2.16.2010

Putting the Harm in eHarmony...

A few days after I flew back from the funeral, I signed up on eHarmony.

Yes, there’s a connection.

And yes, I know… I had sworn off the internet dating due to such lovely examples of here and here, not to mention other lovely experiences that I hope never to repeat, both in experience or verbally. What made me fold?

Well, whenever I’ve experienced a time in my life where I lost someone I cared about… I get a bit of a glimpse of my own mortality. I get the urge to pull other people that I feel close to…even closer, so that I don’t feel like I’m taking them for granted, and really hold onto them and not want to let go. In missing the one I’ve lost, I become more protective of the others. Personally, I think it’s actually a normal (or at least normal-sounding) reaction.

Thing is… whenever that’s happened in my life… it’s never been at a point where I’m in a relationship at the time. (It just worked out that way) And loneliness kicks in a little harder then usual… because I don’t have anyone that I can literally pull closer and hold on to.

As an individual that tends to have a hard time meeting people, and for whom the bar-scene and normal people-meeting methods don’t work… I tend to feel like my options are limited. (Oftentimes, into the low single-digits.) So, I had a moment of weakness… and I signed up on eHarmony.

I picked that particular site, because it seemed to be a little more serious-minded then the other dating sites I’ve tried. As you have to answer about 900 screening questions and give up a good few hours of your life just to get it set-up… not to mention its one of the more expensive dating sites out there… it seemed logical that the only people that would actually go through all that crap… would be ones that are actually serious about finding a healthy relationship.

Well, it *sounded* like a good theory.

I purchased a full 1-year subscription, in advance. It was the most economical (you essentially pay for 3 months, get 9 free)… and I also wanted to give myself plenty of time to get to know someone, and not rush into anything. (Even amidst my insane dry spell, I have no desire to jump into anything… be it relationship, bed, pile of mud, or otherwise) Since it was mid-November when I signed up, and knowing the upcoming holiday craziness would be… well, crazy... I made a personal resolution not to physically meet anyone until after the New Year. I made it fairly clear on my profile and in the e-mails of those I was matched up with, and they seemed totally cool with it. They said they liked the idea of getting to know me first, without any pressure… and taking our time. Great! Maybe this whole “matching” thing they had going on… actually had something to it.

Now, in terms of matches… while I was given a hefty list, I didn’t go trying to write to all of them (even though the site actually suggests you do). For one, there’s no way I’d be able to keep track of everyone and the different conversations. That’s too much like being a “playa” in the real-world, at least to me. No, I tried to keep the numbers small. While I prefer to focus solely on one person at a time… I knew that probably wouldn’t be smart here, and I should at least try to chat up more then one at a time. Face it, chances are any particular one person isn’t going to work out, but a small percentage would be worth pursuing… so the odds would increase with at least trying to talk to a few more. (Yes, I was starting to “play the numbers”. Hey, I was trying something different… Go me!)

One gal I was chatting with apparently lived in Los Angeles for a few years… during the same time *I* was out there. And then she moved back to New England, like me. That coincidence was a bit weird… but also cool. Because we had dual-coast-knowledge in common. We had nice talks on the phone… but then the calls and e-mails got further and further apart, and then stopped… having never met in person. It started to sound like she was getting too busy in life and work… and then disappeared.

One of first ones I *did* meet in person, however… I really liked. Our phone conversations were really nice, and we soon made plans to meet face-to-face. When I did… I actually thought she looked *much* better than her picture (and her picture was really attractive). She also had a bit of fire in her… during a conversation about skee-ball, a carnie game I at one time had near-mastered, she seemed to have no problem saying how she would “kick my butt” at it. I loved the fact that she openly challenged me to it… and I was definitely up to taking her on. We ended our first date… with the promise of a second. No kiss, no moves… just a smile and a promise.

Now, I tend to gauge the success of dates on one thing: If I call her afterwards and hear back from her… it was good. And I actually did heard back from her. That would make this the first “good date” I’ve had in a LONG time… and since she actually made good on the promise of a second date… which was not only the first 2nd date from an online connection I’ve ever had, but the flat-out first 2nd date I’ve had in a long time… She seemed like she was genuinely interested in me. I was definitely interested in her.

Our second date, we got dinner and a movie. The conversation during dinner was once again really nice… lots of smiling, lots of eye contact, laughing, etc. I really didn’t feel like I was “trying”… it was feeling right.

We went and saw the movie Taken (it was in the theatre at the time). Sure, maybe people would think an action-movie isn’t the best date-movie… but they weren’t on this date. And none of the other movies seemed to appeal to either of us. We both enjoyed the movie, and walked out of the theater… into a surprise snow-storm. Everything was completely coated with snow (and we had no idea that it was even supposed to). She had driven us over to the movie theater, so we had to go back to the restaurant where my car was.

I would not have thought that any part of this date was going badly. There were no really awkward moments… no clashes. Just smiles, laughs and the good kind of eye-contact (as opposed to the psycho-stalker-kind of eye contact). The end of the second date… had the promise of a third.

I started to get out of the car… and you know what? Looking at her… it felt right. I then leaned back in… going for our first kiss.

Then she turned her head.

It wasn’t an accident, it wasn’t like she didn’t see me coming towards her… she very consciously turned away.

I had COMPLETELY mis-read that situation. In the span of a half-second, I then felt like the biggest idiot I’ve ever known. (You’d think I be used to it)

I just said, “…okay, then.” And backed out, closing the door. She was still smiling, waved good-bye, and drove off. I cleaned the snow off my car, started it up, and started to head home… mentally (and occasionally physically) kicking myself all the while. I could not believe that happened… the first real time I put myself out there since *COUGH COUGH*, and I was 100% sure that the moment was right. And it wasn’t.

I am absolutely atrocious at reading body language. If I had any doubts on that statement prior, it was confirmed then and there.

And I had nice long time to think about it… because my car broke down on the way home. In the snowstorm. (Was I Hitler in a previous life or something? Seriously! WTF???) I got to sit there in the cold… and stew in my thoughts of my own stupidity, for an hour and a half, while waiting for AAA to get there.

And you know… I did call her. I told her I would (before the ill-fated attempt), and hoped that the third-date interest was still there like she said (again, before the ill-fated attempt). I make good on my promises.

I didn’t hear back from her.

The few friends I talked to about it… some of them said, “Well, maybe it was too soon for her”, while the majority of others said, “No kiss? On the SECOND date???” Looks like the minority was right on that one. While just about everyone thought it a bit odd that if the other 99% of the date was great… why she still just disappeared. But that’s neither here nor there. It was over and done with.

I licked my Pride-Wounds for about 2 weeks, then got back into eHarmony. (Who knew I even had Pride to get wounded?)

That was probably the start of everything going downhill. Because over the next several months… I had a lot more first dates. But no second-dates. Not for about another 8 months.

I had a lot of lovely times… met some really nice women. Just about all of them were ones that I *wanted* to see again. But no matter how good of a time they seemed to have, no matter how much laughing, good-eye-contact, blah blah blah there was… I never got my calls returned afterwards. It was going directly back to the old pattern it seems I’ve always known: Have a great time; I say I’d like to see them; They say “Yes”; I call; Nothing.

And before you suggest it… I was always trying different things. Trying different approaches, different jokes, different methods, asking different kinds of questions of them, sometimes a more tame conversational approach, and sometimes with just a touch of flirtation. I’d make resolutions of “Okay, I’m not going to tell THAT particular story on the first date, because even though they all want to know it, and love the telling… it never gets anywhere.” I was ALWAYS trying to vary it up. And all these women that eHarmony was telling me were “good matches for my personality”… all disappear after 1 date. 95% do so without any explanation… they just disappear. (Even the ones that had said, “That’s so rude of those other girls!”… they went ahead and did it, too. Seriously… it’s been incredibly frustrating.)

I don’t know why, but why do the majority of women I seem to meet… quit so soon? I can NOT come to a full conclusion about someone after a brief 1-2 hour first date. (You’d think I’d have an advantage from all the e-mails and phone calls prior to meeting…) I need time to suss someone out. Too much “guarding” on a first date when meeting someone completely new. Hell, I do it! And it’s because I’m so guarded, that I don’t want to give everything about me on a first meeting. I doubt anyone does.

It seems like that if they don’t get “Romantic-Movie-Style-Attraction-Sparks/Chemistry” with someone from the instant get-go… then they might as well cut it off now and continue on. Because isn’t that how it’s supposed to work?

Life doesn’t have a screenwriter. Sorry if this is a surprise to anyone.

I’ve read several articles that claim that Romantic Comedies and movies of the ilk do more to hurt real relationships then help them… and I’m inclined to agree with them these days. (Must we once again go over the concepts of Fantasy and Reality?) If you honestly think that real life can and should be like those sappy pieces of crap, then stop being so surprised when I put on a 13-foot-long-scarf and claim a big blue box is “my ship”.

I say Garry Marshall should be the first to go. Set phasers to “puree”.

There were a few women that I did hear from afterwards… to tell me that they “didn’t feel any sparks.” Which frankly, only feeds into my frustration-rant above. Same reasons… blah blah… why are you expecting them so soon?

One actually told me that she had “too much going on right now” to devote to a new relationship. Sorry to ask… but why the hell are you on there in the first place? Oh, a friend put you up to it? You let your friends throw away your money? (Like I said… eHarmony isn’t cheap. I thought that’s what would weed out the “not serious” ones) Furthermore, you let your friends push you into things you don’t want? Oh, please. Frankly, it screams “lame excuse” to me.

Oh, sure… but in *this* case you really are “too busy”, not like those other liars. Here’s the thing about being “too busy”; And I’m not trying to sit on a high horse here… I’ve been insanely busy before, myself. But you know something? If I want to spend time with someone… or pursue a relationship… I *make* the time. I rush around a lot, oftentimes like a chicken with my head cut off… maybe lose a little sleep here and there… but I make it. Especially if I think someone is worth it. A relationship would definitely qualify for that.

And thing is… I’m a patient guy. I’m willing to wait for a little time to open up in someone else’s schedule. Sure, long pauses suck… but if they at least make an effort, it means a lot to me, and it doesn’t go unnoticed. Love will find a way… but *we* have to do the actual looking.

So… my time on eHarmony. I’ve had a LOT of first dates… and 3 second dates, total. Of those other 2 second-dates… both just disappeared afterwards. One mysteriously just stopped calling/writing/texting soon after said 2nd date… and the other, I started to get the impression that she wasn’t as attracted to me as I was to her, and that’s when I stopped hearing from her. (But since I’m horrible at the body language, what do I know? Maybe she never was.) eHarmony is officially a complete bust. If I ever see Dr. Warren, I’m going to tell him where to shove his 753 questions and “personality match-ups”… because I don’t think he knows squat.

And it occurred to me… I don’t actually know anyone that’s met their sweetie online. Not even an acquaintance. I have a lot of friends and acquaintances that say THEY have friends/relatives/etc that met the Significant Other online… but I don’t actually know anyone myself that it’s worked for. So… from my point of view… they could all be making it up.

There is one person, whom I met online, that I’m in contact with currently. We’ve had a first date… and a second… and even a third. We met during a free weekend on Chemistry.com. (I’ll be darned if I’m paying for ANOTHER site. That one weekend was it for me on that.) I haven’t tried for a kiss… or even a hug. I’m wanting to go so insanely slow here, my previous pace is blowing past. But we have a nice time, and I actually do hear from her… albeit sporadically. I know she is busy right now, but unlike the other “busy ones”, I do actually hear from her, and we find a little time to meet up. (Like I said… the effort means a lot to me.) Hell, just the fact that she’s an attractive woman, who’s single and *my age* gives huge brownie points… and while I’m not totally sure of her level of interest (take nothing for granted!), I am. So I’m hoping I get to see her again, and fairly soon.

If it doesn’t work out… that’s okay. But I’ve given the online method enough chances, and this is the last one. More power to you if it works, but it’ll mean it doesn’t for me.

If it DOES work out? Then that is a-okay by me, and I’ll sing the praises of online dating.

But I’m going to need a neon sign with arrows to signal the time for that first kiss. You’re high if you think I’m going through that embarrassment again.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yikes! Sorry you've had such unpleasant experiences w/ online dating. Fingers crossed for you =).

S.fritz

Tony Frater said...

If I'm understanding the question correctly, instead of asking HOW to behave while dating, it seems like the question is asking a more fundamental question about WHO to date..

Instead of answering this question myself, I would like to just point you to an article: How to Identify Real Dating Site Members btw this article is from Online Dating Security Advisor