Elliot Frantz, 29, is a real person.
He lives in St. Johns. He works for a software company. He’s a Gemini.
And he’s looking for a girlfriend.
You may have seen his smiling face on flyers plastered around Portland. They show a man – reddish beard, glasses, straw boater hat – and a website url, dateelliot.com.
Curious Portlanders who click through will find a homemade dating website designed for dating just one guy.
“About a month before everything shut down, I started getting to the point where I was like, I’m ready to date again after my last relationship,” Frantz said. In order to put himself out there, he signed up for salsa classes and made it to two dance lessons before the coronavirus pandemic forced everything to shut down.
“I ended up trying dating apps, and I just hate all of them,” Frantz said. “The interface is terrible, the way that they track you is really invasive. I wanted to get rid of the dating app, but I also can’t meet people in person.”
What’s a guy to do?
His first thought was to use a billboard (of course), but that proved to be cost-prohibitive. Instead, he created the website and posted flyers within a 30-minute travel radius of his house.
“They say you’ve got to put yourself out there,” he said.
On the homepage of his website, Frantz is shown wearing a bow tie and suit jacket and holding a sign that reads, “Wanna go out?” In a video introduction, he talks about himself and his interests (he meditates, practices piano, bakes a weekly loaf of bread and likes exploring the outdoors). There’s also a references section from Frantz’s friends.
“His apartment is clean, he has a job, he has real friends, and he makes time to be involved in people’s lives,” Jessica Carlman writes on the site. “Super cute, plans romantic dates, 10/10 would recommend.”
The website went live Sept. 27. Since then, Frantz has gotten a handful of date requests and a few dozen responses from women (and men) who just want to be friends with a kindred, quirky spirit.
“Which is nice. It’s not what I’m looking for, but I’m never going to say no to a new friend,” Frantz said. “I love meeting new people.”
As for dates, so far, he’s had a few phone conversations, Zoom meetings and, on Wednesday, a socially distanced walk in the park.
“There’s definitely potential matches already,” he said. “Even more than that, I’ve definitely gained friends that are going to remain friends for years to come. I can already feel that in my bones. Because a lot of these people who are reaching out are just so cool.”
Pamela Orebaugh, 31, was among those who replied using the contact form on Frantz’s website.
“I admittedly don’t think I would have done it if we hadn’t had a mutual friend,” Orebaugh said. “I’m not quite that bold. I knew he was a real person, I knew this wasn’t some scam, and the mutual friend we had was definitely like an endorsement.”
Orebaugh lives in Northern California, but attends Portland State University’s online masters program and does (in non-pandemic-times) occasionally travel to Portland.
“The amount of effort is more impressive than a guy on Tinder who’s swiping left or right and sending, ‘hey,’” she said. “We had an hour and a half Zoom call the other day, and honestly, I wish I weren’t several hundred miles away. I’m kind of embarrassed to say this, but it went really great. I would love to date Elliot.”
Orebaugh acknowledged that it might be more difficult for a woman to pull off a similar dating strategy and get “authentic responses” from would-be suitors.
“I actually work in the domestic and sexual violence field, and I am curious what kind of, for lack of a better phrasing, spam or the digital equivalent of cat-calling he may be getting,” she said. Orebaugh remembered telling Frantz that as a cisgender, heterosexual white male, “You can do something like this and it’s adorable.”
Alison Percifield, 31, of Portland, responded to the flyer because she found the whole thing “charming and unusual.”
“I think it’s very attractive to put yourself out there so publicly, and Elliot did it in a way that showcased himself,” she told The Oregonian/OregonLive in email. “I think a lot of people, including myself, have a hard time being vulnerable and facing rejection in dating.”
After talking over the phone, she met up with Frantz for a masked-and-distanced walk.
“We laughed a lot, and the conversation felt pretty natural,” Percifield said. “He has a nice blend of odd hobbies and interests that make him a well-rounded individual capable of talking about most things with ease and humor. … I’d like to see him again and continue to get to know him.”
Frantz describes himself as a “jack of all trades, master of none.” He’s an artist who’s worked in layered cardboard creations. As “Professor Elliot,” he hosted a YouTube video series that was a combination outdoor, travel and cooking show. He’s been known to wear a pith helmet while exploring both urban and rural terrain.
“A good partner for me is someone who’s willing to grow. Someone who’s willing to talk things through,” Frantz said. “I’d also want someone who’s willing to go on adventures with me. I’d love someone who’d be willing to put on a backpack and go hiking through the forest with me. And on the flip side of that, someone who would also enjoy sitting at home and reading a book.”
Does this sound like the guy for you? Frantz is taking all manner of friend requests. The option to date him, however, is likely a limited-time offer so act now.
— Samantha Swindler / @editorswindler / firstname.lastname@example.org