Looking for angles for new posts on Accidentally Sexy, I was recently chatting with my friend Nicole about the general state of dating and relationships. I regaled her with the legend of this guy. We exchanged notes on late night flirtations. She told me about a date she had recently been on. And then she mentioned that she had recently signed up for Match.com.
I've tried the online dating thing out of complete and total curiosity. Sites like HowAboutWe are awesome in that they work to really minimize the actual amount of time you are dating "online" and move immediately into an offline experience. All in all, however, I don't think online dating is the right outlet for me personally, but I fully advocate it for the busy, young professional. Kent, my ridiculously good on paper ex, met his equally ridiculously good on paper current girlfriend through online dating. There are some real catches out there!
Within the conversation, I asked Nicole if she could pen me a few thoughts on her experience. She'd said a few things that really struck a chord. After reading her e-mail, I decided to present it in its entirety.
An email notification has been staring me down from my inbox for three days: “You have eight new matches!” it boasts. The message is from Match.com, and I am sure it is mocking me. Once upon a time, I bubbled with hope when I saw these alerts, but after some unfortunate incidents of harassment and a few revelations about the world of online dating, they have taken a tumble to the “i'll-get-to-it-next-week” section of my to-do list.
Like lots of other singles who sign up for online dating, I've had my fill of less-than-savory boyfriends, flings and dead end mingling, so I signed up when I was ready to get serious about a relationship. My initial, ridiculous illusion was that Match.com was the host of an elite club of handsome charming men who were pre-selected and waiting to meet me. It turns out I was thinking of “The Bachelorette,” and this dream scenario was put to rest. I quickly learned a harsh reality, which is that a lot of the men online have had it up to here with dating, are weary and impatient, and at their worst, are a few rejections short of a nervous breakdown.
For every successful exchange with a hot guy, there are several more that try to stalk, guilt-trip, or bully their way into my heart. Take, for example, the guy who wrote me an irate email telling me how rude I was for not responding to his initial message – which had been sent a mere 3 hours prior. Then, a man several years older than my dad branded me "shallow" for declining his advances, and warned that I would be alone forever if I didn't concede to talk to him. When did dating get so hostile?
This is when I realized Match.com's dirty little secret: it's just like the ORIGINAL kind of dating. The guy who text messages you before you wake up and no less than 10 times throughout the day? He's there. The pushy dude who calls you a bitch when you turn him down, or the guy who wants you to come to his house and “watch a movie” for your first date? They thought Match.com was a good idea, too, and you will meet them online. Just like traditional dating, you have to learn to gracefully sidestep these types on your way to finding Mr. Nice, Cute, Doesn't-Do-Weird-Things-Guy.
On the flip side of all this trash-talking, there are some benefits: you can flirt with strangers in your underwear without being second guessed, and you can screen a guy in 60 seconds instead of wasting a whole evening and your most perfect outfit trying to figure him out over dinner. But if you don't have to reveal your identity or even get dressed and leave the house, are you really putting yourself out there?
Moving forward, I'm going to look at Match.com as a supplement to dating instead of a total solution. An algorithm can pair me with a guy who meets my criteria, but it can't manufacture a spark – and that's the advantage of going out and getting to look people in the eye. You catch quirks that don't come through a computer screen, and chemistry – not calculations – tell you if he is a match. I'm just hoping that Mr. Right feels the same way, and has the good sense to send me a wink. In the mean time, lets get back to these eight new dudes hanging out in my inbox. Are they really all great matches for me? Probably not, but I better investigate - I couldn't bear to just half-heartedly delete my true love via email, and in any case, I'm bound to uncover something interesting along the way.