Award: Best speaker
Last Christmas, a male friend of mine shared his dad’s advice regarding women:
"Always tell the smart ones they're pretty. And always tell the pretty ones they're smart.That's a pretty old-school way of looking at love and relationships. And after spending awhile frustrated by the traditional way of meeting men, I was over it. So, I took a new-fangled approach when I went looking for love this year: I hopped online.
And if you ever want a moment of peace and quiet, look for one who isn't pretty or smart."
I know what you’re thinking. You’ve probably all heard the horror stories about internet dating. You know, the one where you date Mr. Right for a few months and then find out he's Mr. Married. Or, you meet a nice guy who seems to be really into you and then — when you tell him you're not as interested — he winds up cyberstalking you. My personal favorite was what my nana said when I told her that I was going to try online dating: "Oy, how do you know that he didn’t just get out of jail?"
For all the negatives (and there are plenty), there are also many positives to online dating:
The internet itself is a strange sociological experiment. It has changed the way in which we relate to people and we've gone from six degrees of separation to more like 2.5 degrees of separation. The internet is such an awesome source multiplier. And things that used to take weeks now take minutes.
There are three characteristics of the internet that make online dating a particularly powerful way to find your match:
- Source multiplier
Say (hypothetically speaking of course) you’re a pro-choice, tree-hugging, feminist agnostic who also happens to have been a bridesmaid in a lesbian commitment ceremony and voted for John Kerry … you probably aren’t looking to date a sexist, gun-toting, pro-life, homophobic, fundamentalist Jesus freak Republican. And if you are that pro-choice, tree-hugging feminist (okay, I'm amongst friends here. I'll admit that it's me) and you happen to live in San Diego, you might realize that it’s hard to find someone who shares your political and social values. Asking for him to be single, sexy, and for you to have mutual chemistry is even more daunting.
I’m a reasonably assertive and self-confident person, but how, exactly, do you slip in the fact that you’re a pro-choice, tree-hugging, feminist agnostic to someone whom you’ve just met at a bar? Worse yet, what if your well-intentioned friends set you up?
In my case, it was much easier to simply put all those things out there in my profile. I never had to worry about offending someone who had just bought me dinner, and I could also weed out the men whose social values were irreconcilably different from my own.
How many of you have gone online to research a purchase? I routinely research everything from cookbooks to kitchen appliances. I also went online to research cars when I was in the market to buy one. I learned about all the features and narrowed down the ones that I wanted to go and see before I ever set foot in a showroom, much less took a test drive. (Note that I did not say a boyfriend is a purchase, but you just never know ... a boyfriend could turn into a long-term commitment.)
I’m a graduate student who also happens to be gainfully employed 40 hours a week. I have a life, lots of friends, and spend my free time writing speeches for Toastmasters.
That doesn’t exactly leave me with tons of free time. And the time that I do have tends to be after-hours, 10 minutes here, 20 minutes there ... you get the picture.
So last January, I decided to spend some time “shopping” (if you will) for someone I might want to date. It made sense to pre-screen him online before investing the time of going on dates.
OkCupid's matching system
OkCupid uses a series of fun quizzes to get a sense for what’s important to you. Here’s an example of a real question from the site:
- Do you have a problem with racist jokes?
- A little important
- Somewhat important
- Very important
I saw his profile and liked what he had to say about himself. He seemed sincere and intelligent, two of the qualities I find most attractive in another person. His photo didn't hurt, either.
So I sent him a quiz. It included some fun with analogies and asked about some of the foreign films/ directors we both liked.
Leo’s answers were witty and left me wanting to know more. But he wasn’t the only guy I was talking to.
I contacted and was contacted by several men and had e-mail and phone conversations with a few. I had 14 dates with six different guys in one month.
When I had coffee with a guy I’d met online, I did two things:
1. Verified that what he’d said about himself in his profile jived with what he was like in-person
2. Paid attention to whether or not there was chemistry between us
There was chemistry with a few, but I liked one more than the rest.
The one that kept my interest
11 months later, I’m still dating him.
He’s a pro-choice, tree-hugging, feminist agnostic who also voted for John Kerry. But to my knowledge, he’s never been a bridesmaid.
Next week, Leo and I will get on a plane to spend a week in Connecticut with his family over the holidays. And in February, we’re headed to Argentina and Uruguay.
Am I glad I tried online dating?
Are my friends happy that I tried online dating?
In fact, one of my friends is now dating one of Leo’s buddies. When people ask how they met, they say "in a bar." That’s technically true – Leo and I introduced them at happy hour. But if you ask Leo and me how these friends met, we say that they met "internet dating by proxy."