CherryPick logo

A Multimedia Story by Jill Marbach

I. Create Your Profile

iPhone screen with CherryPick app

I found myself staring at my phone with a mixture of excitement and fear. Truthfully, I was almost always feeling one or both of those things to varying degrees, so maybe that didn’t mean that much. In that moment, I would put the excitement to fear ratio at about 1:3, so not quite enough to give up altogether.

I was about three pages into CherryPick and just starting to wonder if the company’s promise to “Find exactly what you’re looking for!” could even be true. The concept was fascinating: cherry-pick a partner with the exact qualities you’re looking for. It sounded amazing and highly improbable.

Growing up as a little girl in the early 2000s, I was surrounded by Disney movies, rom coms, and Taylor Swift songs featuring perfect women finding perfect men and falling in love after just the right amount of conflict. Princesses found their princes, hardworking ladies were swept off their feet by super chill guys, girls like me ended up with flawless heartthrobs who saw through our carefully constructed facades. It was totally adorable and totally unrealistic.

The issue wasn’t that I had trouble meeting guys. It was that, when I did meet someone I might be interested in, my expectations were sky-high. He would need to either 1) be interesting enough to capture my attention in the first two minutes, 2) be my friend for years so that I knew exactly what I was getting into, or 3) make me feel like I could “dance in my best dress, fearless” like TSwift said. Opportunities like that didn’t come around as often as you might expect.

Needless to say, dating wasn’t easy. Being picky didn’t help, but neither did the fact that men my age absolutely suck, and I had gathered an abundance of first-hand data to back up this claim. My anxiety couldn’t get on board with hookup culture (image not getting a panic attack at the idea of being intimate with a stranger!), and every “nice guy” I met used that label as an excuse to waste my time, effort, and affection. When I did meet a man I liked, I was stuck on what to do next. My usual move was befriending him until he realized he liked me back, but this was a long-term and often flawed strategy. Alternatively, I could make my interest clear right off the bat and deal with the embarrassment of rejection. Pass.

Dating apps, while they came with their own complications, solved a lot of my problems. They would take me directly to single, interested people who I could easily cut off if I decided they weren’t for me. The concept sounded awesome, but there was definitely a stigma around online dating.

For example, I tried to explain it to my mom, and the conversation did not go well.

“Creeps are out there on the internet!” she said.

“Everyone is on the internet. Literally,” I told her.

Cathy was not impressed. “Why do you need apps to date? Are you having trouble meeting men? Do you want me to try and set you up with someone?”

“Mom, no, please. This is just how people meet people these days. It’s so much easier.”

“Easier to find girls to kidnap, that’s for sure.”

Despite the stigma, I knew a lot of folks that loved meeting people online. One of my roommates definitely brought home her share of guys from Tinder. Granted, most of them were only brought home once, but still. Not everyone was going to be a catch, and who was I to write something off without even trying it?

That led me here, to CherryPick. Most of my dating doubts centered around the idea that I was just too picky and afraid of settling for someone subpar. These doubts were learned after I either found myself calling it off with guys who just couldn’t be what I needed or being blindsided when it came to light just how shitty my boyfriend really was. More on that later.

After all of the stress of dating as a teenager, I felt like I finally knew what I wanted. Or, at least, I knew what I didn’t want, and I wasn't afraid to walk away from it. Was that being picky? Or just smart?

Either way, CherryPick recognized my need to find what I wanted, and it was going to be the tool that helped me get it. If it turned out that men like that just didn’t exist, I would need to reevaluate some things…but that would be an issue for later.

All of that led me here, to the making of my first dating app profile. I did a lot of research beforehand about what to include. I curated my best six photos to portray me as cute, fun, friendly, a dog-lover, and just the right amount of goofy. I went about answering the necessary questions: my name is Mayes, I'm interested in men, looking for a relationship, currently in college, my best trait is my sense of humor, and my top artists are Blue October and One Direction (and anyone who had a problem with that could swipe left). All that was left was adding a catchy bio. I went back and forth on a few different options.

I scrapped those for now, trying not to come on too strong too fast. Instead, I went with, “Statistically, novel first dates lead to higher quality relationships. Want to put it to the test?” This was, by the way, completely true. I tended to read a lot more about dating than actually do it, hoping to live vicariously through the advice that therapists and celebrities had to offer. Add that to the list of reasons why actually getting on dating apps was so scary.

Notes that reads 'The List of Reasons Why Actually Getting on Dating Apps is So Scary 1. It requires you to be vulnerable and put yourself out there 2. Like Mom said, creeps 3. It’s so much work, and what if it’s all for nothing? 4. It won’t be anything like Aziz Ansari wrote about in Modern Dating'

Next: Explore Bunches

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