Tuesday, April 24, 2018


Unread. Return to sender.

It’s the kind of rejection that should be easy to brush off. Nothing personal. I just didn’t meet the criteria. And yet that’s what stings.

I logged in to Plenty of Fish, the dating website where fish—at least of the gay kind—are not plentiful at all. It’s an understocked koi pond, a few bottom feeders mixed in with the perennials that haven’t changed their photos or profiles in a decade. The fact that I know this makes me a perennial, too. But my photos are current, crow’s feet and all. And not a single pic comes with freaky Instagram bunny ears.

Years ago, I recognized that the Plenty of Fish had been overfished. A logical person would simply delete his profile. But a logical person does so with a Plan B in mind. And I can’t find a viable Plan B. I joined a gay running group and simply found myself jogging solo at a set time and place that wasn’t even convenient. Not only did that prove fruitless in terms of dating and making friends, it just made me feel worse. Now I jog according to my own schedule. Just me and Carly Rae Jepsen or K.C. & the Sunshine Band. I joined a gay volleyball league, but that led to a freakish finger dislocation on the third outing, such that my volleyball days are over, my pinky permanently gnarled. I’m not a big drinker and I cannot imagine going old school, hanging out at a gay bar or pub. I suppose I could hang out in the produce section of my local grocery store, but I don’t want to be that guy who keeps fondling melons or eyeing cucumbers.

So that’s my long-winded defense for sticking with what doesn’t work: (Not So) Plenty of Fish. And, as I mentioned in my last post, it’s not working more than ever. It seems my inbox has been shuttered. (See above self-reference as a perennial.) If I sit back and wait, nothing changes. I become an insufferable whiner. Okay, more of one. Can you hear the whining springing from my fingers on the keyboard? Sorry ‘bout that.

It takes reminders that I need to be proactive, search the site and send a message or two every now and then. Cast the rod, see if anything comes other than a snag on some rocky shoal.

While my inbox remained out of order, I did notice this week that I’d at least been viewed. I clicked the profile. He’s 50, I’m 53. Nice photos. A smile even. Positive sounding profile. Worth a shot. Certainly nothing to lose.

I crafted a breezy message, pointing out similar interests and views. I suggested a coffee and/or a walk to see if there might be a connection. Then I pressed send.

The next screen was blank except for this tiny note at the top:

He accepts messages only from certain users. Why not try one of your Matches instead?

All my years on Plenty of Fish and I’d never experienced this. My message had been swatted away before it could even be read. I had to confirm my hunch so I looped back to his profile. At the very bottom appeared the following:

To send a message to this person you MUST meet the following criteria:


Age: Between 30 and 50.

You must have a picture to contact this user.

Male: Check

Picture: Check

30-50: XXX

Two out of three ain’t anything. And he’d been the one who viewed my profile despite the fact each person’s age is stated before you even click it. Over 50. And he looked.

But I was aged out anyway. He’ll never know I tried to send a message. He can go on fishing for a thirty-year-old. His thing. Fine.

But it still feels like a face slap. Fishing prospects are looking even grimmer.


Rick Modien said...

Cute pictures, RG.
You must not take this personally, although I'm sure you're asking yourself, how else is there to take it?
Dude's placed an arbitrary age limit on the men he wants to hear from. His loss, believe me. What's another three years over 50? Nothing.
He's 50, he's looking for someone as young as 30 (yeah, right), and he doesh't want anyone over his age, not even by three years? Whatever. Move on.

Rural Gay Gone Urban said...

Thanks, Rick. I can tell myself that his age limits say more about him than me but it was quite a shock for the website to auto-reject my message. Being older and single makes a guy wonder if there will be another chance. I think there's an extra sensitivity in feeling irrelevant to younger gay men; even harder when it comes from a contemporary!

Moving on, indeed.