Monday, February 20, 2006

Is it Really Possible to Be Compatible with This Many People? (Boy-Crazy Post Follows)

I'm feeling a little overwhelmed, people. I thought when I decided to do this eHarmony thing that one of the benefits would be that I wouldn't be deluged with people contacting me because of the whole difficulty of matching the 29 dimensions of compatibility with other people. Apparently, however, many, many people in the world are compatible with me. And after reading my profile - even though I don't have a picture available from the beginning - they want to start communicating. I suppose I shouldn't be complaining. This is the point of the whole experiment, isn't it? That I would enter into talks with a bunch of people, and ideally meet a few of them in person, and then maybe - if things went particularly well - date some people more than once? Right?

Well. I checked my account today, and I had like 12 dudes to deal with. All I have to say is, UGH. It's hard to be excited when one feels overwhelmed. Also, I would really like Suitor #1 to suggest a meeting. If he doesn't in his next note to me, I think I'm going to suggest it. I'm sick of writing notes, already. What if we don't even like each other in person? I mean, I'm not horrified by his picture or anything, but still. This writing nonsense is just that - nonsense. What if he has a squeaky voice or a twitch or something? I need to know that.

In other news, I got rid of both the chiropractor and the guy who wants me to send him flowers. You know how I kind of hated them? Yeah, my instincts were pretty dead on with both of them, I realized when I got their most recent missives. Apparently there is something to this guided communication thing.

Oh, and somebody said they were intrigued with the guided communication. I'm not sure if I've described it before, so I'll do so now. Here's the way it goes:
  1. One person contacts another and initiates communication with five multiple choice questions. A sample question (you have a bit long list to choose from) would be: "If you were taken by your date to a party where you knew no one, how would you respond? A) stay close to my date, letting him/her introduce me B) find a spot at the back bar and relax alone, letting him/her work the room C) strike out on my own, introducing myself and making friends D) I would ask my partner if I could skip this particular event E) [fill in the blank with your own answer].
  2. If one likes the person's profile who has initiated contact, you answer his/her multiple choice questions and send back five multiple choice questions of your own.
  3. If all goes well at this point, you trade must-haves/cant-stands with each other.
  4. If all is STILL going well, you ask each other three short-answer questions. You can either make up your own, or you can choose from a long list of potential prompts.
  5. If all is STILL going well, you enter into "open communication" which works like email.

So far, there are pros and cons to the guided communication. One pro is that it is possible to find out pretty quickly whether somebody really isn't for you. For example, with the sample question I provided above, a big red flag for me is if the person says they'll cling to me the whole night. (My preferred answer is that they'd like me to introduce them around but that they can then hold their own, if they write the answer in, or that they can just strike out on their own, if they choose one of the answers provided.) Another pro is that you can stop communication before you've really had extended interaction with the person, and so it seems much less painful. I've had a few dudes close off communication with me without us even communicating, and that hasn't upset me at all. Also, I've closed off communication early on with dudes and I don't feel bad about it. The cons, however, are that it does feel a bit like taking a test, and it's not particularly spontaneous. People tend to ask the same 5-8 questions for both the multiple choice and the essays, and so I feel like I'm just giving everybody my resume or something. (Incidentally, the feeling is not unlike the feeling I had when I was on the market and interviewing - a feeling like it was hard to sound genuine, even when being genuine, because you were repeating the same crap over and over again, and also a feeling like you aren't entirely sure to whom you've communicated what information, though that is helped somewhat by copying/pasting the same answers to the stupid questions that they ask.) Also, I think that the guided communication does make it somewhat weirder when you enter into open communication, though I've got a form email for that, too, now. At any rate, it's all very interesting, though at this point it is seeming like it takes a lot to make it to the stage where one might meet a person. It seems like there is a lot of room for rejection in the early phases of communication, and so perhaps one would meet fewer people ultimately than on other sites even though one is communicating (at least briefly) with a lot of people. I don't know; I'll have to see how that goes.

So, my current list of suitors (in order of level of communication, from open communication to multiple-choice questions) is as follows:

Suitor #1 - The Catholic. He is quite darling in email, but we've got to move on pretty soon, I'm thinking.

Suitor #2 - The Businessman. I don't feel strongly about him one way or the other. We have, though, entered into "open communication."

Suitor #3 - The Pilot. So lame. Still hasn't responded to the essay questions. I may dump him soon.

Suitor #4 - The Comuputer Guy. I'm trying to decide whether I'm so shallow as to reject him on the basis of picture alone. I think I might be that shallow. We'll see. I think for now I'll continue communication.

Suitor #5 - The Greek. I was really excited when he contacted me, because I had read his profile when it came in and he sounds awesome. Also, he's 6'2" which is my favorite of all possible heights for a man. I haven't seen his picture yet, though.

Suitor #6 - The Hot Guy. Well, or at least he's really photogenic. Though he does have horse teeth a little bit (ala John Elway). But yeah. He's good looking. Quite. I'm not, however, sure about his taste in books.

Suitor #7 - The Consultant. I wish I knew what he was consulting about. At any rate, I have no definite ideas about him yet.

Suitors #8 and #9 - Both are shorter than me. Is this going to be a deal-breaker? I haven't yet decided. I feel like that's a dumb thing to care about, but I just don't want to feel like I'm humungous next to a guy I'd be dating. And I feel like I would. Can I get past this?

So yes, that's the update. And unless something very exciting happens (like the arrangement of a meeting between me and one of these yahoos) I will not clog the blogosphere with anymore boy-crazy posts this week. I do think about other things, you know. (Or at least I should think about other things....)


Dr. Virago said...

Ugh, online dating *does* tend to overwhelm. I know I always felt that way, too. I don't know if eHarmony is like that, but in other, free-form methods (CraigsList, Nerve, city weeklies, etc.), women get more responses than men and it can be *really* *really* overwhelming.

And yes, it *does* feel like the job market. At least I always compared the job market to blind dating.

So yeah, I just popped in to say I know what you mean. Been there, done that (though not eHarmony). And I sympathize.

Dr. Crazy said...

Thanks for the note, Dr. V., and nice to see you! I thought you were taking a break from blogging? Aren't you supposed to be writing or something? (smile)

Axis of Peter said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Axis of Peter said...

Sorry: deleted previous post. Here it is, with a sligth tweak.

I wish you great success.

I imagine it would indeed seem like an exam or job search, especially coupled with the need to respond with the optimal, satisfying answer, to be rewarded with an appearance in the next round. For example, my truthful reaction to the party scenario would be that I just wouldn't go since I'm uncomfortable at parties in the best of cases. But I'd never actually report that in this guided whateveritis since that would presumably lump me in Category Loser. I'm sure social scientists have a term for attempts to defeat an instrument through guessing what is desired by the tester.

*statgirl* said...

Well, Dr. Crazy...I think you may have almost convinced me to try eHarmony. I'm thinking, however, that I will wait until this summer right before I move to new city...might be an interesting way to meet people there. And, well...umm..I am single and being a relationship doesn't sound so terrible.

Dr. Crazy said...

AofP - Yes, i do think that SOME people try to mess with the instrument BUT YOU WOULD BE TOTALLY SURPRISED HOW MANY PEOPLE DON'T SEEM TO TRY TO DO THAT. I'm telling you - some of the answers I've seen, some of the "must-haves" I've been privy to.... these people do not seem to be trying to impress. I suppose they do say that you should be honest otherwise there's no point in doing the service....

Statgirl - It's a good time, if a huge time suck. I wish that the Catholic would get it together and realize that our conversation is stagnating via email. Whatever. At any rate, I am right there with you in thinking that it doesn't sound so terrible to be in a relationship. Being single can really be a drag sometimes. That said, even if no relationship comes out of this thing for me, I'm totally having fun with it, and I think it was worth the money. I think when moving to a new place would be a good time to try it out, too :)

seadragon said...

I find myself rooting for the Catholic, because I look forward to hearing about what it is like to "have a career in cheese".

Good luck! Have fun! Insert exclamatory statement of your choice!

academic brat said...

I've done internet dating myself, but never eHarmony. (I always used free services and chose to look at other people rather than create an ad of my own -- I'm too chicken.) But all of the women I know (3) who tried eHarmony eventually gave it up because it got too overwhelming. So far you seem to be managing it well, though.

One thing I'm curious about is that you seem willing to make a date with The Catholic without a phone chat first. I always felt much safer meeting someone for the first time if I talked with them on the phone beforehand. (Though maybe that's because I was using Yahoo Personals and for all I knew they could be axe murderers.) To me hearing someone's voice can communicate a lot. For example, I'd get really suspicious if someone didn't sound educated in their speech, or if they didn't respond to my wit (or attempts at wit). Sometimes that would kill it for me.

One bit of advice: Remember that all these guys are doing exactly the same thing you are doing. If you haven't heard back from The Catholic yet, it's probably because he has dates with other women and wants to see how they go before meeting someone new. That seemed to always be the reason when someone would stop communicating with me suddenly (those times that I managed to follow-up on, anyways).

But it sounds like you're approaching it with a great attitude and with your head firmly on your shoulders. Don't beat yourself up too much about being picky -- that's what these services are for. This is your chance to find someone who is cool and meets your height requirements. Go for it!

negativecapability said...

Thanks for detailing the guided communication...I'm STILL fascinated by that. It actually sounds like the pros outweigh the cons - and all the filtering is nonetheless returning lots of options.

bitchphd said...

In defense of The Catholic--my online "dating" experience was that men who wait for the woman to make the first move in the online world are a LOT more desireable than guys who do it themselves. Think of it this way: he's not pushing, b/c, after all, you're a complete stranger and, presumably, might have a little more to be cautious about than he does.

Clancy said...

"I just don't want to feel like I'm humungous next to a guy I'd be dating."

I hear you. Height is less of an issue for me than weight, though. I wouldn't want someone thinner than I am.

Eddie said...

I agree with academic brat--why not email him your phone number and put the ball in his court to call you before you actually meet in person?

Dr. Crazy said...

Howdy, all. I suspect we will talk before we would meet, BUT in some ways I'm weirded out by the idea of talking to him on the phone first. It takes me back to the anxiety of calling strangers on the phone that was one of the things that drove me away from a career in journalism. In person I tend to do better than on the phone with strangers, but perhaps that's just me.

Yes, the career in cheese is intriguing. Tragically, he does not stand above a big vat of cheese stirring (as my mom made me ask him - hee!) but rather seems to be more in the managerial class of cheese workers.

At any rate, I think he is waiting for me to make a bit of a first move, and so I hinted in an email yesterday that I felt like I had devolved into babbling and that it was no good. (This is one of the problems with being able to type almost as fast as I talk - I tend to go on and on, as you, my faithful readers, have probably noticed.) At any rate, we'll see what this morning holds in store when I check my account (I haven't been able to brave it yet, as I suspect I'll be asked a bunch of essay questions by suitors 2-7. Sigh.)

At any rate, I'll keep you all posted. Also, I envision a post forthcoming about my mom and her whole reaction to this. She has been truly hilarious :)

Dr. Crazy said...

Hmmm.... very interesting.

1) the Catholic is not annoyed that I go on and on in email and that I'm long-winded - in fact, he seems to like it.

2) he revealed to me that he lost 120 lbs. in high school and has since been his currently skinny self. How wild! And to think that he revealed this in response to the fact that I revealed to him that I used to be a transcription typist. Not exactly equal confessions, but it does give me insight into him nonetheless, or should, I think.

I dumped #s 4, 8, and 9. Life's too short to spend my time on dudes I'm fairly certain I'll never be into. (Though, of course, I have a really hard time closing communication with guys because I'm afraid I might be making a tragic error, thus I've made it a policy to wait 24 hours before dumping anybody.)

seadragon said...

yay! Go Catholic guy, go! (Hee. It's fun to have something to root for. The Olympics aren't doing it for me.)

Dr. Crazy said...

Hee! Well, I've had yet another missive from Catholic guy. Turns out, he was a National Merit Scholar in high school and, braniac that he was, got a full ride to a big (state) research university. Turns out, the reason that the Catholic is not illiterate in email is because he's smarter than I am. I have also learned that he likes the music of Depeche Mode and the Cure (I revealed to him my former identity as a punk rock girl), that he can admit that Christian Bale is dreamy, and that at the same time he refuses to see Brokeback Mountain because he finds gay cowboys creepy (don't worry - I gently indicated that he's a homophobe on that one).

I've accomplished nothing this afternoon except a crappy draft of a "real" blogpost and a message to the Catholic. I'm a fool.