According to the all-knowing internet, there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of men who are perfect for me. “He loves dogs!” (But what about cats, I wonder?) “Just like you, he enjoys a nice bottle of wine!” (No shit.) “You are both non-smokers!” (Well, we should just run to the altar with that, shouldn’t we?) “He doesn’t have any kids, but he would like to have them someday!” (So the fact that I checked the box that says “I do not want kids” means nothing to you, O Powerful Internet?)
I joined two different dating sites for two different reasons. Reason #1 is because they let you browse for free. It’s just like shopping on Amazon; you don’t have to pay unless you want it to come to your doorstep! Reason #2 is because most of the people in my life seem to think that a male companion will make my life so much better. There are so many reasons why I disagree with that, but in my usual way I allowed myself to be influenced by others. I went ahead and created my profiles.
One may not browse until one has completed the profile. Without knowing my environment, I wrote the first “about you” blurb as a genuine account of self-perception, incorporating my usual sarcasm to weed out the oversensitive. I stressed that the qualities I value in another person are kindness, respect, communication, and partnership. I also included honest disclosure regarding certain things that I thought would be important: I have two cats, I don’t belong to a gym, I have long outgrown the club scene, I don’t get my nails done, and I don’t like camping. Finally, I was allowed to put myself out there.
Once hooked up, I browsed the selection of men my age and learned a lot about the available selection within a 50 mile radius. All of them are dog lovers, but none of them are cat fans. They all want kids. They all love to go clubbing (because kids and a club habit go so well together). They all make a point to mention that they love to laugh (honestly, is there a person out there who DOESN’T love to laugh?). They all get excited about going to the gym (I wonder if they’ve ever been skiing?). They all specify that they are seeking a woman who is intelligent (lest anyone think that they want to date someone stupid). After noticing that they all wear the same polo shirt and vintage-washed jeans in their profile pictures, I couldn’t help but wonder if they also come with free shipping if I spend at least $25.
I checked my profile a few days later and found that, although it had been viewed by over 100 people, not one was interested in me. I decided a little social experimentation was in order. I re-wrote my “about you” section, dumbing it down to a superficial laundry list of typically attractive characteristics that I either possess or can call upon as needed. “I’m new in town… I’m totally addicted to coffee… I love the beach… I love living by the water… I can’t get enough of the blue crabs or oyster shooters!... A great bottle of wine is best enjoyed with someone else… I like watching football… I like to play guitar and I enjoy going out to see live music… I love cooking and would enjoy making a killer dinner for you!" (I know, I dry-heaved when I wrote it. Please don’t judge me.)
Twenty-four hours later, my updated profile had received an additional 50 views, and twenty – yes, twenty! – of them had expressed interest in me (or at least in that reasonable facsimile of me). In order to respond to their advances, I needed to pay for the service. Was I really ready to do this? I read the fine print and discovered that shipping was not included in the price. In fact, the website suggests splitting the cost of your first few dates until you get to know one another. No chivalry allowed, says the internet!
And that’s when I realized that online dating probably isn’t for me.