Back in the dark ages before the Internet there was a column at the back of some newspapers titled “personals.”
This was where people could take out ads selling themselves in the hopes of attracting a date and possible true love. There was one particular weekly rag that kept people up to date on what was going on around town and had pages of these ads at the back. It was the love hub.
I spent hours pouring over those ads, partly for entertainment and partly in the hopes of meeting my prince one day. Most of the ads were pretty goofy. Rupert Holmes had come out with the song “Escape” about a couple who were kind of bored with each other. The woman takes out a personal ad and the man answers it. All very romantic. Her ad said:
If you like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain
If you’re not into yoga, if you have half a brain
If you like making love at midnight in the dunes of the cape
Then I’m the love that you’ve looked for, write to me and escape
As you can imagine, there were a lot of ads that said they liked getting caught in the rain and drinking piña coladas and walking on the beach and watching sunsets. Every once in a while I would find one that looked interesting and respond. I don’t recall ever talking much before we met, it was mainly just to set up a meeting. There were no photos and not really much to go on, more like a leap of faith. Believe me, I had to kiss a lot of frogs.
The last ad I answered said he was a writer, bilingual, just returned from Nicaragua. We met at a German restaurant and split a bottle of wine and then went for a walk. I married him four years later.
Thirty years later, I am single again and thought I would give the Internet a try. There are pictures now and a lot more information available and instant access through chat or email but there are a lot of pitfalls as well. First of all there are a LOT of dating sites. There are sites for people over 50, for people in their 20’s and 30’s, for Christians, for Inmates, for people with Herpes, and then just everybody. You can find a partial list here.
I’m not here to give any kind of advice. Different things probably work for different people but I have had some interesting experiences. After trying out a bunch of them I narrowed it down to Match.com and OK Cupid. I was on eHamony for a while and got zero nada nothing out of it.
OK Cupid is a free site so it is wide open to all the weirdos of the world. By that I mainly mean spammers and swindlers. It takes some time and energy to weed out the fakes. You can usually tell from the photo and the English. Sometimes when they message you the language isn’t quite right or they say things that don’t make any sense. I had one guy tell me he loved romance novels. Really?
If they only have one photo and they are wearing sunglasses in that one photo, move on. I read an article that said another one to avoid is the guy who only has selfies taken in the bathroom mirror. I would agree with that, what is the problem? Is he trapped in there and can’t get out? Is his wife in the next room?
And of course, never ever ever even think about sending anybody any money, no matter how cute and convincing they are. Yuk!
Once you wade through all the junk, I find people on OK Cupid to be fairly friendly and responsive. Match.com used to be free but now you have to pay to communicate with people. You can put your profile up but if anybody “likes” you or sends you an email, you can’t see it. My theory is if people are paying for something, they are more likely to be serious about it. The main problem here is the hackers. They hack in, blast out a ton of emails, and then get blocked. It is kind of annoying but at least you know they are doing something on the back end.
I think it is funny how picky and specific many of the profiles are. A lot of the men are “athletic and toned” and work out everyday and for fun they bike and hike and swim and work out and walk. They are all “active” and live a healthy lifestyle.
I think that must be a particular thing for men in their 50’s. I find myself wondering when they would ever have time to date let alone be in a normal relationship. To me “active” means something completely different. Being active means you are actually doing something. I exercise and eat healthy but it is not the focal point of my life, it is more of a sideline. The funny thing is they only want to meet women who are exactly like them. I don’t want to date myself.
I had one guy tell me we were not a match because I said on my profile I liked to go to the Ballet. Really? Reminded me of a Meg Ryan movie. “I couldn’t possibly date anybody who likes the Ballet.”
So, again, many many frogs involved.
The real key is to not take any of it too seriously. Have some fun.
Kathleen Gamble was born and raised overseas and has traveled extensively. She has a BA in Spanish and has worked in publishing, printing, desktop publishing, translating, and purchasing. She also designs and creates her own needlepoint. She started journaling at a young age and her memoir, Expat Alien, came out of those early journals. Over the years she has edited and produced an American Women’s Organization cookbook in Moscow, Russia, and several newsletters. Her first book, Expat Alien, was published in 2012 and she recently published a cookbook, 52 Food Fridays, both available on Amazon.com. You can also follow her blog at ExpatAlien.com.