One man’s trials while seeking an exclusive relationship in the ocean of online dating.
In the aftermath of my divorce I found myself through a series of stages and progressions. After much thought about what had transpired in my life and in my marriage I had a dam good idea of what I wanted from a relationship and the kind of person I wanted. So I did what every newly separated person looking to date does. I went online. This should be simple enough. Post a couple of pictures. Write a little something about myself and send an email to someone who seemed like they match what I am looking for. We are all at a stage in our lives where no one wants to play any games and potential suitors will appreciate honesty and sincerity. Well, let the reality lessons begin.
The first thing I learned about was the separated stigma. I was fresh meat and only separated. Despite the fact that I lived in my own apartment away from my marital home and had actually filed for divorce, I carried a scarlet letter S on my forehead. No one wanted to be the first and no one wanted to the transition person. That person happened and is a story for another essay. So I went through a dating purgatory if you will. Eventually I found that it was easier to list myself as divorced. The next lesson came in that people online have very little etiquette and social skills.
As I went through the profiles and read every last line I would find ones that interest me and wanted to meet. I’d sit down and write an email discussing the things I liked about their profile and how we had very similar interest. I would hit the send button and await a reply. In many cases days would go by and nothing, not even a, ”thanks but no thanks.” Wow, how could people be so rude? If I’d have offered this person a drink at a bar at the very least, they would have said no thank you. Unfortunately I have come to the conclusion that anonymity brings out the worst in people, but that’s a topic for another article one day. Time would pass and I would waste valuable subscription time. The good dating sites are not free. Giving a person a week to reply and then writing an email to someone else and waiting another week was not going to get me to my desired objective.
When I did receive a positive reply I would only communicate with that one person. I found that the average time between initial contact and actually meeting the potential suitor could sometimes be as long as two weeks. I also found that as part of the dating process, that email, phone, and text chemistry doesn’t always translate into an in person chemistry. (I can write another story on that) On several occasions I spent countless hours speaking to a person, at times till the wee hours of the morning. We would share a number of texts back and forth during the course of the days. Then we’d meet in person and for one reason or another there wouldn’t be another date. Sometimes my choice, sometimes theirs, in either case it was a bit of an emotional disappointment. Well there went two weeks and now there is no one in the pipeline. Time to start sending out emails again. If I am going to succeed here, I would have to approach this as a business with a marketing plan if you will.
I soon found myself sending several emails at the same time. I actually created a short template with the exception of a sentence which I would customize to show that I read something from the profile. It was not unusual to send out 10 even 20 emails a day. This would quickly use up a lot of the members in one site so I would bounce back and forth on multiple sites. Along the way I kept making changes to my profile. I found that humor was extremely important so I made my profile into a reflection of the online dating profiles. I soon started receiving both replies as well as unsolicited emails. But it came sporadically.
Amongst one of the many things I can say about online dating is that it is feast or famine. I soon found myself communicating positively with as many as 10 women at the same time. Why, because I would receive replies from emails sent recently as well as days back. It became a bit of a challenge to both keep in contact with as well as to keep informed on, who had kids, who didn’t, who likes sushi who was a vegetarian? I found myself looking at their profiles before making a call to make sure I didn’t mess things up. I tried to keep it to no more than three at a time that I would actually be speaking to and three to five that I would be emailing. If things didn’t pan out with someone I was speaking to I could easily move one I was writing to up to speaking. But how does this equate to serial dating?
Even when there is chemistry, no one ever agrees to only date the one person after just one date. Not even discussed. I also felt like I owe it to the other ones I have been talking to, to at the very least meet them. So you make one date, and then leave it open for a future date. You go out with the next one next week and try to circle back to the first one somewhere along the way. In the interim, guess what she is doing? Yes going on dates with someone else. This whole thing becomes a vicious cycle of let’s see if the next one is better or more suited. So here I am now dating multiple women at the same time trying to figure out which one is a keeper. No doubt she is probably doing the same. Along the way we cull and fall victim to culling. The trick is to know when to stop adding more fish to the stringer.
Hopefully it will come to the point where I will meet that one woman. We will enjoy each other’s company to the degree that we will choose to not see other people and then the real fun can begin. But for now, I’m just trying to figure out how to stop this crazy merry go round.
Epilogue and a Note of Hope
Since the writing of this article, I have met a wonderful lady. From the minute we started communicating I knew there was a connection. After just a couple of dates I decided that in order for there to be something real and meaningful in my life I would have to get off this insane roller coaster. We have both decided to date exclusively. We can only really get to know each other without the noise and distractions of other people. So maybe the next article will be about how I cured my serial dating problem.
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Photo: Flickr/Jim Pennucci