It’s harsh out there in dating land, especially for those of us in the 40-and-over set. I’ve braved nearly every online dating platform in the last three years of single bliss: OK Cupid, Plenty of Fish, others I don’t even remember the names of. I was even desperate enough to set up a Match.com profile and pay those fuckers money for months on end. I managed to draw the line at eHarmony, but just barely.
Tinder in particular is an app I frequently delete in a fit of rage and frustration, only to come crawling back several weeks later in a cringe-worthy combination of desperation and curiosity. Because Tinder, it must be said, has hands-down the most entertaining, most poorly thought out, and most hilarious profiles of all the dating apps I’ve seen. It also is the only one that’s actually gotten me dates. Not great dates, but dates. And dates are dates.
I’ve discovered through all of this careful field work that here in the Austin area, the men who are available to those of us in our 40s are sorted into very particular archetypes, with shockingly few variants. And so I created this Field Guide for the locals.
Suburban Tech Sales Guy
51, but his profile says he’s 47. Lives in a suburban ranch house, which is clearly visible in the photo of his motorcycle parked in the driveway. Divorced, with three kids. Wants you to know that he’s not into drama, and also that he believes in romance and treating ladies right, and he’s a Jesus follower. Photos feature: him with his kids, him with fish, him with his aforementioned motorcycle, the view from his balcony in St. John, and him at a sporting event with his buddies. He has a goatee, he owns many polo shirts, and is never photographed without a pair of Maui Jim sunglasses.
43 years old, plays in a band, may or may not be gainfully employed, may or may not own a car. Likes PBR and stand up paddle boarding. Probably lives with a roommate. Came to town for college, dropped out, never left. Thinks juice cleanses actually work. Photos highlight him playing guitar on stage or hanging out with his dog. Or playing guitar on his SUP with his dog. Sometimes he has kids. Occasionally he acknowledges their existence in his profile.
Ageless. Lives 15 miles from town, possibly on an actual ranch. Loves killing deer, Rick Perry, Budweiser, country music and his truck. Has a VFD sticker on his truck. Wears a lot of camo, regardless of hunting season. Does not divulge if, or how, he makes a living. Makes it clear that if you’re one of them Muslim-loving, liberal-leaning, pro-choice types, you should just swipe left, little lady.
Profile says he’s 45 but he’s clearly at least 52. Every single goddamn picture features him either running a race, biking in a triathlon, crawling around in a mudder, working out at the gym, or hovering in a complicated yoga pose. He manages to look miserable in every photo. He loves the outdoors! He loves life! He loves to laugh! He loves being fit! He is looking for same!
56. Friends with Willie Nelson on Facebook. Wearing tie-dye and kicking back in a rocking chair in his (only) photo. Has long, grey hair in a ponytail that likely hasn’t seen a trim since 1988. He believes that any real relationship begins with friendship. He also believes this idea is somehow original. If a true soul connection develops due to the stars aligning, that would be groovy. 420 friendly.
Miserable and Separated
49. Lives downtown. Recently separated, not yet divorced. Shares custody of his kids, ages 3 and 5, pending final hearing. Hates his ex, hates his job, drinks too much, and really just wants to get laid. Pictures are all either selfies taken with the laptop camera in his new, practically empty bachelor pad, vacation photos of him with the kids at Disney taken a year ago (by the ex, no doubt) in just barely happier times, or cropped photos from weddings in which the ex is clearly visible. Even when the ex doesn’t appear in the photos, she’s a spectre haunting the entire, sad profile. Just swiping past these makes me want to reach for the bourbon.
I seriously had no idea how much airline pilots fucked around until I joined Tindr. They are everywhere. None of them bothers to put any actual information other than pictures in his profile, figuring, I guess, that a picture of him in a uniform flying a plane is enough to get any lady to unzip her dress. Every single pilot has a selfie of himself in the cockpit, and every single one of them is flashing a huge, shit-eating grin, and looks like he might eat you. I find them terrifying.
I’d love to see versions of this from other parts of the country. Brooklyn Hipster? SF Startup Millionaire? Boston Bumbling Professor? Please do share. Together we could create the North American Field Guide!
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Vernon Swanepoel
Illustrations by Andrew Roush