The Acquaintance Never Thought Possible: Dating Sites
My writing does not usually generate much laughter. The following is my attempt at humor to fuel forward propulsion. The time has come that widowhood has become a habit for me. After decades of taking care of a family, I have bought a coffeepot for one, the grocery cart contains two bananas, and half loaf of bread. Small bowls of mixed fruit that seemed so overpriced before now make sense. Throwing out spoiled milk does not pain my heart anymore. Evenings are filled with meetings, choir practice, book clubs, or eating out with “girl” friends. Then the pandemic hits. Zoom meetings have their advantages but physical proximity is not one of them. Opportunity to meet new people, i.e., men, is zero.
My kids said, “Mom, you need to find a ‘boy’ friend to do things with.” They gave me a list of dating sites. I never imagined I would see this day. Few of us do. From the profiles I have read so far, none of us imagine we will ever need to make acquaintance with this brave new world of online matchmaking. Many apologize up front about their ineptness. At first, it seems a lot like reading used car ads. The odometer is the most important number, how many previous owners, and how much tread is on the tires.
I am assuming that most of the readership here is as new at this as I am when you find yourself single. There is a learning curve and precautions to keep in mind. One gets their toes wet by googling Match.com, which is the brand name I am using as just a generic example. This will only be necessary once, because from this time forward, you will be inundated with potential sites every time you open your computer. You click on a few and find some are more user-friendly than others. The chances of accidentally hitting a “smile” or “heart” on a man’s photo, who is totally out of the question, is quite easily accomplished. The goal of these sites is to facilitate communication between members, and they couldn’t make it easier.
You check out the trial periods, the monthly subscription, the safety features, and wade in. First, you have to write a profile about yourself. This should be carefully crafted. How else are all these potential mates supposed to know anything about you? Apparently, many men just go by the photos. This reinforces one of the great stereotypical divides: men are visual. Women want to know about your grandkids. I do find it very enduring how many men are proud of their grandchildren. “Love me, love my grandkids.” This also applies to many pets as well.
Men are particularly interested that women’s photos are recent and authentically you - not photoshopped - not borrowed from a Pilates studio. I don’t know what some women are trying, but a man wrote: “when we meet you better look like your photo, and if you don’t, we will drink until you do.” Now as to their own photos, I really wonder what some of these men are thinking: no smiles. They take a selfie of themselves reflected in their bathroom mirror wearing a sleeveless t-shirt. They are so clueless. Honestly, how do they expect to get a response if they can’t even rummage up a decent photo from the past year? OK, I admit, women are visual too.
Some sites have kindly advisors who will help you write a profile. They recommend, “just write what your friends say about you.” I have read profiles that start out with, “My dog recommends me highly, but he/she is not a great conversationalist.” I groan over all the men who are looking for a woman with “a sense of humor.” In fact, they all say that. Every. Single. One. But why not just write some humor into their profile and prove their own funny ability? The old writers’ axiom applies− show don’t tell. In my book, that is what separates the men from the boys. Instead I read for the hundredth time, “looking for a soul mate who is fit, has no baggage from the past, no drama, rides motorcycles, and a sense of humor is important.” Blah, blah, blah. If you want humor, show me humor.
The men try to post photos that get the women to imagine a great life with them. I am writing from Colorado, so local men feature their cute cabin with a view, or a big motor home, or boat, or motorcycle, or pickup truck, or horse, or all their means of mobility in one photo. I have seen a lot of dead fish. I like dead fish on a plate with lemon and parsley. OK, I get it. These guys are proud of their ability to provide a good meal to a potential mate. Then there are hunters who prove their prowess by also providing a fur to cuddle in. Women are imagining how two families will blend. Do we have grandkids the same age? Is there an ex-wife in the picture? My house or his house?
Why all the Harley-Davidson logos on their shirts, baseball caps, in their man caves, or in the backdrop of the bars where they are drinking with friends? Judging from the photos of men searching for partners, at least 70% of the male population rides motorcycles. Is displaying themselves astride a motorcycle a hint at their vitality? There are a lot of not-so-veiled metaphors going on. “Take a look at my long, low, shiny (red) corvette, with the top down, the door open and my arm draped across the back of the passenger seat.” Are they inviting me into their car? Certainly. But the invitation to get into their bed is brain-dead obvious.
I also have never noticed so many mountain bikers and climbers of fourteeners. I asked my physical therapist how 70-year-old men manage to ride horses or hike all day. She said, some do if they are used to it, but she sees them the next day when they cannot move a muscle. How does this work out between the sheets? They assure potential mates that everything is well functioning like their sleek vehicles − or horse. Sorry, another stereotype confirmed.
Warning! I must get serious here. Even secular sites recognize that a common religion is important in relationships. There are several boxes to click. “Spiritual” casts a wide net and there are a lot of agnostics. Christian is subdivided into Protestant and Catholic. In most cases this seems to be a cultural identification only. “I expect respect from my woman and I treat her like a queen.” Push delete fast! That is not a partnership; both deserve respect and love. I, for one, do not want to be on a pedestal in exchange for waiting on him. Watch out for a man looking for a nurse with a purse! One man stated, “My faith is important to me.” He turned out to be a fake profile. Catfishing is prevalent. I will expand on this topic another time.
Christian sites have no advantages that I note. There is no way to check their true faith convictions outside of reading between the lines of their profile. Look for regular involvement in church activities, perhaps their college alma mater, and their volunteer activities. An amazing number will claim the Bible as their favorite book. Sadly, I suspect that many men claim Christian affiliation because they are more likely to attract a serious, faithful woman. I am impressed by men whose goals for their retirement years include service to church and community. Instead, almost always the long-for for companion is someone with whom to enjoy sunsets from the deck, nice restaurants, and lots of travel. OK, that is good too. Ultimately the true colors of their Christian faith are only revealed in real life conversation and observation. No shortcuts here. May I suggest that any sociologist or psychologist reading this writes a dissertation on the rate of success in online matches? More than a decade has passed now since this online phenomenon which offers enough history to study the evidence. I am not saying it is impossible to find a Christian partner on a dating site and I have heard of couples who have happily found each other. It just takes some careful sifting and follow up. Nothing different here from real life searching. If anyone is in this brave new world during a pandemic with me, send advice!