O for Online Dating
I frequently ask people how they met their spouses – looking for ideas, of course. It seems that the most stable relationships are those between couples who met during high school or college. This doesn’t help me, since I am far beyond high school and college. Other than friends setting up blind dates, it seems like the only remaining method of meeting men is through online dating.
I’ve had computer access since I was a teen, and I began online dating in my 20s, and I am writing this while contemplating my upcoming 42nd birthday. Back then, there were free personals sites, like Yahoo, and there were no pay dating sites. Now, the free sites are few and far between, and many sites are available at premium prices.
Over the years, I have probably used most of the online dating services at one time or another. I’ve tried free sites and paid many dollars for the pay sites, with no “happily ever after.”
In my 20s, I was willing to e-mail or message potential dates, but I was not willing to meet them in person. The Internet was full of the unknown, and I was far too cautious to risk meeting anyone. My comfort with meeting strangers from the Internet has evolved over the years.
In a recent foray into online dating, I found a few nice candidates and sent messages, and the responses indicated the potential Mr. Right was already in a relationship and simply hadn’t deleted his profile.
That brings up the first issue with online dating sites. When I start using a site, it is with the idea of finding someone within a few weeks, which means an appropriately good candidate also has to be online and available around the same time. It’s hard to find this combination, at least in my smaller dating market (age and location). Let’s face it, a woman in her early forties in northwest Ohio does not encounter the same dating pool that a 25-year-old in New York City does.
Another issue I personally have is “relationship gap”. You may have heard of “employment gap”, which is when you have a large expanse of time unemployed. Employment gaps look bad on resumes, and explaining the gaps is an issue when job-hunting.
Relationship gaps sometimes also need to be explained, mostly because there are so many lies and omissions involved in the getting-to-know-you process in dating. If there’s a multi-year gap in the story of someone you met online, then it’s good to ask questions. The gap could be hiding a really bad relationship your date wants to forget or it could even hide a jail sentence.
In my case, it is simply a really lengthy era of singleness. I simply have not met “the right one”. And yes, sometimes I do wonder if I’m not pretty enough, too fat, or just a horrible person. But then, I look around and see there are women who are fatter, uglier and/or bitchier than I and they have spouses.
Another huge issue with online dating is the fun factor, or the lack of fun. It isn’t enjoyable to view profiles one after another. They all seem the same after a while. I’m looking at men in their forties. Even the pictures appear the same after a while. Many have mustaches, receding hair lines and glasses. Frequently, the pictures are selfies taken in the car. Many call themselves fun-loving. What does that even mean and why do they take selfies in the car?
Most say they don’t play games or want games, and I don’t know that that means either. Their descriptions make them sound wary and weary of the dating scene.
I read one man’s profile that explained he was very picky about wanting to meet a good, devout Christian woman, and made it clear very few women could live up to his standards. However, he used the word “your” when he meant “you’re”, and correct usage of those words is one of my standards. He seemed eager to rule out potential candidates, and well, two can play at that game.
Oh, maybe that’s what they mean by games! The race to rejection is very real, but I wouldn’t call it a game. It’s just that neither party wishes to be rejected, so it’s a race to see which can reject the other first.
The friendly, welcoming profiles are few and far between, and the profile and pictures act as advertising for the potential dates. It’s hard to start a conversation with a man if he doesn’t give enough information in his profile to work with.
It’s unfortunate that the world of dating has come to this. I hope another method of finding compatible mates comes along. With my personal lack of success in online dating, I understand how I could be tempted to apply for television’s “The Bachelor” or “The Bachelorette” and let ABC do the vetting. Since I’m not a 25-year-old ex-model, it’s not likely to happen.
P for Pre-judging
As a Christian, I have been accused of being judgmental. I don’t like it, because I have tried to train myself to not be judgmental, but word choice becomes an issue when trying to explain the concept of using good judgment, i.e., using wisdom and discernment to try and avoid situations or dates that won’t lead to good things.
Still, judging or pre-judging can be an issue in other areas. For instance, in direct selling (like Tupperware, Partylite, Mary Kay, etc.), we consultants are told not to pre-judge a person. You never know who may be interested in purchasing, hosting or signing up as a consultant unless you ask. You can miss out on opportunities if you judge based on appearance, guessed income, or how full you think their calendars are.
Pre-judging can be a problem when assessing potential dates. In online dating, it is hard not to judge a person based on appearance, since photos are pretty much required for any kind of online dating. It’s good to have a mental image of a person with whom you’re communicating. But sometimes it seems like men are only interested in women with supermodel looks and ignore the plainer among us.
I’m guilty of the same – I am absolutely not interested in long hair on a man. Yuck. I’ve seen nice couples where the man has a short hairstyle and is clean-shaven, but when I see their pre-wedding photos, he was actually a long-haired hippie. I can’t predict based on a dating profile picture whether he will be willing to change his appearance. The better choice, if elements in his profile interest me, is to initiate communication, since that’s the only way I’ll ever know if we click. It is really hard to engage in online dating and not focus on appearance though, no matter how superficial it is. One friend dislikes seeing sunglasses in pictures, because according to her, they seem dishonest when they are hiding their eyes.
There are other criteria for which I screen – for example, I am allergic to smoke, so right away, men who are smokers are off limits to me. This is also an issue for those with asthma. I am also allergic to dogs, so I have had little contact with them throughout my life, and even though I take medication for it, I don’t really know what to do other than pat their heads and say nice things. Still, given my allergy, I cannot share my bed with dogs, and that eliminates a startling number of people.
Pre-judging can also be an issue we can’t control. When friends are deciding whether they are willing to introduce you to a possible date, they are considering whether they think you’ll get along, if you’ll “make a cute couple,” etc. What they don’t realize is that only the two of you can determine if you’re compatible or not. It doesn’t matter if you make a “cute couple”, or whether your friends think you have things in common. Many don’t know enough about you to judge how well you might click with someone.
Maybe we all need to work on not being judgmental – not judging by appearance, income, busyness, etc., and also not letting our own assumptions dictate others’ potential relationships.