swf for godless heathen

Allyson Life is settling a bit, another book written, the next one in outline stages (Phillip, The Vegetarian Zombie…it's a children's book!), I love my job, my apartment, my pets (Ruby, the paranoid cat and her arch nemesis, Mona, the Wonderdog).  So I'm content, mostly. But I am missing something. Someone, actually. Seeing the lovely vid of the Skepchick wedding really hammered home that the hole in my life is lack of romance; a cute, smart guy to call "my boyfriend," someone to hold my hand at the tattoo parlor. 

So I'm doing the internet dating thing. I find it to be mostly hilarious, sometimes painful, and rarely fruitful. I'm careful to be honest with a full length recent pic, untouched by photoshop. The service I chose allows one to sort and be sorted by body type, race, age, gender, and location. Unfortunately, the service automatically adds one's astrological sign to individual profiles. Aside from that, I describe my firm skeptic beliefs, flaws, good qualities, and interests pretty concisely in my profile, figuring this is the best way for me to filter and be filtered. Hopefully that the net cast will help ensure that responses to my ad are men who are attracted to me physically and brainily (brainily? really?), and can tolerate the quirks I think could be a turnoff.

I find myself disturbed by the throngs of mooks who believe that ALLCAPS PROFILES ARE AWSOME AND BY THE WAY LOL IS ACCEPTABLE PUNCTUATION LOL that one can be accosted by on any dating site. They're annoying. They're dating site trolls who offer little to nil information in their profiles, that includes their email address because they're too cheap to pay for the actual service that allows one to privately email through their website. They contact me with reckless abandon. "YOUR HOT PLZ EMAIL ME."  This is par for the course. I just ignore it, though I really want to reply, "The thing is, I'm really quite smart, and the picture of you flexing your guns is pretty, but I'm seriously over it. Perhaps you should read more and work out less." This is guaranteed to encourage a response somewhere in between, "YR FAT!" or "YOUR A FAT BITCH LOL!" So, you know, it's better to just trash it.

Like most dating sites, one can also select from a dropdown list of religions (or choose atheist or agnostic) and political beliefs, but this actually tells me very little about the person. I think they should have a dropdown list of favorite superheroes, and I can then filter out all the Green Lantern/Aquaman fans. The choices are pretty much as follows:

Christian: Are you a capital "C" Christian, or a lower case "c" christian? A capital C can range from Fundie kooks who approach me in the Coffee Bean parking lot and ask me if I've accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior to the Catholic families in my neighborhood who walked the walk in the Love Thy Neighbor department, doubting anyone who claimed to know god's scorecard. A lower case "c" christian may visit church twice, once as a barely sentient being for their baptism, and again as a cadaver for their funeral. A lower case "c" might also say things like, "My mom told me were Lutherans, once, I think that means we can get divorced or something."

I can work with a lower case "c." Most of my friends are lower case c's, and I love them to bits. A capital C might leave me lingering as a vegetable on life support for years or trust our financial portfolio to a fellow C, and swear our retirement is in God's Hands. No Cs for me.

Jews, Muslims, and Buddhists don't proselytize, so the scale is trickier to navigate, because they seem less likely to bust out with the God Talk in a first email. So I'll stick with upper and lower cases in all religions to describe a general sense of the woo I find tolerant and tolerable. To me, a lower case is like love handles, a crooked front tooth, a Yankees Fan, or someone who snores when it gets too hot outside. It's in no way a deal-breaker, it's just a quirk.

Spiritual But Not Religious: This is super sketchy. Could be a Scientologist, an herbalist, and/or an exorcist. Could be someone who likes the idea of life after death, but doesn't subscribe to any major religion due to a fondness for bacon or masturbation (not at the same time…though, stranger fetishes exist).

Prefer Not to Say/Other: Really? Come out of the closet, atheists and agnostics. Show some of that backbone that has evolved over millions of years only to be wasted by someone who obviously would prefer to be spineless. SHOW YOURSELF. Or maybe you're a Moonie or Scientologist or something. In which case, come out of the closet and WARN A GIRL. You can't spring that shit on someone over tapas.

This category also includes people who believe in the healing power of crystals, and people who have a deep sense of wonder about the universe and describe it as spiritual without any woo intentions. I need more adjectives. Spiritual But Not Religious is a crappy descriptor.

I wish there was a skeptic site with a list of questions that would help filter out the woo people and keep the WOO HOO! people.

I figure you could front load a quiz, and anyone scoring 80% or lower would automatically be redirected to eHarmony. I have a list of questions I think would work well. I mean, it wouldn't necessarily filter out the Nice Guys, Rules Girls, or the general women-hating/men-hating assholes that can be found wandering the earth in a haze of stupid, (yes, even skeptics can be total jerks), but I think it would at least cast out most of the mooks, woo-believers, and hyper-religious nutballs. And that would be a great start! The pond would be smaller, but the quality of the catch would be vastly better, dontcha think?

I'd choose questions that pointed to basic logic, or that one could look up. It doesn't take a college diploma to be well-read, kind, intellectually curious, and bright. I'd rather date a mechanic who adores Vonnegut than a PhD who doesn't know that Han shot first. Of course, that's just me and my taste!

It'd go something like this, off the top of my head, in no particular order:

(1) What's the missing object that T-Rex is about to crush in this, the usual third panel of Dinosaur Comics?6a00d8341c9c1053ef01157144f187970c-800wi

a) T-Rex is about to crush a house!

b) T-Rex is about to crush the Empire State Building!

c) T-Rex is about to crush those annoying kids from Jurassic Park! That'll teach you to play with the flashlight!


(2) Richard Dawkins is:

a) Wasn't he that guy on Family Feud who used to mack on the wives and daughters in every. freakin. episode and it was SO CREEPY?

b) An evolutionary biologist.

c) That guy in the wheelchair who talks like a robot.

d) I LIKE LONG WALKS ON THE BEACH (ed. note: dude lives in Death Valley) AND NO DRAMA LOL

(3) At a job interview, you are asked to take a Briggs-Myers test. Your response is…

a) I already know you're an ESTJ, OMG I HOPE MY BOSS ISN'T AN INFP!

b) Check the box on the unemployment form and go apply someplace else.


(4) OUCH! You have a killer headache. How will you treat it?


b) I dunno. Maybe I'm dehydrated. I'll have some water, maybe take an aspirin (ibuprofin, whatever), and take a nap if I can.

c) Mercury must be in retrograde, again.

d) Have pix, will send if i like u

(5) Girls can't do math.

a) True.

b) False


(6) A straw man is:

a) The one who needed a brain in the Wizard of Oz

b) A logical fallacy in which one purposefully misrepresents his/her opponent's position

c) Not to brag, but I'm 8 inches. What's your name, gorgeous?

And so on, like that. What sort of questions do you think would best filter out the woo and the mooks? I'm sure there are female mooks, too, but I don't cross paths with them in dating-land, so I'm not exactly sure what sort of stupid shit they say that's comparable. Men? Any suggestions?

23 thoughts on “swf for godless heathen”

  1. Yikes. As a newly-divorced-scientist-guy, I am pretty much dreading dating again for pretty much the reasons you are. I haven’t tried the online dating thing yet but hopefully if I get to that point I can find a site that doesn’t even mention astrology. However, taking your quiz, I would probably miss the dinosaur question. Don’t weigh that one too much! Good luck meeting a brainy guy (and wish me luck in my quest for a hot, outdoorsy, brilliant woman).

  2. I think crystal healing is ridiculous. I don’t know why some people believe in that. I would also say the same for reflexology, iridology, biofeedback, etc.

  3. Wait, there are people out there who don’t know Han shot first? Just another sign of the sorry state of our education system.
    Anyway, I’m an old married, so I don’t have any personal experience, but I’d think that a discussion of a person’s favorite books, movies and web sites could be a good clue. If he raves about “What the bleep is it anyway” or “Expelled” you could easily cross him off your list. If his faves are “The God Delusion” and “An Inconvenient Truth” he could be worth a date. And even if his choices aren’t that obvious, asking him to explain why he likes what he likes would be revealing.

  4. Dave,
    When I was divorced and back in the market, I found a promising prospective lady at an online singles site and went for broke. She said in her profile that she was a scientist, so I introduced myself with some carefully-tailored comments about her in terms of a treatise on thermodynamics. I caught her attention immediately (she said that everyone else basically just asked “YO WANNA DO IT?”, and we met for lunch and a long walk/talk the next day. We bonded very promptly, and less than four months later we were married. We just had our fifth anniversary a few days ago, and we’ve both never been happier.
    Naturally, our case is atypical in how everything just fell into place, but it does go to show that it’s possible to succeed at second-chances. The trick, as it was with both my wife & me, is to have learned something constructive about yourself the first time around.

    Ain’t it the damn truth.
    Thanks for the plug, Skip. Jennifer, would you mind if I put a copy of this article on my blog?

  6. ARgh. ;-D You’ve hit it on the head Allyson. This has been my life recently. I’m 42, gainfully employed, godless, somewhat funny, love pets, but don’t care for kids.
    You wouldn’t believe the replies! Wading through the auto-replies, the meanies, shots of misc body parts (hey, how about just a pic of your smiling face. Now that would be novel), the chat / text-speak writers and general off-target balogna… I’m ready to toss in the towel.
    Good for a giggle: I’ve filled out that E_Harmonious site’s questionaire twice now (4 yrs apart). Both times, I got the “we’re sorry but you’re part of the 20% of the population that we cannot match / serve. Good luck to ya”.

  7. I know the correct answer to question 1, but could answer (c) be worth at least partial credit? Could the kids be in the house?
    And my understanding is that the female opposite of the mook is the midriff. Young and hyper-sexualized. Think along the lines of Paris Hilton or Brittany Spears. (Go see Chapter 4 of http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/cool/view/ )

  8. Hello, just stumbled across this via Skepchicks and I’m going through *exactly* the same thing!
    I know loads of really great men in their 20s and 30s (I’m 23 but have been single for quite long enough) but none of them ever seem to want to ask me out, and they get a bit freaked out if I flirt with them so I’ve gone the internet-dating route and it’s a bloody minefield! Full of chavs with terrible spelling. I try to be as specific (and possibly offensive) as possible about my interests (heavy metal, physics, foreign cinema – sort of “middle class intellectual” stuff) and I *still* get the “WOW your GORGEOUS, wanna fit man to luk after u” (no question mark grrr) 2 or 3 times a day.
    Me and a friend are contemplating asking Sid (he hosts the London Skeptics in the Pub, also got married at TAM, the big geek!) if he’d be willing to put on a singles night for us, as there are a lot of us fantastic, cool women who go to SITP who have just given up on men! You’d think that being smart, beautiful, funny, culturally sophisticated (I agree, who DOESN’T know that Han shot first?) would be a good thing…?
    http://plus.maths.org/issue51/features/rey/index.html – this made me laugh/sigh last week 🙂
    Great blog btw!
    Carmen x

  9. I’ve given up on internet dating. I went through two rounds of it – and I’ll admit – I refused to pay for it. I got to meet a lot of crazies (A LOT OF OF REALLY CRAZY PEOPLE) and I never really found anything I liked. I recommend finding a good social forum (not a bar) where you can actually meet people in place where you don’t have to be on the defensive… Join a community softball league, take your dog for walks in the dog park and public forum. Don’t look for somebody – look for new friends, someone will probably pop up amongst them. At least that’s the route I’m taking at the moment.
    Btw – test answers – aaabbb

  10. Hi Jami, our policy is that you can quote a paragraph or two (general fair use), but it isn’t okay to repost a full article. Is that what you were asking? I may have misunderstood.
    Carmen, I’m all for Skeptic meetups!
    I really do wish there was a way to filter out mooks, the way mooks filter out “fatties.” I get that people are attracted to all sorts of physical characteristics, which is a good start, but pretty means nothing to me if there’s nothing but empty between the ears.
    And you know what else is weird? Stupid people don’t seem to know that they’re stupid, or they think that nice abs or VERY WHITE teeth in some way trumps stupid. This makes me crazy.

  11. Great article Allyson!
    A few years ago, a friend of mine misheard an ad for eHarmony as “R. Lee Ermey dating service.” I’m thinking maybe you should set that one up. See if you can get Ermey to record some .wav files to smack the mooks with.

  12. Allyson,
    I have had luck with plentyoffish and okcupid. You HAVE TO weed out the crazies. Of every fifty men responding, I met approx. one. I went on quite a few dates. heh.
    I met Atheists only… It feel that you must have the same fundamental religious beliefs as your potential life-parnter. Found him after 2 years. (Yay for us!)
    I would always email them with the following questionnaire, which not all of them would ‘bother’ to answer. Their answers and the way they answered gave me much insight. Some men would give one word answers, some would give paragraphs for each, as you know some cannot spell or form a proper sentence. NEXT!
    This approach gave me insight and some topics of conversations for the first few dates:
    Some guys stop writing right here. So, whatever you choose…
    Please answer these questions. Nothing too deep but gives me a little insight.
    I’ll answer them back!
    1. Last book I read:
    2. My favorite holiday is:
    3. The last three CD’s I bought/downloaded are:
    4. What I did yesterday:
    5. Chocolate or vanilla:
    6. Summer or Winter:
    7. My parents are:
    8. Last time I got pulled over was:
    9. The last movie I saw:
    10. One thing I hate about myself:
    11. What I don’t understand is:
    12. The perfect kiss would be:
    13. My first job was:
    14. Current job (for a living, I):
    15. Dream job:
    16. My bed is:
    17. Florida or Hawaii:
    18. My favorite piece of clothing:
    19. My favorite sport is:
    20. My friends are:
    21. I lose all respect for people who:
    22. The worst pain I was ever in was:
    23. Something I admire(d) about my ex:
    24. One thing that makes me feel great is:
    25. Favorite food:
    26. Food I dislike:
    27. I would retire:
    28. When I was little I wanted to be:
    29. Right now, I’m wearing:
    30. The last gift I received was:
    31. Something I say a lot is:
    32. My favorite day of the year is:
    33. My current desktop picture is:
    34. Dream car:
    35. How I like my pizza:
    36. Favorite toy as a child:
    I garnered the following questions from eharmony (of which I had no luck), but I found the questions to be worthwhile.
    When in a relationship, how much personal space do you generally find you need?
    A) I don’t have a great need for “personal space”. I like lots of together time.
    B) I find my time spent working is enough personal time, the rest I like to spend with my partner.
    C) As long as I can get one night a week to myself, my personal space needs are met.
    D) When I’m with my partner I’m completely there, but I do need considerable time for personal reflection.
    On Saturday night, would you rather go to:
    A) ballet/theater/symphony
    B) a professional sporting event
    C) a popular new movie
    D) the latest dance club
    Would you rather date someone who is:
    A) very busy, with a sometimes chaotic schedule, who books time with you in advance
    B) busy, with a structured schedule, you know what days the person will be available for fun
    C) slightly busy, who works during the day and is available most nights
    D) not busy and has lots of free time
    Which of the following things would you rather have lots of?
    A) respect
    B) money
    C) fame
    D) power
    Realizing that labels are imperfect, do you consider yourself a dominant person in your personal life?
    A) Yes, I generally dominate most social settings and relationships.
    B) Although not always dominant, I am often taking the lead in relationships.
    C) I like to spend equal time being dominant and submissive.
    D) I usually like to follow someone else’s lead.
    If you decided to stay at home for the evening would you tend to:
    A) watch TV
    B) clean
    C) talk on the phone
    D) read
    If you went out to eat with a friend, which of the following would you prefer?
    A) a nice 4-star restaurant
    B) a basic steakhouse
    C) an undiscovered hideaway
    D) a hole in the wall with great food
    If you could take a dream getaway, where would you most likely choose to spend a week?
    A) Paris
    B) Hawaii
    C) hiking in the mountains
    D) a cottage by the sea
    Your idea of a romantic time would be:
    A) a quiet candle-lit restaurant
    B) rollerblading on the beach
    C) cooking dinner together at home
    D) getting dressed up and going to a dance club together
    Do you consider yourself physically affectionate when involved in a relationship?
    A) Sure, I love to hold hands, hug and give casual kisses.
    B) I’m moderately affectionate. I like to hold hands and exchange hugs.
    C) I do like a small amount of physical affection.
    D) I don’t consider myself a very physically affectionate person.

  13. one of the unknown

    What an amazing mind! From whence does this wellspring come? How is it, one emits so much light, when so many others are blackholes? and why do the heathen rage? to hold the hand of an angel who wandered into hell…

  14. Meh…
    I liked this. If any atheist girls are reading this, feel free to email me. ztsmart at hotmail.

  15. I also suggest okcupid. I’ve not looked at all that many dating sites, but it seems to have the highest ‘geekiness’ quotient I’ve seen anywhere. And it’s chock full of addicting quizzes to take. It’s also the only dating site I’ve ever used where I routinely stumble across the profiles of friends, which, to me, suggests its matching algorithm ain’t half bad.

  16. I was probably lucky and found my partner online but after many, many first dates. I actually found him on a social site rather than a dating site.
    Some of the criteria they ask on the dating sites are a bit ridiculous but you do get to find out something about someone who fills it all in and elaborates 🙂 Read between the lines.

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