It’s okay to look.

April 19th, 2010

I have always intended to broach the subject of online dating services. I was going to round up the statistics, read accounts and opinions online and conduct interviews with those I knew to have had success with eHarmony and match.com.  Then one night a web banner ad caught my eye.

“It’s okay to look,” it beckoned ever so innocently.

Ha! I hope the ad copy person who thunk that one up made a mint.  I muttered out loud, “it’s okay, it’s okay” like a mantra as I clicked and clicked and clicked again.

My iPhone buzzed.  “Walk the Whippets in five?” queried my neighbor Kim.  “Give me 10,” I replied as I zipped through application questions.  For a marketing professional I won’t pretend I did my best work throwing together my own profile but I posted my facebook self-portrait, some basics and dashed for the elevator.

“GUESS what I did?” I told Kim as soon as our three Whippets finished their usual high-energy, over-the-top enthusiastic greeting for each other.  I don’t remember much about our following conversation.  I wanted to get home and look – again!

Ball caps, bikes and beards.  That’s how I’d sum up what I found.   “Of course.  That’s Portland,” a friend told me.  “Hmmm… Tulsa, too,” I answered.

I began to learn the vernacular and considered posting a comment that “winks” weren’t really welcome.  How does a girl my age respond to a wink from someone in North Caroline, Ohio, Minnesota, New Mexico, Tennessee, Florida … when she lives in Portland, Oregon? “Flirt back right away with a wink, or even better, an intriguing email. He picked you out of millions,” match.com urged.

I wasn’t buying it. I hit the delete button as swiftly as I did late one night last July when I changed my facebook relationship status and Jake popped up immediately asking, “Single?”

At the time, economics, logistics and a long-term, deep connection kept Joel and I from acting impulsively but in June we had turned the first corner, or two or three.  As I sat at my desk responding to emails I pondered my profile details. I didn’t feel “married.” The facebook relationship options were limiting.  “single” wasn’t accurate.   “It’s complicated” promised to invite too many questions and “divorced” would take some time.  Why wasn’t “separating” an option, as it is on match.com?

As I waded through match.com messages initially, I experienced the gambit of emotions: dread, fear, hopelessness, interest, and compassion.  Whatever their level of honesty or motivation, on my computer screen were the faces and messages of men seeking relationships, risking rejection but taking a chance.  As days passed I found it bit easier to delete the fellows with 3 cats, 5 kids at home, 50 extra pounds, four-digit incomes and no common interests but I bought into the process.  In a week over 700 chaps had viewed my profile.  I’ve asked the question before:  “It’s a big world out there.  When it comes to something as important as finding a life partner do you limit yourself to the haystack in your backyard?”

I had beginner’s luck.  The first person I wrote back to was Buz.  A sane voice with sage advice and a great sense of humor.  We arranged to have lunch at a restaurant in South Waterfront.  I texted Joel with my plan and timetable, caught a cab and spent a delightful afternoon getting to know a new friend in Portland.  I had planned to take a cab home (good advise) but didn’t.  Please don’t tell my mom; I’ll never hear the end of it.

Buz brought to my attention the challenge my two-city schedule created for anyone interested in me.  I also hadn’t given much thought to my in-transit status: separated but not officially divorced.  When a friend suggested eHarmony was a better choice I spent some time completing their questionnaire.  It was indeed a more impressive approach than that of match.com but they rejected me! Their message was crystal clear.  eHarmony is in the business of match making, claiming credit for 2% of marriages in the United States.  When I become officially available, it will be okay to look at their membership rolls.  Not before.

Expand your horizons, Trix

Visit these sites:

http://www.eharmony.com

http://www.match.com

http://chemistry.com

Consider this:

Online Dating Magazine estimates more than 20 million people visit at least one online dating service a month (2007) and that more than 120,000 marriages a year result from online dating (2007).


4 Responses to “It’s okay to look.”

  • Kelley Vandiver Says:

    Okay, okay, I will check out the links. Why do I have such a bad attitude when it comes to online dating? However, it has to promise better results than waiting for Mr. Right to knock on my front door.

  • Trix Says:

    Kelley: What a delight to hear from you! Thank you for including your website link when you wrote. Your work is breathtaking. I have suggested a few artists I know here in Portland make time to visit the site. Now, go knock on some virtual doors!

  • LKP Says:

    I am a huge fan of online dating! The no’s are easier to say without meeting in person, and you just never know whom you’ll meet! While not every match date was a winner, none was absolutely awful. I made some good friends, and more importantly, I met ABF (awesome boyfriend) on Match, and here we are 2 1/2 years later!! :)
    Good luck!

  • Joseph Blanchette Says:

    Hello Tracey,

    Like many things in life, Dating is a numbers game. As most of know it is important to make as many contacts as possible, especially in areas outside of your usual interests to improve our chances of making that right contact.

    Online dating works well for individuals who are by nature explorative and enjoy a challenge, others who are more insecure or reserved, not so.

    Relationships are hard, even those individuals who we have deemed to be perfect, or who we married have flaws and limitations to them, sometimes in important areas that we did not consider.

    Online dating approaches the problem of making a connection in two fundamental formats, a Shotgun affect, they throw anyone and everyone you way, and you are required to winnow out who you do not want with little to no information.

    The other approach is the Psych Profile format, where you fill out a questionnaire that is supposed to define who and what you are. The basic problem with this format is that neither those who are presenting themselves, or those describing themselves, have only a meager understanding of who they are as individuals.

    Most often we only have a basic understanding of what we want, and an idea of what we do not want. This is why we see over and over again Men and Women fall back upon biological responses (Women often ask for Tall and Successful, and Men almost always want Attractive).

    Factor into this the fact that societies where arranged relationships have a working success rate equal to and equivalent to societies where individual choice is preferred, this gives an idea of the complexity of finding an appropriate partner.

    I am not trying to be negative, I for one love meeting Women. Few I know I would want to alter a substantial part of my life for, however everyone of them add to my life and I treasure for who and what they are.

    There is the larger question of whether we as living beings are designed biologically to be permanently connected to only one other person for long, long periods of time?

    Joseph

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