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?