The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: My Experience With Online Dating

After being divorced for about 9 months, I decided I was ready to start dating again. I knew I was not ready for a committed relationship, but I did think I wanted to start meeting people again… for the first time in 25 years.

I knew several people who had been on Match.com and decided to give that a try. My first profile was probably subconsciously written to deflect prospective suitors. I made it pretty clear that I was just looking, but didn’t say much about what I was looking for. I’m not even sure I knew myself! I included a few pictures and stepped back to see what would happen.

I got email from a lot of guys and went on a lot of first dates (and by “dates” what I really mean is “first meetings”). I learned a couple things. Meeting for coffee or drinks the first time is preferable to meeting for dinner. I know pretty quickly if the person is someone I might be interested in or not, and even though I can carry on a conversation with most anyone, dinner can seem like a very long evening if there is absolutely no interest.One of my friends encouraged me to be open to everyone and not judge people in advance by their photos or profile. Bad advice. I have never been pleasantly surprised by someone looking better than their bad photos. For example, one guy I met had pictures that weren’t too bad. He described himself as “follicularly challenged, but I do have a little pony tail in the back that you can’t see”. I thought he was joking, and displaying a good sense of humor. That’s where I was wrong! The guy was sporting a skullet! He was bald on top, but had let the rest of his hair grow long enough that he could slick it back into a high pony tail, that started where the hair on the top of his head ended. The ponytail was about four inches long and hung in a little curlicue down the back of his head. I spotted him walking in to the bar ahead of me and almost left, but decided that would be too rude. He was actually a nice enough guy, but I couldn’t get past the skullet.

I have also found that the inability to write a decent profile corresponds to an inability to carry on a conversation. The same applies to email. While I don’t mind a direct approach like “Nice pics, enjoyed your profile. Would you like to meet for drinks and conversation?”, I won’t respond to email that says, “You’re so pretty, would you like to talk?” Or, “How are you this evening?” Maybe that sounds harsh, but I figure if that’s all they can bring to the table, we probably aren’t going to have much to talk about.

After about 6 months, I revamped my profile, added some new photos, and described myself and the type of guy I was looking for in more detail. I’m sure it helped that I had gained more clarity about what I wanted, because I did begin to get better results. However, I think there are many men who only look at the pictures. I get email from guys whose profile says they like bass fishing and camping, Nascar and hunting and I wonder if they even read my profile. While there’s nothing wrong with any of those activities, there’s nothing about any of that that matches up with me. I also state that I’m an empty-nester and am enjoying this phase of my life. A guy with three school age kids at home is not going to be a good match for me, but it doesn’t stop them from trying. My upper age limit is 55. Yes, I am 52, but unfortunately I’ve found that many men have started to get kind of old by their mid-50s. I am not an old 52. While I realize I’m not going to compete with a 35 or 40 year old, nor would I try, I want a man who still thinks young and is active, and looks like he’s taken care of himself along the way. I’m not saying he’s got to be buff or look like George Clooney; it’s OK if he’s bald or has gray hair, I’m aware of my own flaws. I had an email from one guy who said in his profile “I’m 65, look 55 and act 45” then went on to describe all the youthful things he does. I’m sure it’s at least partially true, but to me he looked 70. My dad is 70 and I’m not trying to date my dad, or any of his friends!

I also say in my profile that I’m more interested in who a man is than what he has. And that’s true. I don’t care about his Harley, his boat or his sports car. One guy I met, who told me all about his collection of cars, mentioned over of the course of the evening that he was very conservative. I said that I am much more middle of the road. Somehow we got on the subject of gay marriage, and before I could express my opinion, he went on to tell me that there was a gay couple, both doctors, who lived in his neighborhood when his kids were young. He told me that he wouldn’t let his kids walk past the couple’s house because he didn’t want his kids “to witness their deviant behavior”. Oh. My. God. I almost hit the roof. I said, “Let me tell you something. My son is gay. He is not a deviant, and I really don’t appreciate such narrow minded thinking.” I said it nicely, but I was angry. He quickly tried to back up and recover, but that was it for me. Another guy emailed me who said he’d been very fortunate financially, that he had plenty of money and would love to be able to travel with me and take good care of me. 1) That’s a creepy introductory email, 2) I don’t need to be taken care of, and 3) the guy looked like an old man. I ignored his message. A few weeks later I got another message from him saying that he’d written to me before and too bad I didn’t respond because he’d won $13 million in the Illinois lottery in 2007 and he would’ve loved to have shared his good fortune with me, but obviously I wasn’t interested. Yes, you’re right. I am not interested, I wouldn’t have cared if it was $100 million! I didn’t respond to that message either.

In all, my experience on Match has been fairly positive. I’ve met a lot of really nice people, had some fun. I met a couple guys that I dated for a short time, and one that I’m continuing to see. I met the guy I’m seeing soon after I revamped my profile. Interestingly enough, he has all the qualities that I said I like in a man. I have come to realize that I am ready for more of a committed relationship, though I am by no means interested in getting married or living with someone. But I do want a companion. Right now we are taking it very slow, but I am open to exploring the possibilities.

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