Tales of Internet Dating

Soon after I filed for divorce, I created on-line dating profiles at two free websites: Date Hookup and Plenty of Fish. Both profiles are currently hidden else I’d link to them for amusement. I have friends that met (and married) people on Match or E-harmony but I really did not want to have to pay to use a service when I was uncertain that I really wanted to date at this point. For the record, of these two free sites, Plenty of Fish seems to have many more users.

I can’t say that I ever really “dated” in the past. I tended to go from serious monogamous relationship to serious monogamous relationship. Indeed, back when I got divorced from husband #1 in 1999, I started dating husband #2 soon after the official paper work was filed, months before the divorce finalized. We did have 9 years together overall, so I can’t say that it was a mistake, but this time I want to browse a bit, window shop, to see what's out there.

This has been a fascinating experience. I’ve met a number of people for coffee – my preferred low pressure first meeting. Apparently the majority of time, the men, at least the ones I met, needed to send 10 to 100 initial contact notes to get even one reply. With one notable exception, every man I met with contacted me first. Many of them remarked on the high volume of messages they got from Russian or Romanian “Brides” or women just looking for an encounter, with any man (yikes!).

The first person I met was an ATF agent in town for the Democratic National Convention. He sent me his work email address (doj.gov) which made me feel much less scared about meeting a stranger. He was an incredibly nice and funny guy. We went on a few dinner dates but it seems like we’re meant to be friends. He’d send me really nice notes, but in person he seemed much more comfortable flirting with the waitresses than me. I don’t think he meant this as an insult; I just seemed to bring out his most formal and polite behavior. He doesn’t live in Colorado but we still email occasionally. I rate this as a great first experience – very good guy who I hope will meet someone who suits him perfectly.

My next outing was with an incredibly fit bilingual performance trainer. I really wanted to see him without his shirt on but never did get the chance. Between his work schedule (and mine) and his schedule with his kids, we only managed 3 one hour dates. We emailed for a bit but it was not meant to be. I think he will be terrific, for someone; the words that come to mind when I think of him are joyful, friendly, fit and vibrant.

I went on a few dates with a real estate appraiser. He was nice but my outings with him always left me feeling a bit sad. I always felt like the joy was getting sucked out of me whenever I was around him. I suspected from the first date that there was nothing there, but went on 3 more because he seemed nice. I learned to (mostly) trust my first impressions from meeting him.

I did go on one coffee date where there could have been a great professional fit. He was an advertising executive who specializes in biomedical devices and therapeutics. I checked his website and he does great work but overall the coffee was a fizzle. I never did follow up and neither did he. I may yet pass on his information to the CEO of my biotech company.

All of these men contacted me first. I spent the most time with the person I contacted, let’s call him the Pretender, after the TV show of that name (I loved that show!). I loved his on-line profile. We seemed to have many of the same interests. And, I confess, I loved his pictures. Date one was coffee, of course, but in this case 2.5 hours passed without me checking my watch. Since this never happens, I knew he was a winner! I have known him for about two months. We spent about 6 weeks, essentially inseparable. I either saw him or spoke with him daily. I introduced him to friends and colleagues. We spent Thanksgiving with his family and my friends. I was in serious like with this guy. And then, last week, I got an email from one of his brothers, who used Google to find me, who felt it was his moral duty to warn me about his brother. The brother gave me contact information for everyone in the family, even an ex-girlfriend, should I want to verify things from multiple sources. Everything that I thought I knew – from his name to his place of birth to his profession – all got turned upside down. After hours of conversation with his brother and several calls and emails from his mom, I cut off contact with him. And then I cried. The truth would have been fine if only he'd been willing to share it with me himself, from day one. The whole thing makes me sad.

And thus ends my tale of Internet dating. I’m done.

As you can see, there were a few people I went on three dates or more. If you trust the Internet, date 3 is the magic outing. You’ve got to be kidding me. In only one case did I get more than a handshake on date 3 – which was exactly right. Now men, that does not mean you should wait too long, as my good friend Chris O says, you might get banished to “Friendship Alcatraz” if you don’t make your intentions known (as in you should at least hug the girl!). But in my case, three dates, with a stranger, is nothing. I need more time to get to know someone and how I feel about them.

I learned from this experience that in the past everyone I previously got involved with I knew for months or years before becoming more intimate. The men I dated were either in school with me or were close friends of friends, etc. They’d already been vetted in some way. The experience with the Pretender has made me feel cautious, jaded. I had been hoping to keep my personal and professional lives separate but I no longer think that’s a good idea.

So, my friends, after I’ve basked in the sun in Cozumel over the holidays, I’m looking forward to your recommendations & referrals. I’m told women want too much, but really I’m looking for 3 things:

  1. interesting & articulate

  2. comfortable in his own skin

  3. joyful (cup half full vs. half empty)

Sure there needs to be chemistry for the person to not be banished to Friendship Alcatraz but in the scheme of things it’s a short list. And, I can never have enough friends. Friendship Alcatraz should not be underrated. OK, there's a 4th item on the list: must tolerate (and ideally enjoy) my evening black tie and other events generally served up with the mystery chicken entree.