Who: I am a single person living amongst these millions of people, cramped into the mere 305 square miles of a veritable concrete jungle. Despite being in a land of opportunity, living a city thatnever sleeps, I have been single all twenty two years of my life.
Where: New York City. Population: 8.2 million people. All stuffed into the sprawling subways, shuffling up and down crowded sidewalks. 305 square miles of life buzzing around in groceries and corner delis, taxi cabs and black car service cabs whizzing over the Brooklyn Bridge and on the Long Island Expressway.
What: six months. Three leading Internet dating sites. Zero dates.
Six months ago, I decided to try to do something about my status as single. Considering my line of work, as well as other lifestyle factors, I was not in the position to come across many women. I decided I would embrace new technology and the Internet. I joined three different Internet dating sites: eHarmony.com, Chemistry.com, and Match.com.
So why join three sites? I wanted to maximize my chances of meeting someone. I decided to go the hardcore route and make a fully committed effort. Now, these three sites operate differently and offer different environments for meeting people. The premise of eHarmony lies in its extensive personality test. After taking what felt like a toned down mini version of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory test (read: very lengthy), I was able to read about their assessment of my personality. I found that it was rather accurate, though some parts could almost be attributed to the carnival psychic effect. I was impressed nonetheless. As for Chemistry, they also emply some kind of personality test. They use something similar to the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator, using a major and minor personality type. In my case, I am a Negotiator/Builder. There are various combinations that also include Director and Explorer. This personality assessment was a little more general. Even so, it was accurate.Now, Match is much less guided. It’s a real jungle out there. Match is my least favorite of all of the sites. Why, we’ll get into that later. But basically, it’s kind of stats based. You enter in your height, body type, hair color and eye color, and your ZIP code. There’s some sort of keyword based thing where you enter in single words as descriptors. For example, I would put down writer, honest, and loyal. You put in your own preferences based on the same factors that you yourself filled out. So for example, your ideal woman might have black hair and brown eyes with a curvy build. And that’s what you would search for. Twenty four weeks ago, I made the financial decision to plop down some of my hard earned credit line to try to meet someone. Perhaps a shot at love. I never thought myself to be desperate, not in the least. But having lived twenty two years without a single normal romantic relationship can get a young man thinking, leaving his mind heavy with rumination.Anyway, armed with three separate accounts, I had the hefty task of crafting three profiles. I created a general template and tailored it to each of the different sites I belonged to. I scoured my Facebook and hard drive for pictures of myself to upload. I was lucky enough to find three of them, and I took an okay one with my Cybershot. I got it all set up and double checked that I had no grammar errors or misspelled words. I reread every word to ensure that it gave the right connotation and dissected my paragraphs to check its implications. I am, after all, a word smith and a salesman.
Satisfied with my profile, I began the process of Internet dating. It’s a simple thing on eHarmony and Chemistry. These two sites provide a guided process. Match will provide you with five matches every 24 hours or so, whereas with eHarmony matches are made when they are found, which I found to be much less frequent. These matches are based on the personality assessments and as such the two of you are supposed to have compatible personalities. One party expresses interest first. Should the second party express a shared interest, the process moves on to the second step. Chemistry will ask you to send a double-blind “core values” sort of “question”. They ask you to rate on a slider the importance of certain things like, “Must make a good living”, “Must be well educated”, etc. eHarmony is similar as well.
Past this step is a short answer question. Two questions are posed by each party, however eHarmony and Chemistry will keep the answers private until both parties have completed the step. That way, one cannot tailor their response to increase their likelihood of a successful meeting. Once both parties have answered these questions, they are free to email each other without restrictions. With Chemistry, you also have the option of setting a “First Meeting”. It is essentially a record of an agreed time and place for the first meeting. I haven’t ever gotten this far on eHarmony or Match, so I’m afraid I couldn’t say what to expect, but I would be willing to bet that eHarmony has a similar setup, with Match probably sticking with simple emails.
For the first two months, I was somewhat picky. I invested a lot of energy reading and interpreting profiles that were presented to me. I only expressed interest in women with whom I believed would actually respond. If they were too far away, I just declined. If they were taller than me, I declined. If they wanted a guy who could make them laugh (no matter how you twist it, I’m not a funny guy), I declined.
At the end of two months, I had received zero responses. I barely even got any profile views. Except on Match, where I was averaging one view a day. This was when the real experiment started. I decided that in order to greatly increase my chances of getting some kind of contact or response, I would say yes to everybody. I also reminded myself that you just never know. Every day, when I found new matches, I expressed interest in every single one of them.
Now, Match is a largely unguided experience. One must rely on their wits to get anywhere. I combed through the articles that each respective site has to advise people on how to write a good first email. I studied profiles. Every email I crafted was a finely tuned piece of writing. Each woman I contacted, it took about half an hours worth of work, perhaps a little bit less.
Finally, I got a real response through Match from a woman named Patty. She was a very well educated woman, probably 26 years old if I remember correctly. Of course, since this is a story about my Internet dating failure, we already know she declined. But she was nice enough to actually respond. She expressed that she felt that I was too young, and that she would be okay with being friends. Of course, that’s a line of shit and I wasn’t buying it, but hey, at least she took the time out to say that I brought a smile to her face. I certainly wasn’t going to shed any tears over this.
Four and a half months into the experiment, I had a spotty experience on Chemistry. I went through the guided process with a girl named Joanna. She was 19, a touch taller than me, and also, as much as I hate to admit it, very pretty. Of course, my life never goes smoothly. We exchangedemails, and she enthusiasticallyset up the First Meeting. She wanted to meet on a Saturday at 1900 hours at a bar in a Midtown Manhattan hotel. I was very wary of such a “serious” first meeting. I am usually a very casual coffee first meeting kind of guy. I don’t even call it a first date.
Anyway, it was a Thursday morning when I woke up to see that she was no longer available to contact through Chemistry. Luckily, we had exchanged alternative contact information, and I emailed her to tell her that I was unable to get in touch with her through Chemistry, and as such would not be going to meet her at the aforementioned place until further notice. I always understand if people get cold feet, and I let her know it’s fine by me if she changed her mind. She got back to me apologetically and told me something happened with her account. She assured me that she was very excited to meet and all, and that she still wanted to meet.
To make a long story short, I never ended up meeting her. The schedule just didn’t work out, and she kept pestering me about voting for her on some camgirl site. The fact that she’s a camgirl already set off red flags. I’m no judgemental prick, but it does put me on alert. But the fact that she kept asking if I had signed up and voted for her yet was a very off-putting thing. I ended it by saying that if she was going to keep up the act that it would be better if we not meet. And as such, we never did. I felt better for sticking to my principals. I know quite a few people who would’ve jumped at a chance to date a pretty webcam girl, and I’m glad I didn’t end up being one of them.
Six months later, I have had interactions with two people on three Internet dating websites. Not a single wink or email was sent to me. I have four pages of Active Matches in Chemistry, all awaiting their response. Is it really possible that I have spent more than two hundred dollars on these goddamned subscriptions only to be let loose in a desert wasteland?
Now, some ladies have expressed that they find me handsome, but I don’t think I’m a particularly handsome guy. I’m not tall, and I surely don’t have washboard abs. I’m a meso-endomorph. I’m built low and broad, expressing strength over grace. Though my laughter is contagious, my smile is awkward. These are the facts of life. I don’t cry about it, I don’t regret it, and it certainly doesn’t affect my self-esteem. But I’m simply aware I’m not universally beautiful.
With that in mind, I’m also not ugly. I’m not illiterate: quite the opposite: I tend to be an eloquent writer. I am intelligent and perceptive. I’ve been told that I have much wisdom for my age. I am sensitive without being a crybaby. I am both physically and emotionally strong and people tend to respect me and listen to me due to the way I speak and carry myself. In short, I’ve also got a lot going for me. With all these girls supposedly looking for a good man, they all sure seemed to pass me right by.
After six months of putting in some hard work on three of the leading Internet dating sites, and getting not a single meeting out of it, I am shutting this down. I’ve gone on five to eight “dates” from Craigslist. Sure, nothing ever came of it, never went past the first meeting, but it was always mutual. And at least I’ve met people off CL. Now that Craigslist is plagued with spammers, I’ve got nowhere to turn.
I suspect that these Internet dating sites harbor a large population of inactive users. I find it hard to believe that women find it hard to click a button that says “No, thanks” to my expression of interest. That there are so many undeclined and open matches is odd to me. I find it entirely absurd that I couldn’t get a single serious response. I refuse to believe that there’s some problem with me. Is it possible that there is nobody out there for me?
I tried to do some basic troubleshooting. I’ve tried different styles of emails. I thought perhaps if they noticed that I expressed interest at 3 or 5 in the morning, they might think something weird about me. Because of that, I’ve tried emailing at different times. I’ve toned down my profile, reworded and rewrote it. Nothing seemed to work. Am I destined to walk this earth alone?
It can’t be me. I see shitheels, thugs, scumbags, slackers…all with a plus one. I see fat guys, short guys, ugly guys, assholes, pricks, doormats, dumbasses, geeks…all with a woman by their side. Their relationships may be dysfunctional, but at least they’re in a relationship. I’m not doubting my self-worth. I can honestly say that I think it’s any girl’s loss if she doesn’t want to get to know me. I just wonder why it is that I can’t even meet anyone. I’m not desperate, not by a long shot. But it puzzles me. I’m not so much as angry or upset as I am confused.
Perhaps it’s because I’m not an easy person to understand or define. You certainly can’t put me in any box or identify me as any “type”. I am neither strictly conservative nor liberal. I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat. I am not a doormat, but I am also not a selfish bastard. I am not a “manly” man who’s all tough and shows no emotion, but neither am I a metrosexual who cries when Bambi’s mother gets shot. With all that ambiguity, it’s hard to write a profile that gives people a good picture of who I am. I’m just not that simple. I’m complicated.
On the other hand, my friend Luanne chalked it up to my anachronism and geographical displacement. I guess she sees it too. I never felt I belonged in this time period. Despite having been born and raised here, I never felt like I belonged here in New York City. But I guess that’s another topic for another article. Luanne says most girls my age aren’t really looking for a serious relationship. Not only that, Internet dating is not seen as a truly viable and shameless option: there is some kind of stigma attached to meeting your boyfriend or girlfriend through the Internet.
I don’t know anymore. I’ve pretty much decided to give up on this whole dating thing. If it happens, it happens. If not, well…then fuck it. It’s not like I’m all beaten down, but c’mon…it’s pretty ludicrous. I’ve spent over $200 on these fucking subscriptions, and they’ve all yielded precisely zero romantic leads. It’s not like I didn’t try to make it work. But I suppose fate has something else in store for me…I’m not saying I’m going to stop dating, but I think it’s about time I stop focusing on it. Most of my life I’ve operated under the philosophy that things will happen the way they do, and that willfulness is useless. I suppose it is time to return to that wisdom.
At the end of the day, I don’t really regret doing this. If anything it was a somewhat clinical experiment. I found out that in terms of physical attributes, I am often partial to Jewish girls and girls who come from Eastern Europe. It’s probably a combination of the facial features and the dark hair plus fair skin. Many of the girls I were interested in were either creative or interested in psychology. A small but consistent portion of them are also teachers or studying to become one. I learned what I like and prefer. But it sure was a costly way to learn.
Now….on to Lavalife. Sigh…I guess I still haven’t learned my lesson.