Online dating is a lot of like late-night shopping on JCrew.com. All you need is an address, a mouse, and the ability to navigate from sweaters to khakis, or in this case from beefy blondes to suave brunets. One night I couldn’t sleep and not really needing a sweater, I decided to do some late night shopping for a date.
Seems Alan had the same insomnia and lack of needing a sweater. But Alan wasn’t a JCrew man at all- he was 100% Roots from Canada. At 6’6”, he had the total outdoorsman look down to a science. His photos showed lots of flannel and denim. There was even an action shot- Alan using an ax chopping down a tree on his property in New Hampshire. One picture even showed the three-day beard growth that amounts to a full beard for us hairy guys. Alan had that type of hyper-masculine energy that can be described as nothing less than a major turn on. He started a chat with me, and the text conversation was a lot of fun. He really seemed like a down to Earth guy with no pretention and lots of testosterone. I decided to close the deal on a date, asking him for coffee. He immediately accepted, and suggested we meet the next day. I jumped at it, and set a 5:15pm date at Starbucks.
4:30 pm came the next day, and I was in a meeting that went into overtime. I sent Alan a text telling him I’d be 15 minutes late. He was fine with it… or so I thought.
At 5:25 pm, I walked into Starbucks, and Alan scored a seat right by the door. He was sporting a thick five o’clock shadow, and blue sweater that accentuated his sculpted chest and rather large biceps. As I continued taking in Alan’s physicality, I noticed his jeans that looked as if they were tailored specifically for his muscular legs. And then I got to his boots. Brown leather, four-inch heels, and my guess was that they were from Nine West.
Alan pointed to his watch, and for a split second I swore I heard the voice of Marilyn Monroe say “You’re late!” as he pointed to the watch.
I was paralyzed. All I could think of was the Highlights for Children game where you had to circle what didn’t belong in the picture. I snapped out of it, shook his hand (which was the limpest handshake in the history of handshakes) and went to get a coffee. All I could think of were those women’s boots.
Alan and I conversed for about 45 minutes. It was a typical friendly conversation, where we learned a bit about each other. I asked him if he liked sports, and the answer was a quick and breathy “No!”. I told him that I like college football, and asked if he, as a Canadian, ever played hockey. “Oh no… hockey is violent,” he replied. I tried to find out what he did like to do, and all I could get was reading, working out and shopping.
Before the date ended, there was just one thing I had to find out- the one thing that I learned the night before that just didn’t match the man enjoying a cappuccino before me.
“I loved the picture of you chopping down a tree- how long did it take you to finish the job?” I asked, dying for the answer.
“Oh that… it was staged. I could never kill a tree! That’s just wrong.”
And with that, I learned all I needed to know about Alan. This was not going to be a love connection.
Shopping online for a date is really no different than clicking the “add to shopping cart” option on any fashion retail website. We like what we see, we pursue it, and when it arrives we try it on. Sometimes it fits, sometimes not. Maybe the color is just right, and maybe the colors are far different than what we saw on our monitor. In the case of my date with Alan, he simply didn’t match the message he put out there.
When using online dating websites as a source for dates, we really need to keep this concept in mind. There will be times that our date is a perfect fit, just like that JCrew sweater. And there will be times when the product we viewed doesn’t meet our expectations once it arrives. That’s ok- it happens. The important similarity to online dating and online shopping is that you can try it, and if it’s not a fit you can send it away. The challenge with this is not to let the lack of consumer satisfaction in the one instance sour you from the store. It’s inevitable that you will have some dates that fall far from the measure of a great date. Maybe their profiles weren’t reflective of the person having a coffee with you. Perhaps they even went as far to not be honest about their correct age or weight. Whatever the situation, you need to remember it’s like a JCrew sweater- you didn’t make the sweater, so there’s no reason to feel sad or defeated.
If you find yourself on a date with a version of an Alan, just remember that you can walk away. I even went as far as to be open and honest with Alan, telling him that I really didn’t think it was a “love connection”, wishing him luck in his pursuit of finding love.
Just walk away, and continue shopping.