Online Dating: Separating Fact from Fiction
I’ve been on the dating scene for a few years now and have tried various ways of meeting people: set-ups by friends, speed dating, joining a singles volunteering organization (now defunct),
stalking men in Lowe’s, and online dating. I’ve tried various online dating sites in this time: Match, eharmony, Chemistry, SingleParentsMeet, GreatBoyfriends. I’m not here to do a review of these sites, but I am here to tell you that I’ve become a bit of an online dating champion.
You know, an advocate. Okay, maybe more like a defender. Because I know your first thought was “Susan, you’ve had loads of first dates, a handful of seconds and only one 3-dater from online dating, so you can’t be a champion. In fact, why do it at all?”
You should also be thinking, “And, golly, Susan, you’re just the cat’s meow — I happen to have this kind, intelligent, handsome, unselfish fun male friend who doesn’t live with his parents or smell. I know for a fact he likes single mothers sporting large bags under their eyes! When can I set you up?!” You were thinking that…right?
So being a Champion/Public Defender of Online Dating, I thought I should give it to you straight and attempt to debunk the myths about this form of dating. These are all questions or comments people have said to me personally. My responses are based on my experience and the experience of other online daters I know. They are not statistically representative and have what I’m guessing is a +/- 85% tracking error. Nonetheless, I feel it is my duty to tell you these things. Here we go:
Isn’t online dating only for the really desperate people?
When people say this kind of thing to me I know they mean it in the best way possible — but I’m not sure they realize that it doesn’t sound encouraging because, you know, I AM DOING ONLINE DATING, too. That said, no, online dating isn’t only for desperate people. It’s not only for “losers.” It’s simply a good way to meet people you likely wouldn’t meet otherwise. For someone like me, who doesn’t hang out in bars, has limited time to do activities outside of kiddie activities, and works at a firm with mostly married men (and with a surprisingly large number of single men who live with their mamas – yikes), it’s a terrific way to branch out beyond your social circle.
Wow, that’s brave of you.
Okay, we’ve established that online dating isn’t desperate, but let’s not get carried away. Online dating, in my humble opinion, is not “brave.”
This person was sincere when she made this statement to me last month, and I appreciated the spirit in which it was intended. I’m the first to agree that you have to be comfortable with the idea of trying something new and putting yourself out there if you’re going to do online dating. And for those who do it, I salute you — because I know firsthand it’s a little strange and awkward and takes guts and it’s…strange. But brave?
I think calling it “brave” puts way too much pressure on the process and its results. Brave is for my brother-in-law, who came back from a year’s tour of duty in Iraq. Brave is for my friends who lost their daughter a few months ago and are trying to figure out how to live their lives without her. Brave is for firefighters and cops and people doing, you know, brave things. Online dating is out of the comfort zone for many people and they deserve a hearty thumbs up for giving it a whirl. But it is, after all, just a way to meet people, and if you don’t like those you meet, it’s actually pretty easy to not be brave and hide.
Doesn’t everyone lie about how they look?
Guys I’ve met for dates often comment on this — how so and so posted photos 5 years old when she was 30 lbs. lighter, or how one woman was missing one of her front teeth…hidden in the closed-mouth photos of her. (Warning sign if no open-mouth photos! Boy, I felt sorry for him!)
There is definitely truth to people taking advantage of the veil of the web. Being about 5′ 8″ I am doubtful that men who say they’re 5’10″ really are, so I tend to search for the taller ones and then discount an inch or two from there. I also went out with a guy who I thought looked like Ed Harris in his photo. Ed Harris is kinda sexy. Mr. X, on the other hand, was not because you couldn’t see the large mole on the other side of his face in his head shot, and more importantly you couldn’t see his stubby legs and the way he shuffled when he walked. Or that he called his son “Little Man” nonstop, and that he was, in short (ha, short!), an idiot.
But I’m not completely innocent: I check off that I work out 3-4 times a week and for the last 2 months that frequency has only been in my mind.
Aren’t guys only looking for sex? [alternative: Aren't all the guys jerks -- looking for sex?]
Regarding the first part, Jeff Mac at Manslations.com says the male brain imagines having sex with every viable (and not so viable) woman as its way of “saying ‘hi.” I have no reason to doubt this is the case in online dating either. However, Jeff reassures us that there are men looking for sex and a relationship. The trick is finding those interested in both.
As for the jerks, yeah, there are jerks in online dating. Come to think of it, I’ve met quite a few offline, too. No one’s got a corner on that market – know what I mean? [If you're a guy, you can insert a similar reference to women.]
Did you post a photo? I wouldn’t show mine.
The photo part is hard, but if you’re gonna do online dating, you should post a photo. I’m not crazy about doing it either, but I’m leery of men who don’t post their own — what are they hiding? More importantly, why are they hiding?
It’s not like if we meet I won’t see what he looks like. So, yes, I post a photo or two. Fair is fair.
By the way, if you post a photo, leave the ex-spouse out of it. I can’t tell you how many men post photos where it is obvious by the hint of an arm or long blond hair not quite cropped out it was a couples photo. No one wants to see that!
Forget this relationship nonsense. Shouldn’t you try Adult Friend Finder for a little fun? I mean, it’s been a long time…
How did that get in there?!
NO. I’m scared just thinking about it. (Read here if you missed my previous explanation as to why.) Reclaiming virginity is definitely the better path.
Are there any normal people on these sites? Does this even work? Why do you only write about the wacky ones?
Part A: please refer to my response to the first question. Yes. Yes, there are normal people doing online dating and I am one of them. Honest. You believe I’m normal, right? RIGHT?
Does it work? Yes, it can. My friends and neighbors have had a lot of luck with long-term relationships started through online dating. In fact, one is getting married this week to a man she met in February on eHarmony. A few of you have told me about other examples. I’ve heard other examples, too. It can work. What I don’t know is if it will end up working for me, but what’s the harm in seeing?
Susan, why do you only write about the nutjobs? Okay, I stuck this in as a way to support Part A. That is, I’ve met many normal guys through online dating. I’ve had several good dates — even 1 or 2 terrific dates — that for one reason or another never went very far. But writing about those experiences isn’t terribly exciting (although I did base the storyline in my novel about one particularly great experience — and gave it the ending I wanted). Why I write about the wacky ones is that it’s fun, it’s interesting, and it’s funny. So without further ado, I leave you with these Red Flag Online Dating Profiles:
“I enjoy working out to the point it is like a bad habit…. it is something I can not stop doing.” Bad habits = not good.
“Just window shopping I am really not in the mood to write an essay at the moment. I wish you could just postpone this part until later because it is really annoying to have to do this right now. If I put in a couple of more words – I’m done.” Well, keep on shopping then. And pick up an antidepressant or a new ‘tude the next time you’re at the store.
“Looking for a boat. I’m looking for time. I mean major time…If this site seems any good I’ll come back and expand upon this. I am not a current paying member. Thanks to those who have sent to or nudged me but I cannot respond now.” May I introduce you to the window shopper above. At least he paid to sign up. And what kind of boat?
“any nice, pretty, lonely girls who want a nice looking, good hearted, honest man that will treat them like the ladies they are, stop here.” [This accompanied a photo of him with badass sunglasses on, lounging around barechested.] Buddy, I’ll never be that lonely. Like I said, becoming a virgin again ain’t that bad.
“I am a very down to earth guy, with alot of paitients, careing and understanding.” ...And no spell check.
I will marry a fantastic and fabulous English woman! Whether I find her [here] or when I get to England… suits me just fine and dandy! I’m told that I am comfortable to be around and easy to get to know. Probably because of my casual wit, unending patience and the ability to actually listen. Yes ladies, here is a man that will listen to your ever resounding and lovely voice! I am sincerely seeking and hoping to meet the English woman of my dreams… (Oh the Scots, Welsh, and Irish lassies are gonna knock me for a loop!!!)(okay – British Woman!!! is that better? haha…) …the one I am destined to be with… I still believe this way, because it is a part of who I am (a romantic) and feeling this way makes me feel good! I can’t wait for God to bless me with the magnificent woman that will want to put up with me! haha Three letters: W.T.F. (and I’m part Irish and English!)
“im a fun loving hard working guy that active and looking to meet a sexy petite fun female that understands the word space also must very independant with yourself no leeches just someone that goes with the flow does this make sensesame as above dont feel like writing long description just be real” [accompanied by photo of half naked man posing for camera] Just be real and save us all the trouble by signing off right now.
“I can be boring or funny, surprising and patient. As an engineer, to some people I am from another planet. I am looking for someone who is intelligent, attractive, tolerant of idiosyncracies and likes me more than cats” Already been with someone from another planet. This time seeking an earthling. No cats required.
What do you say, daters? Has this been your experience, too?
Everyone, have a great week. Now go and get online!