02 November 2011


...Is how my friend Rubina referred to Match.com when I was a member this year. We used this as a code name for the site while I shared my experiences in coffee shops and other eavesdropping hotspots. It was also her jab at my singleness and my likeness to cat lady-ness.

I was the first of all my friends to take the $60 leap and join Match. I was not, however, the first to date online. When I lived in New York it was de rigueur to have profiles on sites like okcupid.com and, in certain circles, manhunt.com. (If you are under 18, please do not visit the latter. Come to think of it, please don't visit either one.) My transition from SoCal to NYC was swift; I moved to New York the same week I graduated college. I grew up in Orange County so moving to a place where I only knew two people, more or less, was fairly intimidating. I had always been a student in a safe environment. This whole "real life," "paying bills," "twelve-hour days" business was completely new, and quite a shock, to me. My stressful job working as a production-intern-turned-stylist's-assistant at a bodacious talk show did not leave a lot of room for me to find new friends-- let alone dates. Weekends were spent mostly in my PJs and then binge drinking with the same group of friends. I crushed on most every guy in the circle, and pretty soon exhausted all hopes of having a Chandler to my Monica.

So, my roommate and I joined okcupid.com. I was really nervous to put myself on the internet like that and I had a lot of questions. Was it just for hooking up? What should I write in my profile? What shouldn't I write? Which picture? How can I tell if he's a good one? Who should reach out first? How will we meet in person? What if he's a psycho and my experience is the next plot of Criminal Minds? It seemed too stressful! All my worries aside, I realized it was actually a quite practical way for me to date in a new place. Even in a city full of thousands of eligible men, it was difficult to make a connection with anyone new. I was always in tunnel vision toward my next minute, shoulder-to-shoulder on the subway with fifty people and their own personal tunnels of thought. Online dating was a way to get personal without getting vulnerable. I also knew great couples who'd found each other on Ok Cupid. It clearly was not as scary as I was making it out to be.

I went on a few dates in New York, but honestly I was so busy and consumed with making rent that I wasn't in any position to be dating. Not only that, but after I'd read The Rules I came to understand that I would never find anyone worthwhile when I was such a mess myself. Call it new-age philosophy but I firmly believe that we all get back what we put into the universe. I am a perfectionist and hold high expectations of myself and my (future) mate. It only makes sense that I should be on top of my game if I hope for those qualities in someone else. Ideally, they want someone fantastic, too.

I moved back home for reasons unrelated, read The Rules, and decided to go online again. However, now I was even more nervous than before. With Ok Cupid I was able to talk to my New York friends about our experiences and even scroll through my matches to get their feedback. And although I had a closer group of friends at home, it was a totally different social scene. All the couples I knew met through school, mutual friends, or at work. No one my age had even considered online dating. Ok Cupid wasn't anywhere near as well-known in the 'burbs of SoCal as it was in the Big Apple. And if anyone had heard of Ok Cupid, it was usually for its reputation of being a vessel for hooking up. I wanted to try something different and with a slightly older age group.

Match.com seemed the most logical choice. It fit all my needs and was admittedly "free to look." I spent hours working on my profile trying to write just enough witty details about myself while still looking demure and slightly airy. (No one likes a ditz, but no one likes an outspoken over-achiever, either.) My pictures were tasteful and showed only the best versions of myself: good angles, nice makeup, cute clothes. I was ready to launch.

I began getting messages immediately. Most were bogus, some were interesting. I wanted to share my good news with my friends, but I didn't know what they'd think about me challenging my singleness head-on. I soon found out that my decision was more stigmatized than I could have ever guessed.

"Are you really that desperate?"
"Wow. Seriously? Aren't only weirdos and ugly chicks on there?"
"You're too pretty and smart to be online."
"That's awesome! My aunt met her husband that way."
"Why are you giving up?"

Instead of having the support like my NYC friends, I was alone in an already uncharted territory for someone like me. I was confused. I thought my friends would be understanding and happy for me that I was taking control of something that was, in most cases, hit-or-miss. I tried not to let it bother me, but even after I started exclusively dating someone I was hesitant to tell anyone where we'd met. The point is, though, that I still met someone I enjoyed. Had I met him anywhere else I would probably never given him the time of day, but being contacted via written word gave him a lot of opportunity to sell himself and me a lot of power. If I didn't like what he had to say in an editable format, why would I ever want to know him candidly? And even if our meeting wasn't fodder for a rom com, our relationship was still full of romance.

I'm not online anymore. I didn't swear it off completely, I just don't think I need to be actively searching for a boyfriend right now. My success online made many of my peers curious; some even signed up. I don't at all want anyone to think that because my relationship ended I have lost all hope for e-happy endings. I hope the best for all my friends and I hope they have success in love. At the very least online dating is great practice. We live in a time where technology has taken control of every aspect of our lives, so I don't know why our generation is dismissive of dating websites when most of our time is spent online anyway. It only makes sense that we might meet our other halves there, too. However, having a profile does not close the door to serendipitous meetings. Rather, it creates that many more opportunities to finding that person exactly right for you. For me, having a great story of how I meet my Mr. Big isn't nearly as important as having a Mr. Big. 

1 comment:

  1. Love this! The last sentence really summarizes what women need. Keep writing because I'm loving it! :-)