Due to my tendency to date emotionally wounded slackers and skirt-chasing alpha males, my friends have determined that I’m incapable of choosing worthwhile partners. This past Christmas, they banded together to buy me an online dating subscription and I’ve been suffering ever since.
Until last Friday’s Man Panel. Before then, I had my doubts. To me, locking eyes with a stranger across a room then unpeeling the layers of his soul is the key ingredient to making romance so delicious. Locking eyes across an information superhighway then downloading answers to contrived, immaterial questions – who would play you in the movie of your life? – is about as romantic as renewing my driver’s license. Still, I’ve been giving it the ol’ college try.
Glancing at my profile, you’d probably assume I’m an artsy, occasionally nerdy, city girl. So imagine my surprise when I was paired with a man whose greatest passion in life is the Boston Bruins and a Paul Bunyan type holding a wide-mouthed bass in his profile picture. My favorite was the guy who answered, “not much,” when asked how often he reads. What a match made in Heaven: a guy who doesn’t read…and a writer.
Certainly, there’s nothing wrong with those men or their interests. My point is that if we’re all paying for some high-tech match-making system, we’re totally getting gypped.
Fortunately, the Man Panel offered encouragement. Research was brought in to show that people do find partners online. In fact, many of the panelists were dating on the Net because they had buddies who found their significant others there. One panelist met his fiancé online.
So, what gets a gal a match? Flattering photos, indicative of your personality and an accurate representation of the way you currently look. No bikini shots unless you’re looking for a booty call. No pics of you holding a martini unless you’re looking for a twelve-step program.
Dig into the essence of who you are, advised the panel, consider what fascinates you about the world, then find interesting ways to say it in a profile. Avoid clichés, negativity and don’t bother apologizing for being online, i.e., “I hate these sites, but here goes…” You’re there, darlin’. Work it.
But there was bad news, too. According to panelist and online dating expert David Evans, not everyone out there is searching for long-term amour. Twenty percent of people are even married or in relationships. And yep, some dudes are only looking for sex.
Then there are the guys who juggle several women at a time. One panelist confessed to creating a spreadsheet to keep track of his most desirable dates, which he categorized in descending order as As, Bs and Cs.
Predictably, these discoveries had the audience in a bit of a tizzy. But Sam Yagan, the CEO and founder of OkCupid.com, made a spectacular point. The realities of dating online are the same when dating “offline.” In both worlds, any guy could be a player or someone else’s husband. In both worlds, you’ll meet dynamos and dullards, but you may also find a gem. As Mr. As, Bs and Cs said, once you meet the A of your dreams, the Bs and Cs disappear.
Though still a bit skeptical, I’m now more open to the prospect of dating online. Maybe the Bruins fan has a kickin’ collection of indie films. Maybe Paul Bunyan can teach me to ski.
Meeting “the One” is like finding a needle in a haystack. Dating online adds more hay, but it may also add a few more needles. Really, it’s a crapshoot. Like dating offline. Like dating anywhere in the world.
*Thanks to Sam Yagan at OkCupid.com and David Evans at onlinedatingpost.com.