Thursday, June 5, 2008

Never Thought I'd...

Maven Lacey KayeThis week, I decided to check out online dating. I have several friends who've been doing it for years and while I suppose that might mean they haven't technically been successful (as arguably, were they "successful" they would not still be dating), they've had enough harmless fun with it that I figured it couldn't hurt to find out what it's all about.

What's our motto again? Oh, research. Right. Research.

My first order of business was to create my profile. Should be easy, right? I have pictures of me and I know me and I know how to click a check box. The "What is your favorite thing to do?" text boxes should be a cinch. I mean, I write romance novels. I convince higher-ups to fund my crazy ideas all the time. Surely, between those two talents I must be able to write something that will generate a little interest in me.

Never, ever underestimate how difficult it is to write an online dating profile. On the one hand, you're selling yourself. Should be easy -- just list your good points, right? But on the other hand, you're paying money to find people who like you just the way you are. Why jeopardize that with a varnished version of the truth?

I've browsed perhaps 50 men between the ages of 26 and 35 and I have to tell you, I'm surprised at the number of intelligent, well-though-out profiles I've seen out there. I'm not sure if this is a function of the type of people who are most likely to a) be able to shell out the money for an arguably overpriced online dating site b) be interested enough in finding a relationship to shell out money for an online dating site or c) meet the education level and income level I've narrowed my search to, but I'd say if nothing else, there's good news out there for women everywhere. Not every single man in the world just lurched out of his Xbox cave, grunting and dragging pin up calendars behind him.

The only downside to the online dating thing -- okay, actually there are two -- is that if I try to narrow my search to the few qualities I consider absolutely imperative, I match men. Now, that is partly because lots of people don't fill out all their fields, and you can't match with a blank field. But that's also partly because let's face it, we can't always get what we want. Sometimes what we think we want is wrong. Isn't that how every romance novel relationship starts out, anyway?

I'm not saying one needs to settle to find a match (I would never, ever say that), but just that it might be a better approach to look for a little chemistry to start things off. I'm not speaking from online dating experience here, as I just started three days ago. But scanning a list of potential qualities really doesn't give me the same thrill reading a really well-written, witty, engaging, slightly sarcastic profile (uh, with a hot picture) does.

I have no idea where I'm going with this.

YOUR TURN: Have you ever tried online dating? Blind dating? (I haven't yet...better put that on the list of things to do!) Speed dating? Are you a stickler for some quality in a mate? What world views constitute no-gos for you? Can I deduct my online dating fee in my taxes if I write a book about it?!


B.E. Sanderson said...

=oD I met my husband through I won't go into all the details (if you're interested, I will, but I don't want to bore anyone). I don't remember how long I was on Match, but more than a few months and less than a year. Most of the responses I got to my profile were from men who didn't seem like they bothered to read it. I was a total stickler - I mean, if you're looking for someone to spend the rest of your life with, you deserve to get exactly what you want. Be picky. And be very careful. Some people on those things are real fruitcakes. I had a guy write me one letter and then want to meet the next day. When I said I wanted more time to get to know him before putting myself in a face to face encounter, he got pissed, ranted a little and basically told me where to go. *shrug*

Have fun with it. For me, it was worth every cent and every month spent warding off loons. =o)

Angie Fox said...

I've never tried online dating, but I can tell you that while it's good to have the "imperatives," getting to know someone first can also pay off.

When I was dating, I had a rule against dating smokers. My dad died of lung cancer (from smoking) when I was 17 and there was no way I wanted to do anything to willingly put myself in the position of losing someone like that again. So, no smokers. You see where this is going, right?

I met my future husband at a college homecoming event that, surprise, took place in a bar. The whole place had a smokiness to it, so I never realized the cute guy talking me up who knew all of my college guy friends was, in fact, a smoker. And, curse the guy friends, they didn't tell me. Then our first date was at a concert. Couldn't tell. Second date (I was hooked already), I figured it out when he kissed me at the end of the night.

But he was (still is) cute! Fun! Better still, he laughed at my jokes, even the ones that weren't funny.

So, I bent the rules. I'd date him, but I wouldn't get serious. And I told him that. We had a ball for the next several months until he told me he wanted to get serious, and in order to get past that smoking barrier, he'd quit. Cold turkey. And he did. He's been smoke free for eight years now and we've been married for five.

Not to say that's how it always works because not all people are willing to change, but I'm just saying "imperatives" or not, you never know!

Darcy Burke said...

Angie, I love your story. Smoking would've been a dealbreaker for me. Glad he came around - for you and his health!

I couldn't be with someone whose views were so rigid he couldn't even remotely entertain another person's point of view. I think they call that intolerance and me hatey that.

Mami K said...

I would seriously consider the remote possibility (there's a little of that sarcasm you're so fond of) that not all of the men have been as honest in their profiles as you have in yours!

lacey kaye said...

Chiming in here late (sorry!) to catch that last comment -- I'm not surprised at the honesty or romanticism of the profiles, but at the quality of the writing! You know me and my feelings on typos, grammatical errors or atrocious sentence structure. Witty and entertaining are surprising bonuses!

And I cackle at the last. You can only IMAGINE the level of honesty present in my profile. Probably why I am not exactly rolling in winks, bwa!

Jackie Barbosa said...

Well, I will hereby confess to having been married (and therefore ALIVE) so long that online dating was never an option. I also confess that I'd love to fill out one of those online profiles, just to see who would be picked by the little software engines in the background as my "matches." Unfortunately, I suspect the husband would object to that :).

That said, online profiles definitely can't take into account the powerful influence of chemistry on whom we choose as a mate. Remember that episode of _House_ where Cuddy was trying to select a sperm donor for her kid. She chose based on his profile (he was smart, muscical, etc.) and then House found the guy and brought him in and he was a total dweeb? I think humans aren't really meant to choose mates rationally or objectively. It's one of the reasons the whole artificial insemination from a sperm fonor thing kind of freaks me out. If I'm gonna have a kid with someone, I want to know I LIKE that person in real life, not just on paper.

But I think I just digressed in a big way, lol! My point is just that humans are a lot more complicated than any survey can possibly ferret out. A match on paper does not necessarily equal a match in real life. By the same token, a not-match on paper doesn't necessarily equal a not-match in real life :).

Keira Soleore said...

Nope, I've never tried an online dating site, but my brother did successfully (and married her, too), while my friend's been unsuccessfully trying for 12 years.

I second B.E.'s caution to be careful and triple-check what you put out there.

Angie--wow! Anyone who quits smoking cold turkey for you is a keeper for life.

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