Dating in a Polluted Fish Bowl… It’s Not You, It’s Them

Words by Amiyah Golden


After taking a few months to heal and fill up my schedule with many arbitrary hobbies, It doesn’t exempt me from finding myself back in the never-ending circle of unprovoked exhaustive interactions with Jacksonville men. 


I often catch myself turning my nose up in disgust when approached by the male species; particularly since my discovery of the Facebook group “Are We Dating the Same Guy.” 


Although I had already heard my fair share of horror stories through numerous recounts of TikTok storytimes, I was intrigued to hear Jacksonville has its own group (with over 13,000 active members), exposing one cheating man at a time in the city and the surrounding areas. 


With this group, women are able to confirm if the guy they recently have developed butterflies for is actually involved in a monogamous relationship or if there are any red flags to watch out for. 


So, a parasocial sorority with standards, maybe?


Well, whatever it is, women of all backgrounds, cultures and statuses come together to avenge their love lives … or end them, depending on the responses received, and as soon as I was accepted by the administration I started scrolling, keeping my eyes peeled for any impending “tea.” I got a face full of extensive screenshots, heartbreaking stories and hundreds of comments of personal experiences from various different girls. 


I was a bit gagged … how could a man live a double life? (But was I really surprised?) 


My heart broke when I saw so many women posting pictures of themselves and their partners,

pleading for any knowledge to ease or confirm any suspicions they had. Some posts had no comments but much support from fellow women, and some were littered with threads of “Can I PM [private message] you? I have some information.”


Administrators regularly monitor posts and have complete control over what gets posted or commented on and what is not allowed. 


With some guidelines including: 

“Don’t include even a single remotely negative word or accusation …”

“No libel or defamation of character.”

“Don’t post hot takes, politics, religion or solicitations.”


It is stressed by members and administration to keep posts within the group, but on social media, that’s virtually impossible. Members have the ability to post anonymously, taking steps to protect themselves just in case of potential retaliation. But screenshots are still often shared and sent to the men being posted by people in the group. This regularly causes conflict, and many women are then confronted by the individuals. 


But is it a risk that each poster is aware of?


Much of the backlash received from the guys is the consequence of a bruised ego and embarrassment on their part since they were caught. 


Now this Facebook page doesn’t just feed into the bashing of men. (It’s not a warlock hunt. Calm down.) There are countless stories of women vouching for good men that they know.

Many endorse them as “the sweetest human ever” or “a bit shy but a great guy nonetheless.” This has encouraged a spin-off Facebook page, Vouched Dating — Jacksonville, which gives users the ability to recommend their sons, brothers, coworkers and even former lovers who are great … but it just didn’t work out.


With over 13,000 Facebook users being a part of this group, there is a very good chance at least one person may directly or indirectly know the person being questioned or scouted. 


I’ve seen baby mamas endorse their baby’s father, and I’ve also seen them say, “Run far away!” I’ve seen exes from 10 years ago recount intimate memories but follow up with, “That was 10 years ago. I’m sure he’s changed.” The entire page is truly a mixed bag of stories, reviews and advice. 


With all these new avenues of dating available the subtle horror that may come with it continues to make my head spin, making the desire to date become a torn reality. I don’t want to become an old cat lady (although I’m already on that path: two cats deep already. Yikes.). But on the other hand I don’t want to subject myself to potential doom. 


OK, enough of me being cynical.


Jacksonville is full of so many beautiful people, and there is truly a person out there for everyone. With places like Ink Factory Brewing in Jacksonville Beach and Legacy Ale Works in St. Augustine holding dating events for an array of age groups. The ability to still meet people organically is on the table.


If you want to lean away from the bar scene, try out some local Jacksonville social groups such as Sunday Social or Jax Social Group which host a range of events aimed to promote intentional, fun connections.


Interactions aren’t limited to orchestrated group activities but can simply bloom out of your sole exploration of this beautiful city we call home. That spirit of voyage may just turn into a fated “meet-cute.” 


With “Folio” now bringing back our infamous “I Saw You” column, there is no excuse as to why you’ll be freezing this winter, when you can be bundled up beside the cute brunette you saw at Chamblin’s last Friday. Or shoot your shot with the one who got away at Lynch’s Irish Pub that one night or the person you saw at Trader Joe’s but were too scared to say anything. You may think a passing interaction felt like the end of a love story before it even began, but we are granting you the opportunity to create your own ending.


To my single people out there, I know you read the first half of this story and maybe the idea of love is now a *bombastic side eye*, but my briefing wasn’t to scare you. I will always encourage the formation of authentic experiences and relationships. 


Some men will be men (the key word being “some”) and the same goes for women (the women’s version of the page does exist, if you want to look for it). But love has always been known to be the biggest chance you’ll take out there. Fortunately, the reward almost always trumps the risk! 


So go out and love freely (not if you’re in a committed relationship of course), and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! You don’t want to carve pumpkins alone this Halloween!