Let's call him Steve. After all, that's what he called himself on Match.com. And who's to say if that was his real name?
Steve and I have never met, but he's the reason I decided to step off the Match.com bus, and for that I owe him my gratitude. Why? Because in the world of online-dating algorithms, where any click, keyword or action is fraught with significance, stumbling across his profile, which he had the cheek to title "Thank You For Shopping at the Man Store," ricocheted me onto a fateful course.
It was time for me to renew my six-month subscription on Match.com. Or was it? Steve's headline was a wake-up call of sorts: If what I was doing was "shopping at the man store," well, in the words of the immortal Bard: "Yuck."
Four years of on-again, off-again attempts to meet someone in cyber-land had taken their toll. This was clearly a stupid way to meet people, and I was done. Finished.
That weekend I sent Match my notification that I'd not be renewing, and went about my business.
I had taken a few vacation days from work, and the next day, a Monday, was beautiful and bright outside. I was about to go out for a walk. But the siren call of the inbox lured me from my intended rounds.
I still had a couple of days before my Match profile vanished from public view. Now, with the pressure off, it might be fun to log onto my email and see what new horrors awaited me.
Oh. This one sounds promising. "ArtsandSportsLvr" finds me, "1literary_lady," interesting. At least that's what the subject header of the Match email indicates: "You Sparked Someone's Interest!"
Well what do you know? With just a couple of days left to go on Match, I get a nibble.
I click the link that takes me to the Match website, and click again to see what Match has to say about him.
"He's a 55-year-old man living in Cleveland, OH."
Okay, age is fine. Geography, manageable.
"You both fancy felines. Like you, he's not a smoker. He has a graduate degree."
An intelligent cat-lover who doesn't have nicotine stains on his teeth. This just keeps getting better and better.
I click on the link to his profile.
Ah. He's included a picture. That's always a good sign. There's nothing creepier than seeing a faded blue head in silhouette accompanied by a wink (or, sometimes, a leer).
Wait. This is a nice picture. Look at those bright, clear blue eyes! And gosh darn it all, he's got a dog, too! That is, if he didn't rent the pup for the picture. (Had I grown cynical? Yes, just a little, around the edges.)
I was aware of the cyber-clock ticking. In a couple of days, I'd be lost to ArtsandSportsLvr forever. I had a decision to make. I could let boy-and-his-dog into my life, or let them trot off into the sunset. And live out the rest of my days with my cats.
I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and send a reply:
SUBJECT: The artful, sporting life...
Date: Mon, June 8, 2009 10:06 am
Hello, and thank you for your interest.
I must say that from what I read in your profile, we seem to have much in common. You also have a great smile; it suggests a good, kind soul.
My subscription to Match ends this week, and I'm not renewing it. If you would like to get to know me off-line, as it were, and wish to send me a note, here's my e-mail address in the real world:
Have a wonderful day!
I go out for my walk, and when I return, there's a message waiting for me:
Marci, thanks for sharing your e-mail address. I would like to continue chatting until you get comfortable enough to plan a get-to-know-you meeting. I was introduced to the Oberlin concerts at the gazebo last year and enjoyed two of them. The theater there is a wonderful bargain as well. I have been told that the art museum is worth the trip and is on my list of to-do's this summer.
Now you have my e-mail address and feel free to use it.
"Go out and make a difference in the world and it will make a world of difference in you." - JR
I'm intrigued. A guy who includes a quote from himself in his email signature. That could seem pretentious, but this doesn't strike me that way. I like the philosophy here. Could this be a man who's not full of himself? An actual nice guy?
After a few more emails, we agree to speak on the phone.
I like his voice.
We set up a meeting at the museum in the town where I live.
That date, our first, lasts seven hours.
Reader, I married him.
I know I had become cynical about online dating toward the end of my tenure, but with success and the passage of time, it's clear to me that I really had to give the algorithms time to do their work. John and I would never have met without the nudge from our cyber Dolly Gallagher Levi.
I wrote about this experience, and the online dating phenomenon, for the Richmond Times-Dispatch in an article published September 4, 2011. My research included interviews with Amy Canaday of Match.com's public relations office, and two experts-- Mark Brooks, an online dating consultant, and Dr. Robert Epstein, a contributor to Scientific American Mind.
When I interviewed Canaday by email in 2011, she told me that in the previous five years, the fastest-growing demographic for Match.com was the 50-and-older age group.
Unattached boomers? Are you listening?
Readers, this post is part of a GenFab Blog Hop. To begin reading all of the posts on the subject of "How I Met My Significant Other," please click here.