By Pamela Leskar
When it comes to experiences with online dating, my friends fall into one of two categories: they’ve either met their soulmates or they have horror stories that can only be shared over a glass of wine (or three). So when I embarked on my online dating adventure, I figured it would either be amazing or awful, and I was really excited to find out which one it was going be.
First things first, I had to decide which dating site to use, and ultimately chose JDate. While I am not very religious, I do have a strong cultural Jewish identity and it is important to me that I raise my children in a Jewish household. Once I committed, I started the process of building my online profile. I posted a variety of pictures – some with me dressed up, some with me dressed down, one of me scuba diving, and one at a University of Michigan football game (Go Blue!) – and tried to make myself stand out with witty descriptions of my lack of hand-eye coordination, my love for soft chocolate chip cookies, and my secret desire to be an 80s rock star. Let’s face it: I’m pretty awesome.
The messages immediately began rolling in. All of the guys seemed to make an effort to read my profile and ask me specific, relevant questions instead of sending a generic, “Hey.” I was impressed, and before I knew it was going on first dates with almost all of them. I think it’s important to meet people in person and I wanted to give each of these guys a chance, so much so that there came a point where I actually had eight dates in one week. Go big or go home, as they say. I prepared for a few terrible dates, but hoped for more great ones.
To my surprise, all of my dates were merely “fine.” We would go for drinks, talk for a few hours, and go home. The men were all nice, intelligent, and seemed to enjoy their jobs. Most of them were funny and well traveled. Some of them even liked to cook (which was great, because I hate it), and every one of them treated.
But at the end of the night, I never left yearning for a repeat. I often said yes to second dates because I wanted to give these men the benefit of the doubt - sometimes, first dates are just plain awkward. Ultimately, the follow-ups were just as mediocre as the first outings.
I tried to pinpoint exactly what was making these encounters so uninspired. Did JDate just attract boring guys? Did I need to wait for third dates before attraction would take hold? Was I going on too many dates, making them all unfairly blur into one giant, boring evening? Were my expectations too high?
Truth be told, I’m still not entirely sure of the answers to those questions, if in fact they can even be answered. What I do know is that I became so involved in online dating that in order to make time for all of these dates, I started skipping all of the daily activities I normally enjoy. I stopped going to my hip-hop yoga class; I saw my friends less often; I skipped my kickball league games. As a result, I became increasingly more upset – not because I wasn’t meeting anyone, but because I missed doing all of the things I no longer had time to do. And this knowledge was enough to make me realize that the questions rolling around in my brain were irrelevant. The solution was right in front of me – do more things!
Apparently, you can meet people that way too. I am going to join a running club: it’s something I do anyway, and perhaps I might run next to a cute guy who understands when I talk about my love/hate relationship with the activity. I am going to volunteer with the local Jewish philanthropic group: I want to give back to my community, and this way I might meet a nice Jewish boy who also wants to sit at the Humane Society on a Sunday morning and play with the shelter dogs. I am going to go to more activities sponsored by my alumni group: they always host interesting speakers, and this way maybe I will meet a gentleman who can appreciate a talk on the science of food while also knowing all the words to The Victors.
I think that when people say, “Online dating isn’t for me,” the immediate reaction is that they are judgmental or that they are giving up. But I don’t think that is necessarily true. I know myself well enough to realize that I would just rather meet someone while doing an activity I already love, and I know the guy for me is out there thinking the same thing.