I’m a *click* female searching for a *click* male from *click* 22 to *click* 36 years of age that lives *click* 50 miles from my hometown. Pathetic or not, online dating is the new, hi-tech version of newspaper personals, with an added benefit of photos. Staking a claim on TV commercials and becoming fodder for talk show hosts, Oprah included, online dating has come out of the sketchy shadows and entered the minds of the single and not so single public as a possible solution to their dating woes.
There are a slew of Google hits on dating services, so where to begin? I test-drove a few and found two that I think represent the bunch. MatchDoctor.com claims to be the only completely free dating service out there. It offers an instant messaging and email service, member profiles and match preferences. For protection of users, the MatchDoctor staff uses a double blind email system, meaning when you send an email it goes to the site and then they forward it to your match. As a result, your email is kept private.
However, MatchDoctor.com lacks the glitz and glamour of Match.com. The latter offers the same basic services, but they provide more categories to pick from when describing yourself and your matches, Venus (the love goddess herself) emails her hand-picked matches for you and the format of the site is more aesthetically pleasing than the former. The pleasing aesthetics do not come without a price, however. While it is free to post a profile, if you ever want to email or respond to another member’s email, you have to pay. Within a day of posting my profile on MatchDoctor.com, I received emails from potential matches. Mind you, I filled in the basics, but did not fill in the “Describe yourself” or “Describe your match” sections. I didn’t even post a photo. The MatchDoctor users seemed more than willing to converse with me (a complete stranger) — perhaps they were just … what’s the word? Desperate?
The emails I received ranged from the typical questions like “tell me about yourself” to “what do you look like.” Hint for any online dating users, sending a one-line email asking “what do you look like” is not the way to a girl’s heart. The most disturbing email I received went something like “I have a very unhappy marriage and I need a friend, when can we meet?”
Match.com users were more discerning. I did get a few emails, but no requests for affairs. Damn! I ended up talking online to a guy from my high school. It was an unpopular girl’s dream, to be talking and flirting with one of the most popular guys in school. The boy had everything. All the guys in school wanted to be him and all the girls wanted to date him and I was talking to him. His presence on the site convinced me — for a time — of the normalcy of online dating.
On both services, the marketed people did not seem to be losers or serial killers waiting for their next victim (you can always tell from a picture). These people seemed like everyday folks who were not having any luck finding their mate in the supposed “normal way”. Both genders noted their hatred of the bar scene. What other places do we have? Many would say church, but what if you are not religious? The grocery store? Does that ever really happen? Sadly, there truly are a limited number of places to meet singles; therefore it is not surprising that online dating has become the next trend.
Yet, dating online has its drawbacks. Thrilling at first, I became slightly obsessed with my new toy and voyeuristically enjoyed shopping for my potential mate, but then reality hit, I CAN SHOP FOR MY POTENTIAL MATE. What would the final conclusion be, I fall for a one-dimensional man who holds all the qualities I think I want in a man. I wonder how much we play into what is expected rather than what we are as a person. Reading countless paragraphs describing “him”, I learned that all these “him’s” put together are boringly typical. He loves children and animals, cries at sappy movies, loves to read good books, has a wonderful bond with his mother, and his most favorite activity in the world is cuddling. In short, rarely did I read profiles that stated the truth. I’m a guy who likes to scratch myself, and I have been known to participate in burping contests. Don’t expect me to give up my all-night bar hopping with my buddies and plan to have them over for Monday night football — they like chicken wings, so get cooking (insert sound of a slap on the ass)! As for animals, at least I don’t kick them. Furthermore, I love my mother and, subconsciously, I want to find a girl just like her.
But, I have to be fair, it wasn’t just the men who polished those profiles into perfectly stereotyped personas. When I read girl’s profiles it was more of the same: I am looking for that special prince charming. While I am career minded right now, I would eventually like to settle down, quit my job, raise children, and cook dinner for you. The ladies never say: I am going to bitch when you leave your socks and underwear strung throughout the house. I will hate you for approximately 1-2 weeks a month and as for sex — I have a headache. By the way, I hate your mother and I always have.
And yet, despite this dishonesty, dating services have received high praise — especially from themselves. A section named “success stories” is filled with numerous couples complimenting the service by writing of their successful relationships all due to Match.com. Of course, you don’t hear from the people who had negative online dating experiences. That might be because their bodies are cleverly hidden throughout the U.S. national parks and preserves system.
The bottom line is this: whatever you decide to do in terms of dating, online or otherwise, be careful. Be discerning. Use your head. Follow all the safety tips. Don’t give out your email or other identifying information until you are comfortable with the person you are chatting with. Talk with him/her on the phone first. If you decide to meet him/her, meet in a crowded, well-lit place. Take your own car; don’t let him/her pick you up. Finally, tell someone the location and the phone number of the place where you are meeting your potential match.
And last, let me know how your online dating experience goes.
Archived article by Kristin Hall