Let’s face the facts here: I’m an online dating junkie. I spend hours surfing distorted pictures of men I’ll never meet because I’m too wigged out to contact them–and quite frankly–the cute ones are not making any effort to contact me.
What’s with that? I secretly search through women on the site to see what my competition is like. Here’s what I find:
1. Women in their late 30s and early 40s are looking for men who are honest and fun. Just about every tagline includes these two words. Of course, smart men realize this is code for: I’ve been cheated on and I want you to spend money on me.
2. Unlike the men who hide behind baseball caps and sunglasses, the women on these pages clearly pay good money for cheesy glamour shots in their underwear. Backlighting appears to be a must along with a fan strategically placed for a “wind-swept” look.
3. There is an inordinate amount of discussion about working out: “I work out 5 times a week,” “I LOVE working out,” and “Most days you can find me at the gym.” Of course, this makes sense. Men who are under 5’6” are just as undesirable to women as overweight women are to men. This is a proven fact that I learned while going on mercy dates for It’s Just Lunch. That’s right folks: I paid $1,200 to join a service that asked me to go out with men who no one else wanted.
4. Putting your best face forward for women means talking about what little “baggage” we have. Instead of coming clean about having six kids all with different fathers and a bad case of crabs that just won’t go away, women on Internet dating sites apparently live in those bubble huts with sterile air piped in. Nowhere do I see mention of bipolar disease, ex-husbands with shotguns, or skyrocketing credit card debt. No, the women I’m competing against are absolutely perfect. I, on the other hand, acknowledge that baggage comes with the territory—I’ve lived a full life and some of the residue consistent with being a complex human being (aka: woman) cannot be scrubbed off just for the sake of finding a mate. Don’t be fooled by false advertising, my friends—we’re all loaded down to some degree.
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I’m mildly disappointed that I’ve received only one new email in the last week. This apparent apostrophe-phobe guy wrote: “Hi doll, just checking people out. You seem interesting. Im Dave. Whats your name?” I don’t know, but between his lack of punctuation and his overly-familiar salutation, I am extremely put off. I look at his profile anyway, just in case he bares his six pack abs or some other nonsense that really turns me on. His profile only confirms my desire to delete his sorry ass.
The description of his first date is, “Hmmmmmm” and his profile (in its entirety) reads: “LOOKIN for FUN in ALL the wrong Places, lets just chat and see what happens. Im not on here for a relationship, just want to get to know more people. I am fun and easy going. Dont be shy it will never get you what you want. Stop in and say hello.” I don’t know about you, but winner is pretty much the exact opposite of what I’m thinking when I read that.
So, I’ve made up my mind that it may be time to generate my own kind of manhunt online right away. I will troll for men on Plenty of Fish, contact them with a short, witty emails that don’t show I care that much, and completely ignore them if they turn out to be lame. I start by looking through men who have viewed me. This is a feature on Plenty of Fish that pretty much makes it impossible to stalk someone without their knowledge.
The head shots, for the most part, are frightening. Most of them are cut off so all you see is an eyeball peering at you. The vast majority of these men are wearing ball caps. A couple of these guys are standing beside oversized pick-up trucks with oversized tires. One is pulling up his shirt to show off a very nice abdomen . . . I click on that one.
Leftysrule is a thirty-seven year old fireman who lives about 45 minutes outside city limits. He’s wearing a ball cap. Because I’m also left-handed, I’m excited I have an in. In his profile, Leftysrule asks women to share with him the cheesiest pick-up line they’ve heard in order to break the ice. I take the bait: “Hey there! Nice profile. I like your challenge–here goes: The cheesiest pick-up line I’ve ever heard is that an inordinate amount of lefties by ratio are sociopaths/geniuses compared to right-handed folks; so we would be perfect together. Oops, that’s my line to you Hope you’re having a great week. Julie.” All right, I can pretty much write that one off. Now I need to buckle down and get serious.
MattIsFun looks like a good prospect in that he likes to cook and drink wine. I like to eat and drink excessively, without getting my hands dirty in the kitchen, so I envision MattIsFun being the perfect guy for me. His tagline is: Dynamic Male Seeks Dynamic Girl. This sounds a little bit like running off to catch bad guys in capes, but he is European, so it may be an example of being lost in translation. I write him an email: “It sounds as though we could be the dynamic duo if we’re not careful. Good wine, good food, and dancing all sound like the kind of night on the town that leads to romance. Why not give it a shot?”
And then I think better of it.
He’s six years older than me—I seriously doubt he’d get the cartoon reference. I try again with a more standard approach: “Hi Matt: A fun guy who knows how to cook and knows the difference between zinfandel and white zinfandel sounds like someone I’d like to get to know. Any dancing plans for the weekend? Some friends and I start our salsa class in two weeks. Can’t wait! Julie” I hit send and begin to pick out names for our future adopted children.
The next step in my online stalk-a-man-session is to look at guys who are considered to be “matches” to me by the dating site. There is absolutely no transparency as to how someone gets matched with someone else, so I figure it’s pretty much a crap shoot, but I have to start somewhere, right?
JohnLibr is looking for a laidback, fit girl who will clearly be expected to keep up with him, so I skip over his profile. A three hour session of scrolling down of pages of men leads to a guy who wants a princess, a “nice” guy who ignored my email one time last year, a “proud” conservative (does he mean in bed?), and a wide variety of men looking for fun, authentic, athletic, and stable women. Nowhere do I see someone looking for a voluptuous, loud blonde who loves baseball and compulsively sits at bars each day “working” during happy hour. Ok, time to get creative. Instead of looking for someone who may want me, I’ll just email men I think are hot.