Tales from the Goat Rodeo

Is it sad if your entire social life from age 5 to 51 can be summed up in three or fewer memes?


I will spare you the memes.

As I wrote a few months ago, meeting people online is so insane.

It is not all bad, I suppose. I met the best girl in the world online. I also met a wonderful friend, but I had to move away from Arizona 20 years ago, and I haven’t heard from her in almost two years. So it is possible to meet friends online, but I guess just not on dating sites which are 100% insane. Those sites do have options for finding friendships, but it seems that few use them as such.

There are “friend” sites, but I am not looking for that kind of friend.

There exist meetup sites that I looked at, but the few groups I would be interested in have age ranges that are either too high or too low for my age, so they would reject me. Well, they would probably reject me regardless of group rules.

Honestly, joining a group of strangers is beyond terrifying to me. It is probably the one situation I really can’t deal with. Anything that is terrifying normally doesn’t stop me in the slightest. It usually doesn’t even slow me down. Fear is just a feeling, but groups of strangers are the one thing I can not handle anymore. That is funny since I used to teach college classes. I was always nervous teaching, but I did very well. Admittedly, that is a different situation than just being a member of a social group. I do much better one-on-one. Tutoring was more enjoyable to me than lecturing.

In a group of strangers, I am liable to just shut down and walk away before talking to anyone.

Anyway, a few things happened on two of those sites. Before I begin the hilarity, I should note that Biff is still outpacing me. Some women write to Biff over and over despite Biff’s reluctance to write back. I check his profile once a week, and each time there are several messages and a bunch of ‘likes.’ Maybe someday I will be as interesting as Biff. I should put my pictures on Biff’s profile. I bet all the likes and responses would dry up immediately.

I deleted my OkCupid and Plenty of Fish accounts, and I thought I had deleted the other two, but I did not. It is not a big deal. They can stay open for free.

A few days before Christmas, I get a message on Bumble that someone matched with me. That is not the first time it happened. It happened maybe 4 or 5 times before this. Oddly every time before this, they would let the 24-hour timer expire, actually 48 because I extended it. The woman has to write first and has 24 hours, or the match goes away forever. The time can be extended by either person, but just once.

So they would show interest but would not write to me. What is that about?

Oddly and very unexpectedly, this time she said “hi.” Her name is Elizabeth. She is 4 years older than me. Women typically want to date older men, and I have no interest in dating anyone I might meet. I need friends so removing the possibility of dating from the beginning is ideal. I thought all day about whether I should respond or not. Why?

On Zoosk, I got at least 30 variations of “hi” and smiley faces. About 40 more would hit the match button. So I would respond and then mostly nothing. Two said something back, and we had a short discussion, and they vanished. Writing to someone and getting silence in return isn’t the best feeling in the world. Especially when they showed interest first. I have had many months of silence, so it is starting to feel normal. It sucks when they initiated the conversation. I guess it makes sense since women probably get one million messages a day, but it seems that if they took the time to send something, they would follow up?

So, I figured, what is one more instance of getting ignored?

I am a professional at it, after all. To send messages, I had to pay, luckily they have a one-week option for $9. I figured $9 isn’t too bad if she ends up a catfish or something.

I wrote back, and she responded. A Christmas miracle! Well, a week before Christmas miracle.

It was nice to have someone to talk to. We exchanged 2-3 messages a day until my week was up, and we exchanged numbers and texted. I am still not sure if she is real. We were going to meet somewhere on Friday after New Years’ to talk, but the day before, she canceled because her son had been in the hospital since New Year’s Eve.

She did say she did not want to cancel. I wish I were better at social stuff, so I could figure out things that normal people seem to find instinctive. I am not sure, but I think she is as shy and lonely as I am and just wants to talk to people in real life.

After a few weeks of barely talking - I didn’t even know her last name - she said she wants to try to meet. This was three Tuesdays ago, but we didn’t make concrete plans, and she didn’t say anything until two days later. She apologized and said things got bad again and she had to work the next 5 or 6 days, and she would contact me. That has passed and then some, so my impressive failure streak is intact. I guess it was just a nice way to tell me to buzz off.

I had so many messages on Zoosk that I thought it might be worth paying to be able to read them since at least one would talk to me, maybe. It is $30 for a month, which is a pretty steep price to pay just to get ignored since I am awesome at getting ignored for free. I figured it was worth a try for a month. How pathetic is that?

Twenty years ago, women would talk to me and agree to go out. We planned on meeting at a restaurant, park, pool hall, or wherever, and they would never show up. Not once. I would usually arrive 15 minutes early. I am so pathetic that I would stay for 30-60 minutes, hoping they were just running late. Back then, mobile phones were not very common, and I did not own one, so I just sat and waited, and people would look at me like I was so pathetic. I guess I am pathetic that women would enjoy doing that to me. Kindness is something I do not deserve, but cruelty is. They probably were there just hiding out in a booth or something laughing at me. At least I could bring joy into people’s lives, so that is something positive?

In hindsight, I should have known. 99% of the women I would talk to back then disappeared when they saw a picture of me. I should have been more suspicious of the ones that agreed to meet. Times change, of course, so perhaps sending me a message and ignoring me is just the modern and much more efficient way of treating me the way I deserve?

I talked to three people on that site. Well, two for sure.

Those two were for about an hour, and they disappeared. Not a big deal. They lived far enough away that it would be difficult to ever meet. It is nice to have someone to chat with. The goal is to get out of the house once in a while. The third one was an obvious scammer from the start, but I was bored, so I went along with it. To see where it would go because I was really curious.

It started as obviously a scam. I wrote a 45-year-old lady that lived about 20 miles away. I get a message that it is a friend of hers, and the owner of the profile has already found someone, so she let her use the account, which just happens to expire today. Lucky me!

I have gotten lots of those messages, but it usually has an email in it. This was a little more involved because we exchanged messages on the site. To read your messages, you have to pay, so it was a paid account. She asked for my phone number.

Now, I am not a complete moron: I gave her a burner number from Google Voice from one of my many Google accounts.

She said hello and sent 2 normal pictures, and introduced herself as Michelle. She said she was 30 and from Newark, New Jersey, even though her phone number had a DC area code. She is about 2000 miles away from me.

She used her “friend’s” account that shows profiles of people living 2000 miles away for date possibilities?

She said she was born and raised in Turkey - the photo did look like she was from that part of the world, and her writing was pretty good, but it was obvious that English was not her first language. I inquired about her name. She said her mother was English, and it was the name of her mom’s sister. She said her dad died 5 years ago, and they immediately moved to the US: mom, uncle, and herself, and they live together.

I never did ask how she could move here so quickly, given that none of them are US citizens. That was an obvious lie based on what little I know about immigration. She also said she was a nursing student and is almost done and ready to look around the country for a nurse position.

Other than how we met, her ‘friend’, and her moving to the US so quickly, it seemed pretty reasonable. We talked a little each day about normal stuff. I even mentioned I had to take my dad to the ER. She asked a few questions and then wondered if I had eaten. I said no, she offered to have a pizza delivered to me, I said no, of course. Any specific questions about how her classes are going and how she likes the program, and what area of nursing she is interested in were ignored. I asked to video chat, and she said soon and mentioned she had an iPad. She said that she wanted to visit me, so I thought this is where she would ask for money.

She did not.

After talking a few times a day for about a week, she gets quiet for a full day. The next day, she sends a torrent of messages about how she might be falling for me(ha!) and wants to get to know me better, and wants to visit during her spring break. This is maybe after 3 or 4 hours of general chit-chat, totally reasonable, right?

She said it would be quieter in my home, and I asked if she lived with her mom. I wasn’t paying that much attention to what she said during this week. I really don’t pay attention to people I don’t care about and remember the tiniest details of what people I care deeply for say. I guess that it a bad thing?

I forgot that she had told me earlier that she lived with her mom, and she got noticeably annoyed. Nice touch.

So, I told her we haven’t chatted much and have not yet video chatted. She said she wants to video chat, but her iPhone(not iPad) needed repairs, and can I please lend her some money and she promises to pay me back.

I did not respond at all, of course. About 15 minutes later, she texted ‘hello?’ and has not said a thing since.

The odd thing is that about half an hour after that, I get a message on the site from another blonde in the same area as the 45-year-old lady. This person was Russian and made a nonsense statement that she was going to look after her mom, who is very ill and for some reason she never articulated could only talk via email.

I mentioned to Michelle that I am trying to learn Russian, and she knew my dad was not well, and I was looking after him. I am not sure if that was a coincidence or not, but I did not respond. Strangely, I have not had any messages from this type of scammer since then.

If she were real, she would be amazing to get to know. I can kind of see how someone extremely desperate and lonely and lacking in social skills could fall for it, which makes what they do even more insidious.

As poor as my social skills are, and how lonely I am, I didn’t fall for it and never once thought it could be real. I am not wanting a relationship besides a very casual friend with any new person I might meet. I would like to think that I would not be so desperate that I could talk myself into believing it. It was clearly a scam from the beginning, but it must work, or no one would try to pull it off.

So that was fun, but it still leaves me alone every day with no one in sight.

I am not even picky about who I send messages to. I will write to or ‘like’ almost anyone. A hard no is if they smoke. Smoking causes severe headaches and is disgusting without headaches.

The other criteria I am picky about is if they brag about how mean they are.

At least they are honest, but why would I want to be friends with someone mean? I have a talent for bringing out meanness without any effort, so it is probably best to avoid the self-declared mean women. I also have a soft age range of 35 to 55 but would talk to any reasonable adult age but would not initiate a conversation outside of that range.

The few that I talked to mentioned that every guy they spoke to on that site was looking for a one-night stand, and many would introduce themselves with a nude photo. Some would offer money for nude photos from the women. I have no idea what that is about. Many women in their profiles would say very similar things, so it certainly is understandable why they might be so skittish.

If I had any social awareness, I could figure out how to get around it and see if I can write something between the awkward dork that I am and the creeps that send nudes. I guess that area in between is called ‘normal men,’ and I am too naturally awkward to sound normal.

I understand that they get so many messages that it might turn into a full-time job if they read or answered every one of them. Few messages ever get replied to. It doesn’t make it any less frustrating. It is not called a goat rodeo for nothing.

I wonder what it feels like to have other people be interested in you?

Still, it is very nice to talk to people regardless.

Meeting people online is very difficult, but I think I was generally successful given the data available. The average messages received per message/interest I sent out are way higher than studies have reported for men. Independent of age or looks, something like 1 woman in 120 messages sent will respond to a man. I forget where I read it. It was a survey done by dating sites. So given that and given who I am, this has been a successful experiment.

I didn’t meet my one goal but finding someone to hang out with once in a while is an extremely challenging and optimistic goal.

If I had had this sort of success 18 months ago, I would have been over-the-moon happy to have talked to a few people, no matter how briefly.

Now, it is underwhelming.

This whole thing is just a weird mix of panic and loneliness overriding reason. The bar of expectation has been raised dramatically, and I am just looking for people to talk with. I guess I was spoiled, and my standards are now way too high.

Still, it would have been fun to be able to go out and do things with someone instead of being alone all the time. Oh, well.

I have a little time left on my subscription, and I send one or two messages out a day - I paid to get ignored, so that is what I will do! - and then I will delete the profile and give up the idea of having friends. This should mercifully be the last thing I write on trying to meet people.

Honestly, even though I mostly get ignored, writing to these women makes me feel a little less lonely, so it is hard to give it up even though it is painful. I do keep the correspondence 1:1 and the initial message very short.

Having someone disappear mid-conversation without saying goodbye, even if it’s just a short exchange of greetings bothers me. It feels like I am talking to them in person, and then they just walk away without a word or even saying goodbye.

I have had people do that in-person, walk away mid-conversation, without a word. It is not a fun feeling.

I thought if I had some friends, it would make me a better and more attractive person to others. It seems to take friends to get friends.

Other than my health problems, I am fortunate. I am financially stable, have a decent enough home, and a great family.

I know the best girl in the world, and she may visit again this year, and that is the only person I am interested in beyond friendship. Still, there is a giant hole in my life, and I thought it was friends and an actual life that was lacking.

I have failed, which is predictable, but at least I am starting to feel numb again. Silence and rejection are hurting much less than they did a few months ago, so hopefully, I will succeed in killing loneliness again.

I guess I was just hoping to not be lonely because I knew a few people. Yes, I am that optimistic stupid.

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