11 February 2007

Dating & the Internet

I've started dating again, and by 'again,' I mean for the first time in forever. I was married for 10 years, and even when the ex & I were dating, we lived 3-ish hours apart, so calling it 'dating' is a bit of a stretch. (Had we 'dated' each other while we were married, we might have managed to stay together, but that's another story.) After the marriage fell apart, I met a Martian on the Internet, and he was (is) sweet but on a different continent with no eagerness to relocate. Again, not much 'dating' going on there, although we had some fun 'virtual dates' and some great vacations.

Now I've signed up at an Internet matching service that attempts to pair you off with nearby 'like-minded' people of the opposite sex, for purposes of 'dating,' however one might define that word.

I have been underwhelmed thus far. We can start with the 300-pound guys who list themselves as 'average build.' Or the men who post photos of their younger selves, or some male model they found on the Internet. I'd be willing to give them the benefit of the doubt about having 'nice personalities' if they did not blatantly lie just to get attention. I am told that women do the same thing, and it flummoxes me. I don't see the point in 'attracting' someone who might very well run away as soon as he sees the rather average-looking, no-makeup, no-nonsense 40-something gal who gets out of the Mini Cooper at the designated date-meeting spot.

Responses from this Internet dating service fall into a few categories that seem to reflect the general state of the singles universe:

-- Illiterate morons, sex fiends and potential axe murderers: "hey bab u luk gud u want 2 hook up b4 da game im in woodlands 2 call my cell netime xxx-xxx-xxxx" [Seriously, this e-mail message arrived a couple of hours before the Super Bowl, supposedly from a 47-year-old professional man.]

-- Non-US citizens seeking green cards and financial scamulation: "Hello, you seem like a smart and beautiful American woman with compassion to those less fortunate than you. I am a well-educated Nigerian man who...." [I'm told that the guys get the same from Russian women.]

-- Guys who have trouble maintaining communication past the first e-mail. [Typically, the first e-mail indicates he has read something about me, usually asking for details about something in my Profile. I respond and ask 1-2 questions about him. He answers the questions and hits the send key. No lines of conversation remain open, so I guess we're done. Intentional? I don't think so. If the guy is a spectacularly good match otherwise, I might try to keep the conversation open myself, but so far it has not seemed to be worth the trouble.]

-- Guys who are fun to talk to, literate, clever, funny, nice, etc.

I have shared lots of e-mails, a few phone calls and two dates with a guy from category 4. Last night, I mentioned that I blog, and he said, "You aren't blogging about me, are you?" He was, at once, saying, "I value my privacy" but also asking, "If you did, would you say nice things?" So I'm not blogging about him, but he is nice.

I'm happy to be flexible about the definition of "date." So far, as you might expect, the largest component of it seems to be talking/listening. Last night we went to a pool hall & just never got around to embarrassing ourselves by actually shooting pool. We blabbed & enjoyed watching some kids ("kid' = anyone younger than us) playing 8-ball. The kids were talented & I have not been near a pool table in 20+ years, so I had little incentive to pick up a stick. Plus, one kid was so talented he could smoke + shoot + talk on his cell phone, which prompted several fun lines of conversation.

The concept of 'dating' also opens the possibility of dating more than one person at a time. I understand that a gal can have guy friends & guy dates, but I don't grok how you can juggle more than one guy date without one of them moving quickly into the 'friend' category. This is currently an academic question, but I welcome insights on the topic.

I look forward to seeing how this Internet matching is going to work. Meanwhile, Mom suggested trying a different matching service that one of her friends used to meet her current spouse. These services are not cheap, and this second one is less cheap than the first. I balk at the idea of paying for cable TV, an always-on entertainment channel. These services want $30-ish/month to introduce me to axe murderers, sex fiends and illiterate morons, with the dubiously entertaining e-mails coming at someone else's leisure. I'm not sure it's worth it, but.... I have had two nice dates that I would not have had otherwise.

I'd love to hear other people's experiences with these services & the 'value calculation' for continuing to subscribe. If you haven't found enough value in the first month, do they get enough new members to make it worth trying a second month?


Anonymous said...

You forgot another category of creepy men: the married-and-lying-about-it. A friend of mine who's been on a number of dates based on online matching services has found several guys she's enjoyed tremendously.

She dated one of them for something like five months before he mentioned that, oh, yeah, he was married.

Other than that he's a really nice, funny, considerate guy who would, other than that little detail, probably be an outstanding match for her. But I can't help questioning the wisdom of continuing in a relationship which has a rather grand-scale lie as part of its foundation. I can't figure out why she thinks he wouldn't do exactly the same thing to her one day. Oh, yeah, and he's still married.

Another guy was supposedly separated from his wife but wasn't all that separated, as it turned out... though he quickly became so once the extra-marital dating became evident to his wife.
On the other hand, we've got a friend locally who's done a lot of matching service dating and, after dating about a dozen women for one or two dates, and one for a matter of months, he's finally found a great match. They've been together for a good while, now, and just got an apartment together. It looks very promising, and she hasn't dumped him because of the strange people he hangs out with, so I guess she's a keeper.


The Food Lady said...

Ugh, I feel for you gals in the trenches. I wouldn't even know how to go about weeding out the princes from the frogs!!! Hang in there-- you have a great sense of humor and a realistic outlook about it. I hope you keep blogging about it. I will live vicariously through you, okay? : )

Lee said...

I've looked at dating services a few times but that's as far as I've gone with them. I've never been game to venture further.

A friend of mine, however, has been doing so for years and is always telling me I should. She's met a few through one of the sites here in Aus., but not "Mr. Right'...but, then, I don't think she's looking for commitment anyway.

All the best in your dating, Smukke...I think I'm just too lazy to be bothered! lol But honesty, upfront, is the only way to go, I believe.

Anonymous said...

I have never tried online dating sites. My friend invited me to this site last week. I'm going to check it out.