The (online) dating game

Belinda M. Paschal - Contributing Columnist

LOVE ME, TINDER: If you’re single in 2016, there’s a good chance you’ll take a dip in the online dating pool.

If you’re swimming in the dating pool in 2016, and you’re not into the bar scene (sketchy) or hanging out in the produce section (creepy), chances are you’ve tried your hand at online dating at least once.

Whether it’s Tinder or Grindr, OKCupid or Plenty Of Fish, eHarmony or Match, or some other site promising you a happily ever after with Prince or Princess Charming, it’s a fact that an online presence opens you up to a bigger sea of potential mates.

Sometimes that sea will be plagued by choppy waters and sometimes it will be smooth sailing. To paraphrase Forrest Gump, “Online dating is like a box of chocolates: You never know what you’re gonna get … and be sure to watch out for nuts.”

Even yours truly has cast her line into the lake of love, looking for that special someone who doesn’t make me want to stab myself in the face with a fork. The experience has been both positive — I’ve made a couple of great friends — and negative — let’s just say the phrase “10 pounds of crazy in a five-pound bag” is an understatement.

If you’re new to the online scene, allow me to throw you a life preserver as you dip your toes into the waters, and introduce you to 10 of the many types of people you will encounter on your journey.

1. The Profile Professional

With their soft-focus, perfectly posed profile photo and self-description complete with bullet points, you can’t tell if this online dater is looking for love or applying for a job. If they’re giving you the hard sell, give them a hard pass. Anyone who sells himself like he’s selling a car is likely to be a lemon.

2. Mr./Ms. Monosyllable


That’s it. This sparkling opening line usually sets the tone for future chats. If you’re lucky, you might get a “how r u?” Now, they don’t have to compose a Shakespearean soliloquy, but honey child, if they can’t be more invested in forming actual sentences with actual words, don’t waste your time. This ain’t “Jerry Maguire” and they won’t have you at “hello.”

3. The U-Hauler

Initially, they will seem like a nice, normal person, and you’ll hit it off at the first meeting. Texts will follow soon thereafter … like, minutes after you’ve parted. Before you know it, you’re Facebook official, there’s a moving van in your driveway, and your future children have been named — all before the second date. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but not by much. This one’s a fast mover and prone to expecting too much too soon. Let ‘em down as gently as possible and move on. Oh, and unfriend them on Facebook.

4. Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

Red flag #1: They look nothing like their profile picture … if it’s really even them. No, seriously — I know someone who met up with a guy who used a friend’s picture because, “I don’t want anyone to know I’m online dating.” Uh-huh. If they’ll lie about something as simple as their appearance, what other, more important deceits are up their slimy sleeves? Exit stage left and in a hurry.

5. The Ghost

Things are going great in chat-land. The conversation flows like honey, she’s witty and pretty and bright, you have so much in common, you’ve never connected with someone this way, you think she might be The One, and then … nothing. Did she get caught in a mudslide? Eaten by a lion? Get run over by a crappy purple Scion? No, my friend, you just got “ghosted.” Don’t cry because she wasn’t that into you, laugh because she’s someone else’s problem now.

6. The Ladies’ Man/Woman

Also known as: Casanova, The Player, Loverboy/girl, and numerous other nicknames I can’t print in this family newspaper.

This charmer knows all the right things to say. You’ll feel like the most special, gorgeous, intelligent person in the world … and so will the 20 other people they’re stringing along. To quote Pat Benatar, this type is a “heartbreaker, dream maker, love taker,” and don’t you mess around with them.

7. Crazypants McNutbag

Can seem super normal at first, often intelligent, witty and more fun than the proverbial barrel o’ monkeys. But they can only keep up the ruse for so long. The silicon chip inside their head gets switched to overload and they turn cuckoo-bananas, flipping your world upside-down and inside-out. They’ll drain your heart, spirit, and if you’re not careful, your bank account.

8. The Soul Sucker

This love-seeker is a close relative of the U-Hauler in that they’ll want to be exclusive almost immediately, but their fawning, groveling and currying favor can wear thin pretty quickly. I also call this type The Desperado because their desperation for love makes them clingier than Saran Wrap and harder to get rid of than roaches. Seems harmless, but can easily morph into their alter ego, The Stalker.

9. Not Over Her/Him

The specter of their last boyfriend or girlfriend will haunt your every conversation: “My ex and I used to …,” “My ex always said …,” “I took my ex to this restaurant all the time …” If you’re smart, you won’t let it progress to a first date, but if you do, proceed with caution: There’s a reason they say “three’s a crowd.”

10. The Sane, Well-Adjusted Singleton

Doesn’t exist.

Just kidding. We’re out here, floundering on the sea of love just like you, a little weather-beaten but still hopeful. We will actually read your profiles and engage in intelligent conversation with actual sentences and actual words. We’re respectful and decent and if nothing romantic sparks between us, we won’t string you along or refuse to take “no” for an answer. In fact, chances are, we’ll still be your friend.

So don’t be discouraged if you have to suffer through various and sundry misfires before you finally find one of us in your crosshairs. Because to once again quote Pat Benatar, “Love is a battlefield.”

LOVE ME, TINDER: If you’re single in 2016, there’s a good chance you’ll take a dip in the online dating pool. ME, TINDER: If you’re single in 2016, there’s a good chance you’ll take a dip in the online dating pool.

Belinda M. Paschal

Contributing Columnist

Reach Belinda M. Paschal at (937) 451-3341.

Reach Belinda M. Paschal at (937) 451-3341.