Mystery Dating

Mystery Date board game by Milton Bradley, circa 1965

When I was a little girl, there was a popular board game called “Mystery Date.” The object of this game was for girls to play to win the best date. In today’s world the game is sexist and put the young girls focus on “winning” the best man instead of trying to be their best self. As antiquated as that sounds, we now have online dating which feels really similar to that old game sometimes.

A number of years ago, I was talked into trying online dating. My first reaction after I entered my profile on the site was amazement. I never actually saw a profile that said, “I like pina coladas and taking walks in the rain,” but they might as well have. Everyone was trying too hard to present their perfect selves and it just didn’t feel natural to me.  What in the Hell was I doing there?

I was confused by the rules. To date online you have to learn a whole new glossary of terms. What is a “Like”? Or a “Wink”? What does “Favorite” mean? How do I know I’m swiping in the right direction? It was terribly confusing and I felt like I’d entered some parallel Universe without realizing it.

The longer I was on the site, the more I understood how the system worked and the weirder it got. I will admit it was really flattering once I started hearing from the men on the website, but the flattery soon degraded to a perverse fascination. It didn’t take long for me to wonder if the profiles the men were posting were jokes I wasn’t getting.

It started with the password names a small number of the men were giving themselves. Some of them were flat out amusing, but I’m not sure how they made it past the supposed website censors. One that kept showing up on my profile was “Horny Rusty.” Then there was the man who had “Endowed” as part of his online name. Really? I couldn’t help but wonder if this shit ever really worked for them.

Even more entertaining were the number of bizarre profile pictures: I remember one guy was wearing Civil War re-enactment gear. I realize that you want to be different to stand out, but that one was amazing to me. More frequently, the pictures posted were bathroom selfies. Those were the men who needed a little more originality. Another phenomenon I saw were the pictures where the man had cropped someone else out of the picture, but you could still see the feminine hand draped over their shoulder. That is not particularly enticing to me or any other woman I know.

There were plenty of bizarre behaviors that I saw consistently while I was online:

There were the men who would use a friends dating site to reach out. I understand that online dating can cost you some money, but the message you send when you won’t pay for your own site isn’t necessarily a positive message.

There were men who would reach out and tell you they were leaving the site that day and needed to hear back from me immediately. I especially loved the ones who said they knew we were the perfect match based entirely on my profile.

There were the men who would reach out with an email or like and then take down their profile, within 30 minutes. This happened so many times I lost count.

Then, there was the “To Hell with it,” approach. More than once a man would just lay it on the line: “I just want a sexual relationship so let’s throw the pretense of dating out the window.” I admired their honesty, but no thank you.

It always felt strange when I would see exes on the website. Fortunately, a friend had told me about seeing her ex-husband on an online dating site. I do have to admit reading an ex’s profile was pretty amusing. I rarely recognized the person in the profile description as the person I had actually dated.

In my experience, there seems to be about a 2-week period when a man is capable of bringing his best game. Then, gradually, they drift into less appealing behavior. What I don’t understand is why would you bring a level of game that you can’t sustain? I’ve literally told men not to spoil me with behavior they don’t intend to maintain.  I want the real them from the get-go.

One of my biggest problems was with men who were “pursue, pursue, pursue,” and then turned around and fled once I responded with any degree of interest. I understand men have the hunter mentality, it’s been well documented, but how consistently this happened was pretty mind blowing. In talking with my female friends, I found out this phenomenon would occur no matter how soon the man felt he had “conquered” the woman. Friends who slept with men on the first date have had it happen to them and friends who waited for months had it happen to them.

After my one short-lived experiment with living a real-life Mystery Date game, I have no interest in ever signing up for another round. My life is full, I am happy, and there are days it’s a struggle for me to live with a cat, much less another human. I wonder if the gaming industry will ever come out with a game celebrating single, successful women. Now that’s a game I’d like to play.

One thought on “Mystery Dating”

What are your thoughts?