This week's Question of the Day host on Siren is Ma'Chell Duma, founder and publisher of Stackedd Magazine. A frequent, outspoken writer on the intersection of female sexuality and pop culture, Ma'Chell's work has appeared in New York Magazine, The Stranger, and Seattle Weekly, and she is currently working on two books. She is also an avid dater with high standards who has gone on more than 200 dates in the past 4 years.
When we heard this, we were intrigued. That's a lot of dates! We asked her some questions about what she has discovered during this process. Some of her advice surprised us, and might surprise you too.
Ma'Chell Duma Has Gone on 200 Dates in 4 Years. Here's What She Has Learned. [Tweet this]
What's the number one thing you have learned from going on 200 dates in the past 4 years?
It’s hard to break it down into one thing, but knowing that you are ready to date, why you’re ready and exactly what you want, seems to be a big one. If you’ve just gotten out of a long-term situation, you should really take the time to heal before you jump back into the pond. My biggest personal mistake after 10 years in monogamous—for me anyway ;/ —relationship was that while I was still in shock about my relationship ending and barely days out of it, I slept with the first guy who told me I was pretty and a good writer, who also turned out to be a predatory married dude with a history of doing the same thing with women in similar situations to mine. If I'd stayed home and processed for a bit, I wouldn't have hurt myself or anyone else.
I recently chatted with a guy on this app who told me he starts all of his conversations “because he feels the need to be honest” by telling the women he’s trying to date, he is still in love with someone else. That seems self-defeating on two levels: One, you obviously don’t have an open heart yet and are using someone to “get over “ that relationship kind of like a really underpaid sex therapist, and secondly, I’d question the self esteem of a woman who would hear that and be like, “Yeah, this seems like a good idea”.
What's your advice for men who want to be successful at online dating? How about women?
I’m hetero, so I can only base my experiences that way, but as far as men, the way you represent yourself online, from photos to descriptors should be honest, thoughtful and paint yourself in a light women might find interesting. If you don’t know what that is, ask other women you respect in your life. Remember women are reading your responses. If the Q of the Day is “Name three historical figures you’d invite to dinner” and you list all men, that tells us something. Sometimes I feel on other apps, I see photos that men seem to be posting for other men. I’ll never understand a guy with a gun as a profile picture. Reminding me you could kill me if you wanted to isn’t a great place to start a relationship. Also really read a woman’s profile. If she says she’s a feminist who is not into sports or hiking and you’re a guy with a Seahawks profile pic, who loves to camp, and doesn’t know much about feminism, as cute as you may find her, take a pass and find a girl hiking in her photos or (from what I hear) on a mountain in yoga pose who has a general interest in the same things you do. Don’t let your photo boner waste anyone’s time.
"Reminding me you could kill me if you wanted to isn’t a great place to start a relationship." [Tweet this]
For women, I recommend setting guidelines from beginning about the amount of emotional labor you are willing to take on and being firm about what your want. If you are sitting on a date and a man hasn’t asked you a question about yourself in 30 minutes, or is obviously not directing the conversation towards interests you’ve expressed, or trying to “neg” you to boost themselves up, or is not the person they repped themselves to be online, just get up and leave. Given the current political climate, there is a lot of tension between the sexes especially if you are on opposite ends on the spectrum. Over the last year I’ve started bringing a twenty dollar bill with me on all my dates, if things get loopy, weird or creepy I simply take the twenty out of my wallet put it down on the table and walk out. The guys are usually so surprised I can make it to my car safely before they figure out what happened.
And for all online daters—I say meet as soon as possible. You either have chemistry or you don’t and long conversations via text or phone before that chemistry is established has proven in my experience a real time waster and can lead to disappointment.
What do you look for in a relationship?
That’s changed over time but now I like to say I’m looking for a “Stedman” as in Oprah’s longtime partner. Not in a “lady beard” way (I’m all about the dudes, bless ya), but in a supportive, yet "comfortable letting me shine", way. Someone secure with their own career and life goals. For the most part, someone I date has to be cool with the fact they’re going to be my +1 at everything and probably referred to as my boyfriend and not the other way around. I have a young son I have primary custody of, run two businesses and have a speaking and writing career, so my time is limited and very precious and I need someone who respects that. I’ve spent 20 years in entertainment and that comes with great perks, but if you can’t accept they come via a woman and her success, we just won’t work. Also, he obviously needs to be a feminist with a clear understanding of what that is and means. And I wouldn’t cry if he came in a package that looked like Tom Hardy (just kidding). I’m more about a personal vibe than a “type” although tattoos, quirkiness, and guys who are into and ready for “the jelly” as Beyonce put it, do ring my lady bells.
How does your experience on Siren stack up to your experiences with other dating apps?
I’m not just a fan of Siren platform and the women who run it, I’m also a member. I think Siren’s clientele comes here for a reason, they want more than just a swipe and have probably had their fill of hook-up apps. I also think it’s a great place for people like me you require a little more discretion. When I see all those questions people are willing to answer that anyone who has an account on OK Cupid can read I’m just baffled. Do your co-workers really need to know if you’re into anal or your approximate amount of sexual partners or that you’re an a-hole with a strict “no fatties” policy? It seems like the kind of info one would want to reveal slowly or keep to themselves as opposed to being the standards of which you or a partner is chosen. Siren lets you reveal as much as you want about yourself in a classy, measured way.
"I’m not just a fan of Siren platform and the women who run it, I’m also a member." [Tweet this]
Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, Ma'Chell. Good luck out there, and happy dating!