Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Online Dating Show

We buy our groceries online, we pay our bills online, why wouldn’t select a mate online while we are at it?

Ahhh…remember the days when everyone wrote paper checks and online dating carried a stigma? During the 90s the only people who found love via their computer monitor were cyberdorks with tape on their glasses. Well those cyberdorks were light years ahead of us in terms of the new dating scene (not to mention everything else involving the internet). They are also now Silicon Valley millionaires.…but I digress.

Yes, the online dating industry has passed the ‘early adopter’ stages and gone to the masses. Match.com is about as mainstream as Starbucks, Facebook and Gardenburgers (soy based burgers are mainstream in California anyway).
Even if we don’t publically admit to have browsed the match.com site, we all secretly have while in the privacy of our own home. Most of us have free profiles posted. And about a solid third of us have actually made the leap and paid for a subscription, showing our cheesy smiling profile picture and “love to laugh” headline to the world.

So what exactly happens on these sites? Can true love be found in cyberspace or is it still reserved for the cyberdorks? I decided to find out.

After a few weeks online, I have made a few noteworthy observations that may serve to assist other men and women out there.

1.Cancel your weekend plans to devote to time to profile writing. Setting up the profile is a bitch. Be prepared to labor over text and multiple editing sessions from your pals. And when it comes to pictures, just select a few good ones (not the one of you in a Sombrero kissing a pinanta, no matter how ‘fun’ it makes you look)

My first attempts at writing a profile were attacked mercilessly . ‘Shoegirl,” Holly chided me, “you cannot say you are fluent in five languages. Number one, it’s too intimidating. And number two, ordering sushi in Tokyo doesn’t really count as speaking Japanese!” (Hmm…what about making love in French then? ) Alexis then found fault with my attempts to be humorous ‘Writing limericks may be witty, but I do not think rhyming ‘anatomical’ with ‘economical’ is going to get you a date “ And Mazz didn’t like my Mad Lib approach when I let the reader fill in blanks how he wished. “But I am a chameleon! I can be and do anything!” I protested. After hours of edits, the final profile was specific enough to describe me, yet vague enough to have them wanting more. I gave a few examples of my hobbies, (must sound active and literate), my job (must appear to have one), and a descriptions of places I like to go. (If you are not well -traveled, don’t bother posting a profile or just lie—everyone on this site seems to be Rick Steves).

2. Winks are for wimps. Hold out for an email. I have heard from male friends that they cannot be bothered to write everyone, so they just give an easy wink to women they don’t care as much about. In fact, they may wink at as many as 25 women during one session. So if you get a wink you are not special. You aren’t special either if you get a cut and paste email that could easily be sent to 25 women. ‘You seem cool. Nice smile!” If a guy likes you, he will actually *gasp* read your profile and write you an email that references things about you in it. “I like that you speak 5 languages, I myself speak 4. Let’s make love in French.” These are the guys worth writing back. Mais, bien sur!

3. Weeding them out takes patience. For every halfway decent man that writes you, about 50 not-so-decent men will. They are either 56 and bald or 35 and four feet tall or are 23 and have had “some college” and misspell the word ‘college’ (A ‘collage’ is a collection of photos, dummy). I don’t think people bother to read what you are looking for before they contact you. There are also just some plain weirdoes out there left over from the chat room days. I recently got an email from some man in Idaho (geographically undesirable) with this message ”Look into my eyes! I have been telepathically willing you to respond to me.” Along with the other match.com pariahs, I ignored him. When a good one writes you, take the time to write back. Don’t become a winker yourself.

4. As women lie about their weight, so do men lie about their height. I do not know if men seriously all believe they are 6 feet tall or they know they have a higher chance of a write-back if they pretend to be. It really works against them. I once was excited to finally meet an engaging 6 footer out. However, when we shook hands for that important first hello I realized that he was actually my height (in flats)! He was a cool enough guy that I could have gotten over the tall thing had he not lied! Was he lying about his Ivy League education as well? Guys—be honest. And women too—do not say you are 115 llbs when that was your weight when you were in junior high. From body stats to incomes….unless we stay in a virtual relationship we’ll find out sooner or later.

5.Casual please. Although most men behave casually, some men are REALLY READY to get married and have kids and see match.com as their last chance. I am not a baby machine. If a man asks me about kids on date numero uno, he’s out. I mean yes, someday I hope to be a mother….but please we met ONLINE…isn’t talking about daycare options a bit premature for the first outing? I think that everyone who goes on an online induced date should go thinking of friendship only. Anything more than that needs to develop from in-person encounters. Chemistry is the one thing that the internet cannot predict nor control.

After about 6 weeks online, I really did meet some amazing men. I had enjoyable drinks and dinner dates on Tuesdays when I would have normally been in my PJs watching ‘Love Actually’ for the 14th time. However, I can’t say I found anything resembling true love...or even mild interest for a fling. To be honest, I find online dating daunting and quite time consuming. I know many men and women have had much luck on this site and I would love to hear from them. (In fact I know two married couples that met on one of these things!). There is also a new site that has gotten press from Forbes---millionairematch.com. You don’t actually have to be a millionaire (I obviously am not), but I do think it weeds out the “some ‘collage’” educated and high school janitors. Apparently Charlie Sheen met someone on it. And we all know what good taste he has in mates. I may try it out and meet a movie star or just throw in the towel on cyberdating. Perhaps I am old fashioned but something in me prefers the good ol’ sleazy pick up bars. I guess I’d rather have a hearty ass grope and ‘yes no’ dance than a string of “so you rock climb too?” emails


TheBlonderTheBetter said...

Hmm. This online dating world does seem a bit daunting though it obviously works. My sister met her husband on Match. Of course, their first date was a networking event my sister had to go to and dragged him to it! It really is a miracle the relationship survived. Anyhoo, I hear you also on the education piece. And we all know that YOU know the difference between college and collage. (I think a remember a pretty famous Heidi collage from your dating past...)

Anonymous said...

I know about 7 people including myself who are online-long-term relationship, marriage people. I got into it after a few disasterous work-romances. It's hard to meet guys outside of work, unless you can volunteer at an event where there's a lot of guys... Not sure where that would be. I do have single friends and try to push them into places where guys might be.. Festivals for: Oktoberfests? Home remodeling shows? Sci-fi festivals? Techie?

Online dating is easy...