I loved being married. I loved having a partner. And while I do believe I can have a happy, contented, fulfilled, meaningful life as a single woman; I would also like to be married again. But I’m not in high school anymore and I’ve already finished college…and grad school…and grad school again. Once you finish all of those things you start running out of authentic ways to meet new people. But Sarah, what about your church? Yeah, I go to my church. I know who’s there and, more importantly, who’s not there (aka single guys who are in an appropriate age bracket and want to date me). One of my fellow teachers is convinced I will meet a gentlemen at the WaWa, I am convinced the odds of that are virtually nonexistent. So that leaves (dramatic drumroll for any of you who haven’t already guessed where this is going) online dating.
Now re-entering the dating world as a widow brings up a lot of serious topics. Dating as a person who used to be a more traditional, conservative Christian but spent the last 10 years deconstructing and now has a lady pastor, follows the TikTok hashtag ‘progressive clergy,’ and identifies with the very fun term ‘exvangelical’ brings up a lot of serious topics. Dating as a person raised in purity culture brings up a lot of serious topics. And we’ll get to all of those, but after the heaviness that was my initial grief story I thought we would all enjoy a little lightheartedness.
For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of auctioning yourself off for strangers on the internet, allow me to walk you through the process of setting up an online dating profile.
Step One: Pick an App
Oh, yes-there’s more than one. In fact there’s at least half a dozen-and those are just the ones that don’t have the reputation of simply being a hookup site. Like the fabulous nerd I am I made a pro/con list (yes, a literal pro/con list, written down, on real paper) and Bumble was the winner. Bumble is known as the female empowerment app because the woman has to start the conversation. I’m one of those raging feminists so that felt like the clear choice. Now that you’ve picked your app, it’s time to make a profile.
Step Two: Build Your Profile
The first prompt is, “say something about yourself.'” What a loaded question. Well, let’s see, my husband died so I’m single now. Do you lead with that or is that like a fun surprise for later? Maybe save it for later…but not too much later. You don’t want them to think you’re hiding this huge part of your life. So tell them date three. Yeah, that’s definitely what they mean by the third date rule. That’s when you tell them you have a dead husband.
Ok so I still need something for about me. Well this is tricky because up until just a bit ago my life was about we. We have a dog. We are renovating a house that was built in 1874. We lead youth group together, we love board games. But now there’s no more we. Focus Sarah, you were always a big proponent of not losing yourself in a relationship so what’s still true about you? You’re a teacher, you like to travel…any of this screaming ‘date me please?” Wait-this section is optional! Oh, thank God.
The next profile prompt is a series of multiple choice quick facts about yourself. So you think, “easy.’ And it starts easy. Height: 5’5” Workout: Often, Sometimes, or Rarely. Hmmm. So I walk the dog everyday and I’m up to like a solid 7 minutes of yoga so lets go with Sometimes. Graduate Degree: Hell yes. Looking For…
Looking for…oh, ‘not sure yet’ is an option. How nice of them. We’re definitely going with that.
Now that your basic info is filled in it’s time to add to your profile. You know, to make it as appealing as possible so it stands out from the hundreds of other profiles men will swipe through.
Step Three: Add Pictures
Ok pictures. I should probably rule out all of the pictures with my dead husband. I mean I look hella cute but I don’t think that’s sending the right message. So when did I look the best? My wedding day…oh…yeah that’s not gonna work either. Might be a little confusing, I’m clearly the bride and usually the bride is not on Bumble looking for a new boyfriend. (Spoiler alert: yes *actually* sometimes the bride, or the groom, is on Bumble looking for a new boyfriend. It’s called “ethical non-monogamy” and it is definitely a topic worthy of its own post).
So pictures of just me, not as a bride. Here’s a cute picture of me and my dog. This picture says, “She’s cute, she goes outside, she likes dogs.” That’s a good vibe. Next up, picture of me at Victoria Falls. This says, “wow, she’s been places, so adventurous, what a cool chick.” Now let’s add a picture of me posing as Anne of Green Gables on Prince Edward Island. That one says, ‘This girl looks good in a hat, this is an artsy pic-maybe she’s an artist, this girl doesn’t just say she likes traveling, she actually does it”
Bumble recommends 6 pictures so I need to scrounge up three more. Since I know you’re dying to hear what I picked, here’s the rundown.
Picture of me teaching kids in Zambia. This says, “look at her, she must be so nice.” Big internal conflict on this one. This is something I did, and something that I am proud of. It’s also something I did as just me, not as ‘we.’ It’s a great conversation starter and you can’t see any of the kids faces so their privacy is more protected. However, white saviorism is a thing and not a thing I particularly want to be a part of. (PS this trip was 100% a collaboration with the Zambians who ran the program, it addressed needs they saw and asked for help with, and the program has been continued by Zambians-as it absolutely should be). White girl posing with black and brown children so she can have a new profile pic is a thing that happens, especially in certain Christian circles, and that is exploitative and self-serving. But this is not my intent and online dating is really scary and I have a dead husband and not a lot of other pictures so just let me have this one ok. Also I would love to talk to you about the fraught history of mission work so if this opens that conversation then awesome. (Side note-I’m willing to have my mind changed on this one. Drop a comment if you have thoughts).
Filtered picture that shows off my nose piercing and new tattoo. This one says, “this bitch is fucking cool. She takes a great selfie and her nose piercing looks amazing. Also that lamppost tattoo is straight fire.”
Finally last picture is me, my sister-in-law, and a lobster boat captain and we are holding his biggest catch of the season. This says, “hey she has friends and they do cool things together.” This is also another full body shot so do not come at me with any other expectations of how I am supposed to look. Also, is it weird that my dead husband’s sister is in my dating profile? The whole concept of a dating profile is weird, I’m just gonna go with it.
So that’s it. Your profile is set up. Nothing left to do but sit back and wait for the matches.