In this instance, I can gladly claim to be married and exempt from the new world of dating. I have a few middle aged friends, however, that have recently plunged into this murky new world. I've watched them with hopeful expectation that they might find companionship and I've harbored morbid curiosity for how it all works. I want all the details and they are are wonderful to give them to me.
It took me a long time to get comfortable with Blogging. At first, I thought my relative anonymity would enable me to write rambling emotionally charged blogs aimed at purging my system of all the "crap" I carried around with me. After a few very personal posts, however, I felt naked and exposed--I've regressed now to a level of blogging that balances full purgative disclosure with the relative benign diary this-is what-I did-today kind of blog. I'm comfortable with the way I blog now, yet I can not imagine the whole Internet dating E-Harmony type of thing. Initially, I thought, "What a wonderful tool for a middle aged woman to cast a wide net in the sea of available men."
This concept was reiterated in a book I read last summer: " Sex and the Seasoned Woman" by Gale Sheehy. I checked this book out of the library because it was aimed at the over 40 female seeking comfort in the middle years. Admittedly, I've been going through a mid-life crises for the last three years, at least, and I hoped this book could help me find solace. This book turned out to be a very edgy little read and had my husband squirming in the driver's seat, while I devoured chapter after chapter on our way to a family reunion There was a whole chapter extolling the wonders of Internet dating and how it enables time constrained middle aged woman to meet compatible people without spending undue amounts of time in smoky bars meeting.....alcoholics. Even more surprising was the chapter on the beauty of dating younger men and how younger men these days don't mind at all shagging with a woman 10-15 years older than them, as long as the woman has kept herself in shape. Thank God for Demi Moore! Accolades to Madonna! So, between the Internet for finding the cache of available men and the fact that a middle age woman can conceivably fish for older men, men of comparable age, and now younger men as well; it appears that dating prospects would be very good for any well-groomed woman. I have two very good friends that have been testing the waters, casting the net far and wide with the aid of Match.com and E-harmony and even MySpace.
I was so excited to hear about their experiences. How exciting this must be, but oh how scary too. Still....I wanted to hear about all of it as I sit in my living room....my husband sitting in his chair doing what he always does; married to this man for 20 years, I can accurately predict his every move, every expression, and practically speak the words before they come out of his mouth. It is a wonderful thing on one hand to have such a dependable man, yet I can't help but have that "grass is always greener on the other side of the fence" mentality. I envy the excitement they feel.
On the flip side....I don't think I'd have the guts to do what they are doing. It takes real self-confidence to post your picture on the Internet with accompanying profile for hundreds to view and....be judged. To think that some dude might hit the delete button on me because he didn't like my glasses or thought my hair was too frizzy. Or to be dissed because I have children. I don't know if I could handle the rejection.
I don't care what anyone says, I think the best way to meet people is through normal social circumstances, where people can get to know one another slowly. Internet dating doesn't factor in the "chemistry" equation. You can't possible know just from looking at someones picture, or reading the profile if there's going to be "chemistry". Chemistry to me is the inexplicable feeling elicited by the meshing together of a person's looks, mannerisms, voice, and life-experiences. I think people instantly know if there's chemistry present. So, my friends tell me that after you have found an acceptable match; ie; they have a profile you feel might be compatible, the first "public date" is arranged for the "chemistry" test.
My friend, Sheila (I made up this name) asked if I'd have her daughter over to play with my daughter while she went on the first public date with a profile she matched. He was a little older, had a blue-collar type profession, was divorced with children and apparently had hobbies and interests that were in line with hers. She dropped off her daughter and she looked absolutely smashing. She has very large breasts, which she knows I'm insanely jealous; she had them expertly showcased without being slutty and showing too much of the goods. She seemed very excited meeting the mystery man. I was excited for her and hoped this one would work. A few weeks ago, she met a promising fellow that passed the initial chemistry test of the first public meeting, but on the second date he came over to her house, drank an entire bottle of wine, while she demurely nursed a drink of Kahlua, and then--flaming drunk, insisted on staying the night. She made him go home, cause he was a drunk slob at this point, expecting her to give up the goods. He called her the next day chastising her for letting him drive home drunk. Hmmm.....End of that experiment.
Sheila met the said man at a public restaurant for dinner. Apparently, he was doomed from the minute he walked into the restaurant wearing a baseball cap backwards. She said he wore this blue shirt that was inexplicably awful and wore glasses that were a good 20 years out of style. Still, not wanting to judge this book by it's out of fashion cover; she hoped that lively conversation over dinner, would make up for the points he lost on "appearance". No...this wasn't going well either. He was a drinker and a smoker that couldn't make it through the dinner without excusing himself from the dinner (more than once) to tank up on nicotine. Sheila is an ex-smoker and a very moderate drinker, so I'm sure she wasn't happy with this. Still.....a pleasant personality can make up for bad dressing and all-consuming nicotine addiction. No....he was opinionated and then Sheila struggled to find the word that was eating at her that described this man. It's " chauvinistic". He took it upon himself to tell her how to raise her girls and voiced several other unsavory points of view. This one was not to go on any further.
Wow! I don't think I could handle it. Internet dating is nothing more than a series of slightly informed blind dates. They are actually even worse than blind dates, because you don't have even the benefit of a friend's good judgement to clue you in that, "Oh, yeah....so and so is very sweet and he's a real good dad, blah, blah....
I guess my age makes me wary of this. My other friend; I'll call her Shelly-had this ultra good-looking dude contact her through her MySpace. He sounded just a little too good to be true. She sent me a picture of him and something screamed out, "Ted Bundy!" He claimed to be a wine merchant, originally from France, that does restaurant reviews. It sounded so damned fictional and I was seized with paranoid protectiveness of my friend. I e-mailed her and begged her to get a last name, and I'll have my friend do a back-ground check on the French dude. She assured me that she's read all the proper books on the rules of Internet dating and it's not a good idea to exchange last names, in case, it doesn't work out and the dude wants to stalk you. I urged caution. My friend went through a nasty divorce and has had a hard time getting back into the dating scene.
Actually, I just found out she did meet the Frenchmen and there was nothing that set off any alarms. She said he was kind of nerdy, actually. Very sweet. Not sure if anything more will transgress, but I eagerly await the next chapter as I continue to live vicariously through my single friends.