Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Whole Package

I have a new guilty pleasure. Actually, it has become a bit of an obsession. For the past week, I have been reviewing online profiles on Match.com. And I just can't stop. It all started innocently enough. A few weekends ago I was hanging out with my sister and trying to convince her that, after surviving a bitter divorce earlier this year, maybe it was time to think about going on a date.

So I logged into my old Match.com account and we did some searching, just for fun. After viewing about 20 or 30 profiles for men our age, we both agreed that it was pretty scary out there. In fact, our Internet dating research is what inspired me to stick it out with the Boy a little longer. Or so I thought. Over the next few days, I started thinking about the potential of finding someone new. I dreamed of starting with a clean slate and being free from all of the emotional baggage that has been building up with the Boy over the past few months.

Then I went back online and reviewed my profile. I updated the photo and started reading what I had written about myself three years ago when I met the Boy online. Soon, I found myself editing the text and sending it for approval from the dating experts at Match.com. Finally, I made the big move and switched my profile from "invisible" to "visible."

Online dating is like any other form of online shopping. It is easily accessible and allows you to search at a time when it is convenient for you. And that is why it is so addictive.

So far, my online experience is pretty much the same as it was three years ago. I have been flooded with "winks" from a bunch of unattractive men who are significantly older than I am. In case you are not familiar, a "wink" is a way for someone to let you know they are interested without making the commitment to send you an actual e-mail. It is the online equivalent of texting instead of calling someone on the phone.

And believe it or not, I have seen some of the same guys out there from when I was on Match.com three years ago. I can only assume that they have been in one or more relationships that did not work out and, like me, they are trying their luck again.

But this time it is different. I am not sure I am really even looking for love this time. It is more of a social experiment. I am absolutely fascinated by what people write in their profiles. Some of the men are so honest and open that it is easy to become absorbed in their narrative and start to picture our life together while conveniently overlooking minor details, like their desire to "definitely" have three kids someday. Yes, not only does Match.com allow you to state your desire for children but they now allow you to tell your future mate exactly how many you want.

Other guys use their profile as a way to promote their highly active lifestyle, complete with photos of them mountain climbing, camping, fishing, or crossing the finish line in the iron man triathlon. I am not sure why they think that girls want to see this, but there are lots of guys who fall into that category. Maybe they would have more time to meet someone special if they weren't hanging in a harness on the rock climbing wall at the gym seven days a week.

In my brief study of online dating behavior, I have discovered some common themes out there that everyone seems to be looking for: physical attraction or chemistry, conversation and a sense of humor, adventure and excitement, and the feeling of unconditional love.

As I thought about it, I realized that I already have all of those things in my life. I just don't have them all with one person.

If I want a passionate physical connection, I have the Boy. I would like to say more about it, but that is really all that he has to offer. And sometimes that is exactly what I need.

If I want adventure and excitement, I have the Canadian. He and I have been exchanging e-mails this week. We are trying to find a day that we can both skip work, go out drinking in the middle of the day and then do some Christmas shopping. He is unpredictable, which is very intriguing to me. I am never sure exactly when he is going to drift in and out of my life. Being around him makes me feel vibrant and alive.

If I want great conversation and humor, I have my Mr. Big. He calls me at work at least once a week and we just talk about our day. He asks me random questions and takes a genuine interest in my life. And he always makes me laugh. The chemistry we have is undeniable. With our shared history, there are so many stories to tell. Whenever I think about him, it makes me smile.

On those days when I need unconditional love, I have my nephews. Over Thanksgiving weekend, I took my three year old nephew with me for a few hours. Being with him is pure joy. There is nothing that can substitute for one of his "squeeze hugs". And when he looks at me with his deep brown eyes and he puts his face right up to mine so that our noses are touching, I feel like my heart is literally going to melt. That is true love and no man could possibly compete.

It would be nice to think that the whole package is out there just waiting for me to find him with one click of my mouse. But it takes a small army of men and boys to make me happy. I am not sure if I am ready to settle for just one.


Anonymous said...

I like your online shopping metaphor ... but maybe a better analogy for your new hobby is going to the casino. If you play thinking you are going to be one of the lucky winners, you will almost always be disappointed. You have to enjoy the thrill of the game for its own sake. Sounds like you are!

Anonymous said...

Some people have other opinions on this, but I don't think there's anything wrong with getting different things from different people - as long as it doesn't involve physical infidelity. (Emotional infidelity becomes a gray area in this argument!)