by Conor Friedersdorf
Apropos this post, a reader recounts his experience dating online:
I was not the serial dater that has been so well depicted in various sitcoms, but I enjoyed going out 3 or 4 nights a week meeting new people. I was also not ready to settle down - I'd watch as all of my friends married and started families and their life outside of family abruptly ended. No more spur-of-the-moment offshore fishing trips, football games, poker nights, etc. I did not want to be that guy, but here is the rub....at 32 or 33 I looked around and there was no one. My moment in life as part of the 'Fun Bobby' club was over. The familial tasks had taken over the lives of my friends and our time together was limited to a few rounds of golf every year and the occasional blowout when the significant other was out of town. On leave, if you will.
This point in my life was scary. Online dating did not seem to be the answer, but it did look like an opportunity to connect with something as my other options to meet someone were running dry and I was getting a little long in the tooth to be clubbing.
I must have gone out on 'dates' with 15 or 20 'matches'. The deceptive practices employed on internet dating sites has no boundaries. It is a compulsive bullshitter's dreamland of unlimited cons. Hell, I participated in the deception - I have a great job, a fantastic family, and decent looks. However, I'm vertically challenged in my own mind, measuring in at 5' 9". Online I was 5'10". I'd always been the runt growing up and for some twisted reason, this one inch has always made a difference in my subconscious. It also made a difference in what the opposite sex was looking for...seemed that they all wanted the 6 footer and 5'10" put me one inch closer to that dude. (Same holds true for all of those skinny, thin, or athletic women online. That is what guys want, so that is how the women classify themselves...regardless of actual weight.)
However, I'd soon let go of any guilt from the one-inch lie.
I met women that lied about their education, looks, family backgrounds, you name it. It's almost as if the online dating model allows for participants to create their own ideal or perfect self. Why anyone thinks they can perpetuate the lie after an actual meeting or two is beyond me. I got nailed on the height issue about midway through my online experience and meekly submitted that I was, in fact, shorter than advertised. After that humiliation, I made the necessary changes.
The classic move in online deception is the headshot. No explanation necessary. A secondary tool in deception is the 'perfect family' story (Yes, I know I stated that my family is great, but they really are). Everyone wants a mate that has a solid background with no crazies. Well, based on what I read in the matches emailed to me daily, everyone else had a perfect family, too. Go on a date with some of these folks and you realize that the reality is the opposite. Most everyone has a craze or two lurking behind the feel-good bios posted online. There were a few exceptions to the rule, but not many.
At the end of my run on online dating, I was wary of the deceptive practices used by many of the members that I interacted with but I learned to let it go. It's part of the game. It's part of who that person wants to be for them or for someone else. Everyone on online dating sites wants something, whether it be a one nighter or a longer term relationship. In a effort to outwit natural selection, people are going to deceive. It is the level of deceit that ultimately has to be judged and I think most people online can reason as to what is acceptable BS and what is not. Who knows, you may find out you actually do like a little more 'junk in the trunk' and just don't know it yet. It just may take a deceptive person to help you find that inner desire.
By the way, my wife and I met on match.com in 2003. I married three and one half years ago and have my first child due to be born in two months. I am a few months shy of 39 and this is my first marriage. She told me in her online bio that she had a 'perfect' family. Biggest lie she's ever told...her mother is absolutely bat-sh*t insane, but I still love them all.