The Truth About Online Dating and Me: Part I

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 xxx@xxxx.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.

 

Aside

Saying that you’ve snorkeled on the Great Barrier Reef is a little like saying that you’ve been to Japan. TheReef and Japan are about the same size–with the Reef being under water and Japan being above. The Reef stretches nearly 1200 miles along the eastern coast of Australia.

The first port on our cruise along the eastern coast of Australia was at Cairns, which is one of the jumping off points to visit the Reef. We booked our excursion throuh the cruise line, but we learned that there is are any number of other outfitters who will take you to the Reef. The chief advantage of booking through the cruise line is that if you are delayed for any reason, the ship will wait for you.

From the ship, we boarded a big catamaran with about 150 of our best cruise friends, and rode about 90 minutes out to the Reef where we docked next to a large covered platform that just sits out on the ocean. The platform looked like a very long quanset hut with a canvas roof and open air sides. The canvas was covered in bird poop, and smelled like poultry barn.

The platform had snorkeling, an underwater viewing area as well as a glass-bottomed boat that were included in the $249 tour price. If you wanted a helicopter ride, that was an additional $138 for a 10-minute ride, and if you wanted to snorkel with a marine biologist outside the “regular” snorkeling area, that was an additional $35. We declined the add-ons.

The snorkeling area ran along one side of the platform. Australia is full of things that are poisonous to humans, including jellyfish. We were debating whether we needed to wear the spandex “stinger suits” when we got in the water, but after the glass-bottom boat driver told us his tale of “crying like a little girl” and spending a week in the hospital after being stung by a jelly in New Guinea, we opted to wear the suits, which decrease your risk of being stung by 75%.

The water was warm and the coral and fish were wonderful. THe corals were white, and pink, and green, and lavender, and yellow and bright blue. There were lots of brightly colored fish about, in a variety of sizes.

After about an hour in the water, I had to get out to warm up. Then it was time to watch the fish-feeding frenzy, and time for the 90-minute boat ride back to the ship.

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Aside

We flew from Sydney to Ayers Rock on March 25 on a beautiful Qantas airliner. Domestic flights in Australia are quite a bit more laid back than those in the States. No one at the Sydney airport even asked us for identification, and we were able to bring filled water bottles and did not have to remove our shoes. It was a nice throw back to air travel in the 1980s.

Ayers Rock is pretty much in the center of Australia in the red desert. It is really a long way from anywhere, although there was more vegetation than I had expected.

There is only one resort at Ayers Rock, with a variety of accommodations. We stayed at the Pioneer Outback Hotel, which is at the end of the shuttle bus route that goes in a constant loop to take you from one end of the resort to the other. All of the accommodations are made of cinder block, to keep the termites at bay.

Once we got off the shuttle bus, the first thing we noticed was the flies. None of the guidebooks mentioned the flies, or if they did, I somehow missed the warnings. The good thing about the flies is that they didn’t bite. Many tourists wore fly nets to keep them off their faces, but we decided to tough it out. After while, you just stop swatting, because it is too much work in the heat to keep swatting.

We took the sunset tour to Ayers Rock, which is also known as “Uluru.” (Accent on the last syllable.) Uluru is the Aboriginal name, and when the Australian government returned the Rock to the Anangu people (I think it was in the 1970′s), they decided to change the name back to the traditional name of “Uluru.”

As we left the van, the tourguide from SEIT offered us a “fly cream” made of rosemary and cedar oil for our faces, and it did help a bit with the flies.

The big red monolith is beautiful, and has a spiritual aura about it, if you are into such things. Most Australians, are not, however. We have been doing an informal survey of Aussies, and only about 10% of them have been to Uluru. Mostly they say it is just a big red rock, and that they can go abroad for about the same price as a ticket to Ayers Rock; and most of them choose to spend the money to go abroad.

For us, however, it was an opportunity to experience the vastness of the Australian Outback, and was well worth the cost of the ticket.