samedi, décembre 16, 2006

adventures in online dating (Toastmasters speech #13)

Speech originally given on Dec. 14, 2006
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.

And if you ever want a moment of peace and quiet, look for one who isn't pretty or 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.

Married stalkers
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:

  1. 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.

  2. Research
    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.)

  3. Time-saver
    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.
I posted my profile to a few sites. OKCupid was my favorite.

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:
  1. Do you have a problem with racist jokes?
    • Yes
    • No
  2. How would your Ideal Match answer this question?
    • Yes
    • No
  3. How important is their answer to you?
    • Irrelevant
    • A little important
    • Somewhat important
    • Very important
    • Mandatory
Once you’ve built a profile for yourself, you can then choose to find people by how closely they “match” what you’re looking for. I searched the “guybrary” by matches within 20 miles of me. At 89%, a guy named Leo was near the top of my search results.

Mr. 89%
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.

Shopping around
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.

No regrets
Am I glad I tried online dating?
You bet.

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."

Mr. Toastmaster.

6 commentaires:

O a dit…

Someday I might get on this thing, but in the meantime, taking naps on my couch has been an extremely fulfulling activity.

Anonyme a dit…

Your writing skills are superb!

I met a guy online 7 years ago and today he is still the only true love in my life. I live here in San Diego and he in the Czech Republic. Love is an amazing thing that makes you do crazy things.

Juds2U a dit…

Hello, I'm a toastmaster from Ontario, Canada about to write my 10th speech. In conducting a little very preliminary, semi-research I stumbled upon this speech of yours and enjoyed it. I'm sure you are quite an asset to your club!
Judi -

online dating a dit…

I think the choice really depends on the person. One part of me feels like I have to be the one to fish through emails and look at profiles and go on a online dating that I choose because no one knows me better than I do. But another part of me would prefer an expert to match me up with someone and possibly eliminate those people I will not connect with. Maybe someday I will try both to see which works better.

Unknown a dit…

Almost 9 years ago. Hope you and leo are still happy? Im a fairly new member of Toastmasters in the UK. Im writing my 3rd speech which I give on tuesday 24th November 2015. The title is "a man for Christmas" im asking for some guidance from fellow Toastmasters on whether I should upload my profile to 'bag' a man for Christmas or be alone? My intention is for it to be quite humorous and i cover some of the pros and cons of having a man and my failed attempts so far and my ever increasing age and the deterioration of the body that comes hand in hand with that. Im not sure you will see this but wanted you to know your speech inspired me. Thank you from Joanne, Blyth Northumberland. England

Happy A. a dit…

Hi, Joanne -- Yes, Leo and I are still happy. We have two lovely children and a dog.

Good luck with your speech and with relationships!