I am home on a Friday night, eating Lean Cuisine and watching bad television. Meanwhile, my friend Sara is having dinner with the third guy in two weeks. Yes, Sara is cute and smart, but she's a normal girl like the rest of us. She doesn't use a secret gimmick to lure guys or any trick from a self-help book. And she didn't meet these guys in a random bar or gallery opening. She met them online.
Seeing that Sara and other attractive singles like her were lining dates up like there was no tomorrow while my sole source of eligible bachelors was the hopeless bar scene , I decided to take the plunge and sign up with Match.com.
I had the difficult task of choosing a sufficiently charming yet non-corny username. “NeedAManNow”, while descriptive, will probably not have men clamoring to their computer screens.
Match.com proclaims itself to be the “#1 site for love”. Since its inception in 1995, the website boasts that it is likely “responsible for arranging hundreds of thousands of relationships for its members”. And each year, about 200,000 members report that they found what they were looking for on Match.com.
Those were some impressive numbers. I had to see for myself.
First, there was the sign up process. I opted for the one-month subscription. The longer the subscription, however, the better the monthly deal. Then I had the difficult task of choosing a sufficiently charming yet non-corny username. “NeedAManNow”, while descriptive, will probably not have men clamoring to their computer screens. What I liked about the username system was its anonymity. I was identifiable solely by my username and could email anonymously through the website under that moniker.
I t took me about an hour to complete my entire profile. The site asked several involved questions about myself, not unlike a college application . I also completed a number of checkboxes that asked me to identify numerous traits, for example, my body type (choices ranging from heavyset to slender) and political view (ultra conservative to very liberal).
The website also asked me to describe my ideal match. I was suddenly confronted with what my soulmate criteria were. And it really made me think. Did I know I wanted to have kids? If so, how many? Could I date a smoker? An atheist? Could I date a guy ten years older? Does age even matter?
Afterwards, the website asked me to select photographs. Apparently, men are fourteen times more likely to look at a profile with a photo than a profile without one. So I peruse d my repertoire of portraits, selected a few, and uploaded them . Match.com requests that users post recent and accurate picture s . Unfortunately, not all users compl y with this request.
When I finally finished completing my profile , I could search for guys based on my criteria. It was a great way to weed out the guys who knew they never wanted to have children or had opposite political inclinations. Alternatively, I could sit and wait for them to come to me, which, as soon as I made my profile public, they did in hoards. Some of the guys clearly did not read my listed criteria. For example, I indicated I was willing to date men several years older, yet men twenty years my senior were contacting me. Some guys also sent me very generic emails, which indicated to me that they had a standard template email that they copied and pasted into the mass emails they sent every night to countless women. And some guys were just weird. So while in the beginning I was flattered by all the attention, I soon realized most of it was earned by the mere fact that I was a female residing in the same city.
With respect to my experience as an Asian American woman, there were some men who clearly excluded Asian women as a preference, while others were self-described Asian fetishists. For example, one man indicated to me, “An Asian Lady is my DREAM WOMAN, and I will not rest until my dreams come true”. My friend Liz told me how a guy she met from Match.com eagerly told her that she was his “first Asian”. She felt like he was ticking off checkboxes of races to date.
There is the occasional case of the inaccurate online photo . I haven't encountered this problem myself , but I have heard stories. My friend Sara was excited to meet one suitor for the first time after a series of flirtatious emails and phone calls. When she finally met him, she saw that he was heavier in person than in his photograph. She was disappointed, not only because of the inaccurate photo, but also because she allowed her hopes to soar over this one guy and he fell short of her expectations.
A s Sara learned the hard way, genuine compatibility can only be ascertained in person, not from electronic media. A guy may have a dandruff problem, difficulty maintaining eye contact, or a Members Only jacket . P rolonged virtual contact not only leads to built up expectations, but also exhausts conversation topics. Therefore it is important to meet sooner rather than later.
However, amidst all the oddities I encountered, a seemingly great guy would once in a while email me, following up on things mentioned in my profile and spelling words correctly. Such was the case of Tim.
Tim's profile was charming and articulate . We seemed to have a lot in common, and his photos revealed a handsome face with a cute smile. After emailing back and forth several times, he suggested meeting up. The first date went fantastically – it was one of those dates where two people sit in a coffee shop and talk for hours about topics ranging from philosophy to Star Trek. I was thrilled when he called a few days later to ask me out again.
The second date was at an arcade/bar, which I thought was a great idea. Yet it was there I began to see his real self. Apparently, though Tim was adept at carrying deep conversations, he was inept in a casual social setting. He awkwardly teased me and mocked me throughout the night. And as we talked more, it became clear that we didn't have as much in common as I thought. The date deteriorated even more when, toward the end of the date, he began calling me “Christy”. I thought I misheard it while at the bar, so I shrugged it off. But on the drive home, I could hear distinctly and clearly that acerbic “Christy”.
‘‚¬Å“Could you please call me by my name, Kristine?
His eyes lit up and he gleefully
When he dropped me off at my apartment, I smiled politely and said I had such a great time. Meanwhile, I stealthily placed my hand on the car door handle.
badgered me, “Why don't you like Christy? What's wrong with Christy?” Were you traumatized as a child because of a Christy?” I couldn't tell if this was a cover-up for the fact that he had forgotten my name, or if he actually thought it was cute to coin a new nickname for me without my permission. In either case, I didn't care for it.
“I do not like to be called Christy because it's not my name”, I replied measuredly. “How would you like it if I called you Timmy or Timbo or the Tim-meister?”
He paused for a moment, apparently musing over my retort, and said, “Okay, Kristine it is”.
The rest of the car ride home was spent in silence. When he dropped me off at my apartment, I smiled politely and said I had such a great time. Meanwhile, I stealthily placed my hand on the car door handle.
“Thanks so much”, I said.
“My pleasure”, he said. He paused, and then unbuckled his seatbelt. I didn't want to know what was going to happen next so I immediately flung open the car door and jumped out while yelping “Goodnight!”
Needless to say, that was our last date. All of this goes to show that a girl ought to meet the guy in person to make sure that any online chemistry is for real. My Match.com subscription has since ended. Right now, I've been emailing with a few guys. Who knows what will materialize? I remain a wary optimist. My friends and I still recommend signing up with Match.com, if not for the strange and interesting men, then for the unique experience. And after all, it only takes one great guy to make sorting through the oddities worth it.