Monday, February 13, 2006

On Choosing the Most Heteronormative and Freakily Old-Fashioned Online Dating Service

Yes, I went with eHarmony. Was it the constant commercials that drew me to Dr. Warren's Wonderful World of Soulmates? Some sort of peer pressure that comes from being in the midwest? Temporary insanity?

Well, I'm not ruling any of the above out. My conscious reasons for choosing this particular service, however, were the following:

  1. My picture and profile are only available to people who are part of the service, thus minimizing the possibility that sexist and disrespectful students will find them and use them against me in some way. Is this paranoia on my part? I don't know. But it's one of the things that made me apprehensive about Match.
  2. I love a personality test. Have ever since I was 12.
  3. I have a bunch of friends who've done Match and from their reports it sounded quite meat-market-y. Now, Dr. Crazy can enjoy going to market just like the rest of 'em, but the truth of it is that I've been down that road, and it's a road that doesn't seem worthy of the time, effort, and cash that online dating demands.
  4. Any dude who's going to take the time to fill out Dr. Warren's lengthy questionnaire has to have at least some commitment to the idea of finding a person to date.
  5. I'm intrigued by the whole guided communication thing. I like the idea that I can cut off communication with a person before it ever gets personal, you know? And I don't like the idea of becoming involved with a person (via email) before I've ever met him. I'm thinking that the guided communication will help with this.
  6. Did I mention that eHarmony is HUGE in my location? Whereas Ok Cupid! (for example, which someone suggested) doesn't even exist? Here it's pretty much Match or eHarmony, as far as I can tell, and Match seems to skew slightly less professional.
  7. I like the fact that the computer is weeding people out for me. The less directed sites are kind of overwhelming to me.

Nevertheless, I'm kind of freaked out by the fact that eHarmony seems so marriage-driven. I've spent a lot of time thinking about this, and I'm not entirely sure why it bothers me. What's wrong with wanting to find a person to marry? At what point did that become a bad thing to do? Similarly, why am I so intimidated by the idea of "dating" in the traditional sense? When did "dating" become something that people didn't do regularly, having replaced it with "hooking up" or "hanging out"? And why do the latter two seem "normal" to me whereas "dating" seems like something from the stone ages?

I've got to say, though, this process is intriguing. It forces a person to think about what she wants in her life, what kind of person she thinks she'd like to share that with, and who she is and how she wants to sell herself to prospective suitors. This is something that I don't think I've done much in my "real life" dating life. I've fallen into relationships, I've given chances where I should have said, "sorry, I don't think we're a match!" and been on my way, I've stayed in relationships because it was easier than leaving and looking for better or different or whatever. In this new and improved virtual dating world, all of that is flipped around and there's a lot more thought that goes into it at the front end. Is this good? Does it ruin the "romance"? I don't really know. But I'm interested to see where it goes. I'm "communicating" with three people already.

Bachelor #1 (with whom I've gotten the farthest in the eHarmony guided communication) is a pilot, rides motorcycles, plays the guitar, and is 30 years old. I would NEVER meet a guy like this in real life. So far, things are progressing at a smooth and steady pace, and we've moved to the essay-question portion of things. By the way, does anybody have a good answer to the following question, "How would you spend a romantic evening with someone you have been dating for more than one year"? The strikes against him are that he has the same name as my ex and that he's only 5'10".

Bachelor #2 is a teacher, and he claims that it's his "calling." Whatever. It never hurt anybody to answer some multiple choice questions.

Bachelor #3 is a "corporate account representative." I have a feeling that he would think I'm fat. I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt, though, or at least a phase or two more of the guided communication, because I'm not sure what gives me that impression.

In the end, I'll think this whole enterprise is a success if I go on some dates and the guys pay often enough that I ultimately make back the money I spent signing up for this thing. I've got to say, though, I already have learned a lot, and I've only been signed up for like 3 days. It will be so interesting to see where this all goes.


Dr. Crazy said...

seriously, people, help me with the romantic date after a year question. All I can think to put is that there should be making out. I feel like that's entirely not an appropriate answer.

csdorotoc said...

How tall are you? Because to a guy that's 5'11, 5'10 doesn't seem so short. It's average, in fact.

Dr. Crazy said...

I'm 5'8". 5'10" isn't necessarily a problem, but it can potentially be one if

a) the guy is adding and inch or two to his height.
b) if he's very small-framed and I feel like an amazon next to him (see my post above about my phyisical build)
c) he has a problem with a girl wearing heels and being taller than him, because much of the time, I would be taller than a guy who's 5'10" if I were wearing heels.

5'10" is in no way a deal-breaker for me; I just prefer 6' plus, and the internet dating gives one license to be picky in that sort of a way. I've dated guys ranging from my height to 6'3".

blithering moron said...
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csdorotoc said...

That's one of the problems with any dating service. It seems to overweight things like height and weight. In real life I would have no problem talking to someone five years younger, or someone overweight. But like you say, with so much choice, you often eliminate people who might be better fits.

Dr. Crazy said...

Yes, he asked me that because that's what he wants to know about me. It's kind of horrifying, as the whole "romantic evening" thing isn't really the way i roll. One of the most interesting things about the questions (both multiple choice and essay) is that you know throughout that you're being judged on both your questions and your answers, so it's entirely possible that dudes might ask all of this romance stuff in order to appear romantic because women want guys who care about romance, or so these dudes think. The word "bizarre" doesn't begin to cover the whole process, but it really is a great thing for procrastination. So much to analyze!

Eddie said...

I don't know a catchy answer to the question, but I do want to support you in the idea that 5'10" is too short for a guy (I'm also 5'8").

New Kid on the Hallway said...

And I know what you mean about feeling like an Amazon next to men of a certain size - I'm about an inch shorter than you (so proportionately wider, sigh!), but it still makes me taller/bigger for a woman than 5' 10" is for a guy. So even if the guy is taller than me, he may not, relatively speaking, be "bigger" than me. (Thankfully LDH is 6' 1".)

In any case, good luck with eHarmony - I look forward to more analyses.

Manorama said...

Good luck! Internet dating can be really fun (although bizarre things tend to happen at times--you're right about that!).

D.M. said...
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Scrivener said...

I am trying to think of an answer to your "romantic" question, but it seems so dumb. Um, dinner at a nice restaurant and then a concert? I'm not terribly good at the pre-scripted evenings, to be honest.

Barry said...

The romantic event after a year thing cannot be answered at this stage: I would say that a truly romatic thing to do after a year would depend entirely upon the relationship, where the person who is going to sort out the romantic thing has quietly stored away hints and suggestions, and made a plan to surpise the partner with something that is just what that partner would want - for some it might be a day out at Nascar folowed by about a kilogram of dead cow, for others, it might be a day making pottery faces of each other. The best you can do is imagine how you'd like that day to be done for you, and go with that.

As a university person in a small town, I hate the whole idea of putting my photo or any identifying characteristic on a profile, because it is definitely information I would not want leaked into my professional life. Not that I think there is shame in the process - as others have said, for the intellectually inclined, online dating is a logical thing to do.

One small warning, however: preferences are important, but don't get too caught up in them because there are lots of apparently available men. I find that while I might come up with a list of preferences, they don't always correlate with the person who would prove to be a good partner. Furthermore, there can be a tendency to expect the mythical "perfect" man (or woman"), leading to seekers cutting people out of the loop for not hitting every single note.