By Karis Rogerson
“Wink Alert: RichardEvans12 is interested in you!”
The subject line of an email from match.com glared at me from the midst of a few months worth of “Dear Abby” letters.
RichardEvans12’s profile picture showed a balding, square-faced man with a hint of a double chin glaring at the screen of the phone he was using to take his bathroom mirror selfie. His age was listed as 27—one year over the age I had said I was interested in. Even more shocking, though, was “NerdyPhilosopher,” who, at the grand age of 34, cyber-winked at a woman who was still in diapers while he was getting his driver’s license.
Such, my friends, are the perils of online dating. Having grown up in this digital age, I’ve known about online dating since I’ve known about the Internet, and I have been privy to countless arguments both for and against the process.
Proponents of this unconventional dating method always point to couples who have truly found love—that one couple their mother’s friend’s cousin heard about, and all those couples on television who swear they found each other because of eHarmony or Match.
Detractors inevitably wax eloquent on the downfalls of online dating—the ease with which you can be scammed, the possibility that turning to the Internet to find love is preempting God’s plan, the heartbreak that can come from a relationship created under such strange circumstances.
I decided it was time for me to make my own decisions about online dating. I was convinced that someday I might have to resort to the Internet to find a man willing to take a chance on me;
I wanted to test the waters now, before I became desperate and had to sign up for real.
I started with eHarmony, of course. It has a grueling registration process—I spent at least half an hour answering questions about my appearance, my hobbies, my skills, then checking off boxes in lists of descriptions and picking “the word [I] like best from a pair.”
I hit “next,” and a screen appeared in front of my eyes. In polite, yet unquestionable words, I was told that there was nobody in the entire database of eHarmony with whom I could possibly be in a healthy relationship, so I would not be creating an account, but I could of course feel free to try again later! The unspoken message: try again when your personality becomes more palatable.
Well, that was a blow.
I tucked my tail between my legs and headed over to match.com, another one of those sites that is often featured in television ads. Their registration process is much simpler: fill out a form with demographic data along with information about hobbies, interests and beliefs about various subjects.
After the profile was completed, match.com took all the work out of my hands by sending me “daily matches” every morning, consisting of other members of the gender I specified (male), who live in my area and have similar interests. And that’s when the fun begins: members make free use of the options available for flirting online. There is, of course, the previously mentioned wink feature that allows older men with bathroom mirror selfies to terrify younger women.
If you’re brave enough, you can also send an email. The first email I got was from RichardEvans12—yes, the winking man—which simply said “Hi how are you.”
I shut my computer off and ran from the room in terror. I decided to put the online dating scene behind me. I have a hard enough time carrying on a full conversation with members of the opposite sex when I’m looking them in the eye, so trying to do so over the Internet seemed impossible.
I came back, of course. Call it curiosity, call it a stubborn desire to have real contact with at least one (desirable) man, but I logged back on and steeled myself for the inevitable. If I wanted to do this right, I would have to make first contact.
I clicked on a photo of a likely-looking male—he had a cute picture, was interested in a lot of things I also enjoyed and had managed to string together several sentences of self-description in a pleasing manner. I sent him an email, and then I waited.
After one week, I decided to lower my standards. I flipped through my ten daily matches and sent an email to everyone. I sent the same email every day: a generic note saying something empty-headed like, “Wow, you seem super awesome!” and the flirtiest thought I could manage to transcribe: “I want to get to know you better!”
I still haven’t heard from anybody; the only people who have liked my photos or “winked” at me remain the older, creepier men. And while I can’t give a blanket statement saying that online dating is for no one, I’m pretty sure it’s the worst thing I could ever do.
Between the coldness of flipping through photos and dismissing someone completely after a two-second glance at their photo, the limitations imposed by finding “matches” or people who only have similar interests, which cuts out an entire group of great people, and the blow to my self-esteem when I think about the fact that I am apparently not in the league of anyone on the site who is attractive, online dating is not my preferred method of finding my “perfect match.”