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You ‘Deplete’ Me – The Trials and Tribulations of Online Dating

You ‘Deplete’ Me – The Trials and Tribulations of Online Dating
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By Jill Matlow

Once deemed taboo, online dating is now considered to be a viable option to meeting people in this day and age. With so many baby boomers re-entering the dating world (or in my case, still in it as a 54 y.o. woman) the choices for sites are endless.

Single, separated, divorced, gay, married… you name it, you’ll find them on online dating sites. I should know, I’ve been a veteran on most of these sites:. OKCupid, Match, JDate, PlentyofFish, OurTime and the list goes on and on. The stories I have could fill an entire wing at a library (and by the way, does anyone still go to the library? Remember microfiche?) Boy, I really am dating myself! But I digress…

Looking for love in all the wrong places is about to take on a whole new meaning. Buckle your seat belts people. You’re in for a bumpy ride.

What could be better than a dating site that’s free and named after a cute cherub with an arrow? I guess there’s a reason the adage “You get what you pay for” still rings true.

I met Steve* (*the names have been changed to protect the guilty) this past summer. He was a man of few words in his profile, but that brevity, coupled with his PhD and attractive photos, intrigued me enough to contact him.

A few emails were exchanged, then on to the text messages. I don’t know if you’re like me, but I still find texting with strangers a bit impersonal. Without a phone call, how can we determine that their annoying voice is reason enough to cancel the date? (Don’t judge me, admit it, you’ve done that). Sometimes I miss my rotary phone when men didn’t have the option of sending text messages.

Back to Steve. I loved how he planned our first date –  jazz on a Monday night with drinks and appetizers first.  What can I say? I’m old school in that I still like when a guy takes the initiative.

The date went well – I was definitely attracted to him (isn’t that half the battle?) and I looked forward to our 2nd date (another good sign). On our 2nd date, he announced to me that he was taking down his OKCupid profile because “he only wanted to get to know me”. Whoa Wilber!  I’ll admit – I was taken aback. As my fellow online daters know, we usually welcome a declaration like this, but not right away. Nonetheless, I moved forward, proceeding with caution.

But something was definitely off with Steve. Lots of mixed messages. I broke it off with him but felt that it was too premature, and we got back together. Big mistake. Allow me to share some cliches which bear repeating, at any age, when it comes to dating. “Trust your gut”, “don’t second guess yourself”, and “listen to those voices in your head” especially when they are giving you some warnings. Even if the chemistry you have with that person is off the charts and they’re ‘great on paper’ (albeit electronic paper), because we all know how intoxicating that can be.

And we’re all familiar with the idiom: “A leopard doesn’t change its spots”. This is never more true than in the online dating world. People show their true colors (and spots) pretty early on, especially at our age. Pay attention. After a few more months together, Steve and I parted ways and I learned that sometimes, you do in fact, get what you pay for.

After a few weeks recovering from my OKCupid ventures, I decided to join Surely people who pay for a dating site must be of a higher caliber than those browsing for free on OKCupid, right? (Be careful making sweeping generalizations, as this is not always the case).  I started corresponding with a few of the members and within the first week of signing up, I received some strange emails, mostly with a big announcement from the member(s) that they were moving to NYC, and would I be their tour guide. I wouldn’t have been suspicious, only I kept getting the exact same email, with a different name and photo each time! Hmm….had someone hacked into my account? Or was Manhattan in store for a deluge of eligible men from in hot pursuit of tour guides?

As this was happening (and my comfort level was diminishing), I went from email to a phone call with one of the members I had been corresponding with before my future as an NYC tour guide took flight. I decided to cancel my membership, for fear of more hacking.

Enter Scott*, an accountant from New Jersey, who asked me out the first time via text on a Saturday morning for that evening saying “I’m working now but really need to get out tonite”. Not cool. But I gave him the benefit of the doubt and said I was free the next weekend. He suggested we meet for ice cream, which I thought was cute until he sent me a text the night before our date, asking if I found a place for us to meet. For reals Scott? With all due respect, I guess Scott couldn’t muster up the energy to do a little googling (i.e. “fun ice cream parlors in NYC”) for what would have likely been a $10 date. Needless to say, I didn’t meet Scott. It’s important to be open-minded and flexible but I think lowering the bar is always a dangerous move. As my sister Jody once said to me:  “Lower your expectations, but don’t lower your standards”.

And in the words of Kenny Rogers, “Know when to hold ‘em, know what to fold ‘em”.

With my optimism in tow, it was time now to re-explore my options on JDate. I’ve heard many success stories that have come out of JDate (mine not being one of them).

So I found myself back on JDate, after many years reprieve. And while I wasn’t fishing around on Plenty of Fish (a free dating site) at this time, I did come upon a fan of Phish on JDate. For those who know me, you would think that I just won the lottery – a cute guy and a Phish fan all rolled into one. And if that wasn’t enough to rejoice about he was also a Deadhead. Am I dreaming? Someone please pinch me!

But you know the expression “If it seems too good to be true…”  Jerry* and I started corresponding but I was noticing that most of our emails were about Phish and music, with a major friend vibe. Don’t get me wrong, those are my passions, but I was really looking for romance, not another concert buddy! Familiarity breeds contempt, although contempt might be too strong a word here. But do you really want to date yourself? So I had to ask myself about Jerry: “Phish or cut bait”? As it turns out, we did finally meet, and as I anticipated, it was more of a friend vibe.

I admit I was rather surprised to see many of the members in their 40s and 50s on this dating site. Judging from their commercials on TV, there were also allegedly plenty of handsome, silver haired foxes on this site. Not so much as I came to find out after I committed to a one month membership.

Before I continue about my experiences on Our Time, let me just say that my math skills have really come in handy with online dating. Who knew that taking calculus in high school and college would finally pay off. For example, did you know that someone who is 52 years old is really 62? Or that 5’11” is really 5’8”? Come to think of it, it’s not really calculus, it’s simple math. Subtract 2-3 inches from the height listed and add 10 years to the age listed.

Where was I? Oh yes, back to Our Time.

Against my better judgment, I answered an email from someone on Our Time, who had no photo posted (red flag). Paul* later emailed me a photo. While Paul said he was ‘52’ on his profile, he was ‘58’ on the phone. I immediately emailed Paul’s photo to a good male friend of mine asking if he thought that Paul looked like he was 58. My friend responded “Paul’s  leather bomber jacket looks like it’s 58 years old!” I just wasn’t feeling comfortable with the ‘bait and switch’ regarding Paul’s personal information, and decided not to meet him. Let’s face it, someone not posting a photo (along with lying about their age and height) is hiding something – either they’re married or unattractive.

So to my contemporaries who are thinking about joining the ranks of online daters, I offer you the below advice before you take the plunge, as I think it’s best to adhere to some common sense rules:

– Steer clear of anyone who uses the word “lonely” in their screen name as in “LonelySteveinNJ”

– Avoid those men who type “R” for “are”, “U” for “you” and “LOL” after every other sentence. This might be cute coming from a 15 y.o., not a 55 y.o.!

– No photo = no communication

– It’s better to meet sooner rather than later. Everyone can hide behind their clever emails, but I find it’s best to exchange a few emails, have a phone call, and if you’re feeling positive, move forward with meeting them. Short first dates are always advisable too – it’s much easier to extend a good time than to feel trapped in a long date.

I wish all of you the best in your search for love and happiness. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. But remember, you should always start with this attitude when seeking love, as you can only go up from here!


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