I kept my eye on the time left on the clock. According to Bumble, each of the 25 conversations that I had on this dating app attempted to start with men who had matched me were about to expire. I had five minutes left, and even though I knew my odds were slim, I was still hopeful. Maybe they had misplaced their phones. Maybe work had gone late, and they were finally about to clock out. Maybe, just maybe, they were sitting at home, staring at their own countdown clock, attempting to craft the perfect message in response to mine.
Time was on my side. It had to be. Surely these 25 guys didn’t all think that I wasn’t worth the time required to message back. I have a nice smile, or so I’ve been told. I wear my hair short, but it frames my face nicely, or so I’ve heard. I have a great sense of humor and I’m a big beer drinker, as evident from my midsection. All these positive observations were somehow referenced in my Bumble profile, whether presented in a carefully crafted profile photo or written in a witty sentence. I mean, I’m not perfect, but it’s clear I’m valuable and have potential.
I had put myself out there-on an app that specifically wants the woman to message the man first, so as to avoid unwanted conversations-and I received nothing back. I sat there for a few minutes and I cried. I don’t know exactly how much time passed (I was no longer watching the clock), but once I wiped my face dry, I grabbed my phone and deleted all those failed conversations. I would start again with a new slate.
I wasn’t surprised when I didn’t receive a message back; in fact, I would have been more surprised if I had. This isn’t my first time sending a message into the void. It also isn’t my second, or my 20th, or my 100th.
I never expected that finding love online would be so hard, but I also never thought my race would be viewed as undesirable.
I am a Black woman, or as OkCupid’s co-founder Christian Rudder discovered, I am part of the group of women voted “least attractive than other women of other races and ethnicities” by most male users on that particular dating site. Reading Rudder’s findings was especially difficult for me to read because, when I turned 18 eight years ago, I immediately opened my laptop and signed up for an OkCupid account. At the time, I painstakingly filled out the numerous questions that OkCupid claimed would help me find potential matches. Did I smoke? No, I didn’t, and it was also important that my partner didn’t. Did I believe that a woman was obligated to keep her legs shaved? One quick hand over my shins answered that question for the both of us. I answered the questions honestly. I filled out the About Me, talked about my future, and listed the five things that I couldn’t live with. When all was said and done, I clicked the Accept button and I smiled to myself. I was ready to fall in love, or at the very least, meet someone nice.
Going on Dating Apps as a Black Woman Can Feel Like Searching for the Bare Minimum
I had stated that I didn’t “strongly prefer to date someone of [my] own skin color/racial background” (I lived in Washington state, for God sakes, so dating within my race wasn’t always an option). But it was apparent that a lot of men had selected that preference. A lot of men I messaged probably took one look at me and ;t their thing. On one hand, I want to tell myself that that’s fine. People can date whomever they want to date, and one day some man is going to look at me and ;s ever wanted. I could live with that-I didn’t really have a choice. However, there was a part of me that still felt othered.