The progression of a relationship in on-line dating predictably follows the same pattern.
It begins with an invitational text on the dating service from or to someone expressing interest. If you, or she, replies, the text conversation on the dating site continues. I have to say, it’s slightly deflating to send out an innocent flirtatious invite and be acknowledged with silence. I always answered a woman’s invite and told her honestly if I had no interest; it seems the only courteous thing to do. But I suppose if you are a beautiful woman with suitors filling your inbox with limp or lurid invites, it gets tedious to tell them all to go away.
A successful engagement soon progresses to an exchange of email addresses or cell phone numbers and the conversation shifts to typing or texting. I’ve heard of some such relationships lasting months, even years, without the two ever meeting. That makes no sense to me; if the relationship is worth investing in, a meeting in person needs to happen, and sooner than later. As Marshall McLuhan has famously stated, the medium is the message, which means if the medium is merely mechanical, the message probably isn’t very meaningful. Medium richness means personal contact, high touch, not high tech. Body language tells more than mere words on a screen. So, text should progress to talk and then to a meeting. And for me, the sooner the better. I had no time to waste on a relationship stuck in a text medium.
Coffee meetings are the usual, low risk first encounter. I had plenty of them, though usually at the woman’s request. For me, the higher risk lunch was worth taking, though the consequence is greater if the date is a disaster. These can be the longest 90 minutes of your life. And it’ll cost you 150 bucks.
Ever the guarded optimist, I looked forward to such encounters. But as I think of it now, it wasn’t really that first date I was looking forward to; in my head I was looking forward to a whole relationship, the next date, and the next, and then marriage and living happily ever after. Maybe these women picked up on my urgency.
My goal was not to get into the sack as soon as possible – and it’s clear from the feedback from many women, this appears to be priority one for most of the men they have dated. Women are much more calculative, I think. But their calculus may have been misplaced in my case. And though I was in a hurry, it was a lasting relationship I wanted, not just sex. In fact, I was convinced I couldn’t have sex with someone if I didn’t love her.
But before I could forge a lasting meaningful relationship, I had to meet the right one. And this was not happening fast enough. It felt like a race – finding love before losing faith.
My disenchantment with on-line dating had reached its peak, or should I say depths. After a couple of dozen failed encounters I saw only a long lone jaded journey into increasing cynicism. It was probably not a fair assessment, and many have provided evidence of people finding successful matches through on-line dating sites. I noted that the success stories were almost entirely of people 20 and 30 years younger than I, and maybe still hopeful, believing they have plenty of time for romance.
Maybe the process was mechanical and artificial but if it ultimately worked, surely that was worth the cost. But for me the price was high indeed. Each time I met someone new on match.com, and began the dialogue and then the date, it felt too much like my many years as a human resources professional interviewing candidates – transactional. Dating is not recruiting.
These ‘interviews’ did not feel like conversations, more like jousting matches. In my fragile state, I began to think I had not the resilience to face the constant doubts. I worried that each failed encounter eroded just a bit more my normal optimism and hopefulness for people. The dialogues of the Carmelites – sticking to my principles, each failure felt like a death sentence. I feared my own cynicism would hijack any possibility of success in meeting ‘the one’. But most of all, I didn’t want to get hurt again, and knew I was holding back, protecting myself with an argumentative style and biting wit.
Then it occurred to me that maybe it wasn’t the process so much, even if flawed, but my own circumstances. To be fair, many of these women were kind, and considerate, maybe they themselves were cautious about false love; maybe I just wasn’t a good fit for them, hard though that seemed to me. Maybe some of those women were right, I had too many issues to be appealing to women who had had enough of dealing with men with issues. Or maybe I wasn’t going to find love within 150 kms of Ottawa. Regardless, I dropped match.com.
But maybe it was the women themselves: the younger ones (in their 40s and 50s) saw me as too old, perhaps, or too challenging; the older ones, ~60-somethings, were too often interested only in rocking chair romance, or devouring their date. The 70-somethings were too much a reminder of my own age.
Maybe I needed to find a different sort of woman. Not the jaded or strangulated Canadian carline but a kind, generous, supportive woman. Not a door mat or sycophant, but a gently confident character, one with intellect and life experience. An Asian perhaps.
So I searched the web for Asian women. I lingered over the porn sites that popped up, I have to admit, but that was not what I was seeking. I wanted a compatible life partner. I found Asianbeauties.com.
I revised my match.com profile, and posted it with a few recent photos of me in Mexico. Within days I had dozens and dozens of flirts and invitations, mostly from women in their 20s and 30s, and mostly Chinese, but also older women, all the way up to their 60s, fit, well furnished, earnest. It was exciting, intriguing – I certainly wasn’t getting this kind of response from Canadian women in Ottawa – and exhausting. Not to mention intimidating. Was I really going to find love in Shanghai? I began to think my friends were right – did I have to reach half way around the world to find a partner? After a few weeks of this I began to have doubts this course would bear any results. What was I really looking for? I knew the answer. Emily. And then a pop-up window inviting me to check out filipinocupid.com caught my attention. What about a Filipina?
I checked the site and soon posted my profile on it, and shut down Asianbeauty. (Turns out Asianbeauty.com, victoriahearts.com (mostly Ukrainian woman) and filipinocupid.com, (and no doubt a dozen others), are all operated by the same outfit, in Australia! What a world the on-line dating world is.)
Overnight I had a dozen inquiries. Beautiful young Filipina – and one especially professional looking Indonesian (which turned out to be a scam) – all wanting to meet me and make me happy for the rest of my life. More salve for my wounded ego, but beyond imagining.
And then one short note from an intriguing dark-haired beauty, offering sexy pictures, and looking for love, in halting English. I read her profile. She was new to on-line dating, she was looking to end loneliness. She was 63!