By Samantha Lekus
I have recently become an online personals junkie. If you don't think online personals are for you, read this – it may just put a whole new spin on your personals life.
First, let me set the record straight. I am not lonely. I am not ugly. I am not desperate. I am, in fact, the antithesis of lonely, ugly and desperate. I like to think of myself as Sarah Jessica Parker à la "Sex in the City" but in San Francisco.
So why try this online personals thing, you ask? Because I've noticed that as I've gotten older (all of 31 years), my dating pool has somewhat shallowed and stagnated. Which means I have already dated most of my friend's friends, and, as I always have, I work mainly in the company of women (office relationships are a major no-no anyway). I don't swing dance. Singles cruises conjure up images of Doc, Gofer and Isaac. And as everyone knows, singles bars suck.
Let's think about singles bars for a moment. The men in my age group who still go to singles bars are the same men who went to single bars when I went to single bars. I didn't want to date them then, so why would I want to date them now? Besides, I don't want to spend the rest of my weekend with someone who has nothing better to do then cure himself of a hangover.
This does not mean I sit at home on Saturday nights reading "Bridget Jones" and hoping that "Saturday Night Live" will be tolerable. Not at all. In fact, my social calendar is usually booked over a week in advance. And, I date. In fact, I am currently dating two men you may already know: Mr. Sort-of and Mr. Maybe. Which is fine. Well, it is fine, but of course, if Mr. Right showed up, I wouldn't kick him out of bed.
All my ill-perceived notions regarding online personals were shattered on a recent hike with some friends.
There were two guys on the hike that I had not met before. Both of the guys were single, and one of the guys in particular had good hair and an even better butt (not something to be taken for granted on men over 30). So, I dipped into my cache of titillating, yet information-gathering questions, to find out what was up. We were talking about the hottest Web sites, so I asked if anyone had ever used online personals. (Oh, I am soooo smooth!) I had toyed with the idea but had never really given it serious consideration before. I wanted to know what other normal people thought about this growing trend.
And surprise, surprise
four out of five hikers recommended online personals. No one was embarrassed; no one thought it was lame; and it seems, everyone went out on dates. I expressed my hesitation, but as my friend Heather pointed out, "If meeting someone in a chat room is OK, what's wrong with meeting someone through personals? It's basically the same thing, except you see a profile before you have a chat."
As Mike (with the nice gluts) eloquently put it, "Dude, it's not like I've met 'The One' yet, but I've gone out with five or six lovely ladies, which is way more dates than I get when I go snowboarding."
So, with these words of encouragement, off I went.
It appears there are a few top-notch personals sites and a whole bunch of cheezo sites. I signed up with a bunch, but then I finally settled on one, JDate.com, which was clean and normal. Many are not. They made it easy, too (e.g. you can join for free.), but the main attraction was that JDate.com seemed to have the hottest and the most interesting guys in their "quick search" area.
I just filled out some questions (actually a lot of questions) about myself and answered some essays (ugh, hated them, but all the high-end personals sites have them). I really did try to be as honest as possible, though I had to sit with a mirror next to the computer to remind myself that I wasn't a 118 pound, 5'10" blonde. (Side note: I have this theory that women lie by about 10 pounds on their profile, and men under 6 feet lie by 2 inches. Keep that in mind). Finally, I hit the send button, and in no time, I was a JDate.com-er!!
I have to admit I was nervous. Suppose no one writes me? Suppose I write someone and they don't email back. I started to think of ways I could get JDate.com to pay for the therapy I was going to need after this personals experiment. But then, oh baby, I didn't even have time to scan all the bachelors that met my criteria before my email bell rang. Ohmigod. I am popular, I am pretty and people really, really like me!
The whole process was absolutely exhilarating. Forget the horse, Prince Charming could be writing me any second. I found myself checking my email every 10 minutes. Within a week, I had over 30 emails. I have to admit though, most of the letters came after my picture was posted, guys are so shallow. (Ssshhhh, don't tell anyone, but I only answered ads where a picture was attached.) And I swear the majority of these guys are normal.
But even I don't have time to see 30 men, so I began the weeding out process. About five guys sent me standardized form letters where it was clear they never read my profile. Another four clearly needed to hit the singles bars. Three guys lived too far away, and a few others were just lame. And one guy thought my interest would be piqued by describing his penis size.
So that left 15. Still too many, but out of those who made the semifinals, five rose like cream to the top, and these were the ones I contacted.
What happened next came in three phases: 1) the email volleys, 2) the phone calls and 3) the initial meetings. Two guys struck out during the email volley phase, simply due to the realization that we had nothing in common. This was good. Online personals really do save a lot of time and anguish.
The last three bachelors passed both the email and the phone portion of the competition. From here, I developed the following format: I scheduled a time to meet for drinks with the hope that if things went well we would move on to dinner.
So, after maxing out my credit card on three new outfits and a trip to the hair stylist, I met bachelor No. 1 at, where else, a bar during happy hour. He was an absolute doll – a man with a job, a dog and a sense of humor. There is hope! The only thing missing was chemistry. That, unfortunately, cannot be conveyed on paper, the Internet or over the phone. Still, we talked for three hours. I think I may have a new friend, which can sometimes be even better than a love connection because friends who have friends are good people to know. Thanks JDate.com.
So, on to Bachelor No. 2. This initially looked more promising. In fact, we went out once, then twice, and then, well, I'll spare you the details, but suffice it to say kissing was involved. This was all very nice, but I think this one might be Mr. Sort-of's cousin, or Mr. Almost. Besides, he violated the "Thigh Rule" which states: No man shall have smaller thighs than I.
Bachelor No. 3 is tonight.
I am looking forward to it but I'm not sweating it either. He may be Mr. Right, or he may be related to Mr. Maybe, Mr. Sort-of and Mr. Almost, but this whole experience has given me a renewed sense of self-confidence, hope and an excuse to buy new shoes.
I'm telling you, the guys are out there. They're all on the Internet. And if they're all on the Internet, I've got to be there, too. I mean, how can they ask me out if they can't find me? So all you JDate.com guys out there, come find me. I'm posted and ready for love.
Samantha Lekus is single and a child psychologist working for an Internet start-up company in San Mateo, Calif.