Today I’m excited to feature Women at Forty’s first ever guest post by fellow blogger and freelance writer, Rachel Dachel. Rachel’s a friend of Women at Forty and creator of the blog Rachel-y Motivated Incidents. She’s got something to say about being almost forty and dating in the digital era. Any of this sound familiar?
Technology is an amazing thing. It is common these days to log on and pay bills, complete research and even shop online. Shopping is especially popular and many websites allow you to custom order goods to your own exact specifications, contributing to our society’s demand for instant gratification. The internet is becoming an increasingly popular method for people to meet socially as well. From MySpace to Facebook and Match.com to Yahoo Personals, people are logging on and surfing in record numbers to find like-minded people with whom to connect and hopefully forge some sort of relationship.
It was with those same hopes that I joined eHarmony and answered a litany of questions surrounding myriad obscure scenarios in the quest to “meet my match.” After all, computers can search through thousands of flights and hotels in mere seconds when I am searching for travel options. While I haven’t actually studied this, I do believe that it is safe to say that despite being a single woman in the New York metropolitan area, I must be less complicated and complex than airline flight patterns, so how hard could it be for software to find my perfect match, n’est ce pas? So I took the plunge and began to excitedly await my “matches” each evening. I marveled at the mere thought of the cutting edge technology that would deliver to my mailbox dozens of suitable suitors who would be compatible with me on twenty-eight different levels! I quickly made a few key observations:
- People who do not post photos usually fail to do so for a reason. Sure, we would all like to say that we would prefer to remain anonymous “for professional reasons.” In my experience, gentlemen (term used very loosely) who do not share their photos usually refuse to do so because they are either extremely insecure about their looks, married or have outstanding warrants—sometimes it is a mélange rather than just one.
- Approach any posted photos as you would a “Where’s Waldo” puzzle, pay attention to detail. If you notice a “New Edition” poster in the background or lime green shag carpet on the floor (despite the person’s attempt to obscure the background), you can safely assume that it is an older photo and is not representative of your potential mate’s current appearance.
Another key observation is regarding the introductory information provided. This information is provided directly by your “match” and can be very telling. If the introductory information contains graphic verbiage regarding sex, understand that sex is a main objective and is of some importance to that person. This one is particularly amusing to me because I took the position that eHarmony would appeal more to people who were concerned most with emotional and intellectual compatibility. I’m not sure, but I believe that Adult Friend Finder would likely be less expensive than eHarmony, so I’m not terribly clear on the overtly sexual folks on the latter.
One more tidbit of a tip for the lovelorn, it seems that many people begin the eHarmony profile process but do not follow through and finish it. Commercials mentioning a “free online profile” came to mind when I would click on a person’s information to find such gems as “zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz” or “xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx” as hobbies, interests and occupations. Methinks that eHarmony is well aware of this though; one of their choices for why you decided to close a match is “This match never responded to my request to communicate.” eHarmony makes no effort to tell you when last this person was active on his profile or that it is in fact still active.
The entire process can also become a bit daunting as it can sometimes seem like a part-time job. You have to make the time to peruse your matches and delete the definite dead weight regularly or you will find yourself with hundreds of matches and after clicking on the first several less-than-stellar candidates wanting to just delete the entire lot of them. Sadly, there is no easy way to do this (Lord knows I have tried) so you have to click on each match individually and choose a reason for closing the match. I also wish that they would update the choices to reflect reasons that would better capture my feelings such as “A neck is not optional” or “Because I am simply not that desperate.”
In the end, after hours and hours of sifting through profiles in my online manhunt, I gave up. More than a year of membership had yielded over 2700 potential matches and of those 2700, I actually spoke with seven people via telephone and met four men in person. It turned out that I had a few common acquaintances with one of them, so we have remained in touch from time to time, but other than that, I would have to say that I was less than pleased with the entire experience.
Ironically, I did meet a wonderful man, but not online. An older but more accurate technology is to be credited with that. An acquaintance who happens to be a pastor had told me on more than one occasion that she had a nice gentleman she wanted me to meet. After declining the offer more than once, I finally decided that I had nothing to lose and if nothing else I might make a new friend or gain new material for a blog entry. Instead, I met him for lunch (which lasted almost three hours) and then promptly said to one of my girlfriends, “I just met my husband.” Thankfully, he felt the same way and we are both ecstatically happy. It would seem that all of the technology in the world is no match for a caring person who takes the time and initiative to introduce two people she considers to be compatible and equally yoked. It also helps when that person is a pastor and has put in a good word for you with the man upstairs.
Rachel Dachel is a freelance writer and editor, and the creator and author of the blog Rachel-y Motivated Incidents.