so I can’t really judge. I should go back there with friends sometime. Seemed very popular judging by the loud crowd and difficulty in finding my date even though he was literally three feet away from me. Also I heard Solange performed there, so it has to be somewhat legit right?

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Tinderp Tale #5: Too Dope For Tinder

I don’t know if anyone else does this, but sometimes, I’ll picture a room filled with all the people I’ve been on dates with. I try to imagine who would get along, who would size the others up and feel better or worse about themselves, and most importantly, what sort of conversations they would have about me. (Yes, I am realizing as I’m typing this that it’s a full-fledged exercise in narcissism, but bear with me, please.)

SETTING: a low-key bar in downtown Oakland.

Todd is playing pool, or possibly bocci with Brian. “Learkana was cute, but kind of a bitch,” Todd says rather bluntly. “We made out in my car one time and then I never saw her again.”

“Yeah, I feel you,” Brian agrees. “I wanted to see her again but she didn’t seem to care much, so I ended up dating someone else. Of course that’s when she tried to come back into my life.”

“Yup. Like I said, kind of a bitch,” Todd remarks with a shrug.

Over in the corner, Steven #1 shoots the shit with Rishi over drinks. “She didn’t like me. I’m not sure why.” Steven #1’s brow is furrowed as he sloshes the beer in his glass, all the while shaking his head.

“Wait, who are we talking about?” Rishi asks.

“Learkana, the Asian girl on OKCupid we both met up with on separate occasions,” Steven #1 replies. “And the only reason we’re talking about her is because she’s dictating this completely self-indulgent and imaginary scenario. See? I wouldn’t say any of this stuff in real life.”

“Learkana? Doesn’t ring a bell,” says Rishi with cruel obliviousness. “Gotta go, don’t wanna be late to my anarchist meeting. Catch you later, man. Resist!” He puts up a power fist and strides away.

Meanwhile, a couple of stools over, Steven #2 and Eric are debating who was treated the most like shit by Learkana.

“She immediately lost interest in me because I didn’t know what rape culture was!” Steven #2 tells Eric. “Which is ridiculous, because most people don’t know what that is. Not knowing what rape culture is didn’t keep me from being a Stanford graduate, so how is it a big deal?”

“Oh, she asked me that too,” Eric replies. “She was kind of like a caricature of a feminist, almost. Anyway, at least she didn’t stand you up! We were supposed to meet up at a bar for our second date but she ditched me and claimed she didn’t see me waiting outside for her.”

“Well, at least you made it to a second date!” Steven #2 argues. “She rejected me an hour after meeting me!”

“Oh, Learkana?” says Jack from behind Steven #2, reaching over the pair for his whiskey. “I liked her politics even if she didn’t know what she was talking about half the time. Wasn’t down to fuck though. Her loss.”

“Did anyone have sex with this girl?” inquires Abed. “Just curious, not actually interested.”

“Honestly, I think she might have been a lesbian who wasn’t out of the closet just yet,” offers Sherlock.

“While I feel very indifferent about Learkana and have been happily married for over a year now, I doth protest at the sexist dialogue currently unfolding,” interjects Colin.

Okay, END SCENE before this starts taking a toll on my self-esteem.

tinderp 5.1b

So why have I indulged in weird fantasies like this? I don’t know, probably because I’m pathologically self-conscious to the point where I am always fixated on my self-image and the impression (or lack thereof) I leave on other people–in particular, what impression I leave on strange men I’ve met from the Internet. It was becoming apparent to me that most of the time, I didn’t leave a very good one. I was usually cold and distant, awkward and quiet. I never got to the point where I could be fully comfortable around a guy. By this time (Summer ’15), I had officially been on the online dating scene for 2 years and was still having mild anxiety attacks before each date. I thought dating was supposed to get easier, but that definitely hadn’t been the case.

I decided to take matters into my own hands, which simply meant tweaking my Tinder bio to more accurately reflect my jaded, misanthropic views and introverted lifestyle: Only doing half hour boba dates from now on.

I mean, 30 minutes was sufficient time to make a determination of whether we were interested in each other, right?

I was swiping on random dudes everyday. 90% of the time I swiped left. But on occasion, a guy would catch my eye. Sometimes it was a good picture, other times a witty one-liner, but most of the time, it was at least one really good picture and two really promising ones. A guy I will henceforth refer to as Charlie fit the latter profile. The one really good picture was of him twirling on a lamppost while wearing a dress that showed off his tan, muscled arms. A man of color with sexy limbs AND zero fucks about gender norms? Yes please. I swiped right. We matched. Yay!

I immediately messaged him, complimenting him on his choice of apparel. He warmed up to my flattery.

tinderp5.2

We moved from Tinder messaging to texting pretty quickly, so things were getting serious. (Just kidding, I’m a ho when it comes to giving out my phone number so it wasn’t a big deal. Speaking of which, there’s probably 10+ fuckboy numbers I still need to delete from my contacts…) Charlie was being really flirty and I was also trying to be really flirty back except when I was making things awkward for no good reason.  Below is an example of this:

tinderp-5

To clarify, he was actually talking about weed, but you probably already knew that.

Also, if you couldn’t infer from the screenshot, I had asked Charlie out. We had already made plans to meet up at Woods Bar & Brewery in downtown Oakland, which was sadly and obviously not a boba place. I think I chose the bar because I didn’t really know of any quality boba places at the time other than my regular spot, and I didn’t want him to ruin my boba spot if things went poorly–which, statistically speaking, they probably would.

I was intrigued by Charlie because he was in some local pop punk band I had never heard of, and musicians were not a demographic I typically went on dates with. I was curious enough to look up his band on YouTube and watch an amateurish music video they had made a while back. Charlie played guitar, and his vocals were pretty decent. He sounded like that dude from Simple Plan, but less annoying. His voice did sound very juvenile though, which was honestly kind of a turnoff. (I have this thing about voices. I’m not sure why. Maybe because I hate my own voice so I compensate by seeking out dudes with voices I deem attractive. Who needs therapy when I can psychoanalyze myself?)

In person, Charlie was attractive. His voice and the way he talked, however, were worse than I thought. He sounded like a whiny white dude-bro. His life story was interesting enough to somewhat make up for this, though. Charlie was raised by a single mother whom he was pretty close to (an understatement, given that he had a tattoo of a heart with the word “MOM” inked in the middle of it on his arm–a stereotype of a tattoo I didn’t know people in real life actually got done). He was stuck doing some job he didn’t give a fuck about while trying to chase his dreams with his band, had worked as a freelance music critic by setting up his own blog and tricking people into thinking he had important things to say, and smoked a lot of pot because it made him more creative and stuff.  He seemed to have carefully crafted a casual, cocky demeanor for himself–like, he knew he was pretty awesome, but like, whatever, dude. You know?

It occurred to me more than once that I was on a date with a high school girl’s wet dream. The thing was, I wasn’t in high school anymore, so the more he talked, the more I was conflicted about my interest in him. I looked at my phone to see that the timer I had set was now at the thirty-minute mark. (Yes, I was assholish enough to stand by the half-hour rule specified in my bio.)

“So, did I make the cut?” Charlie inquired. He actually looked a little nervous.

God, I felt like such a douchebag. He had been warned ahead of time, but still. “Yes, we can keep talking,” I told him, feeling my insides twist because I wasn’t sure whether I had said yes because I actually wanted to keep talking to him, or because I didn’t want to follow through with being a total asshole. (Probably a little of both.)

He exhaled in relief. “This bar is pretty cool, by the way. How’d you find out about it?”

“Oh. Uh…the answer’s kind of awkward.” I guess I could have lied, but I’ve always been bad at lying and really good at word vomit. (I blame my mom.)

“What’s awkward?” he asked.

“Well, uh, I know about this place because a different guy I went on a date with Yelped it,” I confessed.

Charlie shrugged, unaffected, and resumed talking.

After we were done with our drinks, we walked around downtown. “You know, I don’t know why you’re on Tinder,” Charlie said at one point. “You’re pretty dope.”

I just giggled and avoided delving too deeply into why I found that statement laughable. Mostly it was him talking and me half-listening. He told me none of his relationships had lasted longer than a month, which was a turnoff to me because it signaled emotional immaturity and assholishness in general on his part. (Well, that’s how my cynical ass interpreted it, anyway.) He also talked about growing up multiracial and how the black girls he went to school with used to make fun of him, which was why he wasn’t really interested in dating black girls. This tirade made me pretty uncomfortable because it reeked of borderline misogynoir to me, but at the same time, I didn’t want to invalidate his experience as a mixed-race black guy, so instead I just shut up and felt really weird.

I suggested we take a walk around Lake Merritt instead. He was down. For whatever reason, I drove us there instead of just walking the half mile or so from downtown. I guess it was because I was feeling some combination of lazy and rushed, and was hoping a change of scenery would set the mood better. By this time, it was pretty dark out. Perfect. The shining lake, the dimly lit pathway, the aesthetically pleasing landscape minus the ubiquitous bird shit…a recipe for romance! Or so I thought. I was still nonsensically clinging to the idea of Lake Merritt as a site for igniting sparks, as a catalyst for chemistry. Third Fourth Fifth time’s the charm, right?

We walked for a bit along the lake. Charlie kept rambling on, while I was trying to figure out how to be smooth about holding his hand. I realized this was a pointless endeavor when there was nothing smooth about me (I mean figuratively, ok). “Can I see your hand?” I asked instead, very unromantically.

“Why?”

“Just let me see it,” I said impatiently and even less romantically (if that was even possible, because holy shit none of this was romantic).

He extended his hand towards me. I “looked” at it and held it in mine, feeling triumphant.

“Wow, you could have just asked to hold my hand,” said Charlie, rolling his eyes.

“Whatever.”

A few minutes ticked by. Charlie kept talking, seemingly unaware of how loud and obnoxious his voice sounded against the backdrop of the silent lake and brisk night air. I was trying to pay attention to what he was saying, but was soon overcome with the sinking feeling that my attempt at replicating what I had experienced with Anthony was failing, because holding hands with Charlie sucked balls.

I honestly didn’t even know holding someone’s hand could be so unappealing. His hand felt like it was chafing mine. Also, my arm felt like it was stiffly and awkwardly positioned, rather than dangling free. Was it because his arm was disproportionate to his body? Was my arm disproportionate to my body? Was it a combination of bodily disproportion happening? Was he just a shitty hand-holder? Was that even a thing?

tinderp 5.3

I felt confused and disappointed. Out loud I told Charlie that it was getting late and we should start heading back to my car.

I drove us back to the downtown area, where his car was parked. I had both hands on the steering wheel when he tried to put his hand over my right one. I automatically flinched.

“Oh, sorry. I thought you’d want to hold hands.”

“Not while I’m driving,” I said in what I hope was a lighthearted tone.

I dropped him off and we said our goodbyes. The next day, he texted me, asking me if I wanted to binge watch some show with him. Ugh. That meant going over to his place, and that meant he was planning on having sex with me.

I texted him back, vaguely telling him I wasn’t in the mood to watch that particular show but would maybe be open to watching something else. He never responded. I wondered if he could sense rejection between the words I had sent, or whether I was completely oblivious and really he was the one who had rejected me. For the most part though, I was unbothered by this exchange and devoted my brainpower to fretting over other inconsequential things.

A couple of months passed. In one of my lonely nostalgic spinster moods, I looked Charlie up on Instagram to see what he was up to. A few of his recent pictures featured him and an Asian girl with punk-styled green hair. Ew. I mean, not ew at the girl, but ew at the increased likelihood of this dude having an Asian fetish. (Okay, so maybe I was being paranoid but still, when it comes to the implicit politics of desire…CONSTANT VIGILANCE!) Good thing I never met up with him again, I thought, and proceeded to move on with my life.

A few months after I cyberstalked him, Charlie hit me up on Tinder again.


Charlie

Hey, are you still on this thing?


Weird. It was rare for me to have someone from my flimsy dating past try to reconnect with me. I decided it couldn’t hurt to respond.


Me

Yup, still on here, unfortunately.


Charlie

Wanna get a drink with me sometime?


Me

Uh. This is very unexpected. Why’d you stop talking to me last time?


Charlie

You didn’t seem interested in me, so I went with someone else.


Damn. So guys did know how to read between the lines.


Me

Lol okay. Idk honestly I didn’t think we had chemistry


Charlie

Well, you’re really hot so I thought I’d take my chances and ask you out again 😉


I was equal parts amused, flattered, and annoyed by this. When did I become a one-dimensional Hot Girl (TM) to cishet dudes? I wondered. Oh, yeah. When I started wearing makeup and became less modest with my clothing choices. Just a year or two ago, I honestly thought my appeal was rooted solely in my quirky personality and sense of humor. (HA. HA. HA.) Experience was now telling me that nah, my personality’s the boner shrinker, just be hot and literally nothing else.

I made a mental note to never call myself shallow again. Dudes were shallow AF, and shamelessly so. At least I had the conscience/social conditioning to be semi-apologetic about my superficiality, jeez.

Anyway, while I was flattered and stuff by Charlie calling me hot, I was fixated on one thing and one thing alone: chemistry. And I definitely didn’t have it with this dude. So I had to tell him it was a no-go.


 Me

Lol thanks but I would rather be friends


Charlie

Okay. My band has a concert in February. Would you come out and kick it with me?


Me

Sure


He never wrote back after that, and eventually he either deleted his account or unmatched with me. Guess he read between the lines again.

Damn. He should really teach that skill to other dudes.

tl;dr Learkana reflects on her ghosts of OKCupid past! Learkana learns someone can be shitty at handholding! Learkana is really hot!

Now it’s time for…

RATE THAT DATE VENUE!
Venue: Woods Bar & Brewery
Rating: *****
Review: Um yes this place is awesome, mainly because their beers actually taste good. The setup is cool too.