At the urging of various friends and family members who’ve insisted that I need to “get over it” and start dating again, I posted a profile to Match.com (since deleted, before you go looking). Doing this made sense on some level because most of my time is tied up with children and words, and most of the women I’m meeting these days are cropping up on social media sites.
Creating my profile took maybe a half an hour. Soon enough, I was tossed into a digital meat market of nearly identical profiles punctuated here and there by second hand problems. It seems like most women on Match are “looking for their partner in crime”, “strong and independent”, and pretending to like football a hell of a lot more than most men I know.
Online dating sites still carry the reputation of being populated by weirdos. I pretty much ignored this stigma because I met the mother of my children on the Internet back in the 90’s when this concept was new and even more frowned upon.
Things certainly have changed, but not necessarily for the better.
For starters, we have people in their 30’s and 40’s taking throwback MySpace pictures like this:
Then, there’s the obligatory shot wherein one pretends (I hope!) to drive a car for no reason:
Let’s not forget the grotesque image of the potential dating candidate doing something random and weird to attempt to appear fun and interesting:
In my week on Match, I was stalked by women in their late 40’s, “winked at” by people who disappear off the site in the next twenty-four hours, shunned like Hester friggin’ Prynne for having two children at age 30, approached by someone trying to run an international gold scam (I swear I’m not making this up!), and stalked by a wannabe Russian mail-order bride that still e-mails me in broken English and writes as if she has known me for years and is passionately in love with me.
Additionally, I went on one date. Prior to doing this, I texted one of my best friends, who has been through a divorce and remarried, and told him I was having second thoughts about going. I explained that I felt like a traitor to my family. He explained to me in no uncertain terms that it was just a date and that I was being a sissy la-la.
So I went.
Being a paragon of chivalry in this postmodern world, I allowed my date to pick the time and place. I, of course, would pay for everything. I had to borrow a car because my Honda deathtrap is even less dateable than I am at present, and when I arrived at the scene, it was practically rained out. I ended up meeting my date in a cramped, smoky bar that was so loud we couldn’t hear ourselves talk.
In retrospect, this was the best part of the evening. Hands down.
So she and I get into my (my mom’s) chariot to get out of the rain. In the space between pulling out of the pub scene and finding a place to eat, I ask her some basic questions that weren’t addressed on her profile.
Like, for example, what she does for a living.
She refuses to answer this question, stating that this information is normally reserved for the third or fourth date. She’s a college graduate too, so I figured this would be small talk.
At about this point, I notice that she is more nervous than I am. This seems odd to me as well, as this is the first time I’ve been on a date with anyone but my ex in nearly a decade, and my date has candidly told me that I am her 22nd Match.com guy. No, not 22 dates, she explains. Many more dates than that. 22 guys.
This is pretty much the only thing she’s willing to talk about other than a mutual teacher we had in high school (we went to different schools, but apparently he gets around) who she thought was hot. This same teacher, who I once looked up to, had an affair with a 17-year-old student despite being married and having two beautiful children.
My date thinks it’s strange that I, as a teacher, am bothered by this. She also thinks my profile is “unappealing” because I was honest about my personality and didn’t take pictures in a nice suit.
The coup de grace, of course, is when she pulls out a journal (manifesto?) of handwritten notes taken over every e-mail she’s received via Match.com in the past two years. She proudly shows me the number of views she’s had daily since creating her profile, which are scrawled in the margins.
So yeah, I lasted about a week on Match. It would have been nice to get a refund for the two+ months I paid for in advance, but the experience was invaluable. In addition to confirming for the umpteenth time that women are crazy, I learned that I’m just not ready to do this again.