Online dating makes me feel like a complete loser. I am a 59-year old widow who has had a successful law practice for more than 30 years. I am at least average looking, if more than a few pounds overweight. I am upbeat, have a great smile, love to laugh, love to travel, love to meet new people—you get the idea. I am used to being successful—at least part of the time.
Last fall, I decided to try to find love again. I plunged boldly into the fray on Match.com with a profile explaining who I am and what makes me tick, along with a handful of recent photos. At a recent count, 1,163 men had viewed my profile. (Last night the count was 500-something, and today it is down to 400-something. I’m not sure how the counter works.) The outcome? One guy who emailed me back more than twice. Let me repeat that: one.
There have been a number of emails from spammers. These typically say something like “u look like angel i very interesting to know you i have trouble access site plz email me at email@example.com.” There was a guy who claimed to be a 60-year old contractor from Arizona who knew less about the construction industry than I do, a guy whose only wish was for a woman to cook for him, a man whose main selling point was that he was a couch potato, and another who listed himself as “separated” and who got pretty defensive when I said I was only interested in dating single men. And there have been a handful of replies from decent men who were courteous enough to say they just weren’t interested.
But in terms of guys who were interested in getting to know me and that I was interesting in getting to know, the number is one. Man #1 and I had several great dates before he decided that he wanted to pursue an exclusive relationship with someone else, and we are still friends. But really—one in 1,163? So, day after day I send off witty emails to men on Match.com and other dating sites, with no response. The silence is deafening.
I’m trying to put this ego-bruising experience in perspective. You read about famous writers whose books were rejected by 150 publishers before the 151st accepted the book and it became a best seller. If men were book publishers, I’d have ten best sellers by now. When I was in non-profit fundraising, the general rule was that if you did a cold mailing for funds, that you would expect a 1-2% return. So if I were a charity raising money, I’d have 11-22 donations by now. And worst of all, if I were playing baseball, my batting average would be less than .001.
The Match.com website presents “daily matches”—a group of a half dozen or so men that the computer selects for me. The computer then tries to entice me to read their profiles by pointing out what we have in common. Frequently these include “you both have children who live away from home” or “you are both non-smokers.” Sometimes it will tell me that we both own a dog. These little prompts are giving me a whole new perspective on relationships. Who cares if he makes you laugh as long as you know that you both have children that could still move back home? Really, stimulating conversation is not that important as long as neither of you smokes. And I probably didn’t really want to find out if he likes to go to concerts anyway, since we have to go home to let the dogs out.
The Zoosk dating site has a more subjective way of making me feel like a loser. It has a silly popularity meter that displays every time I sign on. It usually screams, “You’re NOT Popular” at me. On a good day it will only shout, “You are SOMEWHAT Popular.” At Zoosk, there are plenty of men whose photos include bare-chested shots of themselves with their Harleys, their cars, and/or their boats. Or with a dead thing. Or with all of the above.
Although I am not interested in seeing bare chests, motorcycles, cars, boats or dead things, the number of responses at Zoosk has been a little higher than at Match.com. Four stand out. The first was from a guy who wrote me several long emails about his days in the Navy, and when I emailed him to wish him a happy Veteran’s Day, asked in a bewildered tone how I knew he was a veteran. The next guy invited himself for dinner at my house on the second email. When I responded that I wished to have a first meeting at a restaurant, he replied that if I wasn’t willing to cook for him, that he was OK with just spending the night. And then there was the guy who didn’t understand why I thought his first email which described in some detail what he wanted to do to my “booty” was offensive. (I’ve blocked further communication from these two.) The last one was a retired college professor who didn’t write well and talked mostly about a deceased child. Talk about a downer. So on Zoosk, the score is one slightly paranoid (or forgetful) penpal, no dates. My subscription is up this week, and I’m not renewing.
This week Match.com sent an announcement concerning their new premium matchmaking service. It appears that by swapping a $31.99 monthly fee for a jaw-dropping $5,000 annual non-refundable subscription up front, their computer system—with the help of some human matchmakers–will have another go at finding me a perfect match. Really–$5,000? Wow.
Next up: Part II: More online dating adventures.