Online dating? Again? Still?
For those of us with most (if not all) parenting responsibilities, and jobs that don’t make for a great deal of adult exchange, how do we meet people for love or hook-ups?
It’s online dating. And now (it seems), it’s a lifestyle!
And it’s name is Match, e-Harmony, JDate, Perfect Match and any number of other sites, either broadly available or carefully segmented to feature a nifty batch of candidates for enduring amour or simmering sex.
Are we stuck on online dating, or stuck in it?
Have individuals become commodities? I’ve been around and around the block on this one. Plenty of us have, but we keep going back for more…
Online dating is big business
There’s no question that online dating is now as normal as taking your Lexus to the car wash. And I’m not talking adult sites here either; that’s another topic altogether.
According to Match.com’s own “About” page, they serve 24 countries in 15 languages. Some estimates put their membership at 15 million users (it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s more), with approximately 1.3 million paying members – since the online scene allows you an assortment of trial versions and minimal online presence without the full benefits of engaging the man or woman of your dreams.
Net revenue for Match.com alone? More than $90 million. (First quarter, 2008 – all the data I could find, quickly – but impressive.) And Match.com makes claims that some 20,000 people join daily.
And that’s just one of many different services! Worldwide!
Is anyone out there?
- The professional dater
- The serial spouse hunter
- The siren or sexpot
- The gold digger
- The lonely guy (newly single, or longtime single)
- The pitiful guy (needs his socks darned)
- Mr. Cool (arrogance, sports car, motorcycle)
- Ms. Cool (blond, tucked, built-in anti-gravity devices)
- The lonely gal (newly single, or longtime single)
- The pitifully lonely gal (she’s easy – but guys, be kind)
- The sneaker (he’s married)
- The sneaker-esse (she’s married)
- The scammer (so many scams, not enough time)
- The crazed mom (been there, done that)
- The sexy mom (been there, done that)
- The “ready and real” crowd (yes – they do exist!)
We all know a dating horror story. (And a success story.)
With online dating now so common, we all know someone who has been “out there” meeting people. We’ve heard horror stories, funny stories, and someone who knows someone who knows someone who met their boyfriend-girlfriend-husband-wife-partner (or latest ex) on Match, e-Harmony, JDate, Perfect Match, or some variation…
But what are some of the consequences of this blink-of-an-eye meeting style?
Just as the internet has made us speedy consumers of (lightly grazed) information, online dating has transformed us into equally speedy consumers of possible partners.
We judge others (quickly) based upon sketchy profiles, 8-year old photos, and puffed-up personal histories, often penned by professionals. We make selections by checklist, and set up phone calls (and rendez-vous) in dangerously short order.
We date once or twice, and disappear – frequently without explanation or an iota of good manners.
Yes. Something we seem to have forgotten. And online dating etiquette is a whole other subject – one of great importance.
As for forgetting our P’s and Q’s? Why not? Or so some think. We’re hiding behind pseudonyms and self-promotion, tall tales and white lies. Besides, the targeted next lay, next date, next love, next spouse is out there “somewhere.” A commodity.
We’re in a hurry to advance to the next promised land of possible perfection. Why bother with formalities as we leave one to engage with another? And aren’t we “guaranteed” happily ever after?
Match.com has indeed gone so far as to “guarantee” its love connections. Don’t meet your match? Get six months free! And then what? JDate likes to tell its success stories with a great deal of delight. (Mazel tov!)
But guys – if you’re shopping for the next spouse, could you be a little less obvious about it? And also consider that not all women are looking to remarry?
As for scam artists, we’ve all got a story, and I sure have mine. But survive one? Let’s hope you develop radar, and learn to avoid those bad boys (and bad girls) looking to take what you don’t want to give, with or without your heart attached. And let’s be real: There’s no substitute for time and common sense.
Did you GET that? Time and common sense! Gut check, People!
Widowed, divorced, newly separated
Do I have any words of advice? (I’m a dating veteran… grant me my small amount of expertise…)
But at some point, stop talking about the dead wife or the dead husband. No living person can compete.
Newly divorced? Same advice. Don’t try dating someone who’s been divorced for three years, four years, and so on. You’re at completely different stages in the healing process, and the relationship cycle. She’s likely already had her sexual adventures and she may be ready for a relationship.
And trust me, you’re not.
Once again, keep the war stories to a minimum. Save them for a friend over drinks. Or a shrink in your 50-minute session.
Hell – you still have the whole legal thing to get through! And you have no idea what lies ahead – even if it’s amicable, and especially if it involves children.
Don’t think you’ll meet Mr. Right or Ms. Right while at this stage.
Too much turmoil. Have some fun and be safe out there!
I’ve dated some fascinating men in Europe – older, younger, and my own age. Met through a European service, because I’ve spent periods of time living there and traveling there. Age seems to be less a factor – chemistry is a matter of the total package.
In the US? In the past five years I’ve been on and off Match and other services. I’ve made friends and enjoyed the occasional relationship. I’ve also experienced literally hundreds of coffee dates, my share of dinner dates, and have needed to take a break from all of it for extended periods.
My greatest surprise?
Guys with photos more than five years old! Often! (Did you think we wouldn’t notice?)
And I have my share of stories, of course:
- Like the staid 40-something MIT grad who grabbed my boob in a restaurant. (Was he checking to see if I was paying attention?)
- Or the arrogant attorney whose opening remarks were (upon arriving 45 minutes late to our first meeting) – “Oh, you look just like my ex-wife. She was a bitch.”
Incidentally, he spent the next two hours citing chapter and verse as to why she was a bitch, and he’d been divorced for three years. Apparently, there’s no statute of limitations on residual anger. But that guy deserved to be served – a bad manners subpoena!
A little of everything –
- I’ve been courted royally, and proposed to romantically.
- I’ve said no thanks, and had that respected.
- I’ve been dumped kindly (to my surprise), and been dumped cruelly (to my surprise).
- I’ve also been stalked, which is terrifying. And that occurred following one date with an “upstanding” and entirely “verified” gentleman. Ladies – there is no such thing as TOO careful!
Why am I still online – even periodically – though I sure hope it isn’t indefinitely?
I’m raising kids pretty much solo, my work is isolating, my friends are busy or married. How else would I meet people? Given that I traffic in words, the Internet allows me to make some key determinations rapidly, and then, to take my time and see where things may lead.
Let’s face it – sexual chemistry is a must for most of us. Does money matter? Or location? Religion? Your health?
Supply and demand, baby… It depends on what you want, where you want it, and how much you want it. It’s a game of numbers (including dollars), and probabilities.
And of course, for women, as we age our pool shrinks. Not so, for the men, particularly if they have fat wallets – though that is less the case outside of the US (in my experience).
The bottom line is – the match-go-round is part of human nature; some very bright people have simply found a way to automate it and transform it into big business. We want affection and physical contact, connection in different ways at different times. It’s a vital part of being alive, whether we seek love, great sex, companionship or friendship.
And there’s always the possibility that some day we’ll get significant portions of all of that – the whole package – in a single person. It may not be guaranteed, but it is the “promise” we hope will be delivered.
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