Why do people sign up for online matchmaking websites? For many, the lack of time and inclination to look for dates ‘in real life’ can be the determining factor. As my friend ‘Y‘, left a widow in her late fifties, describes;
“It took me a year and a half to start thinking about another partner; and another few months to pluck up the courage to ask someone how to go about it. My work environment was not conducive and I had few other social outlets. So I tried the Internet”.
If you are not a ‘digital native’, signing up on a dating website can be even more intimidating than walking into a noisy nightclub. Even if you consider yourself computer-savvy and comfortable online, it’s hard to know what to put in the profile.
“What to say about myself when I was limited to seven characteristics? Lying about my age did not even occur to me (although it was obvious that some men did). Reading what other women wrote was blocked (maybe I was not sophisticated enough). What was I looking for in a man? Was it really important to me that a man would be tall – how tall? Or handsome? What else was important? I was clearer on what I did not want”.
The inherently artificial environment takes its toll. As my friend ‘A‘, a busy east coast lawyer in her late forties, observes;
“We read all this random stuff about each other that would be better discovered in person. Age, politics, income, location, whether or not you want kids, etc. Who knows why some people don’t write back to me that I contact … if I’m in the ‘age zone’, is it that I have three kids at home? Or that one of them is 12? Or that I’m a lawyer? Or politically liberal? Or that we have pets? Don’t sail? Refuse to list my income? I’d love to know and never will”.
It’s easy to write people off on the basis of something in their profile, when maybe in real life it would turn out not to matter. Ever practical, A chose to motivate herself using the site’s guarantee: if you initiate or respond to email contact with five unique members per month for six months, and don’t find a partner, they will give you another six months for free.
“It was to encourage me to be more open about who I contact and/or respond to. It is a two-step process. First there’s the online part, then there’s the go out part. With pictures and so much detail it’s easy to rule people out. I wanted to encourage myself to be more open with the first part”.
The online world can be cruel. As Y discovered;
“Men aged sixty plus wanted women aged 30 plus, not much more. As soon as I turned sixty, the number of replies dropped precipitously. I had, finally, five ‘dates’ – including one bad try – after which I gave up on ‘separated’ and ‘divorced’ and looked for widowers (who were in short supply). But, I found two good friends, one of whom died of cancer and the other who survives to this day”.
But it can also give you a boost. As A told me;
“When you’re first single it feels SO good to go on the site and find that people want to meet you, date you”.
A recently reported to her friends;
“I think I’ve communicated with four people so far. My monthly goal was five, but I’m going to lose the guarantee because I don’t think I can keep my profile visible much longer”.
She’s found someone who will sing with her in a public restaurant, and the teens on both sides are reasonably positive. It’s early days yet, but it looks like her determination and openness may be paying off.
Y did not find her match online. But she did, eventually, find a loving partner, with whom she has now been for nearly ten years. How did that happen? Tune in to our next episode, Reconnecting With The Past.Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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