September 23, 2011

Lying Our Way Through Online Dating. ~ Vivinne Williams

Photo: Sarah K

Onlie, Whoops I mean Online Dating.

As I rushed to create a title for this piece, I typed “Onlie dating.” I believe in serendipity. I believe in signs, so that stopped me in my tracks. On-lie dating. The other titles were “Finding Mr. Almost-Perfect Online and How to Spot a Fake Guy Online.” Those working titles tell the tone and gist of this article.

At a recent and rare party I attended, a little group chatted over pomegranate martinis. As we noshed, it came out that two couples in the conversation had met online. The two singles—moi and another woman—were slogging through online dating. There was one older female present who had in fact met her husband the old­-fashioned way—in-person, in the flesh, eye to eye.

Let’s clear up this “on-lie” Freudian slip. I will be totally honest… Well, as honest as I want to be in writing. Let’s assume that most women lie about their age online. In fact, if a woman says she’s 35, just add five years to be safe. Men are doing this too. The classic move is posting a photo that is ten years old.

I was buoyed by the success of the two happily married couples at this party. The next morning I began my search anew. I signed up for a free trial at Chemistry.

I diligently filled in my profile, answered about 5o questions—some of which seemed silly. Things like matching the length of lines in a diagram. The result: I was told I’m a “negotiator.” Finding this a bit much, I curiously read the “negotiator” traits.

It included things like “very observant of people, their emotions and good at adapting socially.” I guess the matching lines correlate to noticing a furrowed brow, during a conversation? I had to admit that the description, written by a woman psychologist, sounded like me.

I also joined a free “community” based site, where friends are invited to say what they think of the possible match. It had a casual, friendly vibe. No action there. After hearing of my dilemma, a dear Jewish friend of mine finally, grabbed my laptop and took charge. She signed me up on a site for Jewish singles. Let’s call her Beth.

“But…Beth..I’m not Jewish,” I said. “You haven’t heard of  JDate?” she asked,  “Well no…but…but, don’t you have to be Jewish?” I asked, as she paused frantic typing to ask me, “What’s your code name?”

“Uhg…” I said.

She signed me up and then began searching. Still aghast, as I felt I would be breaking some rule, I watched her search for men who were “culturally Jewish but not practicing.”  Proudly she pointed and said, “see, you gotta look for these guy.” We huddled together scanning profiles and pictures. “These guys write better than the men on other sites,” I said. “They’re Jewish,” she snapped. After several intensive days, I logged off, certain that via the online ether, my match would be on his way.

The next day my email box was flooded with “we’ve got matches for you! Check out Andy, he’s a match.”  One reason I chose Chemistry, the site sending me these chipper missives, was that I liked the word “chemistry.” It implies a connection, unexplainable but palpable.

Well, it turns out most men are “directors,” meaning they are a “leader—an independent thinker, bold, assertive and hard working.” This led me to wonder, are all men on this site truly “bold,” or do they answer questions that way because they think that’s what men should be? Out of about 70 matches, it’ seemed like 90% of the men for me were “directors.”

Being a free spirit, the word “director” didn’t sit well with me. Despite this, I dug in and read… As I put in hours online, I’d come across profiles like this one:

Photo: Gill Wildman

“Ask and I will tell you about myself. Words cannot describe a person,” which would be accompanied by no photograph, just a grey photo of a human male. I thought by reading your profile I was asking about you?

Why would you reply to someone who said absolutely nothing about themselves?  Having spent hours writing and editing my profile, revisiting it, choosing several photos to put up, I was disheartened. Should I answer an ad that says:

“nice guy, seeks nice girl?”

Am I difficult? If it’s too hard to write three sentences about yourself, perhaps going out on a date would be too arduous too?

What about profiles that show:

>> A blurry photograph—I am pretty intuitive. I can sense your face.

>> A blurry photograph showing a group of men at a bar or baseball team—do I get to pick the one I think is cutest to date?

>> A photograph with a woman who looks like a porn star—Do I need to change my name to Vanessa Star?

>> A photograph with you cuddling your dogs, another one with you cuddling your sports car—I don’t like dogs with smashed faces, but ok, that’s not a deal breaker.


I became more disheartened, when my “matches” would have specifically requested all ethnicities except “African-American.” Hawaiian, ok. Alaska Native, ok…but not “Black.” Yet he was a “match” for me? Geesssh.

I should add that it’s fine to put whom and what you are attracted to, but the computer doesn’t seem to understand their preferences.

Also, having checked the politics “liberal” box, I would get “directors” who checked “Conservative.”

Were they right wing conservatives? The word conservative has many connotations. I needed a “phone a friend,” and consulted with my gay buddy “Jimmy,” who has a breadth of understanding of not only women, but straight men.

“Straight guys think conservative is a good thing—it’s like saying they’re steady and build things up… you know conserve, that’s a good trait,” he said while munching Thai take-out. “Well that’s good. I like that,” I said. “I think that’s what many of them mean… not like they really are hard core conservative,” he concluded, so he assuaged my fears on that issue.

Am I being difficult? When:

>> A guy who looks like he’s gonna beat you up, with a photo that looks like the cover of hip hop cd, his face glaring down at the viewer (you, the little peon looking up his flaring nostrils) writes to you.

>> A military man writes you and you explain in the nicest way possible that you are kind of “crunchy granola…you know” only to be told, “I’ve had some wonderful dates with women who have said the exact same thing!”

Getting more disheartened:

Folks think you’re in your mid-thirties. You, who have a photo doing frighteningly flexible yoga, but your only response from local newspaper is from:

  1. A couple wanting to “play.” Maybe I should take that photo down?
  2. A 70 year old, who writes to you—telling you he’s very youthful! Ok, if he’s so youthful then I’m gonna go out with that buff teenager who works at Burger King—that would be the same age difference.

My fingers are tired, my eyes are tired and my shoulders are in a knot. I think I’m gonna cash in my membership site fee and get a massage instead.


Kala Viv Williams, left a blistering, tenured career in academia. She eventually returned to her original loves and now blogs here.  A graduate of the “Mindfulness Yoga & Meditation Training” program at Spirit Rock, she is a certified yoga teacher, educator, and intuitive mentor with 17 years of experience. She is currently working on a book about her experiences tentatively titled “Meditations on Unemployment,” or “The Zen of Unemployment”—vote on best title choice, please! This article is an excerpt. Find her on Twitter or Facebook.

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