So, I did it. I purchased a little match.com subscription for myself. Yesiree, I sure did.
Let’s be clear about something: I’m not expecting to find my soulmate in a thumbnail photo amidst a sea of other thumbnail photos and pithy self-descriptions. No, I have done this before. Just after my divorce, I spent nearly a year, off and on, on match.com and learned the ups and downs of it, mostlythrough trial and error.
Online dating is a bit like fast food — it’s quick and easy and can leave you feeling full but not often satisfied. Like a Big Mac, it’s great for what it is, but that’s all it is. If a finely-cooked filet mignon is what you’re after, you’re probably in the wrong establishment. But that’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with fast food, exactly. It can be pretty darn tasty, if nutritionally lacking. Online dating is much the same way. It’s fun, easy, and the menu pretty much never changes.
When I’m online dating, I think of it as exactly that — dating. Not having a relationship, not looking for Mr. Right. Just going out for coffee or dinner or drinks with a potentially interesting man who knows almost nothing about me but presumably wants to know more. Yes, I’ve met some serious losers (I’m talking to you, Troll Boy) and some narcissists (that would be you, Ron; Annie and I each went out with you. Once.) and some guys with major emotional hang-ups (It’s been 9 years, Christian. I think it’s time to finally get over that divorce. Just sayin’.) But I’ve also met some really great guys, including some that are still friends of one sort or the other.
I never hated internet dating the way some people do, but I think it’s because I never expected as much as it promises to deliver. Those match.com commercials are lovely and all, but I’ll bet just as many people meet at church, or at meet-ups, or through friends. Maybe because I was an advertising major in college, I never bought into the hype. Instead, I took it for what it really is: just another avenue for meeting people. If you go out to a bar and see lots of single guys, you don’t come home later bitterly disappointed that you didn’t meet your Dream Guy, right? I approach internet dating the same way. To go back to my fast food analogy, I can scarf down a Wendy’s Frosty as fast as my kids, but you won’t hear me bitching later that it tasted nothing like my favorite Riesling. No, I entertain internet dating for what it is — pure, high-calorie fun with minimal effort and minimal investment.
Having said all that, I’m fully aware that some people do actually meet their great loves online, and I’m sincerely happy for them. Honestly. True, deep love that is mutual and healthy is damn hard to find, no matter where you’re looking. And I don’t think the venue in which you find it — be that in the workplace, at the gym, or on an online dating site — in any way diminishes the value of that love. It’s still love and it’s still amazing.
So, if match.com wants to shock the hell out of me and deliver Mr. Wonderful, then I’m game. But until then, I’ll just have fun with it and practice my flirting and kissing skills.
My friends are actually pretty excited about this, to be honest. When I did this two years ago, I kept them giggling with a steady stream of “You’re not going to effing believe this one” stories. Likewise, my work colleagues will be happy to hear that I’ve re-entered the land of internet dating. Frankly, they were pretty bummed when I settled into a relationship with James — my hilarious dating stories had certainly enlivened our Monday morning work routines…
And it would seem that we’re off to a great start. Within 20 minutes of being a fully-subscribed match.com member, I received my first email. This missive came from a man who sounds very sincere and kind, but who, in his profile picture, is holding an honest-to-goodness baby goat. Seriously. During my last go-round on match, I was shadowed by a guy whose profile picture featured a parrot on his shoulder. Apparently, we’ve upped the ante now to goats. Given that James used to chronically joke about his personal affinity for barnyard animals, I had to literally laugh out loud at Farmer Ted and his goat. For the love of God, men, leave the animals out of the photos. Please.
Needless to say, I won’t be practicing my flirting or kissing skills on Farmer Ted…. or his goat. But at least they provided me with a moment of pure silliness and brought a smile to my face this evening. That alone might have been worth the subscription price.