It's been about a year since I ruined a Tinder date with pot cookies, and that was the last time I met up with someone through a dating site. After that night, I made one final modification to my Tinder page, changing the picture to one of me smoking a joint. I haven't had a satisfactory match since.
I'm sure that a lot of girls in New York don't mind dating a dude who smokes weed, but I don't just smoke weed. It encompasses my work, my social life, my exercise and meditation, my meals, my downtime, and pretty much every aspect of my existence. That's not an easy regimen to adjust to if you're dating me and don't love ganja.
It never occurred to me that other people might be in the same predicament until I heard about My420Mate. Apparently there are lots of humans who have attempted online dating only to hit a wall when the question of robust pot use arises. Dating sites match you with people based on all sorts of parameters, but none of them directly use pot preference as a factor, though OK Cupid does include it as a question in their match methodology. Previously, you'd have to go through the pains of tactical messaging and even a couple of dates before potentially having the whole thing blow up in your face over a disagreement about weed. My420Mate eliminates that snag. The site's founder, Miguel Lozano, told me, "If you find someone on our site, you know that this person is friendly to weed, whether they smoke or not."
A few years ago, such a site would have seemed like poor cover for a DEA sting operation, but in a national atmosphere that's warming to weed, My420Mate filters out those who refuse to ride the wave. "We live in a country where we're fortunate enough that it's become somewhat free," Lozano said. "You could go to other countries and literally get your head lopped off for some weed." (Hyperbole aside, the last marijuana-related decapitation here in the US was an accidental suicide last year.) Lozano sees this new openness as an opportunity for potheads of all shapes and colors to come out of the shadows and find one another. After all, if there's one thing we've seen in this new age of cannabis, it's that there are all kinds of smokers. "I was trying to show that there are more faces to weed than the stereotype of the stoner, Cheech and Chong and dreadlocks," Lozano said.
A few minutes on the site reveals everyone from professional moms and dads to perfect stoner caricatures, complete with dreadlocks. Most of the 11,000 users are in cannabis-legal states like Colorado, Washington, and (pseudo-legal) California, so there weren't many people for me to meet where I live in New York. As chance had it, I was in Los Angeles last week and learned of a singles mixer co-sponsored by My420Mate in Hollywood. I figured that, being in America's oldest and loosest medical marijuana state, I was bound to come across some interesting stoner ladies there.
I arrived at the mixer with my friend Z around midnight when it was already in full swing. The backyard of the venue was packed with groups of guys and girls smoking weed, and the first thing that struck me was the racial diversity of the crowd. At cannabis events in New York, Denver, and elsewhere, I'm usually the only brown guy in a sea of white, but here there was an even mix of colors mingling freely. My ultimate goal in attending this party was to see what kind of people are on the stoner dating scene, and to achieve this, I had to appear eager to meet potential 420 mates even though I had no intention of actually starting a relationship with someone in LA.
The best conversation starter I could come up with was the fact that I was writing an article about the experience. That was the concrete reason I gave for starting a conversation with a group of girls who smoked a blunt next to Z and I as we were lighting up a joint. The one closest to me was in a Batgirl costume. I asked her how she had heard about the party (part of my journalistic research, naturally) and she said she had no idea it was a singles mixer for stoners. They had just ended up there on a random tip.
"I think all these people are trying to date other stoners," I told Batgirl. She gave me a confused look. "Yup," I said, "It's going to get a lot weirder than this," as I signaled our conversation by pointing back and forth between us. Batgirl's confusion persisted. Thankfully, her friend broke the awkwardness by complimenting the smell of my joint. I offered her a hit but remembered to disclaim the fact that there was a little bit of tobacco in it. She wrinkled her nose and said, "No thanks." I had crossed a cultural line in this foreign land. Many weed-smokers on the West Coast hate tobacco and can't get down with a spliff. Sensing my discomfort, Batgirl grabbed the joint and took a hit. "That's not bad!" she said. She handed the joint back to me and looked at her friends. I watched them engage in silent communication using only slight eye and head movements for about ten seconds before they said, "We're going to get a drink," almost in unison.
It occurred to me that, despite our shared interest in pot, these girls were wary of dudes hitting on them like they would be at any other party. As a guy, I'll never fully understand what it's like to be relentlessly hollered at no matter where I go, so I couldn't fault this group of women for being skeptical of my intentions. Perhaps online dating works so well because it cuts out in-person flirtation tactics and encapsulates everyone into the same-page format, forcing douchebags to flaunt self-aggrandizing photos and inarticulate bios, while allowing introverts to present themselves without the daunting task of starting a conversation.
As I considered how many times I could use the "writing an article" approach, Lozano came over to introduce me to a couple that had met on My420Mate. Jonathan and B found each other in an ocean of stoners after coming up empty on sites like OK Cupid and Plenty of Fish. Rather than the usual song and dance--open with a joke, drop a compliment, ask a meaningful question--Jonathan just asked B, "Wanna smoke a blunt?" After a cup of coffee in a public place so that B could confirm Jonathan wasn't a psychopath, they smoked the proposed blunt. A couple more dates and several blunts later, they were officially an item.
B is an editor at Edibles List magazine, so she's got a formidable tolerance for pot after testing all those delicious cookies and candies. She was previously married to a guy who smoked weed but then quit and went the narc route. "He freaked out and told my parents I was a drug addict because I smoked weed," she tells me. That ended in a divorce, and since then, she hadn't met anyone who was cool with her substantial cannabis consumption until My420Mate linked her with Jonathan.
Aside from the weed-themed online setting, their story is pretty ordinary. Just like thousands of people on countless niche dating sites, these two were looking for someone who shared a very specific trait, even if being a pothead is not as readily identifiable as being a sea captain, a clown, or a very tall person. I congratulated B and Jonathan on their relationship. After they walked off, I turned to Z and said, "Isn't that nice? They seem like a great couple." Z, who had been quietly listening in to our conversation, squinted cynically and said, "Those two are totally not dating. They just made that whole shit up and fed it to you."
I argued for their authenticity, but Z seemed pretty convinced that their relationship was a sham. He's a good judge of character, so I'm inclined to believe him over two strangers. Still, I'd like to think that B and Jonathan genuinely found each other through weed, and that others will follow. I wholeheartedly support the effort to romantically link stoners together through the internet, even though I've already left my own My420Mate profile to die in online dating limbo along with my Tinder and OK Cupid pages.
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