Thursday, February 7, 2008

A Year Ago, Part I

In which our protagonist takes her first tentative steps into the wacky world of online dating.

A Year Ago most of my non-working time was spent flat on my back on the couch clutching my remote. TiVo was my best friend and drug of choice. The ink was barely dry on the divorce decree. It was a scant five months after All Hell Broke Loose*, and I was dealing with a severe case of emotional whiplash. Ick. Yes, it was as unpleasant as it sounds.

Just to torture myself, I'd started poking around on Yahoo! Personals and to see if there was any reason to consider dating, ever. It was risk-free, easy to do with a laptop (laying flat on my back on the couch), and a lot less hassle than actually going out and interacting with g-g-guys.

First tricky bit was coming up with the criteria that would auto-magically produce potential matches to my exacting specifications. But once I'd checked all of my 'must-haves', the number of (alleged) matches within driving distance was shockingly small. The same suspects kept popping up over and over again, many on both sites. Reading their profiles left me... underwhelmed. And discouraged. And yet, relieved.

Second minefield, especially as a newly-hatched single adult**, was filling out my profile. It must've been a valuable personal growth exercise because it was bloody god-awful painful. I had no clear notion of what I wanted or who I was in this new context. I knew a lot about what I didn't want, but that's not an effective marketing technique, to say the least. And I had to have Young Son take my profile photo. That's just creepy.

I'll spare you the account of my fumbling attempts at connection and communication. Let's fast-forward to Lessons Learned, shall we?
1. As an introvert, the thought of going out (read: leaving my couch) to meet someone I don't know for the express purpose of sizing each other up for a romantic relationship is unimaginable, laughable, and could be considered torture.

2. I am an odd duck. But you knew that already.

2.a. As an odd duck, finding someone on a dating site who was interesting to me and might actually be interested in me, an average-looking yet fairly eccentric middle-aged white woman with a small child, is about as likely as finding a decent parking spot at the mall on Black Friday. As if!

Some weeks later (after an early phone conversation with Mr. B***) my hazy impressions of unease and distaste crystallized. I realized that IMHO, it pretty much comes down to this:

The Good News: On the bell curve of 'typical'****, about 95% of the population is under the fat part, within two standard deviations from the mean. If you are more-or-less typical and actually like meeting new people, odds are that eventually you'll find someone reasonably compatible on a mainstream dating site. And monkeys in a room full of typewriters will eventually type Hamlet.

The Bad News: That leaves less than 5% of us out here in the skinny ends of the bell curve. Say no more.

Nope, definitely not my bag, baby. I find even thinking about meeting new people way too stressful to search for (and through) that rare and elusive 5%. And to paint the picture an even drearier shade of gray, the things that make people atypical are... mmm... varied, to say the least, whittling down that measly 5% even further.

Sounds hopeless, no? Stay tuned!

Part II: In which our protagonist finds something interesting on, despite herself.

* Story for another day.

** Remember, the last time I was single, disco was king and I was not of legal drinking age in most states.

*** A grizzled and battle-weary online dating veteran.

**** Whatever 'typical' is. I can't define it, but most of us know it when we see it. Or more importantly, when we don't see it.


  1. I think I can guess at Part 2... I look forward to hearing the tale... we should make a movie out of it... We could call it... hmmm... something geographical, to define the place, Seattle... Er, I don't know... give me some time, if you will...

  2. Oooh, I love swapping these kinds of stories. Just blogged a few days ago about my latest saga in online dating. It's so funny, too - I would see the same small number of guys who met my criteria on various sites. They didn't look good anywhere.


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