About a month ago, I finally mustered the courage to try Internet dating again. Not a big deal for some of you, but for me it’s not only a big deal, it’s a big freakin’ deal. I hate blind dates. I do realize that without them many folks would never find someone, but for me, the whole concept of it is not something I choose to pursue willingly. I didn’t start out that way, but somewhere over the course of 30+ years of dating, the belief that root canal was more appealing took hold. You see, I’ve never, not in the entire history of my blind-dating experiences had one go well enough to want to see the guy a second time. I did give it a good try, but when I got to about 10 of these anathemas in a row, I decided it just wasn’t for me. Hey look, I didn’t have to try brussel sprouts as many times to know they never needed to darken my doorstep so cut me some slack!
I made my first foray into the personal ads in my 30s. My girlfriends and I would open a bottle of wine and peruse the listings in the back of the newspaper, deciphering what exactly was meant by “outdoorsy type” (a.k.a.: doesn’t bathe often, hairy back.) In evolutionary terms, this could be considered the Neanderthal era. For a few dollars and 100 characters or less we could find the man of our dreams (for the moment). I mean, who wouldn’t be swayed by personal ad poetry like: SWM buccaneer with plenty of swash and buckle seeks buxom wench for tankards of ale and debauchery. Plank-walking optional. We moved onto the Cro Magnon epoch when I turned 40, and the personals went digital. Suddenly our yentas became matchmaking algorithms, and our romantic pursuits like ordering from a vast take-out menu of characteristics where adherence to facts (or a current picture) was often optional. Unless you decided a more scientific approach was the way to go. Enter the strangely cult-like eHarmony, where Dr. Warren and his minions knew what was best for you. These “all knowing” folks had worked out a series of endless questions (“you like it better like this, or like this…”) more akin to taking the SATs than following cupid’s amorous arrow. And you wonder why it took another decade for me to dip my toes in the digital dating pool again?
Venturing forth a decade later (last month), I was amazed at the logarithmic leaps the technology had made. No longer were you forced to see the sea of candidates you are competing against (with their ample funds for, well, enhancements), and the questions have gotten far more elaborate and personal (you want to know what about my WHAT?). Plus instead of countless hours of eyestrain sorting through a plethora of potential suitors, all you need do is sit back and let computerized cupid send you daily arrows l’amour. I suddenly had my very own online version of “Mystery Date” with the quarterback, bookish class president and rock star behind virtual doors 1, 2 and 3. Hell, this was almost easy! Then I noticed something else. Ten years ago, I was just 40 and looking for a guy my own age. You know, the 10-year window of five below to five above. But after answering Dr. Warren’s countless questions, my “matches” were averaging in the mid to late 50s to 60! After several attempts to remedy my assumed error in selecting the wrong age-range box, followed by contacting the harmonious minions only to hear that Dr. W believed this was best for me, I figured out why. It seems men my age wanted women who weren’t. More accurately, they wanted breeders. Since I had checked the “want children – NO” box, well, that pretty much put me out to pasture. So imagine my surprise when little ol’ 49 ¾ year-old me, having now upped my romance window to include ages 45-60, began getting responses from 28-35-year olds. Yes folks, in a mere 10 years, this gal went from old cow to COUGAR!