Chances are, if you watch TV, you’ve probably seen one of those match.com commercials. You know, the ones that claim that, in today’s society, the majority of couples meet each other online, on dating sites? For a while, I tuned out the commercial, and was not at all interested in the idea of online dating. A scene from the movie, Closer used to come to mind, in which Jude Law’s character logs onto a cybersex chat room, pretending to be Julia Roberts’ character and completely fools the man at the other end of the chat: a British dermatologist played by Clive Owen. Now I know that online dating sites are not the same as cybersex sites, but they just seemed weird to me. I thought, there are all sorts of creeps that could be hiding behind their laptop monitors, looking fifty pounds heavier, two feet shorter or five years younger than the descriptions on their online profiles.
That was a few months ago. Over the past months, I’ve heard about more and more people that met online and are incredibly happy with their partners. My grandmother regularly updates my parents and me about all of the aufrufs (honorings of to-be-brides and to-be-grooms during the Shabbat service before their wedding) that are held at our synagogue for people who met on J-Date.
J-Date, for those of you who aren’t savvy is the Jewish version of Match.com and e-Harmony. My mom, curious about the site, made herself a profile, disguising herself as a 22 year old from South Jersey. She then forwarded me a bunch of her “matches,” the people with whom the site ‘thinks’ its users have things in common. (The site allows you to create a profile for free, but in order to send messages or instant messages to other users, or to read messages that are sent to you, you need a paid subscription.) For a while there it felt like everyone was nudging me to join the site, and because of that, I became even more against the idea. I wanted to give myself some more time, date the “old fashioned way.” Joining a dating site felt like a desperate move: a love life cop out.
But then I graduated from college, moved back home, started work at a summer internship and fell into a real world routine slump: wake up, drink coffee, go to work, type for hours, drink more coffee, go home, eat dinner, go to sleep, repeat. I was craving something new to remedy my boredom, so I thought, you know what, why not give online dating a chance?
Right after I joined, I “met” a few pretty creepy people. For example, there was the guy who instant messaged me on the site and, two seconds later wanted to chat on skype because he found me “inspiring.” Then there was the other guy who told me his account was ending soon so we should start emailing, and whose email name turned out to be “Moo Moo.”
When I asked him what the deal was with the name, he said he picked it a while back because he thought it was funny. Great, I thought. Just what I need: a cow enthusiast. Moo Moo also told me he does not like to watch movies during the summer and that, since I majored in English, I must have graded his profile, and he must have passed. Uhh…
After some practice, I learned how to analyze the profiles on the site. Here is a short key I made:
1) All pictures on the profile are taken from the shoulders up, taken from far away, from awkward angles, or they all look like different people: he’s hiding something, whether it is a few extra pounds, years, or some deep, dark, unattractive secret.
2) There is a girl beside him in one or two of his profile pictures: This one always confused me. Does he want girls to think, “well that guy does not fail at relating to girls because that girl likes spending time with him.” She might be his sister, his friend, or his ex; whoever she is, I don’t want to meet her, or him.
3) His mother is in one of his profile pictures: this could be a good thing and mean that he has a good relationship with his parents, or it more frequently can be read to mean that he is very, very desperate to show girls that he is a nice Jewish boy.
4) He has a premium profile: First, let me explain. JDate has this deal that lets you pay a little more money in order to put a bright yellow square around your profile link, which is supposed to make you more noticeable to site-surfers. Unfortunately, it also shouts “desperate” to many. Your picture should make me want to click on your page, not the frame around it.
All of the creepers aside, I think the reason dating sites can and do work well is because, from looking at profiles online, it is possible to spot deal-breakers right off the bat. Each JDate profile has a section for you to write a paragraph or two about yourself, and then a bunch of other fields where you answer various questions provided by the site. Some of the questions are “what types of food do you like?” “what do you like to do in your free time?” and “what pets do you like?” The one that I referenced the most was the “what types of things do you like to read” question, because one of the biggest turn offs for me is a guy who does not read at all. I was an English major, what can I say?
Also, the online serial-dating atmosphere tends to soften the blow of rejection. That is, for some reason (and maybe this is just me) it seems much more acceptable to cut off contact with someone, or give them what some may refer to as the silence of death, online on a dating site than it is offline, just because it is understood that everyone on the site is probably talking to more than one potential “match” at a time.
Now without giving away too much of my personal life, I’ll just say that good things came from my joining the site. Yes I did encounter many people who lied about their appearance and/or age, but there are quite a few genuine people to be found online on dating sites. So I urge all of you who are curious, or bored with single life to give it a try. If anything, you’ll make your parents happy and will gather many ridiculous tales to tell.