Monday, November 28, 2005

Internet Dating: A Reader's Response

Just wanted to share this email I received from a reader of my Jewish Week column. A DISGUSTED INTERNET SECOND SINGLE DATER (a divorced single mom to a teenage son who started internet dating within the last year) writes:

I recently got my nerve to take the plunge and start to date via an internet service, a Frum site. And boy my experiences, and opinions can fill pages of the Jewish Week! First off by email and telephone conversations- I have been lied to over and over. About if the guys have kids/ I am divorced single mom who wants only a guy who has been married with kids. So I have had guys lie to me that they did not have kids, but they did. I had guys lie about why they are divorced, ask me out after a few months of being either divorced, or widowered. I had been emailed by guys who were in their 20s... I am Baruch Hashem 40 and I don’t date guys younger than 2 years younger than me. I have been emailed by guys who are 65+. I am Modern Orthodox- I have been emailed by Chasidim.

I have no confidence of finding my BASHERT FROM THIS TYPE OF DATING. I DID try this in the winter and spring of 2005/ and I had a few dates- but no one worthy of being a Bashert. I came close twice but the long distance relationship/ and relocation issues would not work for me. I feel that it is easy to make quick rejections of shidduch prospects when things don't fit right. I have been the dumper as well as the dumpee and the guilt on this is tremendous!

After I asked if I could reprint her comments here, she agreed and added the following about her experience.
I am so glad that I am not alone in feeling this way- I originally thought it had to do with my baggage of my divorce, and my recent broken engagement- that all these wounds prevented me from finding my Bashert through that internet dating! That is what I have been told by the few lucky ones who found their spouses on these sites. But I have an acquaintance who found her husband on one site and she had a lot of baggage from her divorce- worse than me/ and had more kids, and years married at the time of her sudden divorce- so I thought if she had Mazel why not me? But the internet dating is not cracked up to what it advertises. I have weeded out the garbage excuse my directness on this- and I do it via the emails and telephone- I don't even chance the date at all lately--if something does not feel right, I side on caution and avoid the date like a plague!
And now, the audience interaction portion of our program... Some might say she's right to be cautious. Others may call her overly picky. What do you think?


Nice Jewish Guy said...

Well, I can certainly understand the frustration with internet dating. In the (relatively) short time that I have been online, I have also recieved emails from women in South American countries (come ON!), those ten years younger than me (male ego boost, and nice in theory, but was in diapers when I was getting Bar Mitzvah and was in grade school when I had my first make-out session), and those way out of my religious "price range".

I find that I do much better, in every sense of the phrase, at an actual event where there's a room to work than on a dating site. The whole singles scene and dating is contrived enough as it is, and the internet just takes almost all the humanity out of the equation. I'm not saying it doesn't work, but the potential for missed/wrong/misinterpreted signals is so much greater. There's this woman I really liked. REALLY liked who emailed me. We had a great IM conversation. She said she wanted to connect. Now she took down her profile and so far hasn't responded to my email. Too much angst associated with this. Sometimes I feel like we're all just out there kicking the tires but don't want to go for the test drive, never mind buy the car.

I get contacted by women; but it's so hard to get a sense of someone from a profile and a (usually very bad) photo. We start to make up our own versions of what these people must be like; then we start to make excuses for why we wouldn't want to date them-- live too far away, too many kids, loks chubby in her photos, looks too much like my ex-- and pretty soon we're figuring out a way to get out of a date before we've even made one.

There's got to be a better way.

Anonymous said...

I think she's meshiggeh.

She's baruch Hashem 40 and is being e-mailed by guys in their 20's. Maybe go for it, no?

Anonymous said...

I agree with her...I have had some really awfull experiences dating via the net and like her have been lied etc.

I'am more careful now and do the same weeding out the loonies through email and phone. Somtimes its not that easy....listening to your intention pays off in the long run.


Anonymous said...

oy...sorry for the typos.


Anonymous said...

I think the only way to have success with internet dating is not to pin all your hopes and dreams on the "what if's". I don't spend a lifetime on back and forth emails and phone calls trying to get to know someone. It just takes too much time and leaves too much room for expectations and then the almost certainly of disappointment. Rather, I contact people who appear interesting to me. Who meet my physical requirements (age, religious level, attractiveness) and say hello. I also reply to people who contact me that appear to meet my requirements. I engage in a few short, back and forth emails and if inclined, I then suggest we meet for a drink or coffee at a time and place that is convenient for me. I then speak to him once or twice to pin down details for meeting and determine if he has an accent I won't be able to deal with (I'm weird about some accents) I don't spend 3 hours getting ready and I don't show up expecting my bashert to walk through the door, because if I did, my heart would certainly fall 99% of the time. All I expect is that the person joining me for a drink will be able to maintain his half of the conversation for a minimum of 20 minutes and will look similar to his picture. At the very least, I use the opportunity to be charming and funny, and remind myself what a charming and funny conversationalist I can be.
If I am not interested in seeing the individual again, I send a short note afterwards, thanking him for the drink and fun conversation, but saying I don't think there was a romantic connection. Most dates appreciate the gesture and reply to wish me the best of luck. No huge let-downs, no guilty feelings, proper manners and a quick fix of caffeine or alcohol... where is the downside?
As for the people who are offended by the caliber of people that are choosing to contact them, I think that is silly. It is a compliment, and everyone out there has their own perception of what they want in a mate. It is not something to take to heart if you feel you are "out of their league". If you are allowing yourself to take that too seriously, you will most certainly end up disappointed with the person whose email you do reply to, no matter how nice and sincere they may be.
For the record, I have recently signed back onto jdate after the end of a 4.5 year relationship with someone I met on jdate. In the last month, I have met about 7 men, all of whom were fine enough to make them worth meeting. 1 of them I have even seen 2 more times and another one, a very nice and funny guy who I was simply not physically attracted to, has invited me to a movie, as a friend.
I think internet dating is a god send and I recommend it to every stable and interesting single person I know. It also makes for great conversation when you are out with a group of people... singles are curious about your experiences and couples just love the stories, which they momentarily live vicariously through.
But that's just my take on it. I'm a pretty easygoing kinda girl.

Anonymous said...

There's lots of useful advice here I think. But to gain efficiency in the process, I suspect that you need to have a fairly rigorous selection/triage shakeout to remove the unlikely prospects. This becomes especially important if you are desiring a specific sort of match (religious or otherwise).

But I guess it really does help to be relatively 'easy going' and to have a realistic outlook about what to expect from the process, as the last correspondent notes. I think over all they can certainly help the process of trying to find someone, but it's not the boon some once thought from the dating services. Cheers, 'VJ'

melinama said...

I think she's too impatient and seems angry. The karma doesn't work right if you're angry. Especially if you're angry about stuff that happened before you ever met the guy in question. It is not HIS fault if other things haven't worked out as you hoped.

Yes, a lot of lying goes on. I agree that it doesn't make sense to spend a lot of time doing email/IM because it's too EASY to lie and there are so many things that don't come across till you meet. So he's a loser, maybe - big deal, an hour out of your life?

Anonymous said...

Some people are good covering themselves up weather IM or email is involved. I do agree meeting soon is a good idea however if you get the heebie jeebies just from an IM convo it's best to listen to your gut and pass.

I think most people would be leary after being burned so many times that they start to look for the same patterns in other people they meet. I guess the idea would be take everything with stride an as coomong sense sugests...whatever that is.


Anonymous said...

that was suppose to be as or as common sense sugests....argh


Needsabetterjob said...

I am surprised that these sites still exist, after all, there is nothing new in this woman's report.

I am sensing that there will be a return to previous methods of meeting singles, be it weekends at hotels, house parties, for example, there used to be a woman in the community who would organize this type of meeting parties for the singles of the town. I am not sure if someone else has picked up the mantle of not, then there are move tours, for example, a tour I happen to think is a very good way to meet people. You go for a holiday weekend somewhere, what's the worst that can happen?

Anonymous said...

Being mugged.....jk I like that idea of meeting people through house parties and vacations. It reminds me of the Regency in early eighteen hundreds where singles and chaprones stayed at an estate and particpated in activities. Most of the time they met someone or just had a good time in genneral.


Anonymous said...

Again, lots of this introduction service type of activity happened with seemingly similar success rates Before the dating sites were ever set up as businesses. Bulletin Boards in the dim recesses of time did it, but these were often groups like ones for Corgi dogs for example, or early ones for the snow boarding community. The trick is to find something you've got in common, and then work up (or down) from there. I'd be surprised if the proprietary dating sites came up with dramatically better success rates than these very simple early efforts did, BTW. This still goes on, and of course it's free. I'd be curious to see if there's less common lying on them too, since they're not specifically dating venues. Cheers, 'VJ'

Nice Jewish Guy said...

Good advice from anonymous up there. I have to get over the tendency (I'm still sort of a newbie at this, remember!)to "give everyone a chance" or have an open mind. An adage I like to remind myself of is that I should have an open mind, but not so open that my brains fall out.

But on the flip side, while I agree that we should be concentrating on those profiles that appear "interesting", as I've said, it's very dificult to get a real sence of a person from a profile, so why not at least meet once? That's what I'm trying to do.

As far as lying, I can only speak for myself.. I've never lied about anything in my profile. These things only have a way of coming out later, so why bother? I don't know what would posses a person to lie about something easily verifiable like height, or something like marital status.

Also, I don't view online dating as a stand-alone method of finding "the one". Youhave to 'get out there' and actually rub some elbows (and hopefully other body parts! ;) ) to comprehensively tackle dating.

Tyler said...

Here's my take on things:

Dating is a contact sport.

So, if you 'date' for three months online before meeting in person, you're not really dating. You're talking online with a stranger.

It's not that it is never pleasant or fun or even potentially romantic. But it's not the same thing as getting yourself in front of a person and seeing them in front of you and seeing how they really hang together, with words, voice, and body language.

You just don't get that online, interesting as words can be.

Tyler said...

well, i should have read to the end, since nice jewish guy said what i said, except right before me ;)

mission2moscow said...

I've found the level of deceit about age is rising. I met one woman who said she was 43 and she was really 45. I was 47 at the time so I didn't worry. Now she's back on after deciding we were in different places in our life (too, too true) and now she's 40. I want to congratulate her on the time machine she invented. I know women are touchy about their ages, but the level of deceit reeks of desperation. The truth comes out, and I, for one, wonder about other deceptions going. What are acceptable areas of male deception? Marital status? Herpes status, perhaps? What's considered a little white lie, what's a big problem? I need enlightenment on this so I can decide the parameters of deception. Maybe I'm being too honest for my own good.

I've also been slagged lately for being too short (I'm 5' 5"). I response to women who write about the height difference, I say "best of luck finding a tall straight single Jewish male." I score perfectly on four out of the five, and if they think they can find a five-out-of-five, then I'll be the first to congratulate them. I've written more about this on my blog, if you want the whole sad story.

Shaun Eli said...

I think that people have an absolute right to like and to be attracted to whatever type of person they want. If for some reason you need your mate to be a dentist, exactly 5'10", with red hair and a poodle, that's your choice (just don't wonder why you're alone a lot).

And if a lot of people who write to you aren't what you're looking for, you have several options:

1. Make it clear in your profile what you're NOT looking for (I see a lot of examples on JDate of women writing "If you are not in my age range, please don't write to me" or "If you're under 5'10", don't waste your time typing."

2. Use the Delete key a lot.

3. Re-read your profile to find out what's attracting the wrong people, and then change the profile.

4. Hide your profile, and YOU do the searching and initial writing.

And be glad people are writing to you. It means they find something to like about you.

As far as people lying, I see many women lying about their age (some disclose it in the essays, saying "I'm really 42 but I put 38 for search purposes" or mentioning it in a subsequent phone call or on a first date). And I hear about many men lying about their height-- like this is easy to fake once you meet... I've been told to say I'm two inches taller than I am because women automatically subtract two inches from a guy's stated height. Instead, I choose honesty.

Plenty of people have met their spouses on the internet, but, like anything else, it take some weeding through what you don't want to get to the wedding you do want.

People may not be what they seem to be on the internet, but you can learn a lot about a person from a profile, and dating sites give people an opportunity to investigate, for lack of a better word, a lot of people in a short period of time. If you go speed-dating, or to a party, you may get to speak to ten people. An hour on JDate and you can look at a hundred profiles and write to a few people that might possibly interest you. And you can do it from home, without trudging through the snow or putting on nice clothes or mascara.

Anonymous said...

This way of dating (internet) does not only NOT WORK but it sucks love and joy out of the whole process and out of our souls. The mentality that you can "buy" a mate off the internet is so prevalent now in our consciousness that a normal dating relationship is becoming harder and harder to find. Everyone wants to "buy" someone that meets their requirements- not forge relationships- so the mass mentality has become so warped that relationships are suffering- even ones that are already established- for married people think they can always "find" someone "better". It's sad and disheartening and possibly may not be remedied till the time of the messiah- people should stop wasting their time on this and do all they can for others- now while they can. I can only say these things because I am guilty of these faults myself.
G-d Bless
Light and Love to all of us
searching online and elsewhere