Online dating: it's the worst, right? You spend hours scouring through seemingly countless profiles on dating websites, "winking" at cute guys only to find out that they're complete jerks offline and praying that you don't get catfished.
Blogger Jen Talley totally gets it. That's why she started this amazing new Tumblr blog Cute Animals, Bad Dates that pulls real one-liners from dating profiles and pairs them up with oddly appropriate animal pictures. So in case you've been wondering: no, you're not the only "weirdo" magnet — as her blog proves, there are plenty of them out there on the internet. Just don't give up hope! And hey, don't cute animals just make everything better? That's what Talley believes, as she explains in our exclusive interview!
YourTango: Tell me a little bit about yourself! You said you were a single mom; how about your kids?
Jen Talley: I'm a single mom with two girls (seven and ten). I've been divorced for about five years. I work full time, I do some freelance writing, and I'm also an artist doing online sales, craft shows and cons. So I'm really busy. But I'd much rather be busy than bored.
YT: Where did you get the inspiration for the blog?
JT: I've seen a lot of snarky or just mean sites taking on online dating, making fun of people and their pictures and what they say in their profiles, and I wanted to find the humor in it rather than the horror. I have a few friends who, like me, are getting back into dating after several years off the market, but when you are getting back into it you realize how bizarre and surreal the whole online dating thing is, even though realistically it's also our best chance to actually meet people. So we would send links back and forth, with "Dude, can you believe this guy put this on his profile?" commentary. And these are the same friends who post on Facebook; you know, stuff from CuteOverload all "OMGSQUEEEE BABY SLOTH." So it finally just occurred to me to put the two together, like "Well, this profile wouldn't be so bad if it were posted by an adorable hedgehog."
YT: How do you find the funny (real) captions to include?
JT: The captions all come from actual online dating profiles. I get a lot from OKCupid and also from Craigslist. People send me links to profiles they find or I find them doing searches on certain words or phrases — early on I searched "Fifty Shades of Grey" and did a few from people saying it was their favorite book, for example, or I search for Halloween or Christmas stuff to do seasonal posts. I wasn't too careful at first when it was just me and a couple of friends seeing them, but now I do make sure everything I post is publicly available. On OKCupid, you can choose whether your profile is visible to non-members or not and I only use quotes from public profiles. I've dated a couple of guys who know about the site and they get a little paranoid about whether they're going to show up as an aardvark or camel or something.
YT: What do you think of dating? And how have your views of dating influenced your blog?
JT: It's hard to date with kids and all these demands on your time and your energy; guys who don't have kids don't necessarily understand the time and emotional commitment kids demand, and guys who do have kids have their own scheduling and emotional demands. I do enjoy it, though, for the most part — I like dressing up once in a while and going to a restaurant that has a wine list instead of a kids' menu. I like meeting new people and finding out what makes someone tick. I get a really good story out of it and I love a good story. My friends have been turning to me the last couple of years for advice and stuff, I don't know what that's about but I'm sort of the dating guru of my social circle now. Not sure if that's a good thing or not, but the thing is, I don't make any secret of the fact that I'm out there looking. I've been on a lot of first dates and a few second dates, and even fewer third dates. I've had a couple of short-term relationships since my divorce that don't work out for various reasons. I'd like to find someone I could have a long-term relationship with, eventually, but in the meantime, I'm okay with dating for the fun of it.
YT: Do you have a favorite image you've created so far?
JT: It's hard to pick now that I've done more than 300 of these. Smirky sloth is one of my favorites. Also the lonely corgi. And the suave otter. I love an otter.
YT: A sillier, last question: What animal do you think would make the perfect date? And why?
JT: Yikes. I mean, I have a thing for sloths but I wouldn't want to date one. You'd always be late, everywhere, all the time. Dogs are always happy to see you but they can get a little clingy and I kind of like my space. I might have to go back to the otter on this. They are hilarious, smart and well-groomed. There are worse things in a date.
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