Apr 19 2010

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).