Online dating has been in the news lately, as people realize it is not a panacea for modern dating woes.
I found myself suddenly catapulted into the world of dating after a 16 year relationship. The last time I had dated, I was dating boys. Now, I would be dating men.
initially, the prospect of dating was interesting, but not appetizing. I would wonder what it would be like to kiss another man, but the actual kissing (not to mention the “getting to know you” stuff that usually precedes it) had no interest for me. None. Until the day a guy from the gym asked me out. It was though a veil had lifted. All of a sudden, I was surrounded by and hyper-aware of men. I was a kid in a candy store. A dog at the dog park. A moth trapped behind glass. It was overwhelming. It was exciting. It was exactly what I needed.
After a few dates with a couple guys from the gym, I realized two things: I was ready to start dating, at least at a casual level, and the gym was simply not a large enough sample for me to choose from (especially because my gym-vibe cultivates platonic male friendships, which I do not want to change).
So, I turned to Match, posting the following profile.
I am a compilation of contradictions. I am the petite woman in pink lifting heavy weight at the gym. I love to go to action movies in heels and listen to classical music while on a run. I am an award winning math teacher who almost failed algebra II. I am a natural introvert who loves to be around friends. I appear to be reserved, yet I am actually quite open with my feelings. I abhor conventions; I choose to celebrate what makes me unique.
I am an intense person. I have strong opinions that I am not afraid to share. I make quick decisions and always know what my goals are. I am generally a thinker, analyzing everything around me.
I am a naturally curious person; I love to gain new knowledge. I love new experiences. I enjoy being with people who can teach me something new.
I love to travel, although circumstances have kept me close to home. I hope to remedy that soon.
I believe that you can tell quite a bit about a person by their habits. One of my habits is perusing a selection of websites to catch up on the news, the latest research, and the latest fun. I visit the following sites daily: CNN, The Weather Channel, Mental Floss, New York Times (especially the science and health sections), and Slate Magazine.
I value honesty, intelligence, and wit. I am looking to find someone to talk with, laugh with, and with whom to share experiences. Let’s meet for coffee and see if we’re a match.
The profile was completed with pictures my stepfather took of my during a Christmas visit. He and my mom got a laugh that they were responsible for the pictures used to find me a date.
I soon realized that I would need a way to manage the influx of emails. Being a geek and possessing an analytical mind, I of course created a metric and a spreadsheet to organize my experiences. In retrospect, I think I wanted the sheet and the evaluation system to be a guarantee, insurance that this guy was different than my husband. That this guy was honest.
The sheet filled quickly, as I went on dates daily (sometimes even doubling up on weekends). I was following my stepbrother’s advice, not wasting time time on much email or phone contact, and getting straight to the first meeting. The spreadsheet idea was abandoned after the first few weeks (I found I could remember and keep them straight better than I anticipated). It served its purpose; however, it helped to take me out of the impulsive shopping mode that online dating can trigger and it also taught me that I could trust myself. The spreadsheet was a useful tool, but it was only a tool, a security blanket. I didn’t need it to tell me who to date; I could use my intuition. Trust my gut.
I went into the whole experience just looking to learn more about myself, men, and the dating world. I was planning on moving across the country within 6 months, so I was not looking for anything serious. I viewed each contact as a lesson; what can I learn from this person? In that way, no date was a bad one, as there was always something to learn. I think this relaxed attitude led to my success with the system more than anything else. I went into Match and into each date with no expectations.
I spent 3 months on Match. In those 3 months, I became legally divorced, progressed through my healing process, decided not to move across the country, and met my current partner of 2 years. Just like the spreadsheet, online dating was a tool, but I still needed to now how to use it.