Posted by: bitsydungaree | May 28, 2008

Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me a Match: a closer look at online dating

Under my mattress, I keep the drafts of a book I started a few years ago about dating. I wasn’t masquerading to write this book as an expert, but more as a novice who had suddenly realized that she was up to her eyeballs in a nonsensical world that she didn’t know much about.

This afternoon, I pulled out the stack of papers and came across one piece that I would really like to share. Promise that you won’t think less of me after you read what I am about to divulge: my musings on online dating.

Could the solution to the monotonous trial and error system that we have established called “dating” really be as simple as receiving an email in your inbox telling you that your match has been found?

This was the question that I found myself asking more and more as I saw friends and relatives slowly sucked into the world of online dating. After all, these weren’t just freaks who were too void of personality or too physically disfigured to have a chance of meeting someone live in the flesh, but people that I actually knew and respected.

Was it possible that cyberspace was just one more place where Mr. Right could be waiting?

Curiosity is not something that I have ever coped well with, so I decided that I had no choice but to check out the online dating scene — despite the fact that I was already juggling three flesh-and-blood men — and I bought myself a six pack and sat down at the computer to fill out the extensive personality profile on EHarmony.com. I wanted to know how an online survey could probe so deeply into my soul that it could be sufficient for finding me a lifelong love, a soulmate. Was it like a quiz in Cosmopolitan that told you, based on whether you answered A, B, or C, what kind of girlfriend you were or why your relationships never lasted? At the end of my personality profile, would they have some sort of formula with which to find my one true love? Would my answers reveal me to be (A) a trophy-wife-in-training, (B) a sultry siren, or (C) a domestic diva, and then tell the matchmaker in the modem to pair me with either (A) a child molestor, (B) a man in ladies panties, (C) a mama’s boy who will never get his own place, or (D) an internet porn addict who weighs three hundred pounds more than the picture of Brad Pitt posted on his profile?

Obviously, I was a little skeptical about the kind of men one could meet on the internet.

To my dismay, at the end of my grueling personality profile, there was no magic formula, no handy little label to describe me — just a detailed recap of my answers that I couldn’t possibly fathom being used by a computer program to find my true love.

Online dating was a sham!

Then, the next morning, a terrifying yet exhilarating thing happened. I was checking my email, which usually only consists of unsolicited porn and computer viruses, when there it was, sitting in my inbox: EHarmony Match Found. I stared at it for a while, unsure of what to do next. Perhaps a person who functions at a higher mental level than I do might assume that, after filling out a personality profile on a dating website, they would then be matched with other lonely web surfers, but I was not expecting this! I felt completely violated…yet somehow tempted beyond belief. Opening this email would go against everything I stood for; it would, on some level, be admitting that I was not capable of meeting a man on my own.

But I couldn’t resist. I quickly locked the door to my room so no one would discover what I was about to do next, and then I opened the email, overwhelmed by a more profound sense of guilt and nausea than would have resulted if I hadn’t immediately double-clicked the online porn into the trash.

Day after day, the matches kept coming — and I have to say, in an exponentially higher volume than my friends who also belonged to EHarmony, making me think that I must either be the kind of girl that every man out there is looking for, or that my personality is so nondescript that the mastermind behind the matching process was just arbitrarily assigning me to members who were overdue for matches. I began to look forward to waking up and seeing what new men my internet connection would deliver that day.

The beautiful thing about selecting or rejecting a mate based simply on a brief personality profile is how easy it is to weed out losers that you might date indefinitely if you were faced with them in real life. When all you see is black and white, the decision to reject a man who measures in a 5’6″ or has a job that sounds kind of lame can be made without hesitation or remorse. When the person that you are rejecting doesn’t seem real, it is easy to be ruthless. I was only disappointed that my options for why I wanted to close a match didn’t include poor grammar, incorrect punctuation, or atrocious spelling because those guys were the first to go, even when they were 6’2″ investment bankers. Any man who can’t speak and write the English language is just not the man for me. Period.

Sadly, because I refused to pay a cent of my hard earned money to an online dating service, I was barred from communicating with my matches. Some would send me questions, but I could never answer, only leave them waiting out there in cyberspace, hoping for a response that I would never send. There were certainly guys who sounded promising, but a woman has to know her boundaries, and shelling over cash to have a computer program find true love for me was just not something that I could do and still be able to look myself in the mirror.

So, because I would never communicate with any of these potential Prince Charmings, the game became to find the characteristic in each one that made him deserve to be dumped. As I have already discussed, the format of this online meat market (or meet market, for the more polite) is conducive to rejecting without guilt, and the fact that I couldn’t see any of my matches’ photos without paying the membership fee that I was morally opposed to helped me escape the judgment-clouding effect that handsome men tend to have. It gave me a tremendous sense of power to be able to click my mouse and deny men access to the delightful doll that I consider myself to be.

Didn’t go to college? Click.

Can’t remember the last book he read? Reject.

Clearly didn’t understand the question? Goodbye.

Loves board games even more than I do? Scary.

Despite the freedom that I felt to reject my matches with no remorse, my blood would boil in my veins when I signed onto my account to find that a match had rejected me first. How dare he?! I would think to myself. He has no idea what a catch I am! He doesn’t even know anything about me! It hadn’t occurred to me that my new guilty pleasure would have this side effect of chipping away at my self-esteem. In a way, being rejected by a stranger somewhere out in cyberspace seemed worse than being turned down by an actual human being. If there wasn’t enough chemistry on a real, live date to warrant a second, chances are, I felt that too. But being rejected by someone who had never even met me was both insulting and infuriating. It made me question every time, what one — or more than one! — red flag did this person see in my brief personality profile that made it so easy for him to throw it all away? What was so glaringly terrible that it just couldn’t be ignored?

Obviously, all of the men who rejected me must have been short.

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Responses

  1. Yeah they were probably short men who would never wear masks even if you asked them to. Not the kind of man you want in your life, Betsy πŸ™‚

  2. HA! This is funny.

    I met my boyfriend over the internet. But we always are quick to give the disclaimer that we met a.) through a post on my blog about St. Augustine, b.) through mutual friends, and c.) through connections with the school I graduated from, where he attended his freshman year.

    Sometimes I wonder why we are so quick to give that disclaimer. Will the people we are out with suddenly think that these attractive, perfectly normal human beings are somehow mutated because we met over the internet rather than in a club or a bar or at church? I remind myself that people in the 1800s developed relationships through correspondence. And though I am in no way D’s mail order bride, I’d wager that our relationship has been pretty successful so far.

    I imagine that even though part of me is still, STILL cynical about eHarmony and the stereo-types that go along with it, there are a lot of people out there who are incredibly relieved that they don’t have to do the dating thing in bars or clubs or, yes, especially, churches.

    And I know like 3 couples our age who are married and totally met over eHarmony.

  3. Ah, online dating. I one night was completely bored and wanted a good laugh…and now I am married….go figure. I have just recently come to admit where we met, but it always depends on the company. In a professional environment, it is taboo to admit the truth, but in a party setting, it is liberating to admit it and argue the virtues or virtual matchmaking.

  4. Hysterical Blog…I wish I had read that before I met somone online. Although we met on EHarmony he kept on logging on and searching on sites like AdultFriendFinder…c’est la vie.

  5. We really ought to talk over a glass of wine sometime. We may actually be kindred spirits, Betsy. πŸ˜‰ Keep on writing – it’s fabulous!


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