Ryan and the Technicolor Wardrobe
Short Stories and Essays

While at a baseball game, my girlfriend’s friend brought up online dating.  Whether it was from having a couple of drinks, or because of the pace of the game, or both, I decided to offer her a free on the spot consultation of her dating profile.  I wouldn’t consider myself as an online dating expert by any means, but since I had used online dating successfully (aka I was dating her friend), I felt that I could at least give her a guy’s point of view on what she wrote about herself.  She obliged, and I immediately started to comb through her profile, giving her feedback based on a quick look through.  I was very blunt about things since she knew I was there to help and especially after learning that her profile wasn’t created by her, but instead by 2 of her guy friends.

The profile definitely read like it was written by multiple people, and it almost came off as it were a joke, or that she might be schizophrenic.  Not that her friends were trying to humiliate her, but they decided to forgo the more essential details about her to instead mention how much she loved snuggies.  They also admitted at the beginning of the profile, that she was basically being forced into this, and from my experience with this stuff, people who haven’t completely embraced meeting someone online are probably going to self-sabotage things even if they find someone that they might potentially like.

After giving her my feedback, we realized that it would be best for her to just start over from scratch, meaning that it would be best for her to completely shut down the account and to open a brand new one when she was ready to fend for herself.  That way she would have the necessary time to work on her profile, run it through a few friends, and finally release it into the online dating world with no regrets.  It sounds like it’s more agonizing than it should be, but I completely understand.

Creating a profile is actually a pretty time intensive task.  While I may overanalyze things more than others, I’m sure everyone overanalyzes their profile to a certain degree before publishing.  It’s difficult to find that balance between including not enough information and too much information, all while trying to let your personality shine through.  It’s especially difficult because it seems like the vetting process for online dating is to read through a profile and then immediately stop and move on when you find something you don’t like.  There really is such thing as too much information.

When I was online dating, I made things even more complicated by keeping my artistic aspirations a secret from the dating world, not so much out of embarrassment, but mostly because I didn’t want to explain them.  If I just wanted to write the next great novel, or if I just wanted to play in a band, that’d be easy.   Unfortunately, I have a theater show that combines music and storytelling, but it’s not musical theater.  It’s not a variety show, and it’s kind of like a radio show, but I’m not on the radio.  Just trying to write out the description is exhausting, and I could only imagine the amount of confusion that it would bring for a complete stranger that has never met me.

My profile contained no lies, but it hid a huge part of my life.  While it might be an exaggeration, it felt like I was living a double life, which is exactly what you’re not supposed to do with an online dating profile!  On my profile, I was mild mannered Ryan, with a steady 9-5 job and an interest in the concerts and movies.  In reality, I was trying to put together a house band for my theater show and write an autobiographical non-fiction book.  Since I wasn’t making any sort of career out of my theater show and writings, it was just a hobby.  And since it was a hobby, I thought having such an ambition would be counted against me like I was desperately holding onto a dying dream.

On some first dates, I felt comfortable enough to share about my book and show, but on others I didn’t mention it.  If I didn’t feel comfortable mentioning it, it was usually a sign that I wasn’t going to want to see the girl again.  It never seemed to be a huge deal to the girls who heard about it even though one of them deadpanned “are you kind of a big deal?” on the phone once.  Even though it wasn’t causing much controversy, I still kept it off my profile.  I had a fear that they would see a guy who had strange interests, no matter how precisely I explained it.  When I broke up with a girl after a month of dating, she pleaded “please don’t write about me.”, which showed me that my fears weren’t exactly unfounded.

Fortunately for my girlfriend’s friend, she doesn’t have a weird secret passion that she’s unsure about sharing with random strangers, so I assume she’ll be fine once she sits down and cranks out a profile.  Fortunately for me, it’s possible that I’ve closed the chapter on online dating in my life for good, so I won’t have to worry about whether my writing and my show will hinder me from getting a date.  It’s been 5 years since I’ve started this writing / show journey, and while I haven’t quite been able to list it on a dating site, there was a time where I wouldn’t even mention it to certain friends and family out of fear of embarrassment.  Perhaps one day, I’ll be able to list it beside what I do for a living, or the places that I like to travel to and I’d like to think that’ll happen even if I’m no more successful then than I am right now.

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