She hadn't been this nervous since her Sweet 16 party thirty-one years before. Yet she felt confident that nothing could go too terribly wrong. After all, on their very first date, they’d be meeting in a public place, a favorite Italian restaurant of hers. Surely they would both be on their very best behavior.
While he wasn't quite as nervous as she was, the moment he entered the restaurant, he started worrying about having exaggerated his height by three inches during their first phone conversation. How disappointed he felt as he approached the table to discover that she was about twenty pounds heavier than she had let on in that original conversation? But he also felt strangely relieved. It’s not exactly an Old Testament precept, but maybe it should have been. You know: A lie for a lie.
According to Statistic Brain, there are over 54 million single people in the United States. Of that number, 41 million have tried online dating. Given these numbers, the site’s statement that online dating “…has quickly become an accepted way to meet a significant other” comes off like the understatement of the year.
Online daters in search of their one and only have fewer choices than cunning computer-match marketers would have them think…
Some observers say a relationship forged online represents the opposite scenario of the arranged marriage of days gone by. An Internet dater is in command of a wide variety of choices in mates, compared to the bride and groom whose mates were chosen for them by their parents. While to some extent this may be true, online daters in search of their one and only have fewer choices than cunning computer-match marketers would have them think.
In place of negotiating parents arranging marriages, the controlling force behind the online match is the algorithm. You can lie like a rug on line about your weight and height, about the movies and books you enjoy, or whether you were married before; but ultimately, if you want to meet in person, you can’t game the system. Physical presence and the senses will out.
In other words, if our hypothetical couple manages to get past their first date, she’ll ultimately have to learn what it’s like to dance with a man three inches shorter than her, and he’ll ultimately have to realize that a woman with a few extra pounds can make for a wonderful lover and friend. But there’s no reset button for personal preferences in a mate.
What online hopefuls now frequently do is to zero in on specialty dating sites. While general audience sites like Match.com and eHarmony boast results in the form of marriages and long-term relationships in every age group, sites like FindSeniorsOnly and FindaBabyBoomer are designed to appeal to the 50-and-over set.
Once you eliminate age as your primary focus for selecting a mate, you’re presented with a veritable buffet of online dating services. You’ll find online hookup matches for Asians, Christians, Jews, Muslims, gays, disabled people, book lovers, horse lovers, sex addicts, Amish daters, bikers, gluten-free singles… well… just use your imagination.
Oh, did we forget to mention married people hankering for an affair? Yes, they too have their own websites. There are LonelyHouseWives and AshleyMadison. The latter site obviously likes to give a whiff of legitimacy to its enterprise with its very patrician-sounding name. The curious thing about this dating service is the number of women who complain about men who don’t get it. “I’m tired of hearing from men who want to promise me the moon, and a long-term relationship,” writes one impatient soul. “I already have these things at home, and am not looking to make a change. I’m just looking to have a little fun and hook up with an FWB [friend with benefits].”
Which leads us to our best piece of advice if you’re looking to find a mate, or even just a date, online: take people at face value. Honor their preferences and caveats. If a woman states in her personal portrait that she’s looking for an “athletic type,” and you go bonkers over her picture, don’t desperately assume she’ll make an exception in your case if you happen to be a klutz. If a man mentions in an email he’s allergic to dogs, believe him! He won’t absolutely fall in love with Simon, your itsy-bitsy Yorkshire terrier, as soon as he pops a Claritin and a glass of wine.
With almost a thousand dating sites online, you can afford to show some respect, a bit of independence, and then move on.