Writing From the Right Side of the Stall

Carefully curated musings about the writing life, horses, bitterness and crushing career disappointment. Fun, right?

Putting Myself Out There

Had a sobering realization today:  I am better at Internet dating than I am at job hunting.

Well there’s a yikes.

Now I guess I say I am better at the internet dating thing because at least when I was doing that, I got nibbles.  Oh, stop being smut-tastic.  In this instance I am using “nibbles” in a purely innocuous, expression-of-interest way.  Though of course there were some (mostly fairly distasteful) come-ons as well.

A Brief History of my Internet Dating Phase:  I spent a year working in Bermuda, as a riding school manager, back in 1995.  Loooove the island, don’t recommend the work experience, but maybe that was just my usual luck, working for a prize asshat as I was.  Anyway.  I was seeing someone while I was being all tan and islandy and staying up all night clubbing (whoa, was that ever me?) and zipping around Bermuda on my moped, but he was hung up on a mousy former girlfriend, and besides, he smoked and was eventually going to return to Pittsburgh, so inevitably it fizzled when my job soured (read:  I got royally screwed over) and I had to return to the Great White North in a state of great indignation.

Neil, if you’re out there, you probably still have a very sexy voice, though.  (Hey, it’s my blog, I can do gratuitous shout-outs to exes I don’t really want to hear from, if I wanna. So there.)

Self-esteem-wise, this was not one of my more sparkling chapters.  Took me a while to regroup.  Okay, eight years.  (Less from Neil than from the whole demoralizing work experience.)  But eventually I decided to get back on that figurative horse.

Takes me a lot less time to get back on a real horse, btw, provided I’m not so busted up that I have to call myself an ambulance, which has happened once.

Here’s the thing about being ready to put yourself Out There:  if you live on a farm in the middle of  … well, not on the mass transit lines, anyway … and you work from home, you’re really not going to encounter a lot of Appropriate Eligibles, now are you. The only single, straight men I tended to run into wore John Deere caps and were picking up 20 bags of turkey starter at the feed store.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but in my experience these fine specimens usually didn’t consider horses ‘real’ farming, didn’t share a whole lot of my other interests, and were mainly looking for someone to help them slaughter a few steers come fall.  Gosh, that sounds swell, but I’m pretty sure I have to be in Borneo that week for a gallery opening ….

And men who go everywhere in baseball caps are something of a pet peeve of mine anyway.  Geez, give the hat a rest and wash your damn hair.

In case you’re going to suggest horse shows as a potential hunting ground, I will confirm that yes, there are men there, but that they are generally (and by generally, I mean to say ‘overwhelmingly’) not straight.  Love ’em, but am completely cognizant that they are not volunteering to come home with me.

So of course the logical option was the slightly sordid world of internet dating.  (Does it still have that aura of ickiness, or is it completely respectable these days?)

There are a lot of profiles to wade through on internet dating sites.  It’s like job-hunting, but infinitely weirder.  You soon learn to recognize the red flags:  photos clearly taken in 1974, illiteracy (oh, instant turn-off for little grammar Nazi me), hideous cliches (where are all these people taking the long walks on beaches? I lived on an island renowned for its beaches for an entire year and there should have been fucking armies of these guys marching up and down on the pink sand if these profiles are to be believed).

Also worth avoiding:  those with profile names like “Sphincter”.  (No, tragically, I am not kidding.)

I got considerable amusement value out of dipping my virtual toes into the “Encounters” section of Lavalife.  For the uninitiated, Lavalife — at least as of six or seven years ago, I haven’t checked more recently than that, I swear — was divided into a sanitized and mind-crushingly dull “hi, I just want to be pen-friends because I have High Moral Standards” section where there were crickets chirping instead of men, a middle-of-the-road “looking for love that would probably include some eventual consensual groping” section, and a “zipless fuck” section where the men descended like lampreys should any woman, real or imagined, peek around the doorframe on the instant chat.  Needless to say, this can be a hoot if you’re in the frame of mind to see just how pathetic and cliched they can get … and oh, boy, can they.  I used to re-write my profile in the Encounters corral about once a week, each time stretching the boundaries of slutty credibility a little further, and no male ever called me on it.  Not a productive exercise as far as finding a legit squeeze, admittedly, but certainly an interesting window into humanity’s baser qualities …

Mostly, I think you have to approach internet dating the way you do porta-potties at horse shows.  Nasty and unpleasant, but better than nothing.  Just hold your breath, get in and get out as quickly as you can, and whatever you do, don’t look down.

Choosing the right dating site is half the battle, I suspect, but for me it was mostly about not having to cough up a credit card number.  Some are clearly over-hyped; I joined the legions who were rejected by eHarmony, for example (seriously, Google it — 157,000 results; I think it’s a badge of honour, honestly) because I was “not spiritual enough”.  (Oh, apparently you have to believe in a bearded white guy in the clouds in order to believe in a meaningful connection on earth.  Silly me, I’ll get right on that.)

Others just didn’t seem to have much turnover … the same flaccid (and yes, you caught me, you clever reader, I’m using the word deliberately) profiles were there, month after month after month, and I just knew the site needed to be renamed PlentyOfSpaceInMyMom’sBasement.com.

I certainly did encounter some players in the Lavalife years.  One of whom I outed to several of his other ‘connections’ when I discovered he’d been lying about all sorts o’ important stuff including his marital status and whether he’d been HIV tested.  Do NOT mess with me, fellas.  (Lest you think me impertinent, every single woman I contacted thanked me for the heads-up on this knob.)

Another who couldn’t even sustain the most banal kind of small-talk during a ‘meet for drinks’ at a sports bar clearly chosen more for its big-screen display of the Leafs losing, than for my enjoyment, but was genuinely gobsmacked when I didn’t leap at his invitation to come home with him.

And one who thought an appropriate first date would be for me to get in a van with him and drive around the deserted roads of a nearby provincial park, well after dark, until he found a suitable place to dump the body.

But you know what?  I did find a good guy there eventually.  Okay, flawed, but hey, I’m a smidge quirky myself in addition to being over 20 and not a size zero, so, you know, I make allowances.  He’s good enough that we’re still together nearly six years later, and I deleted my profile and Lavalife finally stopped badgering me to come back a couple years later.  And that’s all I’m going to say about that because I didn’t really tell him I was going to be writing about this and I don’t know if his mother knows we met online.

Given that, I have to say I’m more successful at internet dating than I am at job-hunting, because in the past three years I have sent out thousands of resumes and managed only a handful of interviews, and no lasting matches.  Even though I probably come across as a lot more sane and capable on a resume than I did on a dating profile, and it really shouldn’t bloody matter that I’m not a size zero and it should be a plus that I’m over 20.  Right?  (Hmm.  The crickets are back.)

I even got rejected the other day by a resume-compilation/headhunter service to which I’d been given (supposedly) a 30-day free trial thanks to membership in a LinkedIn group.  Spent all that time inputting my resume only to have it spat back out at me.

So what was it about internet dating that I did better?  This is something to ponder.  Questions, comments, thoughts, concerns?


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32 thoughts on “Putting Myself Out There

  1. In the vernacular, LMAO! And also send sympathy. I have done the endless job hunt and it is demoralizing at best. I think saying I hated the concept of an office cube and the inventor of said space should have been shot at birth MIGHT have narrowed some of my chances. As for on-line dating – never tried it and no doubt would have been similarly rejected by eHarmony!


  2. I have come to the conclusion that getting an interview through on-line job ads is a bit like winning the lottery – due to scanning software for the zillions of resumes that each ad receives – it is unlikely that human eyes ever look at your resume. You’ve got to “network” but as somebody who has been self employed for a very long time (sound familiar??) that can seem somewhat daunting as well. I think you should continue the blog on job hunting. I never did the online dating thing – once replied to a classified once upon a time in the stone age – which went nowhere.


  3. I was going to join one of those internet dating sites, but my wife does not allow me to date.


  4. What’s difference between both, online dating and job-hunting from the job-hunting perspective anyway ?


  5. LOL…it’s not much better for several of my single friends in Urban Phoenix either.

    Love the moped


    • I KNOW, I love the mopeds (or “bikes” in Bermuda vernacular) too. I have wanted one ever since I came back. Get all squishy inside when I see a Vespa. Not that they’re terribly practical for the gravel roads ’round here ….


  6. sarin on said:

    aye, a good laugh.
    glad you found some one!


  7. mandyf on said:

    For some reason Vespa makes me think of Audrey Hepburn riding through Paris with wind in her hair looking all glamorous. Then I try riding a three speed bicycle down the street and wind up with gnats swarming me, messy hair and the real risk of serious bodily injury caused by those two squirrels in the insurance commercial. I wish my online job hunting and dating (the whole couple months I tried it way back when) went the Audrey route but instead it was the bug infested windblown wreck route that I suffered. That sounds about right.


    • The reality of Bermuda bikes is that you always, always, always have helmet hair. You learn to deal with it once you realize that everyone on the damn island has that same hair.


  8. kosta montoya on said:

    Thank you


  9. MesaBoogie on said:

    Reblogged this on MesaBoogie007.


  10. I’d put it down to on-line dating being a bigger pond to fish in. Jobs are scarce. Scary single (or not so much) men looking to hook up? Not scarce.

    That said, I met my husband on line. I was bored one night, looked up local dudes on yahoo personals, found someone who lived twenty minutes away, emailed him and we ended up married. I should buy lottery tickets.


  11. It was a little hard to follow your train of thought which was written in a very conversational style. It took a while to get to the subject of internet dating. I like the personality and humor of personal blogs but you might want to outline or revise your blog posts. Right now, they are more writer-centric than reader-centric.


    • Hi Liz — thanks for commenting! The conversational style is deliberate … if you Google “Karen Briggs equine nutrition” or “Karen Briggs parasites” or “Karen Briggs tractor” or any number of other horse-related keywords, you can find dozens of my very non-conversational, serious articles on veterinary topics, stable management, and the like. This is where I blow off steam, go off on irrelevant tangents, and allow myself to get all snarky. Some will groove to that, some won’t.


  12. milieunet on said:

    Great article. Thanks


  13. Been married for 20+ years. Missed herpes, AIDS, & online dating. Cannot fathom having to go dating today.

    PS Stealing this. You have been warned.


  14. Oh my! That was funny Karen, and I have been there on the Internet dating front. Funnily enough, I met my husband through Twitter, but we were NOT looking.

    As to the seriousness of your question about job hunting online – I agree with people who point out the difficulty due to the screening/culling functions of most sites.

    I was an employment counsellor and worked in human resources in the 1990s – I don’t know what I would advise people now. The “game” has changed significantly.

    In my area, it is still about meeting people and networking face to face too.


  15. mcnudde on said:

    Funny – and unfortunateley too true. Glad you found someone. But both internet job search sites and dating sites leave me cold. I’m in the middle of a job search right now and I sympathize with you.


  16. AT least with dating it is real people, sometimes job hunting feels so impersonal


  17. TaxCoach on said:

    I don’t know whether online dating is hard. But, it’s really hard to talk about your experience. Through it, I could tell that it’s more difficult than job hunting online.


  18. Kita Champion on said:

    I’m more interested in the dating LOL


  19. Pingback: Putting Myself Out There … On Horseback. « Rodney's Saga

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