Online Dating Sites: A Review
If you’ve been reading this blog for more than 1 second you’ll understand that I’m no stranger to the ‘online dating’ scene. I actually can lay an embarrassing claim as an ‘early adopter’ when I joined Yahoo Personals back in 1999. Yes..stop counting.. I’ve been looking for a date for 14 years.
(Pause for acute introspective moment and to call therapist for urgent appointment)
So if you’re thinking about online dating or you’ve heard about a new online site that might, just might hold the key to finding the perfect person for your unique and special needs.. kick back and fix yourself a drink. I’ve done all the hard work for you. And I have the stories to prove it.
I’ll start in chronological order, but since Yahoo personals no longer exists.. drum roll…
I’ve joined Match more times than I can count. Largely due to my naive hope that I wouldn’t need more than 1 month to find a suitable date, I only ever sign up for a month.. which ridiculously means I’ve quit and restarted enough times to have qualified for lifetime free membership. Which I actually turned down because it would be admitting to this sickness and sense of hope that I can’t seem to shake. Based on zero fact, I believed that match.com contained my future partner and well, based on volume, it probably does. I just can’t find him.
Match.com is known by many guys as a place to find hook ups and by women as the place with the most guys. Unless you’re ‘paper bag’ material, you can guarantee that you’ll have a date by Tuesday. Who with and the state of his mental health is up to you. On the pro side, there are hundred and hundreds of guys, and even as I’ve aged, I can still find a few cute ones who don’t turn my stomach or make me want to clean my Beretta. I have 3 girlfriends who have met their husbands on Match which is why I keep signing up… (all of them are sane, good looking, employed professionals).
On the con side, its a second job to root through all of the potentials and few guys tend to actually read your profile as a result. Despite my clear request for ‘athletic people only’ about 50-75% of my respondents haven’t worn a pair of sneakers since high school and an alarming amount weigh more than my car. I have dated a few, but the amount of fresh divorcees (with little imagination) means that baggage count for those over 40 is high. You also find that many of the guys – even those into their 50s – still express a ‘maybe’ or ‘definitely’ on the kids front which is ambitious to say the least. I’ve since learned that its a ‘tactic’ to not eliminate those chicks who actually want kids… (though I’m sure that leads to some interesting conversations right around month 3).
Conclusion: If you want a fun night out with a stranger over drinks, and an inevitable story to share with friends go right ahead. If you’re seriously looking to meet someone to date long term.. skip it.
After a futile period on Match, I was advised by girlfriends in other cities to try eHarmony. ‘Much better quality of guys’ ‘no losers’ and ‘these guys are actually looking for someone’. Hmmm sounds better. I signed up for my typical 1 month period and with light heart, figured this one would work.
Now whether its the Denver demographic or my friends tastes I’m not sure, but eHarmony in my city seems populated by middle aged short guys with 3 kids and a need for a free live in nanny/ mother.
And to get to that point.. lord. Talk about an investment of time. You’re not allowed to actually email people until you’ve ‘asked’ them a series of inane questions about which way they vacuum or which season they like best (who the f-k cares?) so it can be actually weeks before you have a chance to engage in any actual conversation with this person. To me, this feels too much like dating an inmate who you found on craigslist. A big investment of time and energy in order to … maybe… email? I think it might take a few months to get to an actual date so I’ve never actually had a date as a result of an eHarmony connection. I can’t be bothered to care whether ‘Kevin’ prefers the ocean over the mountains and how this feeds into our compatibility I have no clue. For me its tended to involve smart alec comments and performance in the sheets. By eHarmony standards I might get to that by next Christmas. Not only is the process long but on several occasions I’ve logged on only to be told ‘There is no-one in your region who meets your requirements’. No kidding. Nothing like a sign to move.
Conclusion: Maybe its just my region, but my experience was long, boring and tedious. And I tend to save that for the actual relationship.
Ok, ok.. I know I’m not Jewish. but I love love love a Jewish man. I think its my preference for a large nose and poor eyesight, or maybe I never recovered from my youthful Woody Allen fetish. Either way I logged on and my eyes popped. I gladly forked over my $45.99 for a month of unrestricted access to my potential Meshugener.
I joined JDate fresh off a relationship with a Jewish Adonis thinking ‘must be more where that came from’. Sadly I learned pretty fast that not everyone is looking for a shiske goddess (or they would be on Match.com) and that my lack of tribal affiliation was a bit of a hindrance for this goy. I also realized that with a man of Jewish faith comes a mother of fierce conviction that you’re not good enough for her son and assumes complete control over his life. Frankly I spent 39 years escaping my own mother.. I don’t need another one.
Conclusion: If you are actually Jewish, its probably the #1 destination. If you’re not, even if you’re converting, be prepared to run into some serious mother issues and men who, surprise surprise, want to date a Jewish woman.
By now I was getting desperate (I think Christmas was looming) and after a 6 month dry spell and waning funds, I figured what the hell. The site was free, it had the word ‘ plenty’ in it and it wasn’t going to run me the usual $39.99. Did I mention it was free? Despite an alarming prevalence of photos of shirtless guys taken in their bathroom mirrors, I posted a profile and figured at least I’d get a date or two out of it. Alarming is the only word I can use to describe the responses I received, and I think that I’d have done better wearing a sandwich board sign around my neck in downtown Denver as regards to quality. Call me snobbish but I can’t go on a date with a guy who emails without any punctuation or capitalization. Sure, he might be a genius and have no time for such things as grammar, but I require at least one comma per email. Having said that, I did get a lot of responses, and actually quite a few dates. Hummm. The dates. I’ll spare the details for today, (a whole other story), but at least 2 involved discussions of porn on the first date, and one shared his fathers preferences in the bedroom (not something I thought was part of the deal). I didn’t meet anything I’d consider ‘normal’ (or sane), though one did drive a brand new Porsche 911. Didn’t make him any saner though.
Conclusion: Be scared. Be very scared unless your profile also features a topless shot of you taken in the bathroom mirror, in which case, rock on. These are your guys.
I know, by now I should have realized that the trend wasn’t getting any better. But I’d heard from some coworkers at work who were ‘amazed’ that I was single, that OkCupid was the place to meet people. And yes it is.. if you’re 25. I’ve never felt so pervy as I did that evening as I scrolled through my responses. Yikes! I’m only 41, not 61 but every single guy referenced my age.. even those who were similarly aged themselves. The site is great because its not so marriage minded as the eHarmony or even Match sites and it clearly references hooking up, casual relationships and long term as options. On the down side, be careful what you wish for. I usually don’t like to state that I’m interested in having a boyfriend rather than a hook up (scares the weak ones away) but after multiple IMs asking me to ‘connect’ and porny emails… well… my definition of ‘casual’ is definitely different from OKCupids.
Conclusion: Apparently Cupid is ok with you if you’re 25-30 but leave well alone if you’re in any way sensitive. It caused me to get on the scale for the first time in 10 years and made me realize that I’m too old for ‘hooking up’.
Don’t judge. This was a few years back and yes, I should have known better that a site where I can sell my old gardening equipment isn’t a good source for romance. But.. it was free and I was going through a particularly intense Missed Connections phase. After perusing the ‘aisles’ for a while, I decided to post and see what landed. 3 hours and 75 emails later I realized that people don’t actually use Craigslist for dating and I’m inadvertently stumbled on a lot of pent up demand. I had emails from all manner of people, many of whom just wanted to chat. It was tragic. Needless to say I didn’t date any of my respondents, but I did start responding to others ads. The results I have to say were actually quite fun. I joined a guy at the Opera, a budding politician at a fundraiser and more than one angsty cyclist who refused to join the mainstream sites. Weirdly it didn’t freak me out more than PlentyofFish did and the people I met were universally cool.
Conclusion: If you’re up for anything and know how to date safely, give it a look. You probably won’t find a partner but you might end up doing something completely random with an interesting stranger.
So there you have it.. my summary of the major sites I’ve tried. My advice – if you want to get out of the house – do it. If you want to find a partner or husband.. good luck. Let me know how it goes.