I took a brief journey on Sunday, and tuned into TED Radio Hour on NPR. Who happened to be featured but my girl Amy Webb!? I chose to take it as a sign blessing my online dating journey. Take a listen here to February 13th’s How We Love.
I went on two dates in one day.
Did I just type that?
Did it really happen?
Me, the girl on a <embarrassing number redacted> month dry-spell, went on two dates in one day. I almost can’t believe it. I’ve never been a serial dater. I’m no femme fatale.
Number one: We’ll call him “Uno” for a few reasons. First, he was … the first… date of the day. (One, Uno, First, first; sigh) Second, as I’ll explain, he’s first in my heart.
Number two: We’ll call him “Two” for the obvious reason, and a less obvious one; he’s a little shitty.
Uno has been on my radar for a while. I first met in him August, at a community event. I was introduced to him because his buddy was dating my buddy. They told me ahead of time, “he’s a little nerdy.” I said, “that’s just my type!” And when I saw him, I knew! From then on out, I dressed especially nice for events when I may run into him. I checked into him through mutual friends, and confessed my crush. I facebook stalked him. I turned into a middle-schooler. In November, I passed my phone number to him through the buddy, but the answer I got was he had someone he was interested in already. I was bummed. I had to face the humiliation of telling all the people I confessed to that I was passed over.
Well, as we know, I joined match.com. Somehow it got back to Uno that I was out there dating! And Uno decided to do something about it! In the rush of a few days, me, Uno, buddy and buddy were all going to meet for a drink! Now it’s serious. Get-a-babysitter-shave-your-legs serious. Truth be told, I told my buddy that Uno was more of a “bikini wax” candidate rather than a “shave” candidate.
I googled the place we were going, and it had its own parking lot. That posed a problem in itself. This is all trivial stuff, but exceedingly important to me, as I wanted to make the best impression I could. Parking lot meant I should get my car washed and try to make it appear that I don’t purposefully fill my back seat with McDonald’s bags. The parking lot added an additional problem… my driver’s side door is broken. I have to roll my window down and let myself out. So I needed to get there early, but just in case, I called my buddy to fill her in so she could come gallantly open my car door.
All that turned into a non-issue as I parked on the street, and was the first there. I felt at ease and was ready to make the best impression. He arrived and the date was wonderful. He was charming, but didn’t brag. He was funny, but self-effacing. As we walked out together, he placed his hand on the small of my back, and my knees went weak. I floated away with heart-shaped eyeballs, and wanted to cancel the later date with Number Two. I was ready to start my pinterest board for the wedding with Uno, and to plan our ski vacation.
I did go on the second date. I had to eat, after all. At first glance, Number Two would have done much better if he wasn’t following Uno. As time passed, though, more of what he said and more of his behavior became problematic.
Number Two is very well-read. He reads several hours a day, and is a published author and poet. He was able to go toe-to-toe with me on many of my favorites, and many movie quotes, but the first bad sign was that he “couldn’t make it through” LOTR or Harry Potter, but HAD read Twilight AND 50 Shades! Number Two is a loud-talker. I don’t normally have a problem with that, but we were in a quiet restaurant, and he proudly pronounced his 50 Shades reading.
I asked him if his books were works of pure fiction, or were more biographical. I had, of course, googled his books, and knew their subject matter. They are about a man who falls in love with a woman while they are both confined in a mental institution. He said they were close to the truth. ok. He then went on and on about Hunter S. Thompson, and how ‘no-one’ does drug and alcohol abuse right like Hunter S. Thompson. ok.
His stories, though, were interesting. He had hiked Nepal and was able to summit peaks on 2 continents in his adventures. He had been in real estate in NYC, lived in the Hamptons, and was able to make me laugh. I was enjoying myself and ordered dessert. That’s when it happened. He ate from my dessert, without invitation. And not just once with a clean spoon- he double dipped his dirty spoon in my bread pudding.
That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I was ready to go. I tried wrapping up the conversation. The restaurant was closing down. I brought that to his attention. The valet brought his keys to him, as he was leaving for the night. I kept waiting and waiting for him to pay the check. All I could think of was Amy Webb getting stuck with the $1300 check on her date. It was going to be me! How much was his wine!? WHY did I order the duck?! I can’t afford this dinner!
I couldn’t take it anymore. I finally said, “I’m sorry. I must go.” He stood up and walked towards the door. This was the moment. The moment I was going to get stuck with the check. I stood at the table with the bill. I was pulling out my credit card.
The waitress, the dear, dear waitress stopped him at the door and asked him so politely, “Would you like me to run your card for you, sir?” She saved me. He stammered an excuse- he thought the folio was his napkin.
Outside he asked for a hug and for a second date. Since I already knew I wasn’t going to go on another date with him, I submitted to the hug.
Follow up conversations were brief. He asked me to go see some Elvis impersonators, and I let him know I think we would better off as friends. He handled it well, so well that I haven’t heard from him, and that suits me fine.
What hasn’t suited me fine is waiting on Uno. In the week after the date I waited by the phone for his call. And waited. And waited. I continued my facebook
I didn’t hear from him.
I reached out to him, and apologized for my delay. I asked him for a second date. He kindly turned me down, and explained that he had someone else he was interested in.
Who is this woman, and what does she have that I don’t have? Machine gun jubblies? Was her name Allota Fagina? I felt a spark! We had a connection! I expanded my research and gathered the details on this fem-bot. Turns out she’s a tall, blonde, snow-skiing, ivy-league educated PhD. Well, then. If I’m going to be chosen over, at least it’s on those qualifications.
I wrote a kind response to Uno, and let him know it was all “fine.”
In the meantime, I’m still dating up a storm from match.com. Being desired elsewhere worked once, maybe it’ll work again!
I enrolled one of my hiking buddies to help me take some staged pictures. Because it was 25 degrees (f) and, in my opinion, entirely too cold to hike, I dressed the part of a hiker and paired my smile with a red scarf.
We then dashed to my house and staged a Christmas photo.
I was really thrilled when 30 seconds or so after my photos were associated with my profile, I already had an email. Although I was prepared to follow Amy’s directions for 24-48 hour delay in email response, I couldn’t help but open the email to read it. Color me disappointed. All the email said was, “Want some meatloaf????”
I was so disgusted. And it didn’t end there. In the past few days, I received emails from over 20 men, and less than 5 actually appeared to have read my profile and attempted to have a legitimate email conversation. The others fancied themselves as:
Even the five I received weren’t from men that fit my must-haves and cant-stands requirements. My wise friend Barb advised me to utilize a few of those unattractive candidates to practice my email banter. She was right! I started up, and glanced over the gentlemen’s profiles and tried to follow recommendations I’ve read online. I carefully complimented, referenced a mutual interest, responded upon what they wrote and asked a leading question.
I’m happy to say the correspondence has continued with these guys, and one asked me for a date! I’m not free for another week, so I have a long time to read about “How to Appear Like You Are Normal.” This could take a while.
So Christmas happened, and I told my family I am going to online date. They are quite surprised. One of the questions that came up was, “How are YOU going to POSSIBLY find someone online?!”
Even though the question seems a little insulting, it didn’t bother me because that’s exactly how I felt before I saw the Ted Talk with Amy Webb.
I was able to use her talks’ talking points to explain to my family that online dating is exactly what I need to find an unattached, 40-50 years old, liberal, Christian, non-hunting, Frodo-phile in the middle of the Deep South. When I told them that Amy had a theoretical pool of 35 possibly eligible men in Philadelphia, an area 3x larger than my metro area, they were able to do the math.
I realize I am starting to sound like an Amy Webb fangirl. It’s probably because I AM an Amy Webb fangirl. Unlike many “tips” and “tricks” I’ve seen advertised as online dating hacks, Amy advocates being your best self online, with no tomfoolery or ballyhoo. She isn’t suggesting makeup shading or seductive language to lure a fellow with sex. She suggests to simply present your best self, get objective feedback, and target your audience.
When I went on youtube to show my mother the original Ted Talk, a few television appearances popped up on the menu. Today I watched a small snippet of an episode of The View and an ABC interview Amy was giving for her book. Data, A Love Story: How I Cracked the Online Dating Code to Meet My Match
I took away a few more tips, and decided to watch a few more videos. And then, in the next video, Amy referenced Mary Poppins. Total fangirl moment. My inner 14 year old squee-d. I just told my mother over dinner that I was going to describe myself with these words: Practically Perfect in Every Way.
That is a cheeky joke, but I have been putting some thought into my profile. I really do want to be able to weed out people with whom I don’t think I will be compatible with long-term, but I am frightened that I may polarize potential dating material by advertising my very firm “must-haves” and “can’t-stands.” It is in these moments that I begin to feel hopeless again about the candidates for me in my geographic area.
Another question my parents had for me was when I was starting. I remember seeing commercials last year after the new year with sales. So, I’m thinking for money’s sake, that I will look for New Year’s sales or maybe a groupon deal.
Regardless of when I will “go live,” it’s another step forward today. Run Shadowfax, show us the meaning of haste.
At the Council of Elrond strangers from distant lands were called to gather to decide the fate of the one ring. I have similarly gathered with my single girlfriends over the past several weeks to tell them of my decision to date.
This was a shocking change to them indeed. Now, they weren’t as shocked as Boromir was to hear Isildur’s tale, but they were interested in the video that changed my mind. After watching Amy Webb, they understood a little bit more, and were excited to tell me their online dating stories.
I wrote down a lot of their feedback on the different dating sites. I also learned about the way paid sites work. It was a bit of a shocker that the 3/6/12 month contracts that had monthly fee were actually charged at once. That puts a different spin on the cost for me. As a single parent, I have a strict budget. I will need to figure out if I can afford to date!
The main paid sites under my consideration are Match.com, eharmony.com, and Christianmingle.com. I gave some serious consideration to eharmony. I have read the book Date or Soulmate by Dr. Neil Clark Warren, and have my “must-haves” and “can’t-stands” defined. The target market for eharmony and Christianmingle feels a bit more conservative than I am. And a bit more serious about dating only with the altar in mind. Because of that, and because of positive comments about the ease of use and large active user base, I decided on match.com.
How long will it take me to find an elven king that looks at me like Sam looks at Rosie?
Much like Bilbo, I enjoy my solitary time at home. Also like Bilbo, my inner-most Took is pulling me into the world and into change. My world has been changing and I decided to change with it. My child is in middle school, and gets picked up at 7 am each day, to not return until sometimes as late as 7 pm. I had a frightful vision of myself as “only” a mother, no life of my own, facing emptiness when college comes. I have 7 years until that time comes, but I am so independent, it may take a man 7 years to get me to even consider moving in with him!
Earlier this month, I was watching random Ted Talks. I’m a huge fan of these short, informative speeches, and have learned about everything from hand washing to intimacy. On this particular day, I watched Amy Webb talk about hacking online dating. I was so surprised. Her story was my own! I have been turned off by online dating because I am so picky. I didn’t believe that a website could help me find the nerd of my dreams. Anytime I have glanced through free dating sites, or through profiles shown on my friend’s pages, I’ve been appalled at all the spelling and grammar, shirtless (and toothless) pictures, and general lack of class. She has convinced me, however, it IS possible to make dating websites work FOR you, if you know how to work them.
Unexpectedly, Amy has inspired me to do my homework and get registered. In my post-divorce years I have been active in my church’s singles group. I have done tons of personality profiles and studies, and have read lots of books about dating and how to find your soul mate. The thing the books can’t do is actually find that guy or girl for you. What I have to do now is gather those years worth of information and convert it to data useful on the dating service I choose.