I have always been skeptical about online dating. The usual urban legends swirled around about friends of friends who went online and found the man of their dreams, got married and lived happily ever after, and although those are all lovely stories, I couldn’t buy into the modernity of the whole system, the lack of romance, the laziness. Maybe I fill my head with too many classic novels, where the lovers meet by a stroke of fate, exchange only a few glimpses and suddenly fall passionately in love. They exchange love letters for many years, surmounting family obstacles and surviving wars, until they finally unite. How can online dating compare to that? You lazily sit behind a computer screen, browse through a bunch of poorly lit photos and expect to find your soul mate. I don’t buy it. But since more and more of my single friends are trying it, and I have been single for over a year with no prospects in sight, I decided, what do I know?
I see it very much like fishing – although I know very little of fishing, but bear with me – I’m sitting here living my life normally, but next to me I threw a line to see if anything catches. It can’t hurt right? If I’m lucky, right in the middle of one of my exciting adventures I’ll receive an icebreaker from my other half! If I’m not that lucky, I threw away $17.55. It’d be stupid not to try, right?
So here I am on a Sunday morning, freshly showered after a 3 mile job, still in my bathrobe, filling out my online dating profile. I’d like him to be slender, athletic, employed, and I remain open minded about him having children from a previous relationship, or being bald. Hey, who am I to judge? I’m not perfect either. I get stomped at the location I’d like him to be. I would prefer to date someone who lives within city limits of Philadelphia. Mostly because it makes dating easier, but also because I am very much into living in the city, so I’d like him to feel the same way. I don’t think I want a man who lives and loves to be in the suburbs. It’s not for me at this point in my life. Well, this particular dating website would only let me pick 30 miles from my zip code. That leaves a large margin, but I’m trying to be a good sport, so I move on.
I add as many photos of myself as seems acceptable, thanking my last boyfriend for all the gorgeous shots he used to take of me for my fashion blog. I make sure to include a full body, as well as the most recent close up of my new haircut: I can’t have my future boyfriend thinking he’s getting long luscious hair when in reality I am channeling my inner French girl. Most importantly, I stay clear of group photos. This is MY dating profile, I want people to be interested in ME, why bring friends and family into this torture?
I try to fill out the rest of my profile as well as possible, going for honest but also trying to seem lighthearted and funny. Selling myself has never been my thing and although I know I’m a catch, it’s a whole other thing to actually put into words why I am to complete strangers. One question in particular I have a hard time answering and is currently still blank: “Other than your appearance, what is the first thing that people notice about you?” If it isn’t appearance, what else is it? I’d say my fashion sense, but that falls under appearance, my accent only comes out when I’m highly intoxicated or extremely tired, so that doesn’t work either, and I doubt that my humor comes off right off the bat as I tend to be a little shy around new people. I guess I need to ask some of my friends, but for now I chose to leave it empty and move on eager to start browsing through my matches.
I enter my billing information after having bargained an amazing price (why would I pay full price for a service I don’t know I like yet?) and …. Drum roll please…. Here come my first matches.
Granted, I realize many people use this particular website for their dating needs, but I naively thought that a machine as sophisticated as a dating site would somehow know better than to match you with your very own version of Mr. Big (pre-movies 1 and 2). Indeed, I got matched with my ex.
At this point, I easily could have cancelled the whole thing and called it a day. I mean, what is the point of me trying this out if it just throws me back into the arms of my past? I do that quite excellently on my own, thank you very much. I don’t have to pay for it. The whole point of me doing this was to move on. In the past few months I’ve found myself analyzing all my past relationships, wondering if I let something go that may have been worth a second (or third or fourth try). Then I remind myself that those relationships ended for a reason, and that dating an ex is like shopping at your own yard sale (I just read that somewhere on Pinterest and I just had to include it) and that if God closed all those doors it’s because he plans to open a big beautiful window.
So here I am, waiting for my window to open, not giving up on online dating, yet!
Within the first 24 hours I discover that the ex-boyfriend match is the least of my issues. Actually, I’ll be generous and say that so far he is definitely the most handsome guy I was matched with (if you are reading…. You are welcome!), but the other gentlemen that pop up on my match feed on a daily basis aren’t technically awful. None of them reach out to me though and this begins a long list of questions: if they are on my match feed, am I also on theirs? I boldly “smile” at Rick who seems adorable, lives in Philadelphia and is tall enough for me to wear heels, but two days go by and nothing! Not even a smile back. If I wanted this kind of rejection I would have just stuck to the real world! I decided to be bolder and send introductory questions to Ben, who lives outside Philadelphia but I am willing to overlook his location since he’s a pilot and that’s a pretty sexy job. He has yet to reply although he has been active every day since I reached out.
Then I get notified of all the ones who are not my matches but who would like to connect with me anyways and this is when I realize: online dating karma! All these guys come straight out of my dating nightmares. I don’t mean to sound unkind but when it comes to romance and sharing myself with another person, I have to be picky and this group of really brave men who send me smiles and questionnaires are so far from what I would ever consider that I am flabbergasted. They do not fit into any of the parameters I had picked out, and I’m starting to find that cruel. I wish this website would filter these connections. Don’t bother reaching out to me because it’s never going to happen, no hard feelings. And the same goes for the cute matches who aren’t responding to me. I must not fit into their parameters. Wouldn’t it avoid a lot of useless waiting if, straight off the bat, the site didn’t allow you to reach out to someone who will definitely not be interested in you? So I guess the bad Karma of me “blocking” all these poor, brave guys who are trying to connect with me, is causing all the cute matches I try to contact to not reciprocate.
It’s all a big game, even if you are brave enough to go online. But I’m armed with patience, I have a membership paid until October, and I am treating this as a hobby, let’s see what it gets me. Stay tuned, as I am sure I haven’t seen nothing yet.